More Stupid Comments

EDIT: Baseball Analysts FJMed this Jon Heyman article a few days back.
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We really should start a new section on this blog called "Jon Heyman Says The Darndest Things." Even though he's often on top of MLB trades, he often utters the "stupidest" fucking comments. Comments like this one:

Among active players, Manny Ramirez would have made a nice addition to the Giants. He could have replicated the years of Barry Bonds, with comparable productivity, less controversy and more good cheer.

What cheer? What about Manny's turbulent relationship with the Red Sox or his turbulent, greedy and drawn out negotiations with the Dodgers? Less controversy, perhaps, but less cheer? I think not.

Furthermore, according to Baseball Prospectus, Barry Bonds' cumulative Batting Runs Above the Replacement level (BRAR) since 2000 has been 730 runs (this includes a season of 5 BRAR in 2005, when Bonds only accumulated 42 ABs). Over the same time frame, Manny Ramirez accumulated a BRAR of 615 runs. There is literally no comparison -- especially considering that Manny played full, healthy seasons in each of those years. Manny's best season was last year, when he batted 80 runs above the replacement level. His second best season was back in Cleveland a decade ago, when he posted a 79 BRAR. By comparison, Barry Bonds -- his 2005 season removed from the equation -- posted an average BRAR of 84.7 per season (Manny Ramirez has a seasonal BRAR average of 63.5).

Finally, Heyman states that Manny could have brought less controversy along with him than Barry Bonds. Going back to the drawn out Dodgers negotiations, I'd like to postulate that rejecting a $45 million, two-year deal (especially when no one else is bidding for you) amidst an economic recession is about as insensitive and controversial as something can be barring the use of PEDs.

Five Up, Five Down

Today, I'm going to look at five pitchers who are primed to increase in value this season and five guys who you can expect some serious regression from.

FIVE UP
1. Javier Vazquez

A combination of his lack of success in the AL (minus 2007) in recent years matched against his great peripherals make him unfairly undervalued. Despite posting a FIP of 3.86 or lower each of the past 3 seasons, the absolutely TERRIBLE defense of the Chicago White Sox helped to inflate Javvy's ERA to 4.84, 3.73 and 4.67 over that time frame. Last year, Vazquez struck out 8.64 guys per nine, walked 2.64 per nine and gave up a little over a home run per game (1.08 HR/9), good for a very solid 3.74 FIP. Vazquez's 68.3 LOB% also contributed heavily to an inflated ERA last year. In short, Vazquez's move away from the HR friendly Cell, defensive challenged White Sox and stronger hitting AL to the defensively strong Braves and pitcher-who-bats NL should only make him a top 10 guy in 2009.

2. Jonathan Sanchez
Sanchez is a guy who gets a bad rep due to high ERA/FIP splits and bad luck. Jonathan Sanchez may have a below average defense behind him this year, but his 3.85/5.01 FIP/ERA split in 2008 calls for some extreme regression. In 250 big league innings, Sanchez has struck out 252 guys. Fangraph notes that "batters swung and missed at 10.9% of Sanchez’s pitches, the 9th highest total in baseball." This, combined with a 67.5 LOB% in 2008 tell me that Sanchez is bound to improve.

3. Josh Beckett
After two consecutive season of 200+ IP, the injury bug again bit Beckett, limiting him to a serviceable 27 starts, 175 IP. His ERA was 4.03, but the FIP was a sparkling 3.24. Beckett's K rate has been increasing since 2006, while his BB rate has declined over that same period. Boston had a top 5 defensive team last year and Beckett had an average 71.3 LOB%, so what was the problem? As his -0.92 clutch rating (a fangraphs metric that compares a player's performance in high leverage situations to performance in low leverage situations) highlights, Josh Beckett allowed a majority of his walks and extra-base hits in situations when runners were in scoring position. Despite Beckett's tendency to be slightly unclutchy on the Red Sox, there's absolutely no reason to think that this extreme unclutchiness will continue in 2009. Simply put, all signs point to a return to great success for Josh Beckett next year.

4. Derek Lowe
This extreme groundballer is second only to Brandon Webb when it came to burning worms last year. Despite his four years of success in Dodgers Stadium, there is arguably room for improvement (despite Lowe's increasing age). Groundballers tend to be more reliant on the defense of the infield behind them to keep their numbers good. One would assume, using FIP as the breakever point, that a pitcher on a team with a good defensive infield would outperform their FIP, while one a defensively challenged team would underperform their FIP. According to fangraphs data, the Dodgers infield last year combined to be -32.3 fielding runs below average, while the Braves infield was worth a positive 2.5 fielding runs above average (Kelly Johnson's limited range kind of took down the team's total defensive value by being -9.0 Fielding Runs below average last year, but was similtaneously slightly above average when it came to not making errors). So while Derek Lowe negligibly underperformed his FIP in each of his four years on the Dodgers except 2005 (his FIP/ERA splits between 2005 and 2008 were 4.16/3.61, 3.68/3.63, 3.97/3.88 and 3.26/3.24), you have to expect a favorably larger FIP/ERA split going forward for the 35 year old ex-closer whose lack of K's is subsidized by superior control (2.60+ K/BB as a starter) and a lack of home runs (.65 HR/9 as a starter). If nothing more, expect Derek Lowe to continue to post an ERA around/below 3.6 and a solid WHIP in the 1.2 range over 200ish innings.

5. Andrew Miller
Going back to the "quality pitchers who get a bad rap due to poor FIP/ERA splits" theme, Andrew Miller was the most unfortunate victim of bad luck amongst all major leaguers last season. Despite increasing his K rate and decreasing both his walk and home run rates in each of the past three seasons, Andrew Miller's ERA has risen each year. His FIP/ERA splits since 2006 are 5.47/6.10, 5.27/5.63 and 4.00/5.87. A lot of this is due to the fact that both the Marlins and Tigers rank amongst the league's worst defensive teams, but how much of Andrew Miller's league leading +1.87 F-E (FIP-ERA) ratio should persist next year? Miller has a great arm that is primed for a breakout season if he finds shelter on a friendlier team. Even on the Marlins, we should expect a sharp decline in ERA from Andrew Miller next season, hopefully to a fantasy relevant range.


FIVE DOWN
1. Johan Santana
Each of the past two seasons have seen a sharp decline in Santana's once unquestionably dominate peripherals. After averageing a FIP of 3.03 between 2002 and 2006, Santana has seen his FIP rise to 3.81 and 3.51 over the past two seasons, as his strike out rate has fallen and walk rate risen. Santana's career best 2.53 ERA was largely the by-product of ridiculously lucky 82.6 LOB% (over 10% above league average) and a defensively awesome defense (sixth best in the league at converting balls in play into outs). Santana, who struck out less than 9 guys per nine (7.91 per nine to be exact) for the first time since 2001, is bound to bounce back some in his strike out rate from last season (the projection systems on fangraphs see it landing somewhere in the upper 8's per nine range), but Santana's declining numbers indicate that he may be on the decline and is certainly no longer worth an automatic first round pick (and certainly not a pick above Tim Lincecum, who despite his injury potential, posted an ERA/FIP split of exactly zero). Johan Santana has achieved almost all that we can expect from him and thus presents little, if any, upside (and a lot of downside) at pick #16. Santana's just a brand name, at the point, and I strongly suggest you avoid paying that premium.

2. Gavin Floyd
One of the many reasons that the outlook for the 2009 White Sox is so grim is that much of the team's success derived from a great pitching core that outperformed its peripherals. Gavin Floyd posted a quality 3.87 ERA, despite a 4.77 FIP that resulted in a mediocre 6.32 K/9 rate and hellish 1.31 HR/9 rate. As a flyball pitcher in the home run friendly US Cellular Field, the projection systems on fangraphs sees Floyd's HR/9 rate increasing to the 1.4 or even 1.5 per nine range, while projecting a 10% decline in his control (from 2.07 K/BB to the 1.8 K/BB range). Even if Gavin Floyd didn't regress to the 5.00 FIP range next year, you'd have to expect a sharp rise in ERA for the sophomore hurler who was just handed a four-year contract.

3. Armando Galaragga
Like Gavin Floyd, Armando Galaragga is a flyball pitcher who got incredibly lucky last year. His ridiculously low .250 BABIP helped mask his poor 4.88 FIP with a quality 3.73 ERA. Tigers fans who expect a repeat performance from the man who gave up 1.4 HR/9 and struck out a mere 6.53 per nine are going to be in for some severe disappointment. Even if Galaragga maintains his 2.07 K/BB and decreased his HR/9 rate, you've still got to worry about the effects of the very below average defense of the Tigers on Galaragga's numbers. To say the least, the outlook for Armando Galaragga is bleak.

