Baseball Crank
"It gets late early around here." - Yogi Berra
March 31, 2009
BASEBALL: 2009 AL West EWSL Report

Part 2 of my preseason previews is the AL West; this is the second of six division previews, using Established Win Shares Levels as a jumping-off point. Notes and reference links on the EWSL method are below the fold. Prior preview: the AL Central.

Key: + (Rookie) * (Based on one season) # (Based on two seasons)

The Angels

Raw EWSL: 251.17 (84 W)
Adjusted: 259.00 (86 W)
Age-Adj.: 231.51 (77 W)
2009 W-L: 90-72

POSAgePLAYERRaw EWSLAge Adj
C27Mike Napoli1011
1B26Kendry Morales11
2B25Howie Kendrick1214
SS25Erick Aybar#812
3B31Chone Figgins1613
RF34Vladimir Guerrero2517
CF33Torii Hunter2117
LF35Bobby Abreu2215
DH30Juan Rivera55
C226Jeff Mathis45
INF28Macier Izturis1313
OF34Gary Matthews1210
1328Reggie Willits#56
SP130John Lackey1614
SP226Jered Weaver1213
SP328Joe Saunders1212
SP433Kelvim Escobar86
SP526Ervin Santana1313
RP133Brian Fuentes118
RP225Jose Arredondo*612
RP333Scot Shields96
RP435Justin Speier43
RP538Darren Oliver76

Subjective Adjustments: None. Once again, there's nothing so off in the AL West I felt compelled to repair it. As usual, where some individual players came in lower than their projected playing time would suggest (here, Kendry Morales) the team also had guys sitting the bench who are rated on more playing time than they'll get (Matthews, Izturis), and rather than over-project Morales beyond what he's proven he can do, I'll just say "show me."

Also on Hand: Position players - 1B/3B Robb Quinlan and SS/3B Brandon Wood are the main non-pitchers, and Quinlan may actually stand to pick up some time if Morales isn't up to everyday productivity; with the flexibility of Figgins and Izturis, they give the Halos a lot of possible combinations.

Pitchers - Starters Dustin Moseley and Nick Adenhart are the likely fill-ins, and Jason Bulger and Shane Loux in the pen. Adenhart's minor league control numbers aren't as ghastly as his 13 walks in 12 innings last year with the Angels, but they're not good; Mosely had a 6.94 ERA at AAA to go with 6.79 in the AL, so while he throws strikes he's not fooling anyone. Bulger, by contrast, was just staggeringly dominant at Salt Lake, striking out - this is not a misprint - 75 batters in 43 innings (15.7 per 9) with an 0.63 ERA, and whiffing another 20 in 16 IP in the majors, albeit with even poorer control. Bulger, Loux and Moseley are all out of options.

The Salt Lake team, by the way, played .580 ball and won the Pacific Coast League.

Analysis: The Angels last season passed over the line from dominance to hegemony in the AL West, and nothing suggests that they are likely to surrender the crown this season even if Oakland returns to the neighborhood of the pennant race. With the departure of Mark Teixeira, K-Rod, Jon Garland and Garret Anderson, the Angels probably lost more free agent talent than anybody this offseason, yet they will probably end up with a slight upgrade by signing Bobby Abreu to replace Anderson (Abreu's a much better player, but he's also turning 35, a dangerous age for a guy who has already lost most of his power), they signed an adequate closer in Brian Fuentes, Garland will be replaced by the returning Escobar, and of course Tex was only here for half a season (he'll be replaced internally, by Morales). Despite that, the Angels are the picture of stability in a division of upheaval, with essentially everyone but Abreu and Fuentes a familiar face.

The main risk, of course, is the health of the starting pitching - Lackey, Escobar and Santana are all varying degrees of banged up at this stage - as well as whether Joe Saunders can avoid falling too far off from last season's career year. Really only the rotation could possibly give this division away. The team, as Angels teams this decade have tended to be, is about an ideal age mix, with an aging but not over the hill outfield and back of the bullpen mixed with a bevy of early/prime age players in the infield and rotation and at catcher.

Life, they say, is what happens while you're busy making other plans, and that's been the story of Juan Rivera's career and to some extent Escobar's and Weaver's as well - it's about time to start looking at them as the players they are, not who they might once have seemed likely to become. Morales and Wood are high on the list of guys who are running out of time to avoid the same fate. Morales now has a career line of .332/.373/.528 in the minors, most of it at AAA (albeit at high-altitude Salt Lake City), but just .249/.302/.408 in 407 big-league plate appearances. Wood's just 24, but he's smacked 128 homers the last four seasons (6 of them in the majors); while he flopped with the Angels last season, he also cut his strikeout rate at AAA. He needs a position; he seems to be regarded as a question mark at short, but his error rates in the minors at 3B are alarming.

Vlad Guerrero is and remains a great player, but his whole career trajectory has to be re-evaluated a bit since we found out he's a year older than he claimed.

Oakland A's

Raw EWSL: 172.50 (58 W)
Adjusted: 202.41 (67 W)
Age-Adj.: 195.44 (65 W)
2009 W-L: 78-84

POSAgePLAYERRaw EWSLAge Adj
C25Kurt Suzuki*1116
1B38Jason Giambi139
2B32Mark Ellis1613
SS34Orlando Cabrera2118
3B31Eric Chavez65
RF25Travis Buck#69
CF24Ryan Sweeney*616
LF29Matt Holliday2321
DH30Jack Cust1513
C227Landon Powell+04
INF29Bobby Crosby87
OF28Rajai Davis#45
1323Daric Barton*612
SP131Justin Duchscherer97
SP225Dana Eveland44
SP323Sean Gallagher*12
SP423Gio Gonzalez*00
SP525Dallas Braden23
RP125Joey Devine*510
RP229Brad Ziegler*611
RP329Santiago Casilla#33
RP440Russ Springer75
RP530Michael Wuertz44

Subjective Adjustments: None. Barton, however, will struggle to get the playing time to meet his EWSL.

Also on Hand: Position players - Nomar Garciaparra is the biggest name, and will slot in wherever an extra hand is needed, especially if Chavez can't stay healthy; Jack Hannahan is still around, but was awful last year and likely not Oakland's next choice at third after Chavez (Barton is no longer considered a third baseman). Outfielder Chris Denorfia is around as well, and outfielders Eric Patterson and Aaron Cunningham behind him. Pitchers - Hot prospects Trevor Cahill and Brett Anderson have been competing for rotation slots along with Josh Outman, and it now appears that Cahill will start the season's second game, with Duchscherer on the shelf with elbow surgery and Gonzalez having a rough spring. I rated them on the incumbents anyway, but it doesn't alter the numbers much. Jerry Blevins will be in the bullpen, and Andrew Brown is also on hand; both had ERAs in the low 3s last year.

