I'm Done With Gordon Beckham

As both a White Sox fan and as a guy who owns him in my AL-only league I'm sick of Gordon Beckham (or "Bacon" as we in Chicago with our thick accents call him) and I want him sent to the minors.

Currently Bacon is hitting .230 with an on base under .300 (.291) with a SLG of only .345 and he's hitting with Jack Wilson Power with a .115 ISO. He only has four home runs and two stolen bases. It's even frustrating watching Beckham at the plate.

This year Bacon is only hitting .267 off of fastballs being thrown to him according to ESPN.com. Hitting a fastball is just one of the basic fundamentals every professional baseball hitter should be able to do, and Bacon can not seem to do that right now. This year Bacon is having a career year (in a bad way) with his strike out rates and walk rate. Currently Beckham is striking out a little more than once every four at-bats (26.1%) and only walking a measly 4.9%. Bacon is also having a career year with a swinging strike rate of 11.8%, up 2.5% from in his 2010 season.

There appears to be very little evidence that Bacon's awful start is due to bad luck. Sure, his BABIP is nine points lower than his career average, but even if that normalizes, he bats .250 at best? Even if you could find some statistic that Bacon should be producing better than he is, I'm still pessimistic because he just looks like he has no plate discipline. All you need to do is watch Beckham swing and have no control over the strike zone to see how poor he's batting.

We are already 30% done with the 2011 season and this year along with last year is just evidence to me that Bacon should be sent down to the minors. Yes, Bacon was an elite prospect selected by the White Sox eighth overall in the first round of the 2008 draft. However, there was only 364 days between the time Beckham was drafted and when he became an everyday starter for the ChiSox. Gordon Beckham only played 7 games (50 at bats) in AAA Charlotte before getting called up.

Bacon batted in the #2 hole at the beginning of the 2010 and 2011 season, but after slumping and getting off to horrible starts both years, manager Ozzie Guillen moved Bacon down to the 8 or 9 slot and let Alexei Ramirez shine at the top of the line up. Ozzie made the move he said to help take the focus and attention away from Gordon. Admittedly the move has helped somewhat as Bacon is batting .284 in the month of May, however he also struck out at a higher percentage (34.3%) than he did in March and April (20.4%). I also don't see Bacon's May triple slash line (.284/.364/.418) continuing all season with his continued poor control of the strike zone (Bacon essentially had the same BB/K rate in May as he did in April/March) and his high May .395 BABIP.

In term of Bacon's defense I do think his game at second base has vastly improved since he started playing there at the beginning of the 2010 season. At first his play and range was sub par (at best) and made errors on simple plays or failed to turn easy double plays which showed in his overall -1.2 UZR/150 and -0.8 Fld. In 50 games in 2011 however Bacon has a 2.0 Fld and 6.3 UZR/150 which is the only reason Bacon's WAR is not currently below zero (it's 0.5). But until Bacon's bat follows his glove, I think he should stay in AAA.

To replace Beckham, I believe that Brent Lillibridge should play second (Lillibridge is an infielder by trade). With 119 less plate appearances and non-consistent playing time (although that is changing more of late) Lillibridge has more home runs (five to four) and stolen bases (4 to 2), a superior better ISO (.345), and a better triple slash line (.291/.375/.636) than Gordon Beckham. Sure Lillibridge's strike out rates, walk rates, and swinging strike rates look eerily similar to Beckham's, but at least Lillibridge is producing right now (also Lillibridge has a more normal BABIP) and at 27 years old, it finally looks like this prospect is performing like he should have.

Now let me be clear, when I say I'm done with Gordon Beckham I do not mean that I want the White Sox to trade him or that I don't think Bacon will EVER be able to hit. The dude is only 24 years old and there is still plenty of time for Bacon to be the player we all thought he could be after his rookie campaign. But I do believe Bacon's development is actually being stunted while in the majors and should be sent down to fix his mechanics and get back to basics in AAA before being on the major league squad again. Listen, I want Bacon to succeed. I want him to live up to his potential and to be the player we thought he would be but I do not think he can do that right now.

NL Waiver Wire: Weeks 7 and 8

Celebrating my one year anniversary working for The Hardball Times this week. Here are the latest tabs on the NL Edition of the Waiver Wire series: Week 7 and Week 8.


Brandon Morrow (or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Bud Norris)

The following is my latest article from The Hardball Times.

All stats are current through Monday, May 23.

