Why Is Joe Flacco So Good This Year?

At the end of last year, if you told me to rate three young QBs for the next season between Matt Ryan, Tyler Thigpen, and Joe Flacco, I would rank them in that order. Ryan would ROY honors and then added another awesome weapon: Tony Gonzales. We'll see how Thigpen does in Miami but Joe Flacco is a top ten, maybe even top five QB this year!? WTF!?

Last year Flacco was 22nd in passer rating, 18th in YPA, 20th in completion percentage, and 25th in Y/G with 14 TD to 12 INT. This year he's 5th in passer rating, 7th in Y/G, 6th in YPA, and 9th in completion percentage with 6 TDs to 4 INTs. What gives, why the sudden turn around?

This year Baltimore didn't really do anything different on offense. They didn't add anyone big on the O-line or any big receivers, at all. Sure, they're running game with McGahee and Rice is awesome, but they're running game last year was nothing to slouch at either.

I think one important thing to look at was Flacco's game log last year. Within his first four games he threw 7 of his 12 INTs to only one TD. Since that game he threw 12 TDs to only 5 INTs. Then you look, and one of the games towards the end of the year was versus the Pittsburgh Steelers with their awesome defense (it's acceptable that any QB, no matter how good or bad they actually are, do bad against an amazing defense)where Flacco threw 2 picks to no TDs. You take that game out and Flacco threw 12 TDs to 3 INTs in his past 11 games. Excluding the Steelers game, Flacco had a passer rating of 95 or better in four out of his last five games at the end of the 2008 season.

I think next it's probably helpful to look at Flacco's receivers.

Derrick Mason: 11th in DYAR, 15th in DVOA, 67% catch rate (among WRs)
Mark Clayton: 61st in DYAR, 59th in DVOA, 50% catch rate (among WRs)
Todd Heap: 19th in DYAR, 22nd in DVOA, 55% catch rate (among TEs)

Derrick Mason: 32nd in DYAR, 38th in DVOA, 55% catch rate (among WRs)
Mark Clayton: 55th in DYAR, 55th in DVOA, 47% catch rate (among WRs)
Todd Heap: 4th in DYAR, 6th in DVOA, 63% catch rate (among TEs)

You may not understand the statistics I used but it's clear that (yes in the limited sample size) Mason and Clayton, Flacco's two main receivers are worse or just as bad as they were last year. Yes, this year, Heap is significantly better, but can one player, a TE, really explain the sudden boost in Flacco's numbers, probably not. In fact, these numbers are boggling because why does Flacco have such a good completion percentage when his receivers are worse?

So I took a look at Baltimore's RBs. L'Ron McClain has caught 80% of the passes thrown his way and Willis McGahee has caught 75%. Ray Rice has been no slouch catching 65% of his passes. All three RBs combine make up one third of Flacco's targets.

Throwing to Clayton and mason makes up about 40% in Flacco's targets and Heap makes up about 21% with about 10% going to other receivers. So if you look at it this way, about 50% of all of Flacco's passes are going to players that catch the ball: a RB or Heap.

I also took a brief look at Flacco's O-line had it's significantly better than last year ranking 7th this year in pass blocking. Sure Flacco seems to have more time to pass the ball, which will make any QB better, but I didn't think Flacco was all that good to begin with, so having even more time won't help a bad QB.

So if you ask me why is Flacco so good? I would say it's because of his dump off passes to his backs and because of Todd Heap. His others receivers have been garbage for three games, especially in terms of efficiency. But the other half have been doing very well. Does this explain why Flacco went from a below average starter to a top 10 QB? I don't know. But I think this explains explain why Flacco doesn't suck this year. Sure, he looked like he was developing at the end of last year which probably is a considering factor. Flacco has only played 19 regular season games plus three playoff games. Maybe he was worth being drafted in the first round and the more time in the pocket helps his development? However, just based on how Flacco seems to be getting his fantasy points still makes me think less of him.

In honor of Patrick Swayze

150 Posts!

Congrats fellow GOI authors, this post is the 150th post we have written this month! Granted 140 of them are Cubsfan4evr's basketball posts, but we have clearly outdone ourselves this month breaking our record of 121 posts in a month.

Sexy Rexy Is Getting People To Visit GOI! Sort Of...

So I've been posting my football stuff on footballoutsiders.com message boards. Considering I use some pretty advanced statistics, even for the GOI authors, what better forum to explain myself than on the site that created the advanced statistics. Here's a comment I got from my Cedric Benson post:

Fascinating. I targeted Benson in several leagues based on an article I read about how he admitted he'd been lazy (for lack of a better word) in Chicago, that getting cut for him was a wake-up call, and that he was newly motivated as a result. Interesting to see that he's actually getting help. Thanks for the link!

Your welcome zhengyiquan, glad I could help!

Analyzing the Tyler Thigpen Trade

TBO and I have raved about Thigpen since last year. He was on my fantasy team and did well for a few weeks- even helping the ex-Bear Mark Braldey get some fantasy headway. When the Chiefs got Cassel I thought it was dumb because my Chiefs already had a young good QB- Thigpen. Then when news broke that Thigpen- who for some reason was 3rd on the Chiefs depth chart- got traded to Miami, I thought Miami was getting a steal. But then I looked at Thigpen's numbers from last year.

Tyler Thigpen was 27th in passer rating, 24th in YPG, 29th in YPA, and 30th in completion percentage. For some reason after "watching" Thigpen play I thought he was good, but stats don't lie. So TBO told me to look even further, that I should "trust my eye", and that the Chiefs O-line and receivers were awful last year. So I'm going to do that and compare what he did last to what Miami did last year/ have done so far this year to see how Thigpen will fare in Miami; to see if my instinct before looking up his numbers was right, or if the numbers won't lie.

I think one way to help decipher completion percentage is by looking at Thigpen's wide receivers- and look at their catch rate. A quaterback can make good passes to a reciever, but if that receiver messes up/ doesn't catch the ball, the numbers look bad on the quarterback (see: Jay Cutler, game one this year).

Dwayne Bowe was the Chiefs best reciver last year, and he only caught 55% of his passes- that means he only caught a little over half the passes thrown his way. Mark Bradley was Kansas City's 2nd best receiver- and he was garbage. Besides having negative DVOA and DYAR, he only caught 48% of his passes. However, Thigpen did have the benefit of throwing to Tony Gonzalezx last year- and he caught a darn good 62% of his passes. There are some other wideouts that caught a handful of passes but again, with unimpressive catch rates.

But now let's see how the Dolphins receivers did last year. Davone Bess caught 72% of his passes last year, Greg Camarillo caught 66% of his passes, Ted Ginn caught 66% of his, and TE Anthony Fiasano caught 64% of his.

On the face it, it seems the Miami receivers will only help Thigpen's numbers because they seem to have a better ability to catch balls. However, it wouldn't be a good argument if I didn't look at other factors. As Skip Bayless has argued, the Miami system is one of just dink and dumps, which makes for higher comp %. And Chad Pennington has always been an extremely accurate passer. So the high comp % is probably to a combo on Pennington's accuracy and the west coast offense. But won't Tyler also do dink and dumps as well? Now I'm not quite sure how Thigpen's accuracy truly his given his small sample size, but given the offense he will now play in and the recievers he has, his completion percentage should gratly improve.

Now I think it's also fair to look at the team's offensive lines. No matter how accurate you are, if you're getting bombareded and rushed all the time, no way you're going to complete throws.

Last year Miami had the 12th best pass blocking offensive line. Kansas City has the 21st best. Clearly Pennington has much more time to get off his throws, especially compared to Thigpen. However, in three games, Miami has the 25th best. Si Thigpen is absolutely not coming into the same situation as he was before. However, I think Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano has shown to work his way around a poor offensive live. The dink and dumps and the wild cat formation is designed to take advantage of a poor offenisve live. I actually didn't think Miami's O-line was all that good last year, but Sparano designed plays based off of the QB and RB to show a statistical improvement in his offensive line.

What concerns me most about Thigpen is when I look into his game log. TBO said if you discounted his first couple of games, then his numbers improve. However, they actually don't. In 5 out of his last 7 games, Thigpen has a completion percentage under 55% and never boasted a passer rating above 86. Yes, there was a streak between week 5 and 10 where he threw 5 TDs and no INTS, but in the time where he should have improved (weeks 11-17), he threw 10 TDs but 8 INTs.

However, considering their starter is now out for the year, I'd have to think that Thigpen is Miami's best option, and the pick they gave up probably won't be that high considering the Chiefs don't seem to care about Thigpen. So on that front getting Thigpen will probably be worth it. But how well will he play? And to be honest I can't really tell you based on the evidence I've been given. I assume that Thigpen can dink and dump, but will Miami's receivers make Thigpen better, catch more of his passes and thus improve Thigpen's numbers? Or was it that the Chiefs receivers had a low catch rate because Thigpen wasn't that good? I don't know. My first gut reaction, after actually looking at Thigpen's passing numbers is that Miami is getting a subpar QB that has experience. But who's to say that Thigpen won't improve, or even make the Miami receivers better? There's no evidence to say that he can't? But if you twisted my arm and made me say how Thigpen will do, I'll tell you that he'll Kyle Orton-eqsue- at best.