Analysis: The A's perennially get more Win Shares from players I don't include in the preseason EWSL charts than almost anybody, and I have no doubt - especially if you look at the list above - that will happen again this year, and you can probably consider this closer to an 85-win than a 78-win roster. Of course, their young rotation could have substantial up- or down-side, especially a volatile power arm like Gonzalez or the highly touted Cahill and Anderson (although Gallagher may be the best bet for a step forward of the group). They'll probably end the season with a team more comparable to the Angels than they are on Opening Day, but even with the addition of Holliday's bat and Cabrera's glove, it will take quite a lot for this team to actually haul down the 24 1/2 game gap that separated them from the Angels last season.

Devine is seeing the dreaded Dr. Andrews, apparently leaving Ziegler to close (backed up by Casilla, who had a tough 2008). I believe Dr. Andrews gives a volume discount on former Braves pitchers.

Barton is hoping to avoid becoming the next Dan Johnson (the original finally gave up and signed to play in Japan); he'll probably be traded if he gets playing time and hits. Like Johnson, his timing is awful, as he's currently nursing a quad strain just when he was having a hot spring.

Fun fact from the Bill James goldmine: Duchscherer, the heir to Steve Karsay and Steve Ontiveros, narrowly missed having a 1-2-3 inning in half his innings last season.

Seattle Mariners

Raw EWSL: 173.00 (58 W)
Adjusted: 179.40 (60 W)
Age-Adj.: 164.92 (55 W)
2009 W-L: 68-94

POSAgePLAYERRaw EWSLAge Adj
C33Kenji Johjima1311
1B33Russ Branyan54
2B25Jose Lopez1518
SS27Yuniesky Betancourt1313
3B30Adrian Beltre1513
RF35Ichiro Suzuki2517
CF26Franklin Gutierrez55
LF39Ken Griffey jr1411
DH29Chris Shelton22
C225Jeff Clement*24
INF26Ronny Cedeno44
OF31Endy Chavez54
1327Mike Morse11
SP123Felix Hernandez1313
SP230Erik Bedard119
SP326Ryan Rowland-Smith#57
SP434Jarrod Washburn75
SP530Carlos Silva43
RP124Brendan Morrow#57
RP227Chad Cordero55
RP326Mark Lowe11
RP429Roy Corcoran*46
RP527Randy Messenger22

Subjective Adjustments: None.

Also on Hand: Position players - 35-year-old Mike Sweeney has torn the cover off the ball this spring, and Don Wakamatsu speaks warmly of having him on the team, which seems to give him the inside track for the DH or platoon DH job, but Shelton's had an even better spring and I expect his relative youth and durability to win out sooner or later. Outfielder Wlademier Balentien, who was just lost last season at the plate, is the other guy likely to get significant playing time, as may Chris Burke, just picked up from Houston. Shortstop prospect Matt Tuiasasopo is also on hand, as is outfielder Mike Wilson, and Jamie Burke may yet reclaim the backup catcher slot.

Pitchers - Relievers Miguel Batista, David Aardsma and Sean White (Tyler Walker has been cut) as well as Jason Vargas, Garrett Olson and Cesar Jimenez.

Analysis: The Mariners have rid themselves of a lot of deadwood - admitting you have a problem is the first step - but there's not that much here to really build on as a long-term foundation besides King Felix and maybe Lopez, and Lopez is too free-swinging to be a star. In the short run, they're making do with cheap spare parts like Branyan, Shelton, Sweeney and the Ken Griffey nostalgia tour. They may yet have a dominant front end of the rotation with Hernandez and Bedard, but that didn't work out last season.

The Mariners' closer job has been an ongoing soap opera. Cordero should get a crack at the job, but he may not pitch before June, so in the interim they are going with just-now-converted starter Brandon Morrow, but Morrow may not be adjusted to close by Opening Day, so in the interim it could be Lowe, except that he's had the stuffings beaten out of him this spring. At one point, they were actually looking at Batista. Safeco will probably help the bullpen hang together, and there's a lot of guys there who can pitch a little, just no ace.

The defense, next to last (above Texas) in defensive efficiency last season, may be another story. The infield is basically the same aside from 1B. The M's have four center fielders, sort of, with Ichiro, Griffey, Endy and Gutierrez, so Gutierrez better be careful calling for balls, but of course Griffey doesn't move especially well anymore and may DH as much as he plays left.

Ichiro has been taking some rest after feeling light-headed, which is hopefully just jet lag. It's hard to believe that Ichiro's only four years younger than Griffey, having arrived in Seattle 12 years later and representing a different era of baseball in Seattle.

Clement has been talked about as a possibility as DH or starting catcher ahead of Johjima, but he was sent back to AAA for now amidst concern about his glove.

Texas Rangers
Raw EWSL: 158.00 (53 W)
Adjusted: 171.10 (57 W)
Age-Adj.: 162.51 (54 W)
2009 W-L: 67-95

POSAgePLAYERRaw EWSLAge Adj
C24Jarrod Saltalamacchia#57
1B23Chris Davis*410
2B27Ian Kinsler2021
SS20Elvis Andrus+011
3B32Michael Young2218
RF28Nelson Cruz55
CF28Josh Hamilton#1721
LF27David Murphy#79
DH28Hank Blalock88
C225Taylor Teagarden+24
INF35Frank Catalanotto75
OF32Andruw Jones108
1331Marlon Byrd119
SP134Kevin Millwood75
SP231Vicente Padilla76
SP326Scott Feldman33
SP425Brandon McCarthy23
SP523Matt Harrison*23
RP129Frank Francisco44
RP228CJ Wilson54
RP338Eddie Guardado43
RP431Derrick Turnbow22
RP527Kason Gabbard33

Subjective Adjustments: None, but I am sorely tempted to downgrade Andrus, as discussed below.

Also on Hand: Position players - Slugging catching prospect Max Ramirez would garner more attention in another organization, but with Saltalamacchia and Teagarden on hand, there's a surplus of potential and a deficit of proven production at the position. With all Texas' needs, you have to figure at least one of them will be dealt by the deadline. Brandon Boggs is on hand in the outfield, Omar Vizquel, Joaquin Arias and German Duran are all poised to step in if Andrus fails.

