Thursday, July 23, 2009

Catching Up With Joe

We're a little bit behind on the JoeChats, so we'll get caught up with this JoeChat from July 7. This week's JoeChat is coming soon to a LomHenn blog near you.

For now, two-week old JoeChat!

Buzzmaster: We're getting Joe Morgan right now!

Why is he not here? Is he in the bathroom?

Joe Morgan: Looking forward to next week's all-star game. It's a great time of the season. It gives a break in the season for the players and the fans. It's a great time.

I like the All-Star Game, but I disagree that the all-star break is a "great time." There is no meaningful baseball for three days!

Matt (Jacksonville): Joe, do you think the Cubs will be more consistent with Aramis Ramirez back?

Another first question "consistent." If there is anyone reading this who participates in the JoeChats, I ask that you stop Joe-baiting if you are doing so.

Joe Morgan: I definitely think they will be. He has been the key to their offense being consistent as far as I'm concerned. He's the most productive hitter on that team the last few years. With him back, I think they'll do beter.

Aramis Ramirez is the Cubs' best hitter. If he is at all healthy, he will help them in the second
half of the season. Joe is right as far as that goes.

But, according to Joe, Ramirez "has been the key to their offense being consistent as far as I'm concerned." The Cubs have been plenty consistent offensively this season: consistently awful. They don't need Ramirez to help them be more consistent; they need him to hit the living snot out of the ball and do what he's done the past five seasons (OPS 2004-2008: .951, .926, .912, .915, .898). If he does this, he will probably make whoever hits in front of him better (i.e. better pitches to hit), but he will actually be making the Cubs "inconsistent" with how they are hitting now.

Ed (Denver): Hey, Joe. I was wondering your thoughts on Marquis getting into the all-star game? Don't you think his 11 wins are the product of run support and not that that he's a good pitcher? Thanks!

Joe Morgan: That is an excellent point, Ed (Denver). As you point out, Wins are a terrible metric for evaluating a pitcher's performance, because that statistic does not necessarily reflect how well a pitcher pitched. For example, a pitcher who consistently gives up 6 runs a game may still get a lot of wins if his team consistently scores 7 runs a game, while a pitcher who gives up only 3 runs per game may still get a lot of losses if his team can only average 2 runs per game.That being said, Jason Marquis has a decent ERA (3.65) and his ERA+ is 120. He may not be the best choice, but he is certainly not the worst.

You didn't actually fall for that, did you? I did try to bait you with all the "consistentlys," but would you ever believe that Joe would give that answer? If that were Joe's actual answer, Zinglebert and I would organize a parade through the streets of Bonham, TX celebrating Joe Morgan and his awesomeness at analyzing baseball games. We would buy poster-sized portraits of Joe Morgan and hang them in our homes. I would also never critique another JoeChat.

Sadly, none of that will come to pass, as here is Joe's real answer to Ed (Denver), vis-a-vis Jason Marquis:

The name of the game, people always want to forget, for pitchers is wins and losses. If you beat a team 1-0, as he did recently, or 5-4, it doesn't matter. If you win, that goes on the team's side of the victory column. I'm not so much for a guy that has a low ERA and a losing record. That tells me that the other pitcher pitched better than he did, because that team scored more runs. Jason Marquis is a good pitcher. He's not a shut down pitcher, he's not a No. 1, but he deserves to be in the All-Star game.

You cannot assume that because a pitcher has a low ERA and a losing record, the other pitcher pitched better. As Zinglebert points out, you can throw a no-hitter and still lose because the other eight players on the team fucked it up for you with errors. Just ask Ken Johnson, who threw a no-hitter and lost 1-0 back in 1964.

Also, a pitcher cannot control how well the other pitcher performs. If you pitch well for a crappy offensive team, does that mean that the other pitcher was better than you, as Joe suggests? Not necessarily--your team's offense sucks. How can a pitcher control that?

Brian (Irvine,CA): I'm a Giants fan and I hope Mr. Sabean will make a trade for 2B or 1B? Do you agree with me?

Joe Morgan: They need another bat. Another consistent bat.

What if that bat is consistently dreadful?

Kunfu (sic) Panda is their most consistent hitter right now. They moved Aaron Rowand to the lead off spot after paying him all that money to be an RBI guy. Where that bat comes from, I think it has to be a first baseman. They definitely need an RBI guy.

