GUEST POST: “Are We There Yet?” by Eric Raffle (with a Brief Side Trip Into the Mind of Bill James)

We’re sending a pinch-hitter up to the plate today. Here at “2 Guys,” we’re happy to provide a platform for the occasional guest blogger, especially one like Eric, who through his readership and comments has become part of the gated, prestigious “2 Guys” community. If you’re interested, please write to us at talkingmets@aol.com, tell us what you’d like to write about, and we’ll figure something out.

571202Editor’s Note: I’ve been idly reading The Mind of Bill James: How a Complete Outsider Changed Baseball, by Scott Gray. James was, and is, a piece of work — a “maverick” before Sarah Palin came along to take ownership of the word. When his Abstracts first made it to a big publishing house, these on the production end soon realized that dealing with James would be difficult.

For example, a young copy editor queried Bill James about “inconsistencies” in the manuscript. The author sent along a lengthy reply. I share it here by way of introducing readers to the singular writing style featured in today’s GUEST POST, as well as for using any excuse to talk about brilliant, egocentric, maddening Bill James.

James wrote (note: I deleted passages, indicated by <snip> for space):

“I have a special problem with copy editors, which is that I am very strongly opposed to consistency in use of the language. I understand that this is unusual. I understand that I am a minority, and that most people think (actually, most people simply ASSUME, without thinking about it) that consistency in use of the language is preferable to inconsistency. It isn’t. Inconsistency is vastly preferable to consistency, for many reasons. This is not a casual observation; it is a strongly held philosophy, central to my career.

<snip>

You need to understand:

1. I have very good reasons for doing things the way I do them.

2. My name is on the book; the copy editor’s name isn’t.

3. I know vastly more about the effective use of the English language that the copy editor does.

So . . . I don’t want any bleeping policies.

<snip>

My policy is: I wrote it that way for a reason, leave it alone. And I don’t have time to go through the book line by line explaining to some college journalism student why I did everything the way I did it. Leave it alone.

Consistency is boring. Inconsistency is interesting.

Inconsistency challenges the reader.

Inconsistency draws criticism. Criticism is valuable. The more criticism you attract, the more you irritate people, the more you puzzle people, the more successful you will be.

James, of course, ever the iconoclast, could be impossible, and worse — but that doesn’t mean he’s completely, totally wrong.

I mean to say, here’s Eric Raffle!

Eric_liberty

“Are we there yet?”

At some point on a long family trip the question is asked in a variety of forms: “Are we there yet? Are we Almost there? How much Longer?!!!!”

And so I ask the question in a still different way — WHERE ARE WE?????

How much do we really know about this Mets team? Let me start with what I think I know: David Wright, Matt Harvey, Jonathan Niese.

“Huh?” you say . . . “What does that mean?”

It means that I look at this team and see three players that could, should, probably would be part of a winner in the next 18-36 months. That’s IT!!! The other 22-27 guys (counting “replacements”) are undefined. They are on the present roster, or on one of the minor league rosters . . . or they are ELSEWERE. They are not yet presently accounted for. The team has NOT ONE Proven ML Outfielder. They play in a large park and have plans for lots of young pitchers. They need an anchor in centerfield, a position not easily filled with cast-offs. Most of the team runs the bases poorly. Too many of them run the bases SLOWLY. They give runs and innings away. A lineup with Duda, Ike, and Murphy will drive you crazy and cost you ballgames on the basepaths. 

Starting Pitching . . . until the prospects arrive and pitch well, you have exactly TWO major league starters: Niese and Harvey. Gee? . . . possibly. Wheeler is not yet here. Syndergaard is three levels away. Mejia and Familia are either not pitcher or not starting or BOTH. I don’t count 5 young starters until They Are Standing There STARTING! You can never have too much pitching — we don’t have enough.

In a world of uncertainty, Matt Harvey represents: One Sure Thing.

In a world of uncertainty, Matt Harvey represents: One Sure Thing.

Here’s what we’ve learned about the players: Collin Cowgill is proving that the previous 400-500 major league at-bats are the truth — he’s a .230 hitter and a 5th outfielder. Ike Davis is still becoming whatever he will become — .240 with 32 HR and 90 RBI is not a drop dead gorgeous 1st baseman! His fielding is oversold, but adequate. His bat has too many holes and way too many Nap Times. I’ve never been a huge fan, but he has power and skills to nail the position for 10 years.

Lucas Duda Can Hit — I still believe. How much? Yet to be seen. He can’t run the bases. He does a great impression of Lady Liberty out there in left field. Daniel Murphy was one of my instant favorites where he first hit the scene. He’s done enough work to be able to make most plays on balls hit directly at him. His entire baseball philosophy is SEE BALL/HIT BALL. Situational hitting, baserunning, defensive decision-making . . . MNEH. I’m ready to pass on Murph. I would agree that he’s not “the big problem” on this team — he’s a big problem on the 2014-17 teams — I don’t believe he’s the answer at 2B. I believe he’s a problem (as a 2B) on a team that expects to win.

Tejeda is a ML Middle Infielder — a backup at worst. I don’t see the peripheral skills, speed, and baserunning that would provide more punch to his offensive game. I don’t see the situational hitting or bat control that would add heft to a .260 BA. He is still very young and there is a good possibility that he develops further — I just don’t see that he brings much explosion to either side of his game — and I can’t identify an offensive skill that he’s developing. Marlon Byrd should be gone by July 1st. He doesn’t belong here on a team were Newee and Valdy need AB’s in order to “show or GO.” 

I will skip the bullpen, with the exception of Bobby Parnell. The closer is not as replaceable as the other BP parts. Bobby Parnell has a Hot Arm — and that seems to be both the beginning and end to his pitching. He doesn’t move eyes, feet, or timing — you cannot succeed against Major League Hitters when they are locking in on your seventh 98 MPH fastball in the same spot as the previous six 98 MPH fastballs. My advice: Sell High when he’s on his next hot streak. 

That brings me to the younger guys, d’Arnaud and Wheeler — Come and Get It! Wilmer Flores — Come and Get It!!! Newwee . . . Valdy . . . Matt DD . . . Lutz — SHOW OR GO!!!!! I hope to see all of them playing on August 1st.

Where are we?

Talk to me in August.

are-we-there-yet-simpsons

 

 

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2 comments

  1. FL Met Fan Rich says:

    Where are we? 4th place and lucky to have the Marlins in our division or else we would be with “Basement Bertha”

    Where are we? This team plays with no energy, fire or enthusiasm.

    Where are we? Playing for a lame duck manager they will be quitting on him soon.

    Where are we? Nobody knows because nobody is going to the ball park to watch this team of AA caliber.

  2. eric says:

    Wow—what a stretch of failure here! i expect this team to lose games, but I have hopes that some players will step up and begin to develop some traction in their careers.

    Wheeler is struggling…. d’arnaud is not playing….. there is not a single Loud Knock coming from AA or AAA, with the exception of Montero.

    At the Major League level, Davis looks like…..Davis????—is this what he is???

    You generally can’t criticize a manager of an untalented team—– the pitching change that brought Howard to bat yesterday is the exception!—-what a sucky move by Collins. I’ll take Niese running on fumes versus the AAAA replacement bat versus Atchison versus Hercules!…too boot, he pitches to Utley with 1st base open and two outs…….. WHY!!!!!!!!!!!!!?????????????????????????

    The guys who run this team……and the guys in the dugout managing it—They actually get Paid!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!??????????????

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