February 13, 2003

Oh Phil

And there could be no other way, 'cause your so, your so lame

Your tired words are all, they're all the same

Yeah I would walk and I'd surely walk away

If I wasn't such a sucker for you

I see your world with rosey colored glasses on

Wanna right what I see wrong

I could never have that power over you

Someday, I'm gonna pack up and leave this town

I'm gonna get my own things goin on

And when i do, I'll forget

I'll forget

I'll forget about how, how your so, your so lame

Your tired words are all, your tired words are all the same

And I would walk you know I'd, I'd walk away

If I wasn't such a sucker for you

I wasn't such a sucker for you

I wasn't such a sucker for you

--- John Mayer, "Sucker"

In his latest ESPN.com column, Phil Rogers goes on a Fred McGriff-bashing spree like no other.

I've been trying my hardest lately to just ignore Rogers' weekly idiocy, but sometimes I just can't stop myself.

I don't know what else to say, other than I am a sucker for his crap and "I always wanna right what I see wrong."

I am not even a big fan of Fred McGriff's.

I think he has been a good player for a long time, but he's never been one of my favorites and I have no attachment to him whatsoever.

However, sometimes even people you don't like that much need defending.

Where shall we start?

"Dan Evans is the kind of upbeat young executive who finds positives in every situation. An open mind is a valuable thing to have. Evans proved that a year ago by declining to acquire a proven closer, which left an important job open for Eric Gagne, who was squeezed out of the starting rotation.

But Evans has gone too far this time."

Uh oh, what has he done?

Has he traded Shawn Green for Greg Vaughn?

Has he decided to swap Eric Gagne for Pat Mahomes?

Surely it must be something very bad.

Let's find out...

"Needing to improve a flawed lineup that kept Los Angeles from making the 2002 playoffs, the Dodgers general manager turned to a most unlikely source for talent -- the supporting cast that had failed Sammy Sosa.

Evans, who was hooked on baseball watching the Cubs at Wrigley Field in the 1970s, imported first baseman Fred McGriff and catcher Todd Hundley in his most notable offseason moves. The odd thing is Evans spent a little time working for Andy MacPhail in 2001 yet is entrusting his new team to two guys who badly failed his old boss."

Wait, let me get this straight...

Part of Dan Evans' big sin is that he needed to improve his offense and went out and acquired Fred McGriff?

You have got to be kidding me!

Fortunately, Evans was able to shed some light (and sanity) on the situation:

"'McGriff's slugging percentage last year was 100 points higher than our first basemen,' Evans said from the Dodgers' camp in Vero Beach, Fla. "He outhomered them, 30-14. We're not looking for him to do anything more than he's done the last few years ... An average season from Fred McGriff will be a big difference for us."

And Hundley?

"One thing we wanted to do was improve our bench,'' Evans said. 'We think with Ward and Hundley, we have. Hundley outhomered Eric Karros (16-13) in (258) fewer at-bats.'"

Let's not kid ourselves regarding Todd Hundley. He was acquired because that was the only way Evans was going to be able to shed Eric Karros and Mark Grudzielanek from the payroll.

The fact that Rogers makes the Dodgers' trading for Hundley into such a big deal is very strange.

It's not as if they focused their entire off-season around signing Hundley, he was simply the junk they got in exchange for some other junk.

As far as McGriff goes, what Evans said is exactly right.

Fred McGriff is getting up there in age and he is no longer a great hitter, but he is still pretty good and certainly a whole hell of a lot better than the assortment of dreck the Dodgers played at first base last season.

As Evans said, "An average season from McGriff will be a big difference" for the Dodgers.

Moving on...

"Evans decided he wouldn't hold his old favorite team against McGriff and Hundley. He ignored what happened to the Cubs after McGriff arrived in a July 31 deadline trade in 2001.

Sosa's best-ever performance and a run of overpowering pitching had Don Baylor's team in first place in the National League Central. The Cubs had scuffled for runs all season, however, with black holes at first base, catcher and center field.

It seemed an ideal situation to add a proven run-producer like McGriff, who came to Chicago on July 29, with the Cubs 3½ games ahead of Houston and 7½ ahead of St. Louis. But it turned out to be a zero-sum move.

McGriff put up numbers, but the Cubs sunk to third in the Central, going 28-31 after the deal. That formula was followed again in '02."

It appears as though Rogers is trying to say that, because the Cubs went 28-31 after acquiring McGriff in 2001, McGriff should no longer be allowed to play professional baseball. Or something like that.

While it is true that the Cubs performed poorly after acquiring McGriff, the fact is that McGriff did very well in 2001 with the Cubs, hitting .282/.383/.559 with 12 homers and 41 RBIs in only 49 games.

Additionally, the Cubs' offense, the thing McGriff was acquired to help improve, was actually better in August and September of 2001 than it was during the rest of the year.


