What Do You Know, and How Do You Know It?

We've made little secret 'round these parts of our contempt for much of the unsourced, speculative claptrap that passes for journalism on the sports pages of America's large-market dailies. If it's not anonymous sources hinting at a team's interest in any given number of players, it's reporter speculation disguised as reporting.

This latter crime against journalism really gets our goats. And Michael Silverman deserves a first-degree indictment for the swill he offers in this morning's Boston Herald:

The expectation is that the offer is going to easily be a record for this ownership group, a likely eight-year contract worth somewhere between $145 and $175 million, possibly more. …

The annual average value of any potential Teixeira deal with the Red Sox is likely to fall somewhere between $18-22 million a year, although those numbers could be exceeded depending upon just how expertly Teixeira’s agent, Scott Boras, is able to get the teams to bid against each other.

First, there is nothing — absolutely nothing — newsworthy about these tw paragraphs. I could have written them, based solely on my understanding of the situation from reading previous news reports and observing re Red Sox' front office for the past several years.

And if it's simply Silverman speculating based on what he knows, I wouldn't have a problem with that — if he actually told us so. Instead, he couches it in terms that allow us to infer he in fact has a source for this story: "The expectation is" a "likely eight-year contract" that "is likely to fall … between $18-22 million a year."

The specificity is beguiling, as if Silverman is reporting new information. Until you get to this key sentence …

"Neither the Red Sox nor Boras were available for comment yesterday."

… and realize Silverman knows nothing at all, except how to fil space and waste our time — in a piece ironically headlined, "Sheddling light on Mark Teixeira."

24 comments… add one

  • I heard, through some of my sources, that both the Red Sox and the Yankees really would love to have Mark Teixeira for less than 15 million a year.
    The Red Sox are willing to offer 8 years between 100mil – 800bil dollars for his services, while the Yankees are only willing to spend between 100Mil to 500 Bil.
    The Angels have also left me a phone message saying that they would also be willing to pay Teixeira alot of money to play for them.

    walein December 15, 2008, 12:11 pm
  • If Silverman’s piece is to journalism what two-week-old Roman Meal is to meatloaf, this piece by King is what you use when you are out of stale bread and can’t afford sawdust but have a bag of iron filings shaved from a rusted lawnmower blade.

    attackgerbil December 15, 2008, 12:59 pm
  • Why the hell are the Sox about to let Beane sign Furcal for four years and $40 million. Not only would he vastly improve a huge blackhole at shortstop, but he’d shore it up defensively too.
    I have to imagine that Theo is gun shy after the horrible Lugo deal. The difference, of course, is Lugo sucked before he signed having been reduced to a woeful utility guy in LA. Furcal is solid on both sides of the ball – so much so that Beane is about to get a great value – a very good glove, very good plate discipline, decent pop, and good speed.
    I can understand not dropping $200 million on Will Clark 2.0. But $40 million on an all-around average SS, when the alternatives are both decidedly well-below average? That I cannot understand.

    Dave SF December 15, 2008, 2:44 pm
  • Why the hell are the Sox about to let Beane sign Furcal for four years and $40 million. Not only would he vastly improve a huge blackhole at shortstop, but he’d shore it up defensively too.
    I have to imagine that Theo is gun shy after the horrible Lugo deal. The difference, of course, is Lugo sucked before he signed having been reduced to a woeful utility guy in LA. Furcal is solid on both sides of the ball – so much so that Beane is about to get a great value – a very good glove, very good plate discipline, decent pop, and good speed.
    I can understand not dropping $200 million on Will Clark 2.0. But $40 million on an all-around average SS, when the alternatives are both decidedly well-below average? That I cannot understand.

    Dave SF December 15, 2008, 2:50 pm
  • The OC Register is reporting the Red Sox just made an offer of 200 mil to Tex. It’s not confirmed by any other sources, so it may not be true.

    Atheose December 15, 2008, 3:20 pm
  • The OC Register is reporting the Red Sox just made an offer of 200 mil to Tex..
    I have my doubts, but that’s a HUGE contract.
    I think Theo has to have something else in mind for Lowell if this is the case, which again, I doubt.

    Brad December 15, 2008, 3:25 pm
  • SS is Jed Lowrie’s job to lose.

