Distinguished Senators, the Washington Nationals Blog That Is Great

Thursday, December 08, 2005

A Bitter Postscript

It's 24 hours later, and I have yet to see a defense of the Soriano/Wilkerson 'n' Friends trade that was even close to convincing. So I'm going to take out my wrath on a really incompetent one. DCist felt the need to weigh in on the transaction, and while it's not as intricately insane as a Boswell column, it's short enough that I can rip it up without hurting my puzzler. I'm skipping the first paragraph so as not to nitpick, only mentioning that it's a classic example of action being mistaken for improvement.
But the Washington front office pulled the trigger on a doozie this week, bringing in former Yankee and Texas Ranger Alfonso Soriano, in a move that makes the Nats' lineup much more dangerous and much faster on the basepaths.
Faster, yes. Soriano is not a better hitter than Wilkerson. He's even less a better hitter than Wilkerson plus Terrmel Sledge.
In Soriano's five full years as a major leaguer, he's averaged over 30 homers and 30 steals a year as an infielder, where he's shown great ability and range.
Allow me to present two statements I feel are equivalent to this one: Livan Hernandez has averaged over 230 innings over the last six years, but he's really known for his matinee idol good looks. DCist furnishes exhaustive coverage of cake stores and the local indie music scene while providing insightful and well-researched sports coverage.

Author Ryan Avent provided no proof that Soriano has "shown great ability and range," so I feel like a cad defending the opposite (correct) position by using them; I'll keep it short. According to Baseball Prospectus, Soriano has never had even an average year at second. Win Shares -- and keep in mind that that's a counting stat -- has Soriano with fewer defensive Shares than the proverbially bad Jose Vidro, even though Vidro only played half a season. Anyway, he's awful.
The knocks on him are his penchant for swinging at high fastballs, breaking balls away, passing blimps, and anything else that catches his eye while he's in the batter's box, and he's known for dogging it in the field when he gets tired . . .
That's fine. Let's move on.
. . .but Frank Robinson is a motivator who's sure to get the most out of his new plaything.
For one that, "his new plaything" is really creepy. Stop saying it. For another, Frank isn't a motivator, he's a dickhead who gets along with Jose Guillen.
It's likely that Alfonso will spend time in the outfield anyway, given All-Star Jose Vidro's status as an elite second baseman.
Does Avent watch the games, or just simulate them on a Playstation? Those of us who watched them remember that Jose Vidro wasn't in all that many of them. Sure, he's an elite video game second baseman: turn off injuries and don't try to steal, and you're in business.

The bigger problem here is that Avent doesn't bother to mention a potentially serious problem: Soriano wants no part of the outfield. Here's what the man himself said about it:
"I'm going to play second base," Soriano told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram Thursday. "I don't think they want me to play the outfield. I think that if they traded for me, it's to play second base. Obviously I have the control. Of course I'm not going to play the outfield."
Isn't that worth mentioning? It's not like it's top secret information that you needed inside sources to get -- some dumbass blogger mentioned it yesterday. Back to DCist:
In getting Soriano, the Nats traded away Termel Sledge . . .
Two r's in Terrmel, champ.
. . . and Brad Wilkerson, who was a fan favorite and Chevy Chase Bank spokesperson, but who struggled with his hitting down the stretch.
That's it about Wilkerson? All his accomplishments with the Nats and his status as the last Expo don't merit a mention? Nothing about his injury or on-base skills or defense? Not one damn thing in the whole article about park effects? How are you supposed to talk about this trade without at least alluding to the vast difference in hitter-friendliness between RFK and Ameriquest Field?
The deal also includes a Washington minor leaguer to be named later.
They went ahead and named the minor leaguer within an hour of the trade, if I recall correctly, and there are those who think he's pretty important to the deal. But why should he start researching all the way at the end?

It's a lousy, unresearched, rah-rah piece that provides nothing -- maybe less -- perceptive about the trade or its implications. Coming as it did the day after another DCist piece embarrassingly fantasized about the Pulitzer committee realizing the power of online media and giving DCist an award makes it not only ironic, but actually hilarious. So now I feel a little better about the whole thing.

Meanwhile, there's plenty to read -- plenty that's actually worthy of reading -- elsewhere. The Post article I referred to earlier should be read in full, as it offers a terrifying glimpse of the kind of stiff-necked me-first kind of player the guy we acquired might be.
One Rangers official defended Soriano, saying, "He is a good guy. He's certainly not a malcontent." But, he added, "They're going to have a big problem if they try to move him [to the outfield]."
If I were a Rangers blogger, I think I'd have fun with this unnamed official. "Yeah, he's great as long as you don't ask him to do anything."

