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Tag: moneyball

Beane Counter

Read anything about “Moneyball” lately?

I haven’t seen the movie yet but I did read this article on Billy Beane in the New York Times Magazine.

And over at The Atlantic, Allen Barra has a critical essay on Michael Lewis’ book.

Observations From Cooperstown: The Catching, The Other Jorge, and Moneyball

A few weeks ago, it would have been unthinkable, but there is now a real possibility that the Yankees will carry both Jesus Montero and Austin Romine on their postseason roster. Francisco Cervelli’s concussion is enough of a concern that it jeopardizes his postseason standing, while Jorge Posada remains a longshot to make the playoff roster. Without Posada, Montero becomes the primary DH, which would make it difficult for him to be the backup to Russell Martin. So that would necessitate carrying Romine as the No. 2 catcher. Romine is eligible for the postseason because the rules allow for a season-long minor leaguer to replace an injured player, in this case Cervelli.

Even if Cervelli is healthy, I would prefer Romine, who is the better defensive catcher. If the Yankees have to pinch-hit for Martin in the late innings of a close game, I’d rather have a more reliable receiver and thrower behind the plate. And there is simply none better in the organization than Romine, who might be the best defensive catcher the Yankees have had since Joel Skinner in the late 1980s.

Of course, I have no idea if Romine is ready to hit at this level (and it would be tough for him to match Cervelli’s second-half hitting surge), but I would be willing to take that chance. In the postseason, where runs are often at a premium, a good defensive catcher who can block pitches and throw out base runners is probably more valuable than someone who might bat once or twice in the late innings. So yes, my vote goes to the inexperienced Romine over the erratic Cervelli…


This is a minor point, but one that deserves mentioning. The Yankees currently have 36 players on their active roster, but haven’t found it fit to include minor league slugger Jorge Vazquez among their late-season promotions. I know what some people will say: Vazquez is not on the 40-man roster, so it’s problematic to include him among the callups. To that I say, “Bunk.” The Yankees are currently carrying at least three players who have little to no business being on the 40-man roster of a playoff team. They are Ramiro Pena, who makes Eddie Brinkman and Mark Belanger seem like Silver Sluggers, and doesn’t have the versatility to be a true utility infielder; journeyman Scott Proctor, who’s simply not a major league caliber pitcher any more; and Raul Valdes, a journeyman left-hander who ranks behind Boone Logan and Aaron Laffey for the lefty specialist role.

Though he’s hardly a primetime prospect, the 28-year-old Vazquez has more value than any of those players. Yes, he strikes out a ton (166 times), but he has legitimate power, can play both of the infield corners, and would be worth a look as a right-handed pinch-hitter. Vazquez likely wouldn’t play much, but he at least deserves a spot based on the 32 home runs he hit at Triple-A Scranton (or 14 more than Jesus Montero), not to mention the team-leading .516 slugging percentage he posted. At the very least, Vazquez profiles like longtime ex-Yankee minor leaguer Shelley Duncan; it would be nice for the Yankees to reward his production by giving him a late-season promotion. At some point, the Yankees need to show their minor leaguers that placement on the 40-man roster is based on merit, and not on being a name player (Proctor), or a failed prospect (Pena), or a pitcher who happens to throw left-handed (Valdes). Until then, too many minor leaguers in the system will remain frustrated by an organization that doesn’t reward minor league productivity…


There’s been much debate recently about the merits of the new Moneyball movie. Aaron Gleeman likes it, Keith Law hates it, and I find myself feeling indifferent. I haven’t even seen the film, but the story just does not strike me as that compelling. A sports movie needs to have a good ending, and that is something that the Moneyball A’s have lacked. Yes, they have made the postseason several times under the regime of Billy Beane, but have reached only one League Championship Series, and never once made the World Series, let alone won one. Where is the payoff, where is the climactic ending? I just don’t see it.

