Saturday, April 7, 2007

NL West 2007 Predictions

TEAM (concrete) / WINS (fluid)

San Diego Padres - 85
Los Angeles Dodgers - 83
Colorado Rockies - 79
San Fransisco Giants - 77
Arizona Diamondbacks - 72

The NL West is known for pitching, at least in my mind it is, so the team with the best rotation and best bullpen is likeliest to win (note: this may be true in any division). In any event, the Padres have pitching. Their bullpen 1-2-3 punch of Trevor Hoffman (46 saves, 0.97 WHIP, 7.14 K/9), Scott Linebrink (1.22 WHIP, 8.09 K/9), and Cla (pronounced either "Clay" or "Klah"...just kidding, it's the former) Meredith (0.72 WHIP, 6.57 K/9) is the best in the majors, or at least the NL. I'm a little less enthused about their rotation, but it's still good, presuming Jake Peavy (1.23 WHIP, 9.56 K/9, 39.2 VORP) rebounds from his somewhat shaky year last season, and Chris Young (1.13 WHIP, 8.23 K/9, 45.8 VORP) keeps up his performance from last year. Clay Hensley (1.34, 5.87 K/9, 40.8 VORP) is a nice #3, and the addition of Greg Maddux (1.22 WHIP, 3.9 K/9, 8 RAA) is not earth shattering, but is not bad as a fourth starter, either. They'll need plenty of quality pitching performances, because outside of Mike Cameron (22 HR, .355 OBP, 39.8 VORP) and Adrian Gonzalez (24 HR, .362 OBP, 32.8 VORP), they're lacking in power. Josh Bard (9 HR, .406 OBP, 29.7 VORP) could possibly lead the team in home runs, however, given a full season of starts behind the plate. Second baseman Marcus Giles (11 HR, .341 OBP, .254 EqA) isn't that great of an offseason signing, Kevin Towers, but if losing second baseman Josh Barfield (.262 EqA) for third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff (.230 EqA in 16 games) pays off, then it will look fairly smart.

The Dodgers are the favorites to win the division, from what I've seen, but they'll need solid years from Derek Lowe (1.27 WHIP, 5.08 K/9, 49.3 VORP), new signing Jason Schmidt (1.26 WHIP, 7.59 K/9, 49.4 VORP), and Brad Penny (1.38 WHIP, 7.05 K/9, 32.8 VORP) to do that. The gamble on Randy Wolf (career 18 RAA, 6.5 K/9, 1.33 WHIP) will more than likely determine where they finish; a good season from Wolf will be highly valuable. Takashi Saito (24 saves, 0.91 WHIP, 12.29 K/9) filled in quite well for the injured francophone Eric Gagne, and Jonathan Broxton (1.23 WHIP, 11.44 K/9) is a solid set-up man. The line-up is a little shaky, with Nomar Garciaparra (20 HR, .367 OBP, 27.6), Jeff Kent (14 HR, .385 OBP, 32.8 VORP), and Luis Gonzalez (15 HR, .352 OBP, .265 EqA) possibly being able to stay healthy and have a last hurrah. Sophmore Andre Ethier (11 HR, .365 OBP, 19.1 VORP) could have a big 2007, but Juan Pierre (3 HR, .330 OBP, .249 EqA) doesn't do much. Yes, he had 58 stolen bases, but when he's only on base for 1/3 of his 700 AB, I don't think that much makes up for it.

My surprise (surprise, puppy surprise) team of the NL West is the Rockies, whom I predict will make great strides in 2007, nearly finishing with a .500 record. Garrett Atkins (29 HR, .409 OBP, 62.7 VORP), Matt Holliday (34 HR .387 OBP, 56.8 VORP), and Brad Hawpe (22 HR, .383 OBP, 56.8 VORP) can provide pop and get on base, and if Todd Helton (15 HR, .404 OBP, 31.1 VORP) can find his power again, the Rockies might have the best offense in the league. Their starting pitching doesn't have much of a great K/9 rate, with rookie Jason Hirsh (7.73 K/9, 1.05 WHIP in AAA Round Rock) having the best potential for strike-outs. However, Colorado has been about sinkerball pitchers who get a lot of ground outs to reduce the home runs in the thin Denver sky, so guys like Aaron Cook (1.40 WHIP, 40.6 VORP), Jeff Francis (1.29 WHIP, 35.5 VORP), and Josh Fogg (1.55 WHIP, 4.6 VORP) need good defense behind them to do well. As you may have noticed, I have not analyzed defense for any team, so let's pretend I don't care (which wouldn't be hard to do, as I don't care). Brian Fuentes (30 saves, 1.16 WHIP, 10.4 K/9) and LaTroy Hawkins (1.46) are part of an adequate bullpen.

