BUSINESS: Ahead of his Time

Posted by Dr. Manhattan
In light of today’s surprise reduction in the Federal discount rate, it is worth re-watching (or watching, if you haven’t seen it yet) Jim Cramer’s famous meltdown on CNBC demanding this action:

Personally, I have always enjoyed watching Cramer on TV. While watching his show for investing guidance is like reading Playboy for the articles, there is something charming about watching someone so unconventionally (read: “not”) telegenic succeed on TV by acting like (by all accounts) himself.

The Theology of a Baseball Fan

Posted by Dr. Manhattan

I’m not sure I ever posted this story back at my blog, so I may as well use Crank’s space to do so. Besides – as some readers may know – while your host is a devout Catholic and Mets fan, I am an Orthodox Jew and Yankee fan. (I will leave it to the readers to determine which is more likely to lead to tension with this blog’s regular programming.) This vignette illustrates both differences:

I mentioned in the last post that I never gave up on the Yankees this season. That was a marked contrast to 2005, when I gave up on them roughly 50 times (several times after every loss to the Devil Rays, plus a few more after they got killed on a road trip to Kansas City and Milwaukee). After a particularly brutal loss to Tampa Bay that summer, I was grousing to a friend about the team.

Bonds. Barry Bonds.

Posted by Dr. Manhattan
I guess I need to discuss Barry Bonds, who – as you may have heard – recently broke some record.
I have a few thoughts on why his record-breaking inspires such controversy:
1) Overcompensation amongst the media for not having aggressively reported the growth in steroid use throughout the 1990s.
2) An aesthetic revulsion in the media towards big muscular guys hitting lots of home runs – being so different from the way the game was played when the members of the media were younger, it doesn’t fit their idea of the way the game “should be” played (which is part of why they assume the entire impact of steroids on the game is in the increase in home runs);
3) Bonds’ long-standing reputation as a lout generally and particularly to the media (with the latter, of course, being far more important);
4) Bonds’ career path, plus the incredible detail unearthed by the authors of “Game of Shadows” as to his drug use, provides the most obvious example of “but-for” causation likely to be found outside of a double-blind lab study.
Regarding point #2, it is clear – if only from the number of pitchers who have failed steroid tests – that steroid users are not restricted to cartoonishly built power hitters. In fact, steroid rumors (never proven) have been associated with the baseball player who would probably win a poll as “least likely steroid user.” Who is that player? A hint: he recently broke a long-standing seasonal hitting record. Click below:

Continue reading Bonds. Barry Bonds.

BASEBALL/ You Must Not Read the Sports Pages Too Often

Posted by Dr. Manhattan
Ross Douthat is exactly right. I have seen variations of Brad DeLong’s complaint over the years, and every time it only makes me wonder whether the complainer has ever read the sports pages.
I wrote about some related topics on my own blog a long time ago (a piece much of which, ahem, has been massively overtaken by events). One item that still holds up is the common creation myth of the Bill James revolution and the blogosphere generally – the outsiders rising up against the hidebound (baseball/political/media) establishment and changing the game. This paradigm applies equally to the liberal blogosphere that arose after I wrote my piece and the conservative blogosphere from the heady days of early 2003. There is a reason that Benjamin Wallace-Wells, in profiling Markos Moulitsas for the Washington Monthly, compared Moulitsas to Bill James.

