Tuesday, February 15, 2005

"Juiced" and a pathetic admission.

Okay here it is. The first book I ever have ever bought on the day it came out is "Juiced" by Jose Canseco. People are saying that you shouldn't buy this book because it feeds the steriod witch hunt and puts money in the pocket of a guy who's only out for a buck. Whatever. Let's put it out up front: I do not care who he claims did steroids. It's his word against theirs and I won't put a bit of faith in what he says. I bought this book because it should be one of the most delightfully retarded reads ever. My AIM away messages are filled with gems from this wonderful gentleman, who as far as I'm concerned is one of the most quoteable players ever. I plan on giving a full and complete review once I finish (which should be the end of the week, given the reading level of this thing) but here's a teaser for the two of you who can't wait:

Jose on Mark McGwire's "All-American Athlete" status in the late 80's:

"It's great to have that kind of backing from America. You are set. You can never do anything wrong. You could rob a bank while raping a cheerleader and nothing would happen to you."

All that from a book that reads like a cross between a Seventeen magazine and self-help book. This just might end up being the best book I have ever read.

In other news you know it's the offical start of spring training when the first Ken Griffey Jr. comeback/big season article rears it's head. Gentleman. Start your boners.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Oh dear god. I wrote way too much on the Brewers.

Milwakee Brewers 67-94, 6th place in the NL Central.

I am currently wearing a two sizes two small t-shirt commemorating Paul Molitor's 3000 hit, (which is done up in old school A.L. Brewers' colors and has entirely too much lettering), as an undershirt because I desperately need to do laundry. That combined with the boredom of talking A.L. East all the time has lead me to do a write-up on the Brewers. Oh boy Brewers fans, get ready for a season of some sort!



2004 Roster
PosNamePAVORP
CChad Moeller349-10.7
1BLyle Overbay66853.5
2BJunior Spivey26315.1
3BWes Helms3063.4
SSCraig Counsell5518.7
RFGeoff Jenkins68126.1
CFScott Podsednik71319.3
LFBrady Clark42022.0
ULTBill Hall4152.5
----------
4366139.9


Wow. How about that huh? Apparently the only thing Chad Moeller did all season was hit for the cycle. Oh no wait, he did have 62 other hits besides those. Oof. Beyond Lyle Overbay, there was not much too be excited about last year for the Brewers. To be fair, Spivey did go down with a a season ending shoulder injury and having Craig Cousell's retarded batting stance play such a big role can't help your chances, but still. It's pretty clear why they finished behind everyone's favorite whipping boys, the Pirates. Bill Hall played significant time and showed that he's not really full-time material yet. Scott Podsednik had a very disappointing year, although his 70 stolen bases were impressive in that Trival Pursuit kind of way. Geoff Jenkins had a solid season, and in the surprise of the Brewers' year (non-Ben Sheets division), stayed healthy enough to play the most games in his career.



2005 Roster
PosNamePAVORP
CDamian Miller2985.2
1BLyle Overbay52918.9
2BJunior Spivey37720.0
3BRuss Branyan23317.2
SSJ.J. Hardy35219.3
RFGeoff Jenkins52716.2
CFBrady Clark3071.5
LFCarlos Lee58425.7
ULTBill Hall3486.5
----------
TOTAL3555130.5


Thankfully Chad Moeller isn't the starter anymore, now that they have the Damian Miller. Would it be too much to ask that they sign Pat Borders as back-up too? I want my catching tandem pushing 75 combined. Last year when he was with Oakland, Miller split time with Adam Melhuse so expect Moeller to still be involved. Overall the Brewers lineup has some changes that should improve them at least slightly. Podsednik is gone, replaced by Brady Clark in center. Brady had an alright year, but he's 31 and only has 2 seasons with any sort of extended playing time under his belt. He's expected to compete with Dave Krynzel for the starting job this spring. Carlos Lee comes over from Chicago in the Podsednik trade coming off back to back great seasons. He's only 28 and seems to be entering his prime. A surprisingly good pickup for the Brewers. Overbay broke out last year, once again showing that the Diamondbacks are clueless. As long as Spivey is healthy, the Brewers right side of the infield looks to be pretty decent.

The left side however, is a question mark. Russell Branyan is penciled in to be the starting third baseman. While I have a soft spot for Rusty since me and my friend Jojo saw his 1999 September call up game on TV, I don't particularly think he's a good major league player. Looking at his expected plate appearances, someone going to have to pick up the slack. I would guess that would be Wes Helms, or perhaps Bill Hall. Feeling confident Brewers fans?