    Paul SF December 15, 2008, 3:26 pm
  • The O.C. Register is quoting Dan Patrick’s radio show, and that’s always an iffy proposition: Was Patrick reporting something, or was he speculating and riffing off that speculation? The newspaper does not make it clear.

    Paul SF December 15, 2008, 3:29 pm
  • As I thought, a listener disputes the Register’s report and says Patrick was speaking hypothetically:
    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2008/12/red-sox-made-20.html

    Paul SF December 15, 2008, 3:41 pm
  • Except Lowrie has no range and is a below average bat. When they realize he can’t hack it, maybe they can acquire Bobby Crosby!
    Beane knows what he’s doing. Unfortunately I have little doubt that the Sox are more prepared to offer $200 million to Will Clark.
    Why? They already have a better lineup than the Yankees at five positions (LF, RF, DH, 1B, 2B). Shoring up SS would make them that much stronger overall with better defense and speed. That’s how you win pitching matchups.

    Dave SF December 15, 2008, 5:07 pm
  • I have conceptual reservations about the scorecard-by-position methodology Dave. It’s basically meaningless, especially if it’s 5-4, when the polarity hinges on 1 player. The better lineup is determined by overall performance of the 9, plus subs. The straight comparison makes no room for relative value within the individual positions.

    YF December 15, 2008, 5:36 pm
  • I have a hard time imagining Theo or Cash sitting down with their advisers with little spreadsheets comparing Boston and Yankee players, position-by-position, deciding where to upgrade based on the deficiency between their team and the other.
    You create the best team you can with the resources you have. You don’t build your team just to beat another team you only play 18 times a year.

    AndrewYF December 15, 2008, 7:06 pm
  • Except Lowrie has no range and is a below average bat.
    Lowrie UZR, 2008: 7.7
    League average: 0.0
    Furcal, 2007: 0.3
    Furcal, 2008: -11.6
    Furcal, career (SS only): -3.4
    Lowrie PMR, 2008: 104.23
    League average: 100.0
    Furcal, 2007: 106.23
    Furcal, 2008: N/A
    Lowrie RngF/9, 2008 (SS only): 3.61
    League average RgF/9 (SS only): 4.39
    Furcal, 2007: 4.96
    Furcal, 2008: 4.20
    Furcal, career: 4.86
    So Furcal may have better range than Lowrie (PMR and Range Factor) but is not necessarily a better defender (UZR). The statement that Lowrie has “no range” is patently untrue, as Lowrie was ranked one of the top five shortstops in the AL by PMR, which measures only range.
    Lowrie OPS+, 2008: 90
    MLB average for SS: 92
    Furcal OPS+, 2008 (143 AB): 164
    Furcal OPS+, 2007: 76
    Furcal career: 96
    So Lowrie is not a below-average bat relative to his position, but is actually an average bat — when he has a broken wrist, as he did for much of the season. Furcal, meanwhile blew away his career-high OPS+ of 107 in a whopping 143 at bats, this coming off a meager 76 OPS+, never minding he’ll be transferring from the NL West to the AL East. For his career, Furcal is a whopping six OPS+ points better with the bat than Lowrie was in 2008 — with a broken wrist.
    Oh, and Lowrie will cost the league minimum. Furcal will cost $10 million, plus the millions the Sox will likely have to eat to dump Julio Lugo — or the full $9 million they are likely going to have to pay him anyway to be a supersub.
    So a question: Are you seriously advocating the Red Sox pay $19 million for Furcal and Lugo to man shortstop with no improvement in the middle of the lineup instead of paying $29.4 million for Texeira, Lowrie and Lugo? (And don’t forget the Tex scenario involves the Sox likely finding a suitor who pays at least some of Mike Lowell’s contract, so the gap is probably even smaller than that).
    Unfortunately I have little doubt that the Sox are more prepared to offer $200 million to Will Clark Mark Teixeira.
    Fixed.

    Paul SF December 15, 2008, 9:18 pm
  • Are 49 games at SS really enough to draw these types of conclusions from for the evaluation of Lowrie’s defense? Seems like a pretty small sample to me.

    Sam-YF December 16, 2008, 12:46 am
  • It is a small sample, but it’s what we’ve got. His ML performance gave no indication he couldn’t handle the job.

    Paul SF December 16, 2008, 9:49 am
  • Apparently the Sox offered Tex 8 years.
    Here’s hoping for the next Todd Helton!

