Category Archives: GOOSE

Can’t Be Worse in 2013… Right?

This picture made me very happy but has little to do with the article. Fair warning.

This time of year presents some of my favorite baseball writing. Beat writers struggling to make PFP drills and AAAA scrimmages as exciting as the real thing, often with weird and hilarious results. Authors rating the “best” offseason, analyzing rookies and naming sleepers. These are all fun, but one of my favorite types of articles is the “bounceback” story. Call me a sucker for redemption.

I read dozens of these every spring, yet it has only now occurred to me the amusing subtext in many of these pieces. Sugarcoat it all you want, throw in fancy words and compliments both back and front-handed, many baseball “bounceback” stories boil down to a most basic human sense of dread – it can’t get much worse.

So without dancing around the issue, here are the guys who can’t get much worse in 2013. Seriously.  If they did it might break math or something:

Michael Young

static lip reading: “shooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooot”

Maybe Michael Young got old (let’s be clear: he’s 36, so in real-people years his life is just kicking into full-on grown up gear – but in baseball years…).  I doubt that has to do with his crappy 2012.  If indeed he did get old…. damn did it happen fast.  Bizarrely so.  No, I imagine such suckitude was an anomaly.  Young has long been compared to Paul Molitor (or at least I always have), another guy who played wherever he was asked to, DH’ed a bit, and always went bout his business – the business of hitting.  Young had 9 straight years of 170+ hits, and that is with a 2009 season cut short with a hammy injury.  He had been a model of consistency.  So just how bad was he?  Let’s look at some numbers!  Hooray numbers!

Young had a negative WAR, -1.4.  You need to know very little about numbers and even less about WAR to know that a negative stat is probably bad.  In this case, that number signifies that a replacement player would have been a BETTER OPTION THAN MIKE YOUNG.  Yikes (For those of you unfamiliar with this and any following statistics, I refer you here, to Fangraphs’ Glossary, where much smarter people have explained them in much more intelligent ways).

Wanna know who had a better WAR than Young, just for kicks? Carlos Pena did, and he hit below .200.  Jemile Weeks did, and his WAR was zero – they could’ve put any schmo in the minors in his spot, right statistics?  Both Juan Uribe AND Juan Pierre had a better WAR’s and they’re, well, Juan Pierre and Juan Uribe.

WAR is not the be all, end all – just ask Mike Trout – but it is a useful measure in comparing players against the league norms.  Maybe you don’t like WAR.  Maybe you like ‘old school’ ideas and stats.  Sabermetricians and old fogie scouts can all agree that a great measure of a player (given enough At Bats or sample size, depending on your era) is OBP.  If a guy gets on base, whether you see it in numbers on paper or with yuor own fading eyesight, he’s generally a useful player, as Mike Young had once been.  In 2012, Young had an OBP of .312.  Which is gross. Howie Kendrick was 20 points better, and he swings at everything (154 BB career).  Hunter Pence’s OBP was higher and if he doesn’t swing 48% of the time the bomb in his bat detonates (Hunter Pence is a big, big Keanu Reeves fan).

Toss aside numbers for a moment, though.  If you had the misfortune of rooting for Mr. Young last year, whether it be for your fantasy team (me) or your real team (Rangers) or both (sorry, friends), you could see he looked plain bad.  Some skills fade with age, sure.  Young won’t be stealing double digit bases again.  But his hand eye and batting eye have simply not fallen off the map.  With an ADP well over 200 (230 at the time of this article), I assure you Young is worth taking a flyer on in Fantasy Baseball.  As for the real thing?  The Phillies also took a flyer, betting that Young will hit until he quits ( Molitor had 225 hits when he was 39 years old).  After all, it can’t get much worse.

Thanks, Vin! You’re welcome, Mike.

Eric Hosmer

shucks.

Pairing Hosmer and Young together in this list seemed… poetic.  Young is riding out his last few years in the league, striving to be productive.  Hosmer is the cornerstone of what is a recurrently ‘up-and-coming’ franchise.  We all assume he is really, really good.  He demolished each minor league level, then stepped up into the bigs and had a damn fine rookie year.  Dare I say sophomore slump?  Sophomore slump.  Yes, I dared, it’s right there in the previous sentence.  I even remembered that stupid ‘O’ in ‘sophomore.’  Pay attention.

As good as Hosmer’s 2011 was, so too was his 2012 not (good, that is).  Sentence structure aside, many were left disappointed by the young slugger’s campaign.  He declined in every important offensive category, save for steals.  So at least he was trying.  When you dive into the numbers, his season is just plain yucky.  

