I know there's a whole thread devoted to Nick Cafardo's abominable Baseball Notes column, but this week's deserves its own thread by way of it just being abominably bad.
The premise of the main body piece? That GMs don't think enough about potential playoff performance when evaluating players. Apparently Nick's one step ahead of the best GMs in the game, in that he sees past things like great in-season performance and looks for those players who "step up" in the playoffs. Then he seeks validation for his argument, which is where it gets to be high comedy:
That's as close as you get from a professional responding: "Um, no, that's stupid."
"We look at a lot of variables in the decision-making process - primarily subjective (scouting), objective (statistics), medical, financial, mental makeup, and personality. The experience you mentioned could fit in as a small, positive intangible that helps shape decisions but not impact them in a meaningful way."
How does he not see how circular his argument is:
The Red Sox won the World Series in 2004 and '07 because they had players such as Curt Schilling, Derek Lowe, Manny Ramírez, David Ortiz, Johnny Damon, Bill Mueller, Mark Bellhorn, Mike Lowell, Josh Beckett, and Jonathan Papelbon who stepped up their games when it counted most.
That's essentially saying, "The Red Sox won the World Series in 2004 and '07 because their players played well. If they had had players that didn't play well, they wouldn't have won."
Here's Theo calling Nick dumb:
"[Identifying good postseason players]is certainly not a primary consideration - more of a secondary factor at best," said Sox GM Theo Epstein. "Ted Williams didn't perform in the postseason . . . I would take him!"
But Nick is undaunted:
What?!? Because (assuming I agree with Cafardo's logic) the Braves don't care about winning in the post season but those other teams do? What is he even talking about? The reason those teams haven't signed Ramirez and Lowe is because they're asking for absurd amounts of money. Only the Braves were desperate enough to sign Lowe at that number because they've been hammered this offseason.
While Shapiro and Epstein appear to agree, you can't help but wonder why so many of these teams missed the boat on signing players who are proven postseason performers, such as Ramírez and Lowe. How could Lowe have gone to the Braves for four years and $60 million, and not to the Mets, Phillies, or even back to the Red Sox?
Finally, I'd love to know who this genius GM is:
"I think most GMs feel, 'We've got to get there and we can get there with these players,' " said one National League GM. "I think some think about, 'OK, I know we can get there, but what happens once we get there? How can we win the whole thing?' So you try and target those players who you feel can help you win the whole thing."
Love how he's anonymous. Could that be because he hasn't actually won anything and so his brilliant targeting plan hasn't worked? And how would this work anyway? Are there so many high-quality free agents on the market that you can pick and choose like, "Well, both of these guys had sub-4.00 ERAs and a 2-1 K/BB, but this second guy is a run better ERA in the playoffs, so I'm going with him?" Those choices just don't exist.
And then there is the analysis of the payrolls, the theory being that big market team are cutting, while small market teams are adding. Here's his evidence:
The payrolls of the Red Sox, Yankees, Angels, Dodgers, White Sox, Mariners, Blue Jays, and Pirates appear to be going down.
Wha? The Mariners, Blue Jays, and Pirates are now "big market?" Because three small-market teams are adding slightly (and trying to change that), I'm supposed to see a trend? This is classic cherry-picking and isn't remotely supported by the evidence he supplies. The intro should have been, "Here are some facts about payroll. I don't know what to make of it. But there's probably nothing to make of it, so there."
Finally, anybody else notice that, in the Lugo bit, "20 pounds of muscle" was changed to "10 pounds of muscle" after everyone cried 'roids in the comments? Shady.
Just a crappy, crappy article, even by his standards.