The Michael Lewis/Oakland A’s love affair: it’s time to move on…

April 19th, 2007 → 9:44 am @

In the inaugural issue of the mildly confusing Portfolio, Conde Nast’s new business magazine, Michael Lewis has a story about a “Jock Exchange” that would function like much like the stock exchange. As is almost always the case when Lewis references baseball, the piece is heavy with references to the Oakland A’s. And as is increasingly the case, many of these references are out of date and are used to illustrate points that might have been true four or five years ago, but aren’t any longer.

To wit: the A’s are not “by far the most cost efficient team in baseball,” as Lewis says: since 2001, the Florida Marlins have paid approximately $488,000 per win, while the A’s have paid about $525,000 (and the Twins approximately $542,661). Lewis credits this incredible cost efficiency largely to the work of Paul DePodesta, who left the A’s “first to become the general manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers and then the San Diego Padres’ special assistant for baseball operations.” Left unmentioned is the fact that DePodesta was fired after two years as the GM of the Dodgers…having spent more than twice as much as the Marlins, A’s, or Twins on each L.A. win.

Lewis is a great writer, and Moneyball is inarguably one of the best books ever written about baseball. He’d be doing himself a favor if he let it stand for itself and stopped writing pieces that use increasingly outdated research to do current articles.*

* Note: hopefully I will follow this advice.

Post Categories: Baseball & Boston & Literature & Media & Music & the Red Sox

Daisuke Matsuzaka: the drain on the pitching staff

April 15th, 2007 → 10:26 am @

Over the last four games, the Sox’s non-Japanese starters have posted a 3-0 record to go along with a .082 ERA. Dice-K? He’s 0-1 with a 3.86. How”d we end up this guy? Geesh.

Post Categories: Baseball & Boston & Literature & Media & Music & the Red Sox

Reflections from Fenway’s Home Opener, 2007 edition

April 11th, 2007 → 9:38 am @

As far as pomp and circumstance go…well, it was no 2005, when somehow I found myself on the field during the Red Sox ring ceremony. (At one point, Larry Lucchino glanced over at me and gave me a “what the hell are you doing out here?” look. I had no good answer.) In fact, I’m sympathetic to those fans who seemed to feel that the ’67 squad got short shrift during the pre-game, on-field ceremony. (And yeah, I thought Yaz, the Hawk, et al., could have gotten individual shout-outs as they ambled onto the field.) But really, how can anyone complain when Robert Goulet — I’m sorry, Lawrence’s own Robert Goulet — is on the field, warbling “The Impossible Dream”? (A quick aside: as inspiring as 1967 was, and I’m fully in the camp that believes that that squad is more responsible for the region’s enduring Red Sox mania than anything else, has any team had a lamer anthem then the a hit song from the Broadway smash “Man of La Mancha”? “Welcome to the Jungle” it’s not.) Goulet’s a professionally trained voice man, and I’d much rather see him out there than a dubious ruffian without the chops…because when a professional gets his mitts on a song, that’s when it really takes off.

The one thing I regretted was that we didn’t get to hear Goulet croon, “I like it when you call me Big Papi — throw your hands in the air when you think you’re a player…Papi.” For that, you’ll need to pick up your copy of “The Coconut Banger’s Ball.” It’s well worth it.

Post Categories: Baseball & Boston & Literature & Media & Music & the Red Sox

The Mike Timlin Files: Told you so

March 21st, 2007 → 11:17 am @

I hate to be the guy who I-told-you-so’s people to death, but with the official announcement that Mike Timlin is going to start the season on the DL, well…I told you so. I didn’t like the Timlin re-signing when it happened; I thought Timlin amply demonstrated his fall-off-the-cliffness during the waning months of last season. True, his salary is relatively insignificant (although I’d love to pull in that kind of insignificant salary), especially when it’s compared to what other relievers are getting. But during those times when he’s not on the DL, he’ll be taking up a much-needed roster spot.

Yes, I know, Timlin is one of the 25, and he’ll forever be sainted for that (it’s possible Timlin takes this notion of sainthood literally, as this Boston Globe piece from 2005 illustrates). And yes, his years of service have been enormously valuable. But my memories of Timlin’s ’06 season are dominated by the massive sucking he did during the Yankees-inflicted Boston Massacre and the moronic manner in which he somehow justified blaming the offense for the team’s collapse. And I do not want to live through that again.

(Note: as I said back in October, if Timlin comes back and has a season more in line with ‘03 and ‘04 and less in line with the second half of ‘06, I reserve the right to make like one of those paid sportswriters and act like he’s been my favorite player all along and that re-signing him was one of the front office’s most brilliant moves.)

Post Categories: Baseball & Boston & Literature & Media & Music & the Red Sox