SocraticGadfly: 7/29/18 - 8/5/18

August 03, 2018

Cardinals: Not 'just' sellers but full rebuild?

The St. Louis Cardinals' trade last week of Tommy Pham for a box of Cracker Jack, rather three minor leaguers from the Rays — Justin Williams, Genesis Cabrera and Roel Ramirez, all profiled by Derrick Goold at the top link — makes clear they were sellers. At the time of the trade, they were four games out of the second wild card spot, with three teams in between them and that slot in a bunched National League. A little over two weeks past firing manager Mike Matheny, they felt the managerial shakeup apparently hadn't done it, it appears.

So, now, Tyler O'Neill will get extended playing time. Harrison Bader will get more. The 40-man callups in a month will get the same.

But, is this it?

I wouldn't be surprised if John Mozeliak isn't looking at a fuller rebuild. I'm sure he'd still like to move Dexter Fowler. A combo of eating money and packaging him with another player, maybe, a Jedd Gyorko, or one or the other of the Cards' backup catchers, whether Carson Kelly or
Andrew Knizer, might be one angle, whether now or end of season. (The idea would be that the Cards would eat some salary, but not a lot, and that if you want a cheap young catcher, Team B, you'll eat most that salary yourself.)

Speaking of, the Rays aren't "buyers" in the normal sense. Why did Mo trade Pham now? Couldn't get anything from a buyer, and was that afraid of losing in arbitration? Along with that, did he think Pham's 2017 was a fluke, or at least, a career year?

Also, why couldn't he get Chris Archer back? The Pirates did later in the day on deadline day. With Carlos Martinez dinged up for the second time this year, Michael Wacha still out, and Adam Wainwright on the way to retirement, one proven starter rather than two meh minor leaguers, would have been nice. (Sidebar: Bernie Miklask turd-polishes the trade like Goold.)

Yes, Austin Meadows plus Tyler Glasnow was a bigger pay for Archer than just Pham.


Throw somebody else in, Mo? Or was that a decision that Archer had hit his ceiling and you were looking to the longer term future?

Speaking of?

Then, we have this John Berry guy on Bernie's site, touting current Cards hurlers (vs Archer) thusly:
Let's dump all our starters. All the guys that have got us to 3rd in the NL with a 3.46 ERA. Start from scratch. That's the ticket.
To which I responded:
First, that's not what I said. 
Second, ERA? Some old, Miklasz-youth-era non-sabermetric stat? Archer has a lower FIP than Weaver, Martinez, Flaherty, Wacha and Gant, and that's with facing DHs regularly in the AL. 
And, again, that's with Martinez officially back on the DL, and Wacha still on the DL until at least the start of September. And, his history of shoulder problems.
Just, wow.

Note: I'm not saying the Cards should have taken Archer, but I'm not engaged in prospectitis, either. Lots of MLB teams have fans who become deep enough homers to do exactly that. Said homer also mentioned Alex Reyes in an earlier comment. Yes, another member of the injury brigade, with 46 innings two years ago as a 40-man callup, then Tommy John, then a lat injury bad enough this year needing surgery. I'm surprised Daniel Poncedeleon didn't get a by-name callout.

(Interestingly or ironically, Archer's first start was against the Cards, and it was pretty shaky, with just a 31 game score; his opposing hurler, Gant, was even worse at 26. Walks, an HBP and a long ball all hurt him.)

I would have made a run at Archer, though, per the reasons noted above. And put a bit of a prospects crowbar in my wallet. To quote an old saw: "An MLB player in hand is worth two prospects in the bush."

That said, how much to pay for Archer?

Goold talked about this the day before trade deadline, about now Mo has narrow parameters on doing trades. Well, his free agency parameters were pretty wide on both Fowler and Mike Leake.

So, again, is it time to fire Mozeliak? Three-quarters of voters in my Twitter poll want to give Mo the boot.

First, let me say that I think there's a method in his madness, even as he added outfield depth while cleaning it out at the same time.

He's looking for multiple rounds and tiers of cost control. Hence getting Williams as well as the two pitchers. He's still following up on cleaning up his bullpen. (That's in part his fault for letting Matheny mismanage it as long as he did, including this year even with a good pitching coach, Mike Maddux, at his side.)

That said, is some of this acting like a small-market team?

I've never bought the small-market vs big-market bifurcation. There are middle-market teams, too, and the Cards are one. They tilt somewhat small-market, but their winning plus fandom make them middle-market.

But, that's why Mo can't do a full rebuild. And, he's looking for cost control on his free agent mistakes.

Anyway, mid-market teams? Minnesota should be. The Twin Cities metro area is larger than metro St. Louis.