Yankeez Rool

Posted by Dr. Manhattan
Notwithstanding their three-game losing streak culminating (hopefully) in tonight’s beat-down by Detroit, I remain confident that the Yankees will win the wild card. I never really lost hope this season, in large part because – as David Pinto pointed out – even at their nadir, the Yankees were never playing as badly as their record indicated. Their blistering streak in July and August was a combination of reversion to the mean and a long stretch against the AL’s dregs.
A few items on the team:
1) I don’t believe there is anything wrong with Mariano that a few days off won’t cure. Historically, he often has a streak in July or August where he blows a number of games in quick succession, before reverting to normal. (Yankee fans will have a hard time forgetting this one, for example.) I believe it’s a software bug.
2) Check out this Hardball Time piece comparing the mechanics of Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain. I have no capability to judge pitchers’ mechanics, but this is a nice argument to be having.
3) For all Met fans or Yankee-hater readers of this blog: Regardless of your pinstripe aversion, make sure to watch Chamberlain’s appearances as often as you can. The excitement over each next great fireballer is something that transcends team-specific loyalties. I speak from experience: notwithstanding his role in knocking the Yankees out of the playoffs last year, if you don’t like watching Joel Zumaya pitch, you just don’t like baseball. Chamberlain may be in the same category.
(Permit me to channel Bill Simmons for a moment: shouldn’t the title of baseball’s hardest thrower should be a recognized championship, like the heavyweight champion in boxing? Prior to his tendon injury, Zumaya was the unquestioned champion. Shouldn’t this be tracked regularly?)
4) I have no patience whatsoever for the constant (thankfully, less so in the last couple of months) “is-he-or-isn’t-he” speculation as to A-Rod and his contract. This is a matter for a much longer post, but the way A-Rod has been treated over the last several years by the media is nothing short of shameful.
If the Yankees don’t make the playoffs, the season could follow one of two historical tracks. One would be 1979 – an off-year in the midst of a championship-level run. The other would be 1965 – the permanent collapse of a dynasty. There is nothing that could make the Yankees more likely to follow the 1965 pattern than allowing A-Rod to leave after the season. (The Yankees’ resurgent farm system has not yet produced any position-player prospects likely to help in the next few years.) I believe the Yankee front office is smart enough to realize that and to calculate the value of the Rangers’ money offsetting A-Rod’s over the next three years. Absent an early Yankees playoff exit and a media lynch mob, I expect an extension to occur with relatively little fanfare.

Belated Welcome

Posted by Dr. Manhattan
A belated welcome to all of the Crank’s readers from vacation in Hershey, PA, home of chocolate and misbehaving laptops. (Given my intermittent blogging history, it is only too typical.) I ask your forbearance for a little while longer. By tomorrow, all connecton issues should be cleared up and I should have a few posts up that should provide grist for debate.

The Ugly Underbelly Of An Emotional Topic

Hello again. This piece below probably won’t seem too controversial in this forum. In fact, I suspect it’ll summarize the opinions of a lot of Crank’s readers. Nonetheless, I put it up on my site early last week after observing an alarming trend on both the left & right extremes of the blogosphere. On my blog I labeled it “We Interrupt Our Regularly Scheduled Programming,” because I tend to cover things from a humorous/entertaining angle, but I felt I had to do what I had to do. Here it is, in it’s entirety (one or two minor edits for grammar/spelling):

I promised myself a few weeks back I wouldn’t post on the current situation in Israel/Lebanon. And I’m sticking to my guns: too emotional, no resolution, no chance for people to see past their ideology; no opportunity for entertainment.

That said, I want to weigh in briefly on something that’s been more than bugging me: a creeping, metastacizing anti-semitism in otherwise neutral blogs. Mostly from commenters, but from the authors themselves at times. I’m not talking about criticizing Israel’s current policy, and I’m not even talking about writers against Israel in the big picture. I certainly don’t mean commentators who question Israel’s role in US foreign policy, and I don’t overly scrutinize authors who wish to hold Israel to normal levels of accountability.

No. What I’m talking about are folks who need to say “Zionists” or “Jews” in place of “Israelis.” Or people who can’t stop saying “Neo-Con” when they actually mean “Republican” or “The Administration.” Which says nothing about the growing hoards obsessed with the “Jewish make-up” of the “Neo-Cons.” You know what I mean; the writers who need to allude at all times to Wolfowitz or Perle, but seem to conveniently forget that “Quayle,” “Fukuyama,” “Rice” and others fit well within the “Neo-Con” group as defined by the PNAC.

Other symptoms of which I speak: obsession with “AIPAC control” of the US government. The over-representation of Jews in the media, among the roll of US billionaires, in the financial world. The way that Jews will ultimately “support Israel over the US,” or “send American boys” to do Israel’s dirty work in the Middle East. Anyone who frequents the left or right reaches of the blogosphere knows what I’m talking about. For those of you not familiar, let me assure you: while not directly quoting, every phrase I’ve included so far is a faithful paraphrase of multiple posts I’ve read. And these sentiments are anything but rare.

