Saturday, November 15, 2003

Lakers vs. Pistons

The game started with a blast, sank down in the second, and then the Lakers came roaring back to win it by a smidgeon. That'd be something to cheer about if it wasn't for the fact that we played a shit eastern conference team at home. Everyone knows the Eastern Conference is a joke, because all the good players are in the west.

I've said it in the past, and I'll say it again, this is a team that can't really fail because one of 4 superstars will pick up if two or more of the others fail. Kobe's rhythm isn't down, Shaq becomes a point guard and runs down the court like someone half his size. Malone misses a 3 pointer, Payton rebounds and lays it in. We can coast like that the whole season, beat all the shit teams and average teams, get a good playoff berth, and then get our ass kicked by the Spurs.

I blame Phil. I love saying that, it has a ring to it. Yes, I blame Phil. He needs to buy a bionic body carrier, or hire some people to prop him up, and he has to run these guys together in practices. I'm not talking about shoot arounds, I'm talking some frigging passing drills. This will be a problem with Kobe having to travel to the court house and missing days, but it'll have to do. This team's defense is not good. This team's free throw shooting is the worst in the game. This is a team relying on the fact that it has such a high level of talent, that they can just wait until the post season to turn it on. NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. In the next few days I'll go over who in my opinion are the best players in the league, and rank the Lakers on that list. Until then MOFOS...
Dodger possibilities

The LA Daily News, a glorified suburban tabloid, is reporting that Beltre and Roberts will probably be tendered contracts. They make it sound like this is with great reluctance. Gee, where are all the 23 year old, (Beltre's really a year YOUNGER than he says he is, remember the Dodgers broke the law by signing him early and were punished by MLB) great defensive, average offensive major league calibre 3rd basemen? He hit a respectable 714 OPS at the position, and though this is near the bottom of full time 3rd basemen, is it really that bad of hitting? Roberts is another story, he's your typical great defensive, light hitting outfielder, something that many stat heads hate. He also steals bases, another thing stat heads hate. Why keep him? Well, as a GM, I think you're pressured by your conscience to keep guys you get along with who are cheap, and that's one factor. Another factor is that a lot of a pitcher's ability is the defense of his position players behind him, at least that's what Bill James says. If that's the case, you can bet Roberts (when he was healthy) made a contribution in that area, especially considering he saved Gagne from taking it up the ass to Berkman by robbing a homerun. Here's my suggestion: Tell Roberts to stop stealing bases, tell him to just keep it up in the field. He'd probably tell whoever did that to go to hell, since it's his only clear stat that is significant, but it is a consideration because all that base stealing takes a toll on his little legs. Worth a thought if anyone in the front office reads this blog (and I'm sure they don't.)

And then there's this story. Evidentally, a drunk Bill Singer approached the Dodger's assistant GM Kim Ng and made racially insensitive remarks about her Asian background. Bill Singer is the head of scouting for the Mets. There's a picture of him here along with Kim's pic. This was probably Bill's way of picking her up, but the age difference probably put him off, and in his fumbling he decided to rely upon the age old method of getting into bed with a minority woman, make her feel like shit. It's a bit of a fad now for white guys to go for the Asian gals, at least on the West Coast, but anyone who's lived on the East coast for awhile, knows it's a lot more racist over there. Let's put it this way: A New Yorker has no problem calling a spade a spade.
So what should happen? Should Ng sue? I personally don't think she'll sue. She's a professional, she's been working all her life to make her race and her gender irrelevant, and this incident exposed both. She'll put it behind her and ignore Singer. Do I think that's right? All right, time for a little deep reflection here that might be controversial. Asians in our society are time and time again viewed as the "model minority". That means that they don't hold civil rights rallies, don't have riots, and don't TEND to go on welfare. They also tend to ACT white. Which makes Singer's pulling back the curtain and reducing Ng to minority status (something a lot of people enjoy every day), all the more brutal. Soooooo, what does this all have to do with baseball? Not much, and that's the sad thing. Should Singer be fired? Well, he did apologize. Should I stop rambling? Not just yet. What does this all mean? It means that we as readers have achieved great insight into what really goes on in the Winter Meetings. Since only one trade occurred, I think you have an idea. ABSOLUTELY FUCKING NOTHING. (by the way, isn't Singer a Jewish last name? Which makes this even more interesting...)

