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David Roth's Weak in Review: Contemporary Trends in Baseball Human Resources

A frank discussion and meandering free-association about baseball's annual week of hyperspeed commerce, the Dodgers acquiring every active MLB player, and Brian De Palma.
July 31, 2015, 3:10pm
Illustration by Henry Kaye

In celebration of the annual carnival of human-based baseball commerce that comes at the MLB Trade Deadline, Weak in Review welcomes David Raposa for a very special edition of the baseball free-association series "Yakkin' About Baseball."

David Roth: Biggest story of the trade deadline for me, with all due respect to the Toronto Blue Jays trading for the best hitter and best pitcher available, is the Houston Astros trading for an injured guy. The Mets' crack medical staff—team doctor Nicholas Riviera, with his assistant Julio Franco looking up things on WebMD and trying to get people to go on weird acai-berry cleanses with him—diagnosed Carlos Gomez with an Expensive Hip, and the Astros just ignore it? Either they're not the data-friendly team they're supposed to be or they have followed the Mets over the last decade or so.


David Raposa: So I assume you're Yakking at me from the road, having blown up Citi Field?

David Roth: It's not important whether I've assumed a new identity in Belarus, although I will say MLB.TV is also very spotty at my dacha. It is at least somewhat important that I've removed my fingerprints. Or helpful, maybe. Typing is extremely painful, but someone needs to complain about baseball.

David Raposa: Gwyneth Paltrow's head approves.

David Roth: It just makes me sad now. I can tell you that I think the Mets front office made a trade with the understanding that it had money to spend, and only later was told by ownership that they did not have that money. And then when the Brewers refused to kick in cash the team backed out of the deal and Jeff Wilpon, baseball's foremost failson, slimed Gomez out of habit. I can tell you all this and believe it—even the part about the New York team trying to wring some extra money out of the dang Brewers—but at some point we're talking about Wilmer Flores playing shortstop for three innings thinking he'd been traded and crying big salty Toy Story 2 tears, and I'd rather not tell anyone about that.

Read More: The Importance Of Not Being An A-Hole

David Raposa: Watching that Mets/Brewers fiasco unfold was like watching kids in recess play Punch Buggy, except the Mets were the kid who insisted that every Bug that drove by wasn't actually a Bug.

David Roth: "That is actually a Volkswagen Cabriolet with some minor body damage, and it would be irresponsible to claim otherwise," a child crying inconsolably says with peevish authority. "Experts agree with me. End of story."


David Raposa: The years of therapy Wilmer will need before he believes there isn't a "TRADE ME, I SMELL" sign on his back.

David Roth: Poor Flores has been treated so awfully by the team forever. All he wants to do is hit doubles and have his doofy wrist tattoos, and they just won't stop messing with him. This is the first time it's achieved the full "child crying at Caldor because he can't find his mom" level, emotionally, but we were always approaching that.

David Raposa: I'm just confused. Partially because I'm finding myself rooting for a Toronto-Houston ALCS, but mostly because the Mets were very close to pulling off another pretty good trade.

David Roth: Good for both teams! I am at the Jersey Shore this week and spent a good 45 minutes feeling OK about the Mets after that deal. Just letting it happen, riding the strange new vibrations. It was like being on mushrooms, in retrospect.

David Raposa: Suddenly, Keith Hernandez's Lefsetzian harangues about the rock canon and Ruth's Chris sounded amazing. And very chartreuse.

David Roth: Everything was brighter and weirder. We watched part of an American Ninja Warrior episode and it was all I could do not to speak the words "the human spirit" aloud. I listened to a Brian Eno record and felt things. It was how I imagine it feels to cheer for a believable playoff team, instead of one that answers every question about its finances by having the owner explain to the media that he "knows Sandy Koufax, personally, OK?" The other trades seem pretty prosaic in comparison.


David Raposa: That's probably because those trades actually happened.

TFW you are on the fucking Mets. Photo by Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

David Roth: I keep coming back to the Papelbon deal, which I know does not really matter. There's just something about the Nats replacing their very good closer with an equally good one who is older and paid more and looks like someone who gets hit with a pool cue during a confrontation at a roadhouse in an episode of Justified.

David Raposa: Everyone misses Boyd Crowder. Nothing worse, though, than slighting the ego of a three-out pitcher whose self-valuation isn't close to what he's actually worth on the stat sheet.

David Roth: That's just baseball, Suzyn.

David Raposa: I would love for Bob Carpenter to have a "ROGER CLEMENS…IS IN GEORGE'S BOX" moment involving the return of Rafael Soriano.

David Roth: "Oh my goodness gracious." A dead-eyed Rafael Soriano gives up five consecutive doubles while ostentatiously screwing around on Tinder between pitches.

David Roth: I will say that the Dodgers' attempt to win a World Series by simultaneously employing every Major League player is a bold stroke, though, and I respect that. Just acquire everyone that plays baseball and come October you're facing a 1994 Rock 'N' Jock softball team led by Dan Cortese and Montell Jordan, because they're the only other baseball players out there.

