Wednesday, November 18, 2009

i love the newspaper

First, something hilarious.  Here's a story from Seattle:

Seattle police say a man who thought he was ninja was impaled on a metal fence when he tried to leap over it. An officer who was looking for an assault victim nearby Monday night heard the man screaming for help. Police supported him to prevent further injuries until medics arrived and took him to a hospital, where he was in serious condition in intensive care on Tuesday.
Police spokeswoman Renee Witt wrote in a department Web site posting that officers thought the man might have been involved in the reported assault, but he insisted he was just a ninja trying to clear a 4- to 5-foot-tall fence.
Witt says the man was "overconfident in his abilities," and that alcohol likely played a role.
His name was not released.
That's the official AP version of the story.  Hilarious, right?  My favorite part is "alcohol likely played a role."  No shit.  But here's a better version of the story from the Seattle University Spectator:

At around 11:15 p.m. Monday, SPD responded to an unusual call.
An intoxicated 25-year-old who told officers he was a ninja had impaled himself on a post after attempting to jump a five-foot feence on 7th Ave. between Cherry St. and James St.
This happened after a 41-year-old man, also highly intoxicated, tried to enter a sports bar near 6th Ave. and King St.  The ‘ninja’, not employed by the bar, attempted to block the man from entering.  What started as an argument resulted in a more physical fight between the two.

The older man chased the younger into the street, and the ‘ninja’ attempted to jump the fence, impaling himself in the process.
“Clearly he was overconfident in his abilities,” said the police report.
After the ninja was impaled, the older man called the police to say he had been assaulted. The police arrived, heard the 25-year-old’s screams and found him on the fence, bleeding heavily with the metal spike sticking out of his butt.
The man was taken to Harborview and questioned by police.
Neither man will be arrested on suspicion of assault.
Oh, so it was a heroic ninja.  Thank goodness for that.
Also, there was another fantastic letter to the editor.  I love that they print stuff like this:

Obama's bow to emperor upsetting
When President Barack Obama bowed to the Saudi king, Obama's spokesman denied that it was actually a bow.
Now, we see Obama bowing to the Japanese emperor, and it's no longer deniable.
The president of the United States is not the subject of a Saudi king nor a Japanese emperor nor anyone else. He is their equal and needs to act like it.
Obama's deferential attitude reflects his lack of pride in the United States. It's disgusting to those Americans who do take pride in their country. - Some Guy,Phoenix
I guess what SeƱor Guy would have preferred is that Obama make out with the Saudi king like Bush did, right?  But...Oh!  That's not the end of the letter!  Through a wtf exclusive, we have the rest of the letter!
What a real American President would have done is shake the emperor's hand, then swiftly bring his knee up into the emperor's groin.  When the emperor fell to the ground, the President should have held on to his hand, breaking a finger or two, then stepped on the emperor's windpipe until he passed out.  Now that's America.  Also, he should have been wearing a leather jacket with this logo on the back.  America rules!
Also, in what is sure to become a source of controversy not seen on the comics page since the time Dagwood found himself alone under the mistletoe with Mr. Dithers, apparently Bucky Katt agrees with our letter writer:

Wow.  That was unexpected.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

three WINs

So I was reading the paper this morning, and ran across this article that, shockingly, was not about hockey.

I defy the haters to say that Al Franken is unqualified to be senator!  View his extensive knowledge of America!

Also, this is why soccer will always be cooler than, well...everything else.  Can you imagine ESPN crapping all over itself if, say, Chris Paul decided to take this course of treatment for his ankle injury?  Or if any American athlete did any of these things?  I'd say that's a pretty epic WIN for soccer!

Monday, November 16, 2009

why i hate the nba (but no, the solution to this problem is not to just stop paying attention, so don't even think it)

This is long.  There are lots of numbers.  If you don't care about basketball, you probably won't care about this.  Just so you know.

Friday night, the Nuggets beat the Lakers.  Trounced 'em, in fact.  The final was 105-79. It was just awesome.  Arron Afflalo (and others) shut Kobe down all night.  Mamba went 7-17 for 19 points, but here's the key: he only attempted 4 free throws.  Afflalo et. al. didn't get whistled every time they got within two feet of him.  Weird, right?  As Ben said, "It sure is amazing what happens when these two teams just play basketball.  Funny that LA don't look too good without all those fouls." 

I've noticed this trend from people who write about basketball.  