4. Daisuke Matsuzaka
Dice-K still struck out a lot of guys last year, but his numbers indicate some impending regression. In 2008, Dice-K upped his walk rate by 1.5 guys per nine and decreased his K rate by from 8.84 K/8 to 8.27 K/9. At the same time, Dice-K almost halved his HR/9, while neither increasing his GB rate nor decreasing his FB rate -- meaning the downturn was probably a fluke rather than an increase in skill. Furthermore, Dice-K's 18% line drive rate says that his .267 BABIP of 2008 is bound to regress somewhere towards the .290-.300 range. Dice-K's FIP/ERA split last season was 4.03/2.90, and while Boston had a great defense last season (fifth in defensive efficiency), it wasn't and isn't good enough to reasonably sustain a 1.03 F-E. In 2009, I fully expect Dice-K's ERA to be closer to his 2007 numbers than those of last season -- those free passes are going to come back to bite him big time.

5. Joe Saunders
Despite a 91 MPH fastball and above average control (2.41 BB/9), there is much to not like about Saunders (such as his anemic 4.68 K/9 rate and ridiculously low .267 BABIP). Last year, despite posting an average 4.36 FIP and barely 100 Ks to go with 200 innings of work, Joe Saunders put up ace-quality numbers with a 3.41 ERA and 17 Wins. Unfortunately for Halos fans and Saunders, his above average control and average home run rates can't overcome his 30% below average strikeout rate. Saunders is no Greg Maddux.


TWO GUYS WHO COULD GO EITHER WAY
1. Justin Duchscherer
I love me some "Doosher", but his 2009 season could go either way. On one hand, Duchscherer is an injury prone 31 year old with a 3.69/2.54 FIP/ERA split. On the other hand, a 3.69 FIP is nothing to scoff at and the Oakland A's were one of the game's top defensive teams last year (fourth in defensive efficiency). Despite a below average K rate, Doosher's stellar control (2.16 BB/9) and lack of longballs (.70 HR/9) make him a candidate for continued, although comparatively diminished, success. I would expect a mid 3 ERA from Duchscherer to go along with a limited innings load in 2009 (he's starting the first six weeks of the season on the DL).

2. Andy Pettite
Despite posting an ERA north of 4.00 in each of the past two seasons, Andy Pettite's FIP has been below 3.90 (3.71 FIP in 2008) in each of those seasons. Pettite's inflated ERA has largely been due to the extremely poor defensive abilities of guys like Derek Jeter Jason Giambi and Bobby Abreu in the field. With Abreu, Giambi and even Matsui out of the field and the addition of Mark Teixeira (+10.7 fielding runs above average last year), you have to expect some improvement in the ability of the Yankee's defense. On the other hand, both Johnny Damon and Derek Jeter's defense are on a rapid decline, while A-Rod hip may hinder his range when he returns. In short, whether or not the Yankee's defense as a whole will significantly improve this year is questionable and Pettite's FIP/ERA splits seem dependant on where the defensive coin toss lands. There's no reason to expect a poor (above 4) FIP or significant downturn in IP from Pettite this year, however.

Fantasyland, Version 2009, Part II

I recently posted about the AL Tout Wars teams and now I was finally able to find the Mixed League teams. Tomorrow I'll hopefully find the NL Tout Wars team

Moose On The Loose

Cory Provus No Longer With Us

I guess we overlooked this one, but a three way deal was announced early last month which will send Cory Provus from the Cubs to Milwaukee and Jim Powell from Milwaukee to Atlanta for an announcer to be named later.

Miss you already, Provus.

What Is Fantasyland?

I just realized, the authors of this blog have made several references to Fantasyland and the main fantasy league we're all in is called "Fantasyland 2", but many people probably have no idea what Fantasyland is. Well, Fantasyland is a book written by Sam Walker chronicling his journey into playing in the hardest fantasy league in the country, Tout Wars. Walker was (probably still is) a journalist in the Twin City area who never played fantasy baseball in his life. He decided one year to join Tout Wars- a fantasy league started by baseball expert Ron Shandler in which you join either an AL or NL only draft (although I guess now there's a mixed leagued draft as well), players are determined by an auction, and oh yeah, you have to be IN baseball already just to be determined if you can play or not- and Walker wrote a book about what he had to do to create a winning team and about the history of fantasy baseball.

It's extremely interesting all the work Walker did for his team and it's extremely well-written and very enjoyable. If you're a fan of Moneyball (if you're not get the hell off this site) and love fantasy baseball as much as the blog authors do, I highly suggest reading this book.

So now whenever makes a Fantasyland reference, you now understand it!

Fantasyland, Version 2009

For those of who have read Fantasyland (or are in the process of reading it), I found a list of the 2009 Tout Wars AL Teams. You can find the list here.

I personally think Fantasyland author Sam Walker has a great team but frankly, I think it's kind of hard to judge just because the pool of players to choose is severely reduced and I can't image choosing teams in which I'm forced to have Brian Anderson and Delmon Young on them, and where Armando Galarraga is extremely valuable, but hey, that's why I'm not in Tout Wars.

So who do you guys think will win?

David "MVP" Eckstein's Drafting Strategy for Pitchers

My drafting strategy for pitching was about value retention. Whenever you draft high value pitchers, you are taking on a bunch of risk by forgoing valuable multi-category hitters to take someone from a deep position that features much volatility. Undrafted guys like Cliff Lee and Ryan Dempster often outperform big name guys like Carlos Zambrano each season, but they usually don't repeat -- at least not at the same level. Guys like Lincecum have great seasons, but then become overrated, overvalued and often placed in questionable positions of health (consult PAP!).

So my strategy for drafting starting pitchers was firmly placed on the following dynamics:
1) FIP and xFIP
2) D/E and Aggregate Fielding Runs
3) LOB%
4) K/9
5) PAP and the Verducci Effect

I focused on FIP for obvious reasons. I wanted to know whose success was "for real" (ie, Dan Haren) and whose success was the byproduct of luck (ie, Gavin Floyd). As I often advocate everyone do, I checked ERA/FIP splits and tried to avoid guys whose ERAs didn't quite match up with their FIPs. I strongly believe that guys who outperform their FIPs - like Johan Santana - even if they are great, will be incredibly overvalued. Furthermore, I checked FIP to find guys who UNDERPERFORMED their abilities last year. I hunted down guys like Jonathan Sanchez and Javier Vazquez, who posted quality FIPS below 4, but ERAs upwards of 4.5. Guys like Vazquez, who get an "unclutch" label, are perfectly undervalued targets.

Following FIP, I looked at the Defensive Efficiency (a metric that analyzes how efficient teams are at converting balls put into play into outs) and a team's cumulative fielding runs above/below average (broken down by infield, outfield and whole team). The goal here was to find out which teams are very good, average and below average at fielding. By determining this, I could figure out which pitchers could reasonably outperform/underperform their FIPs for 2009. I can confidently state that a guy like James Shields -- a groundball pitcher backed by the game's best defensive infields -- is going to continue to outperform his already quality FIP going forward. At the same time, I question whether or not the Rockie's defense (amongst other factors) provides enough coverage to match Ubaldo Jimenez's quality peripherals to his ERA.

I then looked at player's Left On Base Percentages (LOB%) to see whether or not which pitcher's ERAs were strongly biased due to positive/negative luck. Since non-HR hits are incredibly situational, you have to expect a lot of regression towards the mean in a player's LOB% from year to year. Guys with large FIP/ERA splits like Jonathan Sanchez -- who is on a defensively challenged team, but also posted an unlucky 67.5 LOB% (league average is 72.5%) -- scream value to me. At the same time, Johan Santana's declining peripherals and league leading 82.6 LOB% tells me that not only would I be overpaying for Santana, but that his "return to form" year may have not actually been a return to form.

After FIP, Fielding Runs and LOB%, I looked at guys based on K/9 rates. I figure that if I am going to excel in any category, I want it to be the one pitchers have the most control over. Teams can unexpectedly suck (low Wins total), while Save Opps, WHIP (which is comprised of HITS) and ERA are all situational. Pitchers have absolute control over only exactly three things: strikeouts, walks and home runs. Thus, choosing high K guys is the most logical thing to do. Plus, guys with higher K rates tend to perform closer to their FIPs due to their "ability to get out of jams" without relying on the defense behind them. In terms of pitching K/9 is pretty consistent, which is important to a drafting strategy of value retention (minimizing risk).

Finally, I checked out how abused pitchers were last year to decide whether or not I wanted to take on the risk of injury by drafting them. Young pitchers (under 26) who had huge inning leaps (Cole Hamels increased his workload by 44 innings last year) or heavy workloads (Tim Lincecum lead the league in PAP points) scare me -- especially if they go in the top 6 rounds. As I pointed out in my analysis of John Danks,
Baseball Prospectus has shown, pitchers are most brittle before the age of 24 and after the age of 35. Tom Verducci observed that pitchers under the age of 25 who increase their seasonal workload by more than 25-30 innings in a single season are the most susceptible to injury the following year.
I adhere strongly to that data.

As should be evident by my picks of Dan Haren (Dr. Consistent), Javier Vazquez, Josh Beckett, Yovani Gallardo, Erik Bedard, Jonathan Sanchez, Manny Parra and Brandon Morrow should indicate, I stuck pretty closely to my value retention strategy. The only high risk, late round guy I pulled was Morrow -- largely because he's got so much upside and will either be a quality starter or the team's closers.