I’ll admit that beyond massive disappointment (and a small dose of fear), I’m mostly surprised at this. And I feel like an idiot for being surprised. I’ve long taken pride in my historical perspective on events, for always viewing events through a skeptical (some would say, cynical) lens. I know as well as any Jew the history of anti-semitism, of it’s roots, its manifestations, its effects.

And, despite all that, I thought that the United States in 2006 was different. I honestly believed that the European left, the European ultra-right nationalists were capable of discussing what I’ve been reading. But I thought that in America, our faults notwithstanding, we’d moved beyond the most base forms of ethnic hatred, of racism. That these ugly phenomena had been “Americanized,” turned into tools of economics, of marketing, of cultural compartmentalization.

Maybe I was right in that regard. Maybe, like so many otherwise well-intentioned people will tell me, I’m just paranoid.

But maybe I’m not. And I firmly believe that the final line from propaganda-to-action is shorter than that initial road from open mindedness-to-fear. Yes, you’re following my point. As said, I harbor a small amount of concern.

Nevertheless, even for those who think that America is just exercizing some well-needed analysis of Israel’s role in US policy, I think they need to admit to themselves that an ugly underbelly has been exposed for the first time in a while. First time in my life, and I’ve been politically/culturally sentient for three decades or so.

Now I know there are those who’ll tell me that this element is always there. They’ve always been there. Just ignore them. They’re the lunatic fringe. I hear you, you’re right, they’ve always been there. But what’s blowing me away lately is how they’ve all crawled out from under their rocks, and have started to speak. To yell. To pontificate.

And not only are they rarely called out onto the carpet for this by the rank-and-file in the cyber-community, but they’re often encouraged. It’s become a rather popular rallying cry among disparate communities of commentators. And it has me stunned.

I’m gonna keep my eyes and ears open. I wish I didn’t have to. But, as I said, I know my history, and any Jew who chooses to pretend he doesn’t at least recognize what he’s seeing is a fool. And any American who chooses to see otherwise is fooling himself as well.

Red? Blue? How ‘Bout Red, White & Blue?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for a couple months, or are so apolitical that I advise you to stop reading this post right now, you know that Joe Lieberman’s been in the political fight of his life against an outsider, Ned Lamont, for the Connecticut Democratic Nomination for the Senate.
And unless you went out and got hammered last night, passed out at 8:00, and slept in this morning to nurse your hangover, you also know that Lamont won.
I’m not gonna go off on a ideologically driven political rant here at Crank’s site, nor am I gonna try to make a bigger point about the War, right vs. left, or even the balance of party power in the Senate. There are plenty of sites doing so (in fact, my post on this topic on my own blog gets a little deeper into such issues, if you’re interested).
I’m neither Democrat nor Republican, so I’m not really interested in those topics.
What interests me is the ability of American voters to get their message across. Whether right or left, I think we can all agree that things aren’t perfect in America right now. Whether one’s shibboleths revolve around the so-called Culture Wars, the fiscal profligacy both parties engage in, the monetary shenanigans of the ostensibly independent Federal Reserve; the War in Iraq and our inability to either win outright or withdraw honorably & intelligently; concerns over Executive Power; worries about Judicial Power; the list goes on and on.
And I challenge anyone — left or right, Democrat or Republican — to think of a time in their politically sentient lives when they felt that Capitol Hill was pulling less weight than now. A time when our political leaders were as far out-of-touch with the electorate than now.
And, to me, Joe Lieberman is a symbol of that failure. Not because he’s a “conservative” Democrat, not because he supports the war, or is pro-choice, or because he’s a God-fearing man. Oh, I have my opinions about those things, believe me. And they’d be enough to convince me of his relative worth, or lack thereof, as a candidate.
But more importantly, he’s shown a capricious disregard for the will of the elctorate.
I know a primary doesn’t represent the entire electorate. But Lieberman has never before rejected the support of his party, he’s never expressed any interest in “going it alone.” Yet, last night, following his defeat, he “conceded” by declaring:

For the sake of our state, our country and my party, I cannot and will not let that result stand.