First off, Rowand was signed by the Giants after posting a .889 OPS with Philadelphia in 2007. Here are his OPS numbers for the two seasons prior: .745 and .736. In 2008, Rowand had a .749 OPS and is going along at a .773 clip this season. So clearly, the Giants made a mistake in thinking that Rowand was going to set the world on fire. Yes, he did OPS .905 in 2004 with the White Sox, but that's the only other season he's been above .800.

Secondly, Babe Ruth reincarnated may not be an "RBI guy" on the Giants this season. The Giants have a team OBP of .308--dead last in MLB. For someone to be an RBI guy, there has to be someone on the bases--not likely with the Giants this year.

Oh, and two "consistents" in the same answer. Joe is himself today.

Matt (Boston): Is Tulo ever going to become a consistent, power-hitting SS?

Not that people aren't helping Joe be that way.

Joe Morgan: That's a very good question. He had such a great rookie year and they gave him a long term contract and he hasn't performed well since. I think the jury's still out on how good he can be, will be. When you play in Colorado, the ball carries better and it's easier to get hits and HRs. They were thinking he'd be one of the guys one of these days. Eventually, they were looking to be that slugger. But I'm not sure he's going to be that guy. We'll have to wait and see. That's a very good question.

Or: "Maybe. It's easier to hit home runs in Colorado. Maybe."

In other words, nothing.

Nick (Boston, MA): Who do you feel should be the starter for the AL at the All-Star Game?

This is easy, right? Just pick one. Maybe pick the best starting pitcher so far this season, but this is simply asking for Joe's opinion.

Joe Morgan: Hmmm. Another good question. I would say either Greinke or Hernandez. I think Hernandez would be a big story because of his age and Greinke had the good start to the season and has cooled off a little.

So, Greinke may not be the best choice...?

Also, as I've mentioned previously, Joe cannot be typing these any more, if he ever did. Would he actually type "Hmmm?"

The game seems to be now more about buzz. I think you'd get a bigger buzz with a guy like Hernandez because he's a power pitcher.

Fair enough.

Brandon (Albany): What do you think the chances are the Astros can make another 2nd half surge and get the wild card only being about 4.5 games out right now? Joe Morgan: The Astros are a very complicated team. Every year, I think they can't make a run and they do. Last year, I think they could have made the playoffs other than those three games in Milwaukee against the Cubs. But until they stop making second half runs, I'll say they can do it again. Carlos Lee is still getting back from injury. Oswalt seems to be rounding into form. I will definitely not disagree that it can happen.

The best thing going for the Astros is that they play in the weak NL Central. In fact, Baseball Prospectus gives the Astros an 8% chance of winning the division, but only a 1% chance of winning the NL wild card. Getting Lee back helps, but their hitting is likely to stay pretty much where it's been all season. Their pitching has had some bad luck, as the team BaBIP was 15 points above the league average at the All-Star break. So it's possible that Houston's pitching will get better.

For the record, I love the assumption that because a team has done something in previous seasons, it is likely to do so again this season.

Matt (St. Paul, MN): Joe, who's your midseason AL MVP? I'm just assuming that Pujols is the NL candidate?

Joe Morgan: There's no doubt that he's the NL MVP. The American League is a little more complicated. Originally, I would look to someone from Boston, because they have the best team, but I don't see anyone. Youkilis was doing well and Pedroia isn't having the same kind of season as last year. Same thing for the Yankees. Right now, Justin Morneau, Miguel Cabrera are having good seasons. Their teams have a chance at winning. And I like Tori Hunter because of his defense. He plays CF and that's a tough position to play. But thre are a lot of other guys having good seasons as well.

The idea that the MVP has to come from a winning team (or as Joe suggests, the best team) is ridiculous. But that's what it seems to have come down to when it comes to voting.

Youkilis is 5th in the AL with a OPS+ of 151. Morneau is 2nd with 164. Cabrera's: 132--not in the top 15. Hunter: 138--14th.

WARP3 numbers (which take into account fielding): Hunter--7.9, Morneau--8.1, Cabrera--6.2. Joe Mauer leads the AL in OPS+ at 177 and has an 8.2 WARP3, so he might be a better choice.

