Protecting the Shields -- The Nick Cafardo Thread

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E5 Yaz

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Watching Winter Meetings coverage this morning, while they were interviewing Dayton Moore. In the backdrop are the usual lobby-hanging fans, a couple of kids in oversized suits on the job-hunt circuit ... and either our hero or his twin, with the look of someone who had too many waffles at the hotel breakfast bar and trying to hear enough of the interview to use in a notebook later
 

Humphrey

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Those of you that follow baseball deeper than I- does the talk about shifts have any legs or is it Nick blowing Boras' horn for him?
 

John Marzano Olympic Hero

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Those of you that follow baseball deeper than I- does the talk about shifts have any legs or is it Nick blowing Boras' horn for him?
That's a good question. I personally don't think that shifts are a big deal and that there are ways to beat it, but I Rob Manfred mentioned it as something that his office was taking seriously. What exactly that means, is unknown. And I thought that I read somewhere that the Players Association is also not very keen on shifts either, so if those two factions are in agreement, then maybe we'll see something.

But half of the MLBPA are pitchers, I'm not sure that they would be really thrilled with a ban on shifts. And I'm not even sure how you can ban shifts. I mean, is the shortstop glued to his position? Is he not allowed to shade closer to the bag for a lefty -- technically, that's a shift. How about outfielders who are playing for the batter to pull? And yes, I guess you can argue that these questions are pedantic, but if we give a little on these shifts, how far are we going? Where is the line drawn? And who is going to enforce it? Like will the umpires have to be equipped with tape measures to make sure that a middle infielder isn't x inches away from no man's land?

And if the commissioner is interested in making the games shorter, wouldn't the elimination of shifts run counter to that? You want to get 27 outs fast? Have people hit into shifts, that'll do it.

Nick's basic argument are "shifts stink" and "there weren't a lot of shifts when I was a kid and getting old sucks" plus whatever Boras spoon-feeds him. He hasn't (as far as I've seen) really taken a deep dive as to why shifts aren't good for the game. This is the thing about Cafardo that confounds me, he's a reporter but he's also a writer, if you think that something isn't good for the game; fucking tell me why. Don't just sit atop Mt. Craplympus and hurl "truth" feces like a spastic simian and expect us to eat it up without asking "Why?" Do some work for your paycheck and educate me, asshole.
 

Smiling Joe Hesketh

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You ban shifts by mandating that you can't have three infielders on one side of second base in the infield.

I'm opposed to banning shifts, but if they wanted to do so that's how they'd do it. You'd still be able to move around, but this would take away the "put the second baseman in short right" shift.
 

joe dokes

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Its a reasonable issue to debate. (I don't think anything needs to be done). But Nick's dismissal of Francona's nuanced and thoughtful view was juvenile and pathetic. Given Francona's deserved stature here, it's really among the first times Cafardo's "work" has pissed me off, as opposed to whatever it usually does. (Bemusement? Perverse enjoyment?)

I was hoping Terry Francona would be the guy who would lead the charge against shifting, but he’s fallen into analytical hypnosis.

“Yeah, and I may be in the minority now. I don’t think you can dictate to teams competitive things. You know what I mean? You hear me say it sometimes, the unintended consequences. I think the game makes its change, sometimes they’re a little slower than maybe you’d like. Hitters are going to adjust. I don’t think we’ve seen it quick enough in our game, but it will happen. And you’ll see hitters earning, making players play them more straight up. You know it just hasn’t happened yet,” Francona said.

“We went through this with launch angle and that hitters have forgotten the basics of fundamental hitting, but I think you’ll see guys getting back to that. So I hate to reward guys who don’t use the field by making a rule change. If we did that every time, our game would be all over the map.”
Hey nick. Go fuck yourself. But first ask James Shields what he thinks about shifts.
 

SirPsychoSquints

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That's a good question. I personally don't think that shifts are a big deal and that there are ways to beat it, but I Rob Manfred mentioned it as something that his office was taking seriously. What exactly that means, is unknown. And I thought that I read somewhere that the Players Association is also not very keen on shifts either, so if those two factions are in agreement, then maybe we'll see something.

But half of the MLBPA are pitchers, I'm not sure that they would be really thrilled with a ban on shifts. And I'm not even sure how you can ban shifts. I mean, is the shortstop glued to his position? Is he not allowed to shade closer to the bag for a lefty -- technically, that's a shift. How about outfielders who are playing for the batter to pull? And yes, I guess you can argue that these questions are pedantic, but if we give a little on these shifts, how far are we going? Where is the line drawn? And who is going to enforce it? Like will the umpires have to be equipped with tape measures to make sure that a middle infielder isn't x inches away from no man's land?

