Murray ChASS has Amnesia

Mr. Chass can’t even remember the dreck he wrote less than a month ago.

July 2nd:

When it comes to defense, the Red Sox are taking this ”Moneyball” thing too far. ”Moneyball” is the book by Michael Lewis that serves as the bible of the attempt by Billy Beane, general manager of the Oakland Athletics, to reinvent baseball. One of the problems with the Red Sox is they seem to want to follow the Athletics down the path of reinvention. In the grand scheme of reinvention, defense is a low priority. That view is emphasized in Lewis’s book by his use of previously written comments by Bill James, the statistical guru, who has a low opinion of existing defensive statistics. ”The statistics were not merely inadequate; they lied,” Lewis writes, discussing James’s view. Teams, Lewis went on, ”believed they could judge a player’s performance simply by watching it. In this, James argued, they were deeply mistaken.” Finally, Lewis writes, ”the naked eye was an inadequate tool for learning what you need to know to evaluate baseball players and baseball games.” James now serves the Red Sox as senior baseball operations advisor. One can only wonder if he was watching his employer’s players bumble their way through the four games the Red Sox played before last night…Presumably they saw with their naked eyes the inadequacy of their fielders’ ability.


When that difference failed to develop, the Red Sox jettisoned Nomar Garciaparra, who once had been the soul of their team, and replaced him at shortstop with Orlando Cabrera…They also added first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz and outfielder Dave Roberts in an effort to upgrade the worst defense in the major leagues. Belatedly, perhaps too late, the Red Sox discovered that catching the ball does help…The Red Sox fortified themselves, not for a run at the Yankees for the division lead, but for a desperate attempt at gaining the wild-card slot in the A.L. playoffs.

“Desperate attempt”? To make up 1/2 a game? In what sports universe is making a trade with 55 games to go when you need to make up a mere 1/2 game “too late”? I am so tired of paying the New York Times for Chass’ garbage. He should be working for FOX News, the guy is so abjectly biased and without knowledge or self-awareness. He’d fit perfectly in a lineup, right behind Sean Hannity or Bill O’Reilly.

So how about a column praising Epstein and the Sox for addressing the exact problems you pinpointed as potentially fatal, with nearly two months to go in the season, Murray? How about a column explaining that Epstein admitted that the Sox had NO CHANCE with the defense they had and dealt with issue pretty fearlessly, Murray? Instead, your tired pen demeans the Red Sox with petty, nasty insults.

Pathetic, lame stuff.


3 comments… add one
  • Didn’t Chass just get selected for the HOF as well?? Ugh. A SF

    Jem Bennet Loftus August 3, 2004, 3:17 pm
  • I’m not in such a hurry to totally dismiss Chass, this year’s Spink winner, but one thing I am sick of—and it’s not just Chass who’s guilty of this—is the constant misrepresentation of the ideas described in Moneyball and so often inaccurately portrayed as “Moneyball tactics,” (not to mention the concomittant attacks on Bill James, the game’s most distinguished historian and innovative thinker). Michael Lewis addressed this recently in a rather combative follow up piece to the book in the Times.
    In any event, let’s clear something up right here: the James/Beane “system,” to the extent that one can be said to exist, calls for an evaluation of a player’s production (including defense) within the economic structure of MLB.
    And the simple fact is that the revolution in defensive statistics has shed tremendous light on who the best defensive players are and just how amazingly valuable they can be to a team. If anything, they’ve increased the attention paid to defensive ability.
    Too say the Red Sox are bad because of sabermetrics is like saying that the economy is bad because of calculus. More knowledge is a good thing, but it doesn’t guarantee good results.

    YF August 3, 2004, 3:22 pm
  • And another thing. Murray Chass might actually want to check the stat page before he starts attacking the “Moneyballers” for not valuing defense. (And Jim Kaat, who’s making the same arguments as I write on WCBS, should join him). Guess which teams are first and second in the AL in defense by nearly every metric? Answer: Oakland and Toronto. Who’s number one in the NL? LA.
    So, of the four putative “Moneyball” teams, two are leading their leagues, and one is second. So can we please stop all of this bullshit about “Moneyball” teams not valuing defense.
    And even more to the point, Oakland and LA are both division leaders, and the Sox are .5 games back in the WC race. So maybe all that math is helping, not hurting.

    YF August 3, 2004, 7:58 pm

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