Pitchers - The usual cast of thousands - high-ceiling prospect Neftali Feliz, and veterans Kris Benson, Joaquin Benoit (out with rotator cuff surgery), Jason Jennings, Dustin Nippert, Josh Rupe, and Warner Madrigal.

Analysis: The story of the Rangers, as always, starts and ends not with the AL's top-scoring offense in 2008 but with their appalling starting pitching, the reason they will be fighting the Mariners to stay out of the cellar. No help appears immediately on the way, although Feliz could be in the rotation later this year. The bullpen is more adequate, but nothing special. The Rangers were 14th of 14 teams last year in ERA and defensive efficiency, 13th in Ks, 12th in homers, 11th in walks; you can't blame all that on the park or the defense. Although, clearly some help would help: the average AL pitcher last season allowed 1.00 HR, 3.32 BB and 6.64 K/9; Kevin Millwood's averages were 0.96 HR, 2.61 BB and 6.67 K - better than average on all counts - but whereas the average AL pitcher gave up 9.19 hits per 9, Millwood allowed 11.74. Ouch.

Key to the defensive improvement will be Andrus, who has drawn raves for his glove this spring. Assuming the Rangers are committed to him, Andrus may be a decent fantasy baseball bet: he steals bases (94 in 244 games the last two seasons), plays short and plays in Texas. But realistically, I'll be shocked if he has an OPS+ above 80: the guy's 20 years old and slugged .367 in the Texas League last season. John Sickels notes that he's considered a good hitting prospect given his age, but that doesn't mean he's ready. And his defensive range better be good, because Andrus has averaged 45 errors per 162 games in the minor leagues. Rangers fans will need to be patient when he steps on his own blue suede shoes.

Saltalamacchia - the man who broke the box score - hasn't really repeated his stellar 2005 as a 20-year-old in A ball, raising memories of catching prospects like Javier Valentin and Robert Fick who just had a great year in the minors they could never live up to. With Teagarden and Ramirez on his heels, he'll have a short leash.

Davis, I'm a little leery of - yeah, great half-season run in the Kevin Maas style, but over his major and minor league careers he's averaged 47 walks and 172 K per 162 games to go with his averages of 42 HR and 44 doubles. The power is real, but so is Marcus Thames' (if we are still speaking of ex-Braves).

Frank Catalanotto, the king of the hot streak, has been a survivor and exceeded expectations many times before, but given his dependence on his batting average and dwindling defensive flexibility, he strikes me as exactly the kind of 35 year old who isn't on anybody's roster at 36.

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Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:00 PM | Baseball 2009 • | Baseball Studies | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
BLOG: Hotelicopter

This seems like one of those ideas you're almost afraid to ask what the point is. It has its own website, which attempts to explain and ends up conjuring up mental images of the Hindenberg. Video below the fold.

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Posted by Baseball Crank at 3:04 PM | Blog 2006-13 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
March 30, 2009
POLITICS: Bigger and Closer to Power

My RedState and New Ledger colleague Francis Cianfrocca, working off the same Matt Yglesias piece I noted below, gets to the core of the issue of executive compensation:

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Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:00 PM | Business • | Politics 2009 | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: The Congress Party

Jonathan Chait has an interesting article in the New Republic on Democratic dysfunction in governing Washington. I have a variety of quibbles with Chait's narrative, in which the iron discipline of the GOP has given way to the weak-kneed moderates undercutting Obama's liberalism. Among them:

-His retelling of the enactment of the Bush tax cuts ignores the episode in which a member of the GOP caucus switched parties in revolt over the tax agenda and threw control of the Senate to the other party, which is rather a larger problem with party unity than Obama has yet faced.

-Chait ignores the Social Security fiasco, which occurred while the GOP had a solid majority. Typically of Chait, his narrative of the Bush Administration fails to note that Bush was re-elected.

-Chait recognizes the tension between liberalism and self-interested home-state interests (including rural-state farm policy) but neglects to recognize the same dynamic among Republicans, who often found fiscal conservatism stymied by members of Congress who wanted to protect things like farm subsidies or earmarked transportation projects. To say that "[t]his sort of behavior didn't hurt Bush because his agenda largely was synonymous with business interests" is to overlook those tensions.

-Chait ignores the unifying effect of the war on Republican party discipline; in fact, he ignores the existence of foreign and national security policy altogether.

-Chait ignores instances of Congressional Democrats pushing Obama leftward, rather than rightward.

-Chait's discussion of the filibuster ignores its prominent deployment by liberals, Obama among them, to hold up judicial nominees.

-Chait fails to address the possibility that the last three Democratic presidents have had things in common that made it more difficult to deal with Washington. Jimmy Carter was a relatively inexperienced governor and a stranger to national politics until 1976; Bill Clinton came from a tiny state and had not been much involved in national debates before 1992 (although at least Clinton had been a governor for a decade and headed the National Governors Association, so he wasn't starting totally from scratch); and Obama most of all is a guy who was elected direectly from being a first-term, wet-behind-the-ears backbench Senator. By contrast, the last seven GOP Presidents going back to Hoover have all been either familiar faces in DC (what Bush lacked in formal experience in Washington he'd made up through working with his father's campaigns and White House) and/or major national figures over an extended period before becoming president. It's harder to get Congress to listen to you if you have neither a built-in base of respect nor the executive chops to tell people what to do (LBJ, the last Democratic president who'd been a somebody to Washington insiders before his election, had no trouble keeping Congress in line). One of the continuing issues will be the extent to which Obama defers to Congress in the writing of legislation, with the attendant additional delay and loss of control, rather than leaning on Congress to accept things as the White House lays them out (granted, in the health care debate, Clinton went too far in the opposite direction).

Anyway, it's worth reading despite all of that, and I especially liked this passage, which does encapsulate the differing cultures of the two parties in Washington:

Since Democrats controlled the Congress almost continuously for more than 60 years beginning in 1933, the culture of Congress left a deeper imprint on their party. Republicans, shut out from the perks of majority status, finally decided under the opposition leadership of Newt Gingrich in the 1990s that their only path to power lay in partisan discipline.

