The best part of the Sunday Night game this week was when Bobby Valentine insulted Dan Schulman for being old. Dan Schulman is pretty young, and Bobby Valentine is pretty old. Bobby was like, “That was the year Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs. You were there to see it, right Dan? I bet you were there to see it. Zing, I totally got you Dan, cough cough cough, excuse me, cough cough, oh now I have to go pee again.”
Sunday Night box score!
Wouldn’t it be awful if you had some terrible web browser that could only go to one site, and that one site was the Yahoo! Answers submit-a-question page? That would be awful. That seems to be what has happened to a lot of people, who have baseball questions but literally nowhere to go except Yahoo! Answers submit-a-question page. Today, I’m going to answer them. Here’s the first one:
The Edwin Jackson question isn’t really a baseball issue. It’s really an economics issue. Edwin Jackson trades are about bubbles.
Consider this post by Bless You Boys’ Ian Casselberry when the Tigers traded Matt Joyce for Edwin Jackson:
Plus, you know, Joyce rescues kittens. Who doesn’t like that? I didn’t want to see him go in a deal for Putz – and that move would fill a crying need on the roster – so that probably means I’m not on board with him being traded for Jackson.
What I’ll tell myself as I sign off for the night, however, is that maybe this trade won’t ultimately be judged by itself. Could this be the precursor to another move? Might Jackson be flipped in another deal?
As it turned out, yes, Jackson might be flipped in another deal. Except it was a year later, so you wouldn’t exactly call it “flipped” so much as “traded again.” There was another post at Bless You Boys when Jackson was traded to the Diamondbacks, essentially for younger, cheaper Max Scherzer. Readers were asked whom they would prefer between Jackson and Scherzer. Seventy percent preferred Scherzer.
Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks fans were digesting the Scherzer/Jackson swap, and concluding that Arizona had overpaid. Here’s AZ Snakepit’s Jim McClennan:
While initial fan reaction seems to have been overwhelmingly negative, thus far, put me in the ‘meh’ category. The negative side, is that we swapped about five years of control over Scherzer, for two years of Jackson.
Ack! Sounds horrible. Trading five years of one guy for two years of a not-really-even-better guy? Stupid, stupid, stup — wait, what’s this? Another trade? Jackson for Daniel Hudson. More McClennan:
I’d have been happy with a straight-up swap of Jackson for Hudson: the latter seems to be not much worse a pitcher already, and has a full five years of control, whereas Jackson will be a free agent after 2011.
And, simultaneously, Colintj at South Side Sox:
Even assuming all that, can a year and some fraction of Edwin Jackson be worth having over Dan Hudson and the accompanying cheapness? … If Hudson is Anything Special, to break even on the deal the Sox will need Jackson to bump BFDPP up to Sabathia-Haren-Lester Performance, since to get that value they’d need to extend his contract past arb into free agency years. With Scott Boras as his agent. On top of that, A-type compensation for Jackson wouldn’t even make up half the value of Anything Special.
But, of course, that’s not the end of it. Not one year later, Jackson was in St. Louis, traded yet again for something better (Colby Rasmus) than he had been traded for previously. (Ignore the fact that the White Sox didn’t cash in on their own investment; they were essentially snookered out of their profits by a successful third-party arbitrage. Principle remains the same.) Once again we get a seller excited about the price he got, and a buyer anxious about the cost paid.
Bluebird Banter: “I’m trilled with this trade.”
You might disagree with me, but I’d rather have Max Scherzer than Matt Joyce, and I’d rather have Dan Hudson than Max Scherzer, and I’d rather have Colby Rasmus than Dan Hudson, and each step along the way Edwin Jackson was also more expensive and had one less year of team control.
This is classic bubble mentality. Compare it to the rising price of gold, a commodity that has no inherent value and yet has seen demand grow almost out of control recently. NPR’s Planet Money looked at the rising price of gold a few months ago:
A few days later, we talked to Dennis Gartman, who manages hundreds of millions of dollars of investments — including some $25 million in gold.
But Gartman isn’t betting on inflation. He told us he’s buying simply because the price has been rising, and he thinks it’s going to keep going up, at least for a while.
Gartman’s bottom-line advice: “Don’t try to make sense of gold.”
In other words: Investors buy gold because the price of gold is going up. There are no fundamentals to predict this, or quarterly earnings reports that explain it. It just does. If everybody is irrational about gold, jump into the market and start buying and then selling gold. Everybody is overpaying, but the next buyer will overpay even more. Real estate, tech stocks, maybe gold — that’s a bubble.