Here’s another fun statistical measure: wRC+ (ahem, Fangraphs).  Here’s what you need to know about Weighted Runs Created (wRC):  it’s an improved version of Bill James’ Runs Created (RC) statistic, which attempted to quantify a player’s total offensive value and measure it by runs.  Cool right?  That James guy is a superweirdo, but he’s wicked smaht.  The stat itself makes sense in a very basic way, right?  Well Hosmer sucked at it.  Technically, he was ‘above average’ with his wRC+ of 81 (80 is above average, in general), but when looked at a comparative, larger context, we see the idea of ‘above average,’ measured statistically or not, is subjective.  Here are four players (minimum 400 PA, which Hosmer had easily) with better wRC+ than Hosmer.  Tell me if any of them are guys you MUST have on a team in a non-ironic way:

Andres Torres (87) // Omar Infante (92) // Rajai Davis (86) // Justin Smoak (85)

None of these guys are genuinely BAD players, but Hosmer is a Franchise player and once played like one.  Skate Play better, man.  Not to pick on Carlos Pena, but damn, Hosmer, even HE had better value metrics.  Speaking of sexy new player-value statistics, Hosmer also clocked in under zero at a robust -1.1 WAR  (RAR, Runs Above Replacement, is not only hilarious thing cats say, but also a negative measure of Hosmer badness (-10.4)).

Tired of these WAR’s and LOL-ing and RAWR’s and tweetsnapping?  Forget the new statistical measures, his basic numbers stunk too, from BA to RBI.  Check his splits.  He stunk prior to the AS break.  He stunk after.  He had a decent month of August… and that’s about it.  LHP/RHP splits – both bad.  I could go on.  He stunk.  On top of all that, anecdotally, you will not find a person who said he looked good last year not named Hosmer (and his Mom even admitted he ‘probably could have been better against off speed pitches’).  The best news?  You can draft him in fantasy at a bargain price.  The further good news?  Sophomore slumps only apply to Sophomores and Freshmen who decide to go to private school and get held back a  year so they can still somehow be ‘Freshmen.’  Also?  He can’t get much worse.

right back at you, dawg

Honorable Mention: Carlos Pena, who might actually get worse than his sub-.200 batting average.  Sorry Carlos.

he seems okay with it.

Ricky (retch noise) Romero

(sobbing)

Where to start with Ricky?  As someone who is unfortunately a Red Sox fan, I witnessed the abomination that was 2012 Ricky Romero several times closely.  As someone who drafted him in fantasy baseball 2012, I said horrible, horrible things about Romero regularly.  He made the 2012 Valensox look like sluggers and in several games I streamed on MLB.tv looked like he was throwing a damaged wiffle ball, having no idea where his (hopefully) better thought out pitches were going to end up.  I know, I know – cool story, bro.

More numbers?  More numbers.

FIP/xFIP or (Expected) Fielding Independent Pitching are really cool measures, far more relevant as they attempt to look deeper and normalize (in statistical, not Stepford, terminology) the crude measure of ERA and how good/bad a pitcher was.    As a general (ahem, Fangraphs) rule, an FIP/xFIP of 4 is average and an FIP/xFIP of 5 is AWFUL (Their word).  Romero’s line?  FIP: 5.14   xFIP: 4.86

Whether you want an expected or calculated measure (a difference of how HR rates are calculated), Romero was about as bad as it gets.  To pile on the crappy numbers, his K rate, usually a high point, fell to just over 6 (mediocre).  His BB/9 inning rate was an absurd 5.22.  His swinging strike rate dropped a full percentage point – it’s easy not to swing and miss when the guy has to groove it over the plate in desperate need of a pitch in the strike zone.  The best thing you can say about his 0.5 WAR season? He pitched.  In an injury plagued year for Toronto pitchers, Romero started 32 games.  So… good job, good effort.  He didn’t even have a better year than the internet’s favorite SP (starting punching-bag), Bruce Chen (more wins, higher K/9, 1.4 WAR on and on…).  The good news for Toronto?  They made a few move this offseason, I think.  As for Romero?  It cannot get much worse.

it’s good to have hobbies.

Ervin Santana

keep askin’

You may be saying, “gosh, Romero was bad, but is there a guy who threw a random 1-hitter in June yet somehow managed even worse numbers?”  IF you are saying that, I’m guessing you were an Ervin Santana owner in 2012.  He gave up 39 homers.  Honestly, I thought about ending the paragraph right there.  That’s really bad.  I’ll add a few more.  He had a -0.9 WAR, a 5.63 FIP (jeebus christ!), and had a HR/Fly Ball rate of 18.9%, which is simply bananas.  I will not pile on Santana, as his issue was more inconsistency (numbers were FAR better second half of the year).  However, his numbers were not good, and given his up and down nature, I assure you – it can’t get much worse actually, he might get worse. Heads up.

