Wishful Thinking: Manny Parra In Seattle

With Cliff Lee's recent injury (and five game suspension) and Erik Bedard's checkered injury past, the Mariners are rumored to be looking to add a starter. MLB Trade Rumors mentions a few names that may be available: Nate Robertson, Brian Tallet, and Manny Para. Of them and the available free agents (including Washburn and Pedro), Parra seems to be the most interesting name.

A 6'3" Lefty with a low 90s fastball and three other pitches, Parra was drafted in the 26th round of the 2001 baseball draft by the Milwaukee Brewers. Through his first 200 innings of play between A, AA and AAA ball over 2006 and 2007, Parra toyed with minor league hitters, posting a K/9 of 8.33 or higher at each level and a BB/9 under 3 at AA and AAA. Parra also kept the ball on the ground well, posting HR/9 rates below 0.40 once promoted to double A.

Parra got his first taste of the majors in late 2007. There, he flashed an 8.89 K/9 over a minute 26.1 IP sample size, but it came paired with a then-uncharacteristic 4.10 BB/9 and a 32.9% GB rate. Due to some Clayton Kershaw-like luck (3.1% HR/FB), Parra managed to keep his numbers respectable (3.76 ERA, 4.52 xFIP).

Parra nabbed a full time gig in 2008, pitching 166 major league innings with a slightly above average 4.39 ERA. Though Parra's wildness remained high (4.07 BB/9) and his strikeouts tumbled some (7.97 K/9), his groundball rate soared past the 50% mark (51.6% GB rate, 1.94 GB/FB ratio). This led to a 3.85 xFIP and the promise of future success; especially if Parra could trim down the walk rate (which his minor league numbers indicated was reasonable).

Parra entered 2009 as a sleeper on many draft lists, including my own. He profiled similarly to Ubaldo Jimenez: big strikeouts, lots of groundballs and pretty wild. However, whereas Ubaldo was being drafted much higher and whereas Ubaldo had never had any semblance of control entering 2009, Parra at least had AA and AAA numbers to back up a reasonable expectation of less free passes in 2009. Of course, as any 2009 Parra owner could tell you, it just was not destined to be.

Parra's walk rate soared in 2009, jumping up to 4.95 per nine. While the groudball rate was still promising (48.1%), hitters were making more contact with his pitches and the strikeout rate fell a tad more (7.46 K/9). Despite throwing less than 150 innings in 2009, Parra was 15th in total walks issued on the season (Brewers fans should note that the #1 and #3 pitchers on the list of who issued the most walks in 2009 were Doug Davis and Yovani Gallardo).

Parra is slated to begin the 2010 season in Triple-A Nashville. Like several other pitchers, Parra has loads of potential being hindered by lack of command and he's running out of options. What would happen if the Mariners were to acquire him?

Let's use 161 IP as the baseline, approximately how many innings the average fifth starter can expect to accumulate over the course of a season (and also of which will give us nice numbers to use in the analysis). Using Manny Parra's career numbers (7.83 K/9, 4.44 BB/9, 48.7% GB%), he profiles as a 4.23 xFIP pitcher. In moving from the AL to the NL, The Hardball Times found that, on average, a pitcher's K/9 rate would rise by 0.57 per nine and that their ERA would fall by 0.41 runs. Accounting for these factors, Parra would have a prospective 4.64 ERA and 7.26 K/9. Over 161 innings, that would result in 83 runs allowed.

Next, we need to accord for park factors. According to Baseball Reference's multi-year park data, Safe Co. Field has suppressed offense by 4%. This would bring Parra's 83 runs allowed total down to to 79.68.

Finally, we need to account for defense. Last season, the Mariners had the absolute best defense in baseball, worth +1.5 WAR compared to the next best fielding team (the Rays). In 2010, the team looks about the same with the subtraction of Adrian Beltre (+14.3 FRAR) and addition of Chone Figgins (projected +6.5 FRAR). If we hold the rest of the team's defense constant (you can adjust this if you think the Mariners will be better/worse defensively in 2010 compared to 2009), the team would prevent +0.53 runs per inning compared to the league average defense. In other words, over 161 innings, the Mariners defense alone would prevent 8.56 runs.

Subtract this from Parra's league and park adjusted runs allowed total and we get 71.12 runs allowed with a 7.26 K/9. Over 161 innings, Parra would then post a 4.00 ERA with 130 K's to boot. Not too shabby for a 5th starter. Just imagine what would happen if he cut down the Edwin Jackson-like walk rate.

Forecasting Clayton Kershaw For 2010

As I hinted a few weeks ago in my Max Scherzer 2010 projection post, I am not a big fan of Clayton Kershaw. There is no doubt that he possesses a devastating Fastball/Change Up combo with a plus slider to boot. This leads to incredible strikeout totals (9.74 K/9 last season, 7th amongst starting pitchers). However, his lack of command also leads to an incredibly high high walk rate (4.79 BB/9 last season, compared to a 3.46 MLB average). Such numbers are quite reminisce of Rich Harden, who possesses a career 9.35 K/9 and 3.93 BB/9, and we all love Rich Harden (when healthy), right?

SexyRexy drilled upon the point of why I dislike Kershaw last month: his 4.1% HR/FB rate was the lowest amongst all major league pitchers to throw 100 or more innings. As I pointed out in my article explaining the important of xFIP and HR/FB rates earlier this year, "[t]he league, as a whole, averages a HR/FB rate in the 11% range, though most pitchers have HR/FB% which normalize to the 9-12% range (depending on where they play)." Thus, no matter where Kershaw plays, be it Dodger Stadium or Safe Co., there is really no way to reasonably expect him to maintain the 0.37 HR/9 rate that came with his sub-40% groundball rate last season. Put the sparkling 3.08 FIP out of your mind. What matters is the 3.90 xFIP.

Now a 3.90 xFIP is nothing terrible. It's actually quite decent. It's just not "ace material" or anything worth paying a top 100 pick for, especially when a comparably (if not better) guy like Max Scherzer is available much later. Of course, simply asserting Kershaw is overvalued is not my style. Let's project him.

Using Kershaw's 3.90 2009 xFIP as the baseline for his 2010 ERA, we need an innings projection for Kershaw. Innings projections are difficult to forecast and often arbitrary because predicting injury, playoff berths, managerial discretion, etc., is very difficult. CHONE says 151, Fangraphs users say 192, ZiPS says 176.2 and Bill James says 180. As with Max Scherzer, perhaps just so I can compare them a little easier, I am going to use 180 IP.

Over 180 IP, a 3.90 ERA would result in 78 runs allowed. Because Kershaw is not changing teams, there is no need to accord for park factors or a change in league. All that really needs to be factored in is the defensive posture of the 2010 Los Angeles Dodgers. In 2009, the team was cumulatively worth -0.1 Fielding Runs Above Replacement (FRAR). Their defense neither cost nor gained them any runs. Because the team essentially only swapped out Orlando Hudson for Ronnie Belliard this offseason, the team's defense should not change too much next year. If you think the Dodgers, as a team, over or underperformed their defensive abilities last year, adjust these projections accordingly. However, I am simply going to swap out Orlando Hudson's 2009 FRAR of -3.3 with that of Ronnie Belliard's 2010 FRAR projection, -6.1. This gives the Dodgers a projected team FRAR of -2.8. Per 1442 innings of play, the average amount of defensive innings each team played last season, the Dodger's marginally below average defense would cost the team .002 runs per inning or 0.35 runs per 180 innings. Factor this into Kershaw's projected 78 runs allowed per 180 IP, and you get an estimated 3.92 ERA.