San Fransisco made big waves by luring Barry Zito (1.40 WHIP, 5.9 K/9, 49.9 VORP) over from Oakland to join a staff that includes Matt Cain (1.28 WHIP, 8.45 K/9, 34.9 VORP), Matt Morris (1.35 WHIP, 5.07 K/9), and Russ Ortiz (2.00 WHIP, 6.29 K/9). Cain has the potential to be an ace, and maybe Ortiz puts up some of his decent numbers that he had with San Fransisco, such as that 122 ERA+ and 1.27 WHIP he had in 2001. Let's be honest, though, he won't. The bullpen, with guys like Armando Benitez (17 saves, 1.57 WHIP, 7.28 K/9), Steve Kline (1.53 WHIP) and Brian "Surfin' Safari" Wilson (1.77 WHIP), isn't, you know, all that good. The line-up looks like it could cause some damage, with such hitters as Barry Bonds (.336 EqA, 26 HR, .454 OBP), Ray Durham (26 HR, .360 OBP, 47.9 VORP) and Rich Aurilia (23 HR, .349 OBP, 27.4 VORP), but they're getting up there in age (42, 35 and 35, respectively). Dave Roberts (22.2 VORP) is a decent offseason acquisition, but he has no power (2 HR) and doesn't get on base as much as would be preferable (.360 OBP).

I look at Arizona and don't see a lot. Eric Byrnes (26 HR, .313 OBP, 25.1 VORP) is their biggest bat, although rookie Chris Young (21 HR, .361 OBP in AAA Tucson) could have a breakout year. After that, there's not a lot of power (Chad Tracy - 20 HR, Conor Jackson - 15 HR, Orlando Hudson - 15 HR). The pitching, much praised, fails to impress. Brandon Webb (1.13 WHIP, 6.82 K/9, 68.9 VORP) is very good, but after that, there's a questionable Randy Johnson (1.24 WHIP, -16 RAA), Livian Henandez (1.50 WHIP, 7.04 K/9, 16.1 VORP) and Doug Davis (1.51 WHIP, 7.04 K/9, 18.8 VORP). Granted, they could always turn it around and put up sweet stats, but for now, I'm going to guess they don't. The bullpen has a few options, with Jose Valverde (18 saves, 1.46 WHIP, 12.99 K/9) and Jorge Julio (16 saves, 1.31 WHIP, 11.08 K/9) both able to strike out batters and close down games, but some control would be nice. Arizona is always welcome to have a big year, as I'm sure their fans would like, but I'm not very high on them right now.

And there you have it, folks. All that's left is the wild card predictions. Take a look at my explanations of the stats used and abused, if you care to, and feel free to bust my chops if you disagree.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Art snobs and indie slobs

I spent part of my evening at the Mark Mothersbaugh exhibit at Bambi Gallery in Philadelphia's Fish Town, which was founded by giant salt water carp around the turn of the previous century. As I suspected, the place was filled with indie hipsters adorned with the usual scarves, tight (black) pants, hoodies under jackets or vests, thick- rimmed glasses, Keds or Vans or whatever rubbish footwear is popular, etc. A bit more to my surprise, but which should not have been unexpected, was the art crowd, who flock to galleries like roaches to a half-eaten cupcake. You could tell them apart because, unlike the hipsters, their clothes had been washed within the past month, and they had jewelry, gaudy and shiny and the kind that costs money, not to mention multi-thousand dollar handbags. I disliked everyone there, except the few cute girls who were invariably hanging on some scraggled degenerate.