A Look at the Chicago Bulls 2009……….The Bench

I have just looked at most of the Chicago Bulls players. When I looked at each player I talked about their role on the team. Now I am going to talk about the Bench, and more specifically the back-up for each position. I will not be going into every bench player. When I talk about the second unit I am referencing: Kirk Hinrich, Brad Miller, Jannero Pargo, James Johnson, and Taj Gibson. These are the five back-up’s and their respective positions. Players are interchangeable to play other positions if someone else is not performing, injured, or in foul trouble.

Kirk Hinrich and Brad Miller are the only two dependable consistent players the Bulls have off the bench. They are both veterans who know how to play the game and the Bulls will be relying on them to come off the bench and provide a spark. For Kirk Hinrich that will mean to come in and knock down some shots while playing with Derrick Rose, or handling the ball and giving Derrick Rose a break. He will be the primary back-up for both guard spots. Brad Miller will be backing up Power Forward and Center. He will need to come in and shoot. The staring Power Forward and Center are not shooter’s or proven yet in the case of the streaky Tryus Thomas. Thus it will be crucial that Miller can provide some offense at these two sports, because most of the Bulls big men are defensive oriented players. Hinrich and Miller will have to carry the Bulls second unit while the regulars get a rest.

The Bulls have veteran journeyman in Jannero Pargo. Pargo is a proven shooter and can score in a hurry, but as we learned in his first tour of duty with the Bulls he is very streaky. Some night he will come off the bench and look like Ben Gordon, but the other half he may have trouble getting in rhythm. He will give the Bulls an offensive option off the bench, but is not a proven or dependable player. I like Pargo and think he is a good pick up for the Bulls for his price tag, but it will be interesting to see how he fits in and is used.

The last two players who will be relied heavily on are the rookies James Johnson and Taj Gibson. James Johnson is supposed to be a good offensive player who can run the floor and knock down shots. From the tape I have seen on him he seems to run the floor well, but I think it will take him some time to develop his shot and become the important six men we need from him offensively off the bench. Taj Gibson is a defensive player which may provide some defensive energy off the bench, but the Bulls roster seems to be stacked with those types of players. I don’t see him getting much playing time and doing much as a Bull this season. Thus, it will be up to Hinrich and Miller to keep the game close when the starters are resting and James Johnson and Pargo will need to step it up and define their role with the team.

Oregon Football

All Sports fans have gone to many sporting events throughout their life where they have been disappointed with the outcome and the play of their team. I have gone to over a dozen Cubs games this season and I have lost count of how many times they won because for the most part they lost when I went. I don’t think I saw more than four wins! Tony Seminary is an Oregon alumni who decided to attend the season opener of Oregon vs. Boise State on September 3rd. He was disgusted in the product on the field so he wrote the Oregon head coach Chip Kelly an e-mail with an invoice. You can read more about this story and what Chip Kelly did at ESPN news. I wish all coaches did what he did!

The Cubs Keep on winning

The Chicago Cubs had a very disappointing season. There were real big expectations for them this season after going to the playoffs the last two years by winning the central division title. They were swept in the playoffs the last two years and had something to prove this season. It didn’t go plan and this was the first of the three seasons that Lou has been the skipper of the Cubs that they didn’t win the division or make the playoffs. I am mad that they didn’t, but this is the third consecutive season that the Cubs have had a winning record. As sad as that may be, it is still an accomplishment for the team. Lets hope they re-group this off-season and trade Bradley and are better next season.

HR distance vs Pitch location

Via: Baseball Analysts

Tyler Thigpen to Miami

ESPN has just reported that the Chiefs have traded Thigpen to the Miami Dolphins for an undisclosed pick. Miami needs Thigpen to replace Chad Pennington who is now out for the year.

The Kardashian's Love Shitty Black Athletes Who Have Not Nor Will Not Reach Their Potential

TBO has reported that Khloe Kardashian (who?) is marrying Laker Lamar Odom. Well I'm happy to report that big sister Kim is now back together with Reggie Bush.

Of Course A Bears Offensive Player Is Good AFTER He Leaves The Team

This time I am talking about Cedric Benson. Benson was the Bears first round draft pick and 4th pick overall in 2005. We also got Thomas Jones recently as well and for the first two years Benson was a Bear, our running game looked amazing. In 2005 and 2006, Benson, granted as a back up, averaged a fine, above average, 4.1 YPC. Benson looked ready to become a starter so Chicago traded away Thomas Jones to the Jets. Jones then becomes a pro-bowler and Benson ends up being so bad, that he gets cut. Story of a first round Bears draft pick.

Then the Cincinnati Bungels picked him up and after an awful year last year (averaging only 3.5 yards per carry), is now having a great year. Benson is 8th rated RB this year in Yahoo!, 3rd among all RBs in yards, and now averaging 4.4 YPC- his career high. Yes granted we are talking an extremely limited sample size of only three games, but come on, what gives!

So I did a little research and I think I've found out why Benson has been good so far- the Bungals rushing O-line is much improved this year.

Yes, Benson does rank 10th overall in DYAR and 12th in DVOA. Imagine DYAR to football is like VORP in baseball, but accounting for defense. And DVOA represents how valuable per play is a back compared the league average. This is impressive considering the past two years Benson was negative in both these categories, ranking him towards the bottom of the list. But I don't think this explains why Benson is so good. I think these are casual trends to help show how good Benson is, but I don't think it fully explains it. What makes a RB go from being in the bottom of the league to being a top ten back?

I think that's best explained by his offensive line. This year, the Cincy O-line ranks 10th in run blocking. And if you look even further than that, they have fantastic run blocking tackles. The Bengals Left Tackle Andrew Whitworth is ranked first in run blocking among all LT's and their Right Tackle, Anthony Collins, is ranked fifth. Left Guard Evan Mathis is pulling his weight as well ranking 9th among LG in run blocking. Having three out of the five O-lineman be in the top 9 in run blocking, and two playing right next to each other to help open up holes, really helps a running back actually gain yards.*

Here's a list of where Benson's O-lines rank according to run blocking and Benson's YPC:

2009 (Bengals): 10th; 4.4
2008 (Bengals): 32rd; 3.5
2007 (Bears): 30th; 3.4
2006 (Bears): 7th; 4.1
2005 (Bears): 15th; 4.1

No surprise that when Benson has a top tier run blocking O-line that Benson succeeds.

*Yes, I am making the assumption that when a Bengals left guard is first in run blocking I attribute it to the starting LG Cincy has on its team. Sure, that player probably doesn't play every down to take full credit, but he plays most. I don't think it's an unfair assumption to make

My Look at the Bulls Update

As all of the readers of GOI should know I am doing a preview on the Chicago Bulls 2009-2010 season. I have already looked at the front office, Coaching staff, and players. Next I will be looking at the bench, the biggest questions surrounding the Bulls season, and my overall analysis of the team. These are additions to my preview that I didn't originally decide to do when I posted all the topics I would look at back in my first post on this so I decided to add a post about them. If you have any ideas for things I should look at on the Bulls before the season please let me know. I am always open to suggestions.

James Johnson Hazing Period

The Chicago Bulls training camp just started a few days ago. I did a post on James Johnson who is one of the Bulls rookie. This article in the
Chicago Tribune talks about how our top draft pick is doing. It also talks about the veteran leadership the Bulls have in Brad Miller and Lindsey Hunter. Both of them are helping Johnson learn the plays and what to do. Brad Miller who is more of a jokester is the one who is making Johnson do the typical rookie stuff like get doughnuts and stepping on Johnson's back during pushups. I didn't like the Hunter signing at first, but maybe it is a good thing.

Here is a video on Johnson's experience in training camp so far.

Look at the Chicago Bulls 2009……….Aaron Gray

Aaron Gray was the Bulls 49th overall draft pick (second round) in the 2007 NBA draft. Gray went to College at the University of Pittsburgh where he named the Associated Press Third Team All-American after leading his team to the sweet 16 in the 2007 NCAA tournament. The Bulls have had a lack of a true center and a presence in the post for a number of years. This was way the Bulls drafted him after he was a force to be reckon with at the College level. The 7 foot 270 pound center has not been able to adapt to the NBA level. Gray is slow and can’t jump very well. The Bulls just re-signed him last week because they needed some depth at center and Gray gives them a true center (the only one of their roster), even though he is a work in progress. Gray has a big body and could be a good low-post option off the bench. He is also a good option for bigger centers the Bulls may face like Dwight Howard and Shaquille O' Neal. The Chicago Bulls already have 4 players between the power forward and center spot so Aaron Gray doesn’t figure to get much playing time unless for injuries or foul trouble. Aaron Gray has shown flashes of being good at times and does several things well for a big man like pass.

Here is a highlight video of Aaron Gray:

Look at the Chicago Bulls 2009……….Brad Miller

Brad Miller is a savvy 11 year veteran the Bulls acquired in a trade from the Sacramento Kings last year before the trade deadline. This is Miller’s second tour of duty in Chicago. He played in Chicago from 2000 to 2002. Miller is a 7-0 center who is 33 years old and he showed his age last year while the Bulls were making their playoff run. So the Bulls will have him come off the bench and provide an offensive boost off the bench. Brad Miller has always been more of an offensive minded player, which is a good fit because he is the only big man we have that is. Tryus Thomas could be a good offensive player, but still has a lot to prove. Brad Miller alongside Kirk Hinrich will be filling one of the biggest question’s this Bulls team has coming into the season, the bench. When I am done looking at the players I will be analyzing the team as a whole. I think Miller will have a good season and look to see him playing down the stretch at the end of games even though he is coming off the bench.

