Winning Players vs. The Other Guys.


Is Boston(?) Getting A Winning Player?


I get the sense that we are drawing a more and more distinct line between the players you can win with and the players who just compile nice individual careers.  Everything has to black and white.  I think players fall in a few different spots along this spectrum.  I’m going to use Philadelphia examples, because that is what I am most familiar with, but I am sure you can fill in names from your own hometown team.

Clear Winners:  These are the guys everyone wants.  Jeter.  Brady. Martin Brodeur (cringe).  There’s no question about their talent level, or about their priorities.  They are win first guys, and they’ve done it numerous times.  In Philadelphia, it is hard to come up with a concrete example of this, because we have one title in the last 25+ years, and I think the best example we have in the city is probably someone who won elsewhere, and that’s Chris Pronger.  I’d say Chase Utley is very close, but if I am thinking of one guy in town who is no questions asked a winner and a leader, I’d say Chris Pronger.

After the clear-cut top of the line guys I think there are a couple of other categories you can fall into.  Guys can walk the line here, and sometimes you don’t know until they change teams, or sometimes you may never know.  I’d call this the unlucky stars vs. the non-winners.

Unlucky Stars:  These are the guys that never really had a chance to prove themselves.  Their teams were that bad, they were up against a dynasty, whatever it may be.  I think the best example of this in Philadelphia is probably Charles Barkley.  I think you could have won with Barkley.  He was simply surrounded by garbage for many years in Philly, and had the misfortune of playing during the Pistons into Bulls dynasty years.  Maybe the best example of this ever is Ray Bourque, who did finally win the Stanley Cup, but his Bruins career sums up this category perfectly.  Interestingly enough, being a city that doesn’t win much, Philly has a lot of decisions to make here.  Other guys I’d put in here would be Eric Lindros, and Brian Dawkins.

Non-Winners:  These are the players you want to avoid at all costs.  People are quick to label, too.  If you remember the John Wall video I posted last week…there were some serious reactions to that video.  Colin Cowherd went through the roof and said John Wall would never win a title in his NBA career.  Just from that video of Wall doing “The Dougie,” Cowherd decided he wasn’t a winner.  We’ve seen plenty of non-winners in Philadelphia.  Guys like Bobby Abreu come to mind.  Randall Cunningham is perhaps another example.  Allen Iverson?  It’s a hard call sometimes, and I think there could be some good debates over guys like A.I. and Donovan McNabb.   In a couple of years we could be talking about Jeff Carter here.

The final distinction I want to make, and the one that applies to Jayson Werth as he heads into free agency is players you can win with, and guys that were along for the ride.  They have a ring, but these are the 1a type guys.  Just below that top-tier of talent. It doesn’t all fall on their lap, but they still have a big impact.  I think the names up for debate between these two categories would be dominated by the less than star QBs who have won Super Bowls.

Guys You Can Win With:  As I said, these aren’t the guys that are the biggest stars on the team.  Maybe an example that resonates these days is Pat Burrell.  I’m sure some would quickly throw Burrell into the along for the ride camp, but I actually think Burrell is a guy you can win with.  If we are looking for a current example, how about Pau Gasol in basketball?  A historical one, perhaps Mark Recchi in hockey.  Dennis Rodman?  These guys aren’t going to pile up MVPs, but they consistently appear on winning teams and contribute.

Guys Along for the Ride:  These  guys are the opposite of the unlucky stars.  They are right place/right time guys.  As I said before, the Super Bowl quarterback is a great example for this category.  Trent Dilfer.  Right place, right time.  I know at least one person who comes to this blog that would like to throw Eli Manning into this category as well. Eli is kind of in that unknown Jayson Werth category for me right now.  We often don’t know about this until guys get a second chance, move on to another team, or something along those lines.  Was Manny Ramirez an along for the ride guy?

So, even though it is a made up term, “winning player,” it is something that people think about and is important.  It’s also great fodder for debate.  Do you think if Werth goes to Boston that he can be a contributor to a team that wins there, or will he not handle the change and get exposed as a borderline coattails type player?  That’s the decision these GMs have to make.  Anyway, it’s fun to put people in categories:

LeBron?, Karl Malone?, A-Rod?, Randy Moss?, Barry Bonds?, Cole Hamels?


16 thoughts on “Winning Players vs. The Other Guys.

  1. Yeah, Eli is having a miserable year on the (recently defended by everyone but me) 6-2 New York Football Giants. Where does Rivers fall? He’s having stud stat years….then can’t beat the Jets in a home playoff game.

    What about Roenick?