Saturday on, J.A. (The Laker Lover) Adande posted this article about the Nuggets in the context of their serious beatdown of the Lakers (and while we're talking about J.A., can we just talk a little bit about ESPN's ongoing policy of hiring local writers away from newspapers, then assigning those writers to write about playoff series [or regular season games] involving those teams?  What a crock this is!  Two glaring examples are Adande [formerly of the LA Times] covering the Lakers throughout the playoffs, and Jayson Stark, born and raised in Philadelphia, and a guy who spent 21 years (!) covering the Phillies, writing ESPN's national reports on the Phillies' playoff series over the last couple years.  Yeah, that's gonna be unbiased like these guys are unbiased.  Way to maintain that pretense of "reporting," ESPN).  Anyway, J.A. talks about how after making improvements each year for the last several, the Nuggets got thisclose against the Lakers, but the Lakers were just better in the end.  I thought I'd take a look at the numbers and revisit this horrible series.

    Denver Los Angeles
Game Score Personal Fouls Free Throws Personal Fouls Free Throws
One 103-105 26 23-35 26 20-24
Two 106-103 29 29-37 27 27-35
Three 97-103 31 26-31 24 31-45
Four 120-101 24 37-49 31 24-35
Five 94-103 30 23-30 22 26-35
Six 92-119 22 20-25 19 24-24

Ok, so the scores are listed Nuggets first for each game.  Following that are, obviously, the personal fouls committed by and free throws taken by each team in each game.  Now, a cursory glance at this chart shows that the fouls called on and free throws taken by each team were pretty even.  Let's compare those numbers to the regular-season numbers.

Team Total Fouls Per-game Avg. Season Total Per-game Avg. Pct. Increase
Denver 162 27 1874 22.9 17.9
Los Angeles 149 24.8 1698 20.7 19.8

Looking at the personal fouls, both teams were called for fouls at a higher average than they were during the season, which is what one would expect; the NBA likes to "tighten things up" during the playoffs.  That seems fine.  But look at this chart of free throws:

Team Total FTA Per-game Avg. Season Total Per-game Avg. Pct. Increase
Denver 207 34.5 2487 30.3 13.9
Los Angeles 198 33 2087 25.5 29.4

The Nuggets shot more free throws in games 1, 2, 4, and 6, and had the overall free throw attempts advantage, 207-198.  Ok, so the Nuggets took 4.5% more free throws than the Lakers.  But over the entire 2008-09 NBA season, the Nuggets also had more free throws than the Lakers...they out-attempted them 2,487-2,087.  That's 19.2% more free throws.  So all season long, the Nuggets took significantly more free throws.  If both teams were whistled at their established, season-long rates, the Nuggets would have taken 182 free throws to the Lakers' 153.  But while the Nuggets' free throws only increased by 13.9%, the Lakers' free throws increased by 29.4%.  Now, Lakerites and ESPN would have us believe that "great" teams like the Lakers suddenly play differently in the playoffs, knowing what they have to do to win.  That sure smacks of bullshit, doesn't it?

Going even deeper, the in-game stats show the advantage given the Lakers.  In Game 1, each team committed 26 personal fouls.  However, the Nuggets took 35 free throws to the Lakers' 24.  This indicates that the Nuggets were pounding the ball inside, driving to the basket, drawing shooting fouls.  The Nuggets were being whistled, however, for non-shooting fouls.  Pile up enough of those calls, and the Lakers start getting to the line for some freebies (plus, key players start heading to the bench to avoid more fouls).

Now, in going back and re-reading Adande's column, one paragraph in particular jumped out at me:

But 2009 was different. This time they made it to the Western Conference finals. They were playing at what Ralph Wiley used to call the "highest level of hoop." Not just playing but responding to the challenge, winning two of the first four games and outscoring the Lakers by 14 points through the first 19 quarters of the series. And then, starting in the fourth quarter of Game 5, the Lakers threw it into another gear, accelerating into the NBA Finals and leaving the Nuggets behind, staring. Staring and fixating.