Matt Millen sucks at life

GOI Football Prediction Results: Week Three

Pigskin Pick 'Em:

1) Sexy Rexy

Overall: 32 out of 48, 66.67%
Last Week: 12 out of 16, 75%

1) The "Bright" One

Overall: 32 out of 48, 66.67%
Last Week: 10 out of 16, 62.5%

3) Cubsfan4ever

Overall: 31 out of 48, 65%
Last Week: 12 out of 16, 75%

Fantasy Football League:

1) Cubsfan4evr (2-1): 284 points
2) The 'Bright' One (2-1): 277 points
BTW, TBO sucks because he lost to DME, a guy who knows NOTHING about football. This is worse than losing to Pod Vader in the Man's League
3) Sexy Rexy (2-1): 271 points
4) David "MVP" Eckstein (2-1): 248 points

Eliminator Challenge:

1) Sexy Rexy, Green Bay Packers (3)
1) Cubsfan4evr, Baltimore Ravens (3)
3) The 'Bright' One, Washington Redskins (0)
3) J O'Brien, Houston Texans (0)
3) David "MVP" Eckstein, DNP (0)
3) Richard, DNP (0)

Salary Cap Football:

1) The "Bright" One: 243.72total points, 94th percentile
2) Sexy Rexy: 235.92 total points, 91st percentile
3) Cubsfan4ever: 201.96 total points, 59th percentile

Football Board Bets:

1) Pierre Thomas, ranked 32rd among all RBs, 14 attempts
2) Reggie Bush, 1 rushing TD

Ahmad Bradshaw: 20 total fantasy points
Fred Taylor: 28 total fantasy points

Merrill Hoge is on my list

This one is simple. Trey Wingo says "Devin Hester has jets". Correct. Merrill Hodge adds his own insight. "The thing that'll allows him to be a great wide receiver is that he has great hands". Wrong

Sexy Rexy back me up on this

Look at the Chicago Bulls 2009……….Joakim Noah

Joakim Noah played collegiate basketball for the University of Florida. He had a great college career starting on two Gators' teams that won the 2006 and 2007 NCAA Tournaments. Then he was drafted 9th overall in the 2007 NBA Draft by the Chicago Bulls. Last season Noah started 55 games down the stretch of the Bulls playoff run and he showed that with more playing time he will get rebounds and a make a few shots per game. He also blocked more shots with more playing time. I am not a big fan of Noah. He reminds me of Reggie Evans, which means that if he gets the playing time he will get rebounds and a few points, but is not anything spectacular. I think Brad Miller is better, but think it is better to bring him off the bench this way there is some scoring with the second unit.

Look at the Chicago Bulls 2009……….Center

The Bulls starting center looks to be Joakim Noah. Noah will be entering his third season in the NBA and with the Bulls. Noah is known more as a defensive player only averaging 6.7 PPG so far in his two year career. He does average 1.1 BPG, 0.8 SPG, and 6.6 RPG. He will be backed up by veteran Brad Miller who is in his second stint with the Bulls entering his 12th season in the NBA. Brad Miller is a good shooter and scorer. Miller will be a big part of the Bulls success coming off the bench with the second team. Kirk Hinrich and Brad Miller are the only two veterans coming off the bench and they will need to carry the Bulls offensively while the starters are resting. The third string center is Aaron Gray whom the Bulls just re-signed to a one year deal. He will be entering his third season with the Bulls. Gray is the only true center the Bulls have and has the big body to go against other true centers in the league. He needs to improve a lot to be a factor though.

Look at the Chicago Bulls 2009……….Taj Gibson

Taj Gibson was just drafted by the Bulls with the 26th overall pick in the 2009 draft. He is a 6-10 forward who weighs 214 pounds coming out of USC after his junior year. Taj Gibson can play power forward and is known for his defense. He will be backing up Tryus Thomas who is also a defensive player. If he plays well in the pre-season he will have the chance to come off the bench and show what he can do. From the little I know about Taj Gibson I was not excited about this pick. We will see how he plays for the Bulls this season.

Here is a highlight video of Taj Gibson.

Finally! Redemption

A Look at the Chicago Bulls 2009……….Tryus Thomas

Tryus Thomas was drafted 4th overall in the 2006 NBA Draft by the Portland Trail Blazers. Then, Thomas was then traded along with forward Viktor Khryapa to the Chicago Bulls for forward/center LaMarcus Aldridge whom the Bulls drafted 2nd overall in the same 2006 draft. After three years the Bulls have looked to make a bad trade. LaMarcus Aldridge has averaged 15.4 PPG, 6.8 RPG, in his first three seasons. In comparison Tryus Thomas has averaged 7.7 PPG, and 5.0 PPG. The reason the Bulls traded Aldridge for Thomas was the upside and great athleticism that Tryus Thomas possess. Thomas showed flashes of brilliance in the past three seasons as a Bull, but hasn’t been able to do it consistently. Tryus looked at the end of last season like he was putting his game together and averaged career highs in 10.8 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 1.9 BPG, and 1.1 SPG. Let’s hope Tryus Thomas continues where he left he off and becomes a force to be reckon with.

Here is a video of Tyrus Thomas 2009 Highlights.

Look at the Chicago Bulls 2009……….Power Forward

Tryus Thomas looks to be the Bulls starting Power Forward. He played well last year down the stretch starting throughout the playoffs. He averaged 10.8 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 1.9 BPG, and 1.1 SPG. All were a career high. Tryus Thomas has the ability to be a good offensive player and a great defensive threat. He has the ability of being a double double player, but it has taken him awhile to put his game together. Let’s hope he can continue that this season. Thomas will be backed up the rookie Taj Gibson. Taj Gibson is also known for being a defensive player. The Bulls look to get great defensive out of this position, but the offensive numbers will be up to Tryus Thomas.

NBA Live 2009

While I was writing my blog post on Luol Deng I came across this picture of him on the cover of NBA live 2009. He is on the cover of the copies that were distributed in the United Kingdom. I guess he is very popular in the United Kingdom. I find this amusing because usually players on the cover are coming off really good seasons and one of the best players in the league. Luol Deng does not meet this requirement. So who will be on the cover next?

Bradley To the Giants?

One of Jim Hendry's main goals this off-season will be to trade Milton Bradley. I have heard several rumors of the Cubs talking to the Mets, Padres, and other teams. None of those deals sound good because the Cubs will have to eat most or all of the 22 million remaining and get nothing good in return if anything. I read a good artice in the
Chicago Tribune by Paul Sullivan which discuses the Cubs getting Aaron Rowand in return. I was never a big Aaron Rowand fan and I think he is over paid, but the Cubs would at least get a center fielder back and can move Fukudome to Right field, his natural position. This would make the outfield defense a lot better than it was this year. The Cubs would have to take on more money in Rowand's deal, but that is why the Giants may be interested to do it.

A Look at the Chicago Bulls 2009……….James Johnson

James Johnson was just drafted by the Bulls with the 16th overall pick in the 2009 draft. He is a 6-8 forward who weighs 257 pounds coming out of Wake Forest after his sophomore year. James Johnson can play both forward spots and the Bulls like his game being able to drive to the basket and spot up. Johnson will be given a chance to play a lot backing up Luol Deng at small forward. Johnson has said he prefers to play power forward, but the Bulls have plenty of options there already. The Bulls bench is young, inexperienced, and most importantly unproven besides for Kirk Hinrich. Thus, Johnson will have a chance to be a big part of the Bulls coming off the bench and providing a spark. Johnson reminds me a little bit of Luol Deng in the little I have seen him play.

Here is a highlight video of James Johnson.

A Look at the Chicago Bulls 2009……….Luol Deng

Luol Deng was drafted in 2004 by the Phoenix Suns with the 7th overall pick and traded to the Chicago Bulls. In his rookie season he averaged 11.7 points and 5.3 rebounds to make the NBA All-Rookie First Team and to help the Bulls return to the playoffs for the first time in several years. In his third season with the Bulls Deng was the only player to start all 82 regular season games and he had his best season averaging a career high in 18.8 points per game and 7.1 rebounds per game. Deng has not averaged that many points or rebounds since this 2006-2007 season.

On July 31 2008, Luol Deng agreed to a six-year deal worth a guaranteed $71 million dollars with incentives up to $80 million. This makes Deng the Bulls second highest paid player for the 2009-2010 season. Luol Deng has a career average of 15.4 PPG and 6.3 RPG. In order for the Bulls to have a big year and continue to get better Deng has to get better and have a big year. I would like to see Deng averaging between 20-25 points this year, rebounding over 8 times a game, and being the good defender he has shown flashes of being because he is tall and fast with good wingspan to cover most guards and forwards. You could say that Deng is one of the key factors for the Bulls to have a good season.

