Simmons’ Logic Flawed.

Bill Simmons: See, another team that should sign him –
the Nats. People in DC do not care about that team. At all. Manny
doesn’t make them more interesting????? They’re willing to give Tex 170
million – a guy who has played on bad teams for nearly his entire
career – but Manny isn’t worth $75m for three? He wouldn’t sell
tickets? He wouldn’t hit?

     Not intending to rip on Bill Simmons, again, for simply the sake of ripping on Bill Simmons.  As I included in my last post referring to a Simmons ‘flaw of logic,” it is the way he thinks in regarding to certain baseball and football related topics that I disagree with.  Simmons does do something that I could never do, entertain a large crowd.  The way that he introduces the readers to entertainment-intersecting-with-sports is pretty much unparalled on a national scale.  But for someone who is in the national spotlight, someone who most likely spends more time than I do perusing the internet, one would think that he would dig a little deeper to find out what value in baseball is, what the worth of an individual player is.  Maybe spend a few minutes on Baseball Prospectus or The Hardball Times.  Ok, one doesn’t have to be infatuated with the numbers to understand baseball.  That seems to be a popular misconception nowadays.  But it helps, trust me, it does.  If one understands why there are numbers in the first place–to aid in the process of evaluating players, teams, etc, not to eliminate scouts, talent evaluators, etc–Then they will simply have a greater understanding of the game.  I may be adept with the numbers, somewhat, but I am no scout, nor do I think I know more than the average scout.  But it is much easier for someone to research stats, and what they mean, then to learn how to evaluate a player based on what they see.  I am not asking Bill Simmons to grade Buchholz’s change up, I am simply asking him to try and understand an established players value.

     So what does this mean when speaking of Teixeira?  “A guy who has played on bad teams nearly his entire career.”  Maybe I am looking too much into it and maybe my thinking is flawed.  But for some reason it sounds like Tex is being penalized because the Rangers only addressed one side of the ball over the duration of his time spent with Texas.  Manny has played on winning teams, and been part of the reason they have been winners, arguably the largest part at times.  But Tex never had Schilling and Pedro on the mound.  Tex never had a great season from Josh Beckett and another quality year of Curt Schilling.  And while Tex had some hitters in his lineup, “plus-talent” around him at times, so did Manny.  The Red Sox won two championships while Manny was with them.  But replacing Manny with an average LF would have resulted in winning seasons, probably not the playoffs, but still, winning seasons.  Those Indians teams were stacked with good hitters, and while they too, like the Rangers, did not exactly address the pitching as much as they should have, at least they had a few good pitchers. 

     The reason that this irritates me so much is that Mark Teixiera is now a Yankee (winner).  This season, maybe the Yankees don’t win a championship, but they will be a winning ballclub.  So all of a sudden Tex is a winning player because he has more talent surrounding him than he ever has in his career?  That is why I hate this.  Some baseball writers think that a player can win 40 games on his own, or so it seems.  Statistically, that isn’t the case at all.  Players cannot be that large a part of a team.  Did you know that accoring to WARP1 Manny Ramirez was worth 9.8 Wins above a “replacement player?”  That is basically 10 wins.  So Manny would have been 10 wins better then some Minor Leaguer that comes up and plays with the team when there is no one else to field the position.  Maybe that statistic is not perfect, but it provides a much greater understanding of how many wins a player is worth, rather than simply guessing a number as some appear to do.  Simply put, you put Manny Ramirez on the Pirates this season, and the Pirates will still miss the playoffs, probably by a lot.  You put Manny Ramirez from any season of his career on next years Pittsburgh Pirates, and they still miss the playoffs.

     These are the pitching staffs summed up in ERA+ in Tex’s Rangers years:  88, 111, 93, 100, 95 (95 was a partial season for Tex).  That 111 stands out a lot.  But the problem is that the offense was actually slightly below average that season (97).  Tex may have had some “hitters” around him during his time in Texas, but the offense as a whole was, believe it or not, better than average only one time (105).  There was a season of 101 in there too, but that is basically average, since average is 100.  It may seem like the Rangers have a great offense more often, but that ballpark does help their case in most seasons, excluding last year, when they actually had a really good offense.  

     While Manny played in Boston, the Red Sox have had team pitching, and team offense numbers in eight seasons, giving us eight years of offense, and eight years of pitching; 16 total.  During that time, the Red Sox have below average pitching twice (96, 98).  And a below average offense only once (99).  And those numbers of 98 and 99 are dangerously close to being average.  Basically, Ramirez played on teams that had just about an average offense 8 times in eight seasons.  And an average pitching staff basically 6 of 8 times, possibly even 7 if you want to include the 98.  And average is an understatement.  Each side of the ball has been well above average in several seasons, including pitching seasons of 121 and 123.  Those, my friends, are great pitching staffs.
     So sure, Manny Ramirez was a part of why those Red Sox teams were great, but that part seems to be magnified in Simmons’ eyes.  There was only so much that he could do alone.  And while Tex will probably end up the lesser player when their career’s are all said and done, both will be considered great, I would imagine.  Manny’s career is great already, Tex seems likely to finish what will be a great career–maybe not a Hall of Famer–but he should be very close if he continues to stay healthy.  And I understand that part of the point Simmons is trying to make is that Manny will sell more tickets in Washington.  That, I do not dispute.  But I feel that it is unfair for Simmons to include that Tex has played on “losing teams,” because that is not his fault.  He was a great player on a team with below average talent around him most years.  And just one more thing; Tex actually does play defense, and plays it very well.  Something that 37 year old Manny Ramirez will not do, and has never done. 

