Yesterday, Deadspin’s Tom Ley called the Giants stupid for leaving Melky Cabrera off their roster, but in so doing, he did more to out his own stupidity than to call attention to that of the Giants.
“[The] Giants’ decision to shelve Cabrera was a public relations decision rather than a baseball decision,” wrote Ley. “Avoiding controversy took precedence over maximizing the team’s chances to win.”
Ley presumes that given Blanco’s career .680 OPS and his “cool” .182 BA in the NLCS, the Giants stood more to gain by welcoming Melky’s .346/.390/.516 slash line back into the clubhouse. While there is no denying Melky’s prowess with a bat, Ley’s explication of Melky’s contribution as compared to that of Blanco is wholly lacking.
Defensively, Blanco is far and away the better of the two. In 2012, Blanco owned a UZR of 10.1 . Which is to say, Blanco’s expert glove has saved the Giants just over 10 runs, as well as a perfect game. Melky’s -1.7 (career -4.5 UZR/150) lies in stark contrast. Would Melky have been able to keep Jon Jay’s grounder up the left field line to a single in the third in Game 7 of the NLCS? Would he also have been able to run down Allen Craig’s subsequent line drive? The simple answer is no. But, that, by Ley’s logic, is inconsequential.
Even Melky’s WAR (4.6) is only negligibly more than that of Blanco (2.4). Of course, the difference should not be understated, but we can’t presume that a player aided by performance enhancing drugs would maintain his terror at the plate, especially when that players possess a BABIP of .379, despite a career mark of just .309, and a GB% of 52.2. We also can’t presume that said player would resume his stellar performance after a 50-game layoff.
Ley’s logic instead presents argument akin to that of an O-Town song: He wants all bats or nothing at all. In other words, Ley’s logic is shallow, immature, and shows a severely misguided sense of morality.
Baseball, according to Ley, is a game born of the capitalist mindset: Players are reduced to statistical outputs. Their success is contingent upon their ability to replicate performances machine-like. The decision of management is therefore a black and white one: Does the player achieve? Such decisions are divorced from understanding and morality.
But that isn’t the game I followed as a child, nor the game I cover as an adult. No. Baseball is not a game predicated on dualistic thought. It is not a game that creates the same false dichotomies that Ley has. If it were, the Aubrey Huffs, the Ryan Vogelsongs, the Andres Torreses, the Adam Greenbergs, and the 2012 Oakland Athletics would cease to exist.
What Ley fails to recognize is that this is a game of nuance and strategy. It is a game that cannot be boiled down to wins-and-losses. It is a game of morality.
Sure, baseball’s history is littered with the immoral. A blind eye has been turned to a lot of improprieties, including Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa, and Barry Bonds’ blatant use of PEDs, Gaylord Perry, Don Sutton, and Whitey Ford’s ball doctoring, and even Willie Mays’ abuse of amphetamines. But the game corrects itself, much like Ley should.
The decision to keep Melky off the roster is not about wins and losses, though it may affect those. It is a decision of right and wrong. Melky’s choice to use PEDs was wrong. His subsequent attempt to cover up his usage was wrong. His leaving the Giants without so much as a goodbye to his teammates was also wrong. The Giants decision was and still is right.