Goatriders of the Apocalypse

On Big Game Players and Leadership

Rob has stirred the pot, again, regarding this time-and-true issue, and I'm glad.  I'd been wanting to write something about this anyway.  But before I jump into it, I'd just like to preface this post with a comment directed to Sman, who recently complained over having an article written in direct response -- and contradiction -- to an opinion of his.

Sman, I'm about to rebuke Rob, a co-writer on this site, a man who has been cheering for the Cubs for at least a full decade before I was even born (and two full decades before I became a fan myself), a man with more experience and knowledge than I can ever hope to accumulate.  If I can disagree with Rob with him being man enough not to get offended or angry, then I'm sure you are man enough to be disagreed with by Sayers or myself, or anyone else on this blog, without taking -- or making -- it personal.

What I don't think Rob gets is that, while players can certainly have a negative impact on team play and chemistry through bad attitudes (see Major League Baseball's very own Kanye West, aka Bradley, Milton), they are rare.  Besides that, "leadership," "big game players," and all that stuff is, for the most part, complete and total crap.

On one hand, you've got a guy like Alex Rodriguez.  A-Rod was the poster child for the "big game loser," who lacked leadership, who couldn't buy a win with a thousand dollar bill.  Then you've got guys like Derek Jeter, whose game presence probably sells as many MLB tickets as anybody else in the game -- including Pujols -- who is Mr. November, the team captain of the Yankees, a man who has victory know-how ingrained in his soul.  You want a sure-fire winner to elevate your team in the playoffs?  Get Jeter!

But apparently, A-Rod's presence on the Yankees was evidence that he was incapable of winning, because they just didn't win with him for a long-ass time.  But -- but -- I thought Jeter was a winner and his leadership was elevating!  Is A-Rod leadership kryptonite?  Or is it just a huge honking load of B.S.?

Same deal with Kevin Tapani.  In 1998, Tapani won something like 19 games for the Cubs while posting an ERA of 4.85.  Fans touted him as being a Superior Pitcher, because he quite clearly Knows How to Win.  The following season, he dropped his ERA to 4.83, and his record went from 19-9 to 6-12.  Then, in 2000, he went 8-12.  Then, in '01, he went 9-14.  What the hell happened?  Did he just suddenly FORGET how to win one day?

The point is, Rob is calling out Lee for lacking the intangibles that the Cubs apparently need in order to win.  Lee should be the leader, I guess.  He should get the game-winning hits more often, he should be more vocal in the clubhouse, I dunno, he should do something or else he isn't worth his roster spot and his production is valueless. 

Or maybe he does exactly what he needs to do, and he fills an important role in the clubhouse, and he hits well for a guy his age with his injury history, but the Cubs are hurting in so many other areas that it just doesn't matter.  Because I'm telling you now, you could dumbo-drop Derek Jeter In His Prime onto the worst Cub team in the last 10 years (the '06 model, maybe?) and it would only make a difference of 6 games -- or maybe 10 at the most. 

Rob, I get it, you want the Cubs to have something they've been missing for a long ass while, but it isn't the lack of the Leader's Winning Attitude that has kept the Cubs out of the World Series.  It's been the inability of the players to execute when necessary, it's been their flawed fundamentals, and it's been their poorly constructed roster composition.  Plain and simple.  It's not Derrek Lee's fault.  The blame rests on Jim Hendry.

Oh, and by the way?  That guy, A-Rod, who couldn't be a Winner?  World Series MVP last year.  You can't pass judgment on how somebody will do in the playoffs based on their past experience there.  And that is, without possibility of refute, the truth.

ws MVP?

which 2009 world series did you watch? the one that aired in seattle featured world series MVP hideki matsui. and that's the truth.

Good point. You are correct.

Good point. You are correct. Nevertheless, Mr. Anti-Clutch batted .365 in last year's playoffs, with 6 homers and 18 RBI, including 6 ribbies in the Series.





There is blame to go around for the 2010 Cubs. Hendry, Lou, Lee, Ramirez, Zambrano, Grabow, Dempster, Soriano...oh, Soriano..no accountability. No consequences. No truth, either.

I do just want someone to step up and GET IT for a change. Marlon Byrd is trying, but he doesn't really have the weight.

I'm just sick of Lee, is all.

But if there's one guy in a

But if there's one guy in a Cubs uniform who's done nothing in his life to warrant us feeling sick toward him, it's Lee. He's pretty much the only Cub star in recent memory who wasn't somehow tragically flawed. Just accept him, rename him Derrek Everyman, and focus in on the flailing pud that is Aramis Ramirez.

Frankly, this team is filled

Frankly, this team is filled with hard to hate players. I'd take a major red-ass or two on this team that don't wilt under the weight of Cubs lore. I love Derrek Lee, and I love A-Ram, but both of them wilt under the pressure at this point. They'll come through from time to time (Ramirez more so), but there's not one man on this team who screams jump on my shoulders, I'll carry you. Winners have that, the Cubs...not so much. Soriano does that sometimes during the regular season. Z used to do it at times, but not for a long time. Neither did it when it counted. The two playoff appearances (and disappearances) were evidence of that.

