Ask Gary: Did Bucs’ first game concern you?

by Gary Shelton on August 19, 2017 · 4 comments

in general

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Saturday, 4 a.m.

After watching the Bucs' first preseason game, I can't help but be concerned about our defense as a whole. The line was pushed around constantly. It seemed that Kwon Alexander is the only pure tackler. Lord help us if we lose Hargreaves or Grimes for even a game or so. The "Bungles" are not a power running team but we made them look like it. Their backup quarterback (a Gator quitter) made ours look silly. At least we ended the Aguayo saga.

I know it's just preseason and it's just one game, but for an aspiring playoff team with no coaching turnover, I was hoping for more.

Do you share my frustration or am I overreacting ?

Bruce Brownlee

I think a fan has every right to be frustrated when his team doesn't kick in the door as long as you do understand it is indeed preseason and it's a small sample. The starting players for the Bucs didn't give up points (they did give up a long drive).

Sure, it's preseason. And, yes, the Patriots and Falcons got beat, too. But who cares about the preseason? It's a glorified practice designed to rob the fans. Some stars don't even sweat.

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But for fans of the Bucs, who have lived with disappointment in most of their seasons, it was hard to see an offense that was unable to finish drives and a defense that gave up too many successful running plays. I really do understand anyone's frustration. Fans have been waiting so long to see something special.

The Bucs were much, much better against Jacksonville. Again, they left too many points on the field, but I mainly judge one team's main guys against the others.

I'll say this, Bruce. In December, you may bring up the Cincinnati preseason game, and I'll bet I don't remember it. I'll bet  you probably won't, either. That's why they call it preseason.

I liked the way Jameis got on the offensive linemen after Ryan Griffin got hurt.   Tom Jones didn't like it.   What did you think?

 
Jim Willson
Jim, it didn't bother me. And here's why: Leadership isn't just being bubbly and funny and smiling at the successes. Leadership is knowing what to say and when to be solemn. Jameis is very careful with the persona that he shows the world, so I thought it was an insight that he could be serious, too.
Tom and I are friends, but I often joke with him about how often we disagree. That includes the Godfather movies. He likes 2 better than the original, which I think is silly.
So we disagree again. Nothing wrong with that. If you know me at all, you know that I believe in strong opinions, but I believe that smart men can disagree.
Remember, Winston spends more time with his fellow quarterbacks than with any players. He's known Griffin longer. And so he was upset that Griffin was hurt. And two backup linemen yucking it up need to respect the game more.
Look, Winston didn't say this to Ali Marpet or Donovan Smith. He said it to two guys who are probably going to bounce around before they ever make the team. They need to know how to comport themselves.
This is what Hard Knocks does. It lifts the veil and lets you see inside. But it doesn't show a lot of context. It doesn't show if Winston, after scolding, went up to these two and encouraged them. It doesn't show what was said when Griffin came off the field.
Maybe it's just me, but I'll take a bone-honest, blunt Jameis every time.
What do you think of Derek Jeter’s announced role as limited partner in charge of the business and baseball operations in the new Marlins ownership group? Sounds like a lot to take on for someone with no front office experience.

 Larry Beller

Here's what I think: Inexperienced or not, the Marlins just got a promotion. They're a lot easier to live with today than they were before this announcement.

True, it's a lot for a guy to take on. That's true if you're talking about John Elway or John Lynch or Magic Johnson. But knowledge of the game, and love for it, can make up for a lot of errors. I have no doubt that Jeter's class will spread throughout.

Look, a major league owner has plenty of people around him to help. If Jeter wants to discuss whether a minor leaguer deserves a promotion, well, there are guys who evaluate that. If he wants to draft a third baseman over a pitcher, well, he can get advice there, too.

But if you're talking about taking a franchise seriously, who would you rather have? As an organization, the Marlins need to get better. They will. They can't be worse than they were under Loria.

How much credence to you give to the WAR (Wins Above Replacement) statistic of MLB?
 
Scott Myers
War? Good God, ya'll. What is it good for?
Sorry. I think of that song every time we discuss WAR.
To be serious, I find WAR an interesting part of the evaluation of a player, but only a part. It isn't the gospel that its fans say that it is.
Start with this: There are different ways to determine WAR: Baseball Reference has its own way, and Fangraphs have their way.
To quote Baseball Reference from its own site: "There is no one way to determine WAR. There are hundreds of steps to make this calculation, and dozens of places where reasonable people can disagree on the best way to implement a particular part of the framework."
Then, consider this: The "average replacement player" doesn't really exist. He's a made-up standard. Granted, WAR usually has the better players ranked higher, which is the point.
In other words, WAR isn't as solid as, say, earned run average. But it's a fine tool that attempts to say what a player's value is to his team. You'd be an idiot to ignore it, but you wouldn't be very smart to use only WAR.
I think, to be fair, a guy has to look at a lot of stats. Some of them mean more than others. I think ERA, for instance, is a better tool than a pitcher's wins (who doesn't?), but I still think wins has a part in the discussion. I've been ripped over this for years by a lot of people who can't read. There is a time in the game where a pitcher needs a big out -- say, the winning run is on third. He has to reach inside of himself and come up with a moment. You can't always measure that, but it's real.
So I don't completely dismiss "wins." Besides, isn't that one of the key discussions for the Hall of Fame? But is it as important as other pitching stats. It isn't.
Baseball is a complicated game. I see no problem with considering a lot of numbers.
If the Rays second half slump continues, do you think that Kevin Cash deserves to come back next season?

Jim Willson

Cash needs to hit better with runners on base. Wait. That's not his job, is it?

I'll be honest. I don't see a lot of room to criticize Cash for the tailspin his team is in except that he's the manager.

I understand the question. In the history of baseball, a lot of good men have been fired because their teams played terribly. I don't think it's bad to ask the question with Cash.

I say this a lot: A baseball manager has less power over his game than the coach for any team sport. If you coach the Patriots, you can have Tom Brady throw it 50 times a game. If you coach the Penguins, you can make sure Sidney Crosby gets more minutes than anyone. You can get Kevin Durant 20 shots a game. But a baseball manager can send a player up to hit four, maybe five times a game. There is no free substitution.

The Rays are in a skid because Corey Dickerson and Logan Morrison have stopped hitting. So what should Cash do? Bench them? For who?

Cash's job, pretty much, is to maintain the clubhouse. A lot of managers lose their jobs there. But as near as I can tell, the Rays are still behind Cash. They know that there is precious little a guy in the dugout can do when the opposing pitcher is throwing a shutout.

I look at this lineup compared to the Red Sox and the Yankees, and I don't think it's Cash's fault that his team isn't better than those.

Me? I wouldn't fire him.

But I respect that others might.

 

 

 

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Larry Beller August 19, 2017 at 12:17 pm

Longoria mentioned at one point the added pressure of performing in a playoff race may have had an impact on the team. So maybe instead of tanking I should have said the Rays are gagging or choking. Whatever you call it the hitters’ ineptness has completely destroyed what only a few weeks ago looked like a promising season. How ironic that shortly after management made some moves to improve the team, they started their losing ways. I’m not so sure the owner will spend any money to bring in additional players in mid-season in the future after this year’s disaster.

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Gary Shelton August 19, 2017 at 4:39 pm

I would hope he would realize that, despite the bad results, the team made good moves (except for trading Tim Beckham for a wad of gum). This team has stepped into a hole, hasn’t it? I’ll be honest. I’m not sure I ever thought this team would make the playoffs. But I thought it would contend. I thought the last couple of weeks would be interesting. Now, I hear the team talk about how good it is and how it will start winning any day, and I want to roll my eyes.

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Larry Beller August 19, 2017 at 9:03 am

It will be interesting to see how the Marlins go about building their franchise. The Marlins games on my cable network just one station up the dial so it would be awesome to have an other baseball option for when the Rays tank as they are now. I was at the Rays game last night and other than watching Kiermaier’s play the game was a total waste of time. I was not entertained. This team has tanked like few teams in recent history. A bunch of good guys I’m sure but the collapse of the offense has been historic and shameful.

Reply

Gary Shelton August 19, 2017 at 10:24 am

I was there, too. Hard to be entertained with what we saw. Down 3-0 before coming to bat, 6-0 by the fifth, handcuffed by a pedestrian pitcher. An assault on the eyes.

I don’t think they’re tanking. Not in the definition of “not trying.” I just think their main bats (Dickerson, Morrison) are having similar slumps to the way last year started. But hardened criminals should be made to watch.

GS

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