As you should also already know by now, I hate closers, so it shouldn't surprise you that I picked up Jason Motte, Leo Nunez and Chad Qualls to supplement Jose Valverde -- who is one of the best RPs in baseball and one of the very few closers (the others being Joe Nathan, Kerry Wood, Jonathan Broxton and maybe Heath Bell) I would ever consider drafting "early."

Go know and use my knowledge, dear child.

Sexy Rexy's Drafting Strategy

So I have helped you (or like two people who may have actually read and liked my drafting tips) on some basic tips on how how to draft and maintain a good team. If you talked to me in past week or so, you know I have told you some ideas on my thoughts on players but I did not want to divulge too much information because there are some keys guys I wanted and did not want others to really know about them. So here we go,

1) I literally did research on every single projected starter. This allowed me to see which positions had the most depth. To me, 3B, 1B, SP, and OF had the most depth. I thought 2B and especially SS were awesome at the top and while I thought they had little depth but still some quality guys like Kelly Johnson, Rickie Weeks, Christain Guzman, and Ryan Theriot that were available in much later rounds. For me, if I didn't get J-Roll, HanRam, or Jose Reyes in the first round, there was no reason to draft a SS until like the 18th round, which allowed for great flexibility. Despite some quality 2B I could get around the 15th round or so, I still wanted a top tier 2B which I had to get in the top 3 rounds.

2) I took on the Sam Walker/Fantasyland approach of the trifecta pitching. This really isn't hard to do in non-auction leagues but I really wanted some stud pitching at the top of my "rotation". Yes, there is plenty of SP depth, but if I stocked my team with late round SP, my "rotation" would be nothing more than average. Because I was able to get a quality SS and quality OF later in the draft, I was able to get those positions I wanted later while getting above average to great SP in earlier rounds. A big problem I found is that a lot of top tier pitchers were young and abused/ in the WBC so seemingly more prone to injury, guys like: Tim Lincecum, Cole Hamels, Jake Peavy, and Roy Oswalt immediately came off my list. This left the top tier pool mainly consisting of Arizona pitchers. I ended up taking CC Sabathia as my first pick and although he's abused and I didn't like it a whole lot, I feel his past and his age make him a better candidate than most other pitchers.

3) My ideal players are guys with high BA (above .280), can go at least 15/15, and a high OPS. (To me, because R and RBI are not stats based on individual performance- they're based on the team and position in lineup- if a guy has power and can get on base a lot, they're more inclined to get R and RBI). Surprisingly, there were plenty of these guys which were: Ian Kinsler, Brandon Phillips, David Wright, Hanley Rameriz, Jose Reyes, Ryan Braun, Alfonso Soriano, Grady Sizemore, Carlos Beltran, Hunter Pence, Matt Holliday, Jayson Werth, Elijah Dukes, Nate McLouth, and Matt Kemp. Pretty elite group, no? The problem is that once the 3rd round starts, you'd be hard pressed to find any of these players. But two guys on this list stuck out to me: Jayson Werth and Elijah Dukes. These are two quality guys that go under the radar and thus I can get at lower rounds. So then, all I did was take a closer look between these players to determine which ones I wanted.

4) There still are certain positions that needed to be filled so I filled those positions with specialized players- mainly players with a lot of HR or SB, preferably with a BA and OPS if possible. I used these players to fill 1B, OF, 3B, and Util (mainly depending on my position in the draft, i.e. if I got Pujols or Wright I wouldn't need to fill 1B/3B respectively) The big name that jumped out to me was Jacoby Ellsbury- a guy who will probably by one the of the best OF in terms of SB with a high BA and a decently high OPS. For 1B, I needed pure power foremost then comes BA. Because I was just decent in HR everywhere else, I just targeted Carlos Pena. Although his BA pisses me off a bit, I think it's OK considering my high BA elsewhere and like I said, HR comes first. The 3B I targeted was Garrett Atkins. In my research, he came up as an Aramis Rameriz but with a .300+ B.A., which comes extremely useful to me. And because he was less values in the draft than other 3B like ARam, I could get a quality 3B a bit later in the draft.

5) So here was a list of specific players I WANTED: Kinsler, Ellsbury, Dukes, and Werth. I love Kinsler and I knew that I probably couldn't get him unless I had a late first round pick, and just my luck, I had the 9th overall pick. In the first three rounds I wanted a combination of 2B, SP, SS, and OF. (Now I clearly would have to change my strategy depending on on my draft position but...) I was able to get Kinsler in the first. Now I wanted Johan Santana in the 2nd and thus get the best available OF in the third, but Since Johan was taken I went with one of the best OF on the board that fit #2 (which was Soriano- admittedly though I took this pick in haste) and luckily CC came to me in the 3rd. Honestly, I thought CC would get taken so the next top tier SP would have been Brandon Webb (and maybe in some ways Webb would have been better) but I didn't want to reach and Sabathia was still available. Now base on previous drafting I knew Ellsbury generally went in the 4th and Atkins generally in the 5th so while they may have been slight stretches, I wanted those players. So in the first five rounds I got a 2B, Of, SP, OF, and 3B. I knew Werth generally went in the 12th so that's where I picked him up and Dukes and Guzman/Theriot (really the only SS I liked outside the first round) go really late so I was able to get some quality SP and RP, I think, between rounds 8-15.

7) I had back up plans just in case things went wrong. Joey Votto was a great 1B to pick up in case the 1B went higher than positions I wanted to take a 1B; Corey Hart was my substitute to Ellsbury; I could get a quality 2B like Brian Roberts, Dustin Pedroia, or Brandon Phillips in the 3rd round or Rickie Weeks and Kelly Johnson in much later rounds; I could have (and did) gotten a SS really late in the draft; 3B was deep so if someone overvalued Atkins I was willing to go after I guy like Edwin Encarnacion in much later rounds; Chris Young would have been an acceptable substitute for Werth; Jack Cust and Jim Thome are fine power/Util guys in later rounds... Anyway, despite my structured attempts in round 1-6, I had a back up just in case.

So now I have given up my secrets for this year's draft. The only draft that mattered was David "MVP" Eckstein's pay league and now that that's done, feel free to take my secrets. Plus, my strategy will change for the next drafts, I could care less really if I lose others leagues, and I still have some players up my sleeve. Enjoy picking at my brain!

Fantasy Draft Results


Bright One Sexy Rexy Eckstein CubsFan
C Mauer Iannetta Napoli Hernendez
1B Delgado Atkins Votto Gonzalez
2B Weeks Kinsler Uggla Roberts
SS Tulowitzki Guzman Ramirez Peralta
3B Youkilis Wiggington Zimmerman Cabrera
OF Sizemore Soriano Lee Beltran
OF BJ Upton Ellsbury Ramirez Bay
OF Bruce Werth Burrell Abreu
Util Ortiz Pena Beltre Taveras
SP Shields Sabathia Haren Lackey
SP Oswalt Liriano Beckett Santana
SP Lowe Kazmir Vazquez Kershaw
RP Hanrahan Rivera Qualls Marmol
RP Ray Cordero Valverde Fuentes
P Johnson Slowey Bedard Wilson
P Cueto Jurrjens Gallardo Gonzalez
P Meche Francisco Sanchez Lindstrom
P Jimenez Myers Morrow Volstad
BN Milledge Rodriguez Span Sandoval
BN N Cruz Smoltz Sheffield Perez
BN Maine Hill Posada Kawakami
BN Guthrie Bradley Motte Litsch
BN Escobar Dukes Parra Marshall

The lesser of two evils



Carlos Pena Hits HRs, Signs Tacos





This might be the weirdest thing I've ever seen. Especially because they eat the taco.

Fangraphs: How Many Pitches Does It Take?

Fangraphs has a very interesting article out titled "How Many Pitches Does It Take? (Part One)" in which they look analyze the number of pitches various pitchers over the past three years, minimum 150 IP, have and break down ERA, FIP, K/9, BB/9, etc. per each number of pitch grouping.

Among the data, Fangraphs determined that:
"Franklin was the only pitcher with six pitches and 28 pitchers had five pitches qualify. Tradition has most starters throwing 3-4 pitches and most relievers having one or two. Tradition holds true here. 119 pitchers had four pitches qualify, 134 had three, and 39 had two. Franklin failed to make a start over the last three years meanwhile pitchers with 5 pitches saw 64% of their games come as starters, 60.2% for four pitch qualifiers, 32.2% for three pitches, and 11.7% for two pitches."
Very cool stuff. The article also presents the following chart, breaking pitchers into groupings based on how many pitches they have (a pitch qualifies if thrown >5% of the time):



Things to note:
o Pitchers who have less pitches seem to strike out more batters than pitchers with more pitches.
o Taking Ryan Franklin's numbers (sample size) out of the equation, it seems that there is a somewhat negligible difference in both walk rates and BABIP (although BABIP, for pitchers, has been proven to largely be the result of luck/statistical noise, not skill) between pitchers based on how many pitches they throw.
o Both HR/9 rates and FIP seem to improve as the of pitches a pitcher throws declines

What these three observations seems to indicate is that despite a "clear advantage in game theory" among pitchers with more pitches, pitchers who refine and maximize what they are best at seem to succeed more than pitchers who simply have more options at their disposal.

