Another Stellar Example of Why Too Many Bleacher Report Articles Are A Joke

I don’t want to come across like I am just bashing Bleacher Report for the hell of it. Because I’m not. I am really not.

When it first showed up on the “blogosphere” it was a good thing. Hell, it was a great thing.

It offered a venue where the casual writer yet avid sports fan could offer up their opinion on whatever it is they felt the urge to talk about.

But over the last couple of years, as more & more “writers” found their way into that community the quality/relevance of what you find on there has gone from “decent amateur sports journalism” to “a collection of biased, statistically unsupported, mindless drivel”.

You get hit over the head with an endless parade of pieces that are nothing more than hatchet jobs on teams/athletes the writer’s don’t like or completely ridiculous pipe dreams like “How The Yankees Should Acquire Felix Hernandez For A Bucket of KFC & A.J. Burnett’s Jock Strap”.

Yet, every day I get an e-mail with a collection of today’s “stories” from the site because I am an eternal optimist and secretly hope the site (and its contributors) pulls itself around some time soon.

In today’s e-mail comes a piece titled Seattle Mariners: 5 Reasons Why They Have Already Won the Jesus Montero Trade.

The thing is a joke.

An absolute, freakin’ joke.

Not because of the premise, because in the end the Mariners may very well indeed “win” that trade, but because it a. is claiming that a team won a trade involving two premier talents who are BOTH under the age of 23 just a couple of months after it was completed (and before one meaningful game was played by either club after the trade) and b. it offers no real analysis.

Just bad analysis.

First thing it does is ignore the obvious.  It doesn’t even address the fact you are trading a young, high end starting pitcher for a young, high end position player. Ask every GM in baseball what side of that scenario and I am willing to bet vital parts of my anatomy that every single one comes back saying they want that young arm.

They will talk nuances like what each clubs specific needs are, but as Curt Schilling said after the trade “there is a reason why you never see 22 year olds with his arm and his upside traded…let alone for a position player.”

A century’s worth of statistical analysis shows that, yes, pitching is far more important that position players and offensive production.

In the history of baseball only three teams have won the world series with an ERA+ under 100, meaning that those teams had a staff that performed below the league average.

Over that same span nearly forty percent had an offense that was close the league average in terms of OPS+.

Looking at the data this is what you see:

• Only 22 of 106 winners had better hitting than pitching (20.75 percent)
• Only eight of 40 winners had better hitting than pitching in the divisional era (20 percent)
• Only two of 16 winners had better hitting than pitching in the dead-ball era (12.50 percent)
• Since the offensive-centric Reds of the 1970s, aka The Big Red Machine, only five of 33 have had better hitting than pitching (15.15 percent)
• The average World Series winner had an OPS+ of 103.47 and a median of 104
• The average World Series winner had an ERA+ of 113.84 and a median of 113
• Thus, on average, the winner has an ERA+ of 10.37 more than its OPS+

So to not even address this simple fact automatically renders his entire conclusion as flawed. But it gets better, oh so much better when you look at the positions he does put forward.

Case in point, the author’s argument that:

When Hector Noesi was thrown in with Jesus Montero in the Michael Pineda trade, I certainly didn’t expect him to fall in behind Felix Hernandez and Jason Vargas as the third starter in the Mariners rotation.

However, after an encouraging spring, it’s easy to see why manager Eric Wedge chose Noesi for the spot.

After five freakin’ innings pitched. Five. F -I – V -E. And how did this surprisingly dominant third starter do in their exhibition game on Sunday? He got shelled. By a Japanese team.

So way to jump the gun homer.

His next piece of justification:

Like I said before, it was great watching Michael Pineda dominate opposing batters as a rookie last April and May, but as the season wore on and his unseasoned arm grew tired, his efficiency dropped pretty significantly.

It’s possible it was just because it was his first year in the majors throwing (almost) a full season, but you could also argue that as Pineda faced more and more batters, they started to figure him out.

It is much more likely that he wore down as the innings piled up but yes, it is indeed possible that the league “figured him out”.

But you know what that means? That it might “figure Jesus Montero out” once he plays more than a month in the show. You know, kind of like Jason Heyward.