Eight weeks in to the 2011 baseball season, and Bud Norris is no longer "flying under the radar." Through his first nine starts (55 innings pitched) of the season, Norris is supporting a disgusting 64 strikeouts (27.6 percent strikeout rate, fifth-best amongst all major league starters) to a mere 20 walks (8.62 percent walk rate, on par with perennial Cy Young candidates Tim Lincecum and Josh Johnson) for a strong 3.20 K/BB ratio.

He is also getting more groundball outs (44.7 percent) than flyball outs (38.3 percent), sporting a 1.17 GB/FB ratio and 80.8 percent GB/AO ratio. Norris' peripherals (3.38 FIP, 2.84 xFIP, 3.50 tERA, 3.34 nxFIP*, and 1.21 xWHIP) are quite strong, but his results to date in more traditional metrics have not been too shabby, either (3.91 ERA and 1.31 WHIP, though in "the year of the pitcher," such stats rank 93rd and 89th, respectively, out of the 169 starting pitchers with 10-plus innings pitched in 2011).

*nxFIP stands for normalized xFIP. It is calculated similarly to xFIP, only a pitcher's line drive rate is normalized to 19 percent, with his residual balls in play being distributed based on the pitcher's groundball to flyball and outfield flyball to infield flyball ratios. Once the normalized outfield flyball total is calculated, I multiply this figure by one-half the pitcher's home park park factor for home runs per outfield flyball rate times 11.5 percent.

Noting this dominance to date this year, and highlighting that Norris was hardly an "unknown" entering the season after last year's well-publicized 158 strikeouts (9.25 K/9, eighth-highest in the major leagues among starters with 150-plus innings pitched) and 77 walks (18th-highest walk total in the majors last season amongst all pitchers) over 153.2 innings, why is Norris not owned in even half of Yahoo leagues (46 percent ownership)?

More curiously, why is Norris owned in just over half as many leagues as his fragile American League clone, Brandon Morrow (82 percent Yahoo ownership). It's not like Morrow (5.06 ERA, 1.44 WHIP) is exactly lighting the world on fire.

First, let's look at how the two pitchers are similar. Here are each's peripherals (and the major league average for each category) on the season:

PlayerK%BB%SwStr%F-Strike%Contact%GB%FB VelocitySlider%FIPxFIPxWHIPwOBA-against
Bud Norris27.6%8.6%12.0%62.5%73.0%44.7%92.6 MPH37.6%3.382.841.21.313
Brandon Morrow30.3%10.6%12.4%64.8%72.5%32.9%93.4 MPH24.7%2.122.971.28.288
MLB Average17.9%7.8%8.4%58.9%80.9%42.2%91.7 MPH15.1%3.803.701.34.312

And for their careers:

PlayerK%BB%SwStr%F-Strike%Contact%GB%FB VelocitySlider%ERAFIPxFIPxWHIP
Bud Norris23.7%10.5%11.2%57.0%74.8%42.0%93.534.7%4.634.133.801.36
Brandon Morrow (as SP)26.1%11.6%11.1%54.4%74.9%37.9%93.715.4%4.543.643.821.42

Both pitchers stand out as big strikeout pitchers for their career (posting top-10 SwStr% rates of any starting pitcher between 2007 and 2011) with large walk rates to boot (a combined 339 batters walked over just 640.1 combined innings pitched (4.76 BB/9, 12.1 BB%)).

Each is right-handed, throws a good number of breaking balls (particularly the slider), and each throws hard. Morrow has proven to be a bit more of a strikeout pitcher than Norris for his career, but Norris makes up for that with more groundballs.

There is a difference in their career and 2011 FIPs, but some of that might be HR/FB% luck, as each pitcher has near-identical xFIPs for their career and on the year.

Morrow and Norris have comparable fastball velocities as starters, and hitters similarly struggle to make contact against their pitches. Norris tends to throw more (and a lot of) breaking balls (particularly sliders) than Morrow, which is clearly a red flag for his long-term health, but it is not exactly as though Morrow is a model of health himself, having been on the DL at least once each of his pro seasons (not to mention the fact that Morrow also has diabetes). Both pitchers are also about the same age (26-ish), with Morrow being Norris' senior by less than a year.