Finally, with regard to the chart, Fangraphs poses the following question:
"Are the relievers skewing the two and three pitch numbers?"
They plan to answer it tomorrow.

Baseball's Top Defenders, 2008

According to Fangraphs.com data the top 35 absolute fielders*, minimum 100 PA, of 2008 were:

Name---------------------Raw Fielding------Positional Adj.------NFR
Alex Rios------------------23.1--------------(3.5)------------------19.6
Franklin Gutierrez--------21.7--------------(5.8)------------------15.9
Jayson Werth-------------20.6--------------(4.5)------------------16.1
Chase Utley--------------19.5---------------2.3-------------------21.8
Carl Crawford------------16.1--------------(5.0)------------------11.1
Willie Harris--------------17.9--------------(3.3)------------------14.6
Randy Winn--------------17.3--------------(6.7)------------------10.6
Mark Ellis----------------17.0---------------1.7-------------------18.7
Orlando Cabrera----------16.4---------------7.5-------------------23.9
Carlos Gomez-------------15.4---------------2.4-------------------17.8
Evan Longoria------------15.0---------------1.8-------------------16.8
Gabe Gross---------------15.0--------------(5.5)------------------9.5
Jacoby Ellsbury-----------14.9--------------(3.2)------------------11.7
Endy Chavez--------------14.5--------------(5.5)------------------9.0
Mike Aviles---------------14.4---------------3.8-------------------18.2
Cody Ross-----------------14.0--------------(0.7)------------------13.3
Jay Payton----------------13.6--------------(3.2)------------------10.4
Jimmy Rollins-------------13.0---------------6.3-------------------19.3
Adrian Beltre--------------13.4--------------(1.6)------------------11.8
Mike Cameron-------------12.2--------------(1.9)------------------10.3
Marco Scutaro-------------12.1---------------3.2-------------------15.3
Brett Gardner-------------12.1--------------(0.5)------------------11.6
Brandon Phillips-----------11.4---------------2.2-------------------13.6
Adam Kennedy------------11.0---------------0.6-------------------11.6
Mark Teixeira-------------10.7--------------(12.2)----------------(1.5)
Austin Kearns-------------10.6--------------(4.0)------------------6.6
Adam Jones---------------10.3---------------2.0-------------------12.3
Dustin Pedroia-------------10.3---------------2.4-------------------12.7
Nick Markakis-------------10.1--------------(7.3)------------------2.8
Jack Hannahan-------------10.1---------------0.6-------------------10.7
Mike Lowell----------------9.9 ---------------1.5-------------------11.4
Marlon Byrd---------------9.6---------------(2.4)------------------7.2
Carlos Gonzalez------------9.5---------------(0.5)------------------9.0
Joey Votto-----------------9.3---------------(11.7)----------------(2.4)
Garret Anderson-----------9.3---------------(10.5)----------------(1.2)

*These fielding runs are calculated without positional adjustments, meaning that SS and 1B who have equal run prevention at their position, despite the disparity in difficulty between fielding at each position, will be ranked equally. I was too lazy to rank players by net defensive worth, so I just ranked them by total fielding run prevention. Positional adjustments weight player's time spent at each position and assigns a relative incremental/decremental runs adjustment to said player to account for the relative difficult/ease of fielding and playing time at any position. This means that SS are given a positive adjustment, while 1B are given a negative adjustment. Furthermore, a SS who plays 150 games will get a larger positional adjustment that a SS who plays only 100 games. A player who splits time between 1B and SS will have his two weighted adjustments combined and thus for him, the positional adjustment is a net positional adjustment. Basically, positional adjustments are utilized to account for the difficulty of play and scarcity of talent at each defensive position. If you divide Net Fielding Runs (NFR) by 10, you will get a rough estimate of how many defensive wins a player contributed to their team.


Technically, I should be looking at a player's composite value runs (offensive runs+fielding runs+positional adjustment+replacement level runs), but this is a simplified defensive model. What should be obvious is that 1B is such a relatively easy position to play that even Mark Teixeira's defensive prowess fails to cancel out the positional adjustment. I'm sure several shortstops also have higher net fielding runs than guys on this list like Joey Votto, but the ranking by fielding runs does give a nice look into which players have the best pure defensive ability at each of their positions. Clearly, Alex Rios was the best OF, Utley the best 2B, etc. What is really interesting to me is that this chart highlights the true value of Orlando Cabrera (23.9 NFR), whose offensive contributions (-5 runs per season (-1/2 win) average since 2002) are minimal.

I kind of wish there was an easy way to calculate each team's combined defensive fielding runs. Alas, it would be a pain in the ass to do (accurately). Perhaps I'll spend some time later this week adding the numbers of each team's starting positional players and report my findings/rank teams.

I also apologize for the lack of visual organization of my chart. I did it without the aid of Excel (never again!) and the blog won't maintain the organization I created using dashes.

Arod and Ozzie



Also, A-Rod Dated Famous 'Spitzer Gate' Madam



Miller to Morgan to Phillips. Triple play!

I wonder if fire joe morgan would have shut down their site if they knew steve phillips would be added to the sunday night baseball broadcast. He increases the stupidity of that telecast exponentially, such that funzies will be had all year long. Tonight was just the beginning as the new triple play combo(yeah that's my knew name for them) teamed up to call the semifinal WBC game between Japan and the US. Japan won and will face S. Korea for the championship, but Darvish will not be pitching tomorrow night cause the manager decided he's rather have Darvish close a 5 run lead in the 9th as opposed to start in the championship game.

There was one hilarious quote from Joe Morgan in the 9th inning. Miller was telling a story where Jimmy Rollins joked to Derek Jeter that Jeter never steals any bases. Morgan came out to defende the all mighty Derek Jeter by saying that

"Jeter used to steal much more in his younger days, but only in clutch situation"

Once again proving that Jeter is captain clutch. Everything this guy does is clutch. Even his outs have a strategic clutchness to them that only Jeter can comprehend. The reason Jeter hasn't won a championship since 2000 is because he has been lulling the competition into a false sense of security until he can clutch up for a 5th title.

Sexy Rexy’s Drafting Tips

With Opening Day seemingly right around the corner, I'm sure you all are in the midst of drafting for your fantasy baseball team. Wait, what am I saying, I know all five people who read this blog and you all are in my fantasy league. So because I know you will be drafting soon, I'm here to help you out.

Although I would like to say, I've never played roto before this year and the three years prior I haven't done THAT well so maybe I don't have the best ethos (read more Aristotle dude), but I'm confident these tips will help. Also, I did win my fantasy football league a couple months ago so maybe I'm on the up and up? Haha

Pre-Draft:

1. You can never do enough research. For any fantasy sports, you are essentially predicting the future. MVP Eckstein has done a great job in his analysis of John Danks and Edison Volquez and how they might fare in 2009. Unfortunately, that analysis is long and tedious. I personally have signed up for baseball prospectus for offensive players and have my own system using certain past stats for all pitchers. MVP Eckstein also posted a bit back about some free websites to help you out. Me personally, I have analysis of every single projected starter (both offense and defense). The point is I recommend you find a way to get analysis on every single player and then some. This may seem excessive, but you can never do enough research
2. Know what stats your league has. I'm in four league and all have different stats they use to judge players. Not all leagues use the basic 5x5 format. In another random football league I was in last year, I didn't realize that essentially one great to above average QB could win head-to-head match ups for you by himself every week. This fucked me because in my normal Fantasy Football strategy is to draft a QB late so I got sort of a shitty QB. Clearly I did not win that league.
3. Ready, aim, TARGET! Make sure you have multiple players you are targeting, for both big guys AND sleepers.
4. Strategery. Have a specific strategy in mind. Take Fantasyland for example. Author Sam Walker had a pitching strategy mind; he was going to take two stud SP and one stud RP and hoped to build enough of a pitching lead to then trade away from P for offense. Have something like this in mind.
5. Don't worry about big names. Trust whatever research you do.
6. Practice, practice, practice! There are many great sites like MockDraftCentral or ESPN that you can go to hone your skills

During Draft:

7. Play the expectations game. The key to drafting is all relative to how other people view the players you want. Don't trust that counter thing on the side of yahoo or ESPN or whatever. For example, I drafted a player probably WAY too high, but I don't really care. I got most of the players I wanted later in the draft PLUS this one player. People may have laughed at me then but we'll see who's laughing when we actually play. If you've done all the above well, don't worry about what other people think of your picks
8. Adjust. For by now you've come up with a pretty solid draft strategy. That will change because there will always be people who don't know what they're doing or people who will take a player who want and you'll be like, "WTF! Why would you ever take THAT player so high!?" It'll happen and you need to prepare for it. So despite all your preparation, practice, and targeting, just be aware that things won't go as planned.
9. Learn from your mistakes. I myself have of course made a few and that hopefully will help me for this year
10. Don't be hatin! Don't draft a player just to spite someone else. I.E.- last year in the second to last round I took Pat Neshek to spite MVP Eckstein instead of this reliever I had on my team last year who I recently found out was going to be a closer, George Sherill. Sherill was picked up in free agency the next day. Sherill racked up SV and Ks and was a quality undrafted free agent closer. Neshek was out most of the year. The joke was on me.
11. Take risks in the very last rounds. Once you reach towards the end of the draft, the players that you can choose from are pretty slim. Unless there is a player you are targeting or think should have been drafted higher or something along those lines, draft risks. Chances are, no matter what, your last round picks won't be on your team anyway.

