I do feel happy for Tampa Bay sports writers - they actually have stuff to write about now. But this one is ... well I don't want to accuse anyone of anything (yet), so you decide.
Just how did the Tampa Bay Rays go from one of the least successful franchises in history to sitting atop baseball's richest division a day before the All-Star break?
Drafting number one for a decade straight?
You know the roster. You know the payroll figures, and you know the competition. You know who, what, where, when and why. You know most everything there is to know, except for this one inexplicable thing.
In heaven's name, how? How did they do it?
I aim to shatter the record for re-phrasing one sentence.
The draft. Number one-ish for like ten years.
The Rays management team approached this thing like the Wall Street investors they once were. They asked a lot of questions, gathered a lot of information and found value where others failed to look.
I haven't read it in a while, but this sounds eerily similar to a line in Moneyball.
When you ask owner Stuart Sternberg to explain the team's philosophy, he politely suggests you're a moron.
"We all want to take something complicated and boil it down to a single concept or phrase or word," he says.
Well, okay, no pithy catchphrase. And there goes your shot at coining a new word like Moneyball.
I think it's because *spoiler alert!!* this pretty much is Moneyball.
It is based not so much on a single theory that must be followed at all costs but rather a handful of precepts the Rays have decided are useful. Lessons learned on Wall Street that have been refined and adapted to baseball.
OK, I am no college English professor here, but my plagiarism sense is tingling. At the very least my mis-representation of a unique idea sense.
• Information is king. Not just numbers — although the Rays hired a programmer to create their own database for high-end statistics — but scouts and others not afraid to offer input or ask questions and higher-ups willing to listen.
• Value vs. cost. The Rays cannot keep up with Boston or New York economically, so they have to separate themselves in other ways. This means getting value in assets that may not be as highly regarded. For instance, instead of making one big splash in free agency, finding several undervalued players (Eric Hinske, Cliff Floyd, Troy Percival) who fit precise roles that need to be filled.
Replace "Rays" with "A's" and this is Moneyball. Maybe I should call Micheal Smith...
Or a shortstop with more range than Derek Jeter
So slightly more than "crappy?"
but $19.5-million a year cheaper.
With a .592 OPS - which is 193 out of 198 players with 250 plate appearances. A.K.A. - fucking awful.
• Emotional detachment. This means not falling in love with a player. Not worrying what critics might say. It may even mean refusing to give up prospects at the trading deadline even when your offense has gone in the pooper and Boston is breathing down your neck.
Ho. Ly. Po. Op. This is Moneyball. Is Smith actually the writer of this article? Beane gets speared for trades initially, only later people are like "We're dumb." Most recently with Dan Haren - first trading for him and then trading him away. Suddenly this is an axiom of the Tampa Bay "Don't Call Me Devil" Rays?
Maybe there really is an identifiable philosophy here. A merging of Dow Jones and Branch Rickey.
Could this be the beginning of Ball Street?
Ohhhhh. This is not Moneyball. This is Ball Street. Let's look at some of the tenets of each:
Moneyball: Target cheap, undervalued players that other teams may have overlooked. Make trades dumb people think are dumb.
Ball Street: Target cheap, undervalued players that other teams may have overlooked. Make trades dumb people think are dumb. Pay Jason Bartlett to post a sub-.600 OPS.
You don't find too many 21-year-olds driving in 90 runs, so Young had an obvious appeal. But the Rays value hitters with a high on-base percentage and hitters who take opposing pitchers deep in the count — that was not Young.
High OBP and taking pitchers deep in the count? Fuckin' Ball Street, son.
Moneyball - Draft well, value high OBP/working counts, make trades regardless of talking heads, fill gaps with cheap players, be cheap but smart, young players are cheap, cheap - be it.
Not-Moneyball - Draft well, value high OBP/working counts, make trades regardless of talking heads, fill gaps with cheap players, be cheap but smart, young players are cheap, cheap - be it. Jason Bartlett is the man.
Nothing to see here.
My best guess? Romano knows and understands Moneyball, like most intelligent baseball people. I bet the Rays owner does too - owning a small market team, I hope he's read it. But to write this "Look at this kickass philosophy I invented!" when it's actually an exisiting one, is kinda shady. Just sayin.
Name drop Smith and Moneyball more than off-handedly and this snarky post never gets written. We cool Romano?