March 11, 2004

In Da Club. Michael Lewis, author of Moneyball, wrote an article recently (Sports Illustrated, March 1, 2004) in which he responded to many of his critics. He began by talking about The Club. "The Club includes not only the people in the front office who operate the team but also ... many of the writers and broadcasters who follow the game and purport to explain it. The Club is exclusive, but the criteria for admission and retention are nebulous. There are many ways to embarrass the Club, but being bad at your job is not one of them. The greatest offense a Club member can commit is not ineptitude but disloyalty. ... There are no real standards, because no one wants to put too fine a point on the question: What qualifies these people for these jobs? Taking into account any quality other than Clubability would make everyone's membership a little less secure."

I thought of Lewis's comments while reading this article on Dusty Baker. Dusty is clearly a member of The Club. "I think walks are overrated unless you can run. If you get a walk and put the pitcher in a stretch, that helps. But the guy who walks and can't run, most of the time they're clogging up the bases for somebody who can run. ... Who's been the champions the last seven, eight years? Have you ever heard the Yankees talk about on-base percentage and walks? [Uh, yeah Dusty, all the freakin' time.] Walks help. But you ain't going to walk across the plate. You're going to hit across the plate. That's the school I come from. It's called hitting, and it ain't called walking. Do you ever see the top 10 walking? You see top 10 batting average. A lot of those top 10 do walk. But the name of the game is to hit." ... In the words of one Baseball Primer poster: "If someone can't learn the value of plate discipline from managing Bonds, there is no hope."

Last year's Red Sox manager (hereinafter referred to as "Tito's Predecessor") believed Johnny Damon was hitting the sauce too much last year and that's why the Unfrozen Caveman started only 141 games. Damon, who apparently likes his liquids, was surprised by the accusation. "I found out from him that he thought I might have been partying too much. I might have been out (at night), but I was eating food, hanging out with my girlfriend, hanging out with my teammates. ... There was never one time last year that I was incapacitated where I was so dang drunk that I didn't know what was going on. I'm smarter than that."

SoSH poster gutzalpus2: "Damon was interviewed on 99.7 (the score) this morning. ... He said that one of the games he was benched for was when the team went to Anaheim -- he went to Vegas on his off day and was benched the next day when Grady found out about this. He also said that a couple of times Grady gave him the day off when other teammates went to Grady asking him to give Damon the day off because he was 'hurting'. Not sure if that meant 'hurting' as in hung over from partying or just from being worn down from playing a 162 game season -- he didn't elaborate on that."

Damon says he'll be a little more aggressive at the plate this season. "The last couple of years, I put myself in a bind as far as my average and OPS because I'd go up there and take (pitches), trying to wear the pitchers out. When the bat's struggling, that's the time I need to take a few more pitches and try to beat them by walking. But when the bat's going good, I need to swing it and make things happen." ... To which Terry Francona said: "I want him to get on base. I don't care if he walks, hits, or bunts." ... Damon's OBP last year was only .345, which tied him with Nomar Garciaparra for 2nd worst in the starting lineup. The lowest OBP belonged to Todd Walker (.333). Imagine how deadly the Red Sox offense would have been if Tito's Predecessor hadn't batted the 3 worst OBPs at the top of the order; Manny would have picked up a few more RBI too.

Sean McAdam writes that the Red Sox have made their third contract-extension offer in the last 12 months to Nomar: four years with an average annual value of $13-14, and a possible fifth option year. While not as lucrative as the team's deal last spring, it is better than what they offered after the end of last season. The offer was not accepted. ... Ramiro Mendoza threw off a mound for the first time in nearly a month yesterday. ... Trouble Already? Gary Sheffield says he is "pissed off" at Brian Cashman.

Sandy Koufax, an old friend of Dave Wallace, was in the Red Sox camp this week. ... A poster named "FourZeroSix" at wickedeastcoastforums compares Koukax and Pedro Martinez. Koufax was a great pitcher, although he also had an advantage of working in an extreme pitcher's park in a low-scoring era. When you look at career ERA, league ERA, ERA+, WHIP, K/BB ... it ain't even close.
        ERA+     Year

Pedro 285 2000 (1.74 ERA/AL ERA 4.97)
Pedro 245 1999 (2.07 ERA/AL ERA 5.07)
Pedro 221 1997
Pedro 212 2003
Pedro 196 2002
Koufax 190 1966
Pedro 189 2001
Koufax 187 1964
Koufax 161 1963
Pedro 160 1998
Koufax 160 1965
If you include only those seasons in which the pitcher's mound was 60-6 from the plate, Pedro has the #1, #8, #15, #25 and #40 all-time ERA+ seasons. Koufax's best ranks #56 all-time. ... And just because I was curious, here are three seasons:
              ERA   Lg ERA  ERA+

2000 Pedro 1.74 4.97 285
1966 Koufax 1.73 3.28 190
1968 Gibson 1.12 2.90 258

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