If we keep the strikeout rates constant, Kershaw would yield about 195 strikeouts. Solid numbers, but nothing spectacular. Kershaw also managed a 1.23 WHIP to go alone with his 4.79 BB/9 and .274 BABIP. If we assume a correction in Kershaw's 2010 BABIP towards the .300 MLB average, then we cannot assume another sub 1.30 WHIP season.

According to Mock Draft Central's ADP data, Kershaw (ADP of 92) is being drafted in the immediate vicinity of such pitchers as Tommy Hanson, Yovanni Gallardo, Cole Hamels, Ubaldo Jimenez and Ricky Nolasco. Each of these pitchers has both risk and tremendous upside, but it simply seems that Kershaw's downside and high walk totals trump all of these pitchers except Yovanni Gallardo. Personally, I'm taking Hanson, Hamels, Nolasco, Ubaldo, and Gallardo (in that order) before I even touch Kershaw. Even still, there are a handful of pitchers like John Lackey (120), Chad Billingsley (122), and Brett Anderson (152) that I would rather choose well before I am forced to settle with Kershaw. Clayton may be a stud in 2010, but the downside risk is too high to justify a top 100 pick in my opinion. Perhaps I am just too risk averse. Where Brandon Funston only sees "Lincecum-type upside with Kershaw," I see the Rich Harden a la 2009-like downside. That and his price tag. Just my two cents.

Stolen Goods: Fantasyland The Movie

Fantasyland is a great novel from 2006 about fantasy baseball which details Sam Walker's experience as a rookie amongst a field of "seasoned experts" in one of fantasy baseball's highest profile leagues -- that which is known as Tout Wars. For more a little more about the book, you can read SexyRexy's old blurb about the book.

Anywho, a documentary based upon the premise of the book (aptly titled Fantasyland) was recently produced (partially by Terminator: Salvation director McG of all people) and released. There is no word on when the DVD will come out, but it is available to view online for free (I've embedded the film for viewing, via Hulu, below). It's a fairly interesting and worthwhile watch, though I found the book significantly more fascinated because it detailed the genesis of the game of fantasy baseball and its historical impact on the actual game.

The movie stars a Jed Latkin, a financial trader and fantasy baseball enthusiast, who is given entry into the elusive Tout Wars league in 2008 to, like Sam Walker before him (who is also in the movie), test the hypothesis of how successful an "amateur" could fair against the experts and lead authorities of fantasy baseball. Jed mostly does what Sam did before him, including making team T-Shirts for the players on his fantasy team, and breaks little new ground. Readers of the book will know what to expect, but those never before exposed to Fantasyland will be an awe of just how far fantasy baseball players are willing to go to win.

All in all, the film presents an interesting portrait about the world of and players of fantasy baseball worth indulging, even if you have read the book. The film is not dull at any moment and Jed's persona is charmingly quirky.

3 stars out of 4.

(Hat tip to SexyRexy for finding this movie)


EDIT: I do have one gripe with the film. When I first saw it, I felt as though many scenes were dramatically contrived and beyond the scope of unbelievable-but-true realism from Walker's novel. Upon my second viewing, my suspicions have been confirmed, to some extent. Look at the following still (below) from a scene that supposedly occurred just before the start of the 2008 baseball season (click to enlarge):

Notice two things. First, there is an advertisement for 2009 MLB.TV on the MLB.com website. Why would MLB.TV be advertising for the 2009 season before the 2008 season has even begun? Secondly, Marcus Thames' actual 2008 stats are listed on his player page: .241 BA, 25 HR, 56 RBI. Additionally, at an earlier point from this scene, Latkins is looking over a stat sheet for Justin Verlander which lists Verlander's actual 2008 statistics. I understand that movies are filmed anachronistically for editing and logistical purposes, but the purely outlandish nature of some scenes and these continuity errors make me question the reality of certain scenes such as when Latkins spontaneously shows up to Ron Shandler's house to try and make a trade.

Nonetheless, still worth a viewing.

Joe Torre Is Terrible At His Job

My hatred of Joe Torre is well documented. He does everything wrong (playing Juan Pierre over Kemp/Ethier in 2007, batting Kemp in the bottom third of the order for the first half of the 2009 season, playing Ronnie Belliard over Orlando Hudson, starting Vincente Padilla (4.45 FIP last season) over Chad Billingsley (3.82 FIP last season), etc. etc.) but everything always goes right for him. He is without a doubt the luckiest manager in baseball.

So, not to out do himself, Torre is kicking off the season with a signature bad move: naming Vincente Padilla the opening day starter over Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley. This move is so poor that it is almost self evident.

Chad Billingsley's projected FIP on Fangraphs is between 3.48 and 3.78
Clayton Kershaw's projected FIP on Fangraphs is between 3.41 and 3.61
Vincente Padilla's projected FIP on Fangraphs is between 4.46 and 4.70

God I hate Joe Torre.

The Indians Are A Dark Horse To Win The AL Central

Without a doubt, the weakest division in baseball this year is the AL Central. No single team in that division is particularly strong, nor are any few teams strong enough to make the division a challenge to win. Rather, it will be a test of the least average team. Each of the White Sox (offense), Tigers (defense, pitching depth) and Twins (health, offense beyond Mauer/Morneau) have big questions which keep any from running away with the division.

Given how up for grabs this division is, do not be shocked if the Cleveland Indians make a play for the division title. Check out CHONE projections for the starting nine and then the pitching staff:

C- Carlos Santana, +2.0 WAR (-2 offense, -10 defense, +20 replacement, +12.5 positional)
1B - Russell Branyan, +2.9 WAR (+16 offense, +0 defense, +20 replacement, -7.5 positional)
2B - Luis Valbuena +2.2 WAR (-2 offense, +1 defense, +20 replacement, +2.5 positional)
SS - Asdrubal Cabrera, +3.8 WAR (+13 offense, -2 defense, +20 replacement, +7.5 positional)
3B - Jhonny Peralta, +2.4 WAR (+0 offense, +1 defense, +20 replacement, +2.5 positional)
LF - Matt LaPorta, +2.0 WAR (+14 offense, -7 defense, +20 replacement, -7.5 positional)
CF - Grady Sizemore +5.8 WAR (+28 offense, +7 defense, +20 replacement, +2.5 positional)
RF - Shin-Soo Choo, +3.9 WAR (+24 offense, +2 defense, +20 replacement, -7.5 positional)
DH - Travis Hafner, +2.0 WAR (+17 offense, +20 replacement, -17.5 positional)

That's a strong core of offensive players, with no one projected to be worse than the replacement level player. It also features 3, maybe 4, all-star caliber players and one superstar. The Indians also have young CF prospect Michael Brantley waiting in the wings as their potential 4th OF, despite possessing starter level talent and ability.