Post Draft:

12. Be on the lookout for breakout players. I'm sure not many people in your league last year drafted people like Edison Volquez, Carlos Quentin, or Nate McLouth. Do your best to get them early but look at peripherals to make sure you're not just getting a player who's having a good couple weeks and then will suck again (I don't know what peripherals actually are but there's a way to look at them)
13. Patience is a virtue. I myself am I huge hypocrite of this because I am an impatient motherfucker and I'm positive this will hurt me when I play roto this year but it's something I, and you, should do.
14. Don't be complacent. Be on the lookout to help your team but don't make any trades or pick up any guys just for the sake of it.

This is all the tips I'm going to give away right now. I'll tell you guys my strategy after our drafts. Happy drafting!

Alexei=Next Ozzie?

Doesn't anyone remember how bad Ozzie Guillen was at baseball? Have the colorful years of him playing "small ball" with scappy grinders, calling reporters fags and raping sex dolls with baseball bats tainted the black and white stats he (failed to) put up during fifteen year career? The Daily Herald is heralding Alexi Ramirez (.336 wOBA in 2008) as the next Ozzie Guillen (career wOBA of .275, .292 career high wOBA). Sigh.

The beginning of this article is uselessly boring, so let me skip to the "interesting" parts.

"[Alexei Ramirez is] just a good athlete, and above all, he wants to be good. He's hungry to be a great player in this league and you can see that when he works and you can see that when he's on the field that he's hungry. It comes through and you can see it."

Synonyms for hunger: grindiness, small ball, fire in the belly, David Eckstein.

Watching Ramirez play shortstop this spring has been quite a sight.

Cabrera was a Gold Glove shortstop who had an off year in his brief stay with the White Sox.

Before that, Juan Uribe was about as good of a shortstop as there was in baseball.

With the exception of 2004 -- when Uribe posted a league average .346 wOBA and contributed +1 wins with his defense -- Uribe has neither been defensively outstanding (+.25 fielding wins above average) nor offensively relevant (.306 career wOBA) in Chicago.

And before that, current manager Ozzie Guillen played the position at a pretty high level.

A mythical and lofty .264/.287/.338 level.

With his own flair, Guillen has already conceded Ramirez is better.

Ozzie Guillen was one of the worst players in the history of baseball, producing a negative win value for his team in every season he played. Just not playing shortstop makes you a better shortstop than Ozzie Guillen. Players like Mark Prior who spend the entire season on the DL have a higher win contribution (zero) than Ozzie Guillen. He was literally that bad. He was literally that bad.

"He's always making jokes on me," Ramirez said. "He's always, 'I was better than you. I was better than you.' I just say, 'OK.' I will try to be as good as him, maybe not better. I don't like to be compared to anyone, but I'm trying to be close to the way Ozzie played."

Did I mention Ozzie hit .264/.287/.338 in his career?

Guillen was the last Sox shortstop to win a Gold Glove, in 1990. Is Ramirez destined to be the next?

Last year, Orlando Cabrera's defense was worth +1.6 wins (the most among all starting shortstops by a .3 win (19%) margin). AL Golden Glove winner Michael Young's defense was worth -.25 wins, making him the seventh worst starting shortstop in baseball. Gold Glove awards are almost as useless a criteria by which to evaluate a player's defensive ability as comparing a shortstop's potential to the worst shortstop in the history of baseball (Ozzie Guillen).

"There are so many good shortstops in the American League, so that's not something I can come out and say," Ramirez said. "But my wife (Mildred) told me one time I should win the Gold Glove. I don't want to put pressure on myself, but I do have it in my mind."

If your wife tells you to do something, it'd be wise to oblige.

If Ramirez wants to go for the gold, Konerko has a suggestion.

"He's got a big arm; it's plenty strong enough," Konerko said. "He's going to make a lot of highlight plays this year, there's no question about that. I know nothing about playing shortstop,

Great advice, Konerko. "I know nothing about playing shortstop, but if you do what I say, you will be great at playing shortstop." Konerko goes on to say:

"You're going to see some plays made this year; you're going to see him on (ESPN's) 'Web Gems' a lot."

A third useless criteria by which to evaluate a shortstop is by the number of web gems he racks up in a season.


On an groundbreaking side note, I'm watching the WBC and Joe Morgan just criticized Adam Dunn because he is "happy to take walks" when runners are in scoring position instead of "being more aggressive at the plate." Steve Phillips agrees.

Experts in College Basketball

Every year we here people telling us how to figure out our brackets. During this time of year, there's nothing really big happening in sports (But Sexy Rexy, what about the WBC? 1) That just recently started and it's not every year. 2) Like I said nothing really BIG happening) so ESPN is forced to talk about March Madness. Every single person and their mother is telling us who to pick. This year, the President weighed in on the issue. And every year people are wrong. NCAA places teams unnecessarily too high and unnecessarily too low, the average fan doesn't know too much about any real mid-major teams, and the single elimination format all are reasons that people fill out their bracket wrong and end up ripping it up after the first three days.

Now ESPN sounds like they can have some real nice analysis here. I heard guys like Digger Phelps explain why teams will win based on certain player match ups and certain defenses teams are prone too/ teams can execute. For example, Digger helped me to know that LSU is a good match up for UNC because of the defense LSU players can execute and the lack of defense by UNC (Sure, UNC beat LSU by 14, but who cares about outcomes, right?). However, no matter what, upsets are bound to happen.

But sometimes, as the analysts loves to do, ESPN makes some mistakes. Here's something my brother pointed out to me:

"Bob Knight thinks part of Memphis' problem is that it played mediocre teams to finish the season. Bob feels that this is the best thing that could have happened to the Tigers."

What? Is it a problem or not? I'm confused. Plus, my favorite thing about the quote is that when Bob Knight THINKS, Memphis is in trouble. But when Bob Knight FEELS, everything's okay for Memphis. The moral according to ESPN? Don't think, just feel. (The above sarcasm is also from my bro)

Now the Final Four is different. You have to win four games to get there and the best teams, the vast majority of the time, tend to make it to the Final Four. In fact, as this site always loves, you can create statistical analysis to determine the Final Four, The Championship Game, and the Winner of it all. A Georgia Tech professor actually created a formula to determine The Final Four and above

Thus formula over the past few years have proven to be extremely accurate. But again, this doesn't help for the four earlier round where many who can create a points edge on the people in your pool

I understand why ESPN has so much coverage dedicated to March Madness. They have to. They're a 24/7 sports news station. They also have to have analysis and predictions. But what I think is important here, is that you really don't listen to those predictions. There's so many conflicting viewpoints between analysts and the fact it you can;t use any logic or reason to say who's gonna win, at least in the first few rounds. So if you're bracket is still competitive and you enjoy college basketball, have fun for the next few weeks or so. But as for me, I'm going to tune out ESPN and focus all of new attention on fantasy baseball drafting. Only one more week baby!

Porn>Sports

According to this online website calculator thingy, the domains YouPorn.com and RedTube.com are both worth more and visited twice as much as ESPN.com.

What a glorious world we live in.

Speaking of which, check out this hilarious baseball porn. He even makes her dust off the plate (if you know what I mean). Very NSFW!

What DID Happen To Andruw Jones?

I was writing a post for the blog titled "Whatever Happened To Andruw Jones" in which I was attempting to discover what the hell happened to the once fiercesome force that trolled the outfield and trotted the based of Turner field. I looked at many different reference points -- his K rates, BB rates, LD rates, etc. -- and came up empty. I ultimately cannot explain what happened to Jones.

On one side, Jones has been swinging at more pitches outside the zone and making less contact with pitches in the zone, so you'd think "hey, his pitch recognition is off", right? But over this same time period, Jones has simulataneous increased his walk rate. I thought "maybe it's his declining batspeed", but noticed that Jones' contact rate (with the exception of last season) has remained relatively constant -- in fact, his contact rate with pitches outside the zone has offset his decreased in-the-zone contact rates. Jones' ISO plummeted in 2007, despite the fact that he increased his single season LD% against his three year average between 2004 and 2006. As Jones was hitting more LD and less GBs, his power somehow DECREASED.