A Look at the Chicago Bulls 2009……….Small Forward

The Bulls will have Luol Deng as the starting small forward. Luol Deng was injured most of last year and has taken a few steps back the last few years. He has to show he was worth the 5 year contract the Bulls gave him. Deng need to have a big year and be the offensive player and rebounder we need him to be. The Bulls have Rose to handle and distribute the ball, they have Salmons to shoot the ball, and they need Deng to be a big contributor to the team’s success. Backing up Deng the Bulls don’t have a ton of depth. They will be counting on rookie James Johnson. Johnson played mostly power forward in College and the Bulls already have a logjam at Power forward/center so Johnson doesn’t figure to get much playing time there. Johnson will get most of his playing time at small forward backing up Deng, so he needs to make the most of it. If Johnson struggles the Bulls can have starting shooting guard John Salmons back up Deng at Small forward and have Hinrich or Pargo take Johnson’s playing time.

I think Chris Arreola has brain damage

The WBC heavyweight championship fight last night between Vitali Klitschko and Chris Arreola was one of the best fights I have seen in a long time. Though the match was dominated by Klitschko, Arreola kept on attaching and kept on taking shot after shot to the face. The real fun began after Arreola's corner decided that he could no longer take the pounding the giant Ukrainian was applying.

After the bell sounded to conclude the fight after the 10th round, Arreola breaks down crying like a little girl, or at the least a grown man with the mental capacity of a little girl. Taking straight punches to the melon will probably mess up your amygdala. The only other person crying in the building was his 8 year old daughter. Arreola barely got himself together to do a post fight interview, and proceeded to show his emotions by swearing every other word. Utterly hilarious. Klitschko's interview was more civilized as he complemented Arreola for having a strong chin. I'm sure what he wanted to say was [insert bad russian accent] "I am surprised he still alive"

The Real American Idol

VH1 is the shit. If it wasn't for ESPN, i'd be watching it all day long

Definitely going with the Bill Simmons non-sports related pop culture tonight

Japan thinks(correctly) that America is lazy

Honda is making sure that in the future, none of us will ever have to do anything, ever again. They have already made walking obsolete with their U3-X unicycle. Thing can motor you at a whopping 3.7mph around the house, basically walking speed. I'm sure this will be the first in many new inventions with the purpose of making daily struggles obsolete. Cause walking from the living room to the kitchen is simply inhuman.

Superman gets a concussion

The impossible has happened. The immortal man, with a heart of gold and a head of steal, was knocked unconscious by an unblocked blitzer. Football players laying motionless is never something to applaud, in fact I hate the inhuman physicality of the sport on player's body and mind, but seeing the giant that is Tim Tebow get taken down brings some satisfaction. If the media didn't make him out to be god, this video would not be as rewarding. He did eventually get up after 5 minutes, and proceeded to throw up endlessly

Hispanic players swim don't walk

We have all heard the baseball cliche, "you can't walk your way off the island, but you can swing". This obviously refers to hispanic baseball players' propensity to be free swingers. The names Soriano, Guerrero, and Pudge come to mind as players to whom the regular strike zone does not apply. I wanted to do a crude analysis to determine the validity of this statement; however, being a medical student with no time to breath, this will be a very crude examination. Instead of breaking down the entire league into ethnic groups groups and finding significant variations, I will instead just look at the composition of extreme values within statistics I deem important to the topic.

Firstly, I looked at the top and bottom 20 players in terms of walk percentage with a minimum of 350AB. That represents a respectable 3-4 months of baseball and a good way to weave out bench players.

In 2009, 16 of the 20 lowest walk rates belong to latin american born players ranging from Bengie Molina 2.8% to Vlad Guerrero 4.8%. In 2008, 14 of bottom 20 were hispanic. And in 2007, 9 of bottom 20 were latin. The field in 2oo7 was constituted by really bad/old players who slightly disrupted the trend. They included Barfield, John McDonald, Jay Payton, Corey Patterson, and Craig Biggio.

Sorting by highest walk rates, 2009 featured 6 of top 20 being hispanic. However, this included several players who were born in the United States like Arod and Carlos Pena. 2008, 5 of top 20. And 2007 featured 3 of the top 20 walk rates.

Second, I looked at what fangraphs describes as swinging at pitches outside of the strike zone(0-swing%). 12 of top 20 swing percentages in 2009. 10 of top 20 in 2008. 12 of top 20 in 2007.

Lowest O-swing% break down: Only 3 of the top 20 in this list included hispanic players each of the last 3 years. It should be noted that Bobby Abreu and Luis Castillo were in the top 20 each all 3 years with Castillo leading baseball every year.

Considering the ethnic breakdown of the current state of major league baseball: 60% White, 30% Hispanic, 8% Black, and 2% Asian, the trends at the extreme values of walk rate and plate discipline appear to confirm the propensity of Latin American born players to "swing" their way off the island. To rephrase an old Chris Rock joke about african americans, "we're 10% of the population, yet we're 90% of the final 4". The same applies to baseball, "Hispanics are 30% of the baseball population, yet they're 80% of the if you see it you can hit it club"

The Matt Capps Collapse

In his second full season as a closer, Matt Capps followed up a 3.02 ERA/3.28 FIP 2008 season with a Brad Lidge-like 4.98 FIP (5.68 ERA). What happened? Will he regress further next season or bounce back? Should the Pirates just cut ties with the downtrodden flamethrower? Pirates GM Neil Huntington strongly hinted that Capps will probably come back next season. Is this the right move for the Pirates?

Matt Capps is traditionally a one pitch (fastball) pitcher. In 2007 and 2008, Capps burned his 92+ heat 78+% of the time and his fastball was at least a full win above average in quality. Capps had immaculate control of zone as well, posting a 4.0 K/BB in 2007 and a ridiculous 7.80 K/BB last season, despite maintaining a league average career K/9 rate of 6.88.

As such a fastball oriented pitcher, it is no surprise that Matt Capps is also a FB pitcher (0.82 GB/FB career). Considering his command of his fastball, however (a filthy 0.84 BB/9 in 2008!), it should come at no surprise that Capps rarely missed his spots therefore was not really hurt by the long ball in the past (0.57 and 0.84 HR/9 rates in 2007 and 2008, respectively).

That was that, though. This is now.

2009 was a different story for the Pirates' closer. Capps cut down his fastball usage from 78.6% last year to 69.0% this year (a 12.2% relative change in usage) and starting mixing in his very average (sub average in the past two seasons) slider more and more (from 14.8% last season to 24.3% this season). The results were not very pretty. Capps' new pitch selection resulted in some dramatic changes in command and control. His BB/9 increased by almost two full runs, to 2.75, this year and although Capps has a career high K/9 rate of 7.57 this season, he is simultaneously posting the worst K/BB of his career at 2.74 (4.20 career K/BB). This loss of command has resulted in a huge spike in long balls (1.72 HR), despite an improved and neutral GB/FB rate this season (0.99).

To add fuel to the fire, as Matt Capps' fastball quality is on a three year decline. Where it was worth almost two wins above average in 2007 and a win above average last year, Capp's fastball is slightly below average this season. Furthermore, as Capps' slider has increased in usage, it has also regressed from -0.27 runs below average per 100 pitches last season to -1.04 runs below average per 100 pitches this year.

So what does this mean for Matt Capps? Well, for one thing, it means that if Capps wants to revert to his pre-2009 level of production, he desperately needs to go back to the basics -- the things that made him successful as a reliever in the first place.

Capps has upped the mustard on his cheese a full mile per house, from a career average 92.7 MPH to a career high 93.7 average speed per pitch on the gun this year. While some extra speed is nice, it has resulted in slightly over one less inch of horizontal movement and half an inch of vertical movement. Or, in other words, Capps is throwing his fastball flatter, which is never good if you want to keep the ball in the yard. Capps should work on throttling back on the gas just a bit and putting back that little extra late life on his fastball.

Secondly, Capps needs to just plain cut down on the slider usage. Clearly, a second and even third pitch (Capps does have a change up that he mixes in around 6% of the time) give a reliver options when he needs it, but there is no reason for Capps to be increasingly reliant on poor secondary stuff when he needs to get batters out. An extra slider here and there to keep hitters off balance is fine; just don't go all slider happy on the batter -- remember, you are not Michael Wuertz.

Finally, Capps just needs some luck to return to his side. This season, Capps has become incredibly hittable and is posting a ridiculously high .363 BABIP. Coupled with the spike in walks and home runs, you can see why Capps is having such a poor season in 2009. The HR/FB rate is a bit inflated at 13.9% (league average is 11% and pitchers tend to, on average, regress to this number) and the HR/9 should therefore decline a bit next season, even if Capps does not regain the command that let him continuously post HR/FB rates below 7% in 2007 and 2008.

Capps, who made over $2 million this season, is rounding out the end of a $3 million two year deal he signed last season. With a couple more years of arbitration ahead and a subpar year this season, Capps should remain relatively cheap for the near future -- at least for 2010. Considering how overpaid relievers tend to be, I do not see the Pirates ditching Matt Capps in the offseason to avoid a potential arbitration raise because 1) the Pirates have no quality in house relief options to fill the void that Capps would leave and 2) the Pirates do not really have an abundance of resources to splurge on the open market -- even if their opening day payroll is projected to be $20 million lower next year than this year and even if the FA market continues to stay depressed. Even if Capps does not regain his 2007-2008 form, he is still a quality reliever who throws strikes. Teams like the Cubs who have plenty of power arms in the pen with poor walk rates would love to have a guy like Capps. Thus, at worst, Capps could surely provide a valuable and relatively affordable trade piece for Huntington come the trade deadline next season or even this offseason -- teams always seemed to be in desperate need of quality bullpen arms.