Then there is the pitching staff:

SP1-Justin Masterson (4.19 FIP)
SP2-Jake Westbrook (4.38 FIP)
SP3-Aaron Laffey (4.50 FIP)
SP4-Fausto Carmona (4.55 FIP)
SP5-Jeremy Sowers (4.85 FIP)

Clearly, the starting pitching staff is nothing to brag home about, but they are all-around average (could be worse, I suppose) and I happen to be big on Justin Masterson as a breakout candidate for 2010.

The bullpen is much stronger than the starters:
Kerry Wood (3.42 FIP, if he ever pitches)
Tony Sipp (3.64 FIP)
Chris Perez (3.76 FIP)
Jason Grilli (3.77 FIP)
Jamey Wright (3.90 FIP)
Rafael Perez (3.80 FIP)
Jensen Lewis (3.89 FIP)
Jess Todd (4.02 FIP)
Joe Smith (3.89 FIP)

What I see here is a team with a strong offense, a solid bullpen, a quality defense and an average or slightly below average starting rotation. From here lie the pieces to compete now. As Fangraphs notes, several things will need to go right for the Indians to win in 2010. However, those things are all within the realm of possibility.

Additionally, ESPN2 just explained WAR on Baseball Tonight and featured analysis by David Appelman of Fangraphs (as opposed to Steve Phillips), so you know...anything's possible.

Real Law Cases

Greenman v. Yuba Power Products, Inc, 377 P.2d 897 (Cal. 1963).

This is a seminal case for strict liability relating to products liability. This was the first court to hold that:
The liability is not governed by the law of contract warranties but by the law of strict liability in torts

The fact of the case are this: Charlie from It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia got dressed up as Greenman and took a power tool (created by the defendant) to capture some birds. When chasing the bird, the power tool explodes in his hand. Charlie sues Yuba pursuant to bird law seeing as Charlie is an expert in it, but his lawyer does some creative and actual lawyering and sued Yuba pursuant to strict liability and torts.

Barber v. Jacobs, 753 A.2d 430 (Conn.App.2000).

This case is a famous contracts case regarding a condition precedent (if an event does not occur, then the contract is voidable) that is present within a contract.

There was a contract between Tiki Barber and Brandon Jacobs. Barber, sick of running ALL the way down the field (because he he wasn't going to gain first downs, who would? Eli Manning? Please), entered into a contract with Jacobs. The contract stated that on the condition the team got to the red zone and Barber had run for at least 50 yards, Barber would leave the game and let Jacobs get the touchdown attempt.

Well after has Tiki had just ran for 60 yards one game and put the team on the 10 yard line, Barber refused to go out and scored a TD two plays later. Jacobs sued Barber for breach of contract.

The seminal language from this case is this:
Fuck you both, GO COWBOYS!

O'Keeffe v. Snyder, 83 N.J. 478 (1980).

FACTS: Painter Georgia O'Keeffe and her husband Alfred Stiglitz owned an art gallery. One day, one of O'Keeffe's painting were stolen from there. This is an action by O'Keeffe to get her painting back.

Seminal quote
Everyone in the art world has heard of Al-Fred Stig-Litz

This Is Why I (Generally) Don't Use Twitter

Kelly Ripa (picture #4), wearing a facial mask, is doing her best impression of Hannibal Lecter (click to enlarge):

Will The Real Chris Davis Please Stand Up?

In 2008, Chris Davis exploded into the majors in a big way. After trolling through the minors with a .257+ ISO at every level of play, he smacked 17 HR in a mere 317 PA with a .285 Batting Average (AVG) and .264 ISO to boot. The strikeout rate was a bit high (29.8% in the majors that season), but acceptable for a power hitter like Davis -- especially given his prodigious line drive rate of 25.5%, a number which was top 10 amongst all major league hitters with 300 PA in 2008. Matched with a slightly below average, but acceptable 4.1 speed score, Davis seemed primed for a big season for Texas entering 2009. He had unquestionable power (40 HR between AA, AAA, and the majors in 2008) and the hitting abilities to sustain a quality batting average. This was especially important given the low walk rate (6.3% in 2008, MLB average was 8.7% that year).

Bill James pegged him for a monstrous 40 HR, .300 BA, 100+ R/RBI season. True, James is historically generous in his offensive predictions, but even by his standards, James was big on Davis. So were many fantasy owners; his MDC in early February 2009 over at MDC was top 70 and creeping up. Only one question lingered: what of the strikeout rate?

A 30% strikeout rate is clearly not desirable, but it is far from the end of the world. Other guys who struck out (much) more such as Justin Upton, Ryan Howard, Adam Dunn, and Carlos Pena all have managed to be valuable in both fantasy baseball and in real life. The strikeouts clearly limited Chris Davis' AVG upside, but much of this risk was mitigated by 1) a sweet swing and strong line drive talents and 2) a minor league strikeout rate of 24.3% through 1345 PA. At worse, a .250 AVG, a la Dunn or Pena, seemed to be the downside.

How wrong everyone was. Davis managed to disappoint in almost every way possible in his 2009 campaign. His strikeout rate was a toxic 38.4% (second only to Mark Reynolds), his ISO fell to .205 (still strong, just not as strong) and his AVG plummeted from .285 in 2008 to .238 in 2009. Most of the left handed hitters struggles came against lefties. Whereas Davis was able to hold his own against lefties in 2008 (.279 AVG, .314 ISO, 33.7% K), Davis was simply unable to hit them in 2009 (.189 AVG, .123 ISO, 40.2% K rate). His numbers against righties also took a sizable hit, but the .260 BA and .242 ISO against righties in 2009 were at least "acceptable" and within the foreseeable scope of Davis' risk when you drafted him. To make matters worse, Davis managed to do all of this with a .324 BABIP (.326 xBABIP).

Whereas many pegged Davis for a season of greatness (and paid a premium price for it), he barely managed to even get 417 PA of playing time. In no short sense of the term, Chris Davis burned many fantasy owners last year and he did it bad.

However, as I will outline below, there are reasons for hope. Chris Davis may be a, if not the, post-hype sleeper to own for 2010 and he's got a low enough ADP and a strong enough reverse brand name effect (see Liriano, Francisco) to deter people from drafting him too high (if at all) in 2010. What are these reasons for hope? Three words: decreased strikeout rate.

After posting a putrid 41.2% strikeout rate thru his first 277 PA, Davis was sent down to the minors to work on his plate approach. There, he managed to slice his strikeout rate to 23.6% over 194 PA and earn himself a mid-late August call up to the majors. Over those final 142 PA last season, Chris Davis only struck out 25.4% of the time. This, along with his strong line drive rate (over 22%), led to a .308 BA in his final 142 PA. He also smacked 6 HR to boot. This decreased propensity to strikeout has carried over to 2010. Through 51 spring PA, Chris Davis has only 12 strikeouts (23.5% K%) to his name. Yes, this is just spring training, but such is a very encouraging sign.

