Wednesday, October 03, 2007

I Can't Believe you Get Paid for this, Terrence

In one of the least surprising developments in Atlanta sports history, Terrence Moore thinks the Braves should keep Andruw Jones. Does he examine Jones's record to give us hope that his disastrous 2007 was a fluke? Does he attempt to justify making a long-term commitment to a guy who doesn't pay so much attention to staying in shape? Does he make the argument that Jones is worth the $15-18M per year that it will apparently take to sign him? No. He's Terrence Moore and he wants a unicorn to come down and pay for Andruw Jones with hugs, smiles, and Monopoly money. Let the fisking commence:

Bad move.

Terrible move.


OK, we've established that you think that two words can constitute an effective paragraph. What else are you going to do to embarrass yourself?

Actually, this is an atrocious move for the Braves, because manager Bobby Cox had it right for eternity when he said of Andruw Jones, who ranks 1a, 1b or 1c among baseball’s center fielders for the ages, “He has RBIs in his glove.”


Yes, Andruw saves runs with his glove. So does Reggie Abercrombie. Does his defensive ability justify a .238 OBP? Are there teams lining up to give him $100M over five years?

It didn’t matter that Jones often looked ridiculous for long stretches after swinging and missing at pitches in search of reaching the farthest dark hole. Who cared that his batting average spent two seasons going south instead of north? No, he wasn’t much in the clutch this year, and yes, his agent is Scott Boras, the bogeyman for teams wishing to sign one of Boras’ clients below the amount of the national debt.


Let's rephrase this to be about a sports columnist instead of a centerfielder to illustrate the fact that an outfielder's inability to hit is somewhat important:

It didn't matter that Moore couldn't tell the difference between first person and third person voice. It didn't matter that Moore demonstrated such a lack of understanding of baseball that he determined that Juan Pierre was the solution to the Braves' hole in left field. It didn't matter that Moore couldn't construct a logical argument that would pass muster in eighth grade civics, let alone a major newspaper. It didn't matter than Moore demanded to be paid $11M per year to write columns that only served to anger his readership.

And, yes, the Braves can ease some of the post-Jones trauma with the signing of free agent Torii Hunter, the former center fielder and slugger for the Minnesota Twins. He also has a magic glove, and even though he can’t slug with Jones, he is more consistent at the plate with his ability to sustain hitting streaks.


Demonstrating the adage that a stopped clock is right twice a day, Moore actually makes a decent point here. Hunter is a good player and, unlike Andruw, his OPS+ has gone up in each of the last four seasons. Not coincidentally, he takes care of himself physically and has therefore not shown the aging effects that a centerfielder carrying around 15 extra pounds in the belly might.

That said, with the new folks at Liberty Media claiming they are willing to increase the payroll, the Braves’ Designated Geniuses should have discovered ways to acquire much-needed starting pitching while keeping Jones.


It's all so simple! The Braves should re-sign Andruw for an outrageous sum AND improve the pitching. Presumably, we'll trade Corky Miller for Jake Peavy and Chris Woodward for Brandon Webb. We'll then win five straight World Series titles and it was all because the profoundly moving Terrence Moore suggested to Liberty Media that it bump the payroll up to $150M and give Kevin Towers and Josh Byrnes lobotomies!

In fact, Jones was part of the solution regarding that starting pitching. He is the hidden reason the Braves produced Cy Glavine, Cy Smoltz and Cy Maddux, along with all of those consecutive years of team ERAs that ranked first or second in baseball. He caught everything. He threw out everybody. He made the spectacular routine. He did so through an 11th year with the Braves that will produce a 10th Gold Glove, but management will shove Jones out the door by allowing him to become a free agent while yawning.


Here are the Braves' ranks in NL ERA in the seven years before Andruw Jones became a regular centerfielder in 1998:

1991 - 3rd
1992 - 1st
1993 - 1st
1994 - 2nd
1995 - 1st
1996 - 2nd
1997 - 1st

Gee, how did the Braves' pitchers ever get anyone out when Otis Nixon, Deion Sanders, Roberto Kelly, Marquis Grissom, and Kenny Lofton were in centerfield?

Moore's citation to the gold glove award, one of the most useless awards on the face of the planet, just shows the bankruptcy of his argument. Riddle me this, Terrence: if Andruw can no longer steal bases, that would imply that he's not especially fast anymore, right? And if he's not especially fast anymore, then how does he catch everything? As for throwing everyone out, would it have killed Moore to actually look at Andruw's outfield assists - seven in the past two years - before making yet another argument that would have been true several years ago, but isn't now?

Well, mostly yawning. As a lifetime Braves player who contributed heavily to the franchise’s record 14 consecutive division titles, Braves officials will continue to say nice things about Jones as they wave good-bye. Still, the bottom line remains: He’s gone, and he’s only 30, and history comes to mind. Not in a good way, especially if the baseball gods wish to spank the Braves for their short-sightedness.


This oughta be good. Terrence is going to teach us a little history. Will he blame the Braves decline on the departure of Brian Jordan or David Justice? I'm tingling with anticipation.

Consider 1966. That was the first year Frank Robinson played for the Baltimore Orioles, and it was the first year of David Justice’s life.


And there's our answer.