Baseball is in the middle of an Edwin Jackson bubble. The Cardinals are probably already in talks with the Braves to trade Jackson for Tommy Hanson. The Braves will hold onto him for a little bit, but their end-game is to trade Jackson for Andrew McCutchen. The Pirates are about the last team in the world that needs Edwin Jackson, so they’ll trade Jackson, too. Maybe back to the Braves for Jason Heyward. Maybe to the Giants for Buster Posey. Most likely, though, they’ll trade Edwin Jackson to the Angels for Mike Trout. The Angels just have to hope that the bubble can withstand outside indicators, like the fact that Edwin Jackson will, technically, be a free agent at the time.
Answer: “They call me “Little Pony.” It’s because of the way I cut my hair, with the tail(kind of a faux Mohawk). It’s fine. The way they say it is funny. If it was mean, I wouldn’t take it.” — Denver Post, April 30, 2010.
[Scene: Carlos Gonzalez walks into the Rockies' clubhouse Wednesday afternoon.]
Todd Helton: Hey, Little Pony.
Carlos Gonzalez: Hey, Todd.
Rafael Betancourt: Hey, Little Pony.
Carlos Gonzalez: Hey, Rafael.
Matt Lindstrom: Hey, Little Pony.
Carlos Gonzalez: Hey, Matt.
Troy Tulowitzki: Whattup, Little Pony.
Carlos Gonzalez: Hey, Troy.
Eric Young, Jr.: Hi, Little Pony!
Carlos Gonzalez: Hey, EY.
Seth Smith: Hey, Little Pony.
Carlos Gonzalez: Hi Seth.
Jhoulys Chacin: Hey, Little Pony.
Carlos Gonzalez: Hey, Jhoulys.
Ian Stewart: Hey, Little Pony.
Carlos Gonzalez: Hi Ian.
Bob Apodaca: Hi, Little Pony.
Carlos Gonzalez: Hey Bob.
Chris Iannetta: Hey, Little Pony.
Carlos Gonzalez: Hi Chris.
Buster Olney: Hey, Little Pony.
Carlos Gonzalez: Hello, Buster.
Todd Helton: Hello again, Little Pony.
Carlos Gonzalez: Hello again, Todd.
Rex Brothers: Hey, Little Pony.
Carlos Gonzalez: Hi Rex.
Kevin Millwood: Hey, Little Pony. Just wanted to introduce myself. I’m Kevin Millwood, just added to the roster. I really admire the way you play.
Carlos Gonzalez: Hi, Kevin. Good to have you.
Josh Roenicke: Hey, Little Pony.
Carlos Gonzalez: Hey there, uhhhh, hey dude.
Jim Tracy: Hi, Little Pony.
Carlos Gonzalez: Good afternoon, skip.
Aaron Cook: Hey, Little Pony.
Carlos Gonzalez: Hey, Aaron.
Huston Street: Hey, Little Pony.
Carlos Gonzalez: What did you just call me, bitch?
Carlos Gonzalez: Say it again.
Carlos Gonzalez: Say it again, you little bitch.
The next day:
Careful the way you say it, is what I’m saying.
Excellent question. Yes, Lance Berkman played for the Yankees. This fact just jarred a number of people, who had already forgotten that Lance Berkman played for the Yankees not one year ago. But in about four years, this will be like Astounding Fact of the Day, and people won’t even believe it until you pull up the B-Ref page. Berkman is a leading contender for forgotten Yankee cameo of the past 10 years. Here are the current leaders for every team:
- Angels: Ron Gant
- A’s: Ron Gant
- Astros: Aubrey Huff
- Blue Jays: Edgardo Alfonzo Armando Benitez
- Braves: Wally Joyner
- Brewers: Ray Durham
- Cardinals: Chuck Finley John Smoltz
- Cubs: Phil Nevin
- Diamondbacks: Adam Dunn
- Rays: Hank Blalock
- Dodgers: Jim Thome
- Nationals: Todd Zeile
- Giants: Brad Penny
- Indians: Brady Anderson
- Mariners: Brad Wilkerson
- Marlins: Chad Tracy
- Mets: Trot Nixon
- Orioles: Adam Eaton
- Padres: Ron Gant
- Phillies: Mike Sweeney
- Pirates: Derrek Lee/Ryan Ludwick
- Rangers: Carlos Lee
- Reds: Jorge Cantu
- Red Sox: Javy Lopez
- Royals: Juan Gonzalez
- Rockies: Ron Gant
- Tigers: Hal Morris
- Twins: Bret Boone
- White Sox: Ken Griffey, Jr.
