Tuesday, November 9, 2010

40 Wrong Opinions

On a blog that was better than this, this type of article was called "bait."

As in, Jon Heyman is baiting meta-critical-sports-journo-parents'-basement bloggers into making fun of him on their meta-critical-sports-journo-partens'-basement blogs.

Consider me bated. Jon Heyman, you are the master of baiting.

Potential free-agent busts (Pavano, Wood) and bargains (Garland, Lee)


It's funny to call Carl Pavano and Kerry Wood "potential" busts. The Giants were this year's "potential" champion.

No teams want to make a mistake in free agency, as a bad contract can hamper a franchise for years (although the world champion Giants overcame bad deals for Barry Zito and Aaron Rowand). Nobody wants to add the wrong person to their clubhouse, either. Here's a list of 10 free agents to be avoided, or at least be very wary of.

A bad contract will ruin your franchise except if you're the team that just won the World Series with two awful contracts on a $150 million payroll. Let's get the self-contradictory statements out of the way right off the bat, we have a huge undertaking from Jon Heyman: 10 busts, 30 bargains. That's a potential for 40 wrong opinions! Play along!*

*Don't play along, go outside and enjoy the day or something.

1. Carl Pavano. He was said to be fine in the Twins clubhouse, but it's risky business dealing with someone who has been self-centered elsewhere (some Yankees people were amazed at how little he tried after getting a $39.95 million contract from them). Should stay in Minnesota, where he has thrived.

It's hard to really know what any of these guys are going to command on the open market, but Pavano had a pretty good season (111 ERA+) this year for $7 million, which sounds fine to me. He self-centered 221 innings, too, and didn't-try 117 strikeouts to 37 walks. I will lazily refer to this opinion as: wrong.

Heyman batting average: .000 (0/1)

2. Jorge de la Rosa. Talented pitcher is only 29. But he's apparently seeking a five-year deal. His numbers might justify it, but he has been inconsistent. Some see another Oliver Perez waiting to happen. He was a 16-game winner two years ago and averages eight strikeouts every nine innings over his career. His WHIP has improved in each of the last three seasons (to 1.315 this past season), but only once has he won more than 10 games. He'll be enticing in a very weak free-agent market, but there's a reason why the Rockies didn't want to go more than two years (for around $15 million total).

Obviously let's go ahead and say: Wins are worthless unless he's taking the 2009 Rockies with him wherever he's going (not likely) and a time machine back to 2009, where the 2009 Rockies will assist him in getting to 16 "Wins," in which case, he will be worth 16 "Wins."

de la Rosa is a questionable guy because he has a career 1.5 WHIP, which is fucking awful. Not because he hasn't been able to get to 10 wins that often, which is an arbitrary cutoff for an arbitrary statistic. This is double arbitrary and it doesn't cancel itself out so I vote Heyman loses.

Heyman batting average: .000 (0/2)

3. Mike Hampton. The Rockies once made a $120 million mistake with him. Signing him now -- at any price -- would be an error.

Somehow the fact that he once signed a bad contract a long time ago makes a difference now. Because the MoonBlork Blork City Sluggers were THIS CLOSE to signing Mike Hampton 2010, age 38, for $120 million.

I bet Mike Hampton would be a nice signing for $1. I would hire him for $1 just to hang out with me and play catch.

Heyman batting average: .000 (0/3)

4. Nick Johnson. An injury waiting to happen. Has good numbers (.401 lifetime on-base percentage), so undoubtedly he'll fool someone.

He's a good baseball player so he'll "fool someone" into signing him to play baseball. What a clever ruse pulled off again by that old rapscallion, The Amazing Injured Johnson (Wait, That Sounds Wrong!)!

5. Jose Guillen. On top of the fact that he's a nightmare in the clubhouse, he's got an HGH investigation to worry about now.

I doubt anyone will give him the $12 million he got this year, but whatever, fine. This is the first one I'll give Heyman (.200, fitting that he's at the Mendoza line for journalism). What's most troubling is that he's assigning value to being a "clubhouse" guy, which is going to be really, really dangerous, because that means we're going to have to deal with things like "Don't sign Adam Dunn, he's a bad clubhouse guy!" or, God forbid, an Eckstein sighting.