The front office is hoping that J.J. Hardy can make the leap from 100 or so games in the minors to be their starting shortstop. By the way, he dislocated his shoulder on a check swing, ending his season last year. I hope the kid can take it, because that's sounds like a pretty tall order. BP seems to think he'll have a decent year, but take that with a grain of salt. Have you seen Dustin Pedroia's projection? If he's not ready, Bill Hall will step in. Hall played a few positions last year due to the injuries, but was underwhelming. All depending on what happens with injury, experience, and horrific strikeouts (Hi Rusty), he'll probably end up getting a good amount of playing time. My prediction: No matter what happens on the field, their mascot goes down a slide when they hit a home run. That's pretty rad.

Pitching for the Brewers last year (and by pitching, I mean Ben Sheets and the emergence of Doug Davis) was a source of pride for their fans:



2004 Rotation
NameGSIPVORP
Doug Davis34207.348.8
Ben Sheets34237.066.8
Victor Santos28154.03.6
Wes Obermueller20118.0-4.5
Chris Capuano1788.31.6
Ben Hendrickson946.3-3.3
---------------
TOTAL142850.9113.0



Sheets exploded last season, breaking way, way, way the fuck out. He put up an ERA of 2.70, a 0.98 WHIP, and he had a strikeout to walk ratio of 8.25:1. He kept his team in every game by only going over 4 earned runs in a game 3 times (he let up 5 in a W, and 5 and 6 in losses.) Plus that 18K game against the Braves was a thing of filthy, filthy beauty. In a fair and just world, he wins the NL Cy Young. Why didn't he? He finished with a 12-14 record, that's why. Thanks a lot Brewers. His fantastic lineup gave him one of the worst run support ratios in the NL at 44/45 (runs against/runs scored). Call him the anti-Derek Lowe. Oh, and did I mention he had this season while pitching with a hernitated disc in his back? Doug Davis was a nice surprise and has emerged last year as a decent starter, and a lefty to boot. Beyond those two let's just say that last year Wes Obermueller was more valuable as a hitter than a pitcher. Oh and did you know Brooks Kieschnick was a pinch hitter, and a good one at that!? Yeah exactly. When you're talking about how good your pitchers hit...


2005 Rotation
NameGSIPVORP
Ben Sheets30215.054.7
Doug Davis26152.018.6
Victor Santos20120.06.3
Chris Capuano19121.014.7
Ben Hendrickson19109.012.8
Jose Capellan1589.08.9
---------------
TOTAL129806.0116.0



Next year looks like more of the same, but with more promise. Sheets is expected to continue his dominating ways, and his back is fixed. Depending on how much it actually affected him last year, we could see an amazing season from him. Doug Davis provides a good number 2 option, and then 4-5 pitchers battle it out for the last spots. Capuano's numbers were interesting last year and he showed some flashes of talent. The Brewers really seem to like Hendrickson and he'll get a chance to make the rotation. Obermueller is slated to start the season in the bullpen, but would probably return the rotation if necessary. Even if the bottom 3 or 4 of the rotation improve over their numbers last year, this staff should be better overall. Basically the Brewers are going to give their young talent every opportunity to shine next year, and enjoy Sheets' every start. I still don't expect them to do compete or anything crazy like that next year, but at least the race for 5th place should be interesting.

Here's the question though: are the Brewers going to be able to afford Sheets after this year? They signed him to a one year deal to avoid arbitration and want to get him on a multi-year deal sometime this spring. He's not going to be cheap, but he's also a great draw for a team that's just been sold. If the Brewers can't lock him down, I could see him being traded to someone who can around the deadline. Then again, maybe the Brewers will surprise me.


Mags is a done deal.

Holy crap. I have to admit that Scott Boras, as much as he has fucked up baseball, is pretty amazing. Granted they can void the deal if his knee acts up again, but still. Even if he was in perfect health they still payed way too much about 2 years too late. If you click on the link to the USS Mariner on the right, you'll see they do a much better run down of the deal then I could do. The summary: they basically they gave Vlad money to Kevin Mench at worst, Trot Nixon at best. Poor, poor Tigers. Ty Cobb must be spinning in his grave over the sad state of the Tigers. Oh and the fact that they gave a dirty minority that much money.

EDIT: That link is an old one. www.ussmariner.com

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Cubbies

Yes, I agree fully that Burnitz is a product of Coors field. I guess considering the alternatives in the free market, they could have done a lot worse. Then again, not trading Sosa would have been a lot better from a baseball stand point. I also don't understand how missing one game, which he was fined and disciplined for, is worthy of immediate expulsion, but anyway. This Burnitz thing is worthy of an update to the Cubs forecast. BP did an article yesterday on the Sosa trade, and also laying out the Mets lineup later in the article (been there, done that).