Democrats, on the other hand, came of age under the old Democratic chieftains, and they have mostly aped that style. They do not fall in line, even under a Democratic president who mostly shares their goals. Shortly after Obama took office, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced, "I don't work for him." Even House Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel, whose Harlem constituents danced in the streets after Obama's election, sniffed of Obama's plan to raise taxes on the rich, "I have to study it but I really don't take presidents' recommendations that seriously." Recommendation--that is the term that summarizes Congress's attitude. A president can suggest whatever he likes, but Congress is the one making the decisions, and don't you forget it.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 5:20 PM | Politics 2009 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Trivia Question of the Day

Who hit the first major league home run against Nolan Ryan?

Answer in the top of the seventh inning here.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 2:11 PM | Baseball 2009 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
March 28, 2009
POLITICS: What Kind of Fool is Matt Yglesias?

a) The kind of fool who has never held a real job?
b) The kind of fool who thinks there's nothing un-American about using punitive taxation to drive the best baseball players in the world out of the United States?
c) The kind of fool who has been drinking too much bong water?

Judging by this post, probably all three?

Some people, as I understand it, just don't think inequality is a problem. But for the egalitarians among us, I've never really understood the view that obscene executive compensation is an issue that absolutely positively certainly must only be addressed through the indirect Rube Goldberg-esque method of changing corporate governance rules. What if we had a 95 percent marginal tax rate on income over $10 million? What dire consequences would flow from this? Perhaps a certain outflow of top-flight baseball talent to Japan. But I don't see this leading to any kind of economic calamity. Producers of certain classes of supply-constrained luxury goods would lose out as their prices go down. But my strong suspicion is that at the end of the day most of the super-rich would ultimately find it a relief to get off the treadmill of status-competition and the not-quite-so-rich would be thrilled to see their betters cut down to size.

Pejman and Michael Moynihan have a good deal of sport with this insanity and the greed, envy and lust for power that drive it (he's not suggesting burning the money, after all, but giving it to powerful politicians to spend, presumably - these days - politicians he's hoping will listen to the advice of Matt Yglesias) as well as the complete failure to comprehend that we do not live, as liberal economics so often assumes, in a closed and statis universe, but rather in a world of competitiveness and response to incentives. Only a fool of colossal proportions would believe that one could enact such a draconian tax policy with no consequences, but so often we hear these arguments (we hear them as well from the president regarding limiting charitable deductions) from liberals who simply assume that the economy is a money machine that can be loaded down with an unlimited number of burdens with no consequences. High marginal tax rates? Rent control? Generous welfare policies? Nah, it's inconceivable that human beings, being the self-interested creatures humans are, would alter their behavior even the slightest in response.

Let's consider Yglesias' example: baseball, specificallly the New York Yankees, whose payroll last season included 13 players making more than the wholly arbitrary $10 million figure. Presumably, even Yglesias isn't so dense as to believe that the Yankees would continue awarding salaries over $10 million under such a tax regime - he refers to his confiscatory tax proposal as "a de facto cap on compensation" - so the money would....stay with the team? Which raises the question of whether he would apply the same tax to the owners of the team, or the large shareholders of other enterprises. If he doesn't, then he's basically just redistributing wealth from the employees of an enterprise to its owners; if he does, then what he's proposing is more radical still, the destruction of enterprises that provide more than a certain amount of value (as measured by the revenues they raise from the choice of consumers to spend money on their product) - and that does seem to be his intention, as he says that "[t]he lack of ceiling on executive compensation creates bad incentives for firms to grow into unduly large conglomerates rather than be content to exist as highly profitable medium-sized enterprises," without considering the fact that given economies of scale and, in the case of a business like the Yankees, the fact that it simply can't create the same amount of value if you break it into little pieces with the coercive power of the state, you are simply destroying the value large enterprises deliver to consumers.

Finally, an irony: if the enemy is bigness, and if it's no problem at all to replace large enterprises of vast scale with many smaller ones that cater to smaller, perhaps regional markets, then shouldn't Yglesias be championing federalism? After all, the federal government is nothing if not the ultimate embodiment of conglomeration of many previously local functions into one colossal enterprise of continental scale. If that's a bad thing, however, it has wholly eluded Yglesias' notice.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:57 PM | Politics 2009 | Comments (10) | TrackBack (0)
March 27, 2009
BASEBALL: 2009 AL Central EWSL Report

This year, I'm starting my preseason previews with the AL Central; this is the first of six division previews, using Established Win Shares Levels as a jumping-off point. Notes and reference links on the EWSL method are below the fold.

Key: + (Rookie) * (Based on one season) # (Based on two seasons)

Minnesota Twins

Raw EWSL: 200.50 (67 W)
Adjusted: 228.28 (76 W)
Age-Adj.: 233.23 (78 W)
Subjective Adj.: 233.23 (78 W)
2009 W-L: 91-71

POSAgePLAYERRaw EWSLAge Adj
C26Joe Mauer2731
1B28Justin Morneau2425
2B24Alexi Casilla#57
SS31Nick Punto97
3B31Joe Crede108
RF30Michael Cuddyer1311
CF23Carlos Gomez#711
LF23Delmon Young*1319
DH27Jason Kubel1011
C238Mike Redmond64
INF28Brendan Harris#1012
OF25Denard Span*820
1325Jason Pridie04
SP125Francisco Liriano55
SP225Kevin Slowey#68
SP327Scott Baker99
SP427Nick Blackburn*510
SP526Glen Perkins#45
RP134Joe Nathan1711
RP227Jesse Crain43
RP330Matt Guerrier54
RP428Craig Breslow*36
RP531Boof Bonser43

Subjective Adjustments: None - I'm trying to be stingy with those - but clearly, 20 Win Shares from Denard Span and his sloppy pants is very aggressive for a guy who entered 2008 having never slugged higher than .369 in any stop in the minor leagues and appears to be starting the season without a fixed position in the outfield, although he's expected to end up with semi-regular playing time. That said, I'm not going to adjust downward a guy who only appeared in 93 games last year; he can lose a fair bit of productivity and make up for it with increased playing time.

Also on Hand: Position players - Infielders Brian Buscher and Matt Tolbert; Buscher was basically the everyday 3B for part of last season, and may yet get decent playing time if Crede's back gives out again.

Pitchers - Relievers R.A. Dickey, Luis Ayala, and Jose Mijares, and starters Phil Humber and Kevin Mulvey, both fruits of the Santana trade. Pat Neshek, so valuable the last few years, is out for the season with Tommy John surgery.