Finally, you may all have noticed that yesterday was the first day I didn't write in the blog. No mofos, I don't have a life, I just got lazy. I'll update again later today about the Lakers.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Almost forgot about the Lakers

Yeah they won. Against the Raptors. Wow. Betting against the Lakers that night was like betting on Poland in '39. Keep it up kids. Intelligent analysis has been entirely expended on the Dodgers tonight, sorry mofos...
Beane vs. Evans

There's nothing like two white guys fighting it out over the phone a 300 miles apart from each other to bring out the jack ass in me. The front page of the LA Time sports section featured it, all but admitting that the newspaper would love to see Beane at the Dodgers. And that makes sense, because it would sell more newspapers if the Dodgers did well, and because the LA Times owns the Chicago Cubs, and besides bringing news, it would help in a small way a competitor.

I like Billy Beane. I think he's the most talented general manager in baseball. But he's not talented enough not make waves if he got hired by the Dodgers. He'd immediately fire all the old timers who weren't into statistics, which would probably be a good thing in the long run, but a bad thing in the short term. Those who were left on would probably work in a climate of fear, fear that their lack of math skills would betray them, and by not knowing how to use a protractor, be fired by Beane. Beane would also use his first year as an excuse to not go to the playoffs and call his effort "rebuilding" which would really mean "destroying what Evans wanted, and doing things my way". Again, it would work in the long run, but in the short term, it would fail. And we need a win NOW.

The more and more sabremetric GM's there are, the harder the little "tricks" they know will be to pull. Currently there are three GMs who follow this martial art, and probably many more assistants who practice it for their teams. Old timers, guys who pick high schoolers and give them million dollar bonuses, those guys are gone. If Beane comes here, the A's are going to have DePodesta as their GM, another sabremetrician. That means one more guy grabbing college draft picks, over high school. And Beane's job gets a little harder. If he came here.

I think from what I read in this article, Beane is campaigning hard, but there's no guarantee that he has the job. Evans is making moves, albeit small ones, and McCourt isn't saying that Evans is doing anything wrong. It LOOKS like Evans will stay another year. But McCourt may have more in store, and may just want Evans to rubber stamp moves that ANY GM would make, like the rehiring of a cheap, but good reliever, and the letting go of Brian Jordan. Keep watching MOFOS, this could get exciting!
Gagne Means WIN

So Eric won the Cy Young. Congrats. As a fan I think he deserves, as someone who analyzes stats, I know he deserves it, about as much as I deserve to run a small African country. I see the Cy Young as more an award to the best bullpen in baseball, and it's something that should be shared by all of them. Remember, they're called SET-UP men for a reason. Let's face it, a tired batter in the ninth inning, is he really going to hit as well as he did in the first? And the starter has been seeing this guys for six-seven innings straight, if he's played well. And let's not forget that Roberts home run steal, where he ran up the hill in the Asstros stadium and robbed Berkman of a run. Gagne was pitching then, and the save was not blown. This Cy Young belongs to Roberts as well. And to Beane and Tracy for not dumping Gagne to another team where he would have become an average starter, but instead throwing him into the bullpen. This is their award too.

Also THIS JUST IN. Tom Martin has been re-signed by the Dodgers. This is excellent news, Martin is good, but he is injury prone. The reason I say this is excellent is because it means that someone is making decisions, and still leading the team. That someone is probably Evans under the behest of McCourt.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

I can't stop!

This blogging is like Heroin, or better yet, like nose picking. Once you start you just can't stop, until blood pours out. I've got a booger nest behind my headboard in my bed in my parent's place (of course I live with my parents silly, you didn't think I was normal?), so I should know.