Yeah, the series was even through 4 games, and the Nuggets had outscored the Lakers through 19 quarters.  That's a fact.  But Adande contests that "starting in the fourth quarter of Game 5, the Lakers threw it into another gear, accelerating into the NBA Finals and leaving the Nuggets behind...."  We'll take a look at that Game 5 fourth quarter, but let's look at another fourth quarter first; the fourth quarter of Game 3.  Denver had tied the series at 1-1 and had, as they say, stolen home-court advantage from the Lakers.  Through 3 quarters of Game 3, the Nuggets led 79-71 and had ended the third quarter on a huge three from J.R. Smith (who then was called for "taunting," gifting the Lakers a free point to start the fourth).  Here's how the fouls and free throws had played out to that point:

Team Fouls FTA
Denver 21 23
Los Angeles 18 31

The game to this point had been called pretty evenly (though the Lakers had quite the advantage in free throws, but that's not so ridiculous).  Here's the fourth quarter alone:

Team Fouls FTA
Denver 10 8
Los Angeles 6 14

Wow.  That's awfully telling, is it not?  This game meant more to the Lakers than it did the Nuggets; a loss would have meant being down 2-1 with 4 games remaining (2 in Denver, 2 in LA).  But a great imbalance in calls results in Melo and KMart both fouling out (and Nene and Dahntay Jones finishing with 5 fouls each.  No Laker had more than 4 fouls.  The Lakers missed 14 free throws for the game...and still had as many makes as the Nuggets had attempts.  Maybe the Nuggets suddenly forgot how to play basketball.  That happens from time to time, right?

The Nuggets won Game 4 handily (and, yes, had a large advantage in free throws and fouls called).  Also, Bennett Salvatore was one of the officials.  If you watch the NBA, I don't need to explain that comment.

So we go to Game 5, Quarter 4.  The game had been very even to that point; a look at the top of this page shows the teams as identical in each quarter 1-3.  Now, remember, is the time the Lakers "threw it into another gear."  Here, again, are the fouls and free throws for the first 3 quarters:

Team Fouls FTA
Denver 19 23
Los Angeles 18 20

Very evenly called.  The score was tied at 76.  Then this happened:

Team Fouls FTA
Denver 11 7
Los Angeles 4 15

Again, this game and the series were tied at this point, with Game 6 to be played in Denver.  This game was extremely important for the Lakers.  And they sure got the assistance they needed, didn't they?  In the end, the Nuggets out-"fouled" the Lakers 30-22, and the Lakers out-free-throw-attempted the Nuggets 35-30.  When you just look at those numbers, it seems fairly even.  But wow...that fourth quarter.  The Lakers won the fourth quarter 27-18, and the game 103-94.

Game 6 didn't really matter at that point, and the Nuggets played like it.  They looked totally demoralized (and why wouldn't they?) and played a crap game, shooting only 43.8% for the game while giving up 119 points on 57.3% shooting for the Lakers.  Very few fouls were called (Nuggets 22, Lakers 19 (!)), and the free throws were similar (24-24 LAL, 20-25 DEN).  It was a crap ending to an awesome Nuggets season.  

Now the resounding chorus is that the truly great teams step it up in the face of adversity and all that crap...and by that logic, it shouldn't really matter what the refs do; the great teams can play 5-on-8 and win anyway.  The NBA has done a great job of selling the idea that their officials are great, and everyone drinks the Kool-Aid.  Even fan-centric blogs (in the Nuggets' case, are loath to blame the officials; Jeremy of RMC (which is a good blog) goes out of his way to point out the "Yeah, but"s...that when the Nuggets lose, they inevitably bone themselves over with a key defensive lapse or missed free throws.  

But that's the point of all, I'm not saying the officials overtly "win" a game for a team.  But a few well-placed horrible calls, and people (in this case, players) get flustered, frustrated, and out of sorts.  Ok, say the writers, then I guess it's just on them to tone down the emotion.  But the emotion and the passion are a huge part of why this is a great Nuggets team to watch; Melo and KMart and Bird and Earl and Dahntay (last year) and Nene play with this awesome fire, and they can't just turn it on and off when they're getting hosed.  

I guess what I'm saying is this: I watch an awful lot of basketball.  And while I don't know if I can go so far as to call it cheating, I think the NBA (and by the NBA I mean David Stern) wants this league to work a certain way.  Certain teams make the NBA look better and become more popular.  And even though Stern stands up there and says in his Sterny way that Tim Donaghy is a dirty rat, I read this and think, "Yep.  Makes sense to me."  