Svrluga has a piece about Brad Wilkerson and his reaction to the trade. At first I felt sorry for Wilkerson, but then thought about it for a second. He's leaving a team that's not going to contend where he played next to a guy who hates him and is completely supported by the incompetent and apathetic manager and where he plays in a park that hurts his numbers and therefore his salary. You've gone to a better place, Brad.

Boswell is the most myopic and dishonest homer I've ever seen not writing under a pseudonym. I expect one of my fellow bloggers to take on this compendium of lies; I'm really not up to it. [Update: here's Basil. He's nicer than I would have been, but that's what makes him Basil.]

For a sane, intellectually honest defense of the trade, go to Banks of the Anacostia. JammingEcono is my favorite guy who disagrees with me all the time.


Harper said...

Soriano makes the lineup more dangerous. Who knows what he will swing at. Perhaps someone warming-up in the bullpen. Or a bag of sunflower seeds being passed from player to player in the dugout. If that's not dangerous, I'm nost sure what is.

You don't even need to quote win shares to poke holes in Soriano's (and Vidro's) fielding. Any scout will tell you the same thing. Old-school and new-school finally agree, the Nats don't have a good fieldling second basemen

JammingEcono said...

Thanks for the shout-out Ryan! A little honest intellectual debate is the reason I make DS one of my first blog-stops of the day.

Anonymous said...

Attacking the credibility of others doesn't make you a better writer, or a better fan. Those of us who blog do it for the love of the game. We receive no income, we have no agenda. We simply write what we think. We're not thick skinned like Tom Boswell and having our words attacked, our intelligence impuned, [who cares if their is two r's in Terrmel?]can really hurt a person. Why do it? Criticize all you want, but please don't get personal.

Is that why we spend hours every day working on our blogs, to have our work cut to pieces for the sheer pleasure of it by someone else?

You have a good blog, but if you would tone down the hard edge, it would be a great one.

Scott M. Collins said...

If he toned down the hard edge, he wouldn't be Ryan - he'd be a middling blog indistinguishable from the rest. You get what you pay for - if you don't like it, don't read it.

Nate said...

So blogging for the love of the game is an invitation to be intellectually lazy and dishonest? Feedback makes good bloggers better. If you don't want your thoughts critiqued, stick to writing in your diary.

Ryan said...

Anonymous: No one likes to be criticized, so I can understand getting upset. But presenting a report that amounts to little more than a press release leaves one open to it.

I find it disingenuous that you single out the Ter[r]mel issue and ignore the more substantive objections I had. Indeed, the Sledge problem is one of many indications that Avent doesn't know all that much about the team he covers.

I don't think I got personal. I never called the author a name, and my criticisms were limited to what he wrote. The conclusion that he didn't pay much attention to the Nats is inescapable and no reflection on Avent as a person.

Anonymous said...

I don't think he attacked the credibility of the writer, other than to say that the writer had clearly not fact-checked, had clearly done no research on the trade, Soriano or Wilkerson, had clearly not presented even a remotely balanced picture of what was lost in this trade, etc.

If you are going to put your words out there, you've got to be prepared to stand by them when presented with factual evidence that contradicts your statements. I'm still rolling on the ground laughing at the thought that anyone would defend Soriano's fielding as being remotely decent.

DM said...

I like to point out Marty's ties to Hugo Chavez for the love of it. I receive no income, and have no agenda. I'm not thick skinned like a Chavez thug. To delete those posts can really hurt a person. Why spend minutes on Google and DCist comment boards if it's just gonna be deleted?

You have a lousy blog. If you stopped whining like a 8-year-old girl, it would have a chance to become merely awful.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your reply to my post about the way you took DC'ist to task.

You're right, it was wrong of me to single out your comments about the missing 'r.' To me, it reflected what concerned me abouat your post. And you're right again, there were innacuracies in his post. I guess I see these blogs differently from [perhaps] you and some of your readers. I don't see it as being "lazy" when someone writes what they think they read or saw or heard. One of your readers said to me indirectly that if I didn't like your blog I shouldn't read it. Perhaps the same could be said about the DCist blog. If we don't like it, don't read it.

Also, after re-reading your post, you're right yet again; you didn't get "personal" per se with DCist. And I guess that makes my point. Inflamatory language is easily misunderstood, and I mis-read what you said.

You showed me a great deal by addressing my concerns honestly and fairly. Thanks.