So here's the revised table for the Cubbies.

2004 Roster
PosNamePAVORP
CMichael Barrett50631.0
1BDerrek Lee68843.3
2BTodd Walker42425.0
3BAramis Ramirez60659.6
SSRamon Martinez2981.5
RFSammy Sosa53927.9
CFCorey Patterson68727.9
LFMoises Alou67551.5
2B/OFN/A00.0
----------
4423267.7

2005 Roster
PosNamePAVORP
CMichael Barrett35011.6
1BDerrek Lee57037.4
2BTodd Walker37817.7
3BAramis Ramirez56725.9
SSNomar Garciaparra50438.8
RFJeromy Burnitz44315.9
CFCorey Patterson55526.2
LFJason Dubois23513.2
2B/OFJerry Hairston32712.8
----------
TOTAL3929199.5

Burnitz makes some difference, but not a lot. There's still a 500 PA discrepency that is accounting for some of the loss in VORP, but to be fair, with bench players the likes of Hollandsworth, Henry Blanco, and Neifi Perez, we can only credit them with another 15 or so VORP at best. We'll call that a net loss of 50 runs.

Now let's take a look at the fantastic rotation.
2004 Rotation
NameGSIPVORP
Mark Prior21118.724.0
Kerry Wood22140.327.9
Carlos Zambrano31209.761.3
Greg Maddux33212.733.2
Glendon Rusch16129.727.8
Matt Clement30181.036.9
---------------
TOTAL153992.1211.1

2005 Rotation
NameGSIPVORP
Mark Prior25158.039.9
Kerry Wood24157.033.6
Carlos Zambrano28185.039.8
Greg Maddux29178.028.6
Glendon Rusch19120.017.8
Sergio Mitre20113.015.2
---------------
TOTAL145911.0174.9

PECOTA hedges quite a bit on pitchers, with good reason as the variability is a lot higher. Especially with this combination of young pitchers with heavy workloads and/or injury history (Wood, Prior, Zambrano), and control/rely on the defense kind of guys (Maddux, Rucsh). Given Dusty Baker's general tendency to work pitchers hard, I wouldn't be comfortable assuming a heavier workload for any of them except Maddux, but then again no one would be shocked if any of the 3 young guys busted out a 220 IP stellar season. This is reflected in the high breakout rates (30% for Prior and Zambrano, 16% for Wood). That said, I'm prepared to boost the VORP by another 15 or so due to the low innings forecast and the fact that Angel Guzman has a decent projection even if none of these guys out lasts his. Still, losing Clement does hurt, and Zambrano is as likely to come back to being very good as he is to remain amazing. Net loss of 20 runs.

The Cubs were actually a better team than their won loss record would indicate last year, underperforming their 3rd order win percentage by 5 games. My analysis (which ignores the bullpen and some of the bench) has them losing 7 wins off the 3rd order record, which puts them almost right back where they were last year. The numbers say 87-75 and probably missing the playoffs. My gut feeling says that one of the pitchers will have a big year and push them into the hunt for the division and the WC.

Way off.

Well apparently the Cubs answer to their outfield woes is the soon to be 36 year old man about town Jeremy Burnitz. I love when players extend their careers by going to Coors for a season and make everyone think that they are back. "Why yes Mr. Castilla, we can cash that for you."

Last year Burnitz' overall numbers were pretty impressive: .356/.559/.915 with 37 home runs and 110 RBI. You'd think getting a guy like that for $4.5 mil would be a steal. Except for the fact that he wasn't really that great away from Denver:

Home: .386/.670/1.057, 24 HR, 68 RBI
Away: .327/.448/.775, 13 HR, 42 RBI

By the way, Todd Zeile would kill for those away numbers. I'm not saying the Cubs shouldn't pick up Burnitz. As Colin showed further down, they don't have a ton of options. However, adding Burnitz pretty much solidifies that the Cubs will have one of the weaker outfields in the league. Intense fantasy baseball nutjob Eric Karabell from ESPN had a good point; If Burnitz comes in and matches his career averages, he'll put up the same numbers as Sosa did this year. I don't know how to feel about that. Chin up Chicago; you can probably still compete for the wild card with that sick rotation.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Kick back, relax, take a pull off of Shotzie.