My brother and I were chatting about the Lakers, and the LA Times is reporting that Kobe is to blame for the loss to the Tennessee Bears. Kobe broke away from the Triangle offense, and did his own thing. I love bagging on Kobe as much as the next guy, but the reason he went crazy wasn't his fault, it was the fact that the team was allowed to get behind in the third quarter. First of all let's get something straight. There is NO triangle offense. Like the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus, and Osama Bin Laden, it is a myth. It is a bullshit doublethink code word for: PASS IT TO SHAQ AND/OR KOBE. The team got behind, and Kobe went nuts and hogged, as is his nature, much like a dog rolls in shit. The fault lies directly with Phil Jackson

Phil, doing his best Dr. Strangelove/Ironsides/FDR, sit still impression on the sidelines, took out the starters and put in winners like Luke Walton to hold things in place. That's like putting me on cement watch at Hoover dam during flood season. NOT A GOOD IDEA. Where did this sports myth/insanity that you take the good players out in the 3rd so they come back in the 4th come from? Do points count double in the 4th or something? I thought Phil was educated, and into Zen and new ways of looking at things. Instead he goes with the same old totally disproven bullshit. And the argument that the players need rest is another crock. They work out everyday, and in the case of Payton want more playing time. GIVE IT TO THEM. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Payton might be a better player than Walton. JUST MIGHT. Stu the broadcaster, I forget his last name, says it over and over, the minutes count the same, no matter what part of the game. There's no evidence that players play harder with the seconds ticking down, though they might foul a bit more as they get desperate. When you see a team is playing well against you, and on a roll that night, LEAVE THE STARTERS IN, don't pull out. Otherwise it's the SIN OF ONAN. There, God agrees with me.
Even more!!!

Dodger Thoughts has an excellent analysis of the possible trades for Perez. Edmonds looks like the one to go for. Jon does a great job at laying that out, check him out, Mofos.

The LA Times reports that Evans is in contact with McCourt and the sale is going ahead as planned. Though most of the paperwork hasn't been done, McCourt's side is still confident. The LA Times then added some drama, and retold the many failed attempts of McCourt to secure a team in the past.

There's one good thing I draw from all of this: Evans is working with the team, and might be kept around. That's great news. Evans, as swarmy and bootlicking as he is to the press, is a VERY smart general manager. I think he's a strong mold of both a sabremetrician, and an old fashioned scout, who can tell young talent when he sees it. Creating one of the best all around pitching staffs EVER in baseball, and ever in the longball era is no easy feat. Except for Ashby, did one pitcher do poorly this season? For McCourt to fire Evans, he'll automatically pay a 500k dollar penalty, since Evans is contracted through 2004. I wish the LA times had gone a step further and confirmed that Evans had a budget to work with, but with the trade rumors getting hotter, he might have a rough idea of what McCourt can spend. McCourt is looking less and less like a billionaire in charge of a small part of his empire (since he's not that rich), and more and more like the type of hands on owner whose only asset is the Dodgers. The last time we had that, the O'Malley's, I hear we did pretty well. I'm sorry for those Irish jokes Frank, I get emotional over this team...
Here's the second and final part of Chris Chiou's essay on pitching and the Dodgers

Part II:
One significant advantage of a pitcher's park is the effect such a ballpark has on the pitching staff's health. In a nine-inning game, a team's pitchers must produce 27 outs. A pitcher's park allows a team to produce those 27 outs using fewer pitchers than would be required in a hitter's park. More pitches are obviously thrown at Coor's Field in a 14-12 shootout than at Dodger Stadium in a 2-1 pitching duel. The logical extension of this observation is that the Dodger pitching staff, particularly the bullpen, is better rested throughout the season relative to the league average. A contrast with the Rockies pitching staff will illustrate this point. On a homestand, the Rockies pitching staff is continuously pitching at Coor's Field, where it must labor through a high number of pitches each game. This workload at home results in a vicious cycle of pitching exhaustion: the pitching staff gets burned out from throwing so many pitches at home, then it performs poorly on the road because it has been overused, and then it returns home only to face an abnormally high workload again; this cycle continues throughout the entire season. Or, to put it another way, the Rockies play half of their games at Coor's Field. If the "league average" ballpark requires a pitching staff to throw on average 130 pitches a game to obtain 27 outs, while Coor's Field requires a staff to throw 170 pitches a game to obtain 27 outs, then the Rockies staff on average must throw 150 pitches a game, 20 more than the league average. The negative correlation between a pitcher's performance/health with his exhaustion level has been well-documented.