Heyward has bee absolutely lost at the plate for the last season and a half, after having a Hall of Fame caliber start to it. He tore up the league, the pitchers did their homework and found holes in his swing that the kid has yet to fix.

If both Montero and Pineda had played the entire season in 2011 his argument would have merit, but since Jesus didn’t it doesn’t.

His next argument is mind numbingly retarded:

I don’t mean to snub Jose Campos—he’s got legitimate potential as a starting pitcher—but he has only gone as high as Single-A (short season) in the minors.

He’s f***** 19. Nineteen. N – I -N -E -T- E – E – N.

This tool thinks a nineteen year old, high end pitching prospect with a cannon for an arm as part of the trade is a negative.

Bart Klett over at BaseballInstinct.com has a great piece outlining Campos’ upside, describing his impressive fastball as such:

“Campos is listed as 6’4” and this helps him to get downward plane on his fastball. His fastball has been described as heavy and I think that is a fair description. Very few hitters are able to square up and drive the ball with any authority. In fact, at the games that I have observed, not many hitters actually got the ball out of the infield.”

Jose Campos, a 19-year-old capable of hitting upwards of 98 MPH on the gun, could very well be the steal of the deal for GM Brian Cashman and his Yanks.

Campos posted a 2.32 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 85 K in Single-A in 2011—all while allowing just 13 BB in 81.1 IP over 14 starts.

And somehow that is a bad thing?

Granted, maybe his entire argument is based around the fact that Campos won’t arrive for a while as he seasons himself in the minors. But ya know what?

That means you can’t evaluate this trade yet then doesn’t it?

Now if the Yankees had a pressing need for starting pitching maybe you could make the argument that the short-term impact of the trade is it compromises the Yankees but this year, of all years, you can’t even come close to making that case.

The Yankees have so much starting pitching they traded A.J. Burnett and are still shopping Freddy Garcia, just to trim down to six starters once Andy Pettite is up to speed.

Not only do they have a wealth of pitching at the big lig level, but they have a ton of high end arms in AAA ready to step in if needed. Just take a look at the stats from the Yanks spring training this year.

Kontos, Phelps, Warren and Betances all have an ERA under 1.93 (with all but Kontos having thrown more innings than Noesi, the man the author crowned as a legitimate number three after a whole five IP).

And that list doesn’t even include the Yankees best pitching prospect, Manny Banuelos, because he gave up one three run home run to jack his ERA up, but other than that blemish he hasn’t yielded a single runner past second base, let alone one that scored.

Then this buffoon closes with:

Perhaps the listed circumstances give Jack Z and the M’s an advantage in public perception, but either way, the Mariners did take the cake here.

The Yankees took on a high-risk, high-reward pitcher who was definitely ready to start this year, and a young, unproven pitching prospect who could potentially benefit the team in the future.

The Mariners acquired a proven hitting asset who will contribute to the team for a number of years, and who is developing even more useful tools, as well as a safer pitcher who followed a more conventional path to the majors.

The Mariners acquired a guy who doesn’t even have 70 AB‘s in the major leagues, where as the Yankees acquired someone who was already logged more innings in one season than Clay Bucholz (a fine damn pitcher), yet the M’s received the “proven thing”.

Where exactly is that supported by one shred of evidence, either of the statistical variety or some well crafted logical arguments?

Sorry, but this is the kind of senseless crap that pervades Bleacher Report right now. So if you go there, continue reading at your own risk.

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2 comments

  1. Sean Breslin

    Nicely written. That’s what the average writer doesn’t understand — making a living out of writing means spending hours researching a topic, and having a reason to say what you’re saying. There are very few people who get paid to just spout their opinion, and even they always back up what they’re saying. It takes a very good writer to do that, and it’s a good starting point for young writers to get on the BR bandwagon.

    • djpostl

      Thank you. I used to post stuff on B/R when she started but over the years saw it devolve into a mediocre thing sadly.

      At this point they should only have one category “Opinion Pieces” and leave it at that if they don’t ask people to offer some sort of objective analysis to go with the subjective stuff.

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