Steve Phillips Needs To Stop Talking

July 22, 2009
Steve Phillips is another sportscaster who just doesnt have credibility.

Steve Phillips is another sportscaster who just doesn't have credibility.

So I was just watching Baseball Tonight on ESPN, and the topic of trading for Roy Halladay came up.  Karl Ravich asks Steve Phillips his opinion on the situation.  He proceeds to say that if he was a GM in the game, he would sell the farm for Halladay.  Now I have no problem saying “I’d trade almost anything for him,” because Halladay is among the best pitchers in the majors.  But Phillips didn’t stop there.  He proceeded to name every single top young pitcher in the bigs and offered them to Toronto.

This isn’t shocking, coming from the former New York Mets GM who has a long track record of trading future stars for short-term help.   He obviously doesn’t value prospects, which is fine to an extent, because they are not guaranteed to succeed.  But he didn’t name just prospects.

Steve Phillips named the Dodgers as a team that needs to trade for Doc, offering Clayton Kershaw and others for the Blue Jay’s star.  Another team Phillips feels should trade for Halladay is the Phillies, offering every prospect in their system.  He even said that the Yankees should give Toronto, a division rival, anything they wanted including Phillip Hughes and Joba Chamberlain.  He went as far as saying, “if I was the Yankees, I’d pack his bags and drive Joba to the airport.”

My problem with his thinking is that its not practical, and it perfectly showcases the reason he’s the former GM of the Mets.  Consider his Dodgers proposal: trading 21-year old lefty Clayton Kershaw (8-5, 2.95 ERA, 104k, 1.22 WHIP) for 32-year old Halladay (11-3, 2.73, 113k, 1.07).   We’ll leave out a breakdown the “others” Phillips would give up (Tony Abreau, Blake DeWitt, James Loney, Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp to name players sure to be requested by Toronto).  Let’s just compare the pitchers that would be swapped.  What exactly do the Dodgers gain in this?  Sure, Halladay’s peripheral numbers are slightly better.  But when you consider the cost, both in terms of talent and cash, does this deal make sense?  Halladay is on the hook for the remaining of his $14m+ for this year, and $15.75m for next year, after which he’s free to go as a free agent.  Kershaw, on the other hand, is under team control for another 5 years at very cheap salaries.  Common sense tells us that Kershaw is on the upslope of his promising career, while Halladay is at the top of his game but 11 years older.  How much longer does he have before decline?  Sure, the Dodgers are World Series favorites (along with Philly) in the senior circuit, but does Halladay improve their odds in October?  He’s got the same number of October starts as Kershaw, ZERO.

As Philly is running away with the NL East, do the defending World Series Champs need Halladay?  At the cost of a starting fielder and top prospects Kyle Drabek and Jason Donald?  As is, they are on their way to a deep October run.  Do they mortgage the future hoping that Halladay wins them the title, something that nobody can guarantee?  Do the Yankees, already short on starting pitching, deal Joba and Philthy Hughes (shout out to carebear) for a pitcher with several times more wear on this tires than the two players offered for him?

When we consider Steve Phillips track record on trades of any kind, he loses all credibility.  Let’s take a look:

He traded Carl Everett (MVP candidate 2 years after being traded) for John Hudek (1-4 for the Mets). –> Lose

Sure, when he traded AJ Burnett for Al Leiter, he got 85 wins and 2 playoff appearances, including a World Series           appearance from the old guy.  But Burnett is younger and has won 95 games since then, including a World Series Title.  –> PUSH

Jason Isringhausen (283 saves since) was traded for Billy Taylor, who was 0-1 in 18 Mets appearances with an ERA over 8.0.  — > Lose

Looking for a short-term fix in 2000, Phillips nabbed Mike Bordick for 56 games and a .260 average.  Ironically, he traded a young Melvin Mora, who was hitting .260 at the time of the trade.  Unfortunately for the Mets, Mora has gone on to hit over 150 home runs with a .281 batting average over the past 10 seasons for the Orioles, including a couple of all-star appearances, a Silver Slugger award in ’04, and an MVP candidate in ’04.  Bordick left after his lone season, returning to the Orioles.  –> Lose

In ’02, Phillips gave away Gary Matthews Jr. for John Bale (who?).  ‘Nuff said.  –> Lose

Phillips traded a minor league Jason Bay for middle reliever Steve Reed.  Bay is a top corner outfielder, which is a historically weak spot for the Mets,  Steve Reed was decent but a free agent after the year.  –> Lose

Sure, he had a couple good trades (Piazza, maybe Mo Vaughn), but overall, Steve Phillips was the meth addict of baseball general managers; he traded long-term pieces for short-term fixes.  In the end, he had 2 playoff appearances to show for all of his awful trading.

So Steve, stop doling out the advice to GM’s who still have jobs in the game.  Nobody has even interviewed you for a GM position since you were canned, so perhaps they agree that you were a terrible judge of talent.  Just stop giving us your opinion on trades just because you are on ESPN.  Only talk about subjects which you have credibility with, like what kind of hair product I should use to get a ‘do like yours.