While I enjoy art, I'm not a big fan of galleries. I go, I look at the art, I pause, I look at it again. Now what? While I would have loved to purchase the third of five "Bob #1 Sheds a Tear For Albino Tar Baby" picture for $450 (price includes ugly frame), I can afford to enjoy no such luxury, and if I did have that kind of cash to spend on pop art I would have probably rented a yacht and crashed into Cuban refugee rafts heading towards Florida. I hear the Miami area is lovely this time of year; the mosquitos are not quite yet large enough to saddle and ride around like flying ponies.

Most people go to these things with friends, but I do not have any, having bludgeoned my last friend with a bag of old shoes I was planning to discard. People were also drinking, and this is the second time this year I've been to an art gallery where Pabst Blue Ribbon was being served as if it was something worth consuming. The fact that people paid to ingest it was testament to their worthlessness on this planet.

As for the art itself, I enjoyed its strangeness, and it was well worth the half hour I spent looking at it. Mark Mothersbaugh seems to enjoy drawing pictures of vaginas and deformed people; I particularly appreciated the giant log ramming itself into a woman, conveniently spread eagle, while her friend watched with a look of horror. The colors were much more vivid in person than on his website, and as such the power and strength of Motherbaugh's dynamic work spoke to me very loudly, although not loud enough to be heard over the cattle in the room.

I snagged myself a set of four pinback buttons limited to a production of 300, which came in a personally designed package. My favorite part of the package is the soaring vagina rockets with eyeballs in them. Aside from seeing the work live, this might have been the highlight of my evening.

We share the same pain

Chlorine truck bomber kills 27 in Ramadi:
BAGHDAD - A suicide bomber driving a truck loaded with TNT and toxic chlorine gas crashed into a police checkpoint in western Ramadi on Friday, killing at least 27 people and wounding dozens, police in the Anbar provincial capital said.
When I used to go swimming as a child to cool myself from the scorching Nevada desert, the chlorine would always make my eyes red, so I can sympathize with the victims and their families. I know exactly what they're going through.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

In the news

After spending approximately 32 hours trying to find the correct WHIP figure for Randy Wolf, I'm not going to waste time posting my NL West findings 'til tomorrow. I also have some pictures from the Rangers hockey game I was at Saturday, which I'll upload in a couple of days while I brag about the team making the playoffs. In the meantime, here's some news items.

* Why the Long Face? Obese Treated Like Horses
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Rio de Janeiro hospitals have been sending obese people to share medical test equipment with horses at the local race track, drawing complaints from activists who say the practice is humiliating.
One would think it would be more humiliating to be too fat for normal medical equipment. Kudos to whomever wrote the headline.

* FBI agent possibly killed by colleague:
Agent Barry Lee Bush, 52, assigned to the Newark office, died after agents confronted three men suspected in a series of armed bank robberies. Two of the men were captured.

"Preliminarily, information suggests the agent may have been fatally wounded as a result of the accidental discharge of another agent's weapon during a dynamic arrest situation," the FBI said in a statement Thursday night.
Nice to see friendly fire isn't limited to our military. They didn't even catch all the guys, so another job well done by the government. If the FBI gets pissed about that comment (obviously the monitor everything I write and say), hopefully they will shoot themselves before trying to kidnap me.

* China denies role in U.S. pet deaths:
The China Inspection and Quarantine Times said in a report on its Web site dated Tuesday that as of March 29, 2007 China had "never exported wheat or wheat gluten to ... the United States."

This contradicted comments by two employees at the Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Co., this week who said the company had shipped wheat gluten to the United States.
A) That paper sounds fairly boring, and 2) Those employees have already been shot in the back of the head. Let's hope their brains don't end up in my Fancy Feast.

*Dentist guilty of urinating in surgery sink:
LONDON (Reuters) - A British dentist was found guilty Thursday of urinating in his surgery sink and using dental tools meant for patients to clean his fingernails and ears.

A medical tribunal said it was satisfied the evidence showed 51-year-old Alan Hutchinson, who "routinely" did not wear gloves or wash his hands, had risked the health of "himself, staff and patients" for more than 28 years.
If it's a crime to piss in a sink, then you may as well slap the handcuffs on me now. Besides which, if he's been doing this for 28 years, you'd think someone would have complained before now. Either the British bureaucracy is worse than ours, or the British are gits who don't pay attention to a slovenly dentist. Actually, probably more likely is that he's only had ten patients in 28 years.