Both tend to fair worse against lefties, but only Morrow's career split (4.57 xFIP versus LHB, compared to a 3.48 xFIP versus RHB) stands out as significant (Norris' career LHB/RHB xFIP split is 4.00 to 3.63), but Morrow's struggles against lefties have lessened in recent years (3.87 xFIP versus LHB in 2010, 3.12 in 2011).

Hence, for all intents and purposes, we have two identical pitchers. Yet one is owned in less than half of fantasy leagues out there, while the other is almost universally owned.

That is mind-boggling, especially when you consider that not only does Norris play in the NL, meaning that about 10 percent of his opposing batters tends to be pitchers, but he plays in the weakest division in baseball, the NL Central, which, although he cannot face his own team, still nonetheless features the below .500 and offensively-inept teams that are the Pirates and Cubs (sad face) in a disproportionate number of series. Compared this to Brandon Morrow, who faces three of baseball's most fearsome offenses in the Boston Red Sox, Tampa Bay Rays, and New York Yankees in a disproportional number of games.

Yet Morrow, modern strikeout champion of the almost no-no crown, has brand power, while Norris toils away on the shelf like a generic-label product that is also manufactured by the brand-name producer. It makes you wonder why Dallas Braden did not get any kind of love heading into the season (yeah, yeah the whole foot nerves thing, we get it).

Noting this all, what does it mean?

It means that you can get a hefty return for Morrow, trade less than that away for Norris, and come away with a relative profit that improves your team overall while maintaining the same level of production in mixed leagues.

Brand name is a large component of arbitrage in fantasy baseball. Players with less hype and less of a track record of success, including breakout players, tend to have lower trade values than established or hyped players. This is why it is so hard to "buy low" and "sell high" most of the time.

On the flip side of that coin, however, is the "sell low" and "buy high" strategy. It may seem anachronistic, but selling low or at market on hyped guys and buying low on players that owners tend to be cautious with can net you a large profit because such deals tends to maximize the value you receive while relatively minimizing the cost you have to pay.

Take, for instance, the cost of acquiring Jose Bautista last year. I went on record early and often in last year's AL Waiver Wire and other fantasy columns noting how much I believed in Bautista's pull power in the Rogers Center. I never thought he would hit 50 homers from the beginning, but I bet a friend in May, 2010 that he would hit 30 and tried to up the ante, double or nothing, to 40 around the All-Star Break.

Most Bautista owners wearily plucked him off the wire last season and were cautious to play him. On one hand, you gotta ride the hot streak, but on the other, "This is Jose frickin' Bautista we're talking about."

You obviously could not have acquired him for free, as a "toss in" or for a fungible bench player, but compared to the value produced by Bautista each month last season, you could have acquired him for pennies on the dollar. In one of my primary leagues last season, I traded away Jay Bruce plus Dan Uggla in May to get Bautista and Martin Prado.

The unknown is scary, but fear has a deprecating effect on value that you can intelligently exploit to your advantage. Think of it as buying junk bonds. People are afraid of owning them as an investment vehicle, but they're less risky than common stock.

That's why I like to invest heavily, albeit at a discount, in players like Michael Pineda and Brandon Beachy either on draft day or early in the season (though sometimes, as in the case of Kyle Drabek (who I, thankfully, was able to universally flip for Ryan Dempster after his 0.1 inning disaster at Chase Field), you just lose).

The end of May brings the beginning of real trading season in fantasy baseball. For the first six to eight weeks of the season, owners tend to be patient, opting for waiver wire moves, "waiting it out" and minor trades over major/big-name trades to fill team holes. It is not really until you reach the 50-game mark that a team's "needs" becomes readily apparent. Owners are cautious to avoid conflating "need" and poor construction with bad luck. Accordingly, this is what I recommend.

First, trade Morrow. With a 5.06 ERA and 1.44 WHIP on the season, this may be a harder task than it was in the preseason, but Morrow's AL-leading 12.09 K/9 (second-best in the major leagues) and enticing peripherals will lure plenty of owners to bite if you going trade fishing. Morrow, thanks to Josh Shepardson and the boys at ESPN, was a hype machine this offseason, and I guarantee you that you overpaid for what Morrow is capable of doing on his own merit.

I almost guarantee you as well that, despite what you paid for Morrow (unless you ridiculously overpaid for him), there is an owner out there willing to relieve you of your investment at cost (or better). Enough people understand FIP to think they would be buying low on an ace.