6. Felipe Lopez. Be forewarned about guys released by teams still contending, as Lopez was last year by the Cardinals.

I mean he made $1 million this year and was an above-average hitter as a second-baseman as recently as 2009. But be wary, all ye who pay .05% of their money for a man abandoned by los Cardinales Muertes! Old pirate tales said that this man would bring the BLACK DEATH!

7. J.C. Romero. Be skeptical when guys with failed steroid tests have down years.

Romero's lines were actually pretty much in concert with a lot of previous years. He seems more like a middle reliever that's not worth >$4 million than a guy who owed all his success to performance enhancers. Half point. 1 1/2 out of 7.

8. Pat Burrell. He helped the Giants tremendously in the regular season but looked lost in the World Series.

SMALL SAMPLE SIZE SMALL SAMPLE SIZE

That's a small sample size,

Yeah, right? So please rescind your statement just now and find another wrong statement to make. No? Okay.

but no one should be fooled by a good regular season to match his $8 million salary.

What the hell? "Sure, he played great for six months, but he played bad for one month after that! Don't be fooled!"

9. Kerry Wood. Great talent was very good with the Yankees (0.69 ERA), but this is a case of buyer beware; someone's going to think he's sound again and then possibly be disappointed.

Someone's going to think that Kerry Wood isn't injury prone. And that person is: Fucking nobody ever ever ever.

10. Miguel Tejada. Did fine with the Padres, but he's another guy losing his power (.381 slugging percentage this year).

Or that he's getting old. But of course, baseball GMs have no idea how old their players are, they just look at SLG and throw money accordingly. Funny story: Andy MacPhail pays his players expecting them to get younger and the crazy thing is that the bastard's normally right!! How's he do it? I don't know.

Top free-agent bargains

Your score for the 10 "busts": 1 and a half out of 10 for a batting average of .150. We're going to have to turn this around with some strong analysis on ... oh, you're leading with Jon Garland? Shut it down, guys.

1. Jon Garland. He has signed two straight one-year deals but turned down his $6 million player option with the Padres and should do better this time around. A consistent innings-eater and performer, he won 18 games in two straight years under pitching coach Don Cooper's tutelage in Chicago. He may not blow away scouts with his radar readings or stuff, but he's having a very nice career.

Obviously wins are worthless but here we've cherry-picked two seasons here that aren't even relevant: four and five years ago. 2005 and 2006! What gives, man? Miguel Tejada was 15th in the MVP ballot in 2005 and he's a bust. In 2005 I was in high school. This is to say: That was a long fucking time ago.

Also, "he may not be good, but somehow he's having a nice career! Pay the man!" Zero points.

2. Joaquin Benoit. Had a superb year with the Rays but has barely been mentioned as a free agent with Tampa expected to lose Crawford, Soriano and maybe Carlos Pena. Had great numbers (1.34 ERA, 0.68 WHIP) after being picked up by Tampa Bay's very smart front office.

Of course, he's another $4 million middle reliever, but I guess that's a bargain now. Also, yeah, he had great numbers for Tampa, but the rest of his career in Texas doesn't count, when he was mostly a bit below average?

3. Orlando Hudson. He has signed a late one-year deal two straight winters after out-pricing himself with the Diamondbacks a few years back, but he can hit and run, and he brings a nice spirit to the clubhouse. The Mets could use a second baseman for the third straight winter, and with Luis Castillo seeming to be a candidate for release, maybe Hudson will finally wind up in New York.

Okay, Heyman, you're scaring me with this clubhouse stuff. I could have sworn I smelled a David Eckstein sighting just now, too. Please stop. You're scaring the children.

Also, this is stupid, as O-Dog is decent at hitting and can't run worth a lick (career high SB: 10).

4. Derrek Lee. He was once a big star, and at 35 he's not so old that he can't recover from a weak 2010 performance (career-low .774 OPS). He did rally once he got out of Chicago and played decently for the Braves. He's also an excellent defender at first for a right-handed thrower. Maybe a fallback for Washington if Carlos Pena falls through?

"Bargain" Derrek Lee made $13 million last year, which is a shit ton of money for anybody. Also, the blindly made argument that Lee will be able to rebound because "he's not so old" is stupid.

