Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Murray Chass makes negative sensePosted by Pat Andriola
In honor of FJM's triumphant return to the interwebs today, I want to go ahead and put together my own FJM-style piece (call it Ken Tremendous Karaoke, if you will) on the one and the only, Murray Chass. After reading Dak's whooping of the guy earlier today, I felt compelled to check out Chass's not-blog and see what he was up to. He did not let down.
As the season dwindles down to a precious few weeks, attention is focused on remaining races - not that there are any -
I love those non-existent races. Go, the eventual end of the season, go!
and the playoffs ahead. But pause for a moment in your excited anticipation and think of how Pittsburgh Pirates fans approach the post-season.
Getting ready to watch their defending champ Steelers kick some ass, all the while waiting for the also defending champ Penguins to hit the ice again?
They may actually look forward to it eagerly because once they get beyond Oct. 4, the Pirates can’t lose any more games this year. They probably can’t make any more trades either because they have already traded everybody of value.
First off, don't forget the 1894 Cubs, who were so bad they lost three games after the season ended. But I'm pretty sure the Pirates have guys of value, and that they can trade anyone they want, even if guys don't have your subjective definition of value.
On second thought they have Andrew McCutchen on their roster, and if they traded Nyjer Morgan they can trade Andrew McCutchen.
Ohhhh yessss....I forgot the rule about how trading one player means you can trade anyone. Ya know the Cardinals traded Chris Duncan two months ago. Hey Albert, you're next.
Simply put, the Pirates are an embarrassment to Pittsburgh and an embarrassment to Major League Baseball. It’s not just that the Pirates are a poor team, a losing team, but they are an embarrassment because of the way they have become a worse team than they already were and how they are trying to hoodwink their fans.
I had to read that last sentence about three times before it hit me: Murray Chass has no understanding of the English language.
The Pirates this year traded Nate McLouth, Morgan, Adam LaRoche, Freddy Sanchez, Jack Wilson, Eric Hinske, Ian Snell, Tom Gorzelanny, John Grabow and Sean Burnett. You could almost put a team on the field with that lineup.
Yeah, the Pirates did to that in real life, Murray. And they sucked.
The team the Pirates were left with on the field has been far worse than that one would be, and that’s what prompts this mid-September look at this terrible team.
How will Neal Huntington ever explain to the fans that the team will be thirty games under .500 rather than twenty??? You got 'em there, Murr-dog.
When the Pirates completed their roster cleansing July 30, they had a 43-58 record (.426) and were 11 ½ games from first place. Since then, through Monday’s games, they had a 12-29 record (.293) and had tumbled 28 ½ games from first.
Yeah, they went from crappy to really crappy. Your point?
In the interim they set a major league record by insuring their 17th successive losing season, but they were going to get that record with the players they traded away; it would just have taken them longer.
Oh, your point is to...contradict yourself by admitting they sucked anyway?
If the Pirates incur losses in their last 20 games at the same rate they have lost since July 30, they will finish with a 60-102 record (.370), their worst record in the 17-season stretch and their second worst record since the early 1950s and the days of Vic Janowicz, the O’Brien twins Johnny and Eddie and Joe Garagiola.
I only know who that last guy is, but don't blame me, as I was born when you were turning 147.
Also, Pirates are going to get a nice draft pick, eh?
At least those teams had Ralph Kiner, the perennial National League home run champion, who gave the fans a reason to go to Forbes Field. Why fans go to PNC Park is beyond me. For their last home stand, six games with the Cardinals and the Cubs, the Pirates drew a total of 105,000 fans.To get 17,500 fans a game is remarkable. I would speculate that the fans went to the games because they had previously bought tickets, but why do Pittsburgh fans have to buy tickets in advance when there are plenty of seats available the day of a game?
I don't know, maybe the fans go because the Pirates have a beautiful ballpark? Because they like baseball?
Maybe the fans go to games just to see PNC Park, the nicest new park in my opinion. Or maybe they just like baseball.
Murray, I'm supposed to be saying these things. I don't even know what to boldface anymore!
Also, the Pirates have the nicest new park that exists in Murray Chass's opinion? Huh, misplaced modifiers are funny.
But do these Pirates play a credible game of baseball? Maybe it doesn’t matter. The Pirates of the early ‘50s didn’t play a credible game of baseball, but I frequently paid a dollar for a seat in the left field bleachers at Forbes Field nevertheless and not just for the chance to see Kiner hit a home run. I was not one of those fans who left after Kiner had batted for the last time.
I can't...this is just too much, people. Murray, you are perplexed as to why people do something to the point where you find it compelling to write a non-blog non-post about it, then give extremely plausible reasons as to why this phenomenon happens, and then admit you proudly did it too! FTW?!?!
But today’s fans should not be so kind to the Pirates because management is cheating them and trying to fool them. Club executives justify the trades by saying they have to start over by accumulating good minor league prospects and building with them.
Yes, and these club execs aren't just saying that for lip service, either. That is how you build a team.