K (philly): Were you ever involved in a game like last nights Phils/Reds ?

Joe Morgan: No. Sparky would never let us to beat someone that badly. As an example, I drove in 7 runs in the first few innings and we were up 12-1 or something like that and he took me out of the game. I looked at the 8-9 inning last night and the regulars were still playing. Sparky would have never let that happen. When we got way ahead, he would take the regulars out.

According to the box score and the play-by-play, the Phillies scored 16 runs in the first four innings, including 10 runs in the first. And guess what: Charlie Manuel took both Chase Utley and Ryan Howard out of the game during the 4th inning. Including Matt Stairs, who pinch-hit in the 8th, the Phillies used 11 position players--8 starters and 3 subs. The Phillies only have 13 position players, since they also carry 12 pitchers on their roster. In other words, Manuel left only two players on his bench, one of whom was the backup catcher (who you typically don't want to use because catcher is such a difficult position, and if the backup comes into the game and gets hurt, you're out of catchers). True, the Phillies scored 6 runs in the 8th, but they weren't running up the score. Even backup players want to get hits, so it's not realistic to think that the Phillies batters stopped trying after the 5th inning.

The other point that Joe makes here is that "Sparky would never let" a game like this happen. According to this boxscore from April 25, 1977, the Reds beat the Braves 23-9. If you take a look at it, you'll notice that the Reds had six players come off the bench in the game, which seems to make Joe's point. However, you'll also notice that each of those bench players have exactly one plate appearance. None of the subs got into the game until after the Reds had put up all 23 runs. Sparky didn't sub at all before that, so Joe's idea that Sparky "would never let that happen" is ludicrous. Of course Sparky didn't run up the score, but he didn't sub until the Reds were safely head by 19 runs.

And is it interesting to anyone else that Joe assumed that he'd be on the winning side? The Reds were the losers in the game the question referred to.

Brian (Hamden,CT): what do you think of John Smoltz so far, do you think he will be a big part of the red sox plans in Sept/Oct

Joe Morgan: I'm actually surprised that he's pitched as poorly in both games. I thought he might pitch poorly the first game, because it had been a while. But last night he didn't pitch well again. We're going to have to wait and see if there's anything he can contribute to that team. It's not easy to pick up as a pitcher where you left off.

We have to "wait and see" before you can tell us what you think Smoltz will be able to do the rest of the season?

Bawb (Fairview, UT): Who do you think is the biggest snub from the All Star rosters?

Joe Morgan: I don't know if the word snub is the right word. They added one more player to each team. It used to be a 25 man roster and it was tough. Now it's more of an exhibition and they're adding more players. We just keep adding players. Maybe soon it will be a 40 man roster. I'm surprised that No. 1 Ian Kinsler was not on the team. He's leading his team in RBI and at the time his team was in first place. Dustin Pedroia is not having the same year production wise. The biggest snub for me is Jermaine Dye. He puts up big numbers every year. He's an all star to me and he's not on there. In the NL, they have four first basemen. All of them may deserve to be there, but there are other positions where there are multiple guys that could be there, but aren't. And all four guys can't play another position. I'm not saying any of them don't deserve to be there. This is the All-Star game and the best couple at each position deserve to go. But they have four 1B, which means another position someone got squeezed out. Kung Fu Panda in San Francisco deserves to be there. I'm not saying which one of those guys shouldn't be there, but there is definitely too many first basemen.

Leading one's team in RBI is not a valid criterion for All-Star status. Also, Joe's case for Jermaine Dye is that he "puts up big numbers every year." What about this year? Dye wouldn't have been a bad choice--he was hitting .302/.375/.567 at the break. Perhaps that's a better argument than what he's done in previous years.

Dan (FL): Do you think GMs will think twice about giving Japanese pitchers big money after seeing most of them don't live up to expectations? Thanks.