    AndrewYF December 16, 2008, 10:10 am
  • Paul- I realize its what we got but I think its important to note when making the comparison. Players most certainly go through hot and cold streaks in the field too….

    Sam-YF December 16, 2008, 10:49 am
  • If Teixeira posts OPS+ of 165, 165, 144, 117, 133 and 100 in the first six years of the contract, you won’t hear me complaining. If he’s on the Sox, of course.

    Paul SF December 16, 2008, 10:59 am
  • Well, I take that back. A 100 OPS+ is pretty low. I’d bet Teixeira doesn’t reach 165 but also doesn’t hit 100. I made a post about it to continue the discussion up top.
    Fair enough, Sam, on the defensive measures. But the numbers clearly refute as far as they can the idea that Lowrie has “no range,” a statement that’s wholly unsupported by both data and observation of any sample size.

    Paul SF December 16, 2008, 11:15 am
  • Yeah, I don’t get what’s up with all the Helton-hating around here. He was injured last season (which explains the league-average offense) but he’s still been extremely good, as Paul indicates.

    Atheose December 16, 2008, 11:27 am
  • That isn’t all we have for Lowrie, we have what scouts have seen in him for years – a guy who wouldn’t hit enough to make up for his glove. If they had seen otherwise, he would have been up much sooner. Lowrie has always been seen as a tweener – a guy who wouldn’t hit enough for 3B and couldn’t field enough for SS. He could be a fine 2B, but that position is sorta filled on the Sox.
    And that fact belies the real point: Theo isn’t handing Lowrie any such job. He still has Lugo signed. And Lugo will get significant playing time. I hope Lowrie will hit enough to make up for his glove, but I don’t see it happening. Scouts, clearly in the know, haven’t for years. Lowrie is a fine utility guy, and better in the role than Lugo. But over the long run at SS he’ll hurt the team’s defense without adding enough on the offensive side.
    *********************
    Andrew – Teixeira is Helton without Coors:
    Teixeira – Career Road: .273 .368 .502
    Helton – Career Road: .294 .394 .494
    Overall though Will Clark fits so much better. Who signing up to pay him $20 million/year and for eight years at that?

    Dave SF December 16, 2008, 11:27 am
  • Ok dAve, I’ll bite.
    Scouts in fact were mixed through the past two yeears. SOME thought he wouldn’t be able to stick at shortstop. OTHERS thought he had grown into the position in the minors. So, given the mixed reports, the Sox tried him out when Lugo went down (not that they had a choice). And guesss what? Lowrie exhibited excellent range and a fine arm. In fact, the only person — scout or otherwise — I’ve heard question Lowrie’s defense since his call-up is you.
    Meanwhile, Lugo can either be traded or be a supersub, backing up Lowrie, Pedroia, play some outfield, whatever the Sox need. It was a bad contract, and one the Sox likely won’t be able to get rid of. Oh well. But I’d rather Lugo and his contract be backing up Lowrie, who is young and makes $400,000, than Furcal, who is aging and will make $10 million.

    Paul SF December 16, 2008, 11:35 am
  • If they had seen otherwise, he would have been up much sooner.
    He’s only 24, which is about the time most players break into the bigs. He spent a full year at A- (.877 OPS), a year at A+ (.726), and a year at AA/AAA (.896).
    Also, can you tell us what scouts you’re hearing this from? The most I’ve heard is that some scouts are worried he won’t produce offensively, but that they remain confident that he’ll be an impact player.
    Regarding the Home/Road splits, many great players have that discrepancy–Frank Thomas for instance. Also, if you want to take a closer look at Teixeira’s road numbers:
    2008: .286 .391 .509 (.900 OPS)
    2007: .300 .405 .565 (.970)
    2006: .298 .406 .577 (.983)
    2005: .270 .349 .459 (.809)
    2004: .264 .343 .550 (.893)
    2003: .217 .303 .343 (.646)
    So really, his road numbers are weighted down by his first few seasons–he’s been very good in the last 3 years. Hell, in 2006 his OPS was better on the road (.983) than at home (.791), and that was during a year where he spent the majority of his time in the hitter-friendly ballpark in Arlington! So spare us the “OMG road numbers!” argument please.

    Atheose December 16, 2008, 11:46 am
  • Thanks, Ath. Also, Fenway’s not a bad hitter’s park either, from what I hear.

    Paul SF December 16, 2008, 11:50 am

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