The perception exists that those who write about baseball without insider sources or media accreditation have no place criticizing front offices for their decisions. It’s argued that the proliferation of these uninformed negative opinions is insulting and unfair to the targets of scorn and ridicule, which is usually a team’s general manager.
I think that such a stance is a bit of a stretch, but I do agree that there’s a tendency among bloggers, columnists and reporters to be purposefully narrow minded in their considerations. This can be seen in only writing about statistics or only writing about intangibles or only writing about finances, without considering that perhaps, all three of these things and more factors inform a decision. Still, it’s those who are left unprotected by their lack of sources and access that are most open to judgment.
While it remains true that some writers will present partial brush strokes as the entirety of a painted picture when arguing for or against a particular transaction, this type of misrepresentation pales in comparison to the insults heaped down on general managers across baseball today by a certain national columnist for CBS Sports.
In his latest column, Jon Heyman supposes that postseason performance has a bigger impact than it does while preparing a listicle on those whose play since the beginning of October has helped or hindered their pursuit of a free agent contract this coming off season. Imagining that a small sample size over a couple of weeks at the very end of the season would have much of an impact in the thinking of front offices is likely scornful enough, but Mr. Heyman adds an extra measure of insult when he suggests that Nick Swisher’s struggles for the New York Yankees has degraded his value to the point where he could be had by an interested team this winter for on a three-year deal.
Any hope for a Jayson Werth deal is out the window now. While Werth hit his 14th postseason home run, Swisher now has seven postseason RBI in 177 at-bats. He’s getting booed at home, and taking it hard, so if he wasn’t a sure bet to leave before he surely is now. One rival GM said he could see Swisher get $36 million to $39 million on a three-year deal. But the Yankees plan to extend the qualifying offer, which may further inhibit his free-agent haul.
So, just to be clear, what Mr. Heyman is suggesting here is that Nick Swisher will lose out on upwards of $90 million in guaranteed money because he’s only gotten two hits in 26 at-bats this postseason. He’s going to go from Jayson Werth dollars to Kosuke Fukudome spare change because of 30 plate appearances. Not only that, but there’s a chance, according to Mr. Heyman, that having to give up a draft pick to acquire Swisher may leave his suitors completely disinterested.
According to Fangraphs, Swisher has provided $66 million worth of value to the Yankees for a contract that has paid him $33 million. At the age of 31, he’ll be looking for a free agent contract for the first time in his career. While the type of money that Werth got from the Washington Nationals would certainly be ambitious, Swisher’s numbers are better than Andre Ethier’s, and the Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder signed a five-year, $85 million extension only a matter of months ago.
I doubt there’s a team in baseball that wouldn’t want to sign Swisher to the type of deal that Mr. Heyman suggests he’ll receive. And to imagine that the added cost of a draft pick would hinder the approach of front offices this off season is to think general managers to be absolutely incompetent idiots.
… and yet, it’s bloggers who treat Major League Baseball general managers with contempt by spouting off their poorly informed thoughts.