This won't be a weekly thing, I think, but will pop up when warranted:
1. I remarked to a fellow Met fan that Tuesday's lineup of Pagan-Castillo-Wright-Beltran-Murphy-Francoeur-Thole-Hernandez was the most sensibly constructed in awhile. He replied, "It's a lot easier for a lineup to appear smart when Carlos Beltran is in it." True.
2. This week's Steve Phillips Award goes to Jeff Pearlman for his blog post about everyone's favorite talking point, the hapless Mets. I generally disagree with Pearlman on most topics (example: "Fantasy football is stupid"), yet can't bring myself to remove his blog from Google Reader. I figure it's because he wrote a good book about the Mets, "The Bad Guys Won". Maybe it's because he doesn't shy away from controversial topics. Anyways, a couple lines from the offending Mets post:
Worst of all, the Mets have—from day one—lacked spark. Perhaps it’s the hangover of blowing one too many down-the-stretch leads. But this has been a listless, dull team from April through today—one never befitting of a new stadium or a rabid fan base. They’re a yawn a minute, and it’s insanely mind-numbing to observe.
C. Trade either Wright or Reyes: I know … I know—terrible idea. But desperate times call for desperate measures. The chemistry is clearly off here. An infusion is needed.
"Spark", also known as "edge" or "grission", is sportswriter code for "I have nothing intelligent to add so I'm going to write whatever the next WFAN caller says." We've been down the farcical "spark"/"edge" road before, nothing more to say about that.
The "trade the core" topic has also been beaten to a bloody pulp. What's great about this example is Pearlman's brain seems to realize it's a bad idea, yet his heart can't seem to shake the "let's blow it all up" frustrated fan perspective. This take is pretty flawed. It's saying:
a) Mets are bad and have poor chemistry
b) David Wright and Jose Reyes are Mets
c) David Wright and Jose Reyes are therefore bad and have poor chemistry
d) Get rid of David Wright and/or Jose Reyes, improve the team and its chemistry
This is silly. A team's performance is not based solely on 1 or 2 players. It's the sum of 25 players. One shouldn't determine what to do with each of those 25 players based simply on the team result. Evaluate their performance on an individual level. Of course, if Pearlman is saying that no player is untouchable and any trade that improves the team should be considered, then fine. But it doesn't sound like he's saying that.
3. Nice work by Peter Gammons this week, the inaugural winner of the Peter Gammons Award (name of award is not set in stone), for a column which seems to be a response to Jayson Stark's Mets rip. The Mets' situation isn't great, but it's not totally hopeless, as dozens of
Phillies anonymous scouts want us to believe.
4. Murray Chass wrote an outstanding piece about the infamous "anonymous baseball source." This is the post I was planning to write but don't have to now because it wouldn't be better than Chass's. It is also a response to Jayson Stark. Here are a few of the best snippets, but I highly recommend checking it out in its entirety:
What is wrong with the practice of soliciting anonymous opinions or assessments? It gives the respondents a free shot at the team - its general manager, its manager, whomever that executive or scout may not like - without fear of retaliation or condemnation. If he had to attach his name to the comment, the person wouldn’t say the same thing... Perhaps the most important question is this: Is there a way for the writer to write the column he wants to write without using all of those anonymous quotes? There is... The writer can ask the same people the same questions and use their responses to form a consensus assessment, which he can report without resorting to a string of quotes from one anonymous executive/official/scout after another. Or the writer can exercise some creativity and use the comments to form his own opinion and write that.
Chass is well known for his saber-hating, but he has 40+ years of sportswriting experience and his columns about sports journalism are worthwhile reads.
5. There should be a rule: if you advocate starting roles next year for Jeff Francoeur and Daniel Murphy, and platoon/bench roles for Cory Sullivan and Anderson Hernandez, you don't get to complain when the team sucks.
6. Great work by Federal Baseball with a Jim Riggleman takedown. This quote from the Nats skipper is particularly ridiculous:
If I send a message to the ballclub that we're gonna put our Class AAA call-ups out there on a daily basis to see what they can do, first of all, as I said, it's not a good time to evaluate talent. Who do you do it against? Do you do it against the Phillies? I think we would be insulting the Marlins and the Braves, who are chasing the Phillies. Do you do it just against the Braves but not against the Phillies?
Right Jim, because your job as Nationals manager is to avoid insulting your team's opponents. His old-school manager brethren Bruce Bochy is having a poor week as well, according to McCovey Chronicles and Memories of Kevin Malone. Bochy pulled a Jerry Manuel Wednesday night, calling for a bunt after the first 2 batters in an inning walked. The bunt failed and the Giants didn't score any runs, naturally. Bochy will probably be rewarded with a contract extension this offseason, continuing the tradition of stale, close-minded and bunt-happy men managing baseball teams.