(Emphasis added). There’s your fealty to country. There’s your loyalty to his constituents. And, while hardly a respectable trait in my opinion, there’s the loyalty to party that so many seem to value.
The man is out for himself, and obviously the “patrons” who’ve supported him in the past (and may again do so in November should he run). I want officials who put the country ahead of themselves.
By the way, Joe wasn’t the only incumbent to go down in flames last night: moderate Michigan Republican, Joe Schwartz, lost to a more conservative opponent, Tim Walberg, in his House primary; and Cynthia McKinney lost her Democratic House primary to a less-insane candidate, Hank Johnson (which says little, as Mel Gibson’s slightly more sane than Cynthia).
And you know what, I like both those results too, even though it should be clear that I’m not a Walberg fan (to the degree I know much about him, which admittedly I don’t). Why? Schwartz had the support of the Adminstration. I want outsiders who’ll challenge the status quo. Are Walberg & Johnson the answer? I dunno. But unlike Schwartz & McKinney, we know they might do something other than play politics-as-usual.
Finally, I’m aware that many (if not most) of Crank’s readers are conservative, and probably Republican. That’s fine. But as a fellow American, I hope we all vote for the candidates that mean to do something to get us back on track, even if only a little bit: balance the budget, return balance to the tripartite government, demand accountability from the Fed, follow the Constitution. Whatever your particular issue.
But we’re gonna need new blood on Capitol Hill to pull it off.
* * *
Unless I’ve horribly misunderstood his e-mail of last week, Crank should be back tomorrow. (Ok, you don’t have to cheer that loud, do you? This hasn’t been that bad, has it?).
I’ve enjoyed this guest blogging stint a lot, and I hope you enjoyed reading what I had to say as well. I’ll continue to comment here on Crank’s posts, and I hope some of you decide to come check out my site from time-to-time.

Voices In The Wilderness

I’ve beaten the drum lately regarding entrenched, out-of-touch incumbents, more interested in securing their own fortunes & legacies than in working for their constituents, so it’s only fair that I draw some attention to a couple of Representatives actually doing something.
I’ve also written a few time about Ron Paul, the only politician in Washington who seems completely outside the standard influences. Paul’s an odd collection of characteristics: a libertarian who holds to a very archaic notion of governance that many of us wouldn’t like, but also a degree of honestly & consistency I admire very much. For instance, his opposition to the Iraq War is coupled with a genuine repulsion towards large, federal programs for . . . well, just about everything.
Anyhow, here’s an excerpt from a speech Paul gave, as cited in a Whiskey & Gunpowder piece dealing with oil prices & the situation in Iraq:

We must reassess our foreign policy and announce some changes. One of the reasons we went into Iraq was to secure oil. Before the Iraq war, oil was less than $30 per barrel; today, it is over $70. The sooner we get out of Iraq and allow the Iraqis to solve their own problems, the better . . . We must end our obsession for a military confrontation with Iran. Iran does not have a nuclear weapon, and, according to our own CIA, is nowhere near getting one. Yet the drumbeat grows louder for attacking certain sites in Iran, either by conventional or even nuclear means. An attack on Iran, coupled with our continued presence in Iraq, could hike gas prices to $5 or $6 per gallon here at home . . . We must remember that prices of all things go up because of inflation. Inflation by definition is an increase in the money supply . . . the Fed creates new dollars out of thin air to buy Treasury bills and keep interest rates artificially low. But when new money is created out of nothing, the money already in circulation loses value. Once this is recognized, prices rise . . . this contributes greatly to the higher prices we’re all paying at the pump.

