Posted on: September 15, 2011 10:17 am
By Matt Snyder
In the past few days, "Moneyball" reviews have been all over the Internet, as advanced screenings are currently taking place. It's a veritable mixed bag. Some reviews have the movie an Oscar contender, others tearing it to shreds, while most are in between. I haven't seen the movie yet, but one area where people aggravate me already is bemoaning how, basically, it's not a documentary. Simply put: It's a movie. Of course it's going to take liberties and be just as much fiction as fact. It says "based on a true story," not "true story." I'm sorry is Jonah Hill doesn't even come close to physically resembling Paul DePodesta, for example. Hollywood doesn't have to cast clones.
Anyway, there have been critics for years of the book. You'll often hear someone say something like "Moneyball doesn't work" or try to explain the "myth of Moneyball." Sometimes it almost seems like the person is taking great pride is taking down some huge establishment.
One of the loudest complaints is that the A's had a trio of aces in the pitching staff, so it wasn't that hard to make the team around them good. It's fair, but it discounts the shift in offensive philosophy. But it's understandable. And it's not like Miguel Tejada and Eric Chavez -- the anchors of the 2002 offense -- weren't stars. They were.
But this all still ignores the massive disadvantage in payroll the A's had against the likes of the Yankees -- and the 2002 A's won 103 games.
On that front, I finally saw a "myth" about Beane's 2002 ballclub that was worthwhile and made sense -- thanks to Jeff Fletcher at BayBridgeBaseball.com. Yes, that payroll was really low. But a lot of it had to do with how baseball's system is set up. Namely, because of young players being under club control for years and then arbitration-eligible for a few more years, there was some pretty damn good talent making relatively low salaries in '02.
Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito combined to go 57-21 with a 3.05 ERA. Zito won the Cy Young. The three aces made $1.97 million combined. For comparison's sake, Pedro Martinez of the Red Sox finished second in Cy Young voting that year and he made $14 million.
There were several other young players that made far less money than players they were outperforming and that happens every year. The A's just happened to have a handful of them. So I guess I've finally found a "Moneyball myth" I support.
Mo in center? Mariano Rivera has a simple request of manager Joe Girardi. Before he retires, Rivera would like to get a shot in center field. Rivera reportedly claims he's a "viable" center fielder and wants to play a game there (a whole game?). Yeah, that ain't happening. But Girardi has said he'd consider putting him out there for one batter in a meaningless game. Oh, and one more stipulation: “[It would be against] a guy who hits ground balls or strikes out a lot,” Girardi said (NYTimes.com).
GM already in place? It would seem that Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts is doing his hiring backwards. About a week and a half ago I bemoaned Ricketts' giving a contract extension to his player personnel director before hiring a general manager. Well, now Ricketts is set to give a similar extension to scouting director Tim Wilkin (SunTimes.com). Yes, outgoing GM Jim Hendry loved both of these members of his staff, but he's gone now. Is it possible Ricketts already has an agreement behind closed doors with his next GM, which makes these extensions OK? If not, it seems like he's severely limiting himself in his GM search. Think about it this way. If you started a business, would you hire all the mid-level employees before your CEO? Or would you hire your dream CEO and then work with him on hiring the underlings?
Great family story: The Marlins recently promoted prospect Matt Dominguez for his major-league debut. His father is a copy editor for the Los Angeles Times, and he wrote a story about the experience of seeing his son play in the bigs. (LATimes.com)
Jocketty staying put: Just as I noted in Wednesday's Pepper, the rumor that the Cubs were going to grab GM Walt Jocketty, manager Tony La Russa and first baseman Albert Pujols doesn't have much merit. Jocketty isn't going anywhere (Cincinnati.com).
Poor Dunn: This is interesting. Baseball-Reference's blog ran two posts that kind of sum up how futile White Sox designated hitter Adam Dunn's season has been. He's hitting .162 with 160 strikeouts. If he gathers a few more at-bats, there's a chance he ends up with more strikeouts than his batting average points. That has only happened one time in history when a hitter got more than 35 at-bats. And it was last season: Mark Reynolds. The same blog also compiled a list of the worst full-time players of the last 50 years, and Dunn checks in at 20th.