* Pelosi visits Saudi Arabia's council:
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (news, bio, voting record) visited Saudi Arabia's unelected advisory council Thursday, the closest thing in the kingdom to a legislature, where she tried out her counterpart's chair — a privilege no Saudi woman can have because women cannot become legislators.
* * *
"It's a nice view from here," Pelosi said as she sat in the chair, facing the ornate chamber with its deep blue and yellow chairs and gilded ironwork. "This chair is very comfortable."
Nice to see you enjoying your time travelling abroad. How's that health care coming along? What? Eat my nuts.

* Moisture led to salmonella outbreak:
Moisture from a leaky roof and faulty sprinkler helped salmonella bacteria grow and contaminate peanut butter at its Georgia plant last year, sickening more than 400 people nationwide, ConAgra Foods said Thursday.
Is it possible to go two days without some kind of food product being contaminated? I have an idea, let's give another tax break to these companies, they deserve it. Maybe they can hire more illegal Mexicans to shit on my tomatoes and drunken sods to monitor the conditions of the cheese processing plant. It's not like I need to eat without getting deadly sick.

* NYC eyes circumcision push to fight AIDS:
NEW YORK - City health officials are considering a program to urge circumcision for men at high risk of AIDS, noting studies that the procedure can reduce the chances of getting the disease.
* * *
U.N. health agencies last week recommended circumcision for heterosexual men after three studies in Africa found that the procedure reduced men's chances of contracting HIV by up to 60 percent.
They're probably too sore to stick their dicks in anything.

* 'Girls Gone Wild' boss won't surrender:
PENSACOLA, Fla. - The founder of the "Girls Gone Wild" videos defied a federal judge Thursday, calling him a "judge gone wild" and refusing to surrender to U.S. marshals on a contempt citation.

U.S. District Judge Richard Smoak ordered Joe Francis into custody after settlement negotiations soured in a lawsuit brought by seven women who were minors when Francis' company filmed them on Panama City Beach.

The 34-year-old Francis, who makes an estimated $29 million a year through the videos of girls exposing their breasts, drew the contempt order Wednesday after lawyers for the women said Francis threatened them during negotiations.
In this day and age, it's hard to find true heroes, people who exemplify everything we ought strive to be. This is one such man.

* Porn swap sparks defense leak furore:
Police launched a probe last week after a navy officer married to a Chinese woman was found to have taken home a computer disk containing information about the high-tech Aegis radar system, domestic media said.

Aegis is used on Japanese destroyers that are to be fitted with SM-3 missile interceptors from this year as part of the missile defense program.

The officer told police he accidentally copied the confidential data onto his computer's hard disk when copying porn from a computer belonging to a crew member from another destroyer, the Yomiuri newspaper reported.
Considering the kind of wild porn the Japanese have, it might have been worth it.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Nothing else from me tonight

I'm postponing finishing my baseball previews because I am running on five or six hours sleep, the inability to do arithmetic, and a headache that's kicking in the front of my brain. It's better than being gored in the nuts, I suppose.

In other news of human sport, five fifth graders aged eleven through thirteen were discovered to have had sexual intercourse in front of their classmates while a fifth student kept watch. It would kind of make sense if they were mentally challenged, but I suspect they're just stupid. These colors don't run; they fuck. In a classroom. Unsupervised.

Anyway, if you're bored, check out Shorpy, The 100 Year Old Photo Blog and TV in Japan. There's a lot of cool pictures in Shorpy dating back from the 1940s and earlier, and if you see some vivid color photographs, those are unaltered from the originals. I'd go through and pick out my favorites, but I am not going to sit in front of this glowing monitor anymore. Take your light and shove it.

EDIT: Don't forget to read Jon Swift, my favorite Conservative blogger.

Okay, now I'm out.

