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B. E. Aggressive

So I'm reading the online editions of all of the local papers on Saturday, just like most days, and I come across this article by Steve Popper in the Bergen Record. The article is entitled, "See how the Mets can run", and the gist is that Willie Randolph will be giving everyone the green light to be aggressive on the basepaths: steal bases, take the extra base, etc. Sounds reasonable, right?

It's logical that when you're aggressive on the bases a lot of good things can happen. Any time you can make the defense throw the ball around more there is a greater likelihood that they will make a mistake. Willie starts out making sense:

"Obviously, Jason Phillips is not the kind of guy who's going to do a lot of that, but it was nice to see that approach. I believe in setting a tone for the game in some way and that's how you do it. I've always believed you don't have to be real fast to be a good baserunner. I want my players to understand that."

Willie makes some good points here. Jason Phillips is slow. Really slow. It's also true that you don't have to be fast to be a smart baserunner. Paul O'Neill wasn't a fast runner but he stole 22 bases in 25 attemps at age 38. Cliff Floyd was completely broken down last year and he was still 11-for-15 in stolen bases.

"Like hitting, pitching and defense, baserunning is contagious. If you see someone tag up on a ball, you just feed off that. The more you sit back and wait to let things happen, you're going to wait the whole game.

"You create pressure, all of the sudden balls get thrown around the infield. You can play for your one-run inning, but you start running bases like wild men and all of [a] sudden what was a one-run inning turns into a three- or four run inning."

Okay, you've still got me, Willie. The Mets led the league in stolen base success rate last year, and they could certainly do it again. Reyes, Matsui, and Beltran will steal 100 bases between them. Cameron should be good for another 20, with Floyd between 15-20 and Wright in that range, too. Here's where Willie loses me, though:

"Pete Rose was not a fast runner, but he was an aggressive, excellent baserunner. Even if you're not fast I want your mentality to be, 'Listen, we're going to try to take the extra base. If you don't make us stop, we're going to take it to you that way.' As spring goes on I want to see what guys are not afraid to do those things."

Pete Rose? He's the example you're going to use? For the record, Pete Rose has 198 career stolen bases. For someone who allegedly didn't have much speed, that's a pretty good number of swipes. So what's my point? Oh yea. In addition to those 198 steals, Pete Rose was thrown out trying to steal 149 times. 149 times!! Holy crap. He was 198/347 or, in other words, he was successful 57% of the time.

Let me make sure I have this straight. You are going to instill in your new team the benefits of aggressive baserunning, and focal point of your argument is the least-successful base-stealer in the history of the game? I like the attitude, Willie, but you're going to have to come up with better analogies if you want me to take you seriously.