Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Big Red and the Big Red Machine

For one week this offseason, the Sox have been quiet, making more noise in their inactivity (more on that in a moment). But since the end of last week, we actually have two major news stories in the queue in the beautiful world of baseball.

First bit of "breaking" news: Mark McGwire took steroids!!! Jose Canseco is right yet again!!!

"What are your views on the whole steroid era X Mark?"

I'm glad you asked, me.

I want you all to stop and think for a moment. Think honestly. You can keep your answers to yourself, and if you lie, you are only lying to yourself, which quite frankly is just f'ing stupid to do.

If you had a chance to get a ridiculously high paying and fun job you've worked your whole life to get/keep that job in the event you suffered a potentially career ending injury or illness/vault yourself into the top echelon of all-time performers in that job while at the same time making even more money, what would you do to achieve all of this?

Would you take something the government viewed as illegal, but your company only once mentioned as being frowned upon? What if there were no known repercussions for taking this substance, physically or professionally? What if there was no policing of this matter? What if everyone else at your job was doing it and therefore threatening your very standing in the company, possibly even costing you your job?

You'd do it. I know I would.

These players were faced with the very choice explained above and a very large number of them chose to take steroids. It would be great to say we all wouldn't. But we are human. We have several simple motivations that can outweigh our morals, one of which is keeping a job we have worked our whole lives to get. It may be a sad truth, but it's the truth.

So now that another major player is confirmed from the era, let's just forget about it all. Let's evaluate the players from the 90's and 2000's the way we evaluate everyone else. There are great stats out there that neutralize a player to his era including a simple one called OPS+. The only victims in this era are the players who chose not to use and lost their jobs, and for that they all deserve an apology from McGwire, Palmeiro, Clemens, Bonds, Canseco and anyone else who pushed that era into what it became. We are not victims. We saw some great baseball. We had baseball saved by two very large men who hit balls a very long way, and for that we should all be very grateful. Sometimes the end justifies the means. Long live baseball.

Second bit of breaking news: The Red Sox and Yankees don't sign Chapman (but the Reds do)!!!

For those of you who don't know me, I used to work for the Cincinnati Reds, so this bit of news hit close to home to me.

There are 3 pieces to take away from this:
  1. Good for the Reds. After making such a craptastic move last year by trading some good young pieces for Scott Rolen and his big contract, they needed to make a good, high reward splash. If Aroldis lives up to his potential the Reds could be looking at a pretty nifty rotation in a year or so. A front three of Latin Sensations Chapman, chubby chaser Johnny Cueto, and Eddy Volquez could really put the Reds into contention in the NL especially with my buddies Jay Bruce and Joey Votto in the middle of the lineup.
  2. I wonder if Chapman is really that good. You'd have to think if he were, the Yankees or the Sox would have outbid everyone else simply because they can. There have been a lot of mixed reviews from scouts out there. Big velocity. Nasty Randy-like slider. Shitty change-up. Erratic command. 101 MPH!!! Sits 92-94. Ceiling of a true ACE!!! Maybe best suited for a back of the bullpen role. Until we actually see the kid in the bigs, it is probably going to be hard to know what we have here. Just from what I've read I'm leaning towards him being an elite lefty closer. Still a really solid move for the Reds, especially with the ridiculously high ceiling, but I think the ceiling is going to be hard to reach.
  3. I would like to share with you my thoughts on the international draft and the U.S./Canada/Puerto Rico draft, but former Toronto executive and current ESPN writer Keith Law (Insiders only) put it as well as I could ever say it:
    Returning to Chapman, this deal puts yet another lie to the claim pushed by MLB, among others, that making the draft a worldwide one (rather than one that includes only players from the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico) is about maintaining competitive balance. The Reds, playing in one of MLB's smallest metropolitan areas, signed Chapman. The A's, playing in perhaps the majors' worst active stadium, finished second, according to Buster Olney. Another big-ticket Cuban defector, Noel Arguelles, signed last month with Kansas City. Max Kepler-Rozycki, the best amateur player to come out of the emerging baseball markets of Europe, signed with Minnesota during the summer. The idea that small-market teams can't afford top amateur talent is and always has been wrong, because the dollar figures involved for these amateur players are low relative to the size of even a low-revenue team's annual baseball operations budget.
    Bottom line: It makes sense for a low-revenue team to risk a relatively smaller amount on a high-upside amateur player instead of spending a substantially larger amount on a veteran free agent without that upside....
    Chapman's deal also highlights how unfair the draft is to amateur players in general and how the current system screws American-born players.
    Do you really think Stephen Strasburg is worth half as much as Chapman on the open market? Why would MLB, a U.S.-based sports league, continue to employ a system that actively punishes U.S.-born (or Canadian-born or Puerto Rican-born) players for their nation of origin? And, given the outcry from the economically ignorant about Strasburg's supposedly exorbitant demands, why aren't we hearing the same about the greedy Chapman? I'm not advocating a new American jingoism, but I would like to see a system that treats all players equally and fairly, allowing them to garner signing bonuses in line with their actual market values regardless of where they were born or what some arbitrary MLB slotting system says they're worth.
I have a lot more to say on the whole draft system MLB has in place as well as the international draft they want to put in place, and the drafts of every other major sports league, but this column has run on waaaaaaaaaay too long especially without any actual Sexy Boston Sports news.

So sorry for the length, the steroids rant, and any heavy analysis. Hopefully I haven't lost all 5 of my readers (2 of which are the X Dad and X Mom).

Stay tuned for some Celtics stuff later this week (but no Pats posts, God they suck).

1 comment:

  1. Yea, you are going to have to elaborate a bit more on the draft, starting with basics. I didn't even know there was an international draft...