Musical Genres

I know that outside of fans of the music, it might be difficult to understand the difference between Ambient House and Acid House (of electronic dance music), or Technical Death Metal and Melodic Death Metal (of metal). However, if you're going with such simple terms as "Hard Rock" and "Heavy Metal," I expect you to be in the ballpark. Amazon's Hard Rock & Metal sale, first 5 entries:

Beatles - Sgt. Pepper
Pink Floyd - The Wall
Bob Seger - Greatest Hits
Evavescence - Fallen
Boston - Self-Titled

So we've got two hard rock groups and zero metal bands. So far, so terrible. Going through the whole first page, and being generous, I count 11 hard rock albums out of 24 possible.

Amazon and Genres - oil and water.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

NL Central 2007 Predictions

TEAM (yes) / WINS (yes?)

Chicago Cubs - 89
St. Louis Cardinals - 86
Houston Astros - 85
Milwaukee Brewers - 80
Cincinnati Reds - 76
Pittsburgh Pirates - 65

The Cubs are a favorite pick this year, and whether or not they win the division they will probably have the greatest improvement of any team. After finishing with just 66 wins last season, the team added 40/40 man Alfonso Soriano (48.2 VORP, 46 HR, .300 EqA). They also expect a healthy year from Derrek Lee (.345 EqA in 2005), as well as production from Aramis Ramirez (44.5 VORP, 38 HR) and Jacque Jones (24.6 VORP, 27 HR). Cliff Floyd might be a good guy, but I wouldn't put him in my line-up (.257 EqA, 11 HR). Michael Barrett (.367 OBP, 16 HR) is a nice option at catcher. As for pitching, Carlos Zambrano (53.8 VORP, 8.83 K/9, 1.29 WHIP), Ted Lilly (7.8 K/9, 1.43 WHIP) and Rich Hill (8.45 K/9, 1.23 WHIP) can rack up some Ks, but I'm less enthused about the acquisition of Jason Marquis (-33 RAA, 4.1 K/9, 1.52 WHIP) and whatever mysterious arm fills the fifth spot. With Ryan Dempster (24 saves, 1.51 WHIP, 7.8 K/9, -6 RAA) as closer and perhaps Kerry Wood (1.37 WHIP, 9.2 career K/9) in the bullpen, there are many question marks on the Chicago mound. However, some of those question marks may lead to good answers, like, uh wins, or something. I don't know. I like the Chicago offense and the Cubs pitching should be sufficient to net them a division title.

Albert Pujols didn't play a full season and still hit 49 HR with a .350 EqA and 85.4 VORP. He is an offensive juggernaut, but the question is whether the pieces around him are enough to top the division. Chris Duncan (22 HR, .363 OBP), Jim Edmonds (19 HR, .350 OBP), Scott Rolen (22 HR, .369 OBP), and Juan Encarnacion (19 HR, .317 OBP) are the best options in the line-up. Chris Carpenter (67.8 VORP, 30 RAA, 1.07 WHIP) is a great man to have heading up the rotation, but the rest of the rotation is questionable. Kip Wells (6.0 career K/9) was added as a youthful arm, but last season he posted a -8 RAA. Better options are with Adam Wainwright (8.2 K/9, 1.15 WHIP) and Anthony Reyes (7.1 K/9, 1.38 WHIP). I guess Jason Isringhausen (33 saves, 7.5 K/9, 1.46 WHIP) is the closer. Mark Mulder's return (11 RAA in 2005) should boost the team.

Four more teams in this division? Fortunately, we have the Houston Astros, a team that surprised me when I looked over what they have this year. Lance Berkman (70.1 VORP, 45 HR, .419 OBP), Carlos Lee (.293 EqA, 37 HR), Morgan Ensberg (.291 EqA, 23 HR) and Craig Biggio (8.3 VORP, 21 HR) can all pop a ball over the outfield wall from now 'til Fall. Despite losing Andy Pettite and maybe Roger Clemens, Houston still has Roy Oswalt (72.4 VORP, 6.77 K/9, 1.17 WHIP), newly acquired Jason Jennings (23 RAA, 6.2 K/9), and young Fernando Nieve (6/54 K/9, 1.33 WHIP). I don't like the Astros getting 40 year old Woody Williams (5 RAA, 3.9 K/9, 1.29 WHIP), but maybe he has some more innings left. The biggest problem with this team is who will be closer, Brad Lidge (32 saves, 12.48 K/9, 1.40 WHIP) or Dan Wheeler (26.0 VORP, 8.58 K/9, 1.15 WHIP). That inconsistency could be what hurts them most. That or Brad Ausmus (.211 EqA, -17.5 VORP).

