Sunday, August 06, 2006

One Hit Wonders

I'm not going to even discuss the last Yankee game, because it's one of those games worth throwing on the video scrap heap. Nothing insightful can be ascertained from analyzing that complete fluke of a performance. Rookie pitcher nearly blanks best offense in MLB. That's a one hit wonder like Rick Astley, and it's best forgotten.

The Red Sox did us the favor of spitting the bit on their chance to tie us for the AL East lead, no thanks to the world's dumbest manager, Joe Maddon. He looks like a nice grandfatherly type guy, who probably enjoys fishing and bouncing little kids on his knee. He spins yarns about ghost ships and pirates, and roasts marshmallows with Cub Scouts. Undoubtedly, he goes carolling on Christmas Eve, and gives candy apples on Halloween. He looks like that kind of guy. The thing is I can't think of anything more stupid in the entire sport of baseball than playing Travis Lee everyday. Wait....I take that back. I can't think of anything more stupid than hitting Travis Lee in the cleanup spot, while playing him everyday!

That's exactly what Joe Maddon has done since July 29th when Ty Wiggington broke his hand against the Yankees. In all but one contest since that time, the Devil Rays have featured Travis Lee's staggeringly bad .207/.298/.338 line in the 4th spot of the lineup. It was bad enough that he hit 5th for the most part prior to that fateful day. In fairness to Lee, he has picked it up a bit for Maddon since that bold move. He has shown his ability to get hot with the bat and carry a team by hitting .250/.357/.375 with a homer and 3RBIs in 8 games as a cleanup man. Sweet. If you throw in the other game, in which he resumed hitting 5th for a day, he is .250/.344/.464 with 2 homers and 5 RBIs over 9 games. Look out Pujols, Travis Lee is the new sheriff in town.

I don't know why it makes me so mad that a Major League franchise would be this stupid, but it does. People want to absolutley rip the Yankees every chance they get for spending big money on their team. People put a bullseye on the Bombers and cry like they've got thumb screws on about how unfair it all is. When the Devil Rays, poster boys for the "have nots" in MLB along with Kansas City, are so blatantly clueless as to play a guy this bad at the sport's premier power position, you have to shake your head. Don't get on the Yankees until you've first pointed your finger at this kind of mismanagement.

Big Travis makes a staggering $2,450,000 for his 2006 "efforts" and people have the nerve to complain about the Yankees. For $2,450,000 you could do a whole lot better than this guy. Doug Mientkiewicz make $1,850,000 for the Royals. He's hitting .283/.361/.411 and has a better glove than Lee. $2,487,500 would have bought you Ben Broussard this season, and he's produced .314/.355/.514 with 14 home runs on the year. $365,000 could land you Chris Shelton who is now at AAA after cooling off from his hot start. He's still put up .277/.343/.477 for the Tigers. Shea Hillenbrand was out there along with his .291/.329/.463 line if they were willing to pay his $5,800,000 salary pro-rated for the rest of the year. I know they had no reason to add his payroll to their last place club, but at some point you have to take your team seriously enough to spend some money.

Especially when your firstbaseman has contributed fewer runs at his position than any other player in the entire Major Leagues. Lee has a -25.7 PMLV rating, which means that he has cost his team almost 26 runs this year against what the average firstbaseman produces for his team. To give you some perspective on that number, Albert Pujols is the top rated first baseman in PMLV at 37.6, which means that he has contributed 63.3 more runs at first base than Lee on the year as compared to the average. Remember, they both play everyday. The average firstbaseman would be at zero, so I looked at the guys considered average (and 26 runs better than Lee) and came up with this group. Lyle Overbay, Rob Quinlan, Craig Wilson, Phil Nevin, Chris Shelton, Sean Casey and some very big names are all around 3 runs above or below the margin. I eliminated the big names like Todd Helton because he makes $11 million on the year and is out of the question for the Rays. The guys I listed are reasonably paid and within the budget for the Tampa club.

If the Rays really wanted to try something, go with a replacement player from AAA. In fact, go with Kevin Witt. At Durham this year, in 413 ABs he is .295/.364/.596 with 32 home runs!!!!!!!!! What the F? Now I'm even more pissed. Lee is 31, and Witt is 30. Lee makes over $2 million a year, and Witt is on a minor league contract. Lee is awful, and Witt is absolutely tearing up AAA. Talk about the definition of replacement player. They have a perfect short term fix, and they let the 30 year old minor leaguer rot without even seeing if he's better than their current bum. Ugh.

Anyway, that's my rant for today. Don't let the Yankees lose like this again or you may be subjected to more posts about my personal baseball frustrations! See you tomorrow. Go Yanks!


rabid stan said...

People just aren't aware that almost any team in the majors can afford to shell out high eight-figures or even nine-figures for its team.

George has a reputation for being ruthless, but its the majority of other owners who are ruthlessly skimming profits off the top of their yearly revenues while he reinvests a significant amount back into the team.

When somebody starts yakking at me about the Yankees' salary, how they try to "buy championships", I tell them how the Royals could afford an 80 million dollar roster if the ownership would use the revenue sharing it gets and had even a mild interest in fielding a major league team. Why then, do they field a team with a third the payroll they could easily afford? Because David Glass is greedier than George Steinbrenner. In fact, almost every other owner in the majors is greedier than George Steinbrenner.

I also tell them that any large market could match the Yankees if their ownership was as interested in putting good baseball on the field as the Yankees are.

The Yanks spend 200 mil while the next team (those poor, everyman Red Sox) spends 130. The Mets, Angels, Cubs, Dodgers and White Sox usually clock in at 95-120 million. Look at how big and bad the Yanks are. But talentwise, they're obviously not so far ahead. No one would argue the Sox are 65% the team the Yankees are.

Much of the disparity between the Yankees payroll and the Sox and other teams' payrolls results from two factors:

1) Concerning the disparity with the Red Sox in particular: they have Ortiz at a bargain rate. If he had the kind of contract he could have gotten on the market based on his performance the last three years, their payroll would be between 140-145 million. Good for the Sox.

2) Concerning the disparity with the rest of the league: the Yankees do not only overpay, they have to overpay. FA's expect them to overpay, because they know George wants to win the World Series every year. So they sqeeze him. If the Yanks were able to make decent deals, their payroll would be at least 50 million dollars smaller than it is. Too bad for the Yankees.

The Yanks pay for talent at an inflated rate, a problem other teams generally don't have. Others overpay, of course, but usually only because they made a stupid deal, not because they had to overpay to get the talent (see Darin Erstad and the Angels).

The Yankees will probably always have the top payroll in baseball while George is alive. The only injustice in that is the gap between them and the rest of the majors. The injustice of the gap is that the rest of the majors can do so much to close it, but they choose not to, depriving their fans of good baseball and championship hopes.

I'd like to finish with a caveat, though I don't think it vitiates the guilt of other organizations: I realize major league talent is a limited resource, that its price would rise if demand were to increase. If, in some hypothetical universe, every organization were run like the Yankees, an $80 million payroll for the Royals wouldn't mean as much as it would if the actual Royals had fielded one this year. But the league would be far more competetive. No more perpetual cellar-dwellers, no more evil empires.

bobtaco said...

Well Travis Lee made you look bad for one day. But I'll take it!

RollingWave said...

Heh Mike, one of the largest Taiwan news paper linked ur pics of Wang on their sports page today :P

Though I guess that's another example of unprofessional sports journalism in taiwan...

Mike Plugh said...


What's the link to the Taiwanese newspaper?

RollingWave said... , it's the top 3 newspaper in Taiwan

though the picture doesn't seem to be on the online version... I saw it this morning at home ;)

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