A Look at the Chicago Bulls 2009………. Jannero Pargo

Jannero Pargo will be entering his 7th season in the NBA after taking last season off and playing overseas in Europe for more money than he was offered here. Pargo has played with four teams in the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers, Toronto Raptors, Chicago Bulls, and New Orleans Hornets. Now he will be entering his second stint with the Bulls after establishing himself as a good shooter off the bench with the Hornets from 2006-2008. During his two seasons with the Hornets he backed-up Chris Paul at point guard and shooting guard. Pargo can handle the ball well and play point guard if needed, but he is a shoot first, pass second type of point guard. The Bulls like good passers and distributors so Pargo will back-up Salmons at shooting guard and provide offense off the bench with the second team.

A Look at the Chicago Bulls 2009……….John Salmons

John Salmons played college basketball at the University of Miami in Florida and was drafted 26th overall by the San Antonio Spurs in the 2002 NBA Draft. He was then immediately traded with Mark Bryant and rights to Randy Holcomb for Speedy Claxton to the Philadelphia 76ers where he played through the 2006 season. His best season with the Philadelphia 76ers was the 2005-2006 season where he averaged 7.5 PPG. Then he spent three years in Sacramento averaging 12.5 for the 2007-2008 season. Last season he spent 53 games with the Sacramento Kings averaging 18.3 points and then continued averaging 18.3 PPG seasons while with the Bulls.

Now Salmons will be starting at shooting guard with the Chicago Bulls. He will provide some offense and some much needed height in the backcourt being 6-6. Salmons shot the ball well last year and looks to finally being a steady scorer. Salmons averaged 18.3 PPG last season with the Bulls and will need to continue that with the Bulls. He doesn’t have a long history of being an effective shooter so the Bulls need him to continue what he started last season and help carry the offensive load for the bulls this season.

Worst Trashing Talking Ever

Read this article about the comments between Seahawks WR T.J. Whose-your-mama and Bears LB Lance Briggs.

Houshmandzadeh talks about how he's pissed that the Bears didn't go after him in the off-season (Hey, me too!) but then says:

It is what it is, they got good receivers there. Devin Hester is going to develop into a pretty good receiver. He has great quickness, great lateral movement, great speed, great hand-eye coordination. So, he should be able to develop into a pretty good receiver, if he has the coaching and they open up the pass game for him.

Briggs responds saying that T.J. is just bitter

Whose your mama responds by saying that Lance didn't didn't want to play in Chicago either at one point but then says:

"Hey, you know what, though, Lance is a good player. When you watch Lance on tape, man he's a beast. He knows it. He can say what he wants to say if he plays like that."

Houshmandzadeh went on to praise the Bears' secondary and quarterback Jay Cutler.

"I can't do too much talking, because I haven't had the ball thrown my way much this year," Houshmandzadeh said. "So you have to get the ball before you can talk."

Rules of trash talking:
1) Go all out if you're going to trash talk
2) If you don't, at least have a last name that I can spell to make fun of you

If you want a good trash talk, do what Jets S Kerry Rhodes last week before they faced New Endland. Now THAT'S how you trash talk

Fantasy basketball anyone?

Basketball season is starting to heat up and that means fantasy basketball is starting. We have created a fantasy basketball league and invite all basketball fans to join that read the Game Of Inches. Our league is through Yahoo and is a standard Roto league with a live draft. The draft time may change to accommodate the majority of manager’s schedules. You can join by clicking the yahoo page and then clicking on Join Custom and type in the league Id and password which is below.

League ID#: 138369
Password: ChicagoSports

A Look at the Chicago Bulls 2009……….Shooting Guard

Ben Gordon departed as a free agent this past offseason and he was the heart and soul of this team’s offense. Ben Gordon starting or coming off the bench was the team’s best shooting guard arguably since Michael Jordan. The Bulls have a big hole to fill in Ben Gordon leaving after being the Bulls primary scorer and clutch shooter since he was drafted in 2004. Last season Gordon averaged 20.7 for the Bulls and 18.5 PPG in his Bulls career. The big question is can anyone currently on the Bulls roster fill the shooting void he leaves.

The Chicago Bulls will look to John Salmons to take over the load of Ben Gordon. Salmons came to the Bulls last year in a trade from the Sacramento Kings. Bulls fans quickly learned that he can shoot while he filled in at small forward for the injured Luol Deng. Now with Deng coming back and Gordon gone, Salmons will move over and start at shooting guard. John Salmons averaged 18.3 PPG as a Bull last year in 26 games. Thus, he is capable of starting and carrying the offensive load. Salmons is a late bloomer though and is only averaging 8.8 PPG throughout his seven year career. So there is some uncertainly if he is capable of handling the load for an entire season.

Backing-up John Salmons is former Chicago Bull Jannero Pargo returning for his second stint with the team. Pargo was a Bull for three years from the 2003-2004 season to the 2005-2006 season. He came off the bench those three years like he will again this time around. After he left the Bulls he went to the New Orleans Hornets and established himself as a very good shooting guard off the bench. Last season he went and played in Europe for more money than he was offered here. Now he is back in the NBA and with the Chicago Bulls. I like the Bulls bringing back Pargo and think he will do well in the role he will have. I remember Pargo with his first stint with the Bulls and watched him with the Hornets. He is a short guard like Gordon and has a similar game. I like both shooting guards the Bulls have in John Salmons and Jannero Pargo. Both are not established though and don’t have much history in being consistent so they will need to come through and prove it.

Milton Bradley is a Mama's boy

Don't be mad at Milton Bradley, you'll make his mommy sad. She explains how all the negativity around Wrigley was affecting Bradley's performance on the field leading to his miserable season at the plate(we dont care about his walks, Eckstein). She has insider info from Milton himself that he would be open to returning to the Cubs next season, assuming he is still allowed to cross the Illinois border.
"Milton eats, sleeps and drinks baseball. He loves it. That's all he wants to do"..."I watched his swing, and I could tell what was wrong," Rector told the Sun-Times. "His mind wasn't on baseball. He was thinking about all of these other things."
There probably is some truth to all the pressure getting to Bradley's head. A guy doesnt come off consecutive .950 OPS seasons and suddenly regress to the .700 level. Unless he went on a crispy chicken sandwich binge after signing his fat contract. When I heard Bradley's mom had an opinion on the suspension, i thought even she would think Milton is an embacle. I guess it's nice there's one person in the world who doesnt hate Milton Bradley.

The Marlins know how to celebrate a win

There is so much goodness in this video of the Marlins coming back in the bottom of the 9th to steal another game from 2007 Brad Lidge. First some white dude i've never heard of gets the game winning single. Then another white dude i've never heard of comes dashing out of the dugout with excitement taking out half the team in the process. Then Hanley Ramirez runs toward the first white dude and actually slides to stop instead of just not moving his legs. Thats a true baseball grinder. Someone who slides to stop when doing normal everyday activities like going to the bathroom, walking you dog, or congratulating someone on a win. Hanley then goes NFL superbowl on us and decided to dump a gatorate bucket on said white guy. Too bad no one was in attendance to witness the joy.

GOI Football Predictions Week Three

Here are my football predictions for week three. My selections are in bold.

Cleveland at Baltimore
NY Giants at Tampa Bay
Tennessee at NY Jets
Jacksonville at Houston
Atlanta at New England
Kansas City at Philadelphia
Green Bay at St. Louis
San Francisco at Minnesota
Washington at Detroit
New Orleans at Buffalo
at Seattle
Pittsburgh at Cincinnati
Miami at San Diego
Denver at Oakland
Indianapolis at Arizona
Carolina at Dallas

Finally science invented something of use

I'm just going to steal..errr..barrow fangraphs article:

I'm pleased to announce that FanGraphs has arrived on the iPhone & iPod Touch!

This initial version of the FanGraphs Baseball iPhone App includes:

- Live win probability and win probability graphs.
- Live box score and play-by-play data.
- Basic/Advanced/Value stats for any baseball player.
- Minor league stats.
- Historical game data going back to 1974.

Here are the screenshots:

GameList PlayerStats

PBP IMG_0118

BoxScore GameGraphs

IMG_0117 IMG_0116

The app is currently priced at $2.99 and is available now. You can either click here to take you directly to the app store page, or search for FanGraphs in iTunes.

Be sure to leave us feedback so we can start adding additional features to the next version!

Hidden Fantasy Baseball Gems

Recently I did a post about the biggest fantasy baseball busts. That made me think I should do one on the best fantasy baseball picks. There is no definition of what a fantasy baseball gem is but, it is a player doing much better than what was expected of them before the season started. These are young guys finally breaking through or guys who have been okay steeping it up and taking it to the next level to be a major contributor to your fantasy team. Most of these players probably didn’t get drafted, or were the last the players drafted on your team. Here are a few fantasy baseball gems from the 2009 season and hopefully my fellow contributors will join in with a few in some follow up posts because I am sure there are others I am forgetting. This list is not in any specific order.

