sarcastic comments related to his latest ESPN chat. I've always been a big Joe Morgan fan on the field, off the field-not so much.
Joe Absolutely Nails It
Congratulations, everybody. This is the big one.
Joe Morgan: The season continues to become more and more interesting every week. The Yankees looked like they were on a roll and now they're struggling again.
Ken Tremendous: ...Oh. You're done. That's what makes this season more and more interesting. Not the NL West race, or the Brewers reclaiming a big lead, or the emergence of like 4 great SS in the NL, or two of the most famous steroid users in history chasing hallowed milestones. It's the Yankees' inability to stay hot.
Matt (Watertown, NY): Where do you put the blame for the fall of the White Sox this year? I'm blaming injuries for our demise.. Erstad, Podsednik, Crede, and Dye have been injured, hurting our offense!
Joe Morgan: A lot of it has to do with injuries, but every team has injuries. Every team. That's not a good enough excuse. I'm not sure of what's going on there, but injuries is not the main problem there. It's contributed to their downfall. All those good players with proven records all of a sudden can't hit. I'm not close enough to the situation to put my finger on the exact cause.
KT: If you are a regular reader of our blog, you would know -- from a post not too far down on this page -- that PECOTA had the ChiSox at 72-90 this year. A computer knew that this was going to happen, Joe. A computer.
The reasons are many and readily evident. Joe Crede came back to earth and got injured. Jermaine Dye is not nearly as good as he looked in 2006. Thome is 36. Konerko is 32 and declining already. Toss in a few pitching woes here and there (their staff is pretty old, too) and you have a disaster on your hands.
Joe's answer -- and here I must remind you once again that he is the number one analyst on the number one baseball network in America (the number one country in terms of baseball generally) -- is: I'm not close enough to the situation to put my finger on the exact cause.
I actually have a Red Phone that goes right to the PECOTA computer. Just...hang one on sec. It's ringing.
Hey PECOTA computer, it's Ken.
Hello Ken. How are you.
Fine, thanks. Quick question -- have you ever met the White Sox players?
And you haven't, like, "gotten close to the situation" this year. Like, you haven't hung out in US Cellular, shooting the **** with front office guys or anything.
You just kind of used your "brain" to figure out whether they were going to be good, right?
Okay. Thanks. One more question. How long is my marriage going to last if I spend all of my free time blogging about baseball writing?
Yikes. Okay. Thanks.
Brent S. (fjm): Why are the yankees so up and down ths season? also what are your thoughts on the rocket coming in relief?
Joe Morgan: Unfortunately, everything seems to be riding on A-Rod. When he's up they're up, when he's in a lull, they are. The biggest mistake they made was getting rid of Sheffield. He's been the leader on that team offensively the three years that he was there, except the year A-Rod was the MVP. He and A-Rod carried the team. Matsui and Jeter were contributors, but those two carried the team. Now they just have A-Rod. He's played great all year, and he's carried the team to victories. But I'm shocked when I did their game against the Mets three weeks ago and they had won 11 of 12 and looked like they were on a roll. Now they're back to where they started from.
KT: Hey, kids! Here's a game you can play at home. What did Joe leave out in his analysis of the Yankees' struggles? (Here's a hint: there are three aspects of baseball -- hitting, pitching, and fielding.)
Some Yankees' WHIPs/ERAs:
Mussina: 1.35/4.98 (65 IP)
Clemens: 1.42/5.09 (17 IP)
Igawa: 1.61/7.13 (35 IP)
Farnsworth: 1.65/5.16 (29 IP)
Bruney: 1.50/1.97) (24 BB in 32 IP)
Vizcaino: 1.54/5.35 (37 IP)
Now Ken, you say. Aren't ERAs kind of a coarse way to evaluate pitchers? Yes, you arrogant dicks, they are. That's why I included WHIP as well. But also...many of these guys are relievers. Do you know what it means when a lot of your relievers have high ERAs? It means they are letting a ton of guys on base, and then their reliever buddies are letting them score.