Let’s start with Robinson, the undisputed star of the Cincinnati Reds for nearly a decade. He was traded to the Orioles for nothing worth mentioning before that 1966 season, because Reds owner Bill DeWitt said Robinson was “an old 30.” All that a creaky Robinson did in his first season with the Orioles was take the American League’s Triple Crown Award, lead them to their first world championship and grab World Series MVP honors. He eventually pushed the Orioles to three more pennants and another world championship (over the Reds), and then trotted to Cooperstown from there.


Cincinnati traded Frank Robinson following a year in which Robinson had a .926 OPS. He showed absolutely no signs of decline. Andruw is coming off of his worst season in a Braves uniform. Additionally, the Reds made the voluntary decision to trade Robinson. Do you not see a wee distinction between trading someone already under contract and not pursuing an expensive free agent when you have finite payroll and a pitching staff in desperate need of reinforcement?

As for Justice, the batting hero of the Atlanta Braves’ only world championship in 1995, he suffered a shoulder injury early during that next season, and then he was dealt to the Cleveland Indians before the following year for nothing worth mentioning.


Nothing worth mentioning = three-time all-star Kenny Lofton, who was coming off a season in which he had a .372 OBP, stole 75 bases, and finished 11th in the MVP voting. Oh, and Lofton was heading into his age-30 season and promptly had a poor year for the Braves. That kinda defeats the argument that letting someone go around their 30th birthday is always a terrible idea, doesn't it?

He was …

That’s right, 30.


Do you get paid by the paragraph, Terrence?

Justice immediately slugged the Indians to their second World Series in three years.


Justice had an outstanding year in 1997, possibly because he was angry about getting traded and decided to show the world that he could still play, but that's neither here nor there. In terms of getting the Indians to the World Series, Justice hit a whopping .253 with one homer in 67 post-season at-bats in 1997. He must be the reason why the Indians made the World Series.

He later joined the New York Yankees, where he became the MVP of the AL championship series before helping to lead the pinstripe bunch to another world championship.


You're right. Justice was the key to the Yankees winning in 2000. Where else could they have found a DH to hit .206 in a post-season?

When he ended his career with a playoff trip with the Oakland A’s, he had reached the playoffs six times after his trade from the Braves. He also retired as the all-time postseason leader in games played, at bats, extra-base hits, runs, hits, total bases, walks and RBIs.


Congrats, Terrence. You've conclusively established that David Justice played on a lot of good baseball teams. He played for the Braves in the midst of a run of 14-straight divisional titles, the Indians in the midst of five straight divisional titles, the Yankees in the midst of a run of 13 straight playoff appearances that shows no signs of abating, and the A's in the midst of a run of four straight playoff appearances. How is this relevant to Andruw Jones? Oh yeah, you were making the point that it is dangerous to off-load a player at age 30 by showing that the Braves made a mistake when they traded one star outfielder around age 30 for another. The lesson most sane people would take from the Lofton/Justice trade is that it is bad to acquire a malcontent with a bad hamstring. The lesson for Terrence is that baseball teams should never trade 30-year olds.

By the way, Moore cites to Justice's aggregate post-season stats, but neglects to note that Justice is a career .224 hitter in the playoffs with a .717 OPS. He accumulated lots of numbers because he played for good teams and the playoffs are much longer now than they were for most of baseball's history. There's that pesky concept of context biting Terrence in the rear again. (For the record, I always liked David Justice. I just feel the need to slag him off because Terrence Moore is using him to illustrate a point.)

This isn’t to say Jones will become Robinson or even Justice during his post-Braves career.

This is to say why even take the chance?


This reasoning could be used to prevent the Braves from ever letting any player go. Why let Chris Woodward go when he could turn into Cal Ripken? Why let Buddy Carlyle go when he could be the next Greg Maddux? Moore's argument is also putrid because he acts as if the only risk is in letting Andruw go. There can't possibly be any risk involved in giving an expensive long-term contract to a pudgy centerfielder who is plainly not as fast as he used to be and is coming off of his worst season in the majors. A useful analyst would compare the risks and make a recommendation. Terrence Moore is not useful. Or, as Terrence would write it...

Terrence Moore.

Is not.

Useful.

8 comments:

Kenneth said...

Best review ever!

Anonymous said...

Oh, man. This is awesome.
keep.

up.
the.
good work.

shortino said...

ha!

ha!

ha!

KennyBanya said...

Thank you for this.

I read the article this morning and thought it was possibly Moore's worst column in recent memory. And that is saying something.

I was so mad after reading it and couldn't find any way to release since the AJC doesn't give their email addresses.

Very therapeutic for me.

Ed said...

Michael,

Think you're so clever, huh?

Where would we be now if we hadn't foolishly unloaded both Denny Neagle and Russ Ortiz at the promising age of thirty?

Dare I say: D-Y-N-A-S-T-Y?

John said...

Awesome post. Good work. Keep it up.
Freelance Job Offers - for writers

Hobnail_Boot said...

Thank God for folks in Cleveland, David Justice was there to carry Sandy Alomar Jr, Jim Thome, Matt Williams, Omar Vizquel, Manny Ramirez, and Marquis Grissom into the playoffs.

Thank.

God.

Andrew said...

kennybanya,

list of contacts at the AJC:
http://www.ajc.com/services/content/services/info/staff.html

terence isn't listed, but if he has an ajc email address, it will be tmoore@ajc.com

unload away, my friend!