Joe Morgan: They should think twice about giving any foreign players a lot of money because they haven't peformed in the big leagues. You asked about pitchers, but what about Fukudome and other position players? I don't think you can compare Japanese baseball to Major League Baseball. Fukudome is a platoon player at best right now. Matsui was Godzilla and was supposed to hit 40-50 home runs. No one has lived up to expectations, with the exception of Ichiro. It's not just Japanese players, it's foreign players overall. Dice-K has not been worth the $100 million they had to spend on him. I think they have to look closer on how they evaluate foreign players. I remember when Irabu came over, he was the next Nolan Ryan, because that's what he looked like in Japan. But he never lived up to those expectations. In some cases, we've done the same thing with some of the Cuban players. This latest left handed pitcher to defect is supposed to be the next Randy Johnson, but I don't know how we can say that until he plays against MLB players.

Notice he only mentions Japanese players by name. Does Joe know any of the Cuban players?

That's not to say that they don't make mistakes on American players as well. But I think more mistakes are made on foreign players on giving them money before seeing the production here.

Perhaps it's because there aren't that many Japanese players, so there's much more focus on them when they sign. I think the success rate is probably the same regardless of where the player comes from.

Also, Japanese players aren't like amateur players here from high school and college. Japanese players are already playing professionally before they come over to the United States, so you have to pay them more to provide incentive to sign. Why would any player leave his homeland--where he is most likely a star player--for the same amount of money he's making? Of course MLB teams have to pay more to lure them here.

David (WA): Hello Joe, What are the odds that the Mariners get another bat and be more competitive in the AL West race?

Joe Morgan: They're going to have to get some more bats or a big bat in order to be competitive in that division.

The Mariners are already competitive. Three games behind the LA Angels of Anaheim (California, USA) at the All-Star Break competitive.

They're headed in the right direction, but they still need a more consistent offense to beat the Angels and Texas. The Angers are starting to play well. They're going to have to make a move soon if they're going to stay in that race.

Yes, David (WA) said as much with his question, which was: what is the likelihood the Mariners will get this much-needed bat? And Joe's answer:

Dooty.

Burt (IL): Do you think Piniella was fair with Milton Bradley? I see Youkilis blowing up all the time and nobody disciplines him.

Joe Morgan: I have some of the smartest chat guys I've had in a while today. If you're Milton Bradley, your history is always in front of people. What you've done in the past comes up all the time. People forget that when Manny Ramirez was there and he and Kevin Youkilis got into it, he came into the dugout saying things throwing things and that's what, according to Manny, led to them pushing each other. But Youkilis doesn't have the history. Make no mistake about it, Bradley has earned his reputation, but you should treat each situation as its own. We've seen some blowups from Zambrano and other players. Part of it was because that's how their manager was, his personality. But you have to stop if you're going to be a good team and just play the game.

But is there a double-standard? It's probably not fair to expect that Joe would get into racial bias here, but could a factor be that Youkilis is white and Bradley is black? I mean, pretty much everyone thought Jeff Kent was an asshole, but most reporters never called him out on his behavior. Bradley is thought of by a lot of people in the media as a borderline-lunatic.

Again, I'm not saying that's what's happening here, and I'm not going to take the time to get into that discussion now. It's just something to think about.

Joe Morgan: I'm looking forward to this year's home run derby because we have more bona fide sluggers than last year. Josh Hamilton saved the event last year, because of his great round, but Justin Morneau won it. This year, with some of the stars we'll have, I think it will be a great home run derby.

It will only be a great home run derby if Chris Berman is at Yankee Stadium without a microphone while the home run derby is taking place at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.

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1 Comments:

Blogger Zinglebert Bembledack said...

Thanks for catching us up on the Joe Chats, Slut.

If we ever see an answer where Joe gives us some actual analysis with statistics to back it up (stats other than wins-losses and batting average), we will be forced to parade around extolling the virtues of Joe Morgan, the baseball mastermind. Thankfully we know that will not happen in my lifetime!

Regarding the issue of Bradley's explosion and double-standards, we could spend days on the topic, but in the end, fans and reports do not know what all goes on in the clubhouse and outside the ball park between coaches and players. We don't know why Pinella is singling out Bradley. It could be do to Bradley being black, but it could also be due to Bradley's atrocious offensive output this year, we don't know what interactions they have had in the clubhouse this year or it could be the fact Bradley tends to act like a colossal asshole and Pinella is tired of it. All we know is that we don't know.

Also, it is interesting to read the comments section below the Joe Chats on ESPN.com. There are still loads of FJM references there.

See everyone next week for another episode of "Joe Chat!"

July 24, 2009 at 9:06 AM  

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