No one has ever doubted Chris Davis' power. Even last year, with a decreased ISO, he managed 27 between the majors and AAA. No one has likewise question his ability to hit when he makes contact. Even last year, Davis managed to post a 20.6% line drive rate, placing him in the quarter of all MLB hitters with 400+ PA. The only aspect of Davis' game which was ever in question was his propensity to swing (53.4% of the time vs the 45.2% MLB average) and miss (63.2% of the time vs the 80.5% MLB average). When you swing as much as Vladimir Guerrero but make contact like Carlos Pena, especially without the walks, there are serious questions regarding your ability to get on base and hit for average.

However, the decreased strikeout rate in the majors/minors/spring training since lends me to believe that his 277 PA sample size from the first half of 2009 was a fluke. I won't peg Davis for a .300 AVG season any time soon, but a .280-.285 season, a la 2008? Why not? Who is to say Chris Davis cannot do in 2010 what he was largely forecast to do in 2009? Batting in the lower 1/3 of the order will surely not help his R/RBI totals, but a strong performance should lead to a promotion in a lineup that features such health risks as Ian Kinsler and Josh Hamilton.

I will concede that Davis may simply bust again in 2010. He still swings and misses a lot and does not walk. However, when he makes contact, it is of the best kind you could ask for. Davis won't cost you a lot, if anything, in most draft/auction leagues and he bring a lot of upside to the table. He is definitely worth the risk, in my opinion. I wouldn't necessarily bank your 2010 season on him (though I have Davis in all of my leagues, I also have Gordon Beckham or some other reliable backup option at my disposal), you should not be shocked to see him do big things for fantasy owners this year. Haters be warned. You officially have notice.


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The Health Care Crisis

Dear Readers,

I apologize for the non-sports nature of this post, but I feel it essential to address this topic due to the incredible impact it will have upon our nation. Up front and for the sake of transparency, I wish to disclose I am a Libertarian who believes in the free market and that they government's role therein is as a referee who steps in when parties do not follow the rules or where there are market failures.

Health care is not one such complete market failure. It is merely a market failure in the sense that the nation's health care system is fractured; there is no uniform tort law, no uniform definition or standard of "proper care" and no ability to buy health insurance interstate. Each of these factors, amongst a plethora of others, have led to a market which does not flow and function efficiently.

PROBLEM #1: Setting price ceilings and mandating health care only raises costs and creates shortages.

Initially, you have a line -- people above "the line" can afford health care and people below it cannot. When the government institutes universal health care, the money has to come from somewhere. Those who can afford health care are forced to pay higher premiums to subsidize those who cannot. Let's ignore the question of "does everyone deserve health care" for a moment, as it is an economic misnomer to the question of whether or not this approach is a practical way to accomplish the goal of affordable and maintainable coverage.

Forcing those who can afford to pay for health care to subsidize those who cannot afford to pay for it raises the cost of health care for the consumer who can afford it. Thus, "the line" as illustrated creeps up and the marginal consumer who could barely afford health care before now cannot afford it. Thus, taxes or premiums must be raised again to cover this new batch of "people who cannot afford health care" and the line again creeps up. In simple terms, the price ceiling imposed by universal health care causes health care costs to rise.

PROBLEM #2: Rationing health care.

Where socialized medicine fails most is in terms of specialized treatment: oncologists, neurologists, cardiologist, etc. While socialized systems like that of Canada allow for greater public access to doctors, it simultaneously decreases access to specialists. According to an investigatory report by John Stossel for a 20/20 report a few years ago, Canadians have to wait an average of 17 weeks to see a specialist. 17 week is a long time to see a specialist, especially for those with heart conditions.

I spoke with cardiologist Robert Grodman a few years ago about heart disease. According to the standards of medical practice regarding patients who experience an acute heart attack, once an Emergency Room physicians feels that the patient is stable enough to be discharged, that person is released. HOWEVER, that patient, according to Dr. Grodman, needs to follow up and see a heart specialist within the immediate few weeks following the heart attack in order to undergo heart testing (such as a stress test) in order to further diagnose and treat potential problems.

Dr. Grodman claims that a person is most vulnerable for further complications related to a heart attack within the first few months following the most recent complication. Without proper treatment, serious complications can arise from untreated acute coronary syndrome such as a stroke, another, more severe heart attack or even death.

And this specific situation is not uncommon.

According the American Heart Association, of the 13 million living Americans who have a history of Coronary Artery Disease (CAD), 60% of them have experienced acute heart attacks. Of the 1.2 million Americans per year who experience Coronary Artery Disease related heart attacks, roughly one third of them die. Heart disease also accounts for approx. 20% of all deaths in America each year.

Simply put, 17 weeks is too long to wait for something that must be done immediately. As John Stossel concluded in his report, “government health care inevitably leads to rationing.” So socialized medicine can’t help regarding specialists. It might be cheaper to see a specialist in a socialized system, but if you die before you see one, it doesn’t do you much good.

PROPOSED SOLUTION: We just need to do four things in order to make health care affordable: we need to allow for interstate purchasing of health care plans, reform tort laws, remove state mandates and educate people about health care. The ultimate goal of these reforms is to decrease prices by increasing competition.

First and foremost, we must allow for the interstate purchasing of health care plans. Current health care structures are regulated (differently) state by state and policies cannot be bought across state lines. This, in essence, isolates each state’s health care market, which creates a problem for two reasons.

The first is market fracturing. Smaller markets are significantly less efficient and competitive than larger ones. This means that costs are higher. Secondly, different states have different tort laws. This, coped with isolated health care markets, breeds asymmetrical health care structures which attracts and repels specialists to and fro certain states. In states with stricter tort laws, specialists will leave and go to states with more favorable laws. This decreases competition within the high tort state. As a result of decreased competition, prices will naturally rise as remaining medical professionals gain monopoly power. Additionally, stricter tort laws produce higher insurance costs which raises health care prices and deters competitive medical practices from potentially opening. Why become a doctor when you can just become a lawyer and sue them for better pay? See John Edwards.

Through universal tort reform and interstate deregulation, health care markets will equalize and become significantly more competitive. By placing each state is on an even playing field in terms of tort law and by allowing Americans to purchase health care plans from nearby and far away states, something that technology allows us to do cheap and effectively, we force health care providers to become more competitive, more efficient and offer more competitive rates to its policy holders. With 300+ million people in the market, health care companies will have to offer competitive rates to attract customers.

Another way that the government can make health care affordable for its citizens is by removing state mandates. Each state has a different health care mandate which further drives asymmetrical market structures and raises costs for the consumer. When states intervene in the market and create price and/or quality floors, they disrupt the natural movement of the market. Unnatural changes in the market creates shortages which causes scarcity which in turn raises prices. Additionally, people need flexibility in their options. One plan does not fit all. Choice is an important component to competition.

Finally, we need to educate the people about healthy lifestyles. Many contributing factors to high health care costs are diseases like Diabetes that can be controlled through healthy lifestyles. By increasing health education in schools, we can decrease problems like obesity, heart disease, hypertension and diabetes in the long run. Healthy people get sick less frequently.

