A Look At Why Bleacher Report Is An Absolute Travesty

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably noticed that from time to time I go on a rant against Bleacher Report. The “stories” there, written by unpaid and often inexperienced contributors, are full of horrendous grammar, terrible writing, faulty ideas which have no basis in reality, and facts which are just downright incorrect. When they actually do manage to run sports stories in between lists of sexy women, they’re done in an immensely annoying ‘slideshow’ format, in order to artificially inflate click totals. That’s if you get past the annoying pop-ups inundating you to sign up for their mailing lists, that is.

It’s generally the kind of garbage I would usually neither read nor give the respect of even mentioning on here, and that’s why you never see me link to them. It’s no better than the millions of other mediocre amateur blogs which aren’t worth discussing.

And yet…  it’s tremendously successful. They’re the fifth most popular sports destination on the web. They raise millions of dollars in funding. They have content-sharing deals with the Los Angeles Times (among others), and they consistently appear highly in Google search results – as being “news” stories, no less.

That, to those of us who put a lot of work into this for often little or no gain, is tremendously disconcerting. We work hard to bring an interesting or unique viewpoint, while Bleacher Report gets rich by catering to the lowest common denominator. The average reader, or the large site manager looking only for traffic, usually either doesn’t realize or doesn’t care that the quality of the content there is simply atrocious compared to some of the really quality sports writing and blogging out there. I’m hardly alone in this; ten seconds worth of Googling will find you quite a few links of similar complaints. It’s sort of like the Matrix, in that you almost feel like you need to free the readers of that site and show them how good things can be on the outside.

This has been true for some time, but if you’re wondering why I’m bothering to post about BR now, it’s partly because people are often asking me why I hate them so much and I thought it was good to get it written down, but partly because of an “article” that was posted yesterday, entitled “Los Angeles Dodgers: 10 Sluggers Who Could Replace Manny Ramirez in Their Lineup”. The idea, apparently, is to look for power bats who could be imported to LA for 2011 (even though, you know, it’s already January and we all know any further additions would be minimal) and it’s full of such ludicrous ideas, contradictions, and pie-in-the-sky theories that I found it hard to let it pass by.

Again, I generally wouldn’t care that an amateur blogger wrote a terrible article; that sort of thing happens all the time. But if the LA Times and other supposedly reputable organizations are going to syndicate this stuff to their readership, then someone’s got to point out how bad it is.

Besides, it’s 19 degrees where I am, and it’s a long holiday weekend. Have to write about something, right? So here’s the 10 names this piece suggests may be actually be viable for the Dodgers.

1) Jermaine Dye

What BR says…

In 2009, Jermaine Dye proved that he still had something left in the gas tank. Now, at age 36, he could return to baseball and help the Dodgers in a similar fashion to what Manny Ramirez did.

Dye hit .250 with 27 home runs, 81 RBI and a .340 OBP in 2009. Like Ramirez, Dye could be a force in the middle of the lineup.

Why that’s silly…

Manny had a 1.012 OPS as a Dodger. Dye had a .793 OPS in 2009, and didn’t even play last year. Dye (who will be 37 this year, not 36) is like Manny only in that he’s a horrendous outfielder who once played for the White Sox and demands far more money than he’s worth. The only way he’s going to help the Dodgers “in a similar fashion to what Manny did” is if he not only gets a time machine to make him 28 again, but somehow transports the rest of baseball to the deadball era, so he looks as good as Manny by comparison.

2) Prince Fielder

What BR says…

For a couple years now, Prince Fielder‘s name was tossed around as a potential trade target. If the Brewers fall out of the race, which is less likely now that they traded for Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum, Fielder could be an option in 2011 for the Dodgers, especially since it is a contract year for him.

Fielder can flat-out hit. In 2010, he mashed 32 home runs with 83 RBI. He also gets on base, owning a career .385 OBP. He would dramatically change the look of the Dodgers’ lineup and serve as a nice tandem with Kemp and Ethier.

Unlike Manny Ramirez, Fielder is not a defensive liability. He plays nearly flawless defense and is a good athlete, posting an impressive .997 fielding percentage.

Two problems will make this deal unlikely, however. One, the Brewers expect to compete in 2011, as shown by the Greinke trade, and two, the finances might still be a bit tight with the McCourt divorce.

Why that’s silly…

This contradicts itself more than once, and I kind of love that. “Hey, let’s get Prince Fielder! Sure, the Brewers won’t trade him because their pitching moves mean they’re going for it hard this year, and the Dodgers can’t afford it anyway, so actually this probably isn’t an option, so I probably shouldn’t have included him, but I already wrote four whole paragraphs so… ”

I’m not even going to get into the idiocy of using fielding percentage for a first baseman and coming up with “flawless defense”.

3) Jose Bautista

What BR says…

If the Dodgers trade for Bautista to replace Manny Ramirez, their lineup would look better—granted 2010 was not a fluke. In 2010, Bautista hit the 54 home runs and had 120 RBI’s, and he could be the replacement the Dodgers are looking for.

One major problem that could hamper the Dodgers’ chances of getting Bautista is that the Jays will want good talent in return for him. It is likely they would want to pry Billingsley or Kershaw away from the Dodgers, something it does not seem like the Dodgers want to do

Why that’s silly…

I don’t know that “granted” was quite the word you were looking for there, to start, but somehow I doubt the Jays are looking to move their 54-homer man. If they are, then I’m betting there’s about 28 other teams who’d consider him a fit too. Besides, again, let’s contradict our own idea by pointing out that the Dodgers aren’t trading Billingsley or Kershaw for him, thus making trading for a guy who isn’t getting traded a non-starter anyway.