- Yankees: Richie Sexson
I am absolutely soliciting your corrections to this list, if you’ve got a better one for your team. (Bonus points to anybody who can figure out why the teams are ordered precisely as they are.)
This is a trick question. There have been only four Rockies in history: Todd Helton, Vinny Castilla, various incarnations of Eric Young, and Armando Reynoso. They have played all nine positions in all 2,976 games in franchise history. This is why scoring is so high in Colorado.
Obviously, asking on Yahoo Answers is the best and probably some would say only way to get the names of all the Cardinals, so congratulations on a good first step. I hope I’m not too late to assist you and your step-brother. You’ve got a good start with Albert Pojols, but he’s one of just 25 Cardinals, and that doesn’t even include minor leaguers who cycle on and off the roster. Besides Pojols, you’ll want to add: Matt Hollodoy; Joe L. Piniero; Chris Corkenter; Tony LaRosa; Skip Shoemaster; Bean Stringfollow; Lance Burdman; Ferdinando Salsa; Jack Westbroke; Ryan Franklin, Jr.; Marc Whiten; Erin Miles; Ryan Tarot; Tony Yayo; Coby Rasmus; Edward Johnson; Rod Wellemeyer; Mitch McConnell; Something Something Molina; John J.; and Dennis Reyes. You’re all set!
I’ve mentioned Chris Jaffe’s excellent book, “Evaluating Baseball’s Managers,” in this space before. He sums up La Russa’s strategy pretty much the way most of us would: “La Russa likes the decision-making parts of the game — pinch-hitters, bringing in relievers, bunting, stealing bases.” Got it. Knew that. Have made fun of him for that, and chuckled when other people have made fun of him for that, and pretty much considered him an overrated small-ball faux-genius who has trouble getting along with his third-best players. What I didn’t know is that, according to Jaffe’s rather comprehensive method for assessing manager influence with objective measures, Tony La Russa is the second-best manager in baseball history.
- Joe McCarthy (1,451 runs difference)
- Tony La Russa (1,012 runs)
- Bill McKechnie (998 runs)
- Walter Alston
- John McGraw
- Al Lopez
- Earl Weaver
- Billy Martin
- Frank Chance
- Fred Clarke
- Bobby Cox
- Billy Southworth
- Dick Williams
- Sparky Anderson
- Leo Durocher (513 runs)
That list, as a whole, clearly passes the smell test. Or, as Chris says, “The results confirm the overall validity.” So do we have to seriously consider that La Russa is an actual managerial genius, the best of his generation by far and on his way to being the greatest of all-time?
Jaffe finds La Russa’s skill in nearly every part of the game. Individual pitchers do better than expected under La Russa; individual hitters do better than expected under La Russa; team offense functions better than expected under La Russa; and La Russa teams win more than their run differentials would predict. Jaffe looks specifically at how well each manager fills out the lineup card to get good OBPs at the top of the order, and finds that La Russa is the second-best manager in history at lineup creation.
And while La Russa is disliked by many fans — perhaps reasonably — for the feuding with some of his best players (J.D. Drew, Scott Rolen, Colby Rasmus), Jaffe concludes that it might not be a managerial flaw. La Russa is, Jaffe writes, a redass who “continually fights an internal battle between the burning desire to push for victory in every game with the recognition of long-term interests. … These feuds may be shortsighted, but they send a message to the rest of the team. If Scott Rolen is not safe, everyone knows they need to play relentlessly. This ensures La Russa’s teams give maximum effort.”
The result: In full seasons, La Russa has managed as many teams that have had the best record in the league (seven) as have had losing records. If Jaffe’s numbers are correct, the 1,000+ runs make him more valuable than all but about 25 players in history. If they’re not correct, then feel free to make fun of him for overmanaging and liking Aaron Miles.
Well. Like most American-born big leaguers, Todd Helton loves to hunt. I don’t think people realize just how much hunting baseball players do. If it weren’t for baseball players, the nation would be overrun by stupid animals. Here is a diagram of what would happen to Manhattan if baseball players were to stop protecting us for just 24 hours:
Helton loves a few places in Colorado in particular. His favorite place is near Kersey, on the South Platte River. And the Western Slope is on his checklist of places to kill animals very soon, so that’s another place he might be. That’s probably the best place for you to meet him, assuming you don’t spook him and scare him away. You’ll want to sneak up on him.
OK, let’s go to the speed round:
Answer: No. Nobody knows him. But if they did, they would say he was the least happy person in every photo he takes:
Oh, for goodness sake, somebody get Carlos Gonzalez under control.