Baseball Toaster was unplugged on February 4, 2009.
Allen Barra pens the Voice cover story this week on New York's two new baseball Stadiums.
"If the Yankees' farm system is flourishing, as the front office insists, why didn't the team make the deal with Cleveland? The obvious answer is that they could have, but the Brewers were willing to shell out the salary and the Yankees were not."
Hmm . . . maybe because the farm system only has 2 hitters of value right now, and neither of them is going to hit like LaPorta will in the big leagues as fast as LaPorta? Oh, and because CC just costs $$$$ in 3 months?
'Meanwhile, as the Yankees practice fiscal responsibility, the Boston Red Sox have won two World Series, in large part by signing Curt Schilling, Pedro Martinez, Josh Beckett, and Daisuke Matsuzaka."
This is just horrible. The Sox TRADED for Schilling, Pedro, and Beckett while all still had time on their contracts; then re-signed them. Mr. Barra ought to know better. And of course, only 1 of those guys played on both Serious winning teams.
1) You can not link the replacement of Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium. There is no parallel. While I know many Yankee fans who are nostalgic for the "old place", I can't name one Met fan who isn't ecstatic about leaving Shea, which is really a dump. Even if there was an audible outcry, using the flawed logic "But many fans have essentially grown up in Shea, and they choose to embrace the flaws", isn't exactly compelling.
2) I am not sure of the context that Alex gave to his quotes, but I wonder if Mr. Barra has been in the upper deck much? I am a season ticket holder in Section 5 and I don't sense a feeling of community centered around regular Joes. Besides, the tickets aren't exactly cheap right now: the Tier Boxes range from $45 to $70, while the Tier Reserve seats go from $22 to $30. If anything, a much too large percentage of the upper deck denizens are loudmouth suburbanites who think going to a game is their change to get ridiculously drunk and misbehave in the big, bad Bronx.
3) The notion that the new stadiums will be as remote to the fans as being California is an absurd exaggeration. With over 4 million tickets available at YS, there will be plenty of chances for the mythical average Joe to attend a game.
4) The notion that attendance at YS being lower this year as a sign that fans are rejecting the new stadium is absurd, but not more ridiculous than the idea that NY fans withheld ASG votes because they are rebelling against new stadiums. Both arguments are beyond silly.
5) Has anyone every questioned whether Randy Levine was making baseball decisions? Barra seems to think that's a lively debate in this town. I've never heard it.
6) Barra suggests this is one of the worst baseball summers in recent memory? Seriously? Did he want anyone to lend credibility to this piece? Also, after complaining about how much money the Yankees make/spend, he then turns around and criticizes the team for having the temerity to spend $9 million less this season.
7) The moral outrage over the Yankees deciding to go with Hughes and IPK over Santana is also ridiculous, especially when juxtaposed against previous paragraphs criticizing the team for growing old and stale.
What started as a baseless rant against the new stadiums (there are reasonable arguments against them, but Barra makes none), morphs into a baseless argument about how the Mets fired Randolph and the Yankees spend too much money, but then didn't spend enough to get keep getting older players, which the article also criticizes for not giving the city its worst baseball summer in recent memory.
This article was so bad, if I was the Voice editor, I would have ripped it up and found another author to write it.
But the Yanks should have traded their home grown guys to get Santana, or Sabathia, or both.
Has someone sent this to FJM yet? I expect better from Allen Barra.
I have fewer problems with his takes on the stadiums, and largely agree with him there. Also, I do think there's a gem buried in there in this paragraph:
"Thirty-some years ago, when free agency was new and superstars signed long-term contracts, old-fart New York columnists like Dick Young complained that players, having received their big money, would slack off and underperform. There's no evidence that that ever happened, but the flip sidethat team managements, once they got their long-term cable and stadium deals, would pocket the profits at the expense of quality of playhas never really been examined. As Marvin Miller, the first head of the players' union, used to say: "Watch out when you hear baseball executives say 'fiscal responsibility.' It's code for 'profit before winning.'"
Still, the roster and transaction analysis is brutal.
I'm supposed to have a late lunch with Allen and Steve Goldman later today. I'll see what Allen has to say for himself on this stuff.
Yankee Stadium attendance is actually UP this year, compared to last year's first 49 games.