I can't figure the guy out. What happened? Jones is still a defensive monster (well, except last year -- but some combination of diminished playing time and cake could be to blame for that), but his offensive skills just aren't translating anymore. Jones has always struck out a lot (and thus owns a mediocre career BA), but made up for it with power and a decent walk clip. Now that Jones is walking more and hitting less balls on the ground, why are his numbers plummeting? Andruw Jones is only 31; shouldn't there still be some gas left in the tank?

Please, someone help.

Jim Calhoun is Sick. Oh No! Stop the Presses!

Tonight, Jim Calhoun's #1 seeded UConn is going up against #16 seed Chattanooga. But, unfortunately for the Huskies, their fearless leader is sick and will not coach the team tonight.

Oh No! What ever will UConn do? Robert Flores asked a blogger reporting on Calhoun's status "Will UConn be able to win tonight UConn?" Really!? Did you really need to ask that!? Yes, of course UConn, will win tonight! No matter what! Even if I coached the team tonight UConn will win! No #1 seed have ever lost to #16 ever and it will NEVER happen.

Seriously, ESPN, shut the fuck up about Jim Calhoun. Stop telling us "This is a continuous story that you will be monitoring all day." He probably has the flu or some shit. It's not a big deal. So what UConn won't tell us what Calhoun had. Unless it's like cancer or AIDS or something, nobody cares.

I hate you so much ESPN

Just how bad is Dunn's defense


Just my luck, i came across UZR ratings analysis since 2002 done by the baseball analysts. Only two players have been worse in the outfield, however, both Griffey and Bernie used to be great so they get a reprieve. No such excuse for adam dunn. Also, how great was Andruw Jones! How quickly the mighty fall

Adam Dunn sucks at first base too


We all know by now that Adam Dunn is a butcher in left field. Considering this is the easiest position on the field, the prospects of Dunn being less of a defensive liability at a different position is minuscule. His fielding value the past 4 years according to fangraphs is -18.9, -13.9, -20, and -28 last years. This is monumentally bad. It may be all time bad for all i know. Anyway, Davey Johnson decided to put adam dunn at first base for the USA v Venezuela game tonight due to the injury of kevin youkili. No surprisingly, dunn committed a throwing error at first base that led to 4 unearned runs. Team USA lost 10-6. Thankfully, the US has secured a spot in the semifinals, so i suggest Dunn goes back to left field and hope no balls come his way

In Defense Of Steroids, Part II

You can read my initial, "Part I", post here

One argument you have probably heard over and over again about steroids and their users, is that while steroids might not have been illegal in baseball, they were illegal to use in the United States. Therefore, alleged or proven users were still breaking U.S. law. It is this argument that is used to put down and look even further down upon steroid users. But I want to use an example to disprove this point.

Player A: Alex Rodriguez

ARod admitted to using steroids (although I'm going to refuse to believe this the same way that a "smoking gun" found in a home without a warrant, although is indisputable evidence, it's still not allowed in court because it violates the 4th amendment, but I digress...). For the rest of his career, he will forever be associated as a steroids user. There will a clout of secrecy and guilt surrounding him forever about his stats and his playing career. ARod (according to his story but that's beside the point) did steroids in a place where it was legal but his being ostracized for it. Even if ARod takes a piss test after every game and is 100% clean from now on and goes on to break the HR record, his career will still be tainted.

Player B: Josh Hamilton (I hope you see where I'm going with this)

This young man has great natural talent and that's why the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays drafted him #1 a few years back. However, Hamilton became addicted to heroin and drugs with relegated him out of baseball during the beginning of his career. Hamilton broke US laws not not baseball laws (Yes, I'm sure there's a technical clause in the MLB contract that you can't do illegal drugs but what Hamilton didn't violate the sanctity of the game). Hamilton put on a great show at the 2008 Home Run Derby and went on to have a damn fine 2008 year and 2009 looks just as good. If Hamilton stays clean, he will probably go on to have a damn fine career. We applauded Hamilton for what he has been able to do. So while he broke US law, we are still proud he stopped and was able to overcome.

What hypocrisy is this!? Let's assume both players never do drugs again and both go on to have careers that force people to look back and say "Damn, those players were good!" People will look back on Hamilton in an extremely positive light. People will be even more impressed that he was able to do it as a former addict. But not ARod. No mater, ARod will always have the negative stigma attached to him. Both men broke the US law and took drugs they were not allowed to take. Except one was related to baseball and one was not. Clearly, the drugs related the baseball appear to be much more "punishable".

So please, stop with the whole "it violated US law" excuse. Also, please read my original post "In Defense of Steroids", so you can get a better understanding of steroids and baseball and why, no mater what, you shouldn't look down on steroid users.

The Blackhawks are chocking, hard

Remember all those nice things i had to say about the 2009 Blackhawks? Well forget that shit. They are currently tanking. They're still going to make the playoffs, probably as the number 4 seed with home field advantage, but at this pace they will destroyed in the first round. It's a compilation of many things.

1) The defense, which has been the best and most important part of the team is in shambles right now. Duncan Keith, the best defenseman is a -5 in the past 5 games, while being a league leader at +30 for the season. He has been out of position too much and seems to be pressing to get out of the slump. Brian Campbell, the all-star we're paying 8 mil per has recently been booed by the home crowd for avoiding physical contact, which leads to opponents extending possessions and scoring goals. One recent game was lost solely due to Campbell, as he was responsible for giving up 3 goals. One where he tried a spin-a-rama where he fell and allowed a breakaway goal. Then he failed to clear the puck from the defensive zone. And then avoided a check in the defensive zone, giving the puck to the opponents leading to a third goal. Yeah, he deserved to get booed. They traded one of our best offensive defensemen in James Wisnieski for some forward who can score at all. Apparently he's very good defensively, and on the faceoff, but the guy hasnt played for us yet due to injury. Yeah, not exactly Ilya Kovalchuck.

2) Khabibulin being injured for 15 games didnt help. Huet was forced to play nearly everyday, and appeared to get very tired in the final few games. Some rook, anti niiemi, replaced the bulin wall and was awful himself.

3) The biggest problem right now is the head coach, Joe Quinvuille. After taking charge of this team when he took over for Savard after like 3 games, he is starting to lose control of this team. He seems to be trying new line combinations within games, which is wrong because the established lines have had success and he should stick with them. breaking up the line of Havlet, Bowland, and Ladd is just dumb, as they have been out best line all year long. Also, having Toews and Kane on the same line with the improving troy brauwer, was getting better and better every game. Now the lines are so messed up, and even the d-line is being juggled, that Quinville is only digging a deeper whole.

God i hope the blackhawks can turn this slump around, before we get sweaped out of the playoffs

2 words to describe 2009 Bears: Illegal Formation


It has just come to my attention that the Bears currently only have 2 offensive lineman on their roster. I'm pretty sure that isnt enough to play with, so our offense will just consist of endless 5 yard illegal formation penalties until we have to punt. I guess this isnt too different from the bears normal offense. Apparently John Tait decided to retire, cant blame the guy cause playing left tackle will mess up your body. That should save the bears a bunch of cap room, but dont count on them signing anyone of value. John St. Claire signed with the Browns. I think this is actually a positive, as i've never seen a guard get beat any more than St. Clair has in his career.

I suppose this guarantees the bears draft some o-lineman early in the draft. With Chris Willaims and whoever they draft, the bears o-line will be extremely young, surrounding the extremely old Olen Krutz. Can't wait for football season! Yippee

ESPN Commercial

So there's this commercial running on ESPN. It's John C. McGineley (or some of you may know him as Dr. Cox) as the voice over. He says "ESPN.com slash" (then there's a visual after each pause of a person in a 'box' corresponding to the voice over) "fantasy baseball" (visual of Grady Sizemore) "Rumors" (visual of Buster Olney taking phone calls) "Mr. Roto's Mailbag" (visual of Matthew Berry with lots of bags full of mail) "Trades" ( a visual of Grady Sizemore and Matt Holliday)

Anyway, the whole point of me mentioning this commercial is the fact that in a fantasy baseball league someone actually traded Grady Sizemore for Matt Holliday. Who would do that? What a terrible trade! You know what, it actually makes sense because the person who gets Holliday turns out to be a chick and obviously chicks don't know baseball. Eckstein, get some more chicks in our fantasy league!

The downside of being white




Saves

In fantasy baseball, saves are overrated. With picks like Papelbon early, players pay high for 10% (in a 5x5 standard) of their impact points. When four category players like Curtis Granderson are still on the board, it is silly to waste a pick on a guy who will surely rack up saves and slightly help your ratios when you know that late in the draft there will be no 3/4 category players left, buts still plenty of guys who will get you saves and not hurt your ratios.

In the large scheme of things, the average RP tosses what, 70 innings? Most players employ 2-3 closers, depending on both the quality and availability of closers in the draft/free agency pool. Even with 3 guys, the average total impact of those relievers would be 210 IP, the innings equivalent of what a top 30 starter would toss. Assuming an 1800 IP limit that come standard in a Yahoo roto league, that cumulative 210 IP comprises less than 12% of your team's total innings allocation. A combined RP core with a 3.00 ERA, 180 K, 210 IP, 1.10 WHIP line (with some scattered Ws here and there) would slightly help a team whose starting pitching core were to average a 3.75 ERA, 165 K, 1.3 WHIP and 190 IP per SP (based on what it takes to win according to Roto Authority) by boosting some average ratios, but how much would adding an inferior RP core that racked up a comparable amount of saves across the same IP hurt a team?