Mark Reynolds-In yahoo fantasy baseball leagues Mark Reynolds was projected to go 197 and he is currently the 15th best player according to them. Reynolds is a power hitter who strikes out way too much. Now for the past 2 seasons he has struck out more than 200 times per season. Last season he did hit 28 homeruns with 87 runs, 97 rbi, and 11 sb, but he only hit .239. This season he is hitting more homeruns when he connects with the baseball for 43 homeruns, 93 runs scored, and 100 rbi’s with 24 stolen bases. His average is a respectable .266 which is good for someone who helps in every other scoring category. A guy who hits over 40 homeruns and has 100 runs (he is close with 93) and 100 RBI’s and invaluable and he does all three plus 24 stolen bases which is great for a power hitter with his numbers. I don’t know if he will repeat next year, but he was probably the best fantasy baseball gem for being someone undrafted or starting on your bench to one of your best fantasy producers.

Aaron Hill-Aaron Hill was injury plagued during the 2008 campaign and only hit 2 homeruns with 19 runs and 20 rbi’s because of that. This is the reason he was projected to go 288 in yahoo leagues. He ended up continuing where he left off in 2007 and didn’t let his injury plagued last season to affect him from getting better this season and putting it together. For second basemen who hit 17 homeruns in 2007 he has put up great power with almost doubling his 2007 homerun total currently with 33. He has also scored 94 runs and 100 RBI’s with a respectable .286 average. The offense numbers he put up for an second basemen is great and there are not many others at this position who put up close to this type of production except for Chase Utley.

Kendry Morales-This season Kendry Morales was given playing time and showed the Angels he has the power they thought he had. He hit 31 homeruns, with 99 RBI’s, 77 runs, and hit .304. For a player who probably went undrafted in all of your leagues, he came out of nowhere and if you picked him up early enough, was a great catch.

Adam Lind- Adam Lind had 290 at-bats during the 2008 campaign and didn’t appear on many people’s radar for having the potential to be a major run producer, but he did that this season hitting 30 homeruns, driving in 106, and scoring 86 while hitting over .300. He turned out to be a nice power threat from a late pick.

Jayson Werth- Werth used to be a fourth outfielder for a number of years who showed last season he as a everyday player. This season he showed it he needed was more playing time to put it together and he hit 34 homeruns and scored/drove in 92 runs so far this season.

Justin Upton-Justin Upton broke into the league at a young age, but had some problems learning his game of baseball using his power and his speed. This season he did batting over .300 with 25 homeruns and 80 runs/RBI’s along with 19 stolen bases. Upton still has a lot of room for improvement and could easily be a 30 homerun 30 stolen bases in the next few seasons.

Jason Bartlett-Many forget that Jason Bartlett hit .286, 48 runs scored, 37 RBI, and 20 stolen bases during the 2008 season. This is why he was ranked 302 in yahoo leagues before the season started. This season despite being injured he broke out and is hitting .322with 83 runs, 64 RBI’s (impressive for a table setter) 14 homeruns (not a homerun hitter), and 25 stolen bases. Imagine next season if he stays healthy and gets a lot more at-bats than 472 while batting second for the Rays.

Pablo Sandoval-I drafted Pablo Sandoval in a few leagues because I thought he would put up decnt numbers and help me out because he was eligible to play three positions including catcher which is sometimes very hard to get decent production out of. After a few weeks or so I dropped him in most leagues because he was barley hitting 200. I learned the hard lesson and didn’t hold on to the rookie long enough. He ended up rewarding those who did hold on to him and is putting together a very good season in which he could win Rookie Of the Year. The best part of him this season was his catcher eligibility, but still helped where ever you played him.

Ben Zobrist- Ben Zobrist was given the chance to be the Rays every day shortstop a few years ago, but he failed to lock down the job because he couldn’t hit. He played a lot at first because of his great glove, but after a while they went with better offensive options in Brendan Harris or Jason Bartlett. This year because of injuries he was given a lot of playing time and showed he can play good defense everywhere, but can also hit the cover off the ball anywhere. He had a solid season and hopes to continue off of it next season.

Marco Scutaro-After being a utility man for a few years he showed he can hit and score runs besides for being a good glove. He has scored 100 runs, with 60 RBI and a .282 average for a guy that you can play at three spots in fantasy. He gives you good flexibility and was projected 308 in yahoo leagues.

Michael Bourn-Every season I am looking for players who came help me with stolen bases. There are very few elite stolen bases candidates and if you miss out on Jacoby Ellsbury (64 SB) and Carl Crawford (59 SB) whom were drafted in the top 30 then you need some other options. Michael Bourn turned out to be this guy if you could pick him up fast enough after he was projected to go 274. He has learned how to hit and get on base this year to steal 58 stolen bases.

Juan Rivera-I have always been a fan of Juan Rivera, but he is usually over passed and not given the playing time. This season he was given a chance after the big three year deal and he has showed what he can do. A few years ago I wanted the Cubs to go after him instead of Fukudome but we didn’t.

That was a few position players who turned out to be fantasy baseball gems for the 2009 season in my opinion because they played much better than what most people thought, and where they were drafted if they were. Hopefully my fellow contributors will post on some other players, especially pitchers which I didn’t get to in this post, but there were a few like Edwin Jackson that I got burned on like I did with Pablo Sandoval.

A Look at the Chicago Bulls 2009……….Lindsey Hunter

On July 15, 2009 the Bulls re-signed Lindsey Hunter for his second year as a Chicago Bull. Hunter is a 16-year NBA veteran who has appeared in 28 games with the Bulls last season averaging 2.6 ppg and 1.3 apg in 9.5 mpg. In his career he has averaged 8.6 ppg, 2.7 apg, 2.2 rpg and 1.21 spg in 25.0 mpg. He owns a career shooting percentage of .388 from the field, .361 from downtown and .746 from the free throw line. Hunter is toward the end of his career and not expected to play much because his best days are well beyond him.

Lindsey Hunter is here to be more a mentor to Derrick Rose. Hunter is an experienced point guard who is here to teach Rose how to see the floor and distribute the ball. There was rumor in the off season that he would retire and the Bulls were going to hire him to help out in player development. The Bulls decided to keep him on as a player to teach Rose and help with his development. The Bulls also needed some more players on their roster so instead of going with a young guy they decided to bring Hunter back for his final year as player with the Chicago Bulls. Hunter is not expected to play much, but if a player gets in foul trouble or injured, he could be forced into action.

A Look at the Chicago Bulls 2009………. Kirk Hinrich

Kirk Hinrich was drafted in 2003 by the Chicago Bulls with the 7th pick overall. He went in possibly one of the best draft classes ever with Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade being drafted ahead of him. After him several good players went including T. J. Ford, Mickaël Piétrus, Luke Ridnour, David West, Boris Diaw, and Josh Howard. Josh Howard and David West are bigger guys that the Bulls might have been attracted to if they weren’t in a market for a point guard. A few months before the draft the Bulls second overall pick in the 2002 NBA draft Jay Wiilliams, was injured in a motorcycle accident. Jay Wiilliams was supposed to be our point guard of the future, but after his accident where they didn’t know if he would ever walk again, they drafted Kirk Hinrich. Jay Wiilliams can walk now and tried to make a comeback in 2006 and was signed by the New Jersey Nets, but released before contracts are guaranteed. Back to Kirk Hinrich……..

I remember the pre-season for the 2003-2004 season. I was watching a game and remember this little white guy running up and down the court who looked winded and 2 steps behind everyone else. When I found out that he was Kirk Hinrich, our first round pick who was drafted 7th overall. Later I found out he had a viral infection that took him months to recover from. After the season started and he recovered from the viral infection he looked much better. He solidified his position as the starting point guard pretty quickly and was named to the NBA's 2004 All-Rookie first team. He held the distinction for being the only rookie during that season to record a triple-double, with 11 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists versus the Golden State Warriors on February 28, 2004. Hinrich has gone on to have a good career with the Bulls. He has career averages of 13.9 points per game, 6.1 assists per game, 3.4 rebounds per game, and 1.3 steals per game.

In the 2006-2007 season Hinrich averaged 16.6 PPG, 6.3 APG, and looked to be the Bulls point guard of the future and one of the cornerstones to build around. Then Hinrich took a step back during the 2007-2008 season and the Bulls drafted a true dynamic point guard in Derrick Rose. This pushed Hinrich to the bench which he accepted and the captain of the team never complained. Hinrich got injured last year, but when he came back he gave the team a big lift. His assist were down at a career low, but hopefully him and Rose can learn to play together and Hinrich and Rose could be a deadly combination. This is because both handle the ball very well and they both can shoot. Last season with the Bulls pushing to make a playoff run Rose coach Vinny Del Negro played Rose a lot playing him most of the game. Because of this at times Rose did look tired. This is why the Bulls need to play Hinrich more backing up Rose because he is more than capable. This way Rose will stay fresh and be ready when we need him. Many people seem to think Hinrich is a back-up and bench player, but I think he is still very good and should be a starter on most teams in the NBA.

A Look at the Chicago Bulls 2009……….Derrick Rose

The Chicago Bulls had a disappointing 2007-2008 season. It was the first time in a few years they missed the playoffs. Thus, they were expected to have a draft pick in the top 15. The Bulls hit the jack pot and with a 1.7% chance won the number one pick in the 2008 NBA draft. There was a lot of debate if the Bulls should draft Michael Beasley or Derrick Rose. Michael Beasley and Derrick Rose both came out of college after their freshman year. Beasley had a great freshman year and accomplished more than Rose did during his year at college. Rose had a great run during March madness and raise his stock. We have seen many players do very good during March madness and turned out to be over rated so far. Some of those players are Tryus Thomas, Glen Davis, among others. Thus, I didn’t want the Bulls to draft Rose because Beasley was better over the whole season and would fill the big hole the Bulls have for a big man who has double double potential. With the number one pick in the NBA draft the Bulls drafted Chicago native Derrick Rose. I am glad I was proven wrong pretty quickly.

