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Feature
 
 
An Open Letter to Drew Olson

Bethke
on 10/10/2001

 
Career highs were set in 96 games.

NOTE: All opinions of fan-submitted articles do not necessarily represent the opinions of brewerfan.com

Drew,

I've regarded you as a poor beat writer the entire season; well, even before that. Your uninterested, bare bones columns have left me begging for more substantial recaps. Your "style" of attempting to somehow provoke laughter by bringing up Springsteen bootlegs repeatedly on your chats is beyond boorish and immature. Simply put, I'm often embarrassed that you are the main voice of the Brewers in the print media.

So, with downright numbingly low expectations, I started to read your "Player Grades" column in the JS Online on 10/9/01. What followed was the very first entry, the only one I read, as the inaccuracy was so overwhelming, it is simply immeasurable.

INFIELDERS

Ronnie Belliard - Established career highs in homers (11) and doubles (30), but the Brewers were expecting much more than a .264 average and solid defense. Missed most of the last two months with a severely sprained ankle and didn't seem especially motivated to return, which was surprising for a player entering arbitration for the first time. If money can't motivate him to produce, what will? The organization has been patient, but Belliard will be 27 next year and it's time for him to step up. Grade: C

My God, where to begin. First of all, you fail to mention that these career highs, both very respectable for a middle infielder, by the way, were set in 96 games. That alone is extremely impressive, but is nothing compared to what is about to come.

You say his grades are based on league average and expectations. Well, seeing you gave Ronnie a "C", he must be very close to the league average, right?

Player---------BA/OBP/SLG/OPS
Average 2B-----.270/.336/.405/741
Belliard-------.264/.335/.453/788

Almost exactly league average in both batting average and on base percentage, but far ABOVE in slugging. Perhaps you were going by stats in the bizarro world. Let's take a look at the rank in important categories, shall we?

OBP:13th (30 teams)
SLG:8th
OPS:8th

I guess being in the Top 10 2B offensively must be a mediocre performance.right?

Next, let's discuss Ronnie's "solid defense". Ronnie did have a dandy year in the field. In his prior seasons, Ronnie showed very good range, an outstanding ability to turn the double play, and below average hands. All told, I'd say his defense was mediocre. So in 2001, Ronnie not only had a 49 game errorless streak (which went unnoticed by you until very near the end), his other defensive numbers were as follows:

Total Chances per 9 Innings: FIRST in the major leagues
Fielding Percentage: 3rd in the majors, FIRST in the NL
Zone Rating: 3rd in the majors, 2nd in the NL

Now granted, he should have had a lot of chances, as the Brewers had nearly a total righthanded pitching staff in 2001, so it makes sense Ronnie would be in the top ten or so, as other clubs used a lot of lefty batters against the Crew. But, to be the best in baseball at your position is very impressive. Fielding percentage simply means he made very few errors in his chances. Zone rating, which I doubt you have ever heard of, measures how many balls were hit in Ronnie's "defensive zone", and how many he was able to turn into outs. If all things were equal, we'd be asking whether Ronnie would be winning a Rawlings Gold Glove if he had stayed healthy.but in your world, this is simply "solid defense". Sigh.

I'm not even sure what to make of the statement Ronnie severely sprained an ankle and was slow to return. Many baseball fans, myself included, wondered why in the world he was activated, as he was not able to play in the field. The best case scenario, as I wrote about a week ago, was that Belly would pinch hit, drive a ball into the gap, and we would all cringe as he hobbled around the bases. In what was a lost season, the decision to bring Ronnie back at all was curious, and very short-sighted, in my opinion. In fact, Tyler Houston DID return from a less serious ailment, and all but immediately reinjured himself.

To wonder why Ronnie didn't return.for the sole purpose of inflating his statistics at the risk of his long-term health.to possibly earn more money is, at best, one of the silliest ideas I have ever come across in the mainstream media. Would you risk your career, or possibly even your ability to play the game to play some late season games, or would you rest your ankle and come back next season? I know what I would do, it is a no brainer. (Note to reader: Barely containing incredible urge to compare Drew to ease of decision)

In fact, I would bet my house that if he HAD returned, you would have slammed him for that, because anyone that reads your work knows full well this column was written quickly, off the top of your head, and poorly researched, if researched at all.

This is not just an award winning example of your astounding lack of intelligence and baseball knowledge, it pretty much sums up the entire experience of reading you over the course of a season. The level of frustration is enormous, as there is only one major newspaper covering the Brewers. As much as I'd like to say that I'm boycotting the JS, it is realistically the only source for everyday coverage.

All I can say is, the grade for your performance today was, as it was all season, merits a failing grade. I can only hope that in the future, I see enough effort and improvement to someday saying that you are now worthy of a passing grade.

Of course, I also have hopes of vacationing with Jennifer Love Hewitt, with permission to do so from my wife. I'm not sure which is more unlikely, but I have an idea.

Al Bethke
Woodbury, MN

 




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otherArticles
 
  Alex Sanchez... Starting CF?
(2002-05-18)
You Want Proof?
(2002-05-08)
How Far Away Are We?
(2001-10-22)
An Open Letter to Drew Olson
(2001-10-10)
Weighing the Options at Shortstop
(2001-08-18)
Strikeouts Are Not The Problem
(2001-07-29)

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