If the "man behind the

If the "man behind the curtain" is the "second head" you follow the Cubs with ...

I'm tryin', dude. I'm tryin' like hell not to pay attention to it.


Good post that I agree with almost, actually forget the almost, 100%. Players go out on the field and perform. That is there job. If variance smiles nicely at them, they perform at times that result in game winning hits or key playoff wins. If it doesn't, they get labeled "Anti Clutch". I don't believe there are such things as clutch players or Anti Clutch Players. I think that except for rare circumstances (cough cough Milton, cough cough Bradley) most hitters can be defined clutch or anti clutch the same as defined good or bad. Derrek Lee is a clutch hitter. Koyie Hill is not. End of story.

Nice post Kurt. If the Cubs

Nice post Kurt. If the Cubs were to DFA Lee before tonight's game my feelings wouldn't be hurt at all (although I would yell out-loud that Hendry had just sunk to new levels of dumb-f#$ery for not being able to pull off a trade for at least a rookie-league player). Your ending point that Hendry is nearly solely to blame for the mess the franchise is in is correct. Last week I posted my list of ten moves that I think Tom Ricketts needs to make right now and firing Hendry was at the top of the list. I think Hendry, at least in the first two or three years of his GM tenure, has done a decent job. But now, it's time for him to move on. I don't want him naming Lou's replacement this winter and I damn sure don't want him to continue his history of over-valuing players and mindlessly loading each contract with no-trade clauses.
Lee can produce, not produce, or ride the bench until hell freezes over; but until Jim Hendry is removed as general manager of the Cubs, the organization will not truly take the correct steps toward building a contender.

okay, so once more...

"I'm sure you are man enough to be disagreed with by Sayers or myself, or anyone else on this blog, without taking -- or making -- it personal."

Don’t tell me man, that is exactly what Sayers did, and seems to have issues with… But anyway, forget it – I’ll just provide a post of my own. If you wanna make a blog topic out of this, feel free! Its informative...

A closer look at an old friend:

The other day blogger Sayers provided a post focusing on one minor hypothetical portion of my reasons not to offer Derrek Lee arbitration. He apparently didn’t like having anyone question him or Lee, so he responded aggressively, dismissively and sarcastically with a Pro-Lee article - something apparently posters here are not to question. But oh well, moving past that... The bases of this article, other then trying to attack me, was this:

May 16, 2009 – 615 OPS
May 16, 2010 – 698 OPS

This he claimed was proof that Lee cant actually be in a decline year; and he felt so strong about his so called evidence that he ended the post with “yeah, he's done /sarcasm”

But my question; did he even think about what he was saying, or was he merely looking for anything he can grasp onto for comfort?

First and foremost we should probably go back and revisit the start of 2009. Most of us will likely be able to remember that Lee was hurt early last season. Sayers’s argument is actually based off a time period which saw Lee play just 27 games, most of which where he was complaining of neck problems. Compare that to the 39 this year over the same time and you probably realize that is significant. In fact, it’s a 60 PA difference; roughly 35% fewer hitting opportunities.

Now getting past the fact that he wants us to compare a hurt Lee to the one who claims to be perfectly fine, let’s see what the stats actually say

2009 - .189/.253/.284/.537 his first 19 games, covering all of April
2009 - .314/.400/.629/1.029 the next 9 which covered up till today’s date
But how about this year?
2010 - .227/.370/.424/.795 – his first 19 games
2010 - .230/.292/.287/.579 – the next 21, leading up to today

Or maybe we should look at the same amount of games played since Lee did miss time and all
2009 - .253/.331/.438/.770 – Lee’s line after 39 Games (166 PA)
2010 - .229/.328/.346/.674 – Lee after first 39 Games (177 PA)

Clearly those stats just don’t match, at all, no matter which way you split them. Lee stated okay this season before tanking completely, a tailspin he cant seem to pull himself out of. This is a sharp contrast to the hurt Lee who turned it on after merely a poor opening 19 games to start the 2010 season.

Looking deeper.
2009 after 39 - .274 BAbip, .253 BA
2009 till today - .256 BAbip, .229 BA
2010 after 39 - .270 BAbip, .229 BA
So, he actually had worse luck last season to this point. And after 39 games we see they are roughly the same, yet 2009 shows much, much better results.

2009 after 39– 185 ISO (now that is some serious power!)
2009 till todays date – 165 ISO (again, above average power)
2010 after 39 – 117 ISO (approaching replacement level here)
Well, Lee had an absolutely gigantic power advantage last season as well.

Then we have this:
2009 – 2.66 Run above average value per 100 Fastballs seen
2010 – (-)1.03 Runs AA per 100 Fastballs

2009 – 3.37 RAA per 100 against Cutters
2010 – (-)1.80 RAA per 100 Cutter

2009 – 1.37 RAA per 100 Changeup’s
2010 – (-)2.01 RAA per 100 CH

2009 – (-0.46) RAA per Curve
2010 – 1.44 RAA per Curve
(with everything else being within range of average.)