5. Hideki Matsui. Not sure how under-the-radar the 2009 World Series MVP can ever be, but while he didn't have the best of seasons in Anaheim, he still has tremendous drive (word is, he made it a goal to hit higher than Derek Jeter, and he did beat Jeter, .274 to .270). Also quietly hit 21 home runs with 84 RBIs. Would never bet against him.

World Series MVPs are the 177th most telling thing about a player's talents, directly after Gold Gloves and right before eye color.

Also, congrats to Hideki Matsui, who made it his goal to outhit Derek Jeter and beat him, .Medicore to .Slightly More Mediocre! We were all pulling for you buddy!

6. Jim Thome. He turned out to be one of the biggest bargains last year when he signed with Minnesota for $1.5 million and saved them after Justin Morneau went down with a concussion, hitting 25 home runs in 340 at-bats. He probably solidified his Hall of Fame candidacy with his 2010 season, and the big fellow appears to still have something left in him.

Hey, this one seems pretty legit! 2.5/16 (.157)

7. Juan Uribe. The 2010 postseason hero seems to have a knack for the big hit. Still looks pretty solid at shortstop and third base, as well.

I swear to WAR (which is the God I choose to worship), why does everyone call Juan Uribe a solid defensive player? I don't get it.

Wait.

... Wait.

It can't be.

8. David Eckstein. A two-time World Series champ, this all-time scrapper is a big plus for any clubhouse.

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You know who else is a two-time World Series champ? Ricky Ledee. Ricky Fucking Ledee has two rings, did you know that? Being on a World Series team, most of the time, is the product of luck.

Actually, it's luck ALL OF THE TIME, because if it wasn't, the Cardinals will win the World Series every year because Albert Pujols is the best player, and they would have gone 162-0 when they had him and Eckstein since Eckstein is the scrappiest underdog grit gamer winner of all time.

9. Scott Downs. The Blue Jays held on to the lefty at the trade deadline after failing to receive the haul they sought. The Giants showed what a strong bullpen means (and nobody else has starting pitching like the Giants). Dominant vs. lefties, who hit .152 against him last year.

The infamous LOOGY, Downs pulled a cool $4 million this year. Which makes him a bargain for teams that can afford to spend more than that for a guy to come in and get one out some of the time.

10. Adam LaRoche. He must regret turning down a big offer last winter from the Giants to sign with the Diamondbacks, who discarded him after a change in their hierarchy following a decent year. He's a great second-half player, and his overall numbers (25 home runs, 100 RBIs, .261) weren't too bad, either.

Whatever. 3.5/20 (.175 -- Watch out Mendoza!)

11. Kevin Gregg. Solid closer could also work as a setup man for a contender. Bounced back from rough year with Cubs to save 37 games in Toronto last year.

I'll pass on a 35 year old closer who's going to want $4 million for a K:BB of less than 2:1. This comment wasn't funny. If I was Matt Berry, I'd say something about how he has two first names, which is HILARIOUS, but I'm not, so I'll say that his last name is the same as the worst columnist of all time, Gregg Doyel, who is worse than Jon Heyman, which means: nothing so 10,000 points for me and let's all go get drunk!

12. John Buck. A lot of Toronto hitters had big years in 2010, but in a weak catching market Buck and A.J. Pierzynski stand out.

Holy crap, we're not even halfway through the bargains so let's speed this up.

Pierzynski is terrible, has been since 2004, and if he commands anywhere near the ~$7 million he got this year I might cry.

13. Pedro Feliciano. Ironman reliever is very tough on left-handers (lefty batters have hit .214 against him in his career).

Another LOOGY, feel the excitement!

14. Orlando Cabrera. Productive shortstop is a feisty competitor who will want to come back with a big year after his rival Edgar Renteria was a World Series hero.

You'd better pay up for Cabrera, cause a guy who he doesn't like just played well! BASEBALL.

15. Ty Wigginton. Versatile player showed some pop (22 homers) for the Orioles last year.

Whatever.

16. Jason Frasor. The Jays had a lot of good arms in their pen, and this is yet another.

"The Jays have pitchers. He is one of them."

17. Andruw Jones. He showed signs of continuing to regain his hitting form with the White Sox, but was hurt by a glut of hitters after Manny Ramirez was acquired.

Fine.