The Yankees have scored the 3rd most runs in all of baseball. Losing Sheffield is not their problem. They have the 16th best team ERA in baseball. That is their problem. They have Wang, and Pettitte (who I swear to you all is going to come back down to earth soon), and that's about it. Proctor is unreliable. Rivera is steadying after a shaky first few weeks, but it's June 26 and he's had eleven save chances. Eleven. That's bad.
What is the point of all of this? The point is: how do you get asked a question about what is wrong with the Yankees and not mention their pitching? Answer: you are a terrible analyst.
Zach (Montezuma, IA): What will the Padres get out of Barrett?
Joe Morgan: I had become a big fan of Michael Barrett. I don't know about his defensive deficiencies. I thought he was a pretty good player. I was surprised when they made that deal. I don't believe it had anything to do with the fight, because I think Barrett and Zambrano had shook hands and gotten over it. I'm a Barrett fan, so I think he'll do a good job in San Diego. It's always tough, though, to be shifted in the middle of the season and not know why.
KT: First of all. God. I don't even know what to write as my "first of all."
First of all: do you actually think that the Barrett trade had nothing to do with the fight? Think about this, before you answer, Joe. The catcher for the Cubs got into a fistfight with their best pitcher. Then he was traded. He also has a reputation as being a fight-y kind of dude.
Second of all: the question is: "What will the Padres get out of Barrett?" It takes six sentences before Joe even begins to address the question.
And third: he never really addresses the question.
And speaking of classic:
Will (Lexington, KY): the reds have young talent for sure, but can they become contenders with the management they have right now?
Joe Morgan: That's a very good question. I don't think I'm equipped to answer that question. But it's a very good question, because I've been asking myself the same question. I'm not as close to the situation as I have been or should be, but I've talked to the owner and he wants to win. I am disappointed in what I've seen so far.
KT: All-time low, right? I think so. All-time low.
Can the Reds become contenders?
That's a very good question.
Thanks, Joe! Wow. That's flattering.
I don't think I'm equipped to answer that question.
But...you are an analyst. You even played for the team.
But it's a very good question, because I've been asking myself the same question.
You've written the word "question" an all-time record four times in three sentences. Also: you've been asking yourself the same question, and you still can't answer it?
I'm not as close to the situation as I have been or should be, but I've talked to the owner and he wants to win.
You're not as close as you should be? How close should you be, exactly? You are an objective analyst, right?
Also: you've talked to the owner. And he wants to win. Just so you know, Joe -- if you ever talk to an owner and the owner says he does not want to win, you have a major scoop on your hands. You have the plot of "Major League."
At what point does ESPN finally come to its senses and realize that this man is simply not equipped to be a baseball analyst?
Brent S. (fjm): Are the braves dead?
Joe Morgan: They were only four games out. So you can't say they're dead.
KT: End here. You answered the question. Good work. Just stop. Please. No?
That's why baseball is such a great sport - anything can happen in the next three months.
This sentence can be used at any moment for any question. That's how you know it is not a good or insightful piece of commentary.
The Yankees are up and down.
Not even in the same division. Has nothing to do with anything.
The Braves got hot, but then couldn't score a run for three days. So much can happen, so you can't say they're out of the race.
You earlier said you couldn't see them wining the division. Are you talking Wild Card, or...
That's what you get with young players - ups and downs.
...Oh. You're just talking clichés. Okay.
Brent S. (fjm): is sammy sosa a hall of famer?
Joe Morgan: Yes. And it shouldn't even be a debate.
KT: Again. I have no problem if you think Sosa, McGwire, et al. should be in the HOF. But to say it shouldn't even be a debate? Come on. It should definitely be a debate.
We have a tendency to want to decide who did steroids without any proof. Yet there are a lot of guys who were doing it and aren't being accused and aren't being suspected.
But there are only a few who have the on-paper qualifications to make it to the HOF, baseball's most hallowed ground. I don't think anyone is going to waste a lot of breath talking about whether Alex Sanchez should like get his MLB pension -- because that is unimportant. But the HOF is the HOF. And you, Joe, of all people, should want to debate this into the ground.
