Monday, February 14, 2005

Pocket Lint far from a local phenomenon

"Pocket Lint" refers here to the USSMariner's not-so-friendly nicknaming of Bob Finnigan, bestowed upon the Times reporter for his habit of reporting as fact just about everything he hears from the M's front office. (Regular readers may remember an extended email conversation with Finnigan over at the Mariner Morsels blog that showed Finnigan's not really a bad guy.)

But Finnigan is by no means unique in his sympathetic renderings of front-office talk. Forwarded to me by my dad from the Northwest SABR email list, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette does its own version of parroting the front office. Latest Spending Spree Shows Lack of Restraint, declares Robert Dvorchak's article.

In summary: Pittsburgh just doesn't have the money to compete, nor do other small market teams. There is a brief nod to the Pirates' own "lack of restraint," under former GM Cam Bonifay, but most of the article is devoted to criticizing the runaway spending. We hear this all the time--and I mean all the time--in Kansas City. The reality is that complaining about the system is an easier pill to swallow than facing the fact that your team continues to make poor decisions and doesn't match payroll increases to revenue-sharing-based income. That said, the revenue-sharing system is not designed to encourage competetive balance, but is designed solely to depress salaries league-wide. There are better ways (look at DMZ's) to structure it if the goal were competetive and financial parity, but it isn't.

I can understand Pittsburgh's frustration to a degree, but there are problems with this argument:
1) Baseball's finances are so opaque--deliberately so--that an accurate evaluation of how much money teams really are making, spending, and pocketing is virtually impossible. Even a transparent accounting would be far too complex for most fans, including myself to really understand.

2)If everybody's making too much money, well, then maybe nobody's making too much money. Scott Boras has been quoted claiming that the owners have been crying poor but actually have had a lot of money to spend, and this season lends credence to that claim. Lookout Landing posted an analysis of this year's free agent market, and it wasn't just a few teams that spent what looked like a lot money. In other words, what a player "should" be paid depends on how much money the market has to throw at him. If teams are making more money, why shouldn't they spend it?

3) There are successful small market teams, and lousy large-market teams.

Oh, and Dvorchak could at least go as far as getting Kansas City owner David Glass' name right (it's not David Green, as he reports).

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Getting his shot in the big leagues

Formerly confined to back-up roles in Seattle, free agent Rich Waltz will now be starting with the Florida Marlins. Though he routinely displayed the talent and consistency necessary for a starting role, Seattle seemed more comfortable sticking with their veteran team.

I'm talking about broadcasting, of course, where Waltz now will be the Marlins' main television commentator. Waltz was an outstanding commentator who's only downside may have been that he rarely looked very excited on television. But when you're next to Rick Rizzs, nobody looks excited by comparision. But Waltz was intelligent and articulate; he explained things clearly without throwing around cliches like they were going out of style [cough*Fairly*cough]. I wish him the best.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Another reason to avoid used to be my first stop for baseball news. Rob Neyer was always good food for thought, Peter Gammons and Tim Kurkjian seemed reasonably informed about the inside scoops, and we occasionally were treated to reflectios by Jim Caple or Alan Schwartz. And John Sickels always had great columns about minor leaguers. David Pinto from Baseball Tonight used to do open chats, at least during the playoffs.

Well, Neyer is behind the "Insider" barrier now, Caple and Schwartz appearances are more and more rare, Sickels just ran his last column, and Buster Olney is getting featured a lot. Beyond that, the stats on players don't feature hit charts anymore, the site is agonizingly slow (from all the ads and pop-ups, most likely), and--getting now to the reason for this post--there are a lot of better resources out there now.

Take a look, for example, and player profiles over at M's vs. A's, a blog by three fans with opposing loyalties. (Click on Mariners under the "Information" heading on the sidebar.) Because they are authored by someone who really knows the M's players, they're more specific and more helpful to understanding current players. This will be especially helpful for those of you who, when you hear Niehaus call a player by name, think "Who's he? Is he a Mariner?"

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Combining forces in the 'sphere

The last offseason provided impetus for an explosion of Mariners related blogs, many with battle cries as their name: Leone for Third, Fire Bavasi, Bavasi Stinks, Sodo Ohno, etc. Time, despair, and changing blogger circumstances have cause some to close, some to rename and some to combine. The latest developments include four (now two) of the best Mariner blogs:

The USS Mariner, which is where you should start when it comes to anything Mariner-related, has just brought Peter and Jeff from Mariner Musings on board (pun intended), making the USSM even that much better.

Leone for Third, having realized that a Mr. Beltre probably has that slot locked up, has changed its name and web address to Lookout Landing. They too, recruited an excellent blogger recently, Steve from the now abandoned Mariner's Wheelhouse. And they post some great stuff consistently.

If you're new to the so-called blogosphere, take a look around, and see how silly most of your local newspaper columnists sound compared to what others have up on the internet, Larry Stone and David Andriessen excepted. Yes, Blaine Newnham, Steve Kelley and Jim Moore, this especially means you.