     So, Bill.  Continue writing, you do have a lot of talent.  But seriously try and find a better way to understand a players value in the sport we know as baseball.  Because pinning the failures of a team on an individual just doesn’t make much sense to me, or present much logic.    



  1. kozmo

    Joe, good points all around. I am a proponent of a coherent but also logical argument, and Simmons fell short in his for just what your pinpointed. Honestly, haven’t some writers ever heard of I think it relates to Simmons’s style. He’s a “feel” writer, analyzing the current without scratching below the surface into the Rangers’ horrible business and baseball model, into what flaws the teams for which he’s played have had, and that, despite the Angels having a tremendous lineup with him last year, having that lineup fail when facing Boston’s good pitching even though Teixeira hit .467.

    Plus, who knows if Ramirez would feel comfortable in DC, if he’d get weird and quit on them too. They sought Teixeira not only because he is a terrific player but also because he is from the area. They sought a home-town attraction, and failed. They could get Ramirez for less than $25/year, too, at this point in the off-season.

  2. joefromnewhampshire

    To add to your point, Manny would be there for three years, it is unlikely that they compete within that timeframe because there is so much work that the organization has to do, the most major of concerns being the Nationals lack of a Farm system. At least Tex could potentially be a piece to a winning team down the road. But really the Nationals should just focus on player development for now and try and make some “Moneyball” type signings for the next few years and hope for the best.

  3. juliasrants

    I agree with heartland – Manny is not worth the risk for a lot of teams – why tie up all the money in a player who might get phantom pains and not play? Developing younger players in a team’s farm system should be a #1 priority for the Nats as well as for all teams. The Red Sox have learned to do that quite well and it has paid off for us. Maybe come April and Manny still hasn’t signed his price might be low enough for some team to chance it.


  4. mikeeff

    really nice piece…may i try to simplify things though? honestly i think bill simmons was saying that manny would fill the seats…more because he’s “famous” than anything else. and lets face it–he is one of the most famous and infamous players in the game. that might well fill the seats in DC–i personally think they will have to have a winning season before they fill them–they couldn’t last year even with that beautiful new park. and now that we’re in a rece/depre-ssion it will be even harder…

    just my take.

  5. joefromnewhampshire

    I do agree that Simmons was trying to make that same point, that Manny would bring people to the games. But I also felt that he was implying that since Tex has played on losing teams that he wasn’t a “winner.” He was placing too much blame on Tex and giving too much credit to Manny for being individuals with very different surrounding casts over the years (maybe I am looking too much into it). Tex isn’t exactly a no name player, he would draw fans, not as many as Manny, but definitely more than they bring in now.

  6. hardballblog

    It doesn’t really make sense that they won’t go after Manny. But to be honest if I was the GM I would be trying to clean house and start over. It seems like they got a bunch of young players that didn’t really pan out. They need to try and build around Zimmerman and a few others and get some more prospects. It is really sad to see a team do so poorly in a league were other teams do so great.

  7. roundrock15

    I don’t know much about Nationals fans, but my gut tells me that the majority of them are not astute enough to know who Mark Teixeira is, and to go to the games to see him. I live in L.A. Despite being an Astros fan, I am a Dodgers season ticket holder, and I know firsthand how Manny can transform a fan base.

    Simmons is an interesting writer, because he can entertain you and infuriate you at the same time. Not only can he, in fact, he makes a pretty regular habit of it. It’s interesting, because the one argument he makes – that Tex has played for bad teams – is the one that least helps his overall point: That the Nationals would be better served chasing after Ramirez than Teixeira.

    Ramirez doesn’t make the Nationals a significantly better team. He’d end up leading the league in walks, because most teams will take a chance on forcing Zimmerman to beat them. They have glaring problems on both sides of the ball, and the 14th-ranked minor league system by Baseball Prospectus. Beyond Marrero, Detwiler, and maybe Burgess, there isn’t a lot of help on the way.

    Manny would, however, generate revenue. At least for the first third of the season before it becomes clear that the Nats won’t compete and Manny quits on the team. Beyond that, he provides a block for Marrero and Burgess. Still, he practically pays for his own contract. You can’t say that about Teixeira, as good as he is and will continue to be. Still, Simmons takes the air out of his own argument by citing the quality of their teams.

  8. joefromnewhampshire

    Keith Law ranked the Nats system at 29. Did BP really put them that high? Or is that just in the NL or something?

  9. joefromnewhampshire

    I don’t know if this is what you mean, but just go to your blog, copy the url and paste it wherever you go. Kind of like you did with the BP link, which is why I don’t think copy and pasting is the problem you are having.

  10. roundrock15

    I dunno. When I go to my blog, it just says in the URL. Maybe I’m the official blog of the Houston Astros, with my two posts. lol I don’t know; I’m an idiot with computers.

    Anyway, nice blog. I’ve bookmarked you, looking forward to seeing more.

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