2007: 2,544,422 (51,927 average)
2008: 2,573,031 (52,511)
Early-season attendance is always lower than summer and pennant-race attendance; the weather's better and the kids are out of school.
Bud Selig used a similar false argument to claim that interleague play greatly boosted attendance.
I've never been a Barra fan. He always seems contrarian for the sake of being contrarian, which makes him a perfect fit for the Village Voice and Slate.
covers Bonds, Sabathia, Melky and Matsui, Jeter, Hughes, Teixeira...
reads a bit weirdly when he cites Melky with plate discipline (but I recall someone here suggesting he DID come up that way, and lost it in the gravitational pull of First Pitch Cano.)
11 It probably means that contract-year players train harder / enjoy fewer off-field pursuits.
My bigger concern with Melky has been his failure to develop any consistent power.
And william, if you define clutch as, "Playing better when your next contract depends on it", then perhaps the contract bump is evidence of "clutch". But I've never seen or heard anyone define clutch in that way until you did. Its an interesting idea.
7 Looking forward to your report, Cliff - and hope you have a nice lunch!
Let me repeat that ... Melky has been a 23 year old while everyone is flailing away at his failure to launch.
Oh the time has come
And you know that you're the only one
To say O.K.
But you're motoring
even worse, his performance against lefties has gone from mediocre to putrid, with an OPS+ around 60 for the last season and a half.
his defense is very good, but it's not elite and it's not enough to compensate for his bat. i think that if he does not put up a good (and most importantly) consistent 2nd half, the team is going to have to seriously consider acquiring another CF by whatever means it takes. at the very least, find someone who can take the at bats against lefties away.
That is one fugly lineup, BTW
I was noting that mid-season on a very young player, people were ready to dump ... and Gardner offers ONLY the too-easy seduction of speed so far. I disagree with those who like that he goes up looking to walk. I think it is a recipe for Big League failure. It is the tactic of all those 'scrappy' Minnesota utility infielders, not a starting OF. I love 9 pitch walks (or hits), I could call them my favourite 'skill' tactic in the game, but I love them from a guy who CAN get it into the gap if the pitcher errs. I'm not down on gardner in any decisive way, too soon there too, but would be happiest as of now seeing him as 4th OF/pinch runner weapon. If Jorge really can't catch we are going to have roster problems, though, when Damon and (we hope) Matsui come back.
There is, by the way ZERO room for Bonds. If Jorge's best slot this year is DH, there's barely room for him and Giambi and Matsui. Actually, there isn't! Tough, tough decisions each game.
Although, I'm afraid these lyrics might be a more accurate fit for our LF:
"Babe you know
You're growing up so fast
And Mama's worrying
That you won't last to say
But let's hope he keeps "Motorin" while he's here...
If Posada was catching and Matsui was done for the season, I'd say do it. But there's really no room for him.
Bllomquist RF (71)
Lopez 2B (99)
Ibanez LF (113)
Beltre 3B (109)
Vidro DH (58)
Johjima C (55)
Cairo 1B (58)
Reed CF (91)
Betancourt SS (79)
that's the mariners' starting lineup today with 2008 OPS+ numbers added.
and it get's better too, sexson had an OPS+ of 90 for the team at 1st base, admittedly mediocre. but the mariners' big plan to replace his "production" there ... wait for it ... is to platoon vidro and cairo
that's right, they cut a bad ballplayer and managed the team worse.
just remember that the next time you feel like bitching ... you could have been a mariners' fan.
Besides, there's no guarantee Matsui, or Damon, or (shudder) Giambi don't get hurt. Room can be found easily.
If Ensberg was worth a flyer, and he was, Sexson definitely is.
I couldn't read more than two pages of Barra's rant, but for what it's worth, I've never liked this Yankee Stadium, which is NOT the House That Ruth Built or Ruppert Built or White Construction Built. That ballpark was reduced to it's foundation and replaced with a facimile that was closer in kinship to the Vet in Philly than the original Staidum.
I went to what is likely my last game in the current YS last Saturday, sat with a bunch of drunken yahoos from Jersey and watched the Yankees win. Frankly, the win is all that matters.
32 I agree with your points about the remodeled stadium to a certain degree, but, like Barra says about Shea, it's a dated concrete horseshoe, but it's our dated concrete horseshoe (and at least you can still see the setting sun glint off the courthouse in this one).
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