I'll admit I really like Milwaukee's rotation, which may be why I'm tossing extra wins their way. Take a look at Ben Sheets (24.0 VORP, 9.85 K/9, 1.09 WHIP), Chris Capuano (41.1 VORP, 7.08 K/9, 1.25 WHIP), and Dave Bush (30.9 VORP, 7.11 K/9, 1.14 WHIP). I'm not as impressed with Jeff Suppan (1 RAA, 4.6 K/9) or Claudio Vargas (-5 RAA, 6.5 K/9), but maybe they give something better than expected. They're going to have to, because this line-up isn't so hot. Prince Fielder (.279 EqA, 28 HR) and Bill Hall (44.3 VORP, 35 HR) I would take, but otherwise they're a team without a lot of power and a team that doesn't get on base (.327 team OBP last season). Obligatory mention of Corey Hart (.258 EqA, sunglasses at night).

We're in the final stretch...with Cincinnati, led by slugger Adam Dunn (.284 EqA, 40 HR, .365 OBP), the once immortal Ken Griffey Jr. (16.0 VORP, 27 HR), Scott Hatteberg (13 HR, .389 OBP), and, ah, Brandon Phillips (22.6 VORP, 17 HR). It wouldn't be surprising to see Aaron Harang (50.2 VORP, 8.30 K/9, 1.27 WHIP) and Bronson Arroyo (64.9 VORP, 6.88 K/9, 1.19 WHIP) to come back to earth a little, and the rest of the rotation, while having a nice K/9 rate (Kyle Lohse - 9/5, Eric Milton - 10.2, Mike Belisle - 9.0), are not exactly aces (1.41, 1.34, 1.55 WHIPs, respectively). With a bullpen of David Weathers (1.29 WHIP, 37 years old), Mike Stanton (really? 1.43 WHIP, 39 years old) and Todd Coffey (1.42 WHIP, 6.1 K/9) is like an old ship - creaky, leaky, and full of seamen. I guess that would be more amusing if you were hearing that and not reading it, although I can't say it makes sense either way.

Finally, that brings us to Pittsburgh, with a 2006 team WHIP of 1.51, fourth worst in all of Major League Baseball. The rotation is comprised of Zach Duke (28.5 VORP, 4.89 K/9, 1.50 WHIP), Ian Snell (21.5 VORP, 8.18 K/9, 1.46 WHIP), Paul Maholm (20.7 VORP, 5.98 K/9, 1.61 WHIP), legendary Expos hurler Tony Armas Jr. (-16 RAA, 5.1 K/9, 1.50 WHIP), and Tom Gorzelanny (5.6 K/9, 1.31 WHIP). With some control, they could have a reasonably decent staff, but then again, with some power, Jason Bay (49.7 VORP, 35 HR, .396 OBP) and new face Adam LaRoche (.297 EqA, 32 HR, .354 OBP) wouldn't be their only offensive options. Oh, sure, Freddy Sanchez won a batting title with a .344 BA (.378 OBP, 43.3 VORP), but he only hit 6 HR. The biggest boppers in the line-up after Bay and LaRoche are Xavier Nady (17 HR) and Jose Castillo (14 HR). Not exactly Murders Row, or even Involuntary Manslaughters Row. Salomon Torres (12 saves, 6.6 K/9, 1.46 WHIP) gets to be the closer. He should easily double his saves totals by the end of the year, perhaps even getting 25 saves.

Whew! Only one more division to go, and not a moment too soon as I am cracking. My bizarre statistics and their usage was explained back in saner times. Be well, sports fans.

Oh, I also have the NL Wild Card to do. Hopefully I can still type in clear English* by then!

*by my standards

Update: Had to change the title to conform to the earlier ones, sorry.