Based on the previews I’ve seen–and boy, they’ve been running trailers on this thing since the spring–Brad Pitt looks funny and charismatic in the role of Beane, but Jonah Hill looks terribly miscast as Paul DePodesta (or Peter Brand, as he’s called in the movie). Maybe I’m typecasting Hill based on his disgustingly funny role in Superbad, but I just don’t find him believable as an advisor to the general manager of a baseball team.

So I remain skeptical. I do plan on watching the movie, and maybe I’ll find it entertaining, but I keep thinking this: a film about Charlie Finley’s A’s would have been a whole lot better.

Bruce Markusen writes “Cooperstown Confidential” for The Hardball Times.

One for the Money

Jon Weisman on Moneyball:

There’s a level of sincere humility to the film version of “Moneyball” that might shock those expecting to see it cloaked in arrogance.

Next to the question about whether the material in Michael Lewis’ book was viable for a movie in the first place, the most common shot I’ve seen taken at the idea of the film, which I saw a screening of Monday, is “what’s the point?” Because Billy Beane’s Oakland A’s have never reached the World Series, much less won it, why would they worthy of the big screen?

Putting aside the fact that this criteria would eliminate about a thousand works of art – “Rocky,” “The Bad News Bears,” “Major League,” the entire history of “Peanuts” – note this well: The Billy Beane of “Moneyball” would share the same question. No one is more acutely aware of the A’s shortcomings than he.

But “Moneyball” does have a story to tell, a worthwhile and engrossing one. It is not a sermon. “Moneyball” is about faith in a calculated belief, and all the torment that comes when that faith is tested, and the unexpected kind of reward you can get for taking that test, no matter how it comes out. It’s a movie about a pursuit, not a coronation. It’s anything but a coronation.

It’s my belief that, while no movie is universally beloved, this approach opens the door for “Moneyball” to be accepted and enjoyed by those who took the book as a mockery of the game they love, by those who were entertained and embrace what was articulated in Lewis’ book, and by those who have no vested interest in the debate, or even the sport. It’s such a human movie – with Brad Pitt’s Beane a nuanced, multidimensional character, one with many faces – that it’s not easily dismissed.

Hell, I just want to see it for Phillip Seymour Hoffman chewing it up as Art Howe.

It’s Money that Matters

Hey, another reason why the Internet rocks.


Here is Steven Zaillian’s script for Moneyball.

Have at it.

Money For Nothing

Variety reports that Sony Pictures has pulled the plug on Steven Soderbergh’s adaptation of Moneyball (thanks to Rob Neyer for the link).

Even in the climate of heightened studio caution, the turnaround news on “Moneyball” is surprising given that the project had reached the equivalent of third base. It was just 96 hours before the participants were ready to take the field, following three months of prep and with camera tests completed and cast and budget in place.

…Aside from actors like Pitt and Demetri Martin, Soderbergh is using real ballplayers — such as former A’s Scott Hatteberg and David Justice — as actors, and he also has shot interviews with such ballplayers as Beane’s former Mets teammates Lenny Dykstra, Mookie Wilson and Darryl Strawberry. Those vignettes would be interspersed in the film.While Soderbergh is confident his take will work visually, Columbia brass had doubts on a film that costs north of $50 million. That is reasonable for a studio-funded pic that includes the discounted salary of a global star like Pitt, but baseball films traditionally don’t fare well on the global playing field.

This is a shame but not a surprise. Back in the summer of 2003, I interviewed Michael Lewis and we talked about how difficult it would be to make Moneyball into a movie:

Bronx Banter: Have you sold the movie rights to “Moneyball” yet?

Michael Lewis: I didn’t have much hope that anyone would buy them. Because I can’t really see how you could make it into a movie—a good movie, anyway. What happens is, if somebody bought it for the movies, you’d have to create some sort of female role. They would just have to. You just have to twist so much. Having seen “Liar’s Poker” get bought for a lot of money, and then completely mangled in the creation of the script, and eventually never getting made. If they can’t make that, I can’t imagine how they can make this. There have been, oddly enough, some feelers from people who say they want to buy the rights. A lot of things sell, that shouldn’t sell, accidentally. That might happen, but I’d be really surprised if it ever became a movie.

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