But why trade Morrow? His FIP, xFIP, and tERA are all under 3.00 this year, and he is a strikeout god. The answer is in his control. Much of Morrow's preseason hype came as a result of his second-half recall on free passes issued. Over his final ten starts of the season (56.1 innings pitched) before getting shut down, Morrow only walked 22 batters, good for a 3.51 BB/9.

That was a marked improvement over his career walks-per-nine rate (north of 5.00), but it came at the expense of fewer first-pitch strikes than either his career or first-half averages. First pitch strikes tend to be half the battle in walk rates for pitchers, and a 56-inning sample is hardly a reliable enough sample size to discount umpire luck or some other element to blame other than truly improved control. Furthermore, Morrow's current walk rate (4.22 BB/9) represents a large step back from last year's second half "improvement."

At the same time, Morrow's peripherals, while impressive, may not truly be as notable as they currently look. If we ignore Morrow's season debut (5.1 innings pitched, 10:2 K/BB ratio), his strikeout rate on the season falls from north of 30 percent to 27.0 percent on the dot, or a batter per nine innings. Likewise, his walks-per-nine rate would increase to 4.38.

A 27.0 percent strikeout rate (11.1 K/9) is hardly something to sneeze at, but if we also regress Morrow's current 2.9 percent HR/FB rate to his career rate of 8.1 percent (I do this cautiously, rather than regress his HR/FB rate towards the major league average of 10.5 percent*, as there is an as-yet-unproven theory that power pitchers can outperform league-average HR/FB rates), his FIP rises from 2.20 to the 3.50.

Of course, that is still solid, but if Morrow's control regresses any further, or if Morrow's groundball rate continues to float around what it was while he was in Seattle, his expected FIP could easily approach the 4.00 mark.

*League average HR/FB percent tends to be around 10.5, while HR/OFFB percent tends to be closer to 11.5.

More worrisome are Morrow's numbers if we plug in his 2011 stats, omitting his first start, into the lastest version of my xWHIP calculator (NOTE: I do not have runs-created values for 2011 offhand, so the tERA cell is set to 0.00):


Do not get me wrong; Morrow is clearly valuable and a pitcher worth owning that will do wonders for your strikeout rate. At the same time, however, he is a commodity whose current perception overshadows his actual and potential value. When a player has this kind of potential trade value above his expected value, he is a prime trade chip.

At the same time, I would recommend acquiring Norris for all the reasons to love Morrow, except he will cost you a fraction of what you'd have to trade away to get Morrow. Norris, like Morrow, has his control and injury-risk issues, but he racks up elite strikeouts and could conceivably pile up more total innings over the rest of the 2011 season.

Norris' peripherals show that he is just as likely to have taken that "big step forward" as Morrow, but the season is still young and his slowly-increasing army of owners might cautiously believe that they are just riding a hot streak.

Do not let anyone sucker you into believing that Norris is thriving off weak teams and favorable matchups. While it is true that his two worst starts came against two strong offenses in the early-hot-hitting Philly (April 3) and St. Louis last week (May 18), Norris still shut down those same Cardinals earlier in the season (6.0 innings pitched, zero earned runs, 6:2 K/BB ratio on April 26), and he obliterated Milwaukee at the beginning of the month (7.2 innings pitched, no earned runs, 11:3 K/BB ratio on May 1).

As the above indicates, Norris is not just a poor man's Morrow; he is the smart investor's Morrow clone. Both Morrow and Norris are elite strikeout sources who probably will not obliterate your WHIP or ERA (even in a season where some 40 starting pitchers (minimum 10 innings pitched) have sub-3.00 ERAs) on the merit of their relatively undifferentiated pitching talents. Neither pitcher is likely to win many games, Morrow because he tends to rack up high pitch counts and depart games early, and Norris because he plays for the offensively inept Astros).

One, however, probably has a trade value above market, while the other can be had at a discount. Earlier in May, I was able to trade away Brandon McCarthy and Luke Gregerson (whom I replaced with Sean Marshall) for Norris. If you offered that for Morrow, you'd probably be laughed out of your league. Yet, no one had anything to say about my under-the-radar move.

Would you trade away Morrow, or am I just crazy? If you would trade him, what kind of value would you need/do you think you could get in return? Sound off in the comments below.