Analysis: As referenced in the comment above about Span, Ron Gardenhire's approach to playing time is a fluid one, and that's reflected in the distribution of Win Shares (and other statistical markers) among the Twins' non-pitchers. It may affect the catching corps as well: Joe Mauer is banged up already with a lower back strain, which is the kind of thing that can start the process of eating into his productivity around the edges even if he's only on the shelf for a few days. Redmond should start in his absence, although the Twins seem to be toying with Kubel behind the plate. It's premature to be overly worried about what could just be a week or two of early season stiffness, but with catchers you never know; it would be a shame if it ended up that Mauer, who should have been the AL MVP last season, had more of his best years already behind than ahead of him. (If you missed my look at the all-time great catchers, Part II of that series noted that Mauer has just a tremendous record by historical standards in throwing out base thieves).

The Twins' dependence on Mauer and the 34-year-old Nathan (along with Morneau, but as a 28-year-old slugging first baseman Morneau is as close to a sure thing as exists in the uncertain world of baseball) is a risk factor, but the major area for upside for the Twinkies - as well as the sort of downside that sends teams unexpectedly to the cellar - is their just-hitting-their-primes starting rotation. I think it's highly likely the rotation as a whole delivers more Win Shares than what's set out above; only Blackburn is really rated here as if he's a successful full-season starter. Liriano would surprise nobody if he won the Cy Young Award, ERA and/or strikeout titles this season, but his career high in innings is 167.2 as a minor leaguer and 121 in the major leagues - he needs to establish himself as capable of carrying the workload of a #1 starter. Then there's Slowey, who in his last 19 starts last season was 10-5 with a 3.24 ERA and averaged 1.0 HR, 1.3 walks and 7.2 K per 9 innings. If he can keep going at that rate, he too will be a top-of-the-line starter. Baker also has solid peripheral numbers, though he has struggled badly this spring. Blackburn, by contrast, has never struck out 100 batters at any level, so I'm skeptical of his viability going forward (ask Brian Bannister how that works out). On the whole, I think I'd much rather enter the season with this team than any other in the division, and EWSL appropriately rates them as the handy favorites.

On the everyday side, Gomez and Casilla should be an interesting bet for steals in fantasy baseball, but their value in the real world remains speculative (Bill James notes that Gomez laid down a MLB-high 66 bunts last year; Casilla at 37 was fourth). Delmon Young improved at the margins in a bunch of areas last year - upped his steals a bit, cut his GIDP a bit, cut his K/unintentional walk rate from 5.25 to 1 to 3.75 to 1 - and it's not that unusual for a very young hitter to follow an stagnate-then-explode growth pattern rather than steady improvement every season. That said, the drop in his doubles rate reduces some of the grounds for optimism about a big power breakout, while his dismal glovework raised the more immediate, short-term questions about whether he is helping the team while they wait for him to make the leap forward (the Baseball Prospectus article on the Twins argued that Young should be dealt, given that the Twins are contenders).

Cleveland Indians

Raw EWSL: 210.33 (70 W)
Adjusted: 225.56 (75 W)
Age-Adj.: 220.62 (74 W)
2009 W-L: 86-76

POSAgePLAYERRaw EWSLAge Adj
C30Victor Martinez1614
1B28Ryan Garko1313
2B23Asdrubal Cabrera#813
SS27Jhonny Peralta1920
3B34Mark DeRosa1916
RF26Shin-Soo Choo910
CF26Grady Sizemore2730
LF27Ben Francisco*59
DH32Travis Hafner108
C229Kelly Shoppach109
INF34Jamey Carroll98
OF35David Dellucci53
1323Luis Valbuena+14
SP130Cliff Lee1412
SP225Fausto Carmona910
SP327Anthony Reyes33
SP425Scott Lewis+24
SP524Aaron Laffey#34
RP132Kerry Wood75
RP225Jensen Lewis#46
RP327Rafael Perez#78
RP434Rafael Betancourt85
RP525Joe Smith#45

Subjective Adjustments: None.

Also on Hand: Position players - Josh Barfield and Andy Marte, both of whom will probably get only one more chance to reclaim their status as potential everyday players; speedy 25-year-old outfielder Trevor Crowe, who is trying to catch on as a utilityman; slugging OF prospect Matt LaPorta, received in the Sabathia deal; 24-year-old 3B prospect Wes Hodges. Pitchers - Jake Westbrook, who may be back around midseason after Tommy John and hip surgeries; Carl Pavano; top prospect Adam Miller; Matt Herges; Japanese import and onetime Japan League ace closer Masahide Kobayashi, who was largely a flop last season despite a respectable 2.5-to-1 K/BB ratio (he had trouble with the longball); and Juan Salas.

Analysis: When you get past the shattered hopes of 2008 and the residue that remains (e.g., the ghost of Travis Hafner), there's actually some grounds for optimism in Cleveland. This remains a division for the taking if Minnesota's rotation unravels, and like the Twins, the Indians have some young pitchers with upside, like Scott Lewis and Reyes, as well as guys like Carmona and the two Rafaels who could bounce back from last season (granted, Cliff Lee's not going to repeat 2008). The Indians have announced Pavano, Scott Lewis, and Reyes in their rotation and sent down Laffey and Jeremy Sowers, but there's nothing less reliable in this world than Carl Pavano, so I rated them on the assumption that Laffey, the lesser of those two evils, will have to step in soon enough; Pavano would rate at essentially zero. If the Indians' training staff can keep both Pavano and Kerry Wood healthy all season, they should get a Nobel Prize or something.

Choo is penciled in for now in the Indians' plans, but he's 27 and owes the South Korean government two years of compulsory military service before age 30, and awaits word on whether he can get an exemption. There are not the greatest of outfield options at the big league level if he has to go serve his country, but I would assume LaPorta would get a crack sooner or later. Peralta's another guy whose value in the real world is a good deal less than to fantasy baseball owners: his defense is poor, his OBPs are uninspired, and he's hit into 57 double plays the past 3 seasons. Valbuena, a 23 year old second baseman, may get a crack at regular playing time, but aside from an out-of-nowhere power surge in 70 games at AA last season (which he was unable to duplicate at Tacoma), his minor league line is pretty unimpressive.

And of course, there's Sizemore, the American League's answer to David Wright: like Wright, he's a perennial MVP candidate already at age 26, and like Wright he's likely sooner or later to have a bust-out year that soars over even his already elevated standards. Baseball-reference.com identifies the most similar player through age 25 as Barry Bonds (Duke Snider is third, having been Sizemore's closest comp in earlier years).

