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Saturday, April 03, 2004

Went to the Game Last Night

I couldn't get tickets to Opening Day, so why not go to the first game of the Freeway Series? If you saw a 400lb guy in a skin tight Dodger T-shirt, talking to his mom on his cellphone, and eating porkrines, that was me. Ok no, I'm kidding, it was actually one of the other Dodger bloggers. I was the cute guy smoking a cig in the smoking boxes on the reserve level.

I arrived about two hours before the game started and bought tickets for myself and a couple of friends. I had to wait about 20 minutes to get the tickets, as the ex-cons who were on work release didn't know how to run the ticket computers, this being the first game of the year at the stadium.

The Dodgerdogs taste great, much better than last year where they tasted like wax. The exterior of the stadium has been changed with the latest players on the team, and what cities they grew up in. Green has Tustin, CA, Lo Duca has Glendale, AZ, Tom Martin, Dreifort (obscured by trees), Encarnacion, Beltre, Roberts, all had their own plaques. The outfield wall has been changed a bit too, with every Cy Young winner of the LA Dodgers posted there. Newcombe, Drysdale, Koufax, Marshall, Valenzuela, Hershiser, Gagne, and Dreifort are all posted. I'm kidding of course. Koufax wasn't up there.

The stadium was half empty; I don't know if that is standard with the Freeway Series, or standard with the McCourts. If it is the latter, the team is headed for bankruptcy. The ticket guys said it was the former, but they were probably hoping for that.

A bunch of drunkards behind me were squawking about how the McCourt plans to tear down the stadium, the latest rumor the LA Times has planted in the populace's mind. The man can barely afford the team, how can he possibly afford a new stadium? Trust me folks, he's going to sit on the Dodgers just like his parking lots, and put little money towards them, and rake in the dough. All he has to do is increase their winning percentage, and that's what he's trying with DePodesta.

All in all it was a terrible, and average experience. I had more legroom than usual for a Friday night game, but the Dodgers played like shit and the scoreboard broke down when the game went into extra innings. Once the extra innings hit, they no longer showed the names of players, they merely announced who was at bat. No one could keep track anyway, with Tracy visiting the mound every 30 seconds, and every fuckhead AAA player getting an AB.

Careful analysis of Weaver shows me this guy is not ready to pitch. After he nailed Guillen, once he gave up the homerun, I knew he wasn't mentally there.

When the game ended, a fat dude near my friends turned to us and said it was going to be a long year. I agreed, and realizing that I had been sitting on a wet spot from rain earlier on my seat, I knew it was at least going to be a long night.

I'll also be going to the Angels game tonight too.

Friday, April 02, 2004

K/9 and what it means

Bill James, in his Historical Abstract goes into great detail on the factors that luck plays into a pitcher's career, and how certain statistics are good predictors of impending failure, and the end of a career. The statistic he most often squawks about is K/9, or for those who don't know shit about baseball, strikeouts per nine innings.

Why is K/9 such an important indicator? I think it's important because strikes are one element that we know a pitcher CAN control, whereas there is debate over how much control a pitcher really has in getting an out if he lets a hitter hit a fly ball or ground ball. At that point factors are controlled by the defense behind the pitcher, though I personally don't think there's that much difference in the MLB between a bad defensive team and a good defensive team, so high is the level of play already.

After I read this a few months ago, I'm always looking at pitcher's k/9 rate to see if their career is going to end. Naturally I've analyzed the pitching staff of our opponents in the NL West most closely. ESPN.com is the only place I've been able to find the stat shown. Here are the 2003 K/9 rates for various teams in the NL West, starting pitching: (in parentheses will be dashes showing the number of years of decline in K/9, a very good indicator of a player becoming less effective)

San Diego:

David Wells 4.27 (--) Huge dropoff here as well
Brian Lawrence 4.96 (--) Significant dropoff, even though he's relatively young
Adam Eaton 7.18
Jake Peavy 7.21 (-) Still at a respectable level, and the decline is probably the result of pitching a great deal more innings after becoming a fulltime pitcher.
Sterling Hitchcock 6.98 (-) The decline was miniscule. No problems here.