(Emphasis added). The piece also goes on to include a letter that Representative John Murtha wrote to President Bush. You may remember that Murtha, who served as a Marine in Vietnam, has spoken out rather vehemently, demanding that we withdraw from Iraq and bring the troops home. In his letter to the President, he states:

Despite the latest evidence that your administration lacks a coherent strategy to stabilize Iraq and achieve victory, there has been virtually no diplomatic effort to resolve sectarian differences, no regional effort to establish a broader security framework, and no attempt to revive a struggling reconstruction effort. Instead, we learned of your plans to redeploy an additional 5,000 U.S. troops into an urban war zone in Baghdad. Far from implementing a comprehensive ‘Strategy for Victory,’ as you promised months ago, your administration’s strategy appears to be one of trying to avoid defeat. Meanwhile, U.S. troops and taxpayers continue to pay a high price as your administration searches for a policy. Over 2,500 Americans have made the ultimate sacrifice, and over 18,000 others have been wounded . . . American taxpayers have already contributed over $300 billion, and each week we stay in Iraq adds nearly $3 billion more to our record budget deficit . . . We believe that a phased redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq should begin before the end of 2006. U.S. forces in Iraq should transition to a more limited mission focused on counterterrorism, training and logistical support of Iraqi security forces, and force protection of U.S. personnel . . . Mr. President, simply staying the course in Iraq is not working. We need to take a new direction. We believe these recommendations comprise an effective alternative to the current open-ended commitment, which is not producing the progress in Iraq we would all like to see.

Now my point here isn’t whether I do or don’t agree with both Paul & Murtha, though I think they’re both on to something.
No. My point is they’re doing something: speaking out, addressing problems, challenging executive power, looking out for their fellow citizens. And, at least superficially, these ideas seem based on something other than pleasing their “patrons” or looking for the next round of campaign dollars. I’m not denying that Murtha’s riding the wave of anti-Bush sentiment. He is. But a look at the issues he supports (and doesn’t) indicates a man with at least a shred of integrity. Not sure how many in the big building he works in can say the same.
As I (hopefully) read tonight that the voters of Connecticut said No to Joe, I’ll remember what I’ve been saying and hopefully will say until November: unless our elected officials come out explicitly and demonstrate that they’re looking out for their country or their constituency, we need to kick them out. If I lived in Texas or Pennsylvania, Paul & Murtha would’ve just gotten their stays of execution.
* * *
This piece is cross-posted on Mike’s Neighborhood.

The Wright Thing To Do (Aka, I Hart Omar)

The following is cross-posted at Mike’s Neighborhood this morning:
The Mets again extended their lead to 13 games through a vulgar, muscle-flexing display for a divisional rival. Can’t speak for the Phils, but I’m impressed. A game that saw Jose “El Rapido” Reyes join the Grand Slam parade. A game that saw this whole John Maine Thing officially reach “weird” status (2.08/1.00; 31/13 K/BB in 39 IP). A game that I missed on television, but I’ll nevertheless guess saw Joe Morgan say a series of things so pompous, so unsubstantiated, so idiotic, that viewers were tempted to forget what a great player he was when he participated in, rather than called, the games. A game that pushed the Met’s lead over the Cards for NL dominance to 6 games.
None of which compares to the really good news:
David “Derek Who?” Wright will be a Met for at least 6 years. He really is The Prince of New York. Omar completed his most excellent week, penciling in Young Mr. Wright for six years at $55 M, with the option for an extemely expensive seventh year.
We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. All I know, fellow Met fans, is that we get 4-5 years, minimum, to watch the Dynamic Duo do their thing on the left side o’ the infield. Wooo-hooo! The price may seem high for two very young players, but (a) the Mets can afford it and (b) these guys look well on their way to stardom. Especially Wright. The list of guys who hit .300 with 27 HRs and 100 RBIs (not to mention fine peripherals) at 22 is a small one. Small, but strong, like Mel Ott, who failed to make the list at 22, but was a member at 20. Other names you may know who qualified? Ohh, fellas like Williams, DiMaggio, Foxx, Vlad, A-Rod. Wright’s easily on pace to do it again at 23. This is a great deal.
It reminds me of what John Hart did in Cleveland in the early-mid 90’s as guys like Thome, Manny & Belle came into their own as young sluggers. Thome, for instance, stayed with the Tribe through 2002, when he hit 52 homers . . . and earned $8M. He crossed the $3M threshold in 1998, the season after the Indians’ 2nd WS appearence in three years. And Thome himself? He’d already hit .300 twice, hit 30+ HRs twice (including 40 in ’97), driven in 100 twice, topped .400 in OBP three years running, etc. He was a bargain and it helped Cleveland remain competitive.
Manny? Even more ridiculous! In 1995, when the Tribe won 100 out of 144 games played, Manny put up the first of many 300/30/100 seasons (with his standard rock-solid peripherals) and earned $150,000. He ended staying with the Indians through 2000, never earning over $4.25 M a year, despite driving in 165 one season, hitting .328+ twice, all that Manny stuff we love. Then he went to the Sox, signing for the GDP of a mid-sized Central Asian Republic.
Albert Belle? With the Tribe through 1996. Never earned over $5.7 M per.
And the point of all this? I’m not completely sure, but I think I’m trying to show that signing young, top talent to long-term deals before they reach superstardom is the way to go, the way both to keep your young studs and avoid paying them A-Rod money too soon. They either fall apart — and then you’re doomed anyway, regardless of what they earn — or they emerge and eventually require $22 M/yr to “feed their families,” “earn respect,” “keep up with the Rodriguezes,” whatever.
But that’s then, this is now (S.E. Hinton allusion). In the meantime, the Mets got em, and they ain’t going nowhere. Niiiiiice.