Last year Derrick Rose had a great rookie season to win Rookie of the Year honors. He became the third Chicago Bull in history to win it with Michael Jordan (1985) and Elton Brand (2000). He averaged 16.8 points on 47.5% field goal shooting, 6.3 assists per game, and 3.9 rebounds per game. Rose showed last year he is a great distributor and can take the ball to the bucket at will. Last Year when Paxson was general manager he said that Derrick Rose is the future of the team and the Bulls are rebuilding around him. That is why the captain of the team, and one of their best players Kirk Hinrich was moved to the bench to make room for the sensation in Rose. The trades we saw made during last season were to find players to complement the game of Derrick Rose. After this upcoming season the Bulls will have salary cap room to make some changes and bring in a big guy for Rose to feed the ball inside too. Rose is young and should keep developing and there is no limits to where he can take the Bulls!

Jackie MacMullan is on my list

Jackie MacMullan was on Around the Horn today debating whether Mark Reynolds' new record of 206 single season strikeouts is really a bad thing. Most the panalists agreed that it really doesnt matter given his 43 homers on the season. However, Mrs. MacMullan said that you would never see Mark Reynolds' name in the book Moneyball.

Uhhhhhh, wouldn't Mark Reynolds be the perfect guy to put into Moneyball? This guy is Jack Cust on steroids, wait Cust is on steroids. This guy is Jack Cust on myostatin inhibitors.
His walk rate increases every year up to 12% this year, K rate increases every year up to 38% and his iso jumped to the .300 range. He even has 24 steals this year, which is anti-moneyball, but he steals at a 73% clip which is satisfactory. If you want to play for the 3-run homer, Mark Reynolds is your guy. I think MacMullan meant Chris Davis is not a Moneyball guy.

The .300 iso level needs to have a cool name like the Mendoza line. I recommend Jimmie Foxx who had a career .284 iso and 6 seasons over 300. We can call is the "double X" line. Awesome

100 Posts!

Congrats fellow GOI authors, this is the second time we have hit 100 posts within a month!

Why I'm Buying Steve Smith (The Crappy One)

Sure saying "the crappy one" is a misnomer because I think he's good and I'm about to write a post about him, but this post is dedicated to the Giants wide out (we all know the Panthers receiver is fucking amazing, even if crappy Jake Delhomme is throwing to him).

Sure, it's easy to praise a guy who, after two weeks, is third in the NFL in receiving yards (well I'm going to do it anyway!) but I think he will keep this up all season. Right now Smith is 2nd of all receovers in DYAR and 12th in DVOA. That essentially means when Smith catches the ball, he is the second best receiver and 12th out of ALL receivers on average per play. But the key this year that I think will make him both a valuable fantasy wide receiver and a real one, is now he's getting thrown to.

This year, Smith is top 5 among wide outs in targets (24) and is tied for the league in receptions (16). Smith, yes only over two games, has a very good catch rate (76%)but he has shown to have a good catch rate in the past. Last year, Smith was one of only ten receivers to have a catch rate over 70%. So if he's getting the ball thrown to him a lot and has the ability to catch around 3 out of every four of them, he will then have a lot of reception and a lot of receptions means a lot of yards.

And I'm a big fan of receptions. People can quote efficiency all they want and it's helpful to a degree, but give me the guy who can actually catch the ball and make plays. Sure, guys like Devery Henderson are extremely good and efficient at what they do (although maybe he's starting to be a bad example because he's getting thrown to more and more) and more efficient than guys like Andre Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald, but give me the later any day of the weel over Henderson. Now I'm not going to claim that Steve Smith is in the elite stratosphere and guys like Johnson, Fitzgerald or Randy Moss, but I think's coming darn close.

I also am a believer in reciever being consistent. For the most part what you see out of a reciever is what you get. Bernard Berrian probably won't gain over 1,000 yards and Wes Welker probably won't gain more than 4 TDs this year. It's obviously different with younger receivers because they need to prove themselves and develop. But once they do develop, I think very rarely will you see them get any better. And I think we're seeing the final stages of Smith's development. He's gotten used to playing at game level and he's getting used to starting- and doing very well.

At the minimum, I think Smith can be Wes Welker (fantasy wise). He can be a guy that racks up the yards but doesn't really score (Welker has 5 TDs in the past two years), which still has great value to it. But if I were a gambling man, I would put money that Smith can get at least 5 more TDs in 14 more games (assuming health). Now, I'm not sure how often he's getting looked to in the red zone and how often Eli Manning is looking to Boss or Manningham more than Smith to gain TDs and I think it's too early to tell that. But no matter, I can easily see Smith go to Hawaii this year.

Welcome to the OC bitch!

Aaron Corp got an introduction to what it's like being the starting quarterback for the Southern California Trojans. And that introduction ended with him getting kicked in the balls by Jake Locker and the greatly inferior Washington Huskies. I predict the Huskies will go like 4-5 in conference this year, thats how bad they are. Still Aaron Corp manned up and still found a way to completely tank. Dude threw for 110 yards and an interception. Not ever the Matt Barkley treatment of just handing off to the RBs wasnt enough. They out rushed Washington 250-50 and still lost? How is that even possible. I'll tell you how; Corp went all Cade McClown on the hearts of all USC fans.

You know the Cade McNown training regimen. Party it up hard, bang some playboy playmates, get sparknotes version of playbook, and hope for the best. Like be out of the league before your rookie contract is up. Dude was obviously not prepared for DIVISION I FOOTBALL, IT'S THE PAC 10, IT AIN'T INTERMURALS. Maybe he just wasnt prepared for the moment of playing in The Coliseum. I'm pretty sure next time Matt Barkley has to miss a start, Pete Carroll will start THE FORMER #1 OVERALL RANKED PROSPECT MITCH MUSTAIN instead of some frat boy reject. Oh, no i'm not judging him as a frat boy. It's a fact. According to some USC girls, and who wouldnt trust that, Corp was out the night after the loss partying it up at some frat house..errr..preparing for his next start. Anyone who checked facebook, twitter, blogs, or an actual human being knew that Corp was getting massacred and prepared for expulsion from USC. Honestly I'm surprised he was let into the party. Even frat houses have some standards.

Grad School, Shmad School!

Even though three of the GOI authors are either in law school or med school, this post will be the 97th post we've done this month, and there's still eight more days left in the month. At this pace, we should far exceed our record posts per month, which was 121 back in April. We're on pace to write 132.

So who says being in an institution of higher learning doesn't give you time so write posts that maybe about a hundred people will read!

Is Jonny Gomes Adam Dunn Lite?

[A NOTE FROM DME: Dear readers, I have to apologize. While creating a new post about Jonny Gomes earlier today, I inadvertently deleted the first two paragraphs of this post and published the changes. As a result, the introduction and most of the funny bits from this post are missing. I deeply apologize for the incoherent inconvenience that may result. What follows are the reminants of what I did not delete and the meat of the assertion that Jonny Gomes is similar to Adam Dunn in more ways than one...enjoy!]

...Dusty Baker hates clogging up the bases with walks.

Out goes Adam Dunn, in comes Jonny Gomes. While both strike out at comparable rates (Dunn strikes out 32.5% of the time, Gomes does it 30.9% of the time) and have prodigious power (Dunn has a .275 ISO, Gomes has a .272 ISO), Gomes walks almost exactly half as much as Adam Dunn (8.9% versus Dunn's monstrous 17.3% walk rate). Even though Adam Dunn doesn't exactly miss Cincinatti, I am fairly certain stat-head Reds fans who live in their mother's basements miss his robotic annual production of 100 BBs and 40 HRs plenty...even if he never tried very hard.

But let's not be too hard on Gomes here. A marginally better than league average walk rate is nothing to sneer at when paired with legitimate power (.230 career ISO) and defense skills that are only half as crappy as his predecessor. In fact, in less than half as many PA's as Adam Dunn this season, Jonny Gomes has been, when you combine and compare offensive and defensive production, exactly half as valuable as Adam Dunn this season. Extrapolated, that insinuates that two have the same production rate per game for their respective teams. Such is true for 2009, but is this a legitimate expectation for 2010 and going forward?

Jonny Gomes has no doubt been a disappointment since his breakout 2005 campaign. In the following season, his BA plummeted (as should be expected from a person who strikes out 1/3 of the time) from .282 to .216. Bolstered by an 11 HR April, Gomes' season ISO remained quite high for 2006, but declined from .253 to .216 (league average is around .155). Gomes "regression" was so drastic that he was given a largely limited role in the majors (and banished mostly to the minors) from mid-2006 through last the end of last season, when he was non-tendered by the Rays. The Reds gaves Gomes a minor league contract with a chance to prove he still had something less to contribute and he surely provided them with a lot of bang for their buck (.264/.339/.540, with 20 HR and 49 RBI over 298 PA).