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Jackie Would Be Disappointed Today

April 15, 2009
A great ball player, a great man, he was still out here, though.

A great ball player, a great man, he was still out here, though.

Sixty two years ago Jackie Robinson started a fight that benefited everyone in American society and much of the world.  You can argue that Robinson’s breakthrough in baseball was as crucial as most points in the civil rights movement.  Like Jesse Owens before him, Jackie Robinson was a quiet, honorable man on the field, and that made it hard for fans to dislike him (though most found ways, for a long time).  But today, the thing this great man fought for, baseball, is no longer desirable in this country.

Jackie would not be disappointed in African Americans specifically, but everyone when it comes to baseball.  Baseball has become somewhat of an elitist game.  The age of the Sunday pickup game has given way to the tournament weekend in Tennessee, and much of the fun has gone with it.

You must dig deeper to find the cause.  The lack of freedom of the American child has a lot to do with it.  Many people seem to think their kids are freer today than they ever were, but think a little harder.  Kids today don’t leave the house.  They play videogames or find kids with funny names on facebook.  When kids do venture out into the great unknown it is for a formal sports practice or a scheduled playdate.

Now, I hate to sound all Wilford Brimley on you here, but when I was younger (born in ’85, not that long ago) we were barely allowed in the house.  There is a general fear among parents of child abduction or sexual predators and whatnot, which their child may have a better chance of finding online.

There are no longer really public fields as well.  Sure, they exist, but there is always some type of practice going on.  Baseball training has become work.

You think this is how Rizzuto learned?

You think this is how Rizzuto learned?

How many kids play an instrument when they are younger?  In my region at least half, but within a couple of years most of them quit.  Why?  Because it is work.  All they see is notes, and there is not much fun in that.  Baseball has become somewhat of the same experience.

Also, Compared to other sports, baseball is difficult to pick up.  From one of my top 5 films, “It’s the hard that makes it great,” but its also the hard that makes kids quit after a year or so and pick up soccer.  I will get to soccer in another article.

AAU has replaced any local pride a kid had in his youth and Legion teams.  AAU has also priced out much of the best athletes.  It provides the best exposure for players and therefore gives kids who can’t afford it a hopeless feeling, and sets their future in the sport in stone.

In Baseball today, the coaches or scouts don’t come to you, you have to go to them, and in many cases, you must pay for this, too.  It is bad enough the bats cost three hundred bucks, a decent glove $150, and new spikes $75.  A season of baseball could easily cost a 13-yr old kid $5 grand these days.

I would also argue that the baseball in Robinson’s day was better.  Many argue that the players are faster, stronger, and in better shape, but does that make for better baseball?  For a while, homeruns made us forget what a hit and run, double steal, and sacrifice bunts were.  Through the nineties, baseball players were 6-4, 220 lb weight lifters with very little athletic ability.  Look at Joe Dimaggio, Phil Rizzuto, Pete Rose, Hank Aaron, and Jackie.  These guys were great athletes who got good at baseball playing with their friends.  Not in some academy.

Others argue that the best players are produced in academies.  The academies they speak of are in the Dominican Republic, though.  My response to them is that the alternative to the academy there is not pretty, and they understand the spirit of baseball because of that.  Baseball, a game, can get them out of poverty.  That is how baseball was for a long time here.

But, alas, the sandlot has made way for the state of the art practice batting cages for kids 10-12 to hone their skills with video to show them the flaws in their changeup grip.  It is good to see smaller guys making their way in the MLB.  And its good to see that only a few guys put up massive home run numbers last year.  Maybe the game won’t scare off as many kids.

As the WBC showed us, baseball is far better in other countries.   Baseball is becoming a sport where all Americans are the minority.


Is A-Rod off the juice?

April 6, 2009

It’s been widely reported that A-Fraud has been rehabbing in Colorado after undergoing hip surgery right before the off-season.  We all know that Colorado is a safe haven for all womanizing athletes with rediculously low standards (see Kobe Bryant -> rapist).  And with A-Rod being dumped by the hideous Madonna and being outed by an aging madame, he did what he had to do, go to Colorado to “rehab”.

I find it hilarious that he is off in CO rehabbing while his team is training in Florida.  Most athletes rehab at their team’s facilities, but the Yankess want as little to do with the self-centered one.  The king of all things A-Rod, he had to get the spotlight back on him.  Most athletes would use this time to disappear to rehab their image as well as their injury.   Not A-Fraud, he had to pose for Details magazine, kissing his reflection and totally gaying-out.  The worst part is that nobody in the nation was surprised that he was flaunting his man-love for himself.

And that brings us to the picture above.  It would look like A-Fraud has been laying off the juice and drinking only water.  Boy he got slim didn’t he?  I dare any of you to say that isn’t him on first glance.  But it’s not, its SI Supermodel Noemie Lenoir who cut her hair recently.  I’m sorry, but I think she is twins with the Yankees third baseman, but she’s the less glamorous Rodriguez of the family.