So why won't I stop watching?  Because I love to watch basketball.  I love to watch the Nuggets play, but I love any good, well-played game.  Unfortunately, the NBA takes a lot of that away...but nobody seems to care.  People still watch.  Nobody questions Stern because he's David Stern.  But I watch because I think that sometime the Nuggets will be allowed to just play.  I know that it was just a regular season game, but when the Nuggets were allowed to just play against the Lakers, they kicked their asses.  And it was awesome.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

wtf #8: sunday morning hatin'

The AZ Republic, for some reason, declined to print its usual slate of Obama/school/poor people/brown people/tax/Democrat/government-bashing letters in the Opinion section.  What a crock!  But never fear...they found a way to slide some hate-based, irrational commentary into a feature article!

So there was a front page feature on the history of Tempe Town Lake, a man-made reservoir just east of downtown Phoenix.  You can read the article here if you like, but I'll summarize it for those who don't like to read (Doug): the concept was originally created in the '60s by ASU students, went through several design incarnations and funding structures, construction began in 1997, it opened in 1999, and they're going to have a 10th Anniversary celebration next month.  It's a cool thing and is, according to the article, the most-visited attraction in the Valley.  They have many events there and the development around the area has made the property extremely valuable (going from an appraised value of $4/sq. ft. in the late '80s to $42/sq. ft. last year...not bad, right?).  But don't worry...despite the fact that most people seem to think it's a good thing, they managed to find a COH (Crotchety Old Hater) to take a crap in the clear blue waters...

While the list of lake headaches is long, one of the most commonly heard complaints is a result of its popularity. Many Tempe residents say the city allows too many events on the waterfront, preventing locals from enjoying the lake in peace.

The headaches listed include that it costs money (natch) to maintain the lake, that there are mosquitoes, and that the city is not yet using reclaimed water to keep the lake full, and as such, it may be wasting water.  One of those is a valid complaint (the water one).  Of course, installing the technology necessary to use that reclaimed water would cost more money, so...

Arthur Jacobson has lived in a neighborhood near Town Lake since 1962. He is a longtime critic of the lake.
Ah, yes, our COH.  I'm sure he doesn't like that he has to pay for it...
"In the best weather they let this place get overrun with what I call the foreigners. (But) we're the ones who paid for it, still paying for it, we should be able to take our boats out without all that congestion," he said.
Yeah, that's it...he doesn't like paying for it, and...wait...what?  Um...I think I missed something here:
"In the best weather they let this place get overrun with what I call the foreigners."
Egad!  The FOREIGNERS?  Who the hell is this guy?  Is he related to these guys?  I'm sure he knows they're foreigners based on their brownness...or maybe the way they dress?  And that first part...they let this place get overrun.  Who is they?  I guess he means the local government?  And I can only assume that what he means about "let[ting] this place get overrun" is that they have events that draw people to the lake.  I don't imagine that these events use the lake for free, so I guess it probably defrays a good chunk of the government's (and therefore, the taxpayers') costs for the maintenance of the lake.  So he's a have-my-cake-and-eat-it-to-er!  I don't think these people (you know, the foreigners) should be able to use my lake, but I don't want to pay for it.  But I want to use it.
Although Jacobson enjoys boating on the lake, he said it was not worth the investment. He is also disappointed in the existing development Tempe allowed on the lake.
"I don't care how pretty it is. ... There will never be enough development to cover the costs," he said. "If they want it to be a public park like Central Park, then stick to that. There's not a bunch of condos in Central Park."
What the fuck?  Let's go from back to, there are not a bunch of condos *in* Central Park.  But I think if he had ever been to NYC, the COH would be well aware that Central Park is completely surrounded by giant buildings.  I don't think anybody is suggesting that Tempe build condos in the park...they're saying that the property surrounding the park is very valuable, and increasing development would help defray the costs of the park's upkeep.  Makes sense to me.  
But before that, he says he enjoys boating on the lake but it was not worth the investment.  He likes it, he uses it, but he wishes it wasn't there.  What a maroon.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

o'dowd's failure to trade

Dan O'Dowd made a buttload of trades over his first several years as GM.  In fact, over his first four years as GM, he made 62 (!) trades.  Over the next five years (2004-08) he made only 35 trades.  Seems like he figured out that rampant, sometimes indiscriminate trading didn't really do anybody any damn good.  So there's that...which is nice.  