What to do with Alex Rios

Alex Rios is a conundrum of turbulence. A five-tool prospect of the early-to-mid naughts, Rios really didn't do much with his bat over his first two seasons in the majors, posting a combined .273/.315/.390 (.705 OPS) triple-slash line with 11 home runs, 29 stolen bases, 126 runs scored and 87 runs batted in over 257 games played (979 plate appearances). His glove was slick (+23.0 fielding runs above average (FRAR)), but defense is irrelevant in all but the most intricate fantasy formats.

The 2006 season was a breakout year for Rios, however. Over a mere 128 games played (he was slowed down after the All-Star Break due to a ball he fouled off his foot that led to his hospitalization), Rios slashed .302/.349/.516 (.865 OPS) with elite defense (+9.6 FRAR).

Though still somewhat allergic to walks (7.0 percent walk rate), Rios batted in 82 men, while showing a good balance of power (17 HR, .213 ISO) and speed (15 SB, 6.2 speed score). Before his foul-ball injury, Rios' season looked even brighter, batting .359 with 43 RBI and most of his homers (11) through his first 60 games played.

Recovered from his foot folly, Rios followed up his quality 2006 campaign with even better fantasy numbers in 2007 and 2008, batting a combined .294/.343/.480 (.823 OPS). His power (39 HR) and speed (49 SB) blend remained tantalizing, while he racked up 150 RBI and 205 rusn to boot and acted as a model of health (316 combined games played out of a possible 324). Rios' 2006-2008 performance was rewarded by then-General Manager J.P. Riccardi, who gave him the contract we all associate him with today.

Rios had broken out by 2009, but there were some signs that, heading into his age 28 season, Rios, for all his enchantment, was not infallible. For one thing, despite Rios' strong clipping (20.5 percent career line-drive percentage heading into 2009), he remained immune to ball four. Through his first five seasons in the majors (2875 plate appearances), Rios had only drawn 186 walks on his own merit (BB-IBB), for a sub-par 6.5 percent walk rate.

Rios showed some improvement in 2006 (7.0 percent) and 2007 (7.7 percent), but took a large step back in 2008 (6.4 percent) that he would never undo. For a sense of comparison, the major league average walk rate between 2004 and 2008 fluctuated between 8.2 percent and 8.7 percent.

Despite a low strikeout rate that was seemingly improving and settling in around the upper teens between 2004 and 2008, Rios' strikeout-to-walk ratio remained sub-par. The major league average K:BB rate for hitters is around 2:1, but Rios only touched that mark once, in 2007, floating around just under 3:1 the rest of his major league seasons (including 2008).

Rios' sleek wheels (93 stolen bases between 2004 and 2008) were also not as pretty as many analysts pegged them to be. Rios had only eclipsed the 15 stolen base mark in two of his five major league seasons (17 in 2007 and a career-high 32 in 2008). Double-digit stolen bases are always nice, but for as great as Rios' speed was touted (mid-6s speed score), the results rarely materialized in the form of fantasy gold.

Furthermore, and far more worrisome, were the 30 times Rios did his Mike Leake impression was caught stealing between 2004 and 2008. Now, a 75 percent success rate is not bad, but it lowers Rios' net stolen base total between 2004 and 2008 to 63, an average of just over 12 per season.

Still, Rios was a pull-hitter in one of baseball's coziest places for right-handed batters (just ask Jose Bautista, who has hit 41 of his past 70 homers there). His strong batting average between 2006 and 2008, paired with his 24 home runs from 2007 and 32 stolen bases from 2008, gave promise of a .300/20/20 campaign with .300/25/30 upside in the near future.

But then things started to fall apart.

Rios, a consensus top-50 pick of 2009, batted .264/.317/.427 over the first 108 games of the season for the Blue Jays. He continued to steal bases (19 over his first 108 games), but his ISO trended downwards for the third consecutive season. He continued to pray to a Dunn-hating J.P. Riccardi (6.5 percent walk rate), and though his line drive rate was not poor (18.1 percent on the Jays), it represented a career low that further manifested itself in a career-worst BABIP (.289 through his first 108 games played).

Rios was placed on waivers and given away wholesale—for nothing more than salary relief—to the White Sox in mid-2009, and he has resided there ever since. Kenny Williams hoped a change of scenery would be all that Rios needed to return to his glorious 2006-2008 status. I was incredibly, and probably overly, critical of the move at the time.

I did not understand fielding metric sample size requirements at the time, and rather than seeing a major league-average hitter with strong outfield defense capable of posting 3.0-plus WAR seasons, I saw a squandering of cash being thrown at Rios.