    And Jeter isn’t a team first guy. For one, if he was he wouldn’t be demanding $20M and to be signed before Cliff Lee. You can make the argument that if he were “team first”, he should have moved to 3rd when they signed A-Rod. We’ll see over the next 3 years, b/c he can’t bet the everyday shortstop through the whole contract and he’ll need to either change positions or sacrifice 50-60 starts for young blood. He’s a winner….but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s “team first”.

  2. point taken, regarding jeter. i guess this isn’t his most unselfish hour right now.

    JR is a real good one to think about. I liked JR a lot when he was here even though he was mostly past his prime at that point. i’m going to say he was never on the right team. that situation in chicago got real ugly and they blew that team up. you can’t blame any player for not winning for the Flyers…they just can never get the team right and he played for nothing the last couple of years trying to win a cup in san jose.

    rivers i think is closer to the not a winner camp right now. surely he could bust out of it, but this year looks like a lead the lead in scoring on a bad team type of year right now. someone has to take responsibility for the playoff failures.

  3. I liked JR a lot too, played through a lot of tough injuries (that jaw thing was grotesque) and seeing him tear up when the blackhawks won pretty solidified my respect for him. That’s right i said it, the man needed to bawl and blubber like a baby to win me over.

    What about guys like Bradshaw? Guy wins 4 rings, but has completely disgusting numbers, and not in a good way. Is he along for the ride? B/c 4 is a lot.

    Also, does this extend to coaches/managers too? For example, is Torre a winner or is he along for the ride?

  4. You throw out tough examples. Bradshaw would be hard to say for me, because I never saw him play. I know he was surrounded with hall of famers.

    I’d draw the line at coaches. I think in the sense of winning titles they are overrated. It is important to have the right guy for the personality of your team, maybe, but I think its been proven time and again managers can’t win titles by themselves.

  5. That’s true about the managers, although there might be a few guys who can come close (BB, Parcells, Fisher, Kean, etc). I think it’s more appropriate in football and hockey than in baseball, schemes seem to have more of an effect. I’d say basketball, but the NBA is such a bastardized version of the sport i think it’s entirely a waste to have a coach. It’s probably more applicable in college basketball, and then you’d have to say Knight, Izzo, Coach K, and maybe one or two others make a huge difference. In the past i’d have thrown Calhoun in there….but it looks like maybe he’s a bit of a cheater.

  6. I’d agree with football. you need a good football to coach to win probably.

    i think college basketball coaches can make a difference, but part of that is recruiting, which it’s kind of hard to know what kind of credit to give them for that, and also college basketball isn’t so talent dominated that a scheme or a well coached team doesn’t matter…which is I think what the NBA approaches.

    and, like charlie manuel got flat out out-managed by Bochy in the NLCS, but did Bochy really win it, or was Manuel’s bumbling just making him look good?

    • I think Butler proved that a good coach in college b-ball can completely change the landscape. None of those guys is an NBA player (maybe the one pseudo “star”). What about Gonzaga?

  7. another gold glove for Jeter. tack on another million to the contract.

    is there a more pointless award?

    and why are the managers voting on this? like they care.

    • More pointless: the all star game haahah.

      And yes, it’s absurd. He’s won 5….which is 4 more than he deserved. Bernie Williams was winning them over Ken Griffey, JR. ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm


  8. hmm, yeah, tom brady…he can win for you if you have a winning team. think that about many of the guys on the phillies, this year, too. what about cliff lee? maybe i missed him w. my skim…kind of creates a whole new subcategory…kind of mcnabbish a few years back…or farvre:

    dudes who look like winners til they lose under the spotlight.


  9. So in hot stove news, saw that Sandberg may be a candidate for the manager position with Lehigh Valley. Any thoughts?

    And, saw that Wally Backman is having a second interview with the Mets for manager? Is that great or what? I am really rooting for this. Let’s go have a beer, Doc.

  10. Well, he’d be a good guy to have in the organization. I’d be surprised if he comes here, because I could see him getting a big league job somewhere and the Phillies will have no real talent to speak of at AAA. He goes there, and goes 60-80, that might kill his momentum a bit.

    Backman and the Mets in their current hot mess state would be a real gold mine. I think he’s got a good chance.

  11. Better hope we are not talking about Jeff Carter in a couple years as a non-winner. Because then he would still have nine years left on his contract.

  12. still don’t understand how these long hockey contracts are “legal”.

    it’s making a total mockery of their salary cap

    can i stomach jeff carter for 10 more years?

    tough question.

    will the NHL exist in 10 years?

    tough question.

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