Thursday, October 30, 2008

2008 NL Central in Review

Chicago Cubs
W-L: 97-64 (1st in NL Central)
pW-pL: 98-63
Payroll: $118,345,833 (3rd in NL)
R/G: 5.31 (1st in NL)
ERA: 3.87 (T-2nd in NL)
DER: .703 (1st in NL)
Team MVPs: Ryan Dempster, Aramis Ramirez, Geovany Soto
A Drag on the Payroll: Kosuke Fukudome (257/359/379, $6 MM), Jason Marquis (4.53 ERA in 167 IP, $6.4 MM), Bobby Howry (5.35 ERA in 70.2 IP, $4 MM)
What Went Right:

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

2008 NL East In Review

Atlanta Braves
W-L: 72-90 (4th in NL East)
pW-pL: 79-83
Payroll: $102,365,683 (4th in NL)
R/G: 4.65 (6th in NL)
ERA: 4.47 (12th in NL)
DER: .692 (T-8th in NL)
Team MVPs: Chipper Jones, Brian McCann, Mark Teixeira, Jair Jurrjens
A Drag on the Payroll: Tom Glavine (5.54 ERA, 63,1 IP, $8 MM), Mike Hampton (4.85 ERA, 78 IP, $15 MM)
Defensive Stars: Mark Teixeira, Kelly Johnson, Yunel Escobar
What Went Right:

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Weaver on Strategy

It's been about a year since I first read Earl Weaver's book on managerial strategy (written with Terry Pluto). I kept meaning to blog about it, because it was so very interesting and pertinent. But I kept forgetting about it. I didn't include it with my general blog on baseball books, and so it just got buried on my desk. But it's worth going back and taking a look at this book, because there's so much in there that's fascinating about baseball, analysis, and Weaver himself.

I made a series of notes, underlined a series of passages, and even made a few big stars next to some parts of the book. So let's go back and see what I thought the big deal was.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

World Series Predictions

Rays .vs. Phillies
The Phillies' offense is centered around a core group of star hitters (Utley, Howard, and Burrell) with a strong 1-2 leadoff tandem in Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino. It's a group that was remarkably productive against two very tough pitching staffs in the NLDS and NLCS. Their weakness is lineup depth; the bottom of the lineup, with the exception of Jayson Werth, if he's not batting second, is very poor. Carlos Ruiz is a good catcher, and Pedro Feliz is a good-glove third baseman, but both are barely above replacement level offensively.
The Rays have a somewhat different problem. They don't have superstar power like the Phillies do (although that's arguable, considering what Longoria and Upton are doing), but they have a much greater depth. The Rays don't often give up on offense from a lineup spot, except for shortstop Jason Bartlett.
Before the postseason, I think I would have given the edge to the Phillies. But now I'm not as certain. The Rays have really done a good job of scoring runs. Even if they don't keep setting home run records, they've got a top-notch offense with star-quality production. And here's what really gives them the edge:

If the Rays start Rocco Baldelli in right, that leaves either Cliff Floyd, Gabe Gross, or Jonny Gomes as DH. The Phillies don't have anyone remotely comparable to counter with. Their best bet would be Matt Stairs, who would do well against righties but would need a platoon partner (one the Phils don't have) against lefties. And postseason heroics aside, Stairs isn't as good as Cliff Floyd. This gives the Rays a much better set of options, especially in the later innings, and I think it's what gives them the edge on offense.

Starting Pitching

Monday, October 20, 2008

Momentum is Bunk

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Maybe then someone will listen to me.
Rays win, I was wrong, and I'll be back with my World Series predictions tomorrow.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Not again . . .