April = .246/.325/.400 (.725 OPS)

May = .257/.332/.409 (.741 OPS)

June = .255/.335/.437 (.772 OPS)

July = .265/.331/.430 (.761 OPS)


August = .261/.342/.421 (.763 OPS)

September = .272/.346/.468 (813 OPS)

McGriff was on the team for 2 of their best 3 offensive months and the Cubs were actually 2nd in the entire National League (behind only Coors-inflated Colorado) in OPS in the month of September (a month in which McGriff slugged .656).

So, as you can clearly see, not only did Chicago's offense not fall apart after they acquired McGriff, they actually were quite good, better than they had been all season prior to that.

No, the reason the Cubs went 28-31 after acquiring McGriff was not the offense, it was the pitching:


April = 3.46 ERA

May = 4.08

June = 3.90

July = 3.42


August = 4.33 ERA

September = 5.22 ERA

In McGriff's 2 months with the Cubs, they posted their 2 worst ERAs of the season, including a 5.22 ERA in September, which was the 2nd worst in the NL (behind Milwaukee's 5.98!).

Now, say what you want about McGriff's defense at first base - I don't claim it is even mediocre anymore - but there is no way he is that responsible for those August and September ERAs.

In short, McGriff was brought to Chicago to help boost their offense for the final 2 months of the year and he did exactly that.

He did well personally and the team's offense improved.

The Cubs failed as a team in those 2 months because their pitching fell apart, particularly in September.

The "ace" of their 2001 staff, Jon Lieber, had a 5.46 September ERA.

Jason Bere checked in at 5.32 and Kevin Tapani posted a 9.28 ERA in what would be the final month of his career.

They also got some horrendous outings from the bullpen, including Courtney Duncan, who surrendered 10 runs (all earned) in only 7 September innings.

Okay, let's see what else Rogers has to say...

"McGriff, who will be 39 when he reports to Dodgertown, hit 42 home runs and drove in 144 runs in his 195 games with the Cubs. Yet the team that had a .583 winning percentage when he arrived played .430 baseball with him on the roster.

This follows four seasons when he was The Man for the expansion Tampa Bay Devil Rays, willing them to a 235-354 record. That's a personal .407 winning percentage for the last five years. This is a one-man tribute to the Cleveland Spiders. And he's the guy Evans is adding to the middle of his lineup?"

Okay, we already discussed how McGriff was certainly not to blame for the Cubs' struggles in August and September of 2001. And, we've looked at what a nice job he did at the plate last season for them.

Now, I'd like to talk about Rogers' next statement, which involves McGriff's time with the D-Rays and how poor their record was during that stretch.

First of all, Babe Ruth himself (or even better, Barry Bonds) couldn't have turned those Tampa Bay teams into contenders, they were simply awful, as many expansion teams are.

To blame that on Fred McGriff is crazy.

McGriff hit .295/.384/.491 in his 550 games with the D-Rays.

Not superstar numbers, but very solid production.

But, maybe Rogers is on to something, maybe Fred McGriff just simply negatively influenced Tampa Bay's performance while he was there, despite his good hitting.

As Phil points out, Tampa Bay was 235-354 while McGriff was there, a winning percentage of .399, which is, of course, horrible.

And, since they were able to rid themselves of the team cancer that Phil Rogers claims is Fred McGriff?

Tampa Bay is 84-136 since McGriff was traded to the Cubs, which works out to a .381 winning %.

So, guess what?

Tampa Bay has actually been worse since they got rid of McGriff.

So much for that theory.

When Rogers sarcastically says that McGriff "willed" the D-Rays to a .399 winning percentage...well, he just may not know how right he actually was.

Once again, Dodgers' GM Dan Evans speaks intelligently about McGriff's situation in Tampa and in Chicago:

"I don't think you can blame Tampa Bay or the Cubs' situation on Fred McGriff,'' Evans said. "He's been a part of some great teams, part of a club (Atlanta) that won the world championship.''

Evans brings up a very interesting point that just may contradict Phil Rogers' whole McGriff-causes-teams-to-lose-simply-by-being-on-the-roster theory.

Prior to joining the Devil Rays, Fred McGriff was a very good player on a lot of very good teams.

Here are the year-by-year win totals for McGriff's teams, before 1998:

Year     Team            W      L

1987 Toronto 96 66
1988 Toronto 87 75
1989 Toronto 89 73
1990 Toronto 86 76
1991 San Diego 84 78
1992 San Diego 82 80
1993     San Diego      36     57

1993 Atlanta 51 18
1993 Total 87 75
1994     Atlanta        68     46

1995 Atlanta 90 54
1996 Atlanta 96 66
1997 Atlanta 101 61
1987-1997 TOTAL        966    750   (.562 Winning %)


It sort of seems as though the "loser bug" stayed away from McGriff's teams for the first 11 or so years of his career.