Additionally, by educating people about basic heath care, we can decrease the number of avoidable visits to health care professionals. After all, the less we use health care, the cheaper it is. Thus, if we teach consumers about basic health care, they won’t need to visit the doctors office for common ailments such as a cold.

The next question of course is who pays for health care. The answer should be the people for economic reasons. If the government purchases health care for the public, they are going to wheel and deal out 300+ million policies to a single health care company to save administrative costs. This vests undesirable monopoly power in a single company, which will gain great amounts of leverage over the people and its governments in time. Government regulation of monopolies is also a difficult and expensive task and it surely won’t make the costs to the taxpayer any cheaper than if they bought their own policy.

Also, who do you think will provide the health care? It’s going to be a large corporate political contributor, adding an element of big business clout that Americans are simple weary of.

Let’s return to a concept I introduced in a previous speech that I’ve dubbed line theory. You have a line -- people above the line can afford health care and people below it cannot. When the government institutes universal health care, those who can afford it are forced to pay higher costs to help pay for those who cannot. This raises the cost of health care to the consumer who can afford it. Thus, the line moves up and people who could barely afford health care before now cannot afford it. Thus, taxes must be raised again and the line again creeps up. In simple terms, the price ceiling imposed by universal health care causes health care costs to rise unnecessarily.

A more effective solution would be the following. Returning to the idea of the line, if the government issued tax rebates in the form of health savings accounts, money that can only be spent on health care, the cost of health care to the consumer would fall. People who barely could to afford health care before now can afford it. More people buying health care plans means that providers must offer more competitive rates to attract these new customers, causing prices to also fall. As a result, health care becomes more UNIVERSAL and AFFORDABLE than before. You might say that the best form of socialism is capitalism.

You spend your money better towards your own utility than does the government spending it for you. Let's throw a food metaphor in here; let's call health care a hamburger. The government spends as though a hamburger is a hamburger. It is fiscally impossible to administer programs which tailor consumer-by-consumer and they just want the best solution en masse. But what kind of hamburger fits you best? Let's say the government is giving out McDonald's hamburgers. Maybe you don't like McDonalds. You're a Burger King girl. Or a Applebee's guy. Maybe you're a vegetarian. Should you have to pay for the McDonald's hamburger you do not want and then have to shell out extra money for the hamburger you do want? Given the decreased pool of insured under private programs that would result from a public option, the costs thereof would inevitably decrease (premiums are inversely related to diversification).

Simply put, to make health care affordable, the government should be giving consumers the money the government would be spending on health care back to them. Let consumers price hunt for the best coverage - this forces providers to offer competitive rates and lower prices versus the government contracting health care out to a single uncompetitive company that donates a lot of campaign contributions every year.

And what of the field of "basic health care?" That of treating things which require a more base medical knowledge and less training than a decade of medical school. For example, a patient with strep throat. You might say that any doctor or nurse could treat it and prescribe the necessary medication, provided they have adequate basic medical training. Private companies, such as Walgreens, have taken notice of this opportunity and are opening low cost, flat rate "Take Care" clinics which provide basic health care without the premium cost of education factored into the pricing. An expansion of these alternative options to doctor treatment for basic health concerns seems to be the more practical approach to providing people with greater access to basic health care than socialization.

What's your take on this, TBO?

My Bromance With King Felix

I made no qualms expressing my love for King Felix this year. I think Felix will be the second best pitcher (behind Lincecum and ahead of Halladay). I said if I had a very late pick in my snake draft and Lincecum was off the board, I would take Felix with my first or second pick (Although to be honest I'm happy it didn't come to that). I am all in on DME's praise for Jack Zduriencik and I think he's done a great job with the Mariners this year.

Now it's no shock Felix is good. Felix has a 31.08 ADP on MDC and after a 19 W, 2.49 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, with 217 strike outs and a runner up to the AL Cy Young, Felix is on everybody's radar. Yet I think Felix is underrated. MDC has The King as the 5th best pitcher behind Lincecum, Halladay, Sabathia, and Grienke, because like I said, I think Felix will be the second best.

Here's some of Hernandez' stats like which would make him just very good:
- Felix has increased his K/9 the past three years (7.80, 7.85, 8.18)
- Felix has a great GB/FB ratio. His worst ratio was last year with a 1.79 groundball to flyball ratio
- Last year Felix took big jumps in FIP (3.80 to 3.09), xFIP (3.87 to 3.42), BB/9 (3.59 to 2.68), and WHIP (1.39 to 1.14)
- Felix started at least 30 games in the past four seasons

But the biggest reasons I like Felix is because of his age, his defense, and his ballpark
- Felix is only 24 years old (or he will be in a month). The guys already has had so much success and still has not entered into his prime
- Seattle is stockpiling defense. Last year, Seattle had the best defensive team anchored by CF Franklin Gutierrez (who was the best defensive outfielder with a minimum of 500 innings). Sure, their second best defender last year in Adrian Beltre was let go, but getting replaced by Chone Figgins is a damn good replacement. Figgins has a career 8.0 UZR/150 at third, but in the four out of the six season where Figgins had a positive UZR/150- he averaged a 14.6 UZR/150- with a career high last year.
- Here's some of the other few Mariners: Jack Wilson (career 5.9 UZR/150, averaged 18.5 his past two seasons), Ichiro (career 10.3 UZR/150 in the outfield), Gutierrez (career 26.3 UZR/150 at CF), Casey Kotchman (since 2006 he's had an average 11.1 UZR/150), and Jose Lopez (career 0.6 UZR/150 at second). Get the hint?
- Last year SAFECO was 24th in HR given up, 18th in hits given up, and 21st in runs given up. Not a bad place for a pitcher to call home. Plus, he gets to play his fair share of game in the Oakland Coliseum as well.

Felix's raw talent makes him a top ten pitcher. That talent combined with his youth, a great defense, and a pitcher friendly ballpark makes him the second best pitcher in my book.

FJM: Tiger Woods Time Magazine

In 2009, Time Magazine released an issue of the Top 100 most influential people in the world. Each selection had a short editorial written about him or her by a person who knows them best. Woods' editorial was written by his good Gillette buddy Roger Federer and it could not be more perfect in retrospect.
We are fortunate to live in the Tiger Woods era. Tiger, 33, is a model for how athletes should conduct themselves.
Yes, we are fortunate. What other athlete could possible screw up his life so royally in front of the entire world? Finally, we have a model of how athletes DO conduct themselves, and it is awesome.
He handles himself with class, and he's articulate. There's no silly talk in public from Tiger. When he speaks, people listen.
Uh, yeah. I set not one, but two alarm clocks to make sure and not miss Tiger's infamous "apology" for getting caught..errrrr..losing his sponsors..errrrr..destroying his family. And he's so articulate, perfect spelling and so visual in his texts.
That is an important part of why he's an idol for so many young athletes and why adults get giddy when they see him. They're not just awed by his great wins; they admire him as a person.
If by giddy, he means horny, then yes adults get super giddy when they see the great Tiger. Whats not to admire. He's perfected putting it in the hole on and off the course.
I looked to Tiger for lessons on how philanthropy should be done. His philanthropic efforts are really unbelievable, and I plan to follow his example.