Let's say instead of drafting Papelbon, Mariano Rivera and Bobby Jenks (a combined 120 SVs) last year, you drafted Brian Wilson, Kevin Gregg and George Sherrill (a combined 102 SVs)? You would not necessarily clear the saves category for 10 points, but you would still be in a prime position to rack up respectable saves numbers with late round draft picks. While last year Papelbon (49 ADP), Rivera (72 ADP) and Jenks (107 ADP) combined for a valuable 2.11 ERA (47 ER), 14 W, 120 SV, 192 K, .90 WHIP line across roughly 202 IP, Gregg (292 ADP), Sherrill (237 ADP) and Wilson (155 ADP) combined for a 4.41 (90 ER), 13 W, 102 SV, 183 K, 1.40 WHIP in about 184 IP. While the latter groups line isn't nearly as pretty as the elite RP's line, the variance between the two groups is much more overstated that you'd expect, based on 2009 ADP.

quick sidenote: obviously some changes to this grouping would need to be made on the basis of facts like Sherrill being replaced by Chris Ray midseason or Kevin Gregg not being the closer (even though he should, allowing the Cubs to continue to maximize Marmol's use in high leverage situations), but these guys could easily be substituted for late round 2009 closers like Chad Qualls (204 ADP) or Joel Hanrahan (198 ADP); the general point of this argument remains the same.

As you might observe, the difference in counting stats productions between these two groups of RPs in 2008 was somewhat negigible. 9 Ks and 1 W is more the byproduct of circumstance than opportunity. As noted earlier, being 18 SVs short of 3 of the top 5 closers going into 2008 with late round picks would put you in prime position to stay competitive in the SVs category.

The combined line of the elite RP core would surely improve your teams ratios to better approach "what it takes to win", but at the cost of 3/4 category offensive guys. On the other hand, the 4.40 ERA over 184 IP accumulated by the inferior RP core would constitute a 10.2% impact on all 1800 IP, causing a 3.75 ERA line to rise to 3.81. By contrast, the elite RP core's impact would constitute 11.2% of all IP and lower ERA from 3.75 to a 3.56 line. A similar impact is observable on WHIP (the elite RP core lowers whip to 1.25, the inferior RP core increases WHIP to 1.31).

What we can observe here is that while the elite RP core does positively impact pitching statistics, the inferior RP core simultaneously NEGLIGIBLY impacts the pitching line -- while the superior RP core lowers ERA well below the projected "what it takes to win" threshold (while also lowering WHIP a sizeable chunk), the inferior RP core only increases ERA by .06 and whip by .01. With smart drafting of SPs (who have much more impact on cumulative pitching statistics than RPs, mind you), this tiny impact of the inferior RP core could easily be offset, while gaining the benefit of a 3/4 category hitter or two early in the draft (by forgoing the elite RP in favor of an "inferior one").

What is very roughly observable here is the overrated impact of RPs based on draft position. Inferior RPs can easily put up comparable counting stats without hurting your ratios if you draft smart. Comparatively, late game hitters (minus sleepers, which can be harder to effectively forecast) generally cannot produce comparable offensive numbers to early round hitters. Come picks 180+, the hitters left in the pool are generally one category guys and offensive gambles. If you go with an early RP, late hitter strategy, you are maximizing risk (by forgoing more reliable/valuable hitters) and minimizing overall return, which is somewhat irrational in the investment game known as drafting. Smarter investment would call for the strategy of simply ignoring RPs until the later rounds (or just ignoring saves all together and focusing on the other 9 categories; why not try maximizing 90% of your potential against balancing 100%? It is equally as viable if done properly).

A lot of this knowledge is "conventional wisdom" for baseball drafters; I'm just putting some rough numbers behind the assertion. Now that that is established, let's move on to the point of my post: rules of thumb for drafting Closers (btw, I should go back in my post to modify all references to RPs as CLs, but you can infer what I mean and as I mentioned earlier, I'm lazy).

If it isn't obvious by now, I think closers are overrated. I rarely draft them (because so many guys lose their jobs midseason), but when I do, I like to look for bargains. I look for guys who meet the following criteria (in this order):
1) Job security
2) Save opportunity potential

First and foremost, if you are going to draft a closer, you want to draft a guy who is going to close. Why waste a pick on a guess (ie, who is closing in Seattle for 2009) when you can probably pick up the person who the closer out of spring training loses the job to off of waivers within a week or two? Why also waste a pick on a closer who has a better RP who may unseat him from the closing role behind him? To me, it seems like a waste of a pick that you could spend gambling on a guy like Denard Span or Shin-Soo Choo.

Secondly, I like a guy who is going to get the chance to save games. This doesn't mean a closer for an offensive friendly team like the Red Sox or Yankees, but closers for teams like The Pirates and Royals, where every one of their 70 wins per season is a save opportunity. Last year, I got Matt Capps, Joakim Soria and Brian Wilson at incredibly discounted prices and they paid off big time.

If you want my recommendation of who to draft, I'd recommend Brandon Lyon (because no one in Detroit is really healthier than him who can throw strikes), Brian Wilson (who has great stuff and no one to unseat him), Heath Bell (the Padres are notoriously committed to keeping their closer the closer during the season, no matter how hard he struggles) and Grant Balfour (the healthier, younger, better option for Tampa; Balfour for Closer is as inevitable as was Obama for President).

That's all for now; it's late and I'm tired. Apologies for spelling/grammar errors; I just wrote this from beginning to end in one sitting and am (yes, you guessed it) too lazy to re-read/edit tonight.

WBC Injury+David Letterman

So I'm watching the Cuba v Mexico game on ESPN 2 and Cuban pitcher Jorge Vera seemingly injured himself on the mound. The manager came out, talked to Vera and I guess told him to work through it or something, because Vera stayed on the mound. Two pitches later, he collapsed in pain and had to be carried off the field

Classic pitcher abuse. I wonder if Dusty Baker is watching...

Anyone notice that Lindstrom, Braun, Chipper and Pedroia have all been injured on Team USA? Further proof that this stupid competition is useless.

On a related note, here is the funny clip from David Letterman detailing the top ten reasons to watch the WBC:

I Hate Jerry Angelo SO MUCH!

So I'm watching ESPN's First Take right now and Chicago Tribune sports reporter Dan Pompei is talking about the Bears. He says that 1) The Bears will be holding a mini-camp in two weeks before the draft so Angelo can "evaluate his players" and 2) The Bears didn't pick up anyone in free agency because according to Angelo this was one of the worst free agency class he's seen in a while

1) How do you know know the status of your players Angelo!? Did you miss that whole 16 games you recently played!? Was the regular season not good enough for you realize your players suck that you need to hold a mini-camp before the draft!? Seriously, what better evaluation will be done before the draft that wasn't already done before? The team didn't really add any players that Angelo should feel the need to do a whole huge process.

2) Speaking of adding players, WTF Angelo! Your team went 9-7. You lost the last game of the season to miss the playoffs and your team looked terrible against quality teams. The Vikings are good, have good lines, and are always looking to get better and the Packers were injury riddled and should be MUCH better for next year. I'll agree with Angelo that the draft class this year was pretty weak, but these "weak" players are still better than the shit the Bears have on their team. You still need to improve every year!

Pompei said also that Angelo didn't want to "waste money". What, like the contracts to Brian Urlacher and Tommy Harris weren't bad enough! But seriously, Angelo isn't running a fucking baseball team in Oakland, he has plenty of money and plenty of cap room to work with. Money shouldn't be THAT much of an issue for the fucking football team in Chicago.

Jesus I hate Chicago GMs (except maybe the Blackhawks GM, he seems to be doing a good job)

Mark Prior's $1 Million Scam

The Padres apparently loved paying Mark Prior $1 million dollars to not pitch last year so much that they gave him another million to not pitch again in 2009. Here's a chart of his injuries to date (courtesy of Wikipedia).

Sigh

Does anyone remember a week or so ago when I said that Rick Sutcliffe made a boo-boo on air and said Jeff Francoeur injured himself by sneezing? Well he's doing it again. Someone should probably tell him that he's thinking of Sammy Sosa. Sutcliffe is (starting to sound) stupid. God forbid an ESPN analyst say something (stupid and) incorrect on air.

David Eckstein's Projected Stat Line

No not our "beloved" David "MVP" Eckstein, the real one. According to BP here is what he is expected to do next year: .267/.330/.339; 3 SB, 1 CS; 1 HR, 1 3B, 12 2B; 28 R; 20 BB; 10 VORP and only out of baseball after three more years of playing. He's my fantasy sleeper pick, STAY AWAY FROM HIM!!!