And by the way, everyone: Sammy Sosa did steroids. Innocent until proven guilty, benefit of the doubt, etc. etc. He ****ing did steroids, okay? He did something. Here are his full-season HR totals starting in 1990 (skipping partial totals in 91 and 92)
25 (partial season)
He increased his personal high in HR by 65% in one year. He hit opposite-field, flat-footed homers. Then testing heated up and he suddenly pretended he didn't speak English and started absolutely sucking wind and couldn't hit a beach ball with a tennis racket. He did steroids. So cool it with the holier-than-thou Constitutional arguments. I get it, it's great, I'm very proud of everyone for remembering their 8th grade social studies Bill of Rights class. But come on.
We've only taken a few to choose to point fingers at. The one thing that Sammy did was let the fans be a part of his celebration and of his career. I like that.
"Letting Fans Be Part of Celebration" -- not a criterion for HOF induction.
mvp (mvpland): will ken griffey jr. get traded if so what team?
Joe Morgan: Yes, I think they would consider trading him. They had a deal a couple of years ago set, but he turned it down. They have definitely tried to trade him over the last couple of years. But he would have to approve the deal, because he has a no-trade.
KT: What team, please, Joe? No? Not even a guess. Okay.
Shawn Dayton Ohio: What do the indians need to do before the trading deadline to help them make the final push to the world series
Joe Morgan: What I've seen of the Indians is they just need to be more consistent. They have all the pieces, but like everyone else, they need another starting pitcher. But every team is like that.
KT: This is what would happen if you went to Joe's computer and held your finger down on F1:
They need to be more consistent. They need to be more consistent. They need to be more consistent. They need to be more consistent. They need to be more consistent. They need to be more consistent. They need to be more consistent. They need to be more consistent. They need to be more consistent. They need to be more consistent. They need to be more consistent. They need to be more consistent. They need to be more consistent. They need to be more consistent. They need to be more consistent. They need to be more consistent. They need to be more consistent. They need to be more consistent. They need to be more consistent. They need to be more consistent. They need to be more consistent. They need to be more consistent. They need to be more consistent. They need to be more consistent. They need to be more consistent.
Bob (Brooklyn): What's more important to evaluate a pitcher: Wins or ERA?
Joe Morgan: I've always believed that an ERA is like a batting average.
KT: You're right! They are both crude and sometimes misleading stats that are overused!
It's a personal thing.
For instance, a guy could hit .300, but not be as valuable as a guy that hits .270.
Right again! If the guy who hits .270 walks a lot and hits for power, he is certainly more valuable than a guy who hits .300 with all singles and never walks. Good -- you had me worried with that weird tangential comment about "it's a personal thing."
A guy that makes 7 outs out of 10 with guys on base, he's not that valuable.
Screw you, man. Seriously.
What if the 3 hits are HR? What if they are doubles? Hell, what if they're singles, but with no runners on base he has a .450 OBP and a 1.900 OPS?
Read that sentence again, Joe, and defend it. Defend the idea that if you look at only a hitter's BA with men on base -- and that BA is .300! -- he's not that valuable. Defend that well, and I will shut this blog down and cash in my Fremulon Insurance stock options and move to Ohio and sculpt a statue of me picking your nose and eating it with a huge grin on my face wearing a tee shirt that reads: Joe Morgan Rocks My World.
But if you're clutch, but hit .275, you're more valuable.
So just to reiterate.
If you hit .300 with men on base, you are not valuable.
If you hit .275 but you are "clutch," meaning, presumably, that you hit with men on base, you are valuable.
Notice to all baseball players. If you are hitting .300 with men on base, regardless of what those hits are, and regardless of what you are hitting when there are no men on base, the way to become more valuable is to lower your BA 25 points, down to that coveted ".275" sweetspot.
That's why I think wins are better.
I literally cannot wait to read the rest of this paragraph.
