Friday, January 9, 2009

Mis-Article of the Week - Misremembering Facts

When did it become okay for writers to improperly analyze facts?

I know everyone wants to be a sports writer, but simply because you have fingers and a keyboard does not give an individual the right to incorrectly report the on goings of the game. If you aren't going to offer anything of worth to the conversation, my advice, don't offer anything at all.

On Wednesday, a writer from Baseball Digest Daily decided he would pen one of the least educated pieces baseball will see this year. The writer proclaimed that the Toronto Blue Jays have called it quits on the 2009 season simply because they are not being overly active in free agency. The author's central thesis, 'The Jays spent x in 2008 and are on pace to spend x-1 in 2009, they certainly don't care about winning'.

Now the jump to conclusions mat is often a comfortable place to land for authors, and I suppose it is irresponsible for me to assert the author understands the current economic realities in North America, but really? Come on Mr. Hamrahi, if you are going to drop me as a writer, at least bring in someone who is going to report some of the facts, not merely typing aimlessly to reach a weekly quota.

Let's attack what is incorrect about the authors article.

First, if the Jays are in fact spending less money this year, it is completely rationale. Recall, in early December that the Blue Jays were said to be laying off many of it's employees, predominantly from the sales staff. The layoffs were said to be 'in the 30s'.

While I can't confirm how significant 30 layoffs are, I am willing to speculate the Jays are cutting over a million dollars. So that the Jays may be spending less money on the on-the-field product, this is a top to bottom decision, presumably tied to the passing of Ted Rogers.

Second, are the Jays spending less money? The author states that the Jays are scheduled to fall $15M under 2008's $100M team payroll. For arguments sake, I will assume the author does not know that different nations use different currencies and that different currencies have different respective values.

According to the Bank of Canada, the exchange rate on the day the article was penned (January 7th, 2009) sat at 18.5%. This means that in order to purchase one American dollar, it would cost $1.18 Canadian. Keep in mind, this is the Bank of Canada's rate, which is not the rate an individual would be able to buy the currency, but for simplicity sake, we'll say it is.

A year ago to that very day, the exchange rate was essentially par (0.5%), in fact, the following day the exchange rate actually favored the loonie.

So let's break this down. On January 7th, 2008, the Jays $100M payroll cost them $100M. Simple.

Exactly one year from that day, eighty five million loonies would have cost a little over one hundred and one million Susan B. Anthony's.

In other words, that Jays have actually increased their payroll and are subsequently not "quit[ting] on a season".

With the loonie sitting relatively idle, it is not unreasonable for the Jays organization to believe that the eighty five million United States dollars they are investing has the same value as the one hundred million they spent last year.

Assuming the author does not know anything about the current state of the economy, nor the differences between currencies, one would expect a writer for a baseball website to provide accurate and insightful information regarding baseball specific facts. Not so.

The third piece of misinformation, the author discusses the Jays failure to sign Jason Giambi. While Giambi would certainly be an offensive upgrade over Adam Lind, Lyle Overbay, and/or Travis Snider there are more negatives to this signing then the offensive upgrades. That is, Giambi would mean that Lind, Snider, or Overbay would be pushed out of the starting lineup. One can make an argument for Overbay (although the Blue Jays high valuation of team defensive play would arguable eliminate Giambi from playing in the field), but Lind and Snider are two young, high upside players. Both are essential locks to be healthy all season, and given their youth, could potentially outperform the aging Giambi.

Not only that, one has to assume that Giambi would play in Toronto instead of signing for a home-state discount in Oakland. In other words, signing Giambi may marginally benefit the Jays, but it would almost be like the Yankees bringing in Francisco Rodriguez at a closer's salary to close the games Mariano Rivera can't. We're bordering on useless and stupid.

The author then attacks JP Ricciardi's decision to bring in David Eckstein. I suppose the new standard at BDD is accurately reporting one fact-a year late. Eckstein has since left town (in exchange for a nice, albeit relatively unimportant prospect, Chad Beck) and the Jays are, according to the author, need to find a replacement.

Because Eckstein was such a vital part of the Blue Jays success in 2008, the author states, "so couldn’t the Blue Jays use a veteran like Orlando Cabrera with his .281 BA, 8 HR’s, 57 RBI’s and 19 SB’s?"

The easy answer, 'Sure', any team could use any above replacement level player. You know, I could 'use' a new car. I could 'use' a new watch. When you ask a stupid question, there are only stupid, pointless answers.

That said, the question the author should have asked is, 'so don't the Blue Jays need a veteran like Cabrera and his pointless counting stats?'

At which point, a person with even a marginal ability to analyze baseball would say, 'No! They certainly do not!'

Really? Why not? I mean Cabrera's contract would not only get the Jays well over what they spent in 2008, but it would also cost the club a draft pick.

That's not all! For signing Cabrera the Blue Jays would also have the honor of placing Cabrera in a position that is currently manned by the superior, Marco Scutaro. Scuatro, if you recall, was the 'Shoulda' runner-up for the short stop gold glove award in the American League. While his hitting leaves much to be desired, so too does Cabrera's at this point in his career. In other words, the Jays have a similar hitting short stop who also happens to have an incredible mit.

By deciding not to throw his money away, by choosing not to exceed last years payroll, JP Riccardi is, I quote, "a slap in the face of Blue Jay fans". In other words, according to this incredible analysis, JP Riccardi's decision to ensure his team does not get worse, is the same as slapping each and every Jays fan in the face-specifically those Drunk Jays Fans.

How does this pile of garbage get published?

Prior to being 'released' from BDD, I had been considering leaving the site due to a lack of quality analysis involved. The site appeared more for the casual fan of the game then for someone who is looking to be challenged, someone who wants to dive deep into the game of baseball. BDD, for all intents and purposes, had become more of a secondary place for baseball news. If it is a weekend at, then BDD is the place to go.

Not only does the author of this piece think that the only way to win is by spending money, but he feels that teams should ignore their current assets and load up on free agents. This author is essentially useless to the baseball community with articles of this ilk.

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