Hubert Davis Hates the Big Ten, No Surprise There

Hubert Davis is a part of ESPN's "Bracketology" team. He's the token black guy on the squad (No offense, but seriously look at everyone else on the team). I don't really like college basketball too much and I don't really watch too much ESPN analysis too much either, but after just watching all of about five minutes of Davis' analysis the past few days, I feel like I have to revert back to GOI's roots and complain.

Yesterday, Hubert Davis was talking about "the eye test" to determine the quality of the teams on the bubble. Everyone else was talking about RPI and Strength of Schedule, you know statistics that help determine how good a team is. But not good ol' Hubert. Nope, he's not going to be persuaded by this "Moneyball" generation of sports. Instead, out of the 32 Division-I divisions that probably have an average of 11 teams, Hubert Davis is going to watch about 352 teams and he's going to rank in his head all of them, especially the top 65!

Then today, the Bracketology crew was discussing the quality of the Big Ten, how many teams the Big Ten should have, whether Penn State, a bubble team, deserves to go and what have you. Of course, being it ESPN, the big Midwest conference, the Big Ten, HAS to get shit on. And the shitter- Hubert Davis. First, he mentions how much the Big Ten sucks. Then he mentions how painful it is to watch Big Ten play. And it is because of these two facts that the Big Ten should get as little teams as possible!

First of all! well ok, Big Ten play is absolutely horrible to watch. He mentioned how team can have the score of 20-20 at the half, and this part is true. I'm a big fan of the Big Ten, but even I can't watch it, even when my team, Illinois, is playing. But that is still no excuse to exclude Big Ten teams because of this! Just because teams play knock out-drag out defense, doesn't mean they should not be in the playoffs! Should we take away the Ravens Superbowl win because there offense couldn't score for shit? Absolutely not. Team should be rewarded and praised that they play defense. In fact, you just can not go far in the tourny WITHOUT playing defense.

Second, THE BIG TEN IS THE SECOND BEST CONFERENCE IN THE FUCKING LEAGUE! I don't know where Davis gets this, but the Big Ten is the #2 conference under the #1 ACC according to RPI. Davis was talking about how the Big Ten sucks, how much better the Big East is and therefore the Big Ten shouldn't send 8 teams. What are you basing this off of? Sure, the very top of the Big East is probably more loaded with UConn, Pitt, and Louisville versus really just Michigan State. But this is not about the top of the conference, it's about the conference as a whole! And just a sidenote: the Big East is not #3 in conference RPI, that's the Big 12. Big East is actually fourth.

Big Ten teams in the top 65 according to RPI:
4) Michigan State
18) Illinois
30) Purdue
35) Ohio St
40) Minnesota
42) Michigan
44) Wisconsin

The Big Ten deserves to send 7 teams. Penn State is #68 according to the RPI and despite wins over the top of the Big Ten: Michigan State, Purdue, and twice over Illinois, they do not deserve to go. It's not because the Big Ten sucks or because Penn State plays quality defense and horrible-looking offense (HUBERT DAVIS!), but because Penn State has a low RPI and because of automatic bids due to conference tournaments. Teams who didn't win in the regular season but won their conference tournament (i.e. USC, Cleveland St) took bids away from teams like Penn State. Seriously, I don't understand how analysts like Hubert David are allowed to spew such nonsense and lies, all the fuck time! Fuck ESPN.

Why I Hate College Basketball, Part II: Conference Tournaments

While sure I did not write Part I, I feel there's another aspect of college basketball that sucks that wasn't mentioned before, conference tournaments.

In every other sport, how a team does in the regular season determines the playoffs seeding. Not in college basketball. In the college game, it's not only the regular season but also "a pre playoffs" or the conference tourny that determines March Madness seeding (and speaking of March Madness, can we please change the title of that considering most of the tournament now takes place in April). See, after your regular season, all the teams in your conference play each other. The winner of this tournament gets an automatic bid to the Big Dance. So, if your team sucks and even has a losing record, you still have the opportunity to go Dancing (let's see how many "Cinderella" references I can make in this post, so far I'm at 2. Does anyone remember Illinois last year? They SUCKED with a capital "S" yet they still had the opportunity to be a low seed Cinderella (3) team because they made it to the Big Ten finals. Now luckily (well not for me being a fan but luckily from an objective position) Illinois lost to Wisconsin (who was #1 in the Big Ten), but Illinois never should have had the opportunity to go in the first place.

Now I understand the nature of playoffs is reduced to luck, and especially in college basketball where the Big Dance (4) is single elimination and where anything can happen, but teams for the most part earned the right to be given a chance. If you play hard and play well throughout an entire season, you should have the opportunity to make the playoffs. But if you get lucky and just so happens to win three or four games, what makes you so good to go Dancing (5)?

Look at teams like Cleveland St who beat 17th overall ranked Butler. Does winning one lucky game against a ranked opponent means who DESERVE to be a part of the 64(5) teams. No. Butler, who beat opponents all year long deserved to and should have been the winner of Horizon conference, but instead it's Cleveland St. Now Butler is going to be in the tourny, but now Horizon conference will have two teams going instead of one. This means that teams on "the bubble" is now eliminated. There are a handful of teams that played pretty well to deserve to go Dancing (6) but now can't because of sheer luck by teams like Cleveland St. The winner of these conference games weakens the overall quality of the bracket tournament because they force more deserving teams out.

Now, I'm not advocated against automatic bids, to the contrary. I like automatic bids, just not from conference tournament play. I think the automatic bid though should come from regular season play and not tournament play. That way, Butler would automatically go and teams like Cleveland St., who had the opportunity all season long to win the Horizon conference, don't get to go.

Now one argument I heard against this was that people love Cinderella (7) teams. Fans love teams like George Mason, a low seed that everyone counted out yet plays well, and these conference games not only allow fans to watch Cinderella's (8)to emerge like Cleveland St but also allows more of these types of team to play in the Big Dance (9). Here's the thing, 1) how many people truly watched all these minor conferences like the Horizon tournament? I can't imagine very many except for fans of the particular schools and 2) Do people honestly think upsets won't occur if there isn't conference tournaments? I would argue that upsets would occur more frequently because more quality teams (teams that have proven themselves over the course of an entire season) would play over teams that just got lucky within 3-4 games. I guarantee you major upsets will occur and teams like George Mason will happen without conference tournaments.

Now I understand why this happens. The same reason college football doesn't implement a playoff- money. Conferences make a lot of money of these tournaments. And if I was the commissioner of a conference like the Horizon league, I would be happy that two if my teams were guaranteed to Go Dancing (9) instead of just one. However, I, as a below average fan, would love to do away with the conference tournaments. Plus, now March Madness could actually be played in the month of March!

Also, total Cinderella references: 9. How many can you spot while watching ESPN? Make a drinking game out of it!

___________________________________________________________

Just an update. the Big Ten finals will be Purdue versus Ohio State. What if Ohio State wins? Are they the best team in the Big Ten? No. Do they automatically deserve to go to the Tournament? NO. Now Purdue, a team guaranteed to make the tourny, could end up winning and then this won't be a problem. But seriously, examples like this happen all time and this just helps strengthen my point.

Horrible Trades, Wiped Out Farm Systems

Did you know that the anemic pitching system of the Texas Rangers once simulataneously included Chris Young (traded with Adrian Gonzalez for Adam Eaton and Akinori Otsuka), Edinson Volquez (traded for Josh Hamilton) and John Danks (traded for Brandon McCarthy)? With Josh Hamilton being the notable exception, the Rangers have basically given away several of their top players (including Mark Teixeira) over the years for "top prospects" that never panned out (replacing traded talent with aged veterans like Vincent Padilla, Kevin Millwood and Eric Gange).

Scarier than this situation is that of the Detroit Tigers, who traded the entire farm in less than two years (primarily in one offseason). Since the end of the 2007 season, the Tigers have given away Cameron Maybin, Andrew Miller, Jair Jurrjens, Matt Joyce, Gorky Hernandez and Burke Badenhop (in addition to a few other no name guys) and only received Miguel Cabrera (who is great), Dontrelle Willis (who has been the opposite of great since 2006) and Edgar Renteria (who is old and inconsistent) in return. Of those three, only Miguel Cabrera is expected to be on the major league roster in 2009. The Tigers' minor league system is pretty barren, with 2007 draft pick Rick Porcello being the lone retained talent. Doom and gloom looms for Detroit fans past 2010.

Just think, Detroit fans, this is what the core of your team COULD have looked like in 2009:
C - Greg Laird
1B - Magglio Ordonez (he can't hurt you as bad defensively if you shove him at first)
2B - Placido Polanco
SS - Adam Everett
3B - Carlos Guillen
OF - Curtis Granderson
OF - Matt Joyce
OF - Cameron Maybin
DH - Gary Sheffield
SP - Justin Verlander, Jair Jurrjens, Andrew Miller, Armando Galaragga, Rick Porcello

Instead, you have Jeremy Bonderman, Nate Robertson and D-Train. Congratulations, Dave Dombrowski.