The MLBPA is going to be filing a grievance against baseball for colluding against Barry Bonds this season. I'd expressed doubts about this before, simply because I thought the owners were too intelligent and/or too self-interested to collude against Bonds. I also felt that, unlike previous collusion scandals, the potential gain was far, far too low to offset the risk of legal action.
But never underestimate major league baseball owners.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Quick Look at Attendance

Now I have neither the time nor the resources to do a comprehensive examination of MLB attendance in 2008. But I'll do what I can with the information available to me:

(First number is raw attendance figure; second number is % change -- increase or decrease -- from 2007 season)

American League
1. New York Yankees -- 4,298,655 (0.6% increase)

2. Los Angeles Angels -- 3,336,747 (0.8% decrease)
3. Detroit Tigers -- 3,202,645 (5.1% increase)

4. Boston Red Sox -- 3,048,250 (1.7% increase)
5. Chicago White Sox -- 2,500,648 (6.8% decrease)
6. Toronto Blue Jays -- 2,399,786 (1.7% increase)
7. Seattle Mariners -- 2,329,702 (13.8% decrease)
8. Minnesota Twins -- 2,302,431 (0.3% increase)
9. Cleveland Indians -- 2,169,760 (4.7% decrease)
10. Baltimore Orioles -- 1,950,075 (9.9% decrease)
11. Texas Rangers -- 1,945,677 (17.3% decrease)
12. Tampa Bay Rays -- 1,811,986 (30.6% increase)
13. Oakland Athletics -- 1,665,256 (13.4% decrease)
14. Kansas City Royals -- 1,578,922 (2.3% decrease)


Purely Optional

As the postseason nears its end, let's take a look at options still pending on player contracts. Some of them will play a big part on a team's future in 2009. And just as important, a team's action based on these options will tell us a lot about the team's game plan for the approaching 2008-2009 off-season. (Note: I'm not including players whose options have already been picked up or declined).
(The source for all option and contract info is the invaluable website Cot's Baseball Contracts.)

Garret Anderson (LF/DH), Los Angeles Angels
2009 Age: 37
2009 Option: $14 MM club option; $3 MM buyout
Anderson's reached that unfortunate age where he can't field well enough to play the outfield and can't hit well enough to DH. Somebody a little crazy might put him in the outfield, but I bet he comes back to the Angels, even if they decline his option.

Hank Blalock (3B), Texas Rangers
2009 Age: 28
2009 Option: $6.2 MM club option; $250K buyout

Monday, October 13, 2008

Javier Vazquez: Big Game Pitcher?

It's rare that a manager calls out one of his own pitchers as not being able to "win the big game." But that's what Ozzie Guillen did to Javier Vazquez. From the article:

''What you see is what you get,'' Guillen said of Vazquez. ''Javy is going to be Javy. I just want him to be aggressive, throw the ball over the plate and knock somebody on their [butt]. That's a big three games for us.
''You have to be mean. Go out there and show them we show up to play, show up to kick your guys' [butts]. And believe me, that will take care of itself."

Yes, Ozzie. Kick a little ass, and those fastballs and curveballs will work out just fine. I hope to GOD he doesn't actually believe that. :sigh:

Sunday, October 12, 2008

NLCS Game 3 Running Commentary

  • I mentioned yesterday that even though the Phillies are up 2-0, the Dodgers have a chance to take control at Dodger Stadium. Even though Moyer and Kuroda are very similar pitchers, which should make for an interesting match-up. The Phillies especially are able to take advantage of pitchers who don't get strikeouts.
  • Jeanie Zelasko: "Is this a must win?"
    I will give $100 to the first announcer who answers this by just saying, "No."
  • Both Kennedy and Grace are practically guaranteeing a win for the Dodgers. Why don't they just collectively fellate Joe Torre, Manny Ramirez, and Nomar Garciaparra (who is, unfortunately, starting tonight). Speaking of which:
    Phillies: 1. Rollins, SS 2. Victorino, CF 3. Utley, 2B 4. Howard, 1B 5. Burrell, LF 6. Werth, RF 7. Feliz, 3B 8. Ruiz, C 9. Moyer, P
    It's amazing to me that the Phillies have gotten so much production from Ruiz and their pitchers. Talk about best-case scenario. And here's hoping that they put "third baseman" at the top of their offseason wish list, because Pedro Felix ain't it.
    Even though I favor the Dodgers, I chafe at Kennedy & Grace for their outright dismissal of the Phillies.
  • Dodgers: 1. Furcal, SS 2. Ethier, RF 3. Ramirez, LF 4. Martin, C 5. Garciaparra, 1B 6. Blake, 3B 7. Kemp, CF 8. DeWitt, 2B 9. Kuroda, P
    Yeah, guys, this is the better lineup. I like them 1-4, but they've got some punchless guys at the bottom of the order, Kemp excepted. The Phillies' offensive advantage is their best bet. At least Torre left DeWitt in their for defense, since Kuroda gives up so many balls in play. Moyer is the same, and defense should play a bit part of the game tonight.