But what was Morgan? He was a rookie who showed he was ready to play in the majors. He was hitting .271 when he was traded, and he has hit .351 for Washington for a .307 season average.
A rookie? Murray, what in the hell are you talking about? Morgan was 29 years-old and played in 28 games in 2007 and more than one-third of the season last year. Huh?
They didn’t need to trade Morgan to make room in the outfield for McCutchen because McCutchen was already there and hitting .295 in his first month. They didn’t need to trade Morgan to get Lastings Milledge, another young outfielder, because they didn’t need Milledge, who in trials with the Mets and the Nationals had failed to demonstrate major league maturity.
But they did want to trade Morgan for Milledge, Murray. We can argue the merits of the trade (which intelligent analysts have ), but this wasn't the tipping point in the Pirates season by any means.
“The bottom line for us is upside and potential,” general manager Neal Huntington said at the time he made the trade. “The two players we are getting in return are guys that we think can play quality roles for us as we return to winning baseball here in Pittsburgh. Both players, we feel, have the upside to be above-average Major League players, and that’s why the trade happened.”
The Pirates, however, already had those players in Morgan and Burnett. Trading them was bizarre judgment at best and poor judgment at worst.
The belief among officials of other clubs is that the Pirates traded Morgan because of his age. At 29, he is five years older than Milledge. The Pirates, though, shouldn’t be concerned about having a 35-year-old Morgan playing center field for them. They would have traded him well before they reached that juncture.
When the Pirates projected themselves to be competitive once again, they felt that Morgan would be past his peak and Milledge would be hitting his. Besides, Hanrahan was an undervalued commodity thanks to his robust ERA, but his 2009 FIP is 3.22 and his tRA is 4.21 (Murray has no idea what those numbers mean).
C'mon, Chass. Are you even going to mention the billion other deals Pittsburgh made?
There is more. The Pirates traded their middle infield, Sanchez and Wilson, not to stockpile minor league talent but because Sanchez and Wilson, who had expressed a desire to stay in Pittsburgh, rejected woefully underpriced contract offers designed for effect.
Wrong. Absolutely terrible reasoning skills. They traded Sanchez and Wilson because they A) were aging, B) have expensive contracts, C) were reaching the decline of their careers, and D) were valued highly.
The offers were designed (1) to show fans that the Pirates tried to sign Sanchez and Wilson and (2) to induce them to say no so that the Pirates could then justify trading them because they did not plan on exercising their contract options totaling $16.4 million for next year.
Yes, that is called good PR! You're getting it, Murray!
Perhaps the most striking figures are the payroll numbers. The Pirates opened the season with a $48.7 million payroll. They are closing it with a payroll (based on the Aug. 31 roster and disabled list) of $20 million. The players they traded during the season have salaries totaling $31 million.
Wow, that's an extremely impressive way of saving money by the Pirates, which I am sure they will use to make the team better.
Now for the kicker. The Pirates, one of the smallest revenue teams in the majors, received approximately $40 million in revenue sharing last year and most likely will get at least that much, despite the economy, for this year. One thing we know for sure. They aren’t spending the money to pay players.
Actually, they are. They can now use that money to sign free agents, for player development and scouting, to lure international teenagers (like Sano) over, to resign current young players (like McCutchen) to long-term, reasonably-priced contracts, to sign high-end draft picks. Revenue sharing money doesn't go into a piggy bank.
Under the collective bargaining agreement, teams that receive money have to notify the commissioner’s office each April what they did with the money the previous year. “They’re going to have some explaining to do,” a baseball official said. “It’s going to be difficult for them absent some substantial moves between now and April.”
How much do we want to bet that the "baseball official" is either:
A) Murray Chass
B) Murray Chass's neighbor
C) Murray Chass's dog
D) No, c'mon, it's just probably Murray Chass
High-revenue teams don’t appreciate revenue recipients that don’t spend the money to improve themselves but pocket it instead.
Huh? Why not? The money is already sunk; the owners can't get it back. Wouldn't they then rather it be spent on rival teams not improving rather than improving?
The commissioner’s office is supposed to monitor the spending to make sure teams use the money as they’re supposed to, but no team has ever been disciplined or even reprimanded for not using it correctly.
The Pirates might be a good place for the commissioner to start. It would be the best win for the fans all year.
Oh, that's right, the Commissioner's Office should step in and tell the Pirates how to run the team in the year in which they decide to rebuild for a better future (but not the sixteen terrible seasons previous).
But here's the kicker. Who just happens to be the President of the Pittsburgh Pirates? Frank Coonelly. And what was Mr. Coonelly's job before that? He was a Senior Vice President in the Commissioner's Office! And what did he run? Labor Relations!
So yes, the Commissioner's Office should waste their time investigating a team heading in the right direction, under a new front office, which just so happens to be run by the guy who used to be pretty high up in the Commissioner's Office.
Sounds like a plan, Murray. Maybe you could do something about it if you weren't stuck not-blogging in your not-mom's basement.
Big thanks to FJM for making my childhood infinitely better.