Alright, why not. I figured I'd try to tackle one of these team breakdown things that Colin has been doing. If can somehow manage to get it to work, maybe we can end up covering every team. Wouldn't that be a treat to the 3 people out there who read this thing? (4 if Justin got my email.) This is my first attempt at this stuff, so if the numbers are off, I apologize.

The Cincinnati Reds were an interesting team last year. Going into the season they seemed poised to compete in the NL Central. They ended up getting a career year out of Sean Casey, Adam Dunn showed his potential, and Ken Jr. managed to stay healthy for 83 games (the most since 2001) before tearing his griffeystrings again. Yet, they still finished in 4th place behind three tough teams in St. Louis, Houston, and Chicago. They did get hit by injuries pretty hard last year, but another factor to this disappointing finish can probably be attributed to the fact that I had to look who they had pitching for them not named Danny Graves.


2004 Roster
PosNamePAVORP
CJason LaRue44521.1
1BSean Casey63366.2
2BD'Angelo Jimenez65235.3
3BJuan Castro3160.8
SSBarry Larkin38626.5
RFAustin Kearns2466.2
CFKen Griffey Jr.34826.4
LFAdam Dunn68164.8
OFWily Mo Pena36423.5
----------
4435294.3



2005 Roster
PosNamePAVORP
CJason LaRue32111.9
1BSean Casey55623.5
2BD'Angelo Jimenez55023.6
3BJoe Randa4144.0
SSFelipe Lopez31513.0
RFAustin Kearns37829.8
CFKen Griffey Jr.31021.6
LFAdam Dunn55042.4
OFWily Mo Pena37029.3
----------
TOTAL4134228.4


Unless you're still playing "Ken Griffey Jr.'s Slugfest", I included Wily Mo Pena for obvious reasons. Given recent history, he's more than likely going to get a good amount of playing time. Regardless, the Reds still project to have an enviable outfield next year. Although I'm curious to see if Adam Dunn's name gets bandied about in mid-season trade talks if the Reds falter again this year (*cough* redsox *cough*). I can't believe I just used the word bandied.


Thirdbase was obviously a hole last season. There was talk of moving Kearns to third, but it looks like that was scratched because of his injuries. You could do worse with Joe Randa, but then again you could also do a whole lot better. I got to give Joe props though for having such stick-to-it-ness. A group of us once went to Fenway with homemade "R-A-N-D-A" shirts on. They also said "F-R-A-N-K" for Frank Castillo on the back too, so now you know what you're dealing with.


One of the more interesting stories of this season will be who takes over for Larkin, and how well they do. I threw Lopez in there because he seems to be the frontrunner, but regardless shortstop will more than likely be filled by a very green player. How they handle taking over for a superstar should play a part in how the Reds do. Sean Casey's projections are down for obvious reasons, but I tend to think that last year was more breakout year than career year. I'd expect him to end the season with a much higher value.


2004 Rotation
NameGSIPVORP
Paul Wilson29183.724.6
Aaron Harang28161.013.1
Jose Acevedo27157.7-7.1
Cory Lidle24149.00.4
Brandon Claussen1466.0-7.7
Todd Van Poppel11115.3-6.5
---------------
TOTAL133832.716.8

2005 Rotation
NameGSIPVORP
Paul Wilson24139.05.4
Eric Milton27164.010.9
Jose Acevedo16104.05.0
Brandon Claussen17101.04.7
Josh Hancock1486.03.9
Luke Hudson1594.011.0
---------------
TOTAL113688.040.9


How bad was Jose Acevedo last year? Remember in 2003 when Danny Graves started and the words "unmitigated disaster" were thrown around? Yeah, that's a good comparison. This offseason they let mediocrity's sweetheart Cory Lidle go, resigned number 1 starter by default Paul Wilson, and added Eric Milton to the mix. So yeah, the rotation really isn't that much better. If Claussen gets it going this year, they will probably have two or three young pitchers vying for the 5th spot. Regardless, the rotation should be at least marginally better than last year just due to their young pitcher's progression. Having Todd Van Poppel sit at home wondering why he sucks so bad should help too.


Just like last year, the Reds successes will probably be in the hands of their starters. If they can get some of their promising young guys to click, they could make some noise in the Central, especially with the drop off of competition after the Cardinals. Sounds a bit like 2004 doesn't it?

