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If This Guy Can Do This Job…

May 30, 2010

Wait!  There’s more to the Steve Phillips Strasburg-for-Oswalt sideshow?

Yes, ladies and gents, Steve Phillips not only said on Mike Francesca’s radio show that he’d trade Stephen Strasburg, possibly the greatest pitching prospect of all time, for Roy Oswalt straight up, but, a few days later, he went ahead and certified his insanity by recording a video in which he defended himself and re-emphasized that yes, if he were Mike Rizzo, he’d trade Baseball Jesus for a 32-year-old with an expiring contract.  If that sounds deranged and unhinged to you, don’t be afraid, you’re the normal one.  Dave Cameron does a fine job dismantling his argument here, even glossing over the issues about the teams involved and length/size of contracts in order to prove a point—Phillips’s argument basically boils down to the proven veteran versus young prospect line of reasoning, which is “the kind of thinking that has been chased out of baseball over the last 10 years.”  In qualifying the purpose of his post, though, Cameron has this to say:

The crux of the argument – prospects are risky, proven aces are rare, and when you have a chance to win, you have to go for it. On their own, all three points have some merit. Strasburg comes with a lot of risk. Oswalt is one of the better pitchers in baseball. There is a big financial payoff for doing well in October. (For the purposes of this post, we’ll ignore the massive difference in costs that both players would incur, as Phillips does, and simply evaluate this from a talent perspective – once you include contracts, the entire thing becomes laughable, and no one needs it laid out how the differences in salary and team control make this one of the dumbest ideas ever.)

On that front, I beg to differ.  Apparently, Steve Phillips, who used to be the General Manager of a Major League baseball team, needs it laid it for him how contracts affect trades in professional baseball.  Steve Phillips, who used to be the General Manager for the New York Mets, needs it laid out for him how differences in salary and team control affect the way teams draft and trade for players.  Steve Phillips, whose job it used to be to negotiate contracts with free agents and draft picks, doesn’t understand why this trade is not even worth discussing on its face because of the way these two players are compensated.

Seriously, this guy was a General Manager in professional baseball, but when he talks about professional baseball, he sounds like some dad at a Little League baseball game yelling at his kid to “Get yer back elbow up!” while carrying on a side conversation with another disinterested parent about how “You just never know with ‘em prospects—there’s no replacing a proven vet’ran”, all the while inadvertently spitting tobacco juice all over everybody else to their utter disgust.

How can you possibly have been hired to generally manage a major league baseball team if you don’t understand how contracts work?  For that matter, how do you get hired to analyze major league baseball if you don’t understand how contracts work?  I mean, believe me, I know how you get fired from that job—it has something to do with “hounding” an certain 22-year-old intern for sex and then threatening to ruin the reputation of said intern and get her fired if she told his wife, with whom he quickly divorced after said intern of course told.  (Two underrated parts of this story: (i) Is that reeeeally the best Steve could do?  That’s mean, but seriously? That girl must have a personality the size of Jupiter.  (ii) The intern wrote Steve’s wife a note that said she was “not just some random girl he had sex with in parking lots” even though she admitted to having trysts with Steve “a few times after work in parking lots”.  Niiiiiiiiice.)

Anyway, I guess my point here is two-fold: a) how the hell is Steve Phillips still employed doing anything baseball-related? and b) what are the qualifications necessary for being a general manager in or an analyst for Major League Baseball?  Is it a sign-up process or something?  How have I not heard about this?

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