Dodger Stadium, in contrast to Coor's Field, provides a resting environment for pitchers. The park's pitcher-friendly nature will allow a pitching staff at Dodger Stadium to throw perhaps only 110 pitches on average to obtain 27 outs. The logical extension of this observation regarding Dodger strategy is thus: the Dodgers can afford to exhaust their starters and bullpen when on the road, because they know that a lighter workload awaits the pitching staff when the team returns home. A team in a hitter's park, such as the Rockies, does not have this luxury. It must attempt to rest its bullpen on the road, with the knowledge that a terrible fate awaits its pitching staff at home, regardless of whether its pitching staff has in fact been rested on the road or not.

This workload reduction provided by Dodger Stadium may be accounted for in Dodger strategy in one of two ways: (1) distribution of the workload between higher-quality and lower-quality pitchers; or (2) distribution of pitchers and position players on the 40 man roster. To elaborate, the first statement means that when on the road, the Dodgers can confidently utilize their best pitchers more often than another team could, knowing that when they return home, those pitchers will have lighter workloads due to Dodger Stadium's pitcher-friendly qualities.

Alternatively, the Dodgers can choose to carry one pitcher less compared to a team in a hitter's park, and replace that roster spot with a position player. If Dodger Stadium requires 110 pitchers to get 27 outs, then on average each of the Dodger's hypothetical 9 pitchers will throw 12.22 pitches. If the league-average park requires 130 pitches to get 27 outs, then on average each of another team's 10 pitchers will throw 13 pitches. The extra position player would allow the Dodgers to more aggresively utilize pinch-hitters and defensive substitutions in situations that other teams would hesitate to do so for fear of an empty bench in a later inning.
Rumor mill

According to rotoworld.com the Cardinals are considering trading Edmonds for Perez. The LA Times also reported this rumor, meaning it has some validity. I think Edmonds is arguably the best all around white position player in the game. He's incredible defensively, he's very good offensively, he does have injury issues however, but Roberts would be an excellent back up to him, at least on the mitt side of things. My issue is with Perez, I really would prefer that the Dodgers trade Alvarez instead. I know that sounds crazy, considering that Alvarez pitched far better than Perez, and probably is more talented than Perez in his prime. But Alvarez is old, pitched very limitedly last season, so we don't know how good his endurance is, and he's also still very out of shape. Bill James has stated that pitchers who have very good years, tend to regress considerably next year. I think Alvarez might be in for that. Perez was an average pitcher last year, but he might blossom this year, and he's young. Age is a factor that should be looked at.

If Perez is dumped, it'll be because he has a big mouth, and the other players hate him. Newsflash! Edmonds is even a bigger asshole. Now the Dodgers have a history with dumping "angry players", no matter how talented they are (Sheffield). That is stupid. An angry player is going to play his hardest no matter what, merely because his performance means everything to him. That's why he's a professional athlete. Why do we have managers? To MANAGE players. Manage their goddamn emotions Tracy! Tracy and Jackson seem to be unable to massage stars attitudes, and this is an important, perhaps the most important duty of a manager.

Finally, there have been rumblings to go for Vlad. I can name quite a few teams who in their infinite wisdom went for the big stars, and gave up their draft picks to do it. None has won a world series in the last 3 years. The Yankees, Red Sox, and Dodgers fall into this category. The Yankees farm system is a joke, and the Red Sox farm system isn't much better. If you look at my friend Chris' essay below, teams pay exorbitant amounts for a superstar's slightly additional skills over a merely good player. That's not smart business. For that extra 20 points of OPS, the cost can be millions. Let the Yankees buy the big guy, and watch them choke in the playoffs. I believe the Yankees will need a 200 million dollar payroll to compete next year.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Yesterday sucked

It's Veteran's day, but everyone's at work. They should be home mourning, not for our brothers and sisters dead on the battlefield, who cares about them, they volunteered. No they should be home mourning for the death of two great sports franchises: The Lakers and the Dodgers.

The LA TIMES is reporting that McCourt hasn't completed the paperwork necessary to buy the Dodgers. Which means the soonest he can get the team is the last day of January. Did McCourt graduate from fucking high school? What happens when you turn in a term paper late? You get docked. I can't believe that one of the premier baseball franchises, one of the premier SPORTS franchises in America can't find a buyer. The Angels found a buyer in a week, and we have our dicks in the wind. Right now the division is going to be fought for by the Padres and Giants, with us battling the Brewers for last place in the league. This is terrible. I'd threaten bodily harm to someone, but I don't know I can hit without getting hurt back. I think I'll kick my dog.

