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Friday, November 12, 2004

The Religion Of Veteran Presence

The meaning of religious freedom, I fear, is sometimes greatly misapprehended. It is taken to be a sort of immunity, not merely from governmental control but also from public opinion. A dunderhead gets himself a long-tailed coat, rises behind the sacred desk, and emits such bilge as would gag a Hottentot. Is it to pass unchallenged? If so, then what we have is not religious freedom at all, but the most intolerable and outrageous variety of religious despotism. Any fool, once he is admitted to holy orders, becomes infallible. Any half-wit, by the simple device of ascribing his delusions to revelation, takes on an authority that is denied to all the rest of us.
-- H. L. Mencken, "Aftermath" (of the Scopes trial)
I dug that up after the day's discovery that disciples of Lysenkoism had grabbed hold of a school board in the Pennsylvania outback, the savants thereupon decreeing Intelligent Design as fit for propagation as those explanations proffered by Darwin and his intellectual descendants. How different is it, really, from the way most baseball teams are operated? Not very, I would gather. They have their insane prejudices, and nine-tenths of them are the surest bilge. Every year -- every day, it seems, now that we languish in the offseason -- we hear of some absurd trade, the baseball equivalent of giving out a twenty for two ones.

Lo: gasp with delayed amazement at the discovery the Cubs had signed Neifi Perez (or at Cub Reporter, if you like). Think about it: what kind of insanity causes a team to spend a million dollars on a player who hasn't had a full-season OBP over .300 in three years, and that when he played in the Valhalla known as Coors Field! Months ago, Cubs fans supposed Hendry a smart man for nabbing Nomar. Wait Til Next Year even published a long article extolling how good Hendry has been (at the time of writing, about the time of the seemingly-miraculous Nomar acquisition, about 58 Win Shares). So why do you sign a Neifi Perez, who is a -5 WSAA/9.4 VORP player -- clearly fringe, by either metric -- to a contract that large?

No wonder Cub fans worry Hendry might make a trade with DePodesta:

For no reason in particular, I worry about the Cubs trading with a GM like DePodesta. I really shouldn’t feel this way, since even a smart GM can make a good trade that doesn’t work out: DePo was right, for example, to trade Lo Duca and Mota, but it didn’t work out in the end... at least for the 2004 season. That said, I just think the chance that the Cubs get the short end of the stick may be higher in dealing with a smarty-pants guy like DePodesta.
With a bench -- so far -- consisting of Neifi Perez, Jose Macias, and Jason Dubois, they have reason to fear. But perhaps I have charged Hendry too much with being a kind of baseball witch doctor. Perhaps the actual cleric is Dusty Baker. Well, does it matter who wears the robes if the liturgy is the same?
Coda: I realize the Cubs aren't the only team so afflicted. In Kansas City, where they can't even spell the name of the minor leaguer acquired for Carlos Beltran, we read earlier of the Royals trading for Darrell May and Ryan Bukvich. How bad this trade is depends on what metric you use:
Player             VORP  WSAA
=============================
Ryan Bukvich        2.1    1
Darrell May        -1.2   -6
Dennis Tankersley  -2.6   -5
Terrence Long      12.3   -3
Make no mistake, this is a trade of players now on the scrap heap; the only difference is that Long might make actual coin at some point (though little from the Royals, thanks to an offsetting infusion of cash). One of the reasons KC picked up Long, Allard Baird said, was because "he's been on winners."

Veteran presence. Again.

But -- enough. It's time we all started up manufacturing our own trades, or at least, rumors of trades. Leone For Third shows us how, with a handy template; the example is this finished product:

In search of a new left fielder to replace free agent Moises Alou, the Cubs have inquired as to the availability of Anaheim outfielder Jose Guillen. The Angels – who could then move Darin Erstad back to the outfield to make room for hot prospect Casey Kotchman – are looking to address a weakness by adding some young pitching, and could ask for AA pitcher Bobby Brownlie in return.
There now, wasn't that easy?

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