Detroit Tigers

Raw EWSL: 220.00 (73 W)
Adjusted: 227.07 (76 W)
Age-Adj.: 206.60 (69 W)
2009 W-L: 82-80

POSAgePLAYERRaw EWSLAge Adj
C29Gerald Laird98
1B26Miguel Cabrera2529
2B33Placido Polanco1815
SS32Adam Everett65
3B32Brandon Inge1210
RF35Magglio Ordonez2316
CF28Curtis Granderson2222
LF33Carlos Guillen1714
DH40Gary Sheffield95
C233Matt Treanor54
INF29Ramon Santiago44
OF32Marcus Thames76
1328Ryan Raburn#33
SP126Justin Verlander1213
SP226Jeremy Bonderman77
SP327Armando Galarraga*712
SP425Edwin Jackson66
SP531Nate Robertson65
RP129Brandon Lyon87
RP232Fernando Rodney43
RP324Joel Zumaya44
RP431Bobby Seay43
RP527Zach Miner66

Subjective Adjustments: None.

Also on Hand: Position players - Clete Thomas, who subbed adequately for Granderson in center field last season; 25 year old OF Brent Clevlen, coming off a .279/.358/.496 season at AAA Toledo; and 26-year-old 1B Jeff Larish, coming off a .250/.341/.477 season at Toledo. All three could likely step in and provide adequate production, much as the Twins were able to keep throwing rookies out there last season. Pitchers - Dontrelle Willis is still part of the eventual rotation mix unless the Tigers can find a greater fool for his contract, although he's unlikely to be in the Opening Day rotation, as is 20 year old super-prospect Rick Porcello, who pitched well but without a whole lot of strikeouts in his first go-round in pro ball last season. The mediocre K rate is nothing to worry about until we see another season from him, but it does suggest he's not big league ready. Also Juan Rincon, Clay Rapada, and Freddy Dolsi. Aquilino Lopez has been justifiably given the boot after a year in which he had good K/BB numbers and a 3.55 ERA, but let in 29 of 57 inherited runners and saw the Tigers lose two thirds of his appearances.

Analysis: By season's end, the Tigers and Indians looked like Germany and Russia circa 1919, two onetime adversaries reduced to rubble, shell shock and internal strife. While nobody as valuable as Sabathia has left Detroit, the Tigers' problems may be more intractable, with more, older players (Polanco, Guillen and Ordonez are all 33 and up and Sheffield may be finished) and more severe pitching injuries, especially to Bonderman and Zumaya. I'm more optimistic about Verlander, but the rotation remains questionable, and Brandon Lyon is not exactly the most reliable closer.

Maybe it's a coincidence that the Marlins' defense improved significantly, and the Tigers' decayed significantly, when Cabrera left Florida for Detroit. The revelation about Vlad Guerrero being a year older than he let on makes me wonder about guys like Cabrera who - great a hitter as he is - tend to get a very large boost by analysts for being so young.

Hard to believe Granderson's 28 already. He played at close to MVP candidate level after his return last season, but the Tigers never escaped the hole his injury caused, especially defensively.

Kansas City Royals

Raw EWSL: 185.83 (62 W)
Adjusted: 202.13 (67 W)
Age-Adj.: 201.52 (67 W)
2009 W-L: 80-82

POSAgePLAYERRaw EWSLAge Adj
C30Miguel Olivo87
1B28Mike Jacobs1112
2B26Alberto Callaspo#45
SS28Mike Aviles*917
3B25Alex Gordon*1217
RF33Jose Guillen1210
CF29Coco Crisp1212
LF29David DeJesus1817
DH23Billy Butler#610
C228John Buck88
INF33Ross Gload65
OF27Mark Teahen1414
1331Willie Bloomquist43
SP130Gil Meche1311
SP225Zack Greinke1112
SP325Kyle Davies44
SP428Brian Bannister55
SP525Luke Hochevar*23
RP125Joakim Soria#1317
RP230Juan Cruz65
RP333Kyle Farnsworth32
RP438Ron Mahay65
RP529Horacio Ramirez21

Subjective Adjustments: None, but color me a skeptic on Aviles repeating 2008.

Also on Hand: Position players - Well, there's Ryan Shealy and Tony Pena, both refugees from the starting lineup, as well as catcher Brayan Pena (who has been stuck in AAA for four years) and outfielder Shane Costa. 25-year Hawaiian 1B Kila Ka'aihue is an enigma, batting .199/.303/.300 in AA in 2006, .248/.359/.435 between A and AA in 2007, then exploding for 38 homers and a .313/.453/.618 line at three levels, mostly AA, in 2008. Pitchers - As usual, a cast of thousands, including Robinson Tejeda (who could end up in the pen or the rotation), Sir Sidney Ponson (who actually stands a pretty decent chance of cracking the rotation), Brandon Duckworth, Joel Peralta, and John Bale.

Analysis: The Royals are still the Royals, so fourth place is something they aspire to. There remains a lot of upside in Gordon, Butler and Greinke, and it's too early to write off Hochevar after a bad rookie campaign, although based on his 4.35 career minor league ERA, the jury is still out on whether there was ever a rational basis to consider him something more than the next Dan Reichert or Jeremy Affeldt. Greinke, by contrast, is a pitcher, not just a thrower; on a team with more offensive and defensive support I'd be more willing to buy into the idea that he's on the verge of emerging as an elite pitcher, or rather of putting up numbers commensurate with that stature.

I have a feeling that Coco Crisp is going to have a much improved year with the bat. No, I don't precisely have a rational basis for that other than a lifetime of watching the shapes of players' careers. DeJesus remains the Lee Mazzilli of these Royals. It's hard to envision this team winning anything (defined as 85 or more games) so long as Guillen is in the clubhouse.

Chicago White Sox

Raw EWSL: 167.67 (56 W)
Adjusted: 197.80 (66 W)
Age-Adj.: 180.15 (60 W)
2009 W-L: 73-89

POSAgePLAYERRaw EWSLAge Adj
C32AJ Pierzynski97
1B33Paul Konerko1412
2B25Chris Getz+011
SS27Alexei Ramirez*919
3B26Josh Fields#45
RF35Jermaine Dye1611
CF28Jerry Owens#22
LF26Carlos Quentin1416
DH38Jim Thome2014
C223Tyler Flowers+04
INF27Wilson Betemit55
OF31DeWayne Wise11
1325Brent Lillibridge+14
SP130Mark Buehrle1513
SP224John Danks#1013
SP326Gavin Floyd89
SP437Jose Contreras76
SP525Clayton Richard*00
RP128Bobby Jenks1414
RP235Octavio Dotel43
RP332Scott Linebrink64
RP432Matt Thornton85
RP532Mike MacDougal21

Subjective Adjustments: None.