Fox needs to get off its ass and ask this Irish bastard whether he has the cash. I did some addition, and everywhere it's being reported the guy is worth 400 million. The Dodgers are being sold for 400 million. Has anyone stopped to ask that this might be an issue? That's like a school teacher buying a Bimmer and living in it. Is McCourt going to sell his home and live in the stadium, and wear a mask over half his face, and haunt the grounds? I mean what the fuck? Is Fox that desperate? Evans, you need to get up now and ask Fox if you've got another year, or at least plan like you have another year. If Evans can just get access to that 100 million dollar budget for one more year, he's learned from his mistakes on offense, and he can purchase us some good position players, and the division is ours. Malone's crap contracts are almost off the books, and we have 19 million dollars of breathing room. But McCourt playing this Lucky Charms bullshit with my favorite team, we are going to settle on the bottom of the Pacific. In short we'll be fucked.

And finally, the Lakers. I know there's this thing called the law of averages, but they AREN'T supposed to apply to you guys!! Yes the Grizzlies were due for a win, but who the hell are they? Win dammit win! And what's up with Jackson? I don't think he's stood up yet this season! Is his heart condition that bad? The players call all their own plays anyway, why doesn't Phil just watch the game from the locker room, and when we play like shit, bag on Shaq at the press conference, get him pissed off,and we'll rocket to the playoffs.

Monday, November 10, 2003

Concerning the ROY

Matsui lost the ROY BARELY to Angel Berroa. There's been the usual chatter about how Matsui was blasted unfairly for playing in the Japanese league, and is not really a rookie. If the Baseball Writers made that their reason for picking Berroa, then they're wrong. First of all let's look at the stats:

.287 .338 .451
Avg OBP SLG for Berroa

.287 .353 .435
Avg OBP SLG for Matsui

They're VERY close. Defensively, Matsui has a slightly higher fielding percentage, .969 to .968. There's one stat though that no one has looked at...AGE. Berroa is 25, Matsui is 29. Even if Matsui came up from the American minor leagues at age 29, would we allow him to win over Berroa? NO WAY. The fact that he came up from the Japanese Leagues, and came really close to beating Berroa is if anything proof that the media is biased TOWARDS Japanese players. Case in point, Ichiro's winning of the award while having the lowest OPS of a ROY winner in 30 years. All this in the long ball era...

Dontrelle Willis won for the NL, which is insane considering how much better Brandon Webb of the D-Backs is. But when you have the media machine behind you, you tend to win. Which of course makes Berroa's win all the more surprising. I guess the Baseball Writers can only be fair once in a while. Podsednick was 27 and hit 822 OPS and was overlooked as well. He's a better player than Matsui and Berroa, but I'm sure his high rookie age counted against him. Which nails my point home, I don't care where you've played, if you're old, and a rookie, and someone 4-5 years younger than you does as well as you, you don't reward your old ass, you reward the kid. It's called the Rookie of the year award, not the geriatric of the year.

Sunday, November 09, 2003

No News so on with the insanity

I am going to reprint an essay my friend Chris Chiou sent me, concerning pitching. I'm going to put it up in parts, because it's long, but interesting. I don't understand much of it, because I ate paint chips as a child, and those tasty little treats make me slow in math. Here's part ONE:

by Chris Chiou

Dodger Stadium statistically favors pitchers over hitters: the ballpark tends to depress hitting stats while boosting pitching stats.

Part I:
A not-so-obvious side effect of a pitcher's park is to compress the range of hitting statistics. In other words, Dodger Stadium narrows the gap between good hitters and bad hitters. Consider the following analogy: person A scores 100 on a math test, and person B scores 60, a 40 point gap. What happens if A and B then take the same test in a room which, because of loud distracting noises and terrible lighting, reduces both of their scores by 50%: person A now scores 50 on the test, while B scores 30, a 20 point gap. The same effect occurs for hitters in a pitcher's park. If Dodger Stadium reduces offense by 10%, then consider what Dodger Stadium does to a hitter with a 1000 OPS and one with a 800 OPS, a 200 OPS gap: the first hitter is reduced to 900 (10% of 1000 is 100), and the second is at 720 (10% of 800 is 80), resulting in a 180 OPS gap.