And if the commissioner is interested in making the games shorter, wouldn't the elimination of shifts run counter to that? You want to get 27 outs fast? Have people hit into shifts, that'll do it.

Nick's basic argument are "shifts stink" and "there weren't a lot of shifts when I was a kid and getting old sucks" plus whatever Boras spoon-feeds him. He hasn't (as far as I've seen) really taken a deep dive as to why shifts aren't good for the game. This is the thing about Cafardo that confounds me, he's a reporter but he's also a writer, if you think that something isn't good for the game; fucking tell me why. Don't just sit atop Mt. Craplympus and hurl "truth" feces like a spastic simian and expect us to eat it up without asking "Why?" Do some work for your paycheck and educate me, asshole.
I am against legislating the shift away. I generally think the solutions are pretty dumb. The easiest to implement goes something like:
  1. 3 fielders, at most, may be beyond the infield dirt at the time the pitch is thrown
  2. excluding the pitcher & catcher, at least 2 fielders must be inside the outfield grass (define it however, you know what I mean) and to the left of 2B.
  3. excluding the pitcher & catcher, at least 2 fielders must be inside the outfield grass and to the right of 2B.
It still allows you to do most of the shifting, by placing the SS or 2B essentially ON the 2B bag. It allows you to bring in one of the OFers to implement a bigger shift, but it would make you sacrifice in the OF.

It would make the below (Gallo) shift less absurd:



It wouldn't have a large impact on the below (LaRoche) shift:


It wouldn't have a large impact on the RH shift below:



I think it would have a small impact on the actual shifts, but have a meaningful impact on more traditional late-game alignment, and the ability to place in infielder on the grass, etc. I think it's a bad idea.
 

SirPsychoSquints

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You ban shifts by mandating that you can't have three infielders on one side of second base in the infield.

I'm opposed to banning shifts, but if they wanted to do so that's how they'd do it. You'd still be able to move around, but this would take away the "put the second baseman in short right" shift.
Please define infielders? Can I put 4 outfielders on the field? Can my "SS" go reeeeeeeally deep and effectively play LF while my "LF" plays shortfield?
 

SirPsychoSquints

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1. No
2. I'm sure they'd put limits on how deep an infielder can play in the OF.
My point is that you're going to need very explicit definitions to do anything like this. My second question points out that you need to put restrictions on outfielders AND infielders, and you'll need to define what an outfielder is vs. what an infielder is. It's going to take away interesting game situation shifts like the one below at the expense of a muted impact on what people are actually targeting:

 

John Marzano Olympic Hero

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I enjoy things like the above because I like that baseball evolves and changes and does weird shit from time to time. And I especially enjoy it when someone beats that weird thing that just happened. I mean, it's one of the reason why we like sports, right? Seeing something that you haven't seen before.

Legislating the creativity out of the game is unAmerican.
 

Smiling Joe Hesketh

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My point is that you're going to need very explicit definitions to do anything like this. My second question points out that you need to put restrictions on outfielders AND infielders, and you'll need to define what an outfielder is vs. what an infielder is. It's going to take away interesting game situation shifts like the one below at the expense of a muted impact on what people are actually targeting:

As I said, I'm opposed to banning shifts for exactly the same reasons.
 

SirPsychoSquints

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As I said, I'm opposed to banning shifts for exactly the same reasons.
You're right, I shouldn't have placed you as a defender. I think the people actually proposing this are glossing over how complicated the rules are going to be and how restrictive they'll need to be to address the perceived issue. And that's before going into whether it's an actual issue that requires a solution (which I don't believe).
 

joe dokes

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He's a real man of the people:

On Dec 19, 2018, at 10:18 AM, [me]:
So Terry Francona -- who I'm sure you'll agree knows more about baseball than you or me -- gives a thoughtful answer about a much-debated topic (shifting) in which he doesn't address what has been commonly called "analytics," and you dismiss it as "analytic hypnosis." That seems to be a rather petty, back-of-the-hand response to someone who has earned quite a bit of respect among your target audience.

Why the pettiness?

--[me]
Nicholas Cafardo <nicholas.cafardo@globe.com>
Wed 12/19/2018, 12:35 PM

How dramatic.