So what is with the roller coaster ride that is Gomes? The answer is largely attributable to two factors. The first is what we would traditionally call "a giant hole in his swing" (0.36 BB/K, 70.7% career contact rate against an 80.5% league average). The second is an inability to hit right handed pitching (.225/.312/.448 line vs RHP, .271/.368/.513 line vs LHP, a sharp .121 point difference in OPS).

These two factors have led to violent oscillations in Gomes' BABIP by season. Here is Gomes BABIP since (and including) 2005: .360, .253, .332, .200, .307. His career BABIP is .296. Such inconsistency is expected from a guy who strikes out three times as much as he walks because it makes the player more prone to extended slumps and more exposed to BA fluxations in the red (logically, if a player Ks a lot and has a poor BABIP over a period of time, the BA is going to fall from ugly, but acceptable to sub-terrible >> check out Dan Uggla's numbers from the first half of this season). However, Jonny Gomes, despite all of the inconsistencies and headaches has made large improvements in his game each of the past four seasons that make the likelihood that he sustains his steps forward on the season more Russell Branyan like and less Corey Patterson like.

Since his full time debut in 2005, Jonny Gomes has cut down the major league strikeout rate a couple percentage points, while settling in at a walk rate within the 9% range each of the past three seasons. After taking some steps back with a K% of 36.2% in 2006, Gomes took a big step forward in 2008 and again in 2009, reducing the K rate to the 30-31% zone. These gains weren't noticed much in limited and sporadic action in 2008 because of a .200 BABIP. Guys like Gomes who strikeout a lot (and especially ones who do not have the best control of the strike zone) make terrible terrible back up players because they have no chance to get into any rhythm during the season, which only exacerbates their weaknesses. Gomes steps forward in strikeout rates has largely been attributable to a change in his approach at the plate. Although Gomes is taking about 5% more swings at pitches than he was as a full time player in Tampa, he is also making 5% more contact with those swings than he was before (largely because he is swinging at more pitches inside of the zone and, compared to the last two seasons, swinging less at pitches outside the zone). Gomes has also cut down the frequency with which he takes a hack at the first pitch he sees from a below average 60.2% rate in 2005 to a slightly above league average 58.7% rate in 2009.

Oh yeah, and you know that lefty-righty split? Gomes has a .871 OPS in 174 PAs against righties this season (.894 OPS vs lefties). Gomes' BABIP vs righties is a bit high at .321, but even if that settles down to the .300 range (which it most likely will, going forward), Gomes would be producing a quality .800+ OPS line against RHPs.

All of these signs show that Gomes' steps forward are not simply the byproduct of luck, but rather legitimate improvements in peripherals and approach. The results have been nothing short of gravy for the Reds. Fangraphs values Gomes' limited playing time production at $3.6 million (largely attributable to his +1 wins in offensive production); yet he's only getting paid somewhere between $600K and $800K. Whether or not Gomes continues his steps forward next season remains to be seen. At 29 years old, the ceiling is seemingly limited, but he's already proven that he possesses the necessary power for success and has shown himself increasingly adequate in the other aspects of the game over time (albeit, often hindered by the forces of bad luck). Gomes is under team control for two more years before he is eligible for free agency, so the Reds probably figure to tend Gomes' a contract this off season. It will be interesting to see what kind of numbers Gomes puts up in a full season playing LF.

What do you think Gomes 2010 looks like if given an opportunity as a full starter again? Will he be continue to be Adam Dunn with less walks for The Reds or will Gomes regress to his post-2005 numbers? Either way, this experiment shouldn't cost the Reds too much next season and they will probably, therefore, take the risk of starting him in LF in 2010 as they attempt to rebuild their tattered franchise.

Someone has a comment on Caleb Hanie

Not to rehash the greatest moment in Game Of Inches history, obviously referring to my Caleb Hanie video, but some of the comments for the video on youtube are quite hilarious. The last one is almost incomprehensible. I want to know who this person is and where they are from, so I can contact him/her and find out what this statement actually means
he actully thought orton was going ta be on thise team and wen he got cut that he will start after orton but then wen he got trade he to denver he said fuck i might be cut
Yeah, i dont speak stupid

Bulls Bring Back Gray

Today the Bulls announced they have brought back Aaron Gray. He was a free agent who they were negotiating with to bring back for his third year with the Bulls. Gray was a second round pick of the Bulls a few years ago who hasn't done much in limited action. Gray is the only true center on the Bulls roster and is the only true low post presence they have. He hasn't been able to put his game together yet, and figure out how to use his body to score down low and be a good back-up center. Currently Gray would be third on the depth chart for back-up center. For the baseball fans reading this, Gray would be like David Kelton of the Cubs or Joe Bochard of the White Sox. I am sure "The 'Bright' One" is ecstatic about this move. He was always a big fan like I am of Aaron Gray.


Bill Simmons is on Gary Bettmans list

Was listening to a recent Bill Simmons podcast with his best friend (only friend?) Jacko about the rivalry matchups in college football. J/k, they were talking about the Sox and the Yanks like always. The conversation swayed toward Jeter and Arod explaining the resurgence of Jeter and the lesser role Arod has taken this year.

Simmons made a few stupid comments during the podcast, which he is prone to do, and apparently makes him charming in a way. First he thought Lou Gehrig disease was a cancer, then not knowing the difference between a disease and cancer, and then just getting off the subject. Trying to make a wacky movie/music/sports connection, Simmons called Kate Hudson Arod's sloppy seconds(oh no he didn') saying not even the allegedly slutty Hudson could get Arod back on the baseball radar.

Overlooking the preposterous notion that Arod is having a down season(.400 wOBA), we know what happened the last time someone(Martin Brodeur's bitch) called someone else(Jack Bauer's daughter) sloppy seconds. Gary Betmann would so suspend Simmons for the rest of him life from ESPN. Of course, Bettman is not in charge of ESPN, otherwise we'd be watching sportscenter on Versus. So we can just laugh at the joke and laugh at the NHL for being stupid, though I do love the sport.

Joe Schad is on my list

It's one thing to have a slip of the tongue, or a freudian slip when you are forced to speak on television, but it is not acceptable to simply say the most obvious thoughtless things. I at least want statistical evidence to back up a completely obvious statement like water is wet and grass is green. Minutes ago on ESPNews, Joe Schad a college football analyst gave the following analysis of Jimmy Clausen
History has shown Jimmy Clausen plays better when healthy as opposed to hurt
Really? As opposed to all those athletes who play better hurt. Who intentionally smash their shins into telephone poles in hopes of being at 60%, which is actually 120% for those select few who thrive under pain. Lets make a list of all the athletes who perform better when injured
  1. Curt Schilling
  2. End of list

How Much the Cubs make for a Game

Recently "The 'Bright' One" sent me a link to this article on Yahoo sports. I found it fascinating to learn how much the Cubs make per game from all the different revenue areas. It gives you an inside view to how much the Cubs make and where any baseball team makes money from. I liked it a lot and think all Cubs fans would like to know this so I decided to post it.

Jay Cutler looks more drunk in slo-mo

Thanks to sportshumor23 and kissing suzy kolber

A Look at the Chicago Bulls 2009……….Point Guard

The Bulls have three point guards on the roster in starter Derrick Rose, back-up Kirk Hinrich, and veteran Lindsey Hunter who is more of a mentor to Derrick Rose than player at this stage of his career. Derrick Rose and Kirk Hinrich will mainly be the only players handling the ball and distributing it. We will probably only see Lindsey Hunter come in at point guard for a few minutes a game unless Rose or Hinrich are injured or in foul trouble. The Bulls also have Jannero Pargo who can handle the ball, but will be used as a shooting guard. If any of the three point guards get injured or two of them get in foul trouble in the same game then we would see Pargo handle the ball. Pargo is a small guard who can handle the ball well, but it a shoot first pass second player like Ben Gordon was. We brought Pargo back to be a back-up shooting guard, but he gives us a little extra flexibility if needed at point guard.

The Bulls should be in very good shape at point guard. We have a young guard in Derrick Rose who is still developing and will hopefully continue to blossom during his second season. In my opinion, Kirk Hinrich is a starting point guard, and would be starting on most teams. With Hinrich around we should be able to keep Rose fresh and not have to play him most of the game like we did last year when Hinrich was injured. I like the Bulls bench a lot, especially compared to many teams and this is because of Kirk Hinrich who will be the best player off the bench. It will be interesting if Hinrich and Rose will even play a little bit together. I think that could be an interesting combination for a few minutes during a game. This will depend on the other bench players though in Pargo and Johnson to give Vinny Del Negro that option.

A Look at the Chicago Bulls 2009………. Expected Depth Chart

Basketball will be starting soon with the season officially starting towards the end of October. Here is how the Bulls roster is shaping up after the off-season where they added James Johnson, Taj Gibson, Jannero Pargo, and brought back Lindsey Hunter for reasons I will never understand. Aaron Gray is still a free agent, but supposedly they are talking to him and want to bring him back. I guess we will see what happens.
Position Starters Back-up Reserves
Point Guard: Derrick Rose Kirk Hinrich Lindsey Hunter
Shooting Guard: John Salmons Jannero Pargo
Small Forward: Luol Deng James Johnson
Power Forward: Tyrus Thomas Taj Gibson Jerome James
Center: Joakim Noah Brad Miller Aaron Gray (FA)

Now that we have previewed the front office and coaching staff……on to the players! I was debating if I should look at the players by starters and then the bench or go by position. You will have to see what I decide.