I'll be blogging and discussing Game 3 of the NLCS live tonight. I'll be commenting on the game, the announcers, the ambience, etc. and publishing live (or as close to live as Blogger allows).

Belated NLCS Predictions / ALCS Comments

So at the end of every year, I take all of the individual and team baseball statistics and churn them. It's a lot like working with butter and the cramping's the same. Unfortunately, I decided to churn the AL before I churned the NL. So I didn't finish churning the NL until midway through Game 2 of the NLCS last night.
Well, my original prediction probably would have been Dodgers in 7. Or Phillies in 7. I'm still not sure which way I would have gone. Besides, making a prediction now would be a lame exercise, since the Phillies took the first two in grand style. Game 2, especially, was pretty captivating. It's high time we saw another LCS go 7 games.
So in lieu of my NLCS predictions, here are a few comments and observations:

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

A Fourth Year?

Just a quick note -- I'd like to celebrate a happy 3rd anniversary for this blog. It doesn't seem that long ago, but it's been quite something. If you want to get nostalgic, click the archives on the left side of the page, or just go straight to my first entry, a look at the division series three postseasons ago.

ALCS Preview

ALCS: Red Sox .vs. Rays


During the season, the Sox ranked 2nd in the AL with a .279 Equivalent Average (EqA). But the Rays were right behind them in 3rd place at .274.
Both teams have strong offensive attacks, but they'll also be working without some key producers. The Red Sox are dealing with a gimpy J.D. Drew and will be without Mike Lowell. Drew's replacement is either Coco Crisp or Mark Kotsay, which is a step down, but not too bad. The worst thing is that with Lowell gone, the Sox have been playing Kevin Youkilis at third and Kotsay at first. I know they don't have a wealth of options, but "Mark Kotsay, first baseman" doesn't give me a lot of confidence.
The Rays, too, will be running at less than 100%. Carl Crawford has just come back from injury, and although he appears to be in good shape, it's hard to tell so soon. The same could be said of B.J. Upton, although Upton acquitted himself pretty darn well in the division series.
Overall, I still have to give the edge to the Sox, since their best hitters (Youkilis, Pedroia, Bay, Ortiz) are better than the Rays' best (Pena, Longoria, Upton, Navarro). They also have greater depth and a better bench; few teams could handle a hobbled J.D. Drew and a hobbled Mike Lowell so well.

Starting Pitching

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Ode to a Grecian Computer (or a Dell, whichever)

My computer may be dead.
Well, the computer itself is OK; but Windows is screwed and the computer guy says he should be able to save most of the documents, etc. But Windows itself is probably toast along with the programs and applications.
Luckily, (and let's take a BIG breath there) I've backed up most of my documents. I say MOST with some regret, as I haven't backed them up in a month or so. But my biggest concern is the 100 or so files of baseball stat work that I've done, and those are mostly safe.
The biggest problem is the applications; it never really occurred to me to back up applications. With most of my software, I still have the CD to reinstall it, but some of it (including my favorite baseball sims) I downloaded online and didn't ever think to back up.
I guess everyone has a sad computer crash story to tell; it's just my luck (or such) that it hasn't happened to me yet. And there's still some hope that my good ol' Dell can be salvaged.
I say this as an excuse; it's October, which is usually my prime blog-writin' time, and I haven't been able to talk about anything yet. I'm typing this on my Mom's computer (which is funny in a Buzz Bissinger sort of way; I'm not writing in my parents' basement, but I am writing on my parents' computer) so my blog won't be as complete, mainly because I'm a creature of habit when it comes to keyboards.

Dodgers sweep Cubs