Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Sources Say

Jon Heyman has a piece about the potential teams in the CC Sabathia derby this winter. This part struck me:
Five executives who know Sabathia were asked whether they believe he will follow his heart or the money, and there's a split about how heavily he'll lean toward signing with a California team. Two executives opined that he's surely bound for California ("he isn't a New York guy,'' said one) and would be shocked to see him go to the Yankees or any other big-market East Coat team. But three others said some version of "money talks.''

A couple of those executives who think he'll follow the money do tab the Yankees, who have a whopping $88 million in contracts coming off the books, as the favorite to sign the Vallejo, Calif. product. The word from those three executives is that while Sabathia does indeed prefer California, he won't give the California teams a discount.
I take no issue with the analysis as such inasmuch as it is the standard, reasonable way people tend to assess these things. He's from Cali, he wants to stay in Cali. What's up with the hometown discount, etc.? There's really not much more you can do with it absent some kind of inside information from Sabathia or his people regarding his specific intentions.

I guess what vexes me most about the analysis is the decision in the first place to contact "five executives who know Sabathia" to obtain it. Am I crazy, or aren't "executives" precluded from talking about players under contract? Sure they're anonymous here, but it can't be that hard to figure out who the people were given that CC has spent all but a couple of weeks of his career with the Indians. Can't we assume that one of those executives is Shapiro? Maybe another is Melvin? Maybe Neal Huntington is one? Who else would "know him well,"and aren't all of them except for Melvin breaking some tampering rule?

I don't know that I care about that too much -- tampering rules that involve merely talking about a player in general terms seem pretty antiquated and silly to me -- but it does seem that this is the sort of thing GMs aren't supposed to be doing.


Tim Dierkes said...

I think your expectations may be too high for qualifying as an exec who knows Sabathia. Exec is a pretty vague term and could extend well beyond GMs. Plus, just knowing Sabathia...what does that even mean? Know him on a personal level?

Say a guy was formerly a scout for some random team and visited with Sabathia and his family before he was drafted in '98. He later becomes one of many "special assistant to the GMs" on some team. Boom, exec who knows Sabathia.

Craig Calcaterra said...

Good point, Tim. Really, I almost wonder if this was one of those things where being a writer for a MSM publication forced Heyman to stretch for a source even if he didn't want to. Take the reference to the executives away and you have a perfectly passable blog-type piece in which a writer who knows a couple of things about Sabathia makes some vaguely informed speculation. I write that kind of stuff all the time, as do most bloggers. "Where's CC Landing? Who knows, but . . ."

Except Heyman can't do that becuase SI won't let him simply speculate or opine in such a free-form way, thus the need to resort to some source upon which to hang the speculation, however anonymous or attenuated the source is to real information.

At the end of the day Heyman's piece reads more like a "real" news article, but under close analysis it's kind of fluff. Again, I'm not criticizing it on that basis -- a lot of what I and others write is fluff, especially around trading and hot stove seasons -- but at least we don't try to dress it up as something more than that.

Mark Armour said...

For some reason I like that CC is called a "Vallejo, Calif. product."

Partly because I am also a "Vallejo, Calif. product," though I have never been called such a thing. In what other walks of life are people referred to as products?

Abraham Lincoln, a Hardin County, Kent. product, yesterday addressed a small crowd in Gettysburgh, Penn....

Peter said...

I think you're exactly right, Craig.

Sabathia may take a hometown discount...then again, he may not. Not exactly ground-breaking stuff.

Heyman likely would've ended up with the same results if you polled five dudes who have never met Sabathia but post on an Indians forum sometimes.