It's just as tough to win a game 7-6 as it is 1-0.
This is not true. If the final score is 1-0, that means that the widest margin for error you have is one run. That seems pressure-packed, to me. If you win 7-6, that might mean you have a 7-0 lead in the first inning. If the bases are loaded with nobody out, your infield can play back and concede a run for an out. You can pitch around good hitters in key situations. You don't have nearly as much pressure, theoretically. Do you ever think about what you are writing before you write it?
The only thing that matters at the end of the year is how many games did we win.
As a team, perhaps. But as an individual stat: no. Do I have to explain why? I will, just in case you, Joe, are reading this, and forgot how baseball works.
Johan Santana this year is 8-6. Jeff Suppan also has 8 wins. Is Jeff Suppan as good as John Santana? No he is not. He is one-point-seven tra-billion times worse. That's mathematically accurate. You can look that up. So why does Suppan have the same number of wins? Because his teammates have scored a lot of runs for him. So he can be a worse pitcher, but still get credited with a "win."
Is this really novel, to you? Is this really not something you have ever thought about? After like 50 years in baseball?
Jason (Michigan): Hi Joe. Do you think the Tigers will be able to get some breathing room from the Indians in the central? These teams have been 2 games apart from each other for 2 months and it's clear that the Tigers are the better team all around.
Joe Morgan: I don't know if they'll get any breathing room, but I think they'll win because they're the best team. I think they're the best team and I said that at the beginning of the year.
KT: Wow. You picked last year's World Series rep from the AL, who have a ton of awesome young pitchers and can rake 1-9, to be the best team in the AL Central. Nice work.
Pat ((Ontario,CA)): Do you think Russell Martin is one the best catchers in the game?
Joe Morgan: I think that he's definitely established himself as a very good catcher. When you watch him play, he has confidence and I look for that.
KT: Other things that Russell Martin has, besides "confidence," that make him one of the best catchers in the game: an .822 OPS, 13 SB (!), a .77 BB/K ratio, and the 5th highest CS% of all catchers.
But really, I think it's his confidence.
Mike, Rockaway Beach: What team(s) do you like to watch during the week when you aren't working the Sunday night games?
Joe Morgan: I'm just like every other fan - I watch every game. I check the box scores and check the stats like everyone else. I'm as interested in the Kansas City Royals as I am the Yankees or Red Sox. I'm a baseball fan. I just like to watch everybody.
KT: Excuse me, for one second. I have to dig through our files. Ah. here we go. Now let me just pull out some quotes here...
I haven't seen enough of him this year
It's tough for me to answer that question from afar
I don't see how they go about their business on a day-to-day basis
I don't know much about their front office and their scouting systems
I won't say someone's overrated because I don't see him every day
I don't know either of them well enough to make the statements that you made
I haven't seen him play first base
I just don't know how good the Dodgers are
I haven't seen him play much. We've only done one Padre game.
I haven't had much of a chance to check him out, but I have heard some good things
He was one of my favorite players before he got injured. I haven't seen him play this year to see how strong his arm is.
I only saw the highlights
I can only go by what Showalter told me, and that is that if they get everyone healthy they will have a good team.
It's hard for me to say because I haven't seen the Twins this year.
[Can the Tigers keep up the hot streak all season long?] I've only seen highlights so far.
I just haven't seen them enough to put my finger on it yet.
So...you're watching a lot of baseball, there, Joe?
Kyle (Kansas): What is the most overated stat in baseball?
Joe Morgan: Batting average
and earned run average
and this OPS stuff they do.
"This OPS stuff they do." My favorite thing he has ever written. Ever. This "OPS" "stuff" "they" "do." Joe is officially the Grumpy Old Man character Dana Carvey used to do on SNL.
OPS doesn't tell you anything except about the individual.
...What the hell else are you going to learn from an individual stat? There are team stats too. Do you know that? What does BA tell you? Or HR? Or 2B, or 3B, or OBP, or anything? They are individual stats. If you go to ESPN's stat page, you can click on "player batting" or "team batting." Because they are different.