Washington is; if Baltimore weren't there, and if they had a base as rabid as the Redskins Redscum Dan Snyder Hymies (payback is a bitch) in football, they would be a big-market team. Rangers and Astros are. They're close to big-market teams, certainly on population size. The Metroplex is as big as the whole Bay Area, San Fran plus Oakland combined and San Jose in there, too. The Houston metro isn't a lot smaller. But, you have to win consistently. And, in the ’Mess, you're also competing with the Jethro Jones Boys for sports fandom. Astros have a cleaner slate there.

Miami should be mid-market or better by population size. Some want to blame previous owners. I blame South Florida (counting Tampa-St. Pete in that, sorry Rays fans expecting magic from a new stadium) as not being MLB-friendly territory. It happens. See what I said about Washington just above.

Other mid-market cities? Arizona, and the Snakes spend in that slot. Seattle. Atlanta. Denver is getting there, and sees it.

So, that's nine mid-market teams. That's Mo's competition on the wallet-busting.


After this initial discussion, one Rays fan, then another, on this group baseball blog claimed that Tampa / St. Pete isn't south Florida. I said BS at the time, and five plus years later, now officially confirm that.

By latitude, Miami is about 25.5°North and Jacksonville 31.5N. Halfway in betweeen? Orlando is exactly 28.5N. WELL north of Tampa-St. Pete. BOOM.

Said bloggers can, on both that, and being Democrats only non-Republican voters, kiss my ass.

August 02, 2018

One Dem sellout of environment for national parks cash
with National Parks Conservation Association whoredom

Raúl Grijalva, big fat hypocrite at the podium, with snake out of the grass Rob Bishop behind his right shoulder./The Hill

Twenty-five House Dems have signed up to co-sponsor a piece of legislation, allegedly moderated in its modifications from an idea floated last year by black-hat cowboy/Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, that would, if the moderations aren't real, rape BLM land for more oil and gas leases to fund the chronic budget shortfall and maintenance backlog in the National Park Service.

Wait, wait, I take that back.

The Senate version of the bill, cosponsored by six Dems, would at least do that. The House version would just dump half of federal energy revenue into some unspecified fund for whatever.

Raul Grivalja theoretically should know better than playing this Whack-A-Mole bullshit, at least as long as the current administration is in power. I mean, most the Democratic sponsors, aside from him, are ConservaDems and establishmentarian hacks. When you're on the same side as the likes of Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Kyrsten Sinema, you're on the wrong side.

So, too, should the National Parks Conservation Association. That said, NPCA, while not an original Gang Green member, can still act halfway like one, even in its narrow focus on NPS support. It's been selective in the past on how the NPS gets money, including selling out NPS users in favor of BLM and USFS extractors.

That's not new, either. Obama's last Interior Secretary, Sally Jewell, supported "all of the above" on oil and gas extraction from BLM land. And, before she joined the gummint? On the NPCA board of directors.

The NPCA is a whore in other ways. Like when it saluted Rio Tinto as a corporate parks sponsor.

And, it won't tell you on its calendars that most National Recreation Areas, like Lake Mead and Glen Canyon, that are in the National Park Service, directly contravene the 1916 Organic Act.

And, as a commenter there noted, it's late-stage capitalist enough that a decade ago, its CEO made $350 grand a year. (That was up to $367,000 by 2015, plus 258K for Pierno as COO. The next year, per Charity Navigator, she got a raise to $300K as CEO/President, but former head honcho Clark Bunting still hauled down $350K.) Per Wikipedia, if it had about $30 million in revenue in fiscal 2014 and 153 employees, that means the average salary is almost $100K.

Such numbers might not be totally ridiculous, just halfway so, if every employee were at the HQ in the capitalist black hole of DC, but they're not. And I know that most the 27 regional offices are in places not only cheaper but a fair amount cheaper.

Speaking of? You want to find more money to address the Park Service backlog? Start by charging Lake Mead and Lake Powell boaters twice as much.

That compares with totally non-Gang Green Center for Biological Diversity. It ranks higher on financial angles, per Charity Navigator, with CEO Kieran Suckling taking just $200K. Suckling also claims his group has twice as many employees per $1 million revenue than the typical larger enviro group.

And, to loop this together? Most years, the CBD hands out a Rubber Dodo Award for antienvironmentalism. Last year's winner? Utah's turd-brown Congresscritter Rob Bishop, in the quasi-seersucker suit behind Grivalja in that pic.

Here's Grivalja's website with all his contact info. Let him know what you think of this.

July 31, 2018

TX Progressives talk state debates, or lack thereof

The Texas Progressive Alliance invites fans of Frasier Crane to read and picture how a Clinton-counseling Frasier reboot episode would sound while presenting this week’s blog roundup.

