Thursday, April 17, 2008

News bits and Required Reading

I'm watching the Cubs and Reds right now on WGN, and commentator Len Kasper mentioned a breaking baseball story that caught my attention immediately. So I went online to check it out, and there it was: Tejada admits to being two years older than he had said. Miguel Tejada, whose birthday has always been listed as May 25, 1976, admitted that he was actually born May 25, 1974. Tejada's admission came just as ESPN was about to air a special with evidence exposing Tejada's real birthday.
First of all, what does this mean? It's bad news, any way you slice it. Astros GM Ed Wade said, ""Fact of the matter is that he plays like he's 25, so I don't think it really matters a whole lot." Well, Ed Wade might actually be dumb enough to believe that, but in reality, there's a huge difference in baseball between age 32 and age 34. The Astros owe Tejada $13 million dollars over the next two seasons, plus $4 million in deferred payments on his signing bonus. Tejada doesn't turn 34 until May, but that still means that the Astros are committing big money to a mid-30s player who can no longer play a key defensive position. And for a team whose best case scenario is 4th place, that's absolutely unacceptable. I wasn't such a fan of the Tejada trade when it happened, and now I think it's a terrible idea.
But could the Astros have known about the lie? Yes. In fact, they could have found out so easily, that it's a joke that no one figured this out sooner. Tejada's real birth date was on his green card and his driver's license! I guess the real culprits here are the Orioles, who signed Tejada to the contract in the first place. Before investing so much money in a player, I would run some background to make sure he was really as young as he claimed. And it seems like the most cursory of background checks would have revealed Tejada's real age.
I'm sure there will be more people, like Ed Wade, who just say, "Hey, he's a good player, and that's all that matters." That's a load of crap. With a baseball player -- any baseball player -- you can't predict the future. The only thing you can do is come up with a rough forecast based on a player's basica ttributes, with age being #1 among them. Many people think of baseball players as absolutely unique; like snowflakes. But in reality, it's very easy to make broad estimates of a player's future performance based on a few select criteria. And age is at the top of the list. A player's skills get worse as he gets older, and the closer you get to 40, the faster the decline occurs. You may not want to take such a dim view of Tejada's future, but I'm afraid that everything we know about baseball leads us to a fairly simple conclusion: players get worse as they get older, and every year -- especially every two years -- makes a difference.

  • The blog Florida Marlins Finances takes a close look at the financial records of the team and comes to a pretty strong conclusion: the team isn't nearly as bad off as they would like you to believe.
  • Former major leaguer Doug Glanville wrote this piece for the New York Times. You don't find many ballplayers who are this articulate.
  • These pictures of Hideki Okajima's delivery are fascinating -- unless human contortionists make you sick.
  • I love this t-shirt for many, many reasons.
Back soon, with words for the eternally grumpy Murray Chass.

1 comment:

t ball said...

Marlins. Cheap bastards. Baseball does not need a salary cap, it needs a salary floor or some way to make sure teams are actually using their revenue sharing dollars. This stuff has been posted and talked about here and there, but it's not being talked about nearly enough.