The same as the other stats. It doesn't tell you anything about the team. A .300 average doesn't help you win games, run production does.
Run production. RsBI, then? A stat that is almost entirely dependent on other people? Okay. Julio Lugo has as many RsBi as Grady Sizemore, Bill Hall, and Frank Thomas. He's within one of Placido Polanco and Ian Kinsler. RBI is possibly the dumbest commonplace way to evaluate hitters.
Chad (Austin, TX): Joe, How come you never got into coaching or managing?
Joe Morgan: Well, it's a situation that's never been right for me. There have always been other things going on. It's never been the right situation to pull me in.
KT: Or, possibly, no one was crazy enough to hire you. I honestly don't know.
Greg (Palatine, IL): Do you think Beurhle going to the Red Sox would be a good move for Boston?
KT: Okay, man. The question is about Boston. Would it be a good move for Boston? Would Mark Buehrle be good for Boston? For the Red Sox, if he went to the Red Sox -- would that be good, for the Red Sox, or bad, for the Red Sox? What do you think, Joe, about Mark Buehrle, vis-a-vis the Red Sox, if he went to the Red Sox?
Joe Morgan: I have no idea where he's going, but I do believe he'll be traded because he's a free agent. They're not playing well and they're not catching anybody.
KT: Annnnnnnnnnnnd...we have complete cerebral failure.
Billy (Michigan): Hey Joe, Who is your MVP for the AL and NL?
KT: Easy one. Name three guys from each league who are awesome. I'd say: AL: Magglio, ARod, maybe Vlad or Guillen. Jeter/Posada, maybe. NL: Fielder, Cabrera, Griffey as a dark horse? Reyes? He's fun to watch. Holliday would be interesting. Bonds, of course, though the team is terrible. Utley?
Joe Morgan: I think in the NL it's open, but Prince Fielder and JJ Hardy come to mind. Jose Reyes. I think several guys have a chance.
Okay. What about the AL?
Oh. You're just not going to answer.
Bill (Chicago): How come their is so much parity these days?
Joe Morgan: That may be the best question I've heard in the last few months.
KT: Really? That seems...pretty straightforward to me.
No one seems to realize what's happened to the game. There are not any great teams any more. That's when you have parity. Every team has weaknesses. When your strengths show, you win 4-5. When your weaknesses who, you lose 4-5. That's why certain teams match up better with certain teams - the strengths and weaknesses matchup.
Does anyone understand this? "That's why certain teams match up better with certain teams - the strengths and weaknesses matchup." Isn't that...isn't that always why certain teams match up better against other teams? This is a new phenomenon?
And as for the argument that there are not any great teams anymore: I'd say the Red Sox are a pretty great team right now. And the Tigers, with their pitching and hitting. The Angels are pretty kick-ass, with the 5th best RS and 8th best RA.
Also, nearly every team in history has had some kind of weakness. So save the "it was better in the old days" stuff.
Fred (Atlanta): Who's the best hitter in the game today?
Joe Morgan: I would have to say Albert Pujols or Manny Ramirez, normally.
KT: Manny Ramirez is nowhere close to being the best hitter in the game right now. Nor, technically, is Pujols, though by the end of the year, I'd say each will be closer to that title than they are now. ARod is your answer. Maybe Magglio, though he will probably cool down. Bonds is a candidate, still. Prince Fielder is climbing the ranks. But ARod.
If they were doing what they normally do. A-Rod has more power, and hits for average. A hitter is a guy that just gets hits. On second thought, A-Rod might be the best,
There it is.
because he's the most dangerous at hitting the ball out of the ballpark right now. Obviously, these things are all open for debate considering what you're looking for - power or average. Ideally, you're looking for both.
In other words...you're basically looking for...OPS, if you add in walks? You're looking for OPS. The stat you disparaged for no discernible reason, a while ago. That is now what you are ideally looking for. Explain yourself.
Joe Morgan: Great questions. Looking forward to talking to you next week.
KT: I strongly dislike you.