Honorable Mentions/Tie: Heath Bell / John Axford / Alfredo Aceves

An he held his arm there for 4 days, but no one would give him that pound

Aceves blew at least 8 games in spectacular fashion for a 2012 team that captured awfulness in spectacular fashion.  He was inconsistent on the field, unhappy off the field and was (well, is, I guess) a weirdo overall.  Just when you though it was safe to own him in fantasy baseball or root for him in real baseball, he would walk 4 guys in an inning and look wholly uninterested.  He had an unseemly 5.36 ERA but that was helped by a few decent spurts.  Even when he was pitching “well,” he would walk a batter for every strikeout.  The numbers fib, in this case.  As someone who watched more of the turd stain that was the Boston Red Sox 2012 season, I can attest to the fact that Aceves, save for perhaps one 15 day stretch in the spring, was a bad guy to have on any team, in any sense.  Plus, his disgusting sweatiness made me uncomfortable watching games and must be very difficult on the hardworking laundry staff at Yawkey Way.

His FIP was a poor 4.33.  He pitched worse as the god-awful season went on.  He blew saves and holds. He had a BB/9 inning of 3.33.  But most important of all, when he came into a game, there was an audible groan in the Northeast.  This guy made an awful season worse.

Axford blew 9 saves and forced the Brew Crew to realign their bullpen.  Bell blew 8 saves and was the first domino to fall (2nd game of the year) in a disastrous Marlins season.  Bell looked old and lost, regaining and losing his job and looking like a man who lost his mojo.  Axford, on the other hand had enough sense to regain his gnarly facial construction when chopping it off caused catastrophe.  I include Axford because he led the league in blown saves and did so in a short period of time in mesmerizing fashion (his June-beginning of August was BRUTAL).  For Axford, it can’t get much worse.  As for Bell and Aceves… Relievers are notoriously up-and-down, so one would assume they’ve already bottomed out.  I’ll say it – they can’t get much worse, either.

distracting.

There you have it, the players who scraped the bottom of the barrel in 2012.  Here’s to new beginnings and sneaky ADP’s going forward.

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Filed under Baseball, Closers, Fantasy Baseball, first base, GOOSE, JUAN URIBE, MLB, Pickups, pitchers, Posted, Sleepers

Fantasy Mustache: First Base

Follicular Follies of Youth: Freddie Freeman & Eric Hosmer

With age comes wisdom and nothing says wisdom like a big furry lip caterpillar.  I think that’s how the saying goes.  Both Freeman and Hosmer are phenomenal young first basemen.  Their facial hair choices, however, demonstrate their overall lack of experience.

Observe;

image

Guys, you forgot the most important facial hair feature!  Clearly, both are intelligent enough players to understand the power of some face fuzz.  Their lack of attention to the most mystical portion of facial grooming, while easy to explain as youthful ignorance, speaks to a need for additional seasoning.

Both players have excellent foundations to build on.  Yet the projected numbers, while solid, were clearly hurt by their inattention and inversion of proper facial attire:

(courtesy of Bill James/Fangraphs)

Hosmer: 29 2B / 79 R / 20 HR / 79 RBI / .276 AVG / .342 OBP / 784 OPS

Freeman: 36 2B / 85 R /24 HR / 95 RBI /  .282 AVG / .358 OBP / .839 OPS

 

Pretty good, right? But now, let’s add some flavor.

image

image

BAM! As a certain loud cook might say.

Different methods, but same result. Hosmer fitted with the apt Selleck mustache, looks the part of stud first baseman to build you (both fantasy and real life) team around. He looks ready to mash. Freeman, on the other hand, is a more wily of sorts, and needs the mustache to fit it. That’s the mustache of a man who’s going to smack extra base hits and play some slick D.  That’s the mustache of your everyday 5-hitter.

Their numbers reflect the increased production with properly groomed facial hair. CUE UP THE MUSTACHE PROJECTION WIZARD 7000!

 

Hosmer:  38 2B / 98 R / 31 HR / 99 RBI / .296 AVG / .390 OBP / .905 OPS

Freeman: 46 2B / 100 R /30 HR / 109 RBI /  .308 AVG / .387 OBP / .915 OPS

 

Look at those numbers!  Clearly all that separates both Hosmer and Freeman from jumping from good young player to team cornerstone is some follicular guidance. The chinstrap look works for bouncers and bass players, folks, gentlemen are mustachioed.

 

THIS is a gentleman.

BONUS: Selleck’s line if he really played in his 80’s heyday – Mr. Baseball, while amazing, does not count:

45 2B / 112 R / 50 HR / 166 RBI / .321 AVG / .409 OBP / 1.012 OPS

 

Soon to come: Second Basemen, so you know there is a good chance of a mustache lasershow.

Stay groomed,

-V

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Filed under Baseball, Fantasy Baseball, first base, GOOSE, MLB, Opinion, Random Thoughts

Fantasy Mustache: Catchers

Sleeper Mustache Candidates

#1 Travis D’Arnaud

image

That is a stare that says, “I’m ready to bludgeon some baseballs, and maybe some kittens.”

image

But wait through the magic of technology, add a Buford Tannen mustache and POW! It works.