Dodger management should take the preceding paragraph into account when evaluating position-player free agents in the context of limited financial resources. The Dodgers must realize that their home ballpark serves to compress offense, such that the performance differential between two players may not nearly be as large as the pay differential. From a casual observation, one can readily observe that baseball salaries operate on a logarithmic scale: a player with a 1500 OPS would not paid twice as much as a player with a 750 OPS, or three times as much as a player with a 500 OPS. The 1500 player would actually be paid perhaps 10 to 15 times more than the 750 player, and the 500 player would be out of the league. Every percentage increase in production is therefore accompanied by an exponential increase in salary.

As a simplistic example, suppose there are two players, one with a 800 OPS ("John") and one with a 750 OPS ("Jim"), a 6% difference in production. John, however, would be paid much more than 6% of Jim's salary: perhaps 50% as much (3 million for John v. 2 million for Jim would not be an unreasonable salary spread for the two players). But when taking into consideration the fact that both players will play in Dodger Stadium, with its hypothetical 10% reduction effect, then the actual Dodger Stadium production of the two players will no longer be so great as to justify John's higher cost. Dodger Stadium eliminates 10% of the premium in production that the Dodgers exponentially paid for in the form of John's salary. This money will have been wasted by the Dodgers, because that portion of the return on the salary investment has been wiped out by Dodger Stadium.

What types of position free agent the Dodgers should sign is a different question, one that depends upon the ways that a pitcher's park differs from the league-average ballpark. A pitcher's park depresses hitting stats by having: (1) larger foul ground, leading to more outs in foul territory rather than foul balls falling harmlessly (from the hitter's perspective) into the stands; and (2) deeper power alleys. These characteristics result in fewer hits, and fewer extra-base hits. In contrast to the example in the preceding paragraph, in which the Dodgers spent more money that they should have considering John's production in Dodger Stadium, the Dodgers will be able to obtain a unanticipated benefit from a certain type of player: a player with speed but who has a lower slugging percentage. A player who can steal bases provides the benefit of being able to help "create" a run when on base by stealing an additional base. For example, only two hits may be required to score a run instead of three: player A gets on first, steals second, and is driven home on a single by player B. Such a skill may be less important to a team in a hitter's park, since there would be a good chance that player A would eventually score on a later hit regardless of whether he initially stole second. In Dodger Stadium, however, the ability to steal bases may be critical because that "later hit" is less likely to occur than it would in a hitter's park.

Dodger management extract a financial surplus by signing players who have the ability to steal bases but because of a lower slugging percentage, have a lower OPS. Consider two players: John has a 700 OPS (350 on-base/ 350 slg.) and can steal bases, and Jim has an 800 OPS (375 on-base/ 425 slg.) but cannot steal bases. The current free agent market will place a large premium on Jim's services, since the popular conception is that base-stealing is no longer important in today's high-scoring games. Because of these market conditions, the Dodgers would not only obtain John much more cheaply than Jim, but the gap between the two salaries will be significantly greater than the gap between the players' relative values to the Dodgers. Obviously, Jim would still be a more valuable player to the Dodgers if he came at the same price. But considering the characteristics of Dodger Stadium, John will be more useful to the Dodgers than he would to any other team. The Dodgers would therefore receive more production from John than they would otherwise proportionately pay for in Jim.

End of Part I

Hi, it's Rick again. The theory my friend throws out is interesting to say the least. It makes a player like Dave Roberts more important, and a player like Cesar Izturis a dripping malignant tumor that sucks out your innards. I actually added the Izturis part, I don't think the article purports that posit, but I hate that guy.

Billy Beane's theories differ from Chris' in that base stealing, with all of its advantages, because of the fact that the best base stealer will most likely be caught at least 15 percent of the time, and because you are only allotted 27 outs in a game, stealing is too great a risk. However, the best Dodger teams have been great defensively, and with good running of the bases. At least when Maury Wills was on the team.

So who's right? The Dodgers haven't really embraced base running in recent years, Dave Roberts is the only one we really have on the team who makes stealing efforts. Perhaps McCourt, when he gets off his ass and decides to buy the goddamn team, will take the cheap route and get base stealers, and good defensive players like Chris's article suggests. Or probably not, and we begin our quest to rival the Giants as the most pathetic team in California.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?