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.
Bill Simmons is actually an entertaining writer. Bias? Yes. Ill-informed at times? Yes. But the way he mixes in popular culture with sports is a talent that I respect. Simmons, ever since Manny was traded, has sided with Manny, rather than with the Red Sox. I guess he thinks that the Red Sox treated him poorly by not letting him know whether or not they were going to pick up his option. Simmons, if you think that, then so be it. But there is no one out there that denies that Manny makes any team better. But is that “better” worth $75 million over three years, or $50 million over two? Whatever the figure is, it is very logical for a team to pass on it. That much money tied up in one player isn’t exactly the best route, especially one that is 37 AND has a history of self-motivation, and is somewhere in the same arena as being a “defensive liability.”
I will always appreciate Manny Ramirez as a baseball player. And I will continue to read Bill Simmons’ sports column because I find them entertaining–although lacking sports logic at times. But I have to say that Bill is wrong on this subject.