This is what we hate about baseball’s new “Hot Stove League”…

By now most of you have heard about the Rays supposed interest in Oakland’s Joe Blanton.

First let’s go back to the original source. Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports had a video report in which he talks about the possibility of the A’s trading Blanton.

From the report:

At least two teams are showing significant interest in Blanton, one of which figures to be the Reds…The Twins, desperate for a veteran starting pitcher, could be one possibility for Blanton. The Rays, deep in prospects, could be another.

It was just a guess. Pure speculation. Never mind that there are about 20 reasons not to make this trade.

Seems like a non-story right? Apparently not. We get 800 words from Rays Anatomy, and we get not one, but two posts from DRays Bay, including 750 words from RJ Anderson.

In Anderson’s defense, he actually takes the stance that the trade would be a bad idea (he is right), but both RA and DRB write their pieces as if the Rays are indeed talking to the A’s about a trade, despite a lack of evidence to suggest this is true.

from Rays Anatomy:

Having made one move for Matt Garza earlier this off-season, general manager Andrew Friedman is once again in the mix for another possible arm to add to the starting staff.

from DRays Bay:

I’m not going to divulge into the price for him, because like everyone outside of the Oakland and Tampa offices I simply have no clue what it is or will be.

Anderson does refer to the talks as “Joe Blanton rumors”, but the only reason it is a “rumor” in the first place is because these sites misrepresented the words of one person. Besides, does a rumor that has zero merit require 750 words? For comparison, most Rays columns in the Tampa Tribune and the St. Pete Times run between 500-600 words, and those are rarely based on the whimsical guessing of a FoxSports.com writer.

This is not meant as a referendum on either of these two sites. If a writer thinks trading for Blanton is a good idea or a bad idea, they should tell us that and why. But there is no need to present this as something that may actually happen when there is zero evidence that it actually could.

This is something that is not restricted to blogs. In fact journalists are also guilty, more so because of their wider audiences. Joel Sherman of the New York Post wrote an article in which he speculated that the Rays would trade Scott Kazmir this off-season. His source? “An executive familiar with Tampa’s thinking”. For all we know, he talked to the VP of a Starbucks. Next thing we knew the rumor was everywhere, that the Rays were seeking to trade Kazmir.

In today’s baseball landscape, everybody loves a good rumor. But many are not careful as to how they handle those rumors, turning something as simple as one person’s “guess” into a full-fledged trade negotiation between two teams.

We understand it is a slow news week, but we owe it to Rays fans to report the happenings in the Raysiverse accurately and fairly. A typical fan that reads these sites should not have to take the time to read the original source. They should be able to read articles like these and know that the “rumor” was never so. Otherwise, we have to deal with a dozen emails asking us what we think about Blanton, which makes us write 600 words on why the rumors are toilet, when we would rather be talking about how hot Ben Zobrists’ wife is.

By the way…the second team that Rosenthal was trying to guess? It was the Dodgers.

Why Trade For Joe Blanton? [Rays Anatomy]
Rays Interested In Blanton? [DRays Bay]
A Game of Large, Grotesque Shadows [DRays Bay]
Scott-Stove League [New York Post]
Blanton May Be Traded [MLB Trade Rumors]

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11 Comments

  1. Robert Rittner says:

    I think you raise a really interesting question. Probably part of the reason for stories like the one about Blanton is that many of us simply love to make up hypothetical deals. And in the discussion, no matter how unrealistic or unfounded the rumors are, we often clarify evaluations of players and prospects. The speculation is the fun. My guess is that most of us realize how flimsy the evidence for such rumors are, but it is cumbersome to keep repeating that point, so we simply go on assuming, probably falsely, that everyone knows it's all in fun.

    You may also be further illuminating the difference between blogging and journalism. I think journalists have to be somewhat more responsible, more careful about sources, before posting stories. There is a balance they have to judge between getting a hot story out there and simply spreading unsubstantiated nonsense.

    But on a blog, there is no such requirement. The function is simply to encourage participation or express opinion and there is no clear code of behavior or ethics. So in the end, we have to resort to our personal sense of ethical behavior. I don't think that posting rumors like the Blanton business is anything more than idle speculation; it's simply fun. On the other hand, as you know, I do think there are other issues when there are real ethical questions raised in how and what bloggers post.

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  2. Rob says:

    I would rather read 750 words of speculation about a rumor than 650 words analyzing whether the topic of posts on two other websites merited a certain amount of coverage. At least their posts encourage talk about the Rays, which is why people visit these sites.

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  3. The Professor says:

    even if the topics are misleading and based on a false premise? that is your choice.

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  4. EricSanSan says:

    You are right, news is slow, so the chance to talk about fresh Rays content is limited. That factors in a big degree. I admit that.