Tiger never hesitates to get out his credit card when he sees someone in need of a plane ticket, hotel room, or even a diamond necklace. Those poor, tattooed little kiddies.
Tiger has become a close friend, and people would be surprised that under that serious game face is a big kid who loves to play jokes and have a good time.
Just like Borat, beneath that serious face he love to make sexy time too

Barry Zito's Hit Single "A Man's Gotta Do"

Don't know how I missed Barry Zito's Hit Number One Single:

Stolen Goods: Disabled List Trends & Team Information

Jeff Zimmerman of Beyond The Boxscore has a great piece up comparing cumulative injury histories by team from 2002 to 2009. Care to guess which team has had the most/least number of injuries over the past seven years? Answers below (charts are from the link):

Will Sheets Of Webb Give Bedard A Harden?

Boom, look at how my creative juices are flowing with that amazing title!

There will always be risks when you draft for any fantasy league. When you draft for your first eight picks in your upcoming baseball draft, you want to take the least risky guys who you want to be studs for your team. But as you start getting later in the draft, you can and should start taking risks. You of course always want to minimize your risks (which is just true as an everyday life lesson), but as the pool to draft gets slimmer and slimmer, that option becomes less likely for you. You of course want to draft sleepers- guys who you think are undervalued so there going later in the draft who aren't risky (a la Max Scherzer), but even still, that pool starts to get slimmer and slimmer. If you can get every single one of your picks be high reward, low risk- then by all means use that strategy. But my guess is that you need to take at least a few high risk, high reward players.

The best players to take for high risk, high reward guys are those who have been proven to good when healthy, but are injury prone. This is because you assure yourself good statistics to accrue as opposed to taking risky players who might end up hurting your team. I believe the quintessential offensive players like this are Carlos Quentin and Josh Hamilton. But the four best high risk/ high reward pitchers are: Ben Sheets, Brandon Webb, Erik Bedard, and Rich Harden.

1) Brandon Webb

High Reward: Everyone knows how good Brandon Webb can be when healthy. He's a former Cy Young winner. Webb has started at least 33 games between 2004- 2008, has never had an ERA over 3.59 (which occurred in his first full season) and has had an ERA under 3.30 the past three years (excluding 2009). While Webb is the greatest at striking guys out (7.26 career K/9), he still will help your team averaging a little over 177 SO every year. Webb has a career 3.50 FIP (3.23 from '06-'08) and a career 3.31 xFIP (3.18 from '05-'08) along with a career 1.24 WHIP. And although you can and should never really predict wins, Webb has averaged 17.5 wins over his last four healthy seasons.

High Risk: Webb is probably the least risky out of all the four players which makes him the most valuable. Throughout Webb's career, he has never been an injury risk (unlike Sheets, Harden, and Bedard) but will most likely start the year on the DL. ESPN reports that Webb will probably come back late April/ early May- which means you will probably get about 25 starts from him. But Webb's biggest issue, as Stephania Bell reported in the fantasy focus podcast, that doctors aren't still 100% sure what exactly is the source of Webb's problems. But despite that all, given Webb's past durability and strong showings during spring training, it seems to be in Webb's favor to stay healthy and be effective over the course of a full baseball season once he comes back.

2) Ben Sheets

Despite Sheets missing all of last year and having an injury prone career, I still put him as the second best of this group.

High Reward: If you exclude 2006 and 2009: Sheets still has started at least 22 games per season and started 31 games in his past full season in 2008. Sheets is essentially a lock for a minimum of 10 wins, 140 strike outs, a 1.15 WHIP, and 3.80 ERA- which is essentially what Sheets performs every year. Sheets has a career 7.60 K/9, 3.85 K/BB, 1.20 WHIP, 2.56 FIP, and a 3.55 xFIP. Added to that that Sheets is now playing most of his games in the cavernous Oakland Coliseum and SAFECO along with a Billy Beane build defense will help add to Sheet's stats.

High Risk: It's never a good thing when a consistently injury prone pitcher misses an entire year. Sheets has not started over 32 games since 2004 and has only started over 24 games once since 2004 (31 in '08). There's also a slight strike out risk with Sheets because in '06 Sheets only gained 116 SO in '06 (granted in only 17 GS) and only 106 SO in '07 (24 GS). But his constant stints on the DL and missing all of 2009 makes Sheets very risky.

However, I would not put too much stock in Sheets getting rocked a week or two ago. It's spring training and not indicative of how Sheets will perform during the regular season

3) Erik Bedard
Although Bedard has only started 30 games in the past two years as opposed to the 51 started by Harden, Bedard is the better pitcher with the better defense and more favorable ball park.

High Reward: Bedard has a career 8.77 K/9, 3.66 FIP, and 3.88 FIP which should mean you will get pretty good ERA and SO totals from Bedard. Added to that that Bedard has the same effect as Sheets where he gets to play most of his games (assuming his health will correspond to it) in the favorable ballparks of SAFECO and Oakland Coliseum and will have a top three defense behind him will help Bedard put up pretty good numbers.

High Risk: Like all these pitchers, the biggest risk is health. But this is even more so for Bedard. He has only started 15 games per season since being traded to Seattle. Only getting 15 games from a pitcher is pretty bad and this is most evidenced by Bedard's win totals (11 wins the past two years). Bedard's high career 3.56 BB/9 doesn't help anything either showing up in Bedard's somewhat high 1.32 WHIP.

4) Rich Harden

Harden has a lot of games started the past two years should give him a slight edge over Sheets and Bedard, but the Rangers favorable hitter's ballpark and Harden moving from the NL to the AL makes Harden the worst candidate out of these four pitchers.

High Reward: This biggest reward Harden will give you in strike outs. Harden has a career 9.35 K/9 had a 10.91 K/9 in '09 and a 11.01 K/9 in '08. His sub-4.00 career FIP and xFIP (3.58 and 3.75 respectively) and decently low career 1.24 WHIP are all positives in Harden's favor. And although Harden's ballpark could hurt his numbers, that ballpark with his offense behind could help his W totals.

High Risk: Rangers Ballpark is the best hitter's home park Harden has ever played at and that, along with the move back to the AL, should mean a slight decrease in Harden's numbers. And although the Rangers offense could help Harden's wins, the fact that Harden does not go deep into games means it's less likely that that win total will increase. And although Harden has started over 25 games the past years, Harden also only has started a total of 16 games in '06 and '07.

So what can you take out of this?
My advice is that you take at least one of these pitchers. Despite all the negatives that have been discussed about each player, having one is worth your while because of when you need to take these players in your draft/ the cost the players will go for will be worth the 15-25 starts from them. Now drafting two or three, or even worse, all of these players is EXTREMELY risky (Yes, I'm talking to you TBO who has Bedard and Harden in one league and Bedard, Harden, and Sheets in another) and will most likely backfire on you. But having one of these guys is a good risk to take.

