This Is Unacceptable | The Process Report

This Is Unacceptable

I tend to stay away from the local media’s take on the team. The beat writers work hard and we should all be grateful for their commitment, but the columnists rarely appeal to me. They’re designed to provoke thought with the masses whom have no idea people like me exist. That’s fine. There’s room in the world for us all. If those columnists were me, then where would I be? Probably writing about hip hop or something that would marginalize whatever ability I have even more. So I don’t do the whole Fire Joe Morgan act. I used to, but it’s not appealing, positive, or constructive. Let this be the exception.

This being a piece by Martin Fennelly. The entire purpose boils down to fear-mongering and distrust-building of the Rays’ ownership and front office. Admitting that the team’s protagonists are very good and rarely wrong doesn’t appeal to the masses. The saying is that bad news sells. I don’t know about that, but I guess Fennelly believes it. To accept that the Wall Street kids (and their zany tactics of using numbers found outside of newspapers) are smarter and more prepared is unreasonable.

To admit that re-signing Joaquin Benoit (or any middle reliever) for three-years and $5-plus million a season is a bit whacky is unreasonable too. Never mind that the sentiment was unanimous across the channel that matter – which is to say: not people who lack understanding of bullpen volatility. When in need of easy copy, turn to a hit piece. Never mind that the author displays flawed – if not perverted – understanding of … well, everything regarding the Rays.

Ignore the lackadaisical flow, resulting in a nearly unreadable one-sentence per paragraph ratio. Look beyond to the substance. Fennelly seems to think Jason Bartlett is worth $4 million, but that Kelly Shoppach is not worth $3 million next year. Take a second and write down the pros of both players and you’ll realize that their offensive skill sets boil down to hitting lefties and flailing against righties. Bartlett does so with a more-contact orientated approach and Shoppach with more power and walks. I mean:

Shoppach (career) versus LHP: .286/.381/.568
Bartlett (career) versus LHP: .318/.383/.444

Shoppach (career) versus RHP: .213/.301/.378
Bartlett (career) versus RHP: .265/.329/.360

Shoppach gets a “Dawn of the Dead” comparison for his bat, yet Bartlett’s return gets wished upon. The obsession with Bartlett and local writers is truly concerning. When he gets traded – and he’s almost certainly getting traded – I plan on taking a day or week or month off from any form of social media that means I might run into these guys reactions. I get it. He’s a nice guy. He’s got a pretty smile and a firm handshake. Stop trying to make him our Jeter. Stop. It’s insulting.

Fennelly picks and chooses how the Rays have no protection for Evan Longoria by citing Ben Zobrist’s “10 homer” skill set (while ignoring his on-base ability) and dismissing Desmond Jennings as a useful contributor based on the strength of 21 at-bats in September. Like any propagandist worth his weight, Fennelly nary mentions Matt Joyce (25 home runs in 575 MLB plate appearances) or Sean Rodriguez (14 in 594). Fennelly proves a careful assassin to the untrained eye, but one giving away his mission to folks who follow the team closer than the daily newspaper.

The shameful part; the part that makes me question why the masses stand for this, why they don’t dig deeper, is that the entire hatchet job bases its premise around the Benoit signing. It would’ve taken Fennelly 15-20 minutes to do enough research to figure out that most three-plus year deals to relievers end poorly. ESPN provides the contract data in a manner that is easy to digest and sort since 2006. A list of relievers who have signed for at least three years is easily created:

Danys Baez
Miguel Batista
Chad Bradford
Scott Schoeneweis
Justin Speier
Jamie Walker
Francisco Cordero
Scott Linebrink
David Riske
Mariano Rivera
Damaso Marte
Francisco Rodriguez
Javier Lopez

That’s 13 relievers with one being Rivera. Forget FIP or WAR, we can kick it prehistoric with ERA and the results prove the same:

Baez: 112 G, 5.02 ERA with Baltimore
Batista: 133 G, 4.84 ERA with Seattle
Bradford: 125 G, 3.00 ERA with Baltimore
Schoeneweis: 143 G, 4.20 ERA with New York (N)
Speier: 154 G, 4.39 ERA with Anaheim
Walker: 162 G, 4.67 ERA with Baltimore
Cordero: 215 G, 3.13 ERA with Cincinnati
Linebrink: 159 G, 4.28 ERA with Chicago (A)
Riske: 69 G, 5.40 ERA with Milwaukee
Marte: 76 G, 6.02 ERA with New York (A)
Rodriguez: 123 G, 3.02 ERA with New York (N)
Lopez: 172 G, 3.30 ERA with Boston

To recap: that’s four success stories (sub-4 ERA), three disasters (over-5 ERA) and five toeing the line between average and abominable. That’s a 33% success rate and that splits in half between specialists (a LOOGY and ROOGY) and pitchers already considered good closers. That’s it. The others were mostly middle relief and setup men who did a mighty fine job ensuring they would never get a long contract again. I guess if you stretch the acceptable parameters towards 4.5, then you can say it’s closer to a 50/50 gamble, except, that’s really not a safe bet. It’s actually a silly bet for a small market team with in-house options.

Fennelly probably didn’t do that research, which means he doesn’t respect his readers enough to get it right on his own. Hell, he doesn’t respect his readers enough to think they will get it right after doing the legwork. And if he did the research but then ignored it in light of keeping with the attitude displayed in his piece, then not only does he not respect his readers, but he doesn’t respect his integrity. Heaven knows he would’ve jumped on the Rays had they given Benoit this same deal only to see it fail. (For proof of this, just look at the Buster Posey mention. If there’s one thing you shouldn’t do with the Rays, it’s throw stones at their scouting staff, which is phenomenal in every way possible. Hate on the numbers guys, whatever, but the scouts? That’s ridiculous). Fennelly’s aspiration with the Rays is premeditated murder, but the only victim is his credibility.

BONUS: This Tom Jones piece deserves a mention. My favorite three parts:
1) Whining about “stat geeks” while writing a piece where he bemoans folks no longer using win-loss; most sabermetric writers (i.e. “stat geeks”) are more than willing to use on-base percentage, OPS, whatever to make their point. This guy just can’t fathom using another metric. But he’s not a stat geek.

2) Randomly calling Felix Hernandez by the name “Fernandez” not even a paragraph in. Just because he won the Cy Young under premises that you reject does not mean you cannot do him the courtesy of spelling his name correctly.

3) Using the same template that generic sports columnists were using three-to-four years ago. Tom, you’re late. Real late. Step your game up.


  1. rick0024 wrote:

    Thank you RJ! When I read that piece I had exactly the same thoughts. What a journalistically lazy piece of work. The comparison that was particularly grating was Posey vs. Beckham. Did it occur to him that even an ounce of fairness would be to point out to his readers that he was comparing a high school draft pick and a college draft pick? And in my opinion Beckham is more than holding his own considering how young he has played at each level but Fennelly just says “Beckham is struggling in the monors” with no context.

    Back to Benoit…. I’m assuming Valverde will still close for the Tigers next year since he’s signed for 7M and had a good year. Benoit was fantastic this year but 1) He will regress next year no matter who he is pitching for and 2) before this year he had a boatload of serious arm problems. I mean not even the Yankees and Red Sox are paying anything close to 5.5M X 3 yrs for a set up guy! And he thinks the Rays should???? And who’s to say he would even be a good closer since he has a grand total of 9 career saves? ( See Hawkins, LaTroy).

    • Tommy Rancel wrote:

      He also phrased the Benoit thing in such a way that it sounded like the Rays didn’t want to pay him $5 million for just one season. I hear the same arguments about Crawford. “We can pay him $15 million next year.” This is true, but I don’t want to pay 35 year old Crawford $15 million.

  2. Jason Collette wrote:

    They can be as negative as they want to be —- if they have the numbers to back up their positions. Tom Jones is the same dumbass we laugh at at a sportsbar while Fennelly must have had 10 minutes to put something out. This constant bashing by the print and radio media in the market is just as much of a factor against the attendance than the location of the stadium and the economy.

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