Monday, January 31, 2005

Cubs and Orioles lineups

In support of Nick's post, here are the numbers:

2004 Roster
PosNamePAVORP
CMichael Barrett50631.0
1BDerrek Lee68843.3
2BTodd Walker42425.0
3BAramis Ramirez60659.6
SSRamon Martinez2981.5
RFSammy Sosa53927.9
CFCorey Patterson68727.9
LFMoises Alou67551.5
DHN/A00.0
----------
4423267.7

2005 Roster
PosNamePAVORP
CMichael Barrett35011.6
1BDerrek Lee57037.4
2BTodd Walker37817.7
3BAramis Ramirez56725.9
SSNomar Garciaparra50438.8
RFJerry Hairston32712.8
CFCorey Patterson55526.2
LFTodd Hollandsworth1979.3
LF2Jason Dubois23513.2
----------
TOTAL3683192.9

There's a considerable playing time difference, which I've partially offset by including a shared job at LF. Still, there are a lot of fragile players in there, and someone's going to have to pick up a lot of PA's. Looking at the roster, there's not a lot of hope there, which isn't too shocking when your starting corner outfielders are Hollandsworth and Hairston. Sorting by projected VORP, the next 3 guys are prospects that I've never heard of, Richard Lewis, Kevin Collins, and Brandon Sing, and the guy after that is Ben Grieve. Ouch. I think we'll all agree that committing 5 years to Magglio would be a ridiculous risk, but they need some help. If I were Jim Hendry I'd seriously consider putting together a ridiculously lucrative one year offer to Magglio and see if he wants to go the Nomar route and prove he's alright before testing the market again.

So how do the Orioles fare?
2004 Roster
PosNamePAVORP
CJavy Lopez63856.3
1BRafael Palmeiro65126.4
2BBrian Roberts73622.2
3BMelvin Mora63673.6
SSMiguel Tejada72573.0
RFJay Gibbons380-1.7
CFLuis Matos359-8.1
LFLarry Bigbie53114.8
DHDavid Newhan41224.5
----------
5068281.0

2005 Roster
PosNamePAVORP
CJavy Lopez49631.9
1BRafael Palmeiro50321.7
2BBrian Roberts58919.4
3BMelvin Mora52239.2
SSMiguel Tejada64750.6
RFSammy Sosa44025.3
CFLuis Matos42713.2
LFLarry Bigbie47212.8
DHDavid Newhan46014.4
----------
TOTAL4556228.5

The trade helps, but does it help enough? PECOTA doesn't seem to think so. For a pretty stable roster, there's a lot of decline going on. I suppose that's to be expected when last year's crop of free agent signings all had great year's and are past the traditional peak and/or require medication to get erections. On the bright side, Luis Matos was horrendous last year, so they can hope for some improvement with him.

Slamming Sammy and the Rediculous Deals.

Obviously one of the bigger baseball stories right now is the impending trade of Sammy Sosa to the Orioles. The Cubs would get back Jerry Hairston, Jr. and a couple of borderline minor leaguers. Sosa abandons his team and disrespects not only the Cubs, but an entire city. Now they have to turn around and unload his big name and declining skills for pennies on the dollar. If I had to guess, I would say Hairston takes over as the Cubs right fielder, considering that Todd Walker's Iron Skillet Mitt is firmly entrenched at second (lord knows you don't want him playing any other positions). Hairston had a decent season last year, despite being injured and the emergence of Brian Roberts. The injuries are a bit of a question mark (he's only played over 150 games once in 6 seasons ) but he's still relatively young. If he puts it together in his “prime” years, he could be an alright leadoff/number 2 hitter. A potential lineup:

CF Corey Patterson
RF Jerry Hairston
SS Nomar
1B Derrek Lee
3B Aramis Rameriez
2B Todd Walker
LF ????
C Michael Barrett
P Whatever black hole takes the mound that day.

Seems a little underwhelming, but I'll let Colin's eventual mathmatical breakdown of the roster prove or disprove the validity of that statement. At inital glace though, I would argue that the loss of Alou will hurt the Cubs more than replacing Sosa with Hairston. As a Cubs fan would you feel comfortable with him hypothetically taking Sammy's place? I would, if only because Sammy shouldn't be getting by on his rep anymore. The guy has been in a steady decline over the past three years (I know you love the VORP, so here's some evidence: 2001 - 125.4, 2002 - 69.5, 2003 - 42.1). I would even go so far as to say that Kevin Millar was more valuable than Sosa last year, albeit while playing 25 more games. Wicked awesome home run hops aside, would you want .383/.474/.857 at $3.3m or .332/.517/.849 at $16.9m? (Look numbers!) That's not even taking into account that Millar was shit until just about the all-star break. All things being equal, he opens his stance up earlier and I think the case of Millar over Sosa last year becomes even more cut and dry.