Ladies & Gentlemen, Your First Place New York Mets

Hey, Crank readers. My name is Mike, and a few of you may recognize me as one of the annoying guys who posts comments, complete with shameless links to my own blog, Mike’s Neighborhood, every darn day. Well, last night I received a very nice e-mail from the Crank, informing me that he’ll be out of town for a few days. Ok, you’re thinking, “Uhhh, gee Mike, that’s really exciting. And you’ve hacked into the Cranks’s blog to tell us this why, exactly? Now get outta here, and leave us alone.”
But the funny thing is, Crank invited me to “guest blog” for him in his stead. And, yes, I agree with you: he’s must be completely insane. But, far be it for me to correct someone else’s shocking lapse in judgment when my own self-interest is at stake. So, with no further ado, Met fans & baseball fans alike, I present for your reading pleasure — as well as for a great opportunity for me to crank it up and generate some traffic at my own site (“Crank” it up, get it? . . . as in Crank, you know the guy who’s blog . . . ohhh, never mind) — an inartfully edited compilation of the last two Mets posts from my blog, Mike’s Neighborhood. A few of the statistics cited may be sliiiiightly off, due to my posting these earlier in the week. But they’re close, So gimme a break, will ya?
Oh, and Enjoy:
* * *
Forty-four. Henry Aaron’s number, yes. Also Reggie’s, after he went to the Yanks. And Everlastings Milledge is the latest in a long line of players to wear that super-cool number in Queens.
It’s also the Met’s magic Number: 44. And counting. A few Random Thoughts for your Friday morning pleasure:
Two Princes: The would-be “Prince of New York,” Young David Wright is tired. I think he needs a break. The guy’s 23 years-old, he’s played one full season in the majors before this, and he had an excellent first half. Then he appeared in the freaking Home Run Derby, then the All-Star Game itself, before quick stops on Letterman, at the White House, before the UN General Assembly, the Jedi Council, and the Interstellar Federation. Heck, he introduced Bruce Sutter at his Hall of Fame induction last week. (Very moving speech, by the way, what with crediting him for inventing the split-finger fast ball and all. Charming anecdote about watching him in the ’82 Series, two months before he was born . . .)
Mr. Wright hasn’t had any serious time off! And from the looks of things lately, he needs it.
Yes, I know Keith Hernandez’s saying Wright’s “pulling off the ball,” but Keith says that about everyone. Albert Pujols goes 0-for-3 with a walk? Pulling off the ball. Tony Gwynn hit only .312 one season? Pulling off the ball. Barry Bonds’ head grows to epic proportions and he’s so gimpy he can hardly walk? Pulling off the ball. China’s economic growth rate dips to 6.4 %?
Ok, you get the idea.
Maybe Wright’s pulling off the ball. Ok. But why is my question. His approach at the plate looks the same to me. Since the end of June, he’s walked 14 times in 94 ABs, a little bit more than earlier in the year. I don’t think the problem’s mental, or at least it wasn’t at first.
I think he’s tired. Last season, you may remember, Wright began to slow down a bit in July. I don’t have breakdowns of every game from last season, but I know he hit 307/345/505 for the month. Lowest OBP for any month, and still about 20 points below the season SLG. And that includes a very hot stretch immediately after the All-Star Break. And of course he went on to carry the team in August, behind 378/470/633 numbers.