Coincidently, he seemed to become a "losing player" right around the time he joined a 1st year expansion team with a front office full of idiots.

Funny how that works, isn't it?

In fact, during the first 11 seasons of McGriff's career, he was on a losing team 1 time, 1993 with San Diego, and that only lasted until he was traded to Atlanta at mid-season, at which point the Braves proceeded to go 51-18(!) with McGriff on the roster.

By the way, in case you're interested in applying Rogers' "personal winning %" thing to the 1993 season where McGriff was traded (sort of like what Rogers did with his 2001 season where he joined the Cubs mid-year):

Atlanta in 1993 without Fred: .569 winning %

Atlanta in 1993 with Fred: .739 winning %

San Diego in 1993 with Fred: .387 winning %

San Diego in 1993 without Fred: .352 winning %

Any questions?

As I said earlier, I am no big fan of Fred McGriff's and I am not here to suggest he is still a great hitter or will be in 2003 for Los Angeles.

I simply wanted to point out how idiotic Rogers' claims about McGriff in this article were and how lacking in simple logic his thoughts are.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention this quote:

"This is a one-man tribute to the Cleveland Spiders. And he's the guy Evans is adding to the middle of his lineup?"

Well, if McGriff has been a "one-man tribue to the Cleveland Spiders" (perhaps the worst team in baseball history) he only started that tribute when HE JOINED AN EXPANSION TEAM! Before that, what was his .562 winning percentage a tribute to? The New York Yankees?

The fact the Rogers questions adding McGriff to the lineup because of what the Devil Rays and Cubs have done recently is just insane.

Would you turn down having Brian Giles in your lineup because the Pirates stink? What about Carlos Beltran and Mike Sweeney? The last time I checked, the Royals stunk.

On the other hand, Keith Lockhart has shown himself to be a consistent "winner" while with the Braves, so I'm sure Mr. Rogers would approve of the Dodgers adding him to the team.

Okay, so what have we learned?

1) While the Cubs went only 28-31 after McGriff joined the team in 2001, their offense actually improved, which was the whole point of brining McGriff aboard. But, the pitching fell apart and the team went with it.

Additionally, McGriff was actually quite good again in 2002, but the Cubs' offense, beyond McGriff, Sammy Sosa and Mark Bellhorn, was flat out putrid.

It included extended playing time from guys like Joe Girardi (.226/.275/.291), Corey Patterson (.253/.284/.392), Delino DeShields (.192/.292/.308), Chris Stynes (.241/.314/.374) and Rosie Brown (.211/.299/.324).

Heck, even if you found it absolutely necessary to blame the Chicago's 2002 season on an "old hitter," Fred McGriff isn't even the best option on the team for that limited pool of candidates!

Moises Alou hit .275/.337/.419, over 100 points of OPS less than McGriff.

2) McGriff's time with the Devil Rays resulted in a lot of losses, but that should have been expected from an expansion team, particularly one with as bad a front office as Tampa Bay had/has. McGriff performed very well while with the D-Rays and was certainly the furthest thing from the reason they stunk.

3) Despite Rogers' insistance that losing follows McGriff wherever he goes and that no teams should sign him because of that:

a) Tampa Bay actually got worse after he left.

b) McGriff's teams won at a .562 clip during the first 11 years of his career, which is an extraordinary percentage.

4) Fred McGriff is a perfectly good first baseman for the Dodgers and certainly an upgrade over what they had there in 2002.

LA's various first basemen (primarily Eric Karros) were awful in 2002, hitting a combined .278/.334/.405 for a .740 OPS, which ranked 13th in the NL.

Meanwhile, McGriff hit .273/.353/.505 for a 858 OPS and the Cubs' first basemen (primarily McGriff) finished 7th in the NL in OPS.

In addition to that, despite his getting up there in age, McGriff has been a very productive and remarkably consistent hitter for his entire career and has been quite good for the last couple seasons:

2001 = .306/.386/.544 (142 OPS+)

2002 = .273/.353/.505 (125 OPS+)

Finally and perhaps most importantly...

5) We learned that:

[Phil Rogers'] tired words are all, they're all the same

Yeah I would walk and I'd surely walk away

If I wasn't such a sucker for you

What can I say? I just can't help it.

Phil Rogers, I am a sucker for you.

I'm gonna get my own things goin on

And when i do, I'll forget

I'll forget

I'll forget about how, how your so, your so lame

Your tired words are all, your tired words are all the same

And I would walk you know I'd, I'd walk away

If I wasn't such a sucker for you

I wasn't such a sucker for you

I wasn't such a sucker for you

C'mon, everybody sing...

If I wasn't such a sucker for you...

I wasn't such a sucker for you...

I wasn't such a sucker for you...PHIL!

*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****

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