Still chugging: Rockies starting pitcher Kevin Millwood, 36, is 3-2 with a 3.68 ERA and 1.18 WHIP since being picked up by the Rockies this season, and he wants to come back for them in 2012 (DenverPost.com). Remember, he was on the verge of retiring before the Rockies grabbed him.
Hanson improving: Injured Braves starting pitcher Tommy Hanson threw a 44-pitch side session Wednesday and felt fine. Another big step comes Thursday, as he'll see how his hampered throwing shoulder reacts (MLB.com). If anything big happens, we'll certainly be updating with a stand-alone post on Eye On Baseball. Hanson could be the difference between a first-round exit or going deep in the playoffs for the Braves.
Gracious Votto: Reigning NL MVP Joey Votto has emerged as an elite baseball player and he says that he owes "90 percent" of his success to his old coach back in Canada (Fox Sports Ohio). This isn't surprising. Votto is one of the most humble and classy players in baseball.
Happy Anniversary: Since 1980, the following All-Stars made their respective major-league debuts on September 15: Fernando Valenzuela (1980), Randy Johnson (1989), Cliff Lee (2002) and Rickie Weeks (2003). (Hardball Times)
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Tags: Adam Dunn, AL Central, AL East, Athletics, Barry Zito, Billy Beane, Braves, Cubs, Cubs, Joey Votto, Kevin Millwood, Mariano Rivera, Mark Mulder, Matt Snyder, Moneyball, NL Central, NL Central, NL East, NL West, Pepper, Reds, Reds, Rockies, Tim Hudson, Tom Ricketts, Tommy Hanson, Walt Jocketty, White Sox, Yankees
Posted on: June 14, 2010 11:17 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2010 11:28 am
"Yeah, I guess I am [retired]," Mulder said on Monday.
And so closes the chapter of one-third of the vaunted Big Three that terrorized hitters in Oakland.
Mulder told Jeff Fletcher of AOL Fanhouse the news , saying, "I haven't touched a baseball since February."
While Mulder's retirement had been mentioned by former pitching coach Rick Peterson in spring training, it wasn't until Mulder uttered these words that made it official. He finishes a career brought to a quick end by injury with a 103-60 record.
For five years, Mulder paired up with Tim Hudson and Barry Zito starting at age 22 to form an impressive rotation that made the playoffs four straight years from 2000-03. With Mulder approaching free agency, he was traded in December 2004 to the Cardinals for Daric Barton, Kiko Calero and Dan Haren.
Mulder was able to give St. Louis one season of production, going 16-8 with a 3.64 ERA over 205 innings. After that, however, disaster struck. Despite starting 2006 with no ill effects, Mulder quickly fell apart and it was discovered he suffered from rotator cuff and shoulder problems. He underwent surgery that would knock him out for most of the 2007 season.
Mulder became a free agent after the 2007 season and he opted to return to the Cardinals on a two-year deal despite being wooed by the Indians and Rangers. When he was activated in September of 2007, the lefty promptly put up a 12.27 ERA in just three starts. He then underwent another round of rotator cuff surgery and had yet another aborted comeback in 2008.
For those counting, over three seasons from 2006-08, he had two surgeries and a 7.73 ERA in 106 innings -- all but 12 2/3 of the innings coming in 2006. After becoming a free agent again, he didn't pitch during the entirety of the 2009 season and flirted with a comeback with the Milwaukee Brewers prior to the 2010 season before shutting it down.
And just like that, a career that saw him throw his last pitch in the majors at age 30 and last put up a productive season at age 27 was over. He'll be remembered as a pitcher with above-average command and an ability to work deep into games. He crossed the 200-inning barrier four times, topping out at 229 1/3 inngs pitched in 2001 at age 23 -- the same year he won 21 games and finished second in Cy Young voting behind Roger Clemens.
Mulder is now making the rounds on the amateur golf circuit but has no interest in going pro -- although he plans to attempt qualifying for the US Open over the next few years.
-- Evan Brunell
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