I distinctly recall thinking last year that he looked sluggish before the break, and that I hoped he’d recover with rest. His numbers before the break last year? 281/369/470. After? 333/409/582. Yet this season . . . no break. No rest. The slight dip he experienced going into the break has continued. His July numbers of 282/384/494, while not bad at all, are the lowest of any month this year by a large margin. Since the break? An ugly 277/365/415.
So am I saying he’s doomed? No. Blaming him for living it up like a rock star, getting overexposed at J-Lo levels last month? Heck, no! The kid’s 23. Thinking we’ve got “An Abreu” on our hands, that he messed up his swing in the Home Run Derby? Absolutely not (though I wish he’d skipped the stupid event).
I just think he needs a rest, and needs it badly. I’d give him an entire series off, either before or after an off day. 4 days rest. Kind of like his own All-Star break. We don’t need him hitting 285/360/475 through August. We need him hitting 325/400/575 in October. That’s when he’ll really earn the “Derek Who?” label he’s been flirting with.
And the right to flirt with the hottest chicks in NY.
MVP! MVP?: Like the emotionless & rampaging cyborg he was contructed to be, The Beltranator continues to destroy all that stands in its path. Its basically a line-drive smashing, bases loaded clearing, crooked number creating, Braves pitcher humiliating (8 homers against Bobby’s Boys so far!), Met fan salivating monster. In the “Pure Power” department, other than late 80’s Darryl, ’00 Piazza, and maybe Wright last August, I’m not sure when I ever saw such a one man wrecking crew. I fully expect a homer from him every at-bat.
And I plan to lustily boo him if he fails in that regard. 4-for-5 with two doubles, a triple, 3 SBs and 4 runs scored? I’m booing. I want taters!
But seriously, as great as he’s been, he’s not the NL MVP at this point. Even with Beltran’s 7 extra games, superior baserunning, far more value in the field, a ballpark disadvantage, & the league-leading RBI total . . . Phat Albert’s the NL MVP. It takes a lot to overcome Beltran’s advantages — as of Tuesday — of 8 runs, 7 RBIs, 7 2Bs and 10 SBs.
And Pujols brings them: 1 extra 3B, 1 extra HR, and 36 fewer batting outs. Beltran’s been dominating. Just great. But in my opinion, he’s just not quite in Pujols territory, because he requires far more outs to put up his numbers. But as you can see, he’s probably the clear number two guy in the league. Amazing.
Tommy Strikezone: He’s not in the zone. I don’t wanna pile on, I really hope he turns it around, and I don’t know exactly what to say. But this ain’t working right now. He’s been a BP pitcher for a couple months, and his post-all star break numbers aren’t even acceptable: 21 2/3 IP, 30 H, 12 BB, 9 K, 3 HR. 6.65/1.94. And, as if we need to see this horror show more accurately . . . he’s yielded 3 unearned runs in those 4 starts, meaning he’s been giving up nearly 8 runs per 9 IP since the break.
Glavine’s 40 years old and hasn’t had a great season in quite a few years now. The Mets need 6 innings of 3 runs or less from him come October. This is a requirement. Just like Pedro got his suspicious one month vacation, it’s time for Tommy to have his. Free Pelfrey? How’s about Lock Up Tommy. Enjoy your August, big guy, you earned it. See ya after Labor Day.
Cliff Floyd Has Missed 30 Games: No point to make. Just felt I needed to point that out.
The Loathsome Yanks: Abreu and Cory Lidle for 3 retarded dwarfs and a rusty bicycle chain. I hate Steinbrenner. Jerk.
And, yes, that is unbridled envy. What do you want me to say? With a pitching staff giving up runs by the bushel every other start, I’m thinking a .425 OBP guy and a serviceable arm might have been nice. More runs on one side of the ledger, less on the other. That’s the idea of the game, right?
