Thursday, April 28, 2005

In Which I Unhappily Take Issue with the Venerable Svrluga

I finally got out to RFK yesterday, arriving just in time to see the Nats implode. Perhaps I should revise my theory about them relying on my presence, or add the corollary that if the Nationals are forced to dress like the Cuban National team, they will fail to hit on account of shame. Anyway, I was pleased with my seats, and I'm only a section up from this guy, who, I'm pleased to say, didn't break a bottle over my head or call me a jagoff in the customary manner of Yankees fans.

Just before the game, St. Barry Svrluga, who is good and whom we deserve not, conducted a chat on the Washington Post website. Regular readers of this and any number of other Nats blogs are aware of the radness of Svrluga, but there was a disturbing exchange in there, one that I hope turns out not to be a portent.

Bethesda, Md.: I see where the Nats have extended Bowden's contract. I wonder if they're aware that he is the most lowly-regarded GM in MLB by the writers at the Baseball Prospectus -- the smartest baseball analysts in the business for my and many others' money. Big mistake. Christian Guzman? Vinny Castilla? (Park effects - what are those?)

Barry Svrluga: There are certainly all kinds of views on Bowden, and you're right, there are certainly those who don't have a high opinion of him. I will say this, though: What was this team supposed to do at shortstop and third base? They got Castilla, who has been much better than expected, for the relatively cheap price of two years, $6.2 million. No, he's not going to lead the league in RBI, as he did last year. But if he drives in 80 or 90, that's well worth the money. Guzman is struggling big-time on offense, and it's legitimate to say they may have overpaid. But if he doesn't make those two moves, the left side of the infield would've been Brendan Harris and Maicer Izturis. Don't talk to me about Tony Batista. No one really wanted him back. And keep in mind: Bowden will have to prove to a new owner that he's worth keeping. Bottom line: If he does the job, he'll be around. If he doesn't, someone else will be here.

You see what Svrluga's doing here? He's not reporting; he's advocating. Maybe he's just presenting an alternative the reader's take, but Barry sounds unfortunately Boswellian here. Castilla's contract is the lesser issue, but I'll say three things: 1. Svrluga ignores the draft pick we lost to sign him; 2. that he "has been much better than expected" is just asinine - we're 22 games in; 3. RBIs are a tool of the Father of Lies and do nothing but mislead.

Svrluga's best argument for the woeful Guzman signing is "there weren't any alternatives," which is a cop-out. It would have been a reasonable point had Bowden not signed anyone - and it would have been true. But Bodes went ahead and signed one of those non-alternatives, and we're stuck with his pudgy ass for four years. Currently we have a shortstop who can't hit and allegedly can field. Maicer Izturis is a shortstop who can't hit and allegedly can field, and I can think 16 million further reasons that he's preferable to Guzman. Barry Svrluga is a sharp guy and unquestionably a cut above the average sportswriter. That's all the more reason to hope he's playing devil's advocate and not positioning himself for a Ron Santo Award.

5 comments:

Chris Needham said...

When I read that yesterday, I could almost see your eyes bugging out when reading the question.

I thought that this was going to be a rant on the slavish devotion to Prospectus! That was right in your wheelhouse and you nailed it for a double, not the homer we needed!

In time you'll have the rust shaken off ;)

/obnoxious Yankee fan

Ryan said...

Was that some fancified way of calling me a jagoff?

Anyway, I'm a lot more concerned with the danger of Svrluga sipping the Boswell Kool-Aid than I am that some deluded fellow in Bethesda hasn't realized that you don't pay for BP because it's prestigious but rather that BP's prestigious because you pay for it.

Basil said...

I'm neither an obnoxious Yankee fan (heaven forbid) or a jagoff, but I'd like to posit the conspiracy theory that Chris Kahrl or somebody wrote the mailbag question.

I know it wasn't one of the Chris/Brian/Rocket unholy trio, in that the question did not originate from the Canary Islands or Endor or something. ;-)

Chris Needham said...

I submitted about 7 questions. He used every one but one. And some of mine had normal place names, even!

That was a pretty damn good way to kill an afternoon.

Much better than the 2 hours we wasted with Screech. The damn bastard didn't answer one!

Ryan said...

The Screech chat was featured in the Express this morning, by the way.

Basil's Chris Kahrl theory is irrefutable.