I Want Boof Bonser (Cubs Edition)

As a Cubs fan, the fragile nature of the team's 2010 rotation (especially given the slew of injuries that plagued the team in 2009), worries me. With the departure of Harden and with Lilly's injury, I am concerned about what to expect from what used to be one of the NL's top rotations. I do not want to see Jeff Samardzija or Carlos Silva spot starting or, god forbid, being handed a rotation slot. Gorzelanny showed significant improvements in his strikeout and walk rates in both the majors and minors last season, so there is reason for optimism with him in the #5 spot of the rotation. However, there is no legitimate reason for the Cubs to gamble on him as being anything but a serviceable fifth starter; at least not if they want a legitimate shot at winning the NL central in 2010. This means Marshall will probably have to spend sometime in the rotation, leaving an already thin bullpen even thinner.

Given the overall lack of quality pitching depth on the team at the moment, I propose the following and most likely controversial solution: acquiring Boof Bonser from the Red Sox. Bonser, who has a career 5.12 ERA and 1.45 WHIP in 391.2 IP, is out of options and unlikely to break camp with the Red Sox. Thus, he would have to clear waivers to be optioned down the minors. The likelihood that he will be either traded or essentially given away in a waiver claim, therefore, is high. The Cubs should pounce on the opportunity, should it arrive. Here's why.

Despite the horrendous results, Boof Bonser has not been a horrendous pitcher. While playing in the AL (granted, the AL Central), Bonser has accumulated a career 7.28 K/9 and a strong 2.87 BB/9 with a 40+% GB rate to boot -- sure signs of potential. The reason for the poor ERA and WHIP seem to be poor luck. His career BABIP is .326 (league average was .304 last season); his LOB% in 2007 and 2008 were 69.6% and 57.9%, despite the league average being 70.7% and 71.4%, respectively. Furthermore, Bonser has a career HR/9 rate of 1.40, despite a career GB rate of 42.9% (resulting in an unlucky 12.3% career HR/FB rate). Despite all of his struggles in the major leagues, Bonser's career xFIP is a promising and significantly less ugly 4.30 mark. A 4.30 xFIP isn't exactly going to light the world on fire, but it shows that he has not been the complete disaster his ERA says he's been. It is worth noting that Bonser's sample size is very limited and many people forget that he has the pedigree for success (first round pick in 2000; he was the intended centerpiece of the A.J. Pierzynski deal between the Giants and Twins in 2003).

In figuring out what Bonser could provide the Cubs, I am going to utilize his career 4.30 xFIP and 7.28 K/9 as the baseline for this analysis, which is actually a bit pessimistic, in my opinion. Given that he is recovering from rotator cuff and labrum surgeries which forced him to miss the 2009 season, let's limit his innings threshold to 100.

In moving from the AL to the NL, The Hardball Times found that, on average, a pitcher's K/9 rate would rise by 0.57 per nine and that their ERA would fall by 0.41 runs. Accounting for these factors, Bonser would have a prospective 3.89 ERA and 7.85 K/9. Over 100 IP, that would be 43.22 runs allowed.

Next, we account for a change in park. Through the 2008 season (Bonser's last year of play), the Metrodome suppressed run scoring by 4%, whereas at Wrigley through last season, the park exaggerated run scoring by 8%. This 12% swing would inflate Bonser's runs allowed to 48.63.

Finally, we need to accord for defense. Last season, the Cubs allowed 19.8 runs to score compared to the league average defensive posture. Stated otherwise, the Cubs had allowed -19.8 Fielding Runs Above Replacement (FRAR). However, out goes Milton Bradley (-4.1 FRAR), Jake Fox (-6.7 FRAR), Aaron Miles (-2.7 FRAR), Joey Gathright (-0.9 FRAR), and Reed Johnson (-1.2 FRAR) and in comes Marlon Byrd (-1.0 FRAR), while Alfonso Soriano (-10.8 FRAR last season) has a 3-year UZR/150 in the OF of +5.8 (let's just say his FRAR in 2010 is completely neutral, though CHONE pegs it to be positive). In theory, that is a +25.4 FRAR swing in the right direction; a rough +5.8 team FRAR projection for 2010. Last season, the average team played 1442 innings of defense, so the Cubs would be preventing a mere +.004 runs per inning played compared to the league average defense. Over 100 innings, this would essentially save Boof Bonser just under one-half of a run, bringing his projected 2010 runs allowed total on the Chicago Cubs to 48.22.

In my estimation, therefore, over 100 IP, Bonser would post an ERA of 4.34 with 87 or so strikeouts. Given an expected (and sharp) regression in BABIP, I would expect the WHIP to tumble to the 1.35 or so range. Bill James says 1.38.

Could be worse, right?

But that's not necessarily the reason why I want the Cubs to acquire Bonser. Despite the lack of starting pitching depth, it's the lack of bullpen depth that scares me more. According to Tom Tango his publication The Book, the difference between a pitcher's ERA as a starter versus a reliever is about one run. If true, this would make Boof Bonser a sub-4 ERA relief pitcher who strikes out his share of guys, keeps the ball on the ground at a respectable rate, and does not walk too many batters. Given the state of the Cubs bullpen -- many high walk, flyball pitchers -- Bonser could prove to be a valuable asset for the team at a low price. Given the loss of Guzman and the price tag of Jason Frasor, I say the Cubs consider it.

Forecasting Edwin Jackson For 2010

Converting catchers into pitchers is nothing new or unique. Most recently, it has happened to Jason Motte and Carlos Marmol. Catchers, at least defensively capable ones, generally have strong arms, so such a conversion makes sense. Edwin Jackson, taken in the 6th round of the 2001 amateur draft, was drafted by the Dodgers as a catcher but converted into a catcher given his strong arm. The results were mixed. On the plus, Jackson could throw 95+ MPH and flashed above average strikeout ability. However, given his lack of pitching experience, he Jackson exhibited little control (7.8 BB/9 during his first 22 IP stint in 2001). Over his first few minor league seasons, Jackson's control rate seemed to"normalize" around a much more acceptable, though still below average, 4.0 BB/9 range. Jackson was clearly a work in progress, but quickly rose to the majors in 2003 to work out of the pen. Early on, Jackson was given the title of a "can't miss" prospect, but struggled mightily in 2004 and 2005 (largely due to BB/9 rates of 4.01 and 5.43, respectively) and the Dodgers sold low, shipping him off to the Devil Rays for pitchers Danys Baez and Lance Carter, neither of whom actually contributed anything to the team.

On the Devil Rays, Jackson was converted into a starter. He spent the majority of the 2006 season in the minors, where he continued to show control problems (4.3 BB/9) mixed reasons for hope (strong fastball, nasty slider, 8.1 K/9). Regardless of his persistent control issues, Jackson was promoted as a full time starter to the Devil Rays in 2007, where, unsurprisingly, his control problems (4.92 BB/9) continued to hinder him (5.76 ERA, 4.95 xFIP) in a Manny Parra-like way.