    I wrote about it because I didn't understand why a team such as the Rays would have any inkling of interest in a pitcher like Blanton.

    I approached it from a long term standpoint, talking more about how adding any pitcher that isn't better than the prospects we have coming up the pipeline is a bad idea.

    I mean, I got the information from the site you are working for now, mlbtraderumors.com. The post said the Rays "could" be involved, and that's what I wrote about. I don't see how this is a bad thing.

    What a blog is supposed to do is encourage readers to interact about what's happening in that current team's situation, and nothing simulates this back and forth more than trade fodder or prospects. This includes both.

    So were all the Yankee and Red Sox blogs and writers wrong to report about the Johan rumors? That didn't come to fruition, and they spent a lot more than 800 words on it.

    Rumors are rumors, but in the case of this its content that leads to the question of why the Rays should do this at all. I tried to explain why they should not.

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  5. Sean G says:

    I did not read the Rays Anatomy piece, but i did read DRB yesterday and was left wondering why the Rays would give up prospects for Blanton. I started envisioning a trade that would send Desmond Jennings and Jeremy Hellickson to the A's, and did not like the idea at all. Now that I have seen the original statement, I feel a heck of a lot better.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    This seems a bit hypocritical from somebody that said the Rays will trade Kazmir next year, considering nobody in the RFO has said this is even possible.

    and how do you know the Rays haven't talked to the A's about Blanton?

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  7. RJ says:

    The rumor was posted in a diary by a reader, I felt it was worthy of front page discussion, so I bumped it. If you count that as a story so be it, but it wasn't authored by staff.

    My column however was explaining the flaws of the premise, I had no idea it was 750 words, but does that matter much?

    When there were rumors about Rocco for Salty and company I'm sure I wrote 5,000 words on it and it turned out to be just a rumor, does that matter?

    I make no apologies for covering small news, rumors, or anything else regarding the Rays since that's what DRB is about and apparently people want to read about it. I know the running joke is how I write about irrelevant crap, but I'd rather help inform people about Scott Munter or why the team should stay away from a certain player than rehash the same info as everyone else.

    As for the topics being misleading or based on false premises, common sense tells us there's a very high likelihood the Rays inquired on Blanton just as they did Mark Buerhle, Chad Billingsly, and Tim Lincecum.

    But whatever floats your boat.

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  8. Anonymous says:

    You yourself wrote a column titled "Scott Kazmir Likely To Be Traded Following 2008 Season". Um isn't that misleading and based on a false premise. What knowledge do you have of the Rays throwing this around as an idea? Has there been a quote from Andy Friedman or Stu Sternberg even hinting at such a move? Or is this you just taking the temp of the league & FA market and just speculating. Don't be such a hyprocrite you said it yourself the Blanton deal was just a guess. Pure speculation..isn't that what you just did with Kazmir?

    At least RJ and Eric were going off a Tim Dierkes lead your's was based off your own thoughts.

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  9. The Professor says:

    anon, as you can see from my post, i did not criticize Rosenthal for making the original statement even though his guess was wrong. Rather I was just commenting on how it was covered by other outlets.

    my Kazmir post was like the Rosenthal comment. Speculation. Nothing more nothing less. One person's guess, based on evidence at hand. If somebody else were to take my piece and write "The Rays have decided to trade Kazmir after the season" that would be misleading and wrong. That would be taking my argument and stretching it into something it is not.

    as for your second point. I dont. But they were NOT one of the two teams that are currently trying to work out a trade. Rosenthal says the Red and one other. The other turned out to be the Dodgers.

    Ifit was just simply calling and inquiring that should lead to this type of discourse, then we might as well argue the merits of every single free agent and 4-5 players on every team, because I am willing to bet that the Rays call and inquire about dozens of players. that does not mean they are ever in serious negotiations to acquire said player

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  10. RJ says:

    At DRB we do talk about just about every FA they inquire about that we can. I consider it part of covering the team and I will continue to do so.

    Nowhere did I ever state we were in negotiations to acquire Blanton, however your statement was the content is based on a false premise: if they inquired on him then it's not a false premise, there was interest there.

    I'm sure you'll scream semantics or something of the sort, but I'll withhold from commenting further in this venue.

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  11. The Professor says:

    RJ,

    I dont feel like going back and looking up the sources, but i seem to recall that there were sources that said the Rays and Braves had indeed been involved in serious discussions for those two players.

    To me that is a far cry from Rosenthal guessing at who the second team was.

    anon (last one),
    that is the difference between a Primary Source and a Secondary Source. Again, there is nothing wrong with speculation about what a team will/should do. It is something else to comment as if the team is doing something even though nothing suggests they are.

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