For the sake of my credibility, Rios did exactly what I predicted him to do over the final two months of the 2009 season with the White Sox, posting an atrocious .199/.229/.301 line over his final 41 games. Rios stole five bases for the Pale Hose, but he was caught twice. He also only had three home runs to go along with an Erstad-ian .103 ISO.

I continued to hate on Rios in the early offseason (culminating in an infamous radio argument with a certain White Sox post-game announcer over whether Jayson Nix, at the major league minimum, would have been a better player for the Sox than Alex Rios, an argument that persists between the two of us to this day, immortalized on Twitter), but I made amends in March of 2010, pegging Rios as a post-hype sleeper bargain (his preseason rank was No. 141 on Yahoo) for the upcoming season.

In some sense, my analysis of Rios was again dead on. I claimed Rios would hit somewhere in the ballpark of .286/.331/.443 with 20 home runs and 30 stolen bases. His end of season line was in fact .284/.334/.457 with 21 home runs and 34 stolen bases.

Still, for all the good Rios did by the end of the year, almost all of that performance came in the first half of the season. I pegged Rios' second half as the universe balancing out of the type of luck he experienced in the first half (no, I do not believe in the gambler's fallacy), but I should have looked at his numbers in US Cellular field a bit more closely before I ranked him as my No. 12 overall outfielder heading into the 2011 season.

Take a gander at Rios' numbers by month on the White Sox, and pay particular attention to his wRC+, which measures his relative batting value to the rest of the league adjusted for park/league:

Aug 09 0.210 0.221 0.383 0.241 0.09 0.173 0.254 44
Sept/Oct 0 0.211 0.253 0.300 0.227 0.38 0.089 0.246 38
Mar/Apr 10 0.277 0.326 0.470 0.294 0.50 0.193 0.356 118
May 10 0.344 0.406 0.700 0.311 1.00 0.356 0.471 196
Jun 10 0.297 0.355 0.406 0.346 0.33 0.109 0.330 99
Jul 10 0.293 0.321 0.414 0.317 0.28 0.121 0.310 86
Aug 10 0.261 0.303 0.409 0.297 0.29 0.148 0.313 89
Sept/Oct 1 0.228 0.291 0.354 0.258 0.40 0.127 0.297 78
Mar/Apr 11 0.163 0.245 0.235 0.181 0.67 0.071 0.228 34
May 11 0.268 0.305 0.411 0.271 0.50 0.143 0.305 88
TOTALS 0.255 0.305 0.403 0.276 0.40 0.148 0.311 87

Notice that with the exception of April and May of 2010, Rios has been a below-average major league hitter in each of the months he has played for the White Sox. Sure, he was league average in June 2010, but if that's the kind of upside he is providing fantasy owners and White Sox fans alike, then perhaps he does not warrant either the $12 million per year Kenny Williams is paying him or the $20-plus you shelled out to get him on draft day.

In my Ottoneu league, Rios went to an owner for $1 courtesy of a programming glitch we were to lazy to fix. That seemed like a steal of a deal, but one quarter of the way through 2011, his .201/.266/.299 line, with three homers and four stolen bases (with three caught stealing) is hardly looking like a bargain (especially in comparison to my $2 Carlos Quentin).

So what do you do? In light of this data, do you jump ship, ride it out, or "buy low?"

On the bright side, Rios' xBABIP with the White Sox is .328. His actual BABIP on the team has been .276. With less than 1000 plate appearances in a black-and-white jersey, it is very possible that Rios is on an extended cold streak. If you adjust his White Sox batting line of .255/.305/.403 to reflect his xBABIP, you'll find his expected triple-slash line improves to .297/.340/.445. That neatly reflects his 2006-2008 overall performance level.

Furthermore, the move from Rogers Center to U.S. Cellular Field is far from a move to spacious Petco Park for a left-handed batter. Whereas Rogers Center has a right-handed batter index of 116 for home runs and 97 for batting average, the south side bandbox has respective indicies of 145 and 98.

In other words, the two parks have relatively equal expected effects on batting average for righties, while Rios' new home is a 20 percent more favorable environment for going deep. U.S. Cellular Field, in fact, has the highest right-handed batter home run index of any park in the major leagues, with Great American Ballpark a distant second at 125.

If anything, this is an argument is favor of Rios' 20-home run capability, while his three home runs and four steals to date say that a 15/15 or better campaign, even with Rios' struggling, is well in the cards.