To me, the Orioles make this move because it’s a big name move and they really haven’t done much else this offseason. They lose out on Delgado so they go get what Delgado will be in 2 years. They go into the season with what could be a potent lineup, but their pitching still seems suspect. Even with the $10m the Cubs are rumored to throw in, in my opinion this trade is going to end up being garbage for both sides. For all the people bitching initially that the Sox traded Nomar for less value on the dollar; take a look at how much worse it could have been.

Also in other news, the Tigers reportedly have thrown out a figure of 5-years, $50m for Magglio Ordonez. The same Magglio Ordonez who had to have controversial treatment on his injured knee in a foreign country. The only person pumped about this deal is Bill Bavasi, since inking this deal makes Richie Sexson look like a sound investment.

sad

I was just admiring our blog and I noticed that we have a link to Doug Pappas' business of baseball page. I'm not sure if everyone is aware or not, but Doug passed away in 2004. I just clicked on the link to his page and apparently no one thought to take it over, update it, or even put some kind of indication that it is done. It's kind of sad. RIP DP.

Friday, January 28, 2005

The Mets offense and (more importantly) a new tool for blogging

This morning I was thinking about how I can divert myself from work for a bit, and I remembered that last year I built a template to do a hot stove analysis of each team. I ended up doing a grand total of two teams. Well, I got to thinking of edits I could make to the thing to make it a little more interesting, and then in typical fashion I kept working on it til I had something. Not so good for my productivity at work, but it should lead to some interesting articles. So here is the first one. You're probably wondering why I would do this for the Mets. No real reason except that I commented on the Mets offseason earlier so they were on the brain a bit. Also, I'm getting sick of the same old analysis of the AL East every year. Let's get on with it.

I now present to you, the Mets offense:

2004 Roster
PosNamePAVORP
CJason Phillips412-5.3
1BMike Piazza52829.9
2BJose Reyes2295.2
3BTodd Zeile3960.4
SSKazuo Matsui50923.7
RFRichard Hidalgo3597.4
CFMike Cameron56227.0
LFCliff Floyd45720.0
DHN/A00.0
----------
3452108.3


2005 Roster
PosNamePAVORP
CMike Piazza38924.2
1BDoug Mientkiewicz39312.7
2BJose Reyes44312.7
3BDavid Wright47232.4
SSKazuo Matsui53525.9
RFMike Cameron43724.4
CFCarlos Beltran60751.6
LFCliff Floyd43123.1
DHN/A00.0
----------
TOTAL3707207.0


I think at this point we're comfortable enough with VORP that I don't have to explain it too much, but basically it's a measure of runs over replacement level, the key point being that you can compare 2 years and get an idea of how many runs scored we can expect this year versus last year. The 2004 VORP's are actual and the 2005 VORP's are from the PECOTA weighted average forecast. After adjusting for the disparity in plate appearances (which isn't necessarily required, since a better offense will come to the plate more, but anyway), it looks like the Mets have increased their offesive potential by 84 runs, which is a lot. Getting Mike Piazza back behind the plate will allow them to play everyone's favorite baseball hoarder, Doug Mintyfreshkevitzski, at 1st base and stick sinkhole Jason Phillips on the bench. Speaking of sinkholes, 86 year old Todd Zeile got the most plate appearances at 3B on the team last year, and hit like a AAA player. Putting David Wright in full time will be a big boost, as he had a great year in limited playing time in 2004, posting a VORP of 21 in under 300 PA's. Lastly, the biggest single impact will be felt in the outfield, where Carlos Beltran takes over in CF, pushing Mike Cameron to RF (probably), and Richard Hidalgo back to the state of Texas. Carlos is good for half of the boost in scoring all by himself. It's a shame he got sent to a pitcher's park, cause I'd sure like to see the raw numbers he could put up otherwise. It also sucks for him that he's now in a league with Bonds and Pujols.

Before any hypothetical Mets fans get all excited, their pitching staff looks like it's headed for a nice decline. I didn't format the chart for that yet, but PECOTA predicts big declines for Glavine and Trachsel and basically treading water for Benson and Zambrano. Pedro's got a nice forecast, but unfortuantely he's replacing a great year by Al Leiter. On the whole the rotation will give back 40 or so of those runs.

Assuming the bullpen and bench are a wash, that's a net gain of around 40 runs. Their "3rd order" record (which is based on all their peripherals and is generally a better predictor than the real record) was 77-85. Based on my rough analysis, I'm sorry to report that all their big signings and money spent amount to about a .500 season for 2005. So much for all the stories about them stepping up to be an elite team.