So David Wells and Brian Lawrence, the team's #1 and #2 starters both have rather low k/9 rates. With Lawrence it probably just means he's not a very good pitcher, with Wells it probably means injuries are taking their toll, and he's not able to pitch as effectively. My prediction is that Lawrence will have an awful year, and Wells might miss significant time with injury. Not good for the Padres, but I've been a supporter of contracting the team for years, so no tears wept by me.

San Francisco:

Jason Schmidt 9.01 (-) He actually suffered a decline in K/9 last year, though he was easily the best starter in baseball in 2003. To me, that means his 2003 stats were an enormous fluke.
Kirk Reuter 2.51 (--) I don't know how this guy has made a career in the big leagues, and am wondering if Bill James is a liar. For the last two years his k/9 rate has been below the magical level of 3.5. I personally think that Reuter is a ticking time bomb towards ineffectuality, and this might be the year. He's also played terribly in Spring training this year, and he's very ugly, so I would imagine, if there is a just God, his career will end soon.
Jerome Williams 6.05 Decent, but not amazing for a rookie star. Brandon Webb for instance had an 8.57 k/9. He's nothing special.
Brett Tomko 5.06 (--) A two year decline so far in K/9, I expect a gentle decline this year as well. He's an average starter, who is plateauing.
Dustin Hermanson 5.11 (-) Similar to Tomko, yet probably a little less talented. Slow decline as well.

The #1 and #2 starters are facing severe declines, and the rest of the staff is basically average innings eaters. Nothing special here, but nothing extraordinary either.

Colorado

Jason Jennings 5.91 (-) A decline here, but he's so young, he might rebound and have a big year. Yet another average pitcher.
Shawn Estes 6.09 (-----) A five year straight decline in k/9 rating. It's a gentle decline though, but considering that he's moving to Coors from the Cubs, and that the Rockies usually have terrible pitching, it's no surprise he'll probably suck this year.
Joe Kennedy 5.19 He's young and shows promise. Coors will sodomize him though.
Scott Elarton 3.48 (-) He fell below the threshold, the end is nigh.
Denny Stark 3.43 (--) He too will be a problem, just like last year.

The #4 and #5 starters look terrible, and the others aren't anything special. I expect a similar finish to last year for this staff.

Arizona

Randy Johnson 9.87 (--) Even though this is an amazing rate for a pitcher, for Randy it's terrible. It's also a big dropoff from his 2002 stat which was 11.56. K/9 is once again showing statistically, how an injury can effect a pitcher. I expect a comeback, but not his height of 13.41 in 2001.
Brandon Webb 8.57 He's having blister trouble in spring training, so I expect a little bit of a fall. But that's a good rate.
Elmer Dessens 5.79 Perhaps the switch to Arizona did him some good? He'll be 34, so expect a decline, but how deep, who knows? Looks capable though.
Shane Reynolds 5.06 (-) Considering his age he's a risk, and there will probably be a decline. Still a decent rate.
Steve Sparks 4.54 (-) He's old, and never been that great to begin with. Is steadily declining as well.

The #1, 4, and 5 starters are declining, but still are respectable, they'll just be less effective this year. Dessens pitched much better than his average last year, and with a regression to the mean analysis, is due for a fall. Webb is an unknown, but most good prospects suffer some sort of sophomore slump, so he'll probably decline as well.

And now the Dodgers:

Hideo Nomo 7.30 (--) He's getting old, but boy can he still strike them out. If he can just regain some of his old speed, to last the season before we dump his ass, we'll be ok. But probably not.
Odalis Perez 6.85 His k/9 rating went up, but his ERA went up too last year. Interesting. He'll probably do better this year, but he's not as big of a strikeout pitcher as Nomo. Meaning? I have no idea, I just think he'll do better this year from the unscientific watching of his spring training games.
Kazuhisa Ishii 8.57 Goddamn that's a good rate. So why does this guy suck? His control, which only shows up in his stats in ERA and a high walk rate. If he could just learn to control himself, which I think he might as he gets older, he'll be really dominant. Actually similar to Randy Johnson in this respect, except without the wild pitchs into the bleachers.
Jeff Weaver 5.25 (--) A decent K/9 rating but why the high ERA? Again, control. He has a lot on his side in LA, and the mechanics to accomplish it. But boy has this spring training been a downer.
And for the #5 spot, we have Alvarez with a 7.77, Jackson with a 7.77, Lima with a 3.93 (----). I think what I've learned from all of this is that k/9 is a great indicator of health in a player. ERA may not reflect that. If that's the case with Lima, then he should definitely NOT be a starter on our team, but trade bait. He's barely capable. And now I'm tired, take these stats for what you will.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Latest Trade News