David Raposa: The guys they're getting from ATL, though, aren't the sort that can open a blockbuster, never mind serve as the building block of a shared-universe dynasty that is seemingly dead set against giving the talented and highly bankable Scarlett Johansson some solo-movie super-spy shine I mean come on, Kevin Feige.


David Roth: I think Alex Wood is good, but really this is more of an ensemble. That's why the Dodgers hired Garry Marshall to manage the team. He knows how to weave the story lines. He's the only guy that can get great moments out of both Andre Ethier and Andre Braugher.

David Raposa: "This August, it's Postseason Roster Eligibility Day."

David Roth: A poster that's just photos of 35 white people smiling.

David Raposa: Starring Topher Grace, Katherine Heigl, and Shane Victorino.

David Roth: "With Cobie Smulders and Cole Hamels as Jigsaw."

Literally no one who follows baseball says anything about ducking. Photo by Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

David Raposa: Hamels: "I want to play a game." Heigl: "Let's play two." They kiss and win the World Series. Fade to black. M. Night just got so jealous.

David Roth: Shyamalan should chill and be glad that he continues to be allowed to run the Marlins as some sort of decade-spanning dystopian epic. Loria has ever appreciated the arts.

David Raposa: [Note to The Internet: Please make a GIF of Mark Wahlberg staring dumbfounded at the Marlins' Home Run Cthulhu.] Also of note: the Royals acting like a competently run organization, which is really not jiving with my longstanding perception of them.

David Roth: I spent all of last year making bunt jokes about them. Like, even as they made the World Series I was like, "Uh, Yuni Betancourt much?" This is because I'm an idiot, but I still don't know how they're doing this. They went out of their way to employ Alex Rios, and yet they could win a World Series. I respect it and am on board, but I just want them to re-sign Willie Bloomquist for four years so I can feel like myself again.


David Raposa: Dear lord, they're the American League Giants, aren't they? They built up from within, balanced a few savvy moves with a ton of hilarious failed Aaron Rowand-esque free-agent acquisitions, brought in some quality mid-season reinforcements, and continue to win.

David Roth: The tried and true Extremely Good Pitching and Caucasians Selected at Random from a Lottery of Rectangular Floridians model.

David Raposa: #RIPBillyButler.

David Roth: Definitely rectangular enough, ultimately not quite Floridian enough. It's a tough business.

Lot of good names in that organization, too. Most teams, once they add a name like Bubba Starling, are banking on him working out. The Royals just add a Balbino Fuenmayor and keep it moving.

David Raposa: Cheslor Cuthbert is a little too Vampire Weekend for me.

David Roth: Ol' Thomas Pynchon-ass name-having Cheslor Cuthbert. "I'm Plebe Zeugma. I play shortstop. Here's a song we sing." Worst bit in V., and I'm including the long chapter about the Orioles being captured by Barbary pirates in that.

David Raposa: Pirates led by Orlando Calixte! It's a shame Paulo Orlando was sent down. I'm a sucker for easy Yo La Tengo jokes, and every fantasy team named Let's Save Paulo Orlando's House brightened my life just a little.

David Roth: I've spent all year looking for a Lorenzo Cain Raising Cain joke and it's just not there.

Haw haw, we keep winning somehow. Photo by David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

David Raposa: Oh, if only the Royals had a little De Palma in them. Yordano Ventura throws an ill-advised fastball at Melky Cabrera, and suddenly Cabrera's charging the mound in slow motion and it's revealed that Yordano Ventura is actually James Shields in disguise. I'd forgive them all their scrappy hustle-butt grit-fart trespasses.

David Roth: For just a few ham-fisted Hitchcock references.


David Raposa: I think those allusions and sparkly Nancy Allen performances would be lost on most big leaguers, sadly. I'm sure some long reliever somewhere is getting into it on Facebook about Adaptation, though.

David Roth: It's Anthony Swarzak. Big #Trump2016 guy, but also, oddly, a huge Charlie Kaufman head.

David Raposa: That was the dude that went from zero to Benghazi Birther in one tweet, right? He's probably only into that movie because Judy Greer takes her top off.

David Roth: He is. I don't know if he deleted his account or not. But he harangued Jacque Jones about Obungler, came out as a big Trump guy, mentioned the Freemasons in a tweet that included an LOL, and then presumably gave up a ringing double to Hee-Seop Choi in a Korean Baseball League game. Honestly, there are whole days that go by when I don't even get around to putting on pants. Swarzak did that all in one day! This is why I think Clayton Kershaw is overrated. He's never done any of those things, in the course of years.

David Raposa: I want to live in a world where Hee-Seop Choi made like Mo Vaughn for a good five-year stretch.

David Roth: A better world, in which Choi and Olmedo Saenz platoon for three straight World Series winners and get a show on the Food Network called Homer Cooking with the Fusion Platoon.

David Raposa: Joe Morgan making disparaging remarks on parallel-universe ESPN about D'Angelo Jimenez's league-leading OBP.

David Roth: "Ask anyone who's played the game and they'll tell you there's only one stat that matters: Attempted Bunts. It's not about getting the bunt down. It's about WANTING to help your buddies out."

David Raposa: This universe is a rip-off. Be free, Erubiel Durazo.