I should probably actually do some work today. Hopefully I'll use this template to analyze some more teams before the season starts, but no promises. If the other bloggers want a copy, let me know.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Admitting my non-hatred of all things Yankee.

I was going to start a bit of a "thing" where I would try to convince all of the other bloggers on here to pick a baseball signing and break it down in regards to contract, performance, impact, fuckability, etc., but I'm apparently still too in football mode.

There has definitely been some notice taken with the dismantling of the Colts and Steelers in regards to the individual players on the defense. Especially Teddy Bruschi, who deserves the underrated mantle, much, much more than Tom Brady. I guess me perpetuating the underrated stereotype is from the regular season media coverage. Back when they were racking up wins and every week the mediots would tell me that they are lucky and have good schemes and mediorce talent, etc. Why do I even listen to what their retards say? It's beyond me.

In reference to Law's ego: he has a huge one and that's why he's gone. He probably would have been gone before the year started if he didn't eventually calm down and shut his mouth. This is a perfect example of the way the Pats do business. Law has become bigger than the team, even going so far as to call Belichick a liar, and he will be jettisoned this offseason. Without a doubt, now that he hasn't shown up for any of the playoff games. The Yankees on the other hand are stuck with a shell of an MVP who admitted to using steroids. This, however relates to guaranteed contracts, which is a whole other, completely irrelevant conversation. I can see the similarities between the '96-'00 Yanks and the '01-current Pats. There I said it. I'm no less of a Boston sports fan for it either. I can't speak for anyone else though, as I once mentioned the Jeter/Brady analogy to a friend and he just about killed me. By the way, I would also like to state that I understand and agree with Colin's point that the backlash is the same in both team's cases, which goes double for my "they're the esessence of a team how could you hate them" argument. It's just nice to be in that role for once.

As a side note: I can't believe Jimmy Key actually started 2 games in the 1996 Series for the Yankees. I can't even picture that guy without a huge set of glasses, pitching for his weight in Toonies.

NFL comments

As an avid reader of Football Outsiders and discusser of football for a solid 2 and a half weeks, I am now clearly qualified to write in depth commentary on the Patriots, the Super Bowl, and the sports media vis a vis the NFL. Prepare to be awed by my intense knowledge.

In response to Nick's blog of this morning, I have a few comments, some of which support his observations and some of which are a little different. I kid about my total lack of knowledge of the sport prior to a few weeks ago, but it is true that I don't watch a lot of football during the regular season. I do, however, attempt to keep up with the Patriots and have some idea of who the best teams in general are. With that, here are some opinions.

Nick hit the nail on the head when he talks about how the Patriots' opponents have a tendendcy to understate their dominance. The past 2 games have been very telling in that regard. Going into the Colts matchup, the general media line was that no one could stop the Colts or Peyton Manning, coming off what may possibly be the best offensive season ever. The Pats never trailed in the game and held said offense to 3 points. All of a sudden the line changes and the Colts were a severely flawed team that was too reliant on the long passing game and had a shitty defense. The snowy weather gets credit and Peyton Manning is a choker. There's one guy (I think an Eagles fan) on the Outsiders site who wont shut up about how the Pats defense didn't really dominate the Colts, the offense did with a long drive that ate up most of the 3rd quarter. All the excuses and revisionist justifications fall short of recognizing the truly great game plan and execution that the Pats showed. It was a balanced team effort to hold the Colts to 3 points and it will be that way whenever they are on. Basically the Pittsburgh game is the same story. Before the game, the naysayers went on and on about how great the Steelers' running game and defense was, and that the Pats had never faced such an all around good and balanced team. After the Pats serious dominance in that game (on the road no less), people went on and on about how Pittsburgh has a flawed and one dimensional offense, Bill Cowher sucks, Rothlisberger was an overrated rookie, and the Pats got lucky with turnovers and good field position. The same Outsiders guy claims that the Pats defense won the game and the offense didn't do a lot. Hogwash. The Steelers were 16-1 and had schooled both Super Bowl teams earlier in the year. They are a great team, the Pats are just better. They make other teams make mistakes and they are amazing at capitalizing on them, which looks like luck if you're desparate for an excuse.