Why bother doing analysis, when others continue to do it for me, better than I ever could? John's Dodger Blog writes about the Steve Colyer and a Player to be named Later, for Cody Ross, the top offensive prospect for the Tigers. Colyer was a decent reliever last year, and I thought a given to make the bullpen after Shuey blew out his thumb recently. Anyways, DePodesta, and John no a bit more about stats than I do, and it looks like this was a great move for us. With our outfield getting more crowded by the minute, you can bet your bottom dollar that Dave Roberts is about to be traded.

I also looked up Milton Bradley's salary on dugoutdollars, and he's only signed through this year, for 1.7 million. He'd be a great temporary pick up, and then after we dump salary for 2005, we can drop him and develop our own talent. Just a thought. The Angry Black Man symptoms don't usually develop until two or three years into a long term contract anyway.
Grab Him

The Cleveland Indians dropped Milton Bradley for being An Angry Black Man yesterday. Considering that he was by far their best hitter, this is probably an amazingly stupid move. The Dodgers MUST procure him, and move Shawn Green to first. The Dodgers have had a long history with Angry Black Men, like Darryl Strawberry, Eddie Murray, and Gary Sheffield, and this tradition must continue. Bradley was raised in Long Beach as well, so he's a local kid, and it'll probably do him some good to come here. And it'll be fun to watch Lo Duca and Bradley get in a fistfight on the field during a game.

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Recent Moves

The LA Times is reporting on the latest acquisitions by the Dodgers, and Rotoworld.com, is reporting that Bubba Trammell is a goner. The Bench Coach and Dodger Thoughts both go into great detail about these recent buys. What Dan Evans bought, Bubba Trammell, and what are until recently weak farm system barfed out, Jason Romano, are being replaced by lovable loser unknowns. That seems to me typical Moneyball-fare. Plug holes with guys who can draw walks.

At least I hope so. I really don't want to go over any new analysis, because I'm incapable of good statistical analysis, and because on the surface of things, these two moves look terrible. But if you delve deeper, any time the team removes a known psychopath like Trammell, and someone who has been deplorable in limited major league at bats, Romano, you're on to something. My last worry is that these acquisitions come from Toronto and Oakland, both from GMs who are friends of DePodesta. To me that means either Paul is incapable of dealing with other GMs, because he's a shy nerd, or because Billy Beane, and J.P. Riccardi and Paul are all part of a sabermetric plot to take over baseball, and fuck over big market teams everywhere. One can only hope for the latter.

And finally, does anyone else think the Lakers were secretly playing shitty early in the season to fool the other teams into complacency?

Monday, March 29, 2004

I'm Famous, Bow down to Me

Myself, and all the Dodger blogs are featured on page 22 of Los Angeles Magazine, their April 2004 issue. If you've discovered my site through the mag, God Help You, it's probably like nothing you expected. Congratulations to the other blogs for getting a writeup.
What the Fuck Koufax?

Sandy evidentally loves helping the opposition, in this case Dontrelle Willis, even though it might wreck the psyche of our young pitcher Edwin Jackson in the process. If I were Jackson, after getting sent to AAA this season, I'd immediately bring a lawsuit against Koufax, a great way to thank a guy for wrecking your budding career.
Something Cooler than Major League Baseball?

Besides sex? Besides whippets? Yes, it's the The World Cup of Baseball. Imagine a team with Sammy Sosa, Pedro Martinez, Albert Pujols, verses a team with Barry Bonds, Randy Johnson, and Jason Giambi. It would be intense, and it would mean baseball in the winter. Unfortunately drug testing will be as stringent as the Olympics, so expect many of the big players to avoid playing.

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