The only thing he has really hit this season is the Curveball, and he has seen extreme drops from last years marks.

Honestly, I am getting to the point that I felt much better about Lee’s chances to turn it around before Sayers and his loving post…

Now all of this, of course, was brought up because of the age in which so many players fall off a cliff. Some apparently feel as though Lee won’t get old, or can’t possibly decline. But well all know that is impossible - Lee will watch his career come to an end and in all likelihood, much sooner then later. 125+ years of the game tells us that. See, that’s the thing, all of Lee’s comparable hitters on his B-R page were done between the ages of 34-36. But it’s not even really just about that; in the history of the game the biggest drop off of a players ability is seen between the ages of 34-36. A player hitting a wall over those age ranges is the normal, not the exception. So we know that Lee being 34 years old this season is a possibility to see dramatic drops in production. In fact, possibly so bad that it means he is out of the game in the next 2-3 years – like his comparables.

All of that of course doesn’t mean Lee is done, and I don’t think anyone even really feels that is completely the case. But he also very well could be, and it’s something we have to leave as a possibility whether we want to believe it or not.

And the really sad thing? Sayers couldn’t handle my saying “if” he hits for a .700-.750 OPS. Well, the thing there is this – if he hits .275 with an 800 OPS the rest of the way, he will be pushing that 750 range. That’s still a well above average hitter, and I don’t really understand why one would meet that with aggressiveness and sarcasm. In fact, he only posted a 823 OPS in 2008, and didn’t have an OPS over 800 in any single month that year outside of April (apparently he missed the “slow starter” memo that season… as well as 2007… and 2006… and 2005 – shoot, April has been his best month most of his time with the Cubs). But oh well, I guess an inability to accept even a realistic outcome is one of the side effects of unbridled man-love and the denial it creates…

I think you're missing the

I think you're missing the point here. From your first condescending response to Sayers' article the other day, which began with "Boy, you love taking snippets of things out of context and try to go off on optimistic tangent, don't you?" to your eventual descent into calling him a "condescending, argumentative bitch," which is nothing compared to the constant "bitch's," "shits," and so-on that you eventually spewed, you weren't acting as if you could handle dissent.

When asked to tone it down, your explanation was that he basically was "calling me out, claiming I was saying something I didn't really ever say and acting like me and the things I did say should be dismissed even though basically my entire argument was never even attempted to be addressed."

My point, again, is that this is the internet. And even if I didn't compare Allen's remarks to you (or his post on a topic your comments inspired) with the SOP that we often encounter on the net, I'd be surprised and maybe a little disappointed by the inappropriateness of your response.

Can't you just say "you're right, I totally overreacted, he misinterpreted what I said but I should not have been so hostile. I'm sorry"? Instead I've been subjected to several "he had it coming" statements and, quite frankly, defensive rants.

I don't care if you disagree with him, but you aren't going to convince everybody -- or even most people -- no matter how vehemently you argue it. And, really, it doesn't bug me that you two disagree. So stop trying to justify why you two disagree. Just, I dunno, maybe disagree a little less condescendingly in the future?

(and before you respond with your own comments about how condescending Sayers was, believe me, I don't have a pony in this fight. I've read his remarks, I've read yours. He stayed on point, he focused on the facts in dispute, and he only said "don't be a jerk" to you after you'd already established three responses toward his comments that were, I can't emphasize this enough, condescending from the first sentence of the first post. You've got me feeling like Maniac MaGee, hanging from the rafters of the stage yelling "JUST TALK, WILLYA?")

Hi Sman

How about we bury this, eh? Here's what we disagree about:

A) I think Lee is still good, you think he's in decline. Big whoop.

B) I think that if Lee is still good, the Cubs would be smart to offer him arbitration, you say that even a good Lee is not worth arbitration. Once again, big whoop.

We disagree. I used your post in a comment section to make a point. Heck, I didn't even mention you in the original post. And yeah, maybe I got a little heated as the argument got heated to which, if you'd like, I'll apologize.

I haven't changed my mind....

See, there's a difference

There is a difference between telling a GROUP of people that they are no-knowledge Chads who still long for the loving embrace of their rush chairman, and telling someone specifically, by name, the same thing.

Say, hypothetically, that someone like Sayers40 says something that totally pisses me off. What I do is: assume that there is a whole group of people out there who thinks pretty much as he does; form this virtual group of butthawks in my head; and address them as if they exist. (Which is most likely true...if I can find one Lee-Lover who knows how to use his Mozilla, there are 100 others who do not know how to use theirs).

I have found it less slanderous to address this virtual "group" of LeeLovers, and hurl my abuse at it, than to specifically hurl the same haterade at the particular person. Not only does it avoid pissing matches such as this, but actually you end up speaking to a larger audience that can no doubt benefit from your wise counsel.

If anyone has a problem grasping that concept, e-mail me at ribeyerob@yahoo.com and I can further clarify.

Otherwise, cut out the personal shit, or we'll ban yer silly ass.

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