Also on Hand: Position players - Jayson Nix, whose leg injury mostly left the 2B job to Getz; perennial disappointing CF Brian Anderson; Ben Broussard; and 33-year-old Crash Davis-style minor league catcher Corky Miller, and young SS Gordon Beckham. Pitchers - Bartolo Colon looks like he'll be in the starting rotation, but as with Pavano, I've rated the guy (Richard) likely to pick up the slack if Colon's not able to hitch up the plow every five days; the White Sox wouldn't rate much better if I rated Colon, who has amassed four Win Shares in the past three years. Then again, at least at the outset, Contreras may still be on the shelf. Jeffrey Marquez and Lance Broadway are also on hand. MacDougal is not a favorite of Ozzie Guillen, but his performance record still gives him the inside edge over those guys.

Analysis: EWSL and I were pretty down on the White Sox and wrong about it last year, and this year's prognosis is grimmer still; I don't actually see this as a last place team, but they do have real problems. Last year's improvement was driven by a bunch of breakout years from young players (Quentin, Danks, Floyd and Cuban import Ramirez); other than maybe the still gopher-prone Floyd, those guys look likely to be the real deal, but that doesn't mean they won't backslide some this season. It was also driven by the veteran power core, and another year of age on Thome, Dye and Konerko (also Pierzynski, Contreras and Dotel) is likely to catch up with them soon. The White Sox are likely to miss Orlando Cabrera's glove, and they still don't have a credible center fielder. That said, Fields could still provide some upside at 3B.

Flowers is 23 and hasn't played above A ball, and will start the season in the minors, and you never trust a guy the Braves let get away, but his career .291/.400/.488 line suggests potential, and it won't be surprising if the Sox give him the everyday job and deal AJ at some point.

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Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:00 PM | Baseball 2009 • | Baseball Studies | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
March 26, 2009
POLITICS: Deval Patrick In Deep Trouble In New Poll

Some of you may recall that many of the themes used by Barack Obama in his presidential campaign, and even some of the words that came off Obama's TelePrompter, were first tried out by another David Axelrod client, Deval Patrick, in Patrick's successful run for Governor of Massachusetts in 2006:

Three years later, one poll says the voters of the deep-blue Bay State haven't gotten the Change they Hoped for, and they want a recall, with Patrick locked in a dead heat just for renomination:

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Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:31 PM | Politics 2009 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
March 25, 2009
WAR: Alexandria, Virginia Can't Handle The Truth

Jim Moran's District, the new GitmoNorthern Virginia is pretty much the classic example of an upscale suburban area that has gone much bluer in the past 4 years, and exactly the sort of place where it has been fashionable to be horrified by the detention without trial of enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay...without giving a second thought to what you would do with those detainees if you closed the place. As long as George W. Bush was president, it was safe and easy to complain about Gitmo without facing those realities.

That was then; Bush is gone now, and with his successor actually entertaining the daft notion of bringing detainees stateside for trials in our criminal justice system, an idea long championed by Congressman Jim Moran of Virginia's 8th District (which includes Arlington and Alexandria, "the heart of Northern Virginia") suddenly the residents of Alexandria are awakening to the problem:

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Posted by Baseball Crank at 1:11 PM | War 2007-12 | Comments (12) | TrackBack (0)
LAW: Three Rulings

Here's three interesting ones (well, to me as a law nerd, anyway) from the carnival of law and humanity that comes out of my daily scan of the latest appellate court decisions:

-The Second Circuit overturns a lower court decision holding that medical residents are not "students" exempt from FICA taxes, concluding that the statute doesn't clearly define what a "student" is and the courts need to look at the facts of each particular program (regardless of whether this is right on the law, it's terrible policy, as it leaves the issue to expensive fact-intensive litigation rather than giving residency programs clear rules to plan around). The subtext, of course, is that residents who make little money now but expect to make a lot in the future would far rather opt out of the whole Social Security system to the greatest extent possible.

-The Eighth Circuit disagrees with a man who claims to be mentally retarded so as to receive disability assistance, saying his low IQ isn't proof enough to overcome his work history and general life experience of nobody treating him as mentally handicapped. While it's something of an amusing effort, the guy has obviously had a pretty hard life when you read the whole thing (for example, the court notes that he dropped out of school not due to mental impairment but due to an accident that nearly cost him his right arm).

-The Fifth Circuit rejects Dennis Kucinich's challenge to the Texas Democratic Party's 'loyalty oath' that presidential primary candidates must pledge to support the ultimate nominee. Judge Edith Jones clearly doesn't think much of the idea of the oath but finds no constitutional problem with it being a condition to ballot access in a partisan primary.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:48 PM | Law 2009-13 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
March 24, 2009
POLITICS: How The Left Works

Martin Knight looks at the liberal campaign to bankrupt Sarah Palin. Call it "new politics."

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:23 PM | Politics 2009 | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)
LAW/BASKETBALL: An Expert In Brawling

The DC Circuit today ruled that no expert testimony was required to establish that Allen Iverson had a legal duty to stop his bodyguard from beating a man in a bar fight:

In the early hours of July 20, 2005, a brawl erupted at the Eyebar, a Washington, D.C. nightclub. Among the injured was Marlin Godfrey, a patron in the Eyebar VIP area that night. He suffered a concussion, a ruptured eardrum, a burst blood vessel in his eye, a torn rotator cuff, various cuts and bruises, and emotional injuries. Godfrey sued Allen Iverson and his bodyguard, Jason Kane, both of whom were in the Eyebar VIP area that night. The amended complaint alleged that Kane and Terrance Williams, who also sometimes acted as Iverson's bodyguard, attacked him and directly caused his physical and emotional injuries, and that Iverson was negligent in failing to stop both men from injuring Godfrey.