On the negative, however, Rios is now 30 years old, and he's not getting any younger. Players tend to peak in their mid-20s, plateau through about age 30, and then decline in ability. Rios may simply be on the downside of a productive fantasy career.

His .097 ISO on the season is far away from stabilizing (we need at least 550 plate appearances to start drawing conclusions with respect to power), but if you take April and May of 2010 out of the equation, Rios' power on the White Sox has been more of an outage than a surge. At some point, a player isn't just having bad luck; he could simply be coming apart at the seems.

Still, Rios is only 30. If he was a couple of years older, perhaps I would be more skeptical, but I have faith that Rios will bounce back somewhat this season and end the year with 15 or so home runs and 20 stolen bases, hitting .280 the rest of the way. That's not bad, but, especially if the White Sox keep Rios in the bottom dregs of their lineup, it's hardly going to end up being what you expected and paid for on draft day. Oliver expects Rios to hit .267/.318/.429 the rest of the way, and to end the season with 18 home runs and 22 stolen bases.

There is probably someone out there willing to take a gamble on an "established" player like Rios, thinking there is plenty of upside left in the tank. Trading Rios is very possible if you are either tired of his early season struggles (a terrible reason to sell) or think you can get more value in return than what he is worth to you or what you think he can do.

Just don't go selling off for 70 cents on the dollar, because a 15-20/20-25 rest of season pace with a average-or-better fantasy batting average is not easy to come by on the waiver wire, especially in deeper formats.

At the very beginning of May, a frustrated Mike Stanton owner offered me a straight-up swap for Rios. I pounced and have not looked back; with Stanton's May surge, I doubt you can get the same deal done at this point, but swapping out Rios for a player like Hunter Pence or Jason Heyward might be possible, and I would personally make either deal.

I can't say I would give the same advice to Kenny Williams, however.

What would you do, or have you done, with Alex Rios? As always, leave the love/hate in the comments below.

Gloria Allred Is Suing The Atlanta Braves

I think this entire segment is hilarious but go about 4:22 in to see Stewart's take on Gloria Allred's press conference

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
We're Here, We're Queer, Get Newsed to It
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Bonus: Will Farrell and Jon Stewart commenting about the press conference

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Archer March Madness: The Winner (Part One)

So its the beginning of May, and sure I've neglected GOI and have stopped posting, but before the professional basketball season ends and now that I am done studying for the day, I think it's time to finally post the winner of the best Archer quote as voted on by you the fans.

And the winner is...

Drum roll please....


and just for funsies



As of the writing of this post "Lana, The Helium" (the #2 overall seed) beat out "DANGER ZONE" (the #1 overall seed) by a vote of 7-5

Seeing as I am not in my apartment I can not post the bracket at this time, but that will come soon (cross your fingers) in part two.

Once I finish law school within a few weeks I hope to only post but do more wacky brackets and maybe do another version of my top TV characters dot dot dot

The 2011 DUI All-Stars

The following, as if he read my mine, comes courtesy of a friend named "Happy."

These players might not hit over .240, but they shouldn't have a problem hitting .240 on a breathalyzer. Ladies & Gentlemen, your 2011 DUI ALL-STARS (a * indicates that the player received a DUI in 2011):
  1. Coco Crisp* (OF, projected BAC of .210): Stellar defense led prosecution to drop all charges.
  2. Edgar Sangeria (SS, .200): post-game celebrations with Dusty Baker could lead to trouble
  3. Miguel Cabrera* (1B, .240): perennial contender for the Triple Crown Royal
  4. Shin-Soo Choo* (OF, .200): what else is there to do in the post-LeBron wasteland?
  5. Austin Kearns* (OF, .215)
  6. Ryan Doumit (C): recently apprehended for operating a flying saucer while using a cellular phone.
  7. Adam Kennedy* (2b, .110): Regrettably, he realized that plowing through pitchers of MGD wasn't the same as plowing through major league pitchers.
  8. Brandon Inge (3B, .250): Take the 'randon' out of "Brandon Inge drinking"
  9. Derek Lowe* (SP, .195
Bench: Elijah Dukes (OF, projected BAC of .230): went from batting fifth to pleading the fifth; high slugging percentage didn't transfer from the bedroom to the field. Was also caught stealing second base from Dick's sporting goods.

The team, of course, is managed by Tony "don't you know who I am" LaRussa.