It is difficult to project rookies, especially talented ones on bad teams.  Issues from playing time to (more practically) service time add a complex variable to when a rook will play, how much they’ll play and therefore if and when they’ll get comfortable.  That said, D’Arnaud has been projected to be a solid MLB starting catcher for several years now, so it is no stretch to give him a solid, if ordinary projection line pre-mustache.  With the mad dog mustache power added to his already steely glare, D’Arnaud figures to be a force to be reckoned with once the Metropolitans call him up to be their non-John Buck catcher (think sooner rather than later.  MUCH sooner with that ‘stache).

Pre-Mustache: .260 AVG// 16 2B // 45 R // 13 HR // 50 RBI

Post-Mustache: ..301 AVG // 25 2B // 66 R // 20 HR // 80 RBI

Again, the numbers don’t lie – the mustache variable cannot be discounted.

#2 Devin Mesoraco

Oh, hey there. Just thinkin’ bout baseball n’ stuff

Oh, hey there.  Just thinkin' bout what kind of eggs you'll want in the mornin'

Oh, hey there. Just thinkin’ bout what kind of eggs you’ll want in the mornin’

With experience comes confidence.  Even if that ‘experience’ is fabricated.  Trust me, I was a middle school boy once.  It will be no surprise, then, when Mr. Mesoraco takes a big leap in not only playing time, but also production, with the addition of those ladykiller whiskers.

Bill James Projections (Pre-Mustache): .255 AVG // 29 2B // 2 3B // 16 HR // 56 R // 59 RBI //

Mathematical Mustache Magic Practical Prognostication Algorithm (TM): .315 AVG // 39 2B // 4 3B // 22 HR // 70 R // 70 RBI //

Devin’s new stat projections reflect what his ‘stache is telling you – I’ll take more, but only if you ask me to, toots.

#3 Jeff Mathis

mathis

I have no projections to give.  Mathis is merely a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad bad hitter.  At this point, why not try a mustache, man?

Stay groomed, First Basemen coming soon.

-v

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Filed under catchers, Fantasy Baseball, GOOSE, MLB, offseason, Random Thoughts, Sleepers

Elijah Dukes Tries to Eliminate Evidence With His Stomach: You ARE Freaking Out… Man…

One of the top ten best opening scenes of all time.  Not joking.  Try not laughing once in that nine-ish minutes.

HE CAN’T PULL OVER ANY FARTHER!

Predictably, when I heard the reports about Elijah Dukes being taken into custody as he tried to eat a bag of pot at a traffic stop (via, one place of many), I began laughing uncontrollably as I imagined him licking the window in the police cruiser declaring, “the snozzberries taste like snozzberries.”

This is one of those stories that is entertaining for a variety of reasons.  Having lived in both Boston and Washington D.C., I have a measure of respect for the Washington Post, especially its sports reporting.  So imagine my delight in reading their story about this when I saw a Super Troopers reference in their piece, and what that means for my credibility as someone pretending people are reading, referencing my favorite movies.

This is not going to be a long post.  This is not going to be a fantasy baseball post.  Well, sort of.  Elijah Dukes is a prime example of a simple rule across baseball, both fantasy and reality – you cannot, cannot, cannot underestimate character.  There are some people, despite their talents, that are simply not capable of handling the big stage.  I’m not talking about the Daryl Strawberries of the world.  Strawberry made it and was successful.  His downfall was a combination of his fame, his city, and the era he lived in (i.e. the cocaine 80’s).  I’m not making excuses, these are just facts.

For every top round pick that flames out, there is a Mark Buehrle (38th round). For every can’t miss prospect, there is a guy who slips through the cracks and ends up producing.  We can hype guys like Bryce Harper all we want, but sometimes it is the guys who are taken when no one is watching who end up helping their teams the most.  This is important to remember as you draft for your fantasy leagues.

CANDY BARS!!!!!!!!!!!

But in a larger sense, this is a sad story.  Dukes had all the talent in the world and has squandered it in such a way that his story borders on the absurd.  He is a sad human being, and clearly a borderline crazy one.  From threatening women to eating a bag of drugs, his story seems like, and is, a joke.

So yes, I am laughing at each and every one of the stories I read, especially the ones that reference Broken Lizard’s masterpiece.  It’s hard not to.  Not that I condone drug use… but trying to eat a bag of pot so you don’t get caught should be funny to pretty much everyone.  At that point, you might want to just take your lickin’ – for saftey’s sake. But Elijah Dukes highlights a point I’ve been stressing in everyone I’ve talked to about drafts – you cannot, simply cannot, trust the youth.  You are welcome to take Eric Hosmer in the 4th round.  By all means, do.  But Elijah Dukes should, in my book, solidify the notion that talent does not equal success.