But then something happened. The Devil Rays dropped the "Devil" from their name and Edwin Jackson stopped handing out free passes left and right. Though the strikeout rate plummeted 26% to a mere 5.9 K/9 (below league average), the fastball remained around 94 MPH, the slider became eight times more effective (from +0.35 runs prevented per 100 times thrown to +2.87 runs per 100 pitches), and most importantly, the BB/9 rate fell to a career best 3.78 (still below league average, but much improved over the 5.21 career BB/9 he has through the 2007 season). The results less than spectacular (4.42 ERA, 5.03 xFIP), but there were reasons not to doubt Edwin Jackson as a complete bust going forward. The Rays utilized the opportunity of Jackson's relatively "strong" 2008 season to acquire Matt Joyce, another promising talent without the expected results, from the Tigers in exchange.

With two seasons of improving walk rates and a seemingly seasoned slider at his disposal, 2009 was an important season for Edwin Jackson. He was set to become arbitration eligible for the first time after the season and thus his future -- that is to say his end of season payday and status as a possible non-tender -- seemed to bank on whether or not he continued to make strikes in his control. I, like many others, was quite skeptical of Jackson for 2009. On a podcast we did in the early summer, I ranted for minutes about the plethora of reasons I did not believe in Edwin Jackson. On my fantasy team, I flipped Edwin Jackson early on, thinking I was "selling high," for Scott Baker, of whom I thought I was buying low. I am willing to admit when I am wrong and wrong I was...sort of.

True, Edwin Jackson ended the season with a valuable 3.62 ERA and 1.26 WHIP and shaved his walk rate down to a better-than-league-average 2.94 per nine mark. Jackson also rebounded somewhat in the strikeouts category (6.77 K/9). The improved control and overall results were nice, but the seasonal splits (2.57 ERA in the first half of the season, 5.07 ERA thereafter) and peripheral stats (4.39 xFIP) simply do not accord. Looking at the splits, one also finds a control disparity. Whereas Edwin Jackson issued a mere 37 walks through his first 121.2 IP (2.66 BB/9), he walked the same amount through his final 92.1 IP (3.61 BB/9).

Jackson definitely showed signs of improvement in 2009, but he was not nearly "as good" of a pitcher as his season totals seem to indicate. There is definitely room and hope for improvement, but at age 27, what more can we expect from Edwin Jackson? Will he continue to improve the walk rate in 2010, a la the first half of 2009, or will he simply make modest strides?

Given his age, I lean towards the latter. Jackson has sort of been learning to pitch as he goes. Some might say he does not exactly "pitch" as much as he "throws." Perhaps Jackson, having never logged even 185 IP before 2009, simply burned out towards the end of the season. There is certainly evidence of this as his strikeout rate, which floated around the 7.1-7.7 range between May and July, dropped off in August and September. For the sake of simplicity, I am going to use Jackson's 2009 xFIP of 4.39 and his 2009 ratios as the baseline for my 2010 projection and urge that you adjust the final numbers up or down based on whether you perceive Jackson's strikeout and walk rates to improve or regress going forward.

First things first, we need to adjust for Jackson's change in leagues. Using 5 year data from 2004 to 2008, The Hardball Times found that a pitcher who switched over from the AL to the NL primarily saw changes in their K/9 rate (+0.57) and ERA (-0.41). Accounting for these factors and holding Jackson's 2009 rates constant, this would give him a K/9 of 7.36 and an ERA of 3.98.

Next, we need an innings total for 2010. The projection systems hosted on Fangraphs have him pegged at somewhere between 178 IP (CHONE) and 218 IP (Bill James). Given Arizona's relatively poor chances of competing in 2010, I am going to assume that the Diamondbacks are not going to unnecessarily abuse Edwin Jackson's arm like the Tigers did last season (Jackson was third overall in total Pitcher Abuse Points). Thus, 200 IP seems reasonable -- especially if Brandon Webb starts the season on the DL and Jackson ends up the #2 pitcher in the rotation by default.

With 200 IP, Jackson's baseline of runs allowed would be 88.45. From here, we need to accord for park factors. According to Baseball Reference's multi-year park factor data, Chase Field has inflated run scoring by 9%, while Comerica Park has inflated run scoring by 3%. Accounting for the park change, Jackson's runs allowed total then increases to 93.60 per 200 IP.

After adjusting for park factor and league change, we must finally accord for defensive modifications. In 2009, the Diamondbacks prevented 21.6 Fielding Runs Above Replacement (FRAR). Over the offseason, Arizona added both Kelly Johnson (+5 FRAR) and Adam LaRoche (-3 FRAR) to the team team (projected defense courtesy of CHONE). Keeping the 2009 Diamondbacks defense constant and adding the additional +2 FRAR of Johnson and LaRoche to the team, the Diamondbacks would have a cumulative FRAR in +23.6. If you think the team's defense would change up or down compared to 2009, adjust accordingly. The average major league team played 1442 innings of defense last season, though the Diamondbacks played 1447.2 last year. I am going to use the 1442 innings as the baseline for this forecast; if you think the Diamondbacks play more or less, adjust accordingly. With a FRAR of +23.6 over 1442 IP, the Diamondbacks would prevent +0.016 runs per inning of play compared to the league average defensive posture. Over 200 innings, that would be 3.27 runs prevented. Subtracting this from Jackson's league and park adjusted runs allowed forecast and we get an estimated 90.33 runs allowed by Jackson in 2010.

Thus, over 200 IP, Edwin Jackson would have an ERA of 4.06 with 164 strikeouts (7.36 K/9) to boot. Jackson had a quality 1.26 WHIP last season, but a career mark of 1.51. Last season was the first time since 2004 that Jackson's WHIP has been under 1.50. I'm pegging Jackson for a 1.40 mark as the baseline for 2010. Bill James puts his WHIP projection at 1.50, while CHONE has theirs at 1.42.

According to Roto Authority's "what it takes to win" estimates for 2010, the average starting pitcher on your squad will should accumulate a 3.78 ERA, 181 K's, 1.27 WHIP and 13.67 Wins. Jackson does not seem particularly pegged for any of those numbers, but should provide value as one's last SP or two on the roster, provided you draft a few strong pitchers with projections ahead of the "what it takes to win" curve. As of 3/19/10, Edwin Jackson has an ADP of 168 on Mock Draft Central (you will need a free account to view this data). He is being drafting within the starting pitching company of John Danks (160), Ryan Dempster (161), Carlos Zambrano (166), David Price (172), Scott Kazmir (173), Neftali Feliz (174), Ted Lilly (179) and Gavin Floyd (182). Most of this players have higher upsides and lower downsides than Edwin Jackson, though Zambrano, Price, Kazmir and Floyd will all likely kill your WHIP just as much as Jackson. Can't exactly call Jackson a value pick here; he seems to be more of a brand name than value play at pick #168. Yahoo has him ranked even higher at #137 (which is baffling, considering they rank the Dirty Scherz at #261). ESPN had him ranked at #142 last time I updated my draft comparison rankings.

Conclusion: While Edwin Jackson may provide some relevant fantasy value (4.06 ERA, 7.36 K/9) in 2010, it will be as a back end of your fantasy rotation kind of guy given his below "what it takes to win" projected statistics and WHIP-killer ways. His relatively high ADP and risky downside make him a guy to avoid unless he falls acceptably late in the draft. If you simply must own Edwin Jackson, you will probably get a better value on him in auction leagues than draft leagues. No stamp of approval here.