But now, O'Dowd doesn't really like to make trades, it seems, and I wonder if that's going to end up costing the Rockies.  Last year, he traded Jeff Baker for a low-A reliever (Alberto Alburquerque!).  Baker had at least moderate trade value during the offseason and spring training, but O'Dowd just sat on his hands until July 2nd, when he finally moved Baker.

In 2009, Garrett Atkins had his worst year in the bigs since 2003 (when he only played in 19 games); he was worth -0.4 WAR (or Wins Above Replacement), meaning that he was worth less than a replacement-level player.  His production was worth -$2 million to the Rockies despite being paid $7.05 million.  This is just the next year in an ongoing trend; as his salary increases, his value to the team decreases.  From a high value of $22 million in 2006 (while being paid a very team-friendly 300 grand), his dollar value to the team has gone to $9.3 million in 2007, $2.6 million in 2008 (with a salary of $4.4 mil), and last year's -$2 million FAIL.  And now he's going to be traded or perhaps just non-tendered.  Well, at least they're not going to keep paying him, but it sure seems like they could have gotten something for him...maybe another low-A reliever.  That would be something.  Oh wait...they had to keep him around so he could start all four Rockies playoff games.  Again...FAIL.

In 2009, Brad Hawpe was an All-Star.  He had a great first half, going .320/.396/.577...and then completely forgot how to hit.  After the All-Star Break, he hit .240/.370/.442 with his typical below-average outfield defense.  He ended the season getting benched in the playoffs.  Awesome.  Now, the Rockies got good value out of Hawpe in 2009.  His salary was $5.5 million, and he was worth $5.8.  But next year his salary goes up to $7.5 million (with a $10 million option for 2011!), and his age goes up to 31.  Players don't typically get better past their late 20s, so we're most likely looking at the beginning of Hawpe's decline phase.  He has some value as a somewhat reasonably priced hitter, which means the time is now for the Rockies to move him.  This is especially true because...

In 2009, Dexter Fowler, a 23-year-old rookie, finished the year at 0.7 WAR and a dollar value of $3.3 million.  Carlos Gonzalez, despite his slow start and only starting 70 games, finished the season with 2.4 WAR and a dollar value of $10.7 million (he was 23 all season as well).  Seth Smith, in only 76 starts, finished with 2.7 WAR and a dollar value of $12.1 million.  Oh, and he's the old man of this crew as he turned 27 at the end of the season.  Those three players combined made just over a million dollars this year (I had a hard time finding CarGo's salary data, but I assume it's similar to the $400K each for Smith and Fowler.

I cannot think of any reason why O'Dowd would even hesitate to consider trading Hawpe.  As Jabberwocky puts it (over at, Hawpe has much more value right now as a trade asset than he does in the Rockies outfield.  I would take it one step further, saying that Hawpe continuing to play for the Rockies will only inhibit the growth of their young, talented outfielders as he'll be taking playing time from at least one of them every time he takes the field (which he would do a lot, as teams are generally loath to pay guys $7.5 million to pinch-hit and make spot starts.  Not recognizing that Atkins needed to go cost the Rockies (not a ton, but it cost them).  Making the same mistake with Hawpe could be much worse, costing the team money, wins, and the development of younger, more valuable players.

why dan o'dowd is most definitely not the executive of the year

I can imagine how the average Sporting News voter looked at the past MLB season (and by the way, who in the hell votes on Sporting News awards anyway?  Is it just people who aren't good enough to work for ESPN or Sports Illustrated [based on--with the former especially--the policy over the last few years of aggressively poaching every half-decent-or-worse sportswriter from across the country]?  And what is the Sporting News?  I mean, I guess it was a thing back in the day, but why is the Sporting News the definitive authority on certain sports best-ofs?  Does anybody even read the Sporting News, like...ever?  I went to their website and could find no list of writers for their site, nor a list of voters for their awards [not that I looked all that hard, but you'd think a search of a phrase like "award voters" would turn up such information if it existed].  There was one dude called Jeff D'Alessio [fake name] who "wrote" the article announcing O'Dowd being name Exec of the Year, so there's that guy_)

