Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Bitter truths and tough perceptions

Was skimming ESPN's baseball section this morning before my day gets devoured by deadlines and such. Now, it's become fashionable to bash ESPN at every turn (see Deadspin, as well as the post above this one as hypocrisy lives here, too!) and sometimes it's justified. I happen to be in the camp that believes their baseball coverage, while understandably tilted Eastward, is pretty darned good. [And people, if you can't get over that "understandably" in the previous sentence, it's time to.]

Guys like Rob Neyer and Keith Law provide solid, objective analyses, while reporters like Peter Gammons and Buster Olney cover the happenings. Crasnick and Stark cover the rest, including quirky stuff. Overall, I like their content. Doesn't mean I agree with 100% of it, but it's broad AND deep, which is a good thing.

All that as pre-ramble, I came across Neyer's blog (Insider access required, sorry) today and it was about Jorge Posada's unreal year last year at age 35. Of note in the short blog was the point that:

Posada entered last season with a .270 batting average and batted .338. Today I'll offer one truly easy prediction: Posada won't reach even .300 this season.

How could I disagree? But to me, the elephant in the corner is the fact that a catcher had a career year at age 35, clearly well past the productive career arc of nearly all catchers who have ever played, period. With all the hubbub surrounding the Yanks and PEDs, how can we not cast a crooked eye at this spike? Neyer's blog is not about this sort of speculation but I sure can.

The article that Neyer references also mentions this:

...his .389 BABIP which was roughly .040 points above his expected BABIP. [BABIP = Batting Average on Balls In Play]

Luck clearly was on Jorge's side but reliance on luck is a dangerous thing.

It's funny, in other cities around MLB, teams try to lock up their home grown (and even not so home grown) talent with "home town discounts". Works well in nice areas like San Diego, for sure. But in NY, the Yanks have to offer their home grown studs "home town bonuses" to stay. They recently overpaid Mo, Posada, Pettitte via extra years, extra $ or both. Yes, I just realized the Yanks let Bernie Williams walk (into retirement) but they haven't done that often. While Boston is content, not happy but content, to let their guys go if they aren't on the same page contract-wise (see Johnny Damon, Pedro Martinez, etc.), the Yanks have this strange sort of fear that if they let our favorites go, they will anger the Karma Gods or the fans too much. I know the Yanks can absorb overpaying and mistakes better than everyone else, but it's a faulty strategy. At some point, the Yanks will have to just bite the bullet and let the studs of the 90's walk off into retirement and move on. The fans will too.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The only thing that jumped was Posada's average. His isolated power and on base numbers were in line with his career averages.