18. Lance Berkman. He has been overpaid the past few years but could be a bargain after a so-so season. Showed strong signs after returning from injury with the Yankees.

Randomly assumes that Puma will take considerably less money than the $15 million he earned this year during what was either a "so-so" or "strong" season, according to the contradictory sentence Jon Heyman just wrote.

19. Bill Hall. Has versatility and power (18 homers last year). Boston seems to want him back after he became a bigger player than they wanted following their injury-riddled year.

Sorry Jon, I just had a minor brain aneurysm and thought you said that $9 million of Bill Hall is a "bargain."

20. Jeff Francis. Ultra-smart former ace was still working his way back last year (4-6, 5.00) from shoulder issues.

I like how for his "busts," you should be wary because of their injuries, but when his "bargains" have had injury problems, that somehow makes them even more of bargains.

21. Jose Contreras. Seems to have found a home as a reliever in the National League. Very effective for both the Rockies and Phillies (6-4, 3.34) in relief roles after previously starring for the White Sox.

Fine. Now it's time to play "Bust or Bargain!" I give you a generic explanation from Jon Heyman and you guess if it goes to someone he labels a "bust" or a "bargain"!

Here's your hint: Born a year off from 1980, Heyman calls this player "talented" but "inconsistent!"

If you guessed "Bust" Jorge de la Rosa, you were correct!

Wait, you guessed "Bargain" Rick Ankiel?

22. Rick Ankiel. Has the skills to be a star, but poor 2010 numbers (.232 batting average) should keep the price down.

Also correct! Good job! And for the record, Ankiel is two years older than de la Rosa.

23. Edgar Renteria. His $18.5 million, two-year deal looked like a miracle for agents Barry Meister and Jeff Lane, but Renteria was the biggest surprise World Series MVP ever. Will never get that kind of loot despite his incredible week.

Edgar Renteria, as I will go into painstaking detail about tomorrow, is not very good, despite the World Series MVP that will guarantee him to be granted heaps and heaps of undue praise.

24. Xavier Nady. The solid hitter gained more playing time once Mike Quade came aboard for the Cubs, but was limited by a crowded outfield. He's a year removed from his second elbow surgery, so perhaps he'll show improvement in 2011 after batting an uncharacteristic .256 this past season. He could always hit.

"He could always hit except all the time this past season but pay him!"

25. Javier Vazquez. He'll get back to business about finding a National League team.

"Back to business" is Heyman-speak for "He's not very good so don't make him face good players." This "bargain" has been making $11 million-plus in each of the past six seasons.

26. Eric Hinske. He seems to be a good-luck charm, making the World Series with Boston, Tampa Bay and the Yankees before only reaching the first round last year with the Braves. He's a clutch hitter and a team player who would have had a big game-winner against the eventual champion Giants if not for poor Brooks Conrad and his fielding foibles.

Hey, baseball fans! You know how you sit in a cubicle all day to make a decent paycheck, most of which goes to taxes and bills? You know the few dollars you scrape together to go see your favorite sports team play? Well, a man who is one of the most famous and top-paid analysts about that sport just suggested that it would be a "bargain" for a team to spend $1 million-plus for a "good luck charm." Sleep easy tonight!

27. Jeff Weaver. He was all-overpaid for years, but the Dodgers keep getting him on very reasonable deals lately, considering his productivity. Probably has so much money socked away that he's just happy to play at home (he's from Simi Valley, Calif.).

Weaver isn't good. He also gave up 30 ER in 44.1 innings this past season, which is nightmarish.

28. Yorvit Torrealba. After turning down a $5 million, two-year deal with the Rockies, he aided the Padres' cause at a much lower rate. Solid player who seems underrated.

Starting to think this list shouldn't have been 30 players long.

29. Gabe Kapler. Solid fifth outfielder keeps coming back for more after previously retiring.

Now REALLY thinking this list shouldn't have been 30 players long.

30. Craig Counsell. Has been a contributor to two World Series winners. Good team man and backup somehow finagled $2 million from the Brewers last year, but that seems unlikely again.

"Good team man" ... "contributor" ... "backup."

This column didn't end -- it was at this point that they did the honorable thing: Taking it out back and shooting it in the head.

Also the final count of wrong opinions is: Who cares? Just be glad it's over.

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