Iverson's lawyer argued that traditionally, you can't sue an employer for "negligent supervision" (the theory under which Iverson was held responsible for what his bodyguard's misconduct) without expert testimony establishing how he should have trained his employee to deal with these situations. The court effectively concluded that an ordinary, reasonable-man standard of care applies when the beat-down happens in the employer's presence:

A jury may need the aid of expert testimony to evaluate how a hotel should train and otherwise supervise its security guards to ensure that they do not unreasonably use force on some future date. But it is a different thing altogether to say such expert assistance is needed to establish the standard of care for an individual who is present while his personal bodyguard, acting on his behalf in clearing a room in a nightclub, beats a customer and causes significant injuries. Iverson has pointed to no case in the District of Columbia - nor have we been able to locate any - dealing with the standard of care a person owes in supervising his personal bodyguard in his presence. The evidence in this case supported the jury's finding that Kane attacked Godfrey in a fight that lasted several minutes, and that Iverson stood and watched without attempting to do anything to stop the beating.

Of course, it may not have been admissible evidence given that it happened when he was a teenager, but Iverson has his own past history of brawling - which is, ironically, probably why he has a bodyguard now and possibly why he was hesitant to get involved. I'm not 100% comfortable with sticking him with the bill for everything his bodyguard does, and I'm sympathetic to the possibility that (1) the damages here were excessive and (2) the guy who picked the fight may have been setting Iverson up, but the jury didn't buy those arguments, and as far as the legal analysis goes, when you just stand there as a guy in your employ beats a man that badly, it's hard to say that the law shouldn't hold you responsible.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 4:32 PM | Basketball • | Law 2009-13 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Your Democratic Majority At Work

Most of us have had the experience at one point or another in our lives of getting stuck in a conversation with someone who is irrational and full of conspiracy theories. If you are particularly unfortunate, that person is a member of your family, your boss, a judge, or otherwise someone you can't afford to just blow off. But pity poor Tim Geithner as it dawns on him that he has to answer questions from such a person - in this case, Congresswoman Maxine Waters - under oath, on camera, knowing that she is a powerful political ally of his boss (Geithner is not the first to have this experience):

I could take a pretty good guess as to why Goldman Sachs in particular is the subject of Waters' conspiracy theories about the secret power of financiers, and I'm guessing it's not because of Henry Paulson. Of course, Waters may just be assuming everyone else does business with bank regulators the way she does. Anyway, Geithner's facial expressions in this video are just priceless.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 4:09 PM | Politics 2009 | Comments (24) | TrackBack (0)
March 23, 2009
BASEBALL: New Citi

apple.JPGMetsgrrl has an up-close photo essay and review of CitiField, including shots of the old and new Magic Apples in their current locations (at left is a clipped version of her shot of the old apple). Her takeaway - the park is still pricey, but a definite upgrade from Shea:

It was like that scene in the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy wakes up and everything is in color. It felt odd, because I am not used to being comfortable when I go see the Mets. I am not used to having room. I am not used to things being carefully thought out and well-planned.

H/T Pinto. She also notes that they're not quite finished with the Jackie Robinson Rotunda. For all the efforts to mimic Ebbets Field, though, it sure does look a lot like Citizens Bank Park.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 2:13 PM | Baseball 2009 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
March 21, 2009
POLITICS: Life, If You Can Keep It

When you picture a future of government-run health care and the complete defeat of the pro-life movement, this is what it looks like - the state decides when it is in your best interests to die:

The nine-month-old, known as "Baby OT", had a rare metabolic disorder and had brain damage and respiratory failure.

His parents had appealed against a ruling at London's High Court that it was in the boy's best interests to withdraw "life-sustaining treatment".

+++

Doctors treating him had said the boy's life was intolerable and his disability was such that his life had little purpose.

+++

Lord Justice Ward was told the couple had decided to wait outside the courtroom while the ruling was given as they could not face hearing the decision.

A spokeswoman for the BMA said: "Cases like this are very distressing and we have every empathy with the parents, but when the parents and the clinical team don't agree on the treatment for the child in question, the only way forward is to go to the courts and for the courts to decide on what is in the best interests of the child, which is paramount."

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:20 PM | Politics 2009 | Comments (14) | TrackBack (0)
March 19, 2009
POLITICS: TurboTim

Pejman on Geithner, who increasingly looks like the only thing keeping him from getting fired is the fact that you can't have no senior people at Treasury at all. As Casey Stengel said, you gotta have a catcher or you're gonna have a lot of passed balls.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:08 PM | Politics 2009 | Comments (26) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: 2008 EWSL Team Review

I'm short on time, so with only minimal comment I'll present the table comparing the 2008 Established Win Shares Levels to the teams' actual results, with the caveats noted in last year's writeup.

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Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:07 PM | Baseball 2009 • | Baseball Studies | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
March 18, 2009
POLITICS: So Much For Supporting The Troops

Regular readers will know that I have a pretty low opinion of Barack Obama, and for the most part he's lived down to my expectations since taking over as our President. But even I have been astounded that President Obama would do anything as monumentally politically stupid as trying to chisel budget savings out of the health care for wounded veterans, this after a wild spending spree so profligate that nobody seems to even have bothered to read the stimulus bill to see what it was promising to bailout recipients. As Ed Morrissey notes, the projected savings from forcing veterans to cover their own health care - at the undoubted cost of driving up their premiums and disincentivizing employers from hiring veterans - "amounts to just over half of what Obama just gave Hamas in Gaza to rebuild after their disastrous war with Israel this winter, and about 1/300th of what the government gave AIG in a bailout." No wonder even Congressional Democrats are running as fast as they can away from Obama's folly.

Now, it's true that you don't have a budget until you have said no to everyone at least once. And it's also true that the VA and DOD are gigantic bureaucracies, and as such they don't always work very well; the Bush Administration certainly took its lumps over the periodic failures of those agencies in taking proper care of what is almost certainly the federal government's single most sympathetic and deserving constituency. But nobody ever doubted that Bush at least tried to do the best by our veterans. Ditto John McCain, himself a disabled veteran, who was lambasted for proposing a better deal for veterans to take federal money to pay for healthcare outside the VA system. Obama is harking back to the days of the Bonus Army by viewing wounded or disabled veterans as a source of cost savings to pay for his other priorities. Given the opposition even among his own party, his defeat on this one seems as inevitable as it is deserved.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 1:18 AM | Politics 2009 | Comments (36) | TrackBack (0)
March 17, 2009
BASEBALL: Meet The New Mets

Matthew Artus made a point a few days ago, after Duaner Sanchez was released, that bears noting:

As of today, there are officially 9 Mets on the current roster that donned a Mets jersey in 2006. 7 of them played in the 2006 NLCS.

Lemme see, offhand: the seven would be Wright, Reyes, Beltran, Delgado, Perez, Maine, and