Impolite or not, A-Rod’s “attack” on Michael Weiner is not out-of-bounds

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When Alex Rodriguez’s lawsuit against the MLBPA came to light yesterday, immediate attention went to the allegations that the union and its late Executive Director, Michael Weiner, did not properly defend Alex Rodriguez’s interests. Initially there was surprise, but that surprise is now turning into scorn, as if A-Rod is somehow going after the character and integrity of Weiner. And, what’s more, that it is somehow the lowest of low rent moves due to Weiner’s recent death.

Stuff like this from the New York Post, which implies that his allegations against Weiner are “shocking” and make quick mention of his recent death to imply that they are likewise in poor taste. Stuff like this tweet from Jeff Passan and a couple of references in the linked story invoking Weiner’s death, suggesting that A-Rod’s suit against the union is all the worse — and that A-Rod himself is somehow worse — because the allegations come after his passing.

I’ll state at the outset that there is no one in baseball’s management/executive structure that I have greater respect for than Michael Weiner. The way he went about his job, his success at his job and everything I ever learned about him from people who knew him well suggests that he was a wonderful, honorable man. I’ll further state that, while I may have approached things differently if I were Weiner or MLBPA here, I don’t feel as if A-Rod is going to have a lot of success in his suit against the union and that his claims of it and Weiner’s alleged mistakes are overstated and, legally speaking, are likely insufficient to get him anywhere.

But with that said, I think it’s a but much to go after A-Rod and his lawyer as if they are ghouls here.  Nowhere in the complaint or in their public statements are they attempting to impugn Weiner’s character or worth as a person and nowhere do they reference his health or any other personal matter. They reference his public acts as the Executive Director of the union and take issue with those acts done in his official capacity. This may upset some who remember Weiner fondly and/or who think negatively of A-Rod (i.e. just about everyone) but the allegations are the only way possible to assert claims against the union, which he has a legal right to do and, depending on your view of the results of this case, an obligation to do.

I get that A-Rod is a pariah, but that doesn’t mean he has to forfeit legal arguments available to him. I get that Michael Weiner was a wonderful person, but that doesn’t make him immune from criticism in his official capacity.  To suggest otherwise is evidence of emotional baggage being brought into the matter at the very least and could very well be construed as emotionally manipulative.

However understandable the impulse for such things are, they really don’t have a place in this conversation.

Justin Turner is a postseason monster

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A not-insignificant amount of the Dodgers’ success in recent years has to do with the emergence of Justin Turner. In his first five seasons with the Orioles and Mets, he was a forgettable infielder who had versatility, but no power. The Mets non-tendered him after the 2013 season, a move they now really regret.

In four regular seasons since, as a Dodger, Turner has hit an aggregate .303/.378/.502. His 162-game averages over those four seasons: 23 home runs, 36 doubles, 83 RBI, 80 runs scored. And he’s also a pretty good third baseman, it turns out. The Dodgers have averaged 95 wins per season over the past four years.

Turner, 32, has gotten better and better with each passing year. This year, he drew more walks (59) than strikeouts (56), a club only five other players (min. 300 PA) belonged to, and he trailed only Joey Votto (1.61) in BB/K ratio (1.05). He zoomed past his previous career-high in OPS, finishing at .945. His .415 on-base percentage was fourth-best in baseball. His batting average was fifth-best and only nine points behind NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon.

It doesn’t seem possible, but Turner has been even better in the postseason. He exemplified that with his walk-off home run to win Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cubs. Overall, entering Wednesday night’s action, he was batting .363/.474/.613 in 97 postseason plate appearances. In Game 4, he went 2-for-2 with two walks, a single, and a solo home run. That increases his postseason slash line to .378/.495/.659, now across 101 plate appearances. That’s a 1.154 OPS. The career-high regular season OPS for future first-ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols was 1.114 in 2008, when he won his third career MVP Award. Statistically, in the postseason, Turner hits slightly better than Pujols did in the prime of his career. Of course, we should adjust for leagues and parks and all that, but to even be in that neighborhood is incredible.

In the age of stats, the concept of “clutch” has rightfully eroded. We don’t really allow players to ascend to godlike levels anymore like the way we did Derek Jeter, for instance. (Jeter’s career OPS in the playoffs, by the way, was a comparatively pitiful .838.) Turner isn’t clutch; he’s just a damn good hitter whose careful approach at the plate has allowed him to shine in the postseason and the Dodgers can’t imagine life without him.