Anyway, what?  Oh yeah, I can imagine how the average Sporting News voter looked at the past MLB season.  I'm sure they thought, as they were considering the year past, "Who is good?"  And they probably thought of the Yankees and the Red Sox and the Mets and the Braves and maybe the Dodgers (they do have an office in can see where all their offices are here--my favorite part is that their Dallas office is in Atlanta).  And then, being good stewards of journalism, they decided to do some research.  So they (and by they, of course, I'm talking about "Jeff D'Alessio") cracked open the ol' laptop and fired up  Ol' Jeff navigated over to the MLB page (after checking to see if Rick Reilly had graced the world with any new witticisms, natch) and clicked on the MLB Playoffs 2009 link.  He spent a few minutes looking at the AL half...Yankees and Red Sox, of course, and the Twins and Angels.  No surprises there, which would make for a tough AL Exec of the Year pick.  I mean, how can one decide between Cash and Theo?  One can't, that's how.  Call it a tie or flip a coin?  That's the tough call.  So as Jeff is pondering, his eyes wander over to the NL half of the page, and...wait...what in the name of Chris Berman?  The Colorado Rockies?  What the hell is that?  Oh, that's still a team?  Huh.  Oh yeah, I remember.  A person called "Chris Bahr" (who seems, in this photo, to be wearing a fake shirt) picked them to finish 4th in the NL West, whatever that is.  But they were in the playoffs?  Holy Moses!  That's weird that I didn't hear anything about that, though...I mean, I watch SportsCenter 4-6 times a day, and I don't recall hearing anything about the Rockies.  I'd totally forgotten that they even existed!  But they made the playoffs, eh?  Well, I suppose when a team has Matt Holliday, anything's possible, right?  But who else do they have?  Wait, who the hell are all these guys?  Where's Holliday? for Holliday...the Cardinals?  What the...?  They traded Holliday?  Who'd they get?  Huston Street, Carlos Gonzalez, Greg Smith.  Well, two of those guys contributed, eh?  So Huston Street and a team full of unknowns made the playoffs?  I think I know who the Executive of the Year is!  Wait, who the hell is the Rockies' GM?  Dan O'Dowd?  Well, whatever.  We have a winner!

(Update: Apparently the Sporting News awards are voted on by GMs and Assistant GMs.  I like my version of it better, and I'm pretty sure it applies even when you're talking about MLB executives...especially those whose teams lost to the Rockies; "What the hell?" They'd ask. "We lost to the Rockies?"  Yep, everything I said is still true.)

I'm 95% certain that's 95% accurate with a margin of error of +/- 2%.  I'm sure that if the average baseball fan (which these days seems to be an ESPN-worshiping dbag with the IQ of a hammer who owns a Yankees hat and a Red Sox hat just to have all his bases covered) even acknowledged the existence of the Rockies, he'd (and yeah, I say he because as much as it pains me to say, no woman is this stupid...about sports) be shocked that the Rockies (the Rockies?!  Really?!) made the playoffs.  He'd say, "I mean, I don't even know anything about the National League--except that it sucks!," high-five or do something homo-erotic with his buddy, then spend fifteen minutes talking about all the things he knows about the National League.  I won't bore you with that business; you can thank me later.  But yeah, I think that if I wasn't an NL-loving denizen of a non-EST state, I might be a bit surprised by the Rockies, too.  But I am those things, so, well, I wasn't.

Let's take a look at the three moves most often cited as the reasons Dan O'Dowd deserves to be EotY.

1. O'Dowd traded Matt Holliday and got valuable players in return.
Here's why that's stupid.  O'Dowd needed to trade Holliday.  That, to me, is indisputable.  Holliday priced himself out of a Rockies uniform the day he signed with Scott Boras (which, of course, I'm not condemning him for; every player who wants to be paid a lot of money should sign with Scott Boras.  He's the best.  Not the best person, or the best thing for baseball, but the best agent.  By far.  I wish Scott Boras would have represented me in my contract negotiations with the school I used to work for [and additionally, he didn't price himself out of a Rockies uniform because of the Rockies' market; it was because of the Rockies' cheap-ass meat-packin' ownership (and that's not a slur, their money is Greeley meat-packin' money)]).  So O'Dowd traded him.  He got Huston Street, a good pitcher.  I like Huston Street.  He got Greg Smith, a player who spent zero days in a Rockies uniform this past season.  Jury's out, but color me skeptical.  He got Carlos Gonzalez, an outfield prospect who was traded away from a team in need of outfield talent.  Now, don't get me wrong, I dig CarGo.  I loved watching him play, and I believe that he has a bright future.  But it's not like any of those dudes really wowed anybody...and in fact, both Smith and Gonzalez had been part of Oakland's trade of Danny Haren to the Diamondbags.  Prospects that get passed around a bunch generally end up as...not-prospects.  But Street had a good year, and the future of CarGo looks good.  So O'Dowd made a good trade, but certainly not a haul when you consider the production of those players over the past season.  