I Like The Pitching Portion of Our Trade: Omar, for whom I’ve had my share of unkind words, did what he had to do. Sanchez is out, he’s gone. So Minaya went out and got a major league reliever to replace him. Period. Roberto Hernandez isn’t great at this point, and while Duaner’s better, he wasn’t great either. Sorry, Met fans, but you’ll have to admit that. His K/BB was under 2, and his K/9 was falling as the season progressed. He was good, and he had a rubber arm. But he wasn’t dominating.
Anyhow, the key the trade isn’t Hernandez, who can’t be, won’t be, and doesn’t need to be as good as Sanchez. No, the key to the trade is . . . Aaron Heilman (the same guy who blew it last night. He has to step it up big time and start to throw like he did last year. And so far (or at least before last night’s debacle), it’s looking good. Before the blown game, since the end of his disastrous June, Heilman compliled 3.44/1.25 on 18 1/3 IP, 17 H, 6BB, 11 K. Not great, to be sure, and the K rate is waaaaay too low. But since the All-Star Break those numbers improve to 3.09/1.29 on 11 2/3, 11, 4, 7. Still not perfect, but they’re in Sanchez range and a lot better than the gar-bage Heilman put up in late spring. He pitched well last night. Here’s hoping he finds the magic of last year.
I Really Like the Hitting/Fielding Portion of the Trade: I didn’t like Nady, for the reasons I mentioned last month: bad glove, poor approach at the plate, little indication of improvement. I like Endy “Every Met Fan’s Secret Favorite Player” Chavez, even though I’m convinced he’s hitting way, way over his head this year. He’s an incredible fielder, only El Rapido has more speed, he’s been very clutch so far, and he brings a bag full of fundamentals like bunting, base stealing, hitting the cut-off man, hitting behind the runner, etc.
I don’t think Nady could spell “fundamentals.”
Sanchez’s injury meant Omar couldn’t really get top value for Xavier, but that’s what happens when your 8th inning guy has his cab rear-ended the day before the trading deadline.
(You think I’m joking, but I’m not. Look at Rule 37 (a) (2) (C) (iii) in the General Manager’s Trading Deadline Handbook. Under “Freakish Car Accidents Involving Goggle-Wearing Relief Pitchers.” Scroll down to the sentence beginning with, “Under such circumstances, you must move fundamentally unsound corner outfielders, even if you receive less than market value for their services . . .” Yes, that one. Read through it; Omar played it by the book, you gotta give him credit for pulling the trigger)
The Good Stuff: And finally, just to end things on the overwhelmingly positive note I feel it’s my duty to bring to you, a few “Staggering Post All-Star Break Numbers From Selected Individual Hitters”:
Carlos Delgado: 321/428/625, with 5 2B, 4 HR, 16 RBI and 12 BB in 56 official ABs. Ahhhhh, that feels better.
Endy Chavez: 333/385/500, albeit with only 39 plate appearences.
Oh, and this: he’s managed to drive in 9 during that span!
Paul LoDuca: (and, no, these numbers are not a misprint): 371/426/468.
He can go 0-for the rest of the season and improve his career post all-star break numbers.
And finally . . . (you knew this one was coming), The Beltranator: 310/390/732, with 6 2B, 8 HR, 10 BB, 17 R and 28 RBI in 18 games and 71 official at-bats. Now that’s some hitting!
Forty-four, folks. Forty-four.
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Thanks for indulging me, folks. Guess what? That was the shortest Mets post I’ve ever written (and it combined two pieces!). If you’re curious — uh-oh, shameless plug time — swing on by my blog and check out some of my past Mets entries, as well as my irreverent take on politics, culture, religion, advertising, as well as an occasional appearence by talking elk and wise-cracking public figures.