Monday, April 2, 2007

NL East 2007 Predictions

TEAM (realistic) / WINS (theoretical)

Philadelphia Phillies - 91
New York Mets - 90
Atlanta Braves - 84
Florida Marlins - 80
Washington Nationals - 68

Deciding the top dog in the NL East was extremely difficult, but in the end my final standings ended up how I thought they might. The Phillies look good for 2007, even though they stupidly traded away Bobby Abreu (.427 OBP). Ryan Howard (81.5 VORP, 58 HR, .425 OBP), Chase Utley (65.2 VORP, 32 HR, .379 OBP), and Jimmy Rollins, (45.2 VORP, 25 HR, .334 OBP), are the big three, and more big seasons by the first two and more consistency out of Rollins will make their line-up dangerous. Add in the underappreciated Pat Burrell (27.5 VORP, 29 HR, .388 OBP) and a full season for Shane Victorino (12.1 VORP, 6 HR, .346 OBP), and the Phillies lumber should be able to keep pace with the prolific Mets offense. The addition of Wes Helms (.321 EqA) may have fixed that hole at third base. In the rotation, Brett Myers (40.7 VORP, 1.30 WHIP, 8.59 K/9) and Cole Hamels (23.1 VORP, 1.25 WHIP, 9.86 K/9) lead the way, and the addition of Freddy Garcia (32.3 VORP, 1.28 WHIP, 5.2 K/ 9, 6.4 WARP, 5 RAA) is nice enough. I'm not sure what they were thinking adding Adam Eaton (6.4 VORP, 1.57 WHIP, 5.5 K/9, 2.1 WARP, -1 RAA), however. If Tom Gordon (34 saves, 1.26 WHIP, 10.31 K/9) stays healthy, he'll be able to close out games, but the Phils would do well to avoid the middle relief.

Outside of closer Billy Wagner (40, saves, 1.11 WHIP, 11.70 K/9) and the rest of the bullpen (such as Aaron Heilman, 1.16 WHIP), the Mets pitching is a big unknown. John Maine (19.3 VORP, 1.13 WHIP, 7.10 K/9) could prove to be a solid man on the mound, and hopefully Tom Glavine (37.1 VORP, 1.33 WHIP, 5.95 K/9) and Orlando Hernandez (19.4 VORP, 1.33 WHIP, 8.64 K/9) wind up steady, because the Mets options don't look so great otherwise. Oliver Perez (-29 RAA) hasn't been good for his rookie season, so I wouldn't expect him to turn it around now. Fortunately, the Mets have big hitters like Carlos Beltran (68.5 VORP, 41 HR, .388 OBP), Jose Reyes (58.8 VORP, 19 HR, .354 OBP), David Wright (54.3 VORP, 26 HR, .381 OBP), Carlos Delgado (35.2 VORP, 38 HR, .361 OBP), and even Paul LoDuca (27.2 VORP, 5 HR, .355 OBP) to keep them in games. They'll need to slug their way to victories more often than not, and the Mets have the line-up to do just that.

The Braves are an intriguing team. John Smoltz (61.9 VORP, 1.19 WHIP, 8.19 K/9) is a rock, Tim Hudson (17.0 VORP, 1.44 WHIP, 5.81 K/9) should have a rebound year and Chuck James (25.2 VORP, 1.24 WHIP, 6.88 K/9) could have an even better season than the one he had his rookie year. There's not much else after that, and eventually Bob Wickman (33 saves, 1.22 WHIP, 8.65 K/9) is going to run out of gas, although Rafael Soriano (1.08 WHIP, 8.8 K/9, 11 RAA) could be solid if he takes over. Atlanta has three beasts in their order in the form of Chipper Jones (53.8 VORP, 26 HR, .409 OBP), Andruw Jones (49.3 VORP, 41 HR, .363 OBP), and Brian McCann (54.8 VORP, 24 HR, .388 OBP), but Jeff Francoeur (-1.0 VORP, 29 HR, .293 OBP) is a little deceiving with his HR total. The Braves have confidence Scott Thorman (-2.3 VORP, 5 HR, .263 OBP) can replace Adam LaRoche (33.3 VORP, 32 HR, .354 OBP, 6.2 WARP), but I'm not so sure. Ryan Langerhans (-0.8 VORP, 7 HR, .350 OBP)? He might come around, but he has yet to impress.