Brains and Eggs offers his own excellent snarkery on the proposed Cruz-O'Rourke debates.

At the Texas Observer, Justin Miller describes in detail why Lite Guv Dan Patrick is dodging the debates bullet with challenger Mike Collier — too risky. That’s as AG Kenny Boy Paxton and Ag Commish “Come to Jesus Shot” Sid Miller, along with other top state GOP politicos outside of Gov. Greg Abbott are all doing the same.

Speaking of Kenny Boy, how much more money will he (typical of Austin GOP fiscal fake conservatives) waste to try to keep AC out of state prisons, Grits for Breakfast wonders?

And speaking of Jesus Shotter, his Dem opponent, Kim Olson, has an iffy end-of-career military service background. The LA Times offered the original story a decade ago, here.

Neil at You Must Act Right Now took part in a protest at the home of an owner of the location of the proposed baby jail in Houston.  

Off the Kuff provided a more in depth look at Congressional fundraising for this decade.

Jim Schutze wonders why Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway is sucking up to pro-Confederate statues people.

Somewhat related, Cary Clack implores Greg Abbott to do the right thing and remove that dishonest Confederate plaque from the Capitol.
Raj Mankad draws lessons in urban design from Brays Bayou.

The Texas Living Waters Project frets about the decline of the alligator gar.

The TSTA Blog is unsurprised by Dan Patrick's intransigence on making schools safer.

Reyna Torres Mendivil wants us to remember that Texas has a family relationship with Mexico.

Juanita has a Steve Stockman update.

Texas Living Waters bemoans the alligator gar’s decline. (Texas Parks and Wildlife has started a program that may help.)

Meet the Quorum Report notes pre-Clovis Texans.

July 30, 2018

The coming collapse — thoughts from Hedges and Camp

Is the United States headed for some sort of collapse?

Chris Hedges makes a cogent argument that this is the case.

Lee Camp offers eight reasons why people probably don't want to believe this, and thus will let it happen, and how they've propped us up against collapse already.

On Hedges, it's great as far as it goes. Surprisingly, though, Hedges mentions little about climate change, just in passing, nor about Republican animosity toward the science behind it. (Many Republicans, in private, would be climate change minimalists rather than denialists, and would have their fingers crossed that they're correct on minimalism. Others may not be minimalists, but probably believe that the salvific technologism of late-stage capitalism that got us here will rescue us through geoengineering or similar. And a third wing is the evangelicals who, if they're young-earth creationists, reject the whole idea, or even if not, still believe that it's either god's judgment or that his deliverance from it will soon come. Probably less than 10 percent of major Republicans accept that climate change is real and that capitalism alone — except for the capitalism of a carbon tax with teeth, which they'll reject — cannot fully fix it by itself.

Of course, the Dems are little better. Obama made sure right along with Xi Jinpeng that Paris would be toothless.  And most Dems still won't face the reality themselves.

Weirder yet is that Hedges, a former foreign correspondent, says nothing about how both Republicans and Democrats back the duopoly. He says nothing about the military Keynesianism of the American economy.

So, it's good enough as far as it goes. 

But it doesn't go nearly far enough.

With that?

Lee Camp.

We don't have a democracy. Even Glenn Greenwald, with worries about, but still acceptance of, Citizens United, knows that. Money's bought it. The First Amendment weaponizers like Ken White, aka Popehat, who pretend that all other judicial theorists and the jurists they back engage in results-oriented jurisdiction but his ilk — yes, ilk — don't, are full of it. We regulate advertising campaigns. We have for decades. Political money is used for advertising. If you don't think we can regulate the money spent on it, we sure as hell can regulate where it's placed. No more TV ads before the "family hour" is  done. No daytime ads so kids won't see them. Ditto for websites.

Camp and Hedges are jointly right about the media. It fawns, then comes back for yet more "access" even when the likes of a Trump kick it.

Buying certainly won't make us happy. Hedges hints around the edges; Camp says that flat out. It IS our version of bread and circuses. It has been for decades, and became that in spades when Shrub Bush told people to go out and shop after 9/11. Beyond that, as the income gap widens, more people can't shop.

Working harder doesn't make you feel better, or happier, or free, in America any more than Arbeit macht frei meant you stayed alive in Auschwitz. That's the Calvinist myth, updated with a religified version of Social Darwinism for gloss.

On solutions, Hedges has the goods to mention third parties. I disagree with things like alternative currencies, unless that's for trading inside a communal system only. Once you undercut an actual money system, you have surrendered to either Ron Paul goldbug libertarians or cryptocurrency tech-libertarians. Pass.