The parts I disagree with Nick on sort of fall into the "intangibles" camp. As a Yankees fan, I can 100% relate to the mass non-NE fan backlash against the Patriots. Before you jump on that, let me explain a few things and remind you that although the Yankees team of the past few seasons has had an infusion of less than likeable personalities and steroids scandals, they were a very respectful and likeable group (circa 1998 for example). As Aaron Schatz has cleverly pointed out, Tom Brady is the Derek Jeter of the NFL. It's really only your own biases that makes one admirable and one hated. The Patriots defense is famous for their "no respect" image, despite vast amounts of media coverage and accolades for guys like Bruschi, Law (no ego?), Seymour, and Harrison. Speaking of Rodney Harrison, from what I've heard he's pretty much uniformly disliked around the league, trash talks constantly, and has been accused of cheap hits repeatedly. In summary, the Patriots are a normal professional sports team in terms of personality and ego. They are coached well enough and they win enough that it might look otherwise, but I think a lot of people misread the causality relationship on that one. They are the 1998 Yankees. People hate them and their fans simply because they win a lot, and they make up other reasons to justify it.

As for the Super Bowl, last night's Outsiders article is pretty entertaining. Here are some of my favorite quotes:

Twelve days until kickoff, and otherwise sane educators have turned into Vizzini from The Princess Bride. But the television pundits are no better. “The Patriots know how to prepare.” “The Eagles are hungrier.” “The Patriots are trying to become a dynasty.” “The Eagles are just happy to be here.” “The Patriots are satisfied after two championships.” Lazy conjecture, meaningless hypotheses, amateur psychoanalysis masquerading as football knowledge, all foisted on the public by Skip Bayless and Sean Salisbury, Dan Marino and Tony Kornheiser, Larry King and Star Jones. Everyone’s talking football; no one’s saying anything.

“It will take a minor miracle to beat the Patriots,” Berliner intones. Two Super Bowls and one World Series was all it took to turn Boston commentators into strutting New Yorkers.



My take on the Super Bowl is that the Eagles are a great team. They have no obvious weakness (you'll hear conflicting stories about both their rush defense and rush offense, but the trends and stats bear out that they are pretty solid in both areas), a great QB, solid players on both sides of the ball, and a great coaching staff. Despite all of that, my gut tells me to take the Pats to cover the 7 point spread. Why? Basically because of the reasons I posted above. The Pats have a recent history that shows that they just out prepare and out execute virtually everyone they face, especially in big games. The Eagles will be tough, but so were the Colts and the Steelers. The Eagles haven't been tested and they have a history of choking in big games. The concept of "clutch" may not exist over the course of a 700 plate appearance baseball season, but a one game contest that's watched by millions and scrutinized mercilessly is another story. I wouldn't be shocked if it was a close game, and the Eagles do have a chance to win, but my gut tells me the Pats will win comfortably, again.

Title: Eye dun dough no shit.

I've been thinking about the Patriots quite a lot lately, given that they are poised to join some of the greatest teams in history in about 11 days (although you could argue that they are already there.) The Patriots have basically been dominating the league for about 3.5 years know, but yet no one really seems to have realized just how dominating they've been outside of New England. These last two playoff games seemed to have changed public opinon a bit, but there is still that theory that the Pats have been lucky or worse, cheated to get where they are today. The facts are there: 2 out of the past 3 Super Bowls, the longest consecutive winning streak including the playoffs in NFL history, and arguably changing the way a team can be run. The cheating thing is rediculous. Are you upset that they pushed the rules as far as they could go, or are you really just pissed that your team didnt'? This is a team that people who are disgusted with athletes should love. No big egos, everyone has their place, no infighting and bitching, just results. Then again those results usually mean that your favorite team just got owned and you're grasping at everything to rationalize how your team got dismantled by a bunch of "nobodies". I will definitely agree that they have been come so underrated that they are now overratedly underrated, but that's what happens when you're winning the way they do. They don't win flashy, they very rarely blow a team out and if you were to just look at final scores you would think that they barely won. That's what makes this team so successful: they take your gameplan and use it against you. Reggie Wayne of the Colts said after the first round that the only reason they lost was not that the Pats were better, but that they didn't play their game. There's a perfect summation. No one plays "their game" against the Pats defense. It's not allowed, they don't let you. The key to their success on the other side of the ball is that they don't have a game. Everything changes week to week and it always changes to what they think you're not planning for. Example: first game of the season, first start since the Curtis Martin era that the Pats have a stud running back. First drive is nothing but passes. This is the same thing that will happen in Jacksonville. I'm going this way for two very important reasons: 1. The Patriots have done nothing since 2000 to make me think that they won't win any big game they participate in. 2. I really, really hate the city of Philadelphia and want nothing but failure for their sports teams.

After finishing this I realized this is the biggest "tell me something I don't know" post of all time. Did you know I have a huge crush on Corey Dillon? Well okay then.