2. O'Dowd hired Jim Tracy this offseason, then fired his friend, Clint Hurdle, when the Rockies were performing poorly.
First of all, the trumped-up bull about "firing his friend" is just that.  If a GM can't make tough decisions, then he should not have that job.  Firing Hurdle was an excellent decision.  I think Hurdle is great, but it became more and more clear that he was just not the man for the job any longer.  And after he was let go, the chorus seemed to be the same from players...the whole Clint-is-great-but-we-just-needed-a-new-voice thing.  Sounds good.  They did that.  Tracy was a new voice, and the Rockies responded in fantastic fashion.  Good move.  But hardly genius, right?  When the basic moves lead to EotY awards, I guess that says something about the sorry state of MLB front offices.

3. O'Dowd traded for Jason Marquis.
Dan O'Dowd makes a lot of trades.  According to a spreadsheet available here, O'Dowd's trade for Marquis was his 98th as Rockies GM.  Look at that spreadsheet.  Most of those trades were absolutely awful.  I mean, the man traded for Jacob Cruz, Todd Hollandsworthless, and Jack Cust.  I will never forgive him for making me watch those players defile Rockies uniforms.  There were some good moves, but again, looking at that many of them make you think, "Oh yeah, that was a great move!"  There were a few.  But really, what's his average there... .112?  This was a good move, sure.  But Jason Marquis kicking ass for three+ months is no cause for lauding O'Dowd.  First of all, the Cubs didn't want him.  He'd fallen out of favor in Chicago, getting lustily booed at the end of the 2008 season.  O'Dowd figured, "Hey, free starter!  Nice!"  And all he had to give the Cubbies in return was a mistake signing known as Luis Vizcaino.  Marquis performed very well for the first half (he was an All-Star, for crying out gleven!) before reverting to his career-standard second-half form, which is to say...less than stellar. Good, but not great.  The Rockies made the playoffs in 2009.  Marquis pitched 1 playoff inning.  Good move.  Not great.

So that's O'Dowd's resume for being named the best of all 30 men who do that job.  I don't just doesn't really do it for me.  I mean, there is one other thing that gets cited, so let's call it:

4. The Rockies have gotten good production out of players from their organization who they drafted.  
Ok, this is true.  And in fact, this guy even claims that the Blue Jays should follow the "Dan O'Dowd Model."  But what the hell does that have to do with O'Dowd?  I mean, I'm sure he probably has final say over a lot of those draft decisions, especially the first round or two.  So let's give him credit as due for Francis, Stewart, Tulo, and Cook (all but Cook were first rounders; Cook was second).  But that guy cites Hawpe (11th round), Atkins (5th round), Holliday (7th round), Fuentes (25th round by the Mariners), Fowler (14th round), and Ubaldo and CarGo (international free agents) as examples of O'Dowd's exceptional work.  Isn't all the other credit due the Rockies' scouts and minor league coaches and managers?   I mean, sure, O'Dowd is technically the boss of all of them...but are we really to believe they couldn't have done it without him?  Is he really out there scouting the Rockies' 14th round draft pick?  I guess it seems like GMs are always given disproportionate amounts of credit for their teams' systems (both positive and negative).  I could be wrong, but I don't see this as a feather in O'Dowd's cap.

Dan O'Dowd is like the Dan LeBatard of GMs.  LeBatard says and writes a whole lot of words.  Inevitably, some of them will make sense and might even be funny.  O'Dowd makes a crapload of trades.  A tiny percentage of them pan out.  Is that all it takes to be praised?  To do well occasionally?  It certainly seems to me that even a GM's average oughta be better than .112 (number may not be real).  That doesn't even get close to Mendoza.  I guess this is just another example of East Coast Bias.  Ugh.

Tomorrow: Did O'Dowd go from trading too much to being terrified to trade?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

the rumors are true!

Holy crap!  I know that this has been rumored for a long time, but there's finally confirmation!  That's right, Super Dave Osborne (aka Marty Funkhouser, aka Bob Einstein (?)) is back.  That's right, Super Freakin' Dave Freakin' Osborne.  Check it out!  No, seriously...check it ooouuut...