The Marlins look like they had a lot of potential last year, and with guys like Hanley Ramirez (54.9 VORP, 17 HR, .353 OBP), Dan Uggla (39.1 VORP, 27 HR, .339 OBP ), Miguel Cabrera (78.7 VORP, 26 HR, .430 OBP), Mike Jacobs (12.2 VORP, 20 HR, .325 OBP), and Josh Willingham (27.8 VORP, 26 HR, .356 OBP), they'll give other teams' pitchers some problems. Dontrelle Willis (6.45 K/9, 1.42 WHIP) should have a return to excellence, and Anibal Sanchez (17 RAA, 1.19 WHIP) and Scott Olsen (8.27 K/9, 1 .30 WHIP) will provide some steady young arms to the rotation. However, the team is still very young, and more importantly unproven. Taylor Tankersley (9.1 K/9, 6 RAA ), with all of 3 saves to his credit, is taking over the closer role. This team is loaded with potential, but they have the lowest payroll in baseball and there's no certainty that Willis and Cabrera won't be traded away midseason. I would guess Florida is at least a year away from seriously competing for the division. Come 2008, though,

New manager Many Acta has a tough time with a team that finished in last place with Alfonso Soriano (132 OPS+), who has since departed for the Cubs. Acta has smarts, though, proven by such quotes as "a guy at first base with no outs has a better chance to score than a guy at second base with one out" and "You can't steal first base[, so OBP is important]." Sadly, he has little to work with. Highlights of the Nationals line-up include Ryan Zimmerman (26.9 VORP, 20 HR, .351 OBP), the chronically injured Nick Johnson (51.0 VORP, 23 HR, .428 OBP), and Austin Kearns ( 7.8 VORP, 24 HR, .381 OBP). Acta will also run a mostly new rotation, which includes John Patterson (9.30 K/9, 1.11 WHIP), Matt Chico (7.00 K/9, 1.02 WHIP in AA Tennessee), Tim Redding (1.20 WHIP, 16.7 VORP in AAA Charlotte), and Jason Simontacchi (8.44 K/9, 0.56 WHIP in an independent league). It's not jaw dropping, but it's not junk, either; this is a rotation that could put together some interesting games.

As always, my (inconsistent) use of unusual stats is explained here, and I am always willing to hear your criticism.

You don't have to be brilliant to write

From Roto World:
Jonny Gomes had his fourth homer and his fifth double of the spring Sunday against the Pirates. ESPN's Buster Olney said in his blog Saturday that Gomes was having a "poor" spring, but the truth is that Gomes was leading the Rays in homers and was third in OPS at the time. He's batting .271/.345/.625 now. (Mar. 25, - 5:42 PM EDT)

What's the point of having a blog if you're an idiot you don't have anything worthwhile to add to the world? For that matter, why does he have a job writing about baseball if he can't even properly analyze baseball?

Speaking of which, my 2007 NL predictions will be coming up shortly.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

AL Wild Card Predictions

TEAM (Expected) / WINS (Projected)

Boston Red Sox - 92
Toronto Blue Jays - 88
Chicago White Sox - 85
Oakland Athletics - 85
Texas Rangers - 82

As you can see, my east coast, liberal, ivy league, Hollywood Jew bias is shining through here. I'll take a .351 OBP, 192 HR team that added J.D. Drew, and I'll take the team that added Daisuke Matsuzaka, the premiere Japanese pitcher. Maybe the Red Sox don't win 92 games, but I think they have the power and the punch to grab a playoff spot.

Sailing down the River Thames

I was watching an old Benny Hill episode and saw that great Thames ident that was quite familiar to London viewers of ITV through the 70s and 80s, and also for the rest of us who received syndicated television programming.

I saw it all the time at the beginning of Count Duckula, as well as Danger Mouse, I believe.

And for the heck of it, here's an SCTV sketch called "Benny Hill Street Blues."

EDIT: Here's a bonus video for the millions of British readers of this blog. It's a compilation of classic cartoon intros from the 70s and 80s.