His situation(s) provide a caricature of what should be a basic principle.  With the unproven, you just never know.  Hot rookies could have sup-par second seasons.  That’s just a base level.  Young players could underperform, but as Dukes shows us, that’s the least exciting of the ways they can fail you.

yup, bet that tasted..... interesting.....

-w

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Filed under Baseball, GOOSE, MLB

WHAT IS GOING ON?!

There is little to be said about this video other than it is completely absurd. Welcome to the internet.

But like this video, the past few days of sports have been alarming- kind of. The NBA appears to be fixed? A baseball superstar took designer PED’s? My mock shock levels are at an all time high!

The NBA issue first; it is the worst kept secret in all of sports that the NBA is fixed worse than the WWE. Think about it: for years, nay, DECADES, the masses have griped and questioned the integrity of the officiating. Then an official gets caught betting on games. And for some reason (David Stern’s brainwashing machine?) we think this one poor guy, Donaghy, is the only official getting a little something on the side?!?  Am I that cynical or are we all that naive?  Donaghy deserves everything he gets not because he was the black sheep of the sport but because he was dumb enough to get caught when it would seem dozens of others have been running the same scam for years.

Which brings me to this Chris Paul trade debacle.  The NBA lockout was bad enough.  There is not enough space on the internet and airwaves to properly broadcast every fans’ grievances against a broken and stupid league.  Both sides come off as equally greedy, stubborn, clueless and wrong.  But someone realized – ‘crap, if we don’t have games on Christmas, we’re blowing a HUGE payday, and I love money more than sex!’  – or something of the like, it would seem.  The NBA’s new deal came together quickly and allegedly fixed all woes.  This was obviously a lie.  David Stern cited ‘the best interest of the league’ in his czar-like vetoing of the trade.  Please, if someone would, explain to me how it is in the best interest of the league, a league, may I remind you, that just locked out for 150 days over the disparity between small and big market teams (at least partially), for the commissioner to force a team to keep a player who wants out, will become a free agent, leave for a bigger market, and yield nothing in return for the small-market Hornets.

Go ahead… I’ll wait.

OY GEVALT!

It doesn’t make sense.  Stern can claim other small-market owners voiced concern, but I call bull.  Paul is 99.99999% guaranteed to leave for New York, an LA team, or some other big-time market after the season.  He wants out.  How is it in the best interest of the Hornets to keep him, lose him and get nothing?  The deal would have landed them Kevin Martin, a stellar player, though obviously not Chris Paul, Luis Scola, a legitimate forward, and Lamar Odom-Kardashian, as solid a bench player as they come.  And a first round pick!  Wouldn’t those pieces have helped the Hornets going forward?  Didn’t Stern just dissolve any illusion that Hornets’ “General Manager” Dell Demps (in quotations because he’s a GM like I’m a writer, apparently) has any real power?  Here Demps thinks he has masterminded just about as good a deal as a GM can muster when a superstar clearly wants to go and the commissioner comes along and stuffs him in a locker, metaphorically, obviously.  Stern couldn’t take Demps, no sir-ee-bob.

This whole business stinks to me.  Something is dirty in the NBA, something is not as it seems.

————

And now, for the continue-to-break-my-heart-baseball department…

this is just about the saddest picture google could find quickly. I do not know this poor, sad girl, but I imagine we are both distraught over the allegations.

 

Honestly, this bombshell couldn’t have come at a worse time.  Baseball was a a-buzz with the Marlins spending like drunken frat bros in a strip club, Pujols flippin’ Saint Louis the bird, and the Three Stooges-esque hijinks of the Red Sox (mis)management.  People were engaged and talking about the 2012 season with genuine interest.

Sigh.  This steroid crap again.

We had pushed it to the back of our minds.  We had convinced ourselves that this new crop of players had been subjected to legitimate and strict testing.  We thought this time was different.  But like a cheating significant other, we were wrong to trust.  And it’s not even important if the allegations of cheating stick (see the double meaning of ‘cheat’ there? Boy am I clever)- it’s the seed of doubt they planted.  Even if a perfectly reasonable explanation comes forward some genetic thing, an overdose of PowerBars, tainted meat in a 5-dollar footlong – we will always be stuck with that terrible and persistent devil, doubt.  Ryan Braun is forever tainted, whether he is truly guilty or not, because we as fans somewhere deep down know that basketball is not alone in shady dealings.  The suspicion of conspiracy will always live on, even if his name is cleared.  And if he’s dirty, and the reigning MVP has to serve a 50-game suspension for steroids?  Bad news.  It’s never just one.  Cheating is infectious.  If he can get away with it, so can I.  The chips will fall, and the goodwill baseball has built up by trying to bring back it’s ‘clean’ sport will go back to square one.