Sent from my iPhone
 
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scottyno

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I know math is probably hard to Nick, but he could have at least put in a little effort to try to find out how much the shift actually does matter. Saying Ortiz lost 20-30 points of average without anything to back that up is pretty ridiculous. His BABIP vs the shift since 2010 was 303, compared to 311 in a small sample size vs no shift since 2010, and 300 for his whole career.
 

joe dokes

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I know math is probably hard to Nick, but he could have at least put in a little effort to try to find out how much the shift actually does matter. Saying Ortiz lost 20-30 points of average without anything to back that up is pretty ridiculous. His BABIP vs the shift since 2010 was 303, compared to 311 in a small sample size vs no shift since 2010, and 300 for his whole career.
Drop him a note. Fan interaction is his favorite part of the job.
 

jungleboy

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What was Tito thinking? Doesn’t he know that this is going to cost him big time when the next manager rankings come out? He might as well have burned a Jason Bay jersey.
 

Danny_Darwin

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I haven’t given this much thought, so forgive me if I’m being dense for some reason, but wouldn’t the elimination of shifting further incentivize strikeouts, therefore leading to more of the type of TTOball that the anti-shift crowd has been railing against?
 

jungleboy

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I don't think Carfado has even put that much thought into it. For him it's no more than: didn't exist when I was a kid + caused by analytics = bad.
 

scottyno

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"Machado may be one the best defensive third basemen in history. He’s been an above-average shortstop"

Machado was one of the worst defensive shortstops in baseball this year at -13 DRS.
 

John Marzano Olympic Hero

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I like his “say what you want about George Steinbrenner but he’s a Hall of Famer!” take.

Cafardo needs a faintingcouch when someone tests positive for marijuana but a two-time felon, no sweat!

Between Cafardo, Kevin Paul DuPont and Ben Volin the Globe Sunday sports page is unreadable.
 

John Marzano Olympic Hero

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Anyone read Cafardo’s latest notes today? It was pretty awful even by his standards.

It was filled with all the Wilbur chestnuts: Yankees made an unquestionable awesome move signing Tulo, why hasn’t anyone signed league average pitchers A-Z for big money, there should be an offseason deadline, all agents-except Scott Boras-are playing this wrong, nerds are ruining baseball, scout is retiring and he’s an awesome guy, cakes are cooking for Casey Fossum.

It got me thinking, who has done a worse job on their Globe Sunday Notes?

Volin and the NFL?
DuPont and the NHL?
Cafardo and MLB?

All are pretty shitty but who is the shittiest?
 

lexrageorge

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You forgot the weekly tirade against analytics:

One prominent agent said, “I think the reliance on analytics to identify players for each respective team has slowed down the process. One thing the analytics are doing is pushing the older players out of the game. The older players are having trouble finding jobs and are being replaced by younger players whose numbers look better. Again, what some of the younger GMs are missing out on is the intangible things that the older players bring to the table.”
Regarding the Hall of Shame, it is indeed pathetic that was once the Globe's greatest strength has become its biggest weakness. Volin's drivel is for the most part harmless, except it's really funny today that he nominated Pete Carroll as runner up for Coach of the Year despite the Seahawks having a worse season than the Patriots. It's obvious when he is out of his depth, and irritating when he refuses to acknowledge it. But periodically he raises some good points.

DuPont still has sources around the league, but his anachronistic schtick about fighting and unskilled-but-gritty players has become tiresome. It now appears McAvoy is his latest target (https://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/bruins/2019/01/06/bruins-say-there-behavioral-issue-with-charlie-mcavoy/RY6Xc7A3Gn39kcNQQgetFO/story.html?p1=Team_LeadArticle), although fortunately Sweeney appears to be above that nonsense. I find him the most unlikable of the three.

Cafardo has become unreadable with his obvious mouth-piecing of Scott Boring Ass, but he is also the easiest to ignore.

Finally, to be fair to the Globe, there is the anti-Cafardo, someone who actually took the time to understand the Sox "throwing program" instead of just assuming it's nonsense because teams didn't have throwing programs or care to develop pitchers back in the day:

https://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/redsox/2019/01/04/how-red-sox-rebuilt-their-pitching-infrastructure/SHgUa974oenyoJonwQYx3K/story.html
 

Dick Pole Upside

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...

It got me thinking, who has done a worse job on their Globe Sunday Notes?

Volin and the NFL?
DuPont and the NHL?
Cafardo and MLB?

All are pretty shitty but who is the shittiest?
I think it's Volin and it's not really very close, though all three are unlikeable for different reasons.

At least Cafardo and Dupont have sources. Volin clearly has no established sources within the Patriots organization ("Ben, we've got a lot of transcripts... I'm sure you can go back and go through all those to find the previous answers to that question..."), and very few sources in general outside of whoever is left in Miami from his last job. So he resorts to pot shots and "I told ya so's" in addition to observations that any knowledgeable fan could make. He's awful.
 

Van Everyman

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Volin may have no sources because he went all in trying to leverage Deflategate into a national gig ... and failed. Or perhaps it’s because he doesn’t seem to work very hard – I recall Jeff Howe tweeting he once reported on training camp from his couch. It’s a bit of a shame because I think Volin isn’t awful when he does his work. He was dead on about Revis coming to the Pats before anyone else. But I think he thought after being with the Dolphins for a number of heads that getting the Globe Patriots beat meant he made it ... and forgot that you have to actually do the work.

His Twitter work is also terrible.
 

nattysez

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At the risk of hijacking the thread, I find the ongoing insistence that analytics are "ruining the game" baffling. Don't these guys see the sand running out of their hourglasses? The Giants are the only non-analytically-inclined team to have had success in the past 10 years or so. But from Bruce Jenkins to Cafardo to Plaschke, these guys just kill analytics every chance they get. Maybe it's just a schtick?
 

joe dokes

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At the risk of hijacking the thread, I find the ongoing insistence that analytics are "ruining the game" baffling. Don't these guys see the sand running out of their hourglasses? The Giants are the only non-analytically-inclined team to have had success in the past 10 years or so. But from Bruce Jenkins to Cafardo to Plaschke, these guys just kill analytics every chance they get. Maybe it's just a schtick?
As I think I read somewhere within the last 18 months or so, the Giants are much more analytically-inclined than the Cafardos are willing to admit.
 

John Marzano Olympic Hero

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But from Bruce Jenkins to Cafardo to Plaschke, these guys just kill analytics every chance they get. Maybe it's just a schtick?
I don't think it's schtick. I think that it's a combination of a few things:

1. It seems to me that scouts have big mouths --whether they're on the record or not. Cafardo's Notes page is full of "An anonymous scout tells me ..." or "Sam Mele, a scout with the Twins, says that Dan Gladden would jam 35 marshmallows in his mouth before each game and it made him a better hitter!" Without scouts, Cafardo actually has to work. Relying on a scout to fill up your notebook is easy -- and most of the stuff is so fluffy, you don't have to bother fact checking it or people don't care enough to try to prove you wrong. In analytics A+B=C, there is no fudging the numbers. Cafardo loves fudge (both kinds).

2. I don't think that Cafardo grasps that when older scouts are canned, usually newer people are brought in*. Yes, it sucks when someone loses their job; I've lost jobs before and it's not a great experience. But at the same time, if you're not willing to put in the work to get the data that your boss wants; it's time to find another job. Cafardo would actually need to put the legwork in to meet the new scouts, talk to them, understand them, build a relationship and I don't think that's something Wilbur feels like doing. So, he's bitching about his friends losing a job.

* In the last few weeks, I could have sworn that I've read that most MLB teams are on a scout hiring spree. I can't remember where I read that -- it wasn't in the Sunday Globe, that's for fucking sure -- but it runs directly counter to what Cafardo has been reporting. Scouting isn't going away, dinosaur scouts are.

3. Cafardo and his ilk are have no intellectual curiosity. They don't give a shit about analytics because they don't understand analytics. And it's not because they're dumb, it's because they're lazy. I bet Alex Speier or Pete Abraham could give Wilbur a 15-minute explanation of the bare minimum of what he needs to know, but there is no way that Cafardo would ever do that. None. Cafardo would rather spill ink wishing it was 1979 where pitchers routinely through 250-300 innings, batting average was king and players drunk drove home.

For most people, they will never care for something as much as they did when they were teenagers; whether it's sports or comics or music or movies. And for most of us, that's okay to be ensconced in that amber. But if you're one of the lucky ones and you're able to take your passion and transition it to a well-paying job that lasts into your adulthood, it's not okay to do that. You have to change with what you're covering. You have to learn about the new trends and thinking, you can't spend every weekend bitching and kvetching about how things used to be. That's not only a disservice to the reader, but it's a disservice to that thing you're covering.
 

Spelunker

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That's a good metaphor for Nick: he's a music critic who doesn't like hip hop, and thinks that if it doesn't include guitars it's not really music.
 

Humphrey

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The highlights (or should I say lowlights) of Nick's years covering the Pats and doing the notes column
1. On Terry Glenn's side when the wideout's antics grew to be enough for BB. Couldn't understand him being sat down permanently.
2. A tie between him and Borges in terms of which one wanted Bledsoe* back in the lineup when he got healthy.
3. Tom Donahoe (former Bills GM) = JP Ricciardi. Nick's go to guy when he wanted to hear from a "current NFL GM" and so on.
4. In love with "North Andover's own Rob Konrad" and Pete Kendall and a few others. Mentioned them as many times as he could.

*One of my favorite regular season moments in the past two decades was them beating the Bills, 31-0, at the end of 2003 after they lost the opener to them by the exact same score. One reason for this was all the shit Nick wrote when they cut Lawyer Milloy and what a dumb move it was trading Drew within the division, etc.

I will give Nick credit for jumping back to baseball when he got the chance; as much as I think BB is right telling the reporters very little it has to make their jobs more difficult than the Sox make them.
 

Smiling Joe Hesketh

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I can't remember where I read this story, but either on here or over on the old BSMW board one of the posters went down to Jacksonville for the SB and happened to sit next to Nick on the flight back home. Said poster said Nick NEVER stopped bitching about BB the whole time, that BB made a host of mistakes in the SB that everyone was going to ignore because they won.

Bascially exactly the Nick covering football that one would expect.
 

Humphrey

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What did James Shields ever do that makes Nick feel he has to mention him 20+ weeks during the year? Wade Miley too, although at least his 2018 with the Brewers was pretty good.
 

John Marzano Olympic Hero

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Do you like empty cliches?
Do you like reporters turning a recorder and transcribing said empty cliches?

Then brother, do I have a column for you!

Rich Hill said nothing. Nick Cafardo transcribed nothing. We learned nothing.

And have you looked at James Shields’ numbers in the last five seasons? They’re atrocious. He hasn’t had an ERA+ of over .500, last year he lead the league in losses (I know, I know but Wilbur doesn’t) and his other numbers are a mess but he’s still available!

And Arnie Beyeler has had it so rough, you guys. He had to hit fungoes to Cespades and Hanley Ramirez and they were ungrateful!!! Can you believe that? The fuck?

If this was 1942, Cafardo would spill ink bitching about how Ted Williams is completely disinterested in his defense and that he’ll rue that when his hitting eye eventually fails him.

And it’s fucking rich that Cafardo is condemning TWO professionals about not improving their craft when he’s so god damn resistant to anything new other than wins, losses and batting average. Fuck this dude.
 

E5 Yaz

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Do you like empty cliches?
Do you like reporters turning a recorder and transcribing said empty cliches?

Then brother, do I have a column for you!

Rich Hill said nothing. Nick Cafardo transcribed nothing. We learned nothing.

And have you looked at James Shields’ numbers in the last five seasons? They’re atrocious. He hasn’t had an ERA+ of over .500, last year he lead the league in losses (I know, I know but Wilbur doesn’t) and his other numbers are a mess but he’s still available!

And Arnie Beyeler has had it so rough, you guys. He had to hit fungoes to Cespades and Hanley Ramirez and they were ungrateful!!! Can you believe that? The fuck?

If this was 1942, Cafardo would spill ink bitching about how Ted Williams is completely disinterested in his defense and that he’ll rue that when his hitting eye eventually fails him.

And it’s fucking rich that Cafardo is condemning TWO professionals about not improving their craft when he’s so god damn resistant to anything new other than wins, losses and batting average. Fuck this dude.
Oh c'mon, you had to be impressed y Nick's point that it will be interesting to see where Machado and Harper sign
 

joe dokes

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Do you like empty cliches?
Do you like reporters turning a recorder and transcribing said empty cliches?

Then brother, do I have a column for you!

Rich Hill said nothing. Nick Cafardo transcribed nothing. We learned nothing.

And have you looked at James Shields’ numbers in the last five seasons? They’re atrocious. He hasn’t had an ERA+ of over .500, last year he lead the league in losses (I know, I know but Wilbur doesn’t) and his other numbers are a mess but he’s still available!

And Arnie Beyeler has had it so rough, you guys. He had to hit fungoes to Cespades and Hanley Ramirez and they were ungrateful!!! Can you believe that? The fuck?

If this was 1942, Cafardo would spill ink bitching about how Ted Williams is completely disinterested in his defense and that he’ll rue that when his hitting eye eventually fails him.

And it’s fucking rich that Cafardo is condemning TWO professionals about not improving their craft when he’s so god damn resistant to anything new other than wins, losses and batting average. Fuck this dude.
If it happened twice, maybe the problem wasn't with the players......
 
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