4) Justin Upton

What BR says…

Justin Upton is a young power hitter who is a force at the plate. If the Dodgers could somehow pry him from the Diamondbacks, a National League West title might be in the cards for the boys in blue.

Upton is signed by the Diamondbacks through 2015 and figures to be a big part of their offense, but for a pitching-starved team like the D-backs, they might have to listen to offers for quality pitching, something the Dodgers have.

Why that’s silly…

And if I could somehow look like Tom Brady, then a supermodel might be in the cards for me. Do I really have to explain why the Dodgers aren’t getting Justin Upton from the division rival Diamondbacks?

5) Derrek Lee

What BR says...

Currently, James Loney plays Lee’s first base position, but Lee might still be a fit for the Dodgers. If Loney can move to the outfield (he has played three career games in right field), the Dodgers can put both potent bats in the lineup.

Why that’s silly…

The idea of trading for Lee at midseason, if he’s having a good year, isn’t actually a bad one. The idea of moving Loney to the outfield, based on his three career games? Nearly as laughable as the idea of him being a ‘potent’ bat. Besides, if Loney really breaks out this season, doesn’t that mean you don’t need to go trade for a first baseman in July anyway?

6) Vladimir Guerrero

What BR says…

Vladimir Guerrero may be 35, but he can still hit like he was 25.

In 2010, his .300 average, 29 home runs, and 115 RBIs helped the Rangers get to the World Series. If he were to be inserted into the Dodgers’ lineup to replace Manny Ramirez, watch out.

Although Guerrero looked lost in the outfield during the World Series, it cannot be any worse than Manny Ramirez‘s outfield play. It might be a chance worth taking.

When Guerrero was 25, he had a .345/.410/.664 line. It was the best year of his distinguished career. Somehow I doubt at 36 this year (not 35), he’s going to be replicating that.

I also think the last line of the second paragraph ought to be revised to something more like, “If he were to be inserted into the Dodgers’ lineup to replace Manny Ramirez, watch out… for an outright revolt from the pitching staff, horrified at what would surely be the worst defensive outfield in baseball.”

Whether Vlad is better or worse than Manny in the outfield is immaterial; they’re both horrendous, and Manny was tolerated only because he was putting up the best offensive numbers in Dodger history. Vlad’s strictly a DH at this point, and while he did have a solid 2010, his OPS was nearly 100 points better in Texas than elsewhere. Pass.

7) Jorge Cantu

What BR says…

The 2010 campaign was a down year for Cantu. In his worst full season as a big league player, Cantu hit just .256 with 11 home runs and 56 RBIs.

When healthy, Cantu can be a legitimate power threat. In 155 games played in 2008, he hit a career high 29 home runs.

Although he can play all around the infield, Cantu’s best position is first base, where he owns a career .995 fielding percentage. The Dodgers might be able to get away with putting James Loney in the outfield, but if Uribe or Blake struggle, another position might open up for Cantu.

With Cantu’s down season, he may be a cheap option on the free agent market. Also, since he is a free agent, the Dodgers would not have to part with anybody to pick up Cantu.

Why this is silly…

Cantu as a righty bench bat isn’t unreasonable, but again, bringing up fielding percentage at first base and moving James Loney to the outfield kind of makes the rest of the point invalid.

8) Vernon Wells

What BR says…

Wells is under a seven-year, $126 million dollar contract. If the Dodgers can trade for Wells in a package that includes pitching, he could be had.

Why this is silly…

Sure, Wells did have a nice rebound in 2010 after some down years. He’s also got $87m coming to him over the next four years in what Sports Illustrated once called the worst contract in baseball. And yet the Dodgers, with two solid outfielders and two plus prospects on the way, would be expected to give up pitching to take on that bloated debt for the next several years? Uh, right.

9) Garrett Jones

What BR says…

He has been a Dodger killer so far in his young career, so why not bring him to Los Angeles?

Jones can be an adequate replacement for Manny Ramirez. Although he hit just .247, he hit 21 home runs and had 86 RBIs and could hit the ball further than most.

Why it’s silly…

Beyond not needing another lefty bat, how exactly does “being a Dodger killer” mean that he’d be successful as a Dodger? I’m also not exactly sure on what planet Garrett Jones, who’s going to be 30 and has precisely one good MLB season under his belt, is someone who is worthy of being named a replacement for Manny. He had a .306 OBP last year. Pretty sure Jay Gibbons could do that.

Also, do you get more runs now for hitting the ball “further than most”? I forgot, all of Adam Dunn‘s homers count for seven runs.

10) Jason Bay

What BR says…

The Mets might want to hang on to Bay, thinking he should be better in 2011 if healthy. However, if the Dodgers come up with a nice package deal for him, he could be patrolling left field in place of Manny Ramirez, granted that he waves his no-trade clause to come to Los Angeles.

Why it’s silly…

Again, with the “package deal” for under-performing, over-paid, over-30, broken-down veterans. Bay’s got over $50m still coming to him after a year in which he hit just 6 homers in 401 PA and missed over two months with a concussion. Sure, why wouldn’t the Dodgers put together a nice package of players for that? I think they could offer the Mets a package of unsalted crackers and Sandy Alderson would jump at it.

******

Yeah, I hate myself for devoting this much time to Bleacher Report too. Let this be the last time it happens. If the writer of that article should see this, well, nothing personal, guy. I’m sure that if I were him, with just about no experience, I’d jump at the chance to get my name out there as well. But if the people in charge of any large media site (yes, I’m looking at you, Los Angeles Times) that partners with Bleacher Report sees this? You should be ashamed of yourselves for lending your name to content like this and misleading your readership into consuming this tripe.

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