The NBA situation frustrates me.  I have little patience for dishonesty in general and even less when the liars have the gall to treat me like an idiot as they lie.  The Braun allegations truly unsettle me.  Maybe I was foolish and wanted to believe.  I should have known better.  It’s no different than business, because sports IS a business.  We saw all the banks fall and Wall Street crumble in a web of lying and greed.  With so much on the line, people do what they think they have to as a means to get ahead. Why should sports be any different?  In both isolated worlds, with enough resources you basically control everything.  So when the wall comes down, should we really be so shocked that those in charge abused that singular power? That people cut corners? That many are cutthroat, to get ahead?

There will be no “occupy the commissioner’s office” movement.  These issues, as they always are, will be pushed back in our minds and overwhelmed, as they should be, by larger, world-altering problems like Donald Trump and American Idol.  We will force ourselves to forget, then we will get burned again.

Maybe I’m wrong, and the cold weather is making me dreary, maybe I’m over-stating, but these situations got me thinking not just about sports, but about large businesses in general- just because these select few control so much and have a certain amount of wealth and power (Commissioners, Owners, Congressmen, Brokers all of them), why do we assume they will behave justly?  Most people do not.  And when these select few do not, it affects a much larger scale.

 

-w

 

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Filed under GOOSE, MLB, NBA, Opinion, Random Thoughts

A Gritty MLB Reboot (Part 3 of 3): The Epic Conclusion

 

 

 

 

Here it is, the moment you’ve eagerly anticipated… PART THREE!  Calm your bones, kemosabe.  The conclusion to my epic rant can also be seen here [ECBS], at the Emerson College Sports Business Society Blog.  Tell your friends about this blog!  I’d love to see double digit views…. once…. ever…. though, to be fair, if you are reading this blog, you must be AWFULLY bored.  Enjoy.

 

 

She blinded me with science! Ad by 'she,' I mean my laptop....

The growing trend in baseball and all of sports is a focus on the mathematics and science behind it.  From medicine, to recording, to broadcasting the technological advances of our lifetimes are revolutionizing the way we play and consume sports.  Metrics and measurements are quantifying things as mundane as a receiver’s overall reach (Calvin Johnson allegedly has the reach the same cubic measurement  of a 2-car garage.  It is the ironies of ironies that baseball is currently riding the wave of interest caused by Brad Pitt aka Billy Beane, sabermetrics, and Moneyball.  While baseball has readily welcomed the math and science to study the game, the game has stubbornly refused to accept the incredible technological power before them.  Replay has been integrated beautifully into football and basketball.  Hockey has used advanced cameras for years.  Baseball, if they cooperated, funded and guided science, could have solutions to everything from strike zones to out and safe calls.  I am not calling for a erasing of the human element, just an integration of the relevant technologies to make the game more interesting.  The key to successfully remaking, reimagining or re-branding is acknowledging the past while incorporating the future.

Redesigning the league as I described relates to an overarching, re-branding strategy.  Upon closer inspection, some redesigning could go on in the parks themselves too.  Infusing the competitive landscape with a dash of creativity makes sense for the brand of MLB.  Infusing the individual competitive landscapes (i.e. the stadiums) with some of that same creativity is a logical extension.  That technology I spoke of before?  It’s everywhere.  Including architechture.  Baseball teams used to have weird stadiums catered towards the build of their team.  I want more odd dimensions (Polo Grounds), more hills in centerfield (Houston), and more 37 foot walls in odd places.  Stadiums give the teams themselves personality, not to mention advantages if done right.  Some of the new stadiums do a great job of creating an engaging atmosphere (Baltimore’s Camden Yards comes to mind).  Others waste serious potential (The Nationals’ stadium has a slew of design oversights, not the least of which is it misses an obvious opportunity for an amazing view of our capitol city- same stadium, different orientation means same dimensions with a different view.  Not rocket science.).  Where is all the money going into the new ballparks if not into a little creative, competitive advantage?  Astroturf is one of those technological ‘innovations’ making baseball wary of change.  I’m not suggesting odd field surfaces, but the oddities of the teams’ cities and stadiums used to give the teams character.

Baseball could use more characters.  A rogues gallery.  From the front office to the utility men, some oddballs and amusing characters could spice up the MLB landscape.  Baseball needs to let its creative juices flow.  As the media seems to be telling us at every turn, from fashion to film, sometimes old is new, which is cool.  In the interest of making money and reigniting interest, I suggest baseball gets on board with the rebooting trend.

Thank you to any brave soul who read through all my musings.  I appreciate it.  We here at DotP cherish each and every one of our readers, or some BS Lifetime channel crap.  Tell your friends.  Tell your family.  Tell the people trying to do work int he library.

 

As always, FOLLOW ME! FOLLOW ME TO FREEDOM!

 

-w

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Gritty MLB Reboot (part 2 of 3)

This is the second part or my 3-part rant about the current state of the MLB.  It is also up on the Emerson College Sports Business Society website.  My brilliance cannot be held to one mere blog. Enjoy.

 

you look nervous....

One of the key elements of a remake is to venture into totally new territory, while remaining familiar.  In theory, at least, this is the most likely way to proceed. New origin stories, new ways for characters to meet and interact, new interpretations of old ways drive the consumer. We are always curious about ways to repeat ourselves. Part of what makes baseball special is its fascinating history.

Baseball has become bloated with excessive teams and excessive salaries. An expanded playoffs looms.  I’m resigned to the fact that consolidating teams to a more manageable number, allowing more good players on fewer teams, makes entirely too much sense and is a pipe dream for many reasons. I know that something drastic needs to change in our society before player salaries don’t become so ridiculous.  But small changes to the makeup of the league(s) can yield far-reaching results.

The proposed move of the Houston Astros to the American League is a step in the right direction. Jim Crane is a genius if he can get MLB to pay him his requested 50 million dollars for what he has to know is a good idea. If all the MLB teams are going to be hanging around, let’s use that to rile up some pride.  People complain about the Red Sox, Yankees, and Rays playing so often.

But what they don’t realize is that this is a good thing. Any good marketer knows that sometimes it makes more sense to appeal to your strengths. I’m willing to bet viewers will like a big Texas Astros-Rangers showdown.  Play up the states and teams that have history. But, for the love of Honus Wagner, please, please, please don’t think for a second that the rich history of baseball needs to be polluted with any more interleague. The magic is gone, and baseball fans are moving on to see other people. Part of what makes what many consider the most ingenious re-imagining in media recently; The Joker in “The Dark Night,” so interesting within the ethos of the Batman world is his evil presence.  Heath Ledger nailed the role and put everyone on edge by representing a deranged, but realistic “other.”

(quite honestly one of the greatest sports clips you will ever see)

The idea of “the other” is a common phenomenon and is studied across the realms of sociology, psychology, marketing, PR, and many facets of the media in general. The concept of “the other,” the “barbarians at the gates,” an unseen opposition is the driving force of suspense throughout literature both new and old, and is fundamental in any horror movie (yes, even the bad ones). It’s a fascinating notion, how humans instinctively react to outsiders and strangers.

Here’s the contradictory dilemma; technology has outpaced baseball (we’ll get to that in a moment). Anyone can see any game with the right platform and a few clicks of the mouse. Not only is the magic gone, but apparently so is the mystery. Everyone needs an “other.” Everyone needs a villain. Or at least a worthy adversary.  MLB will never be the same as the old days, when the World Series came around and people had “holy cow” moments seeing a great player from an opposing league- fantasy sports and television have erased that notion of surprise. Two fully separate leagues with two newly established identities (a gradual, nuanced part of the process too detailed to truly envision now) can help provide an “us vs. them” feeling for both sides.

This brings me to the All-Star game. Sigh. Oh how the mighty have fallen. I honestly do not see the right answer for the league. On the one hand, taking only the flashiest of All-Star concepts and borrowing from the NBA could be fun. Skill competitions and celebrities drives viewers, drives interest, and in this new era of 25/7 (not a typo) news coverage, steady coverage during a break. Making the MLB All-Star game a summer hangout destination could be a money-making phenomena. Concerts, showcases, and festivals take place even in what we might take for the most boring city.

Done right, an MLB All-Star Weekend similar to the NBA could be a brilliant shift for a commissioner (though it is highly unlikely Bud would allow this to happen in his reign). However, running with the current state of baseball, a strategist may have to shift their goals based on the current mess. If the All-Star game is going to count, it should count. MLB should figure it out whether it be with contractual guarantees, a deal with the players union or a Commissioner descending from his office with a new set of unwritten baseball commandments. Baseball needs to assess a way to make its players care about the game like they used to in the sport’s past, when the players’ pride factored heavily into All-Star games.

Perhaps I am naïve to think something as simple as a re-branding of National vs. American League as us vs. them will spark that much more passion. If Bud Selig continues to remind us that “this time it counts,” there is only so much one can do. But in that mindset, of pitting the leagues more prominently as, pardon the ugly phrase, ‘separate but equal,’ will lead to a slightly altered playoff/All-Star Game relationship: With the additional rounds, the All-Star winning league gets home field advantage in the first 3 rounds. The World Series? A coinflip. It must be. An added air of mystery to the battle of the leagues.

 

 

 

stay tuned, part 3 is coming very soon!

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Poll: Who Sucks The Most?

What's that smell? Did someone eat a dog who had eaten bad Indian food? Nope, that's just the bullshit coming out of the Red Sox spin machine....

1) Get your mind out of the gutter, you one reader you…

2) I was waiting for things to be official.  Did you REALLY think I was going to let this whole Sox Shebang go down without ANY comment?!  Don’t worry, a rant is building.

side note: I am going to start naming my rants like hurricanes when I know they are building.  Though raging                                              hurricane predicting technology has far surpassed raging rant technology, I am on the cusp of a breakthrough.  Alert                                    Dennis Leary, FEMA, and other angry people.

3) Before you vote, know that this whole mess is really ownership’s fault.  If you think otherwise, you are wrong.  Sorry, you just are.  No manager who won 2 World Series and was by all accounts a pretty awesome guy deserves to be dragged through the mud like this after he was let go AND TOOK EVERY SINGLE BULLET OF BLAME FOR THIS GAWDDAMN AWFUL TEAM.  Phew…. getting closer and closer to rant stages.  I support you, Tito.

So here’s a teaser:

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Drafting MI: Duck Duck Goose

Just like the game you played as a  kid, when it comes to fantasy baseball drafting, there are some fellas you wanna pick, some you don’t.  There are the safe picks that will get you the win and the wild geese that will have you ending up on your rear.  So here we are at DotP, ready to help guide you through the rougher waters of your draft.  We’re not talking about top 50 guys, that part’s supposed to be easy.  We’ll inspect some of the higher ranked players (as in have later ADP’s) that could yield you substantial return on your relative investment.  Greed is good.  Knowledge is better.  When you can use your knowledge to greedily stockpile over achievers, well, that makes you management genius…

Middle Infield is a tricky spot in fantasy baseball as you trickle down in drafts.  Sure Utley’s great and Tulo is a stud, but what happens when you’re entering the 100’s pick and you realize you don’t have a 2B or SS?  Do you abandon all hope of valued production out of those spots? No.  You listen up.  And you listen good.  There is value to be had past the 6th round.  It’s just a matter of knowing which guys are worth the grab.

One guy we’ve always like is Stephen Drew, largely because of his triple-hitting prowess (46 career).  Drew had an ADP of 124 at the time of this writing, with a reach for him at 81 and dropping to 153 at his lowest pick.  Based on his numbers, this seems silly.  Compare him to Martin Prado (ADP: 74   High:48   Low:94) and you’ll find that Drew is really not that much less of a fantasy commodity, at least not that far a stretch (50 picks???).  So let’s look at the numbers.  Though he’d seem capable of a .300 average, Prado has Drew beat in the BA department, as Drew figures to be in the .260-.270 range while Prado looks good for another .300 season.  What about homers?  Prado hit 15 HR in 2010 and Drew did as well.  Doubles and Triples, my favorite?  Drew had a whopping 12 triples and 33 doubles, overall hitting an extra-base hit every 10.55 times he stepped into the box.  Prado was a doubles machine hitting 40 two-baggers to go along with 3 triples, and hit for extra bases every 11.22 plate appearances.  The two have similar RBI stats.  Does Prado really figure to be 50 spots more valuable than Drew?  I say not.  So don’t fret, friends, when your buddies are snatching up the mid-tier second basemen and shortstops, there’s a quiet producer in your midst.  There’s no shame in holding out for a Drew.  Just make sure it’s the right one… wouldn’t want to be struck with friggin’ JD Drew.

 

But say you’ve slipped even farther into the draft and are searching for options to fill your middle infield.  Fear not, there’s more.  Aaron Hill’s dismal 2010 season had him plummeting down fantasy ranking boards (ADP: 168      High:   88     Low:  not drafted) but let’s look at some facts.  Despite hitting .205, the dude still managed to slug 26 homers – pretty damn good output from second base.  So let’s look at that ugly .205 average.  Some question the use of BABIP as a meaningful statistic but it is hard to argue against in this case.  Aaron Hill, and this number sort of baffles me, had a .196 BABIP.  On balls he put in play, he couldn’t even crack .200.  This is an absurdly low number and a sure signifier of bad luck.  I’m not saying he’s going to replicate his 2009 campaign, but for where he’s slotted (ADP 168), there’s no harm in letting a .270, 30 homer season slide down to you in a draft.

But Will, what if some other clever person has read this piece faster than I and has already snagged these two and I’m still in need of a middle infielder?!?!?!?

Calm down! Get a hold of yourself!

 

Now that we’ve got things under control and a much needed Airplane! reference, I’ll tell you why you need’t worry.  The name says it all: Starlin Castro.  What better than invoking a star and a dictator in your name?  Castro is falling just after Hill in drafts (ADP 169) and is a very intriguing player to target.  He looks more than capable of hitting in the .290-.315 range with a solid number (i.e. around 40) of doubles and a handful of triples, as he has an elegant stride.  Grabbing him in what figures to be the teens rounds seems like a steal in a position where you can either wait or reach for someone like Andrus (who I like) or Alexi Ramirez (who I do not) much earlier.  I’m targeting Castro in my drafts because shortstop is such a funny position with a substantial drop off.  I’ll wait and see what I can get.

 

 

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