Posted: Friday April 7, 2006 11:51AM; Updated: Friday April 7, 2006 12:12PM
The numbers say Michael Young is a subpar defensive shortstop.
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
"Yes, the players messed up and shouldn't be forgiven." I agree with you.
"Teams encouraged players to use [steroids]." I'm not sure I'd go so far as say "encourage," but I will agree that teams, drunk with all the money pouring in and ecstatic that the game was making a comeback after the shame of 1994, failed to heed the signs of a burgeoning problem. Happens all the time. The captain of the Titanic was way too pleased with his spanking-new ship to see that iceberg. It's not surprising, really. These things are always clearer in retrospect.
"You could've broken this story 10 years ago." Well, I couldn't have, Ian, but could others have pulled a Woodward and Bernstein on the steroids age? Maybe, if they could have foreseen the dangers that steroids would pose to the health of the players, the damage that they would do to the game and the magnitude of the problem overall. That's an awfully big challenge to undertake in an environment in which people generally didn't understand any of that.
"It's too late to blame the players." That's where we part ways, Ian. We should not forget -- ever, ever, ever -- that the players had a choice in this. Enabled by owners or not, some players, because of greed or jealousy or whatever, chose to break the law of their own free will. If you let them off the hook, you're cheating everyone -- again. Especially the many players who decided not to cheat.
Jeff "Dream" Weaver had, like, what, half a good season in Detwah? Then teams started seeing him as the Second Coming. Instead, he has shown, in the words of Crash Davis, a million-dollar arm and a five-cent head. To be fair, maybe he just isn't that talented after all. I'm just glad the Mariners didn't chase his nearly eight-figure salary. He sure hasn't shown he's worth it yet. -- Tom Pacher, Seattle
Hey, everybody grows up, Tom. Well, almost everybody, anyway. I think Weaver's getting there. I think he'll have a good year. And, soon, sorry to say, he'll be making eight figures, not nearly eight figures.
Great to see the Brewers finally getting some positive publicity. I can say that Brewers fans haven't been as excited for a season in a long, long time. Do you think the Brewers have enough starting pitching to compete in the Central with teams like St. Louis and Houston? We all hoped we'd add another solid rotation guy, and we got Dave Bush. -- Jason, Madison, Wis.
Man, did I get some guff Monday from the guys in the New York office for watching the Pirates-Brewers opener. It was, by far, the best game I saw that day. Y'all up there in Miller Park looked stoked. The Brewers gave us a preview of how they can win this year, moving guys over and getting a two-run pinch hit by Jeff Cirillo to take the lead and then using the big bat of Carlos Lee to put the game away.
Do the Brewers have enough pitching? Well, it's not great, I'll grant you. A lot depends on the health of Ben Sheets. But I think Monday's starter, Doug Davis, is underrated and capable of at least 15 wins. Chris Capuano won 18 last year. You can't expect that again, but shouldn't he be good for 13? Bush and Rick Helling ... ehhhh. Clearly, Sheets has to do what Sheets is capable of doing and everyone else has to do better than expected. But it's certainly possible.
Is there a reason the Rangers won't move Michael Young back to second (where he was before Alfonso Soriano came to Texas) and have Ian Kinsler play his shortstop position instead of second base? -- Ben, Houston
My guess, Ben, is that the Rangers simply don't want to switch Young again, though recent statistics laid out in The Fielding Bible suggest that he's brutal at shortstop -- the worst, in fact, in baseball.
I talked to Buck Showalter about his team's infield defense in spring training and he said he liked the way the rookie Kinsler was taking to second. It's different over there; the timing, the shorter throws, the player's back to the double play, the relay. I think it would take time for Young to readjust to second, even though that was his position originally. It might be better to let him settle in at short and hopefully improve, rather than throw a rookie in there. Just a theory.
An interesting note: Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News reports that new general manager Jon Daniels had The Fielding Bible sitting on his desk at the team's spring home in Surprise, Ariz. Daniels, it seems, is intrigued by the stats in the book, though he's not taking them all to heart. "We are doing things here with the thought that Michael is our All-Star shortstop, period," Daniels told the paper.
I was watching the WBC final with an Englishman and a Kiwi in a bar in Seoul. We got to talking about the World Series and my friends claimed it was American arrogance that allowed us to call it the World Series when only American teams and one Canadian team could participate in it. I argued that since the MLB is the professional venue for baseball, and that the best players in the world played in it, that the title of World Series was appropriate. They disagreed, saying that the word "world" implied a contest between countries, not professional leagues that included international players. Where do you stand on this subject? -- Jacob Harmon, Seoul, Korea
That first line of yours, Jacob, started out like a dirty joke I know. Oh well....
I say -- as did reader Tom, above, in a paragraph I lopped from his e-mail -- keep the World Series the World Series. That moniker is kind of grandfathered in. But no way can you call the White Sox, or anyone else who wins the World Series, the world champions, no more than you can say the winners of the Japanese League are the world champs.
The WBC was a meaningless joke of an exhibition. The U.S. team actually had Al Leiter, a Cubs catcher and a host of other National League nobodies on their roster. Single-game elimination, the spring training time frame and pitch counts sound like the brainchild of a used-car salesman. Yep, a used-car salesman who knows that some baseball writer somewhere will inject meaning into his attempt to create some sort of legacy for his pathetic reign as commish. Japan the best team on the planet? No, sorry, the best team on the planet is the White Sox. Get used to it. -- Bob Rose (hometown unknown)
And now, for an opposing viewpoint ...
WBC every two years, please! The tournament was fantastic. The most fascinating part of the whole spectacle was watching how players from other nations, who haven't played in North America, fielded, battled, pitched, rallied and encouraged each other. PASSION! This has to be shown more often on American TV, instead of these stone-faced, "take one game at a time" guys. MLB needs more flavor and color and spectacle. Congrats, Japan. Well played. -- Steven Oswald, Bartlesville, Okla.
Steve, I'm more inclined to agree with you than some guy who won't even tell us where he lives. But what do I know? I'm just the pawn of a used-car salesman.
Spring is here and another season is on the brink. I'm excited. I'm sitting here wondering how many nasty things I will say to you this season in this little blue box. I'm sure you know it is my job to verbally assault you every time you say something I don't like, especially if it's about my team! So please don't take it personally, John. I think two years ago I suggested you go bag groceries, but I didn't mean it. I'm sure I've called you an idiot at least a dozen times. I didn't mean that, either. I won't mean any of the nasty things I say this year, I promise. So this is your "I'm sorry," in advance. -- Jeremy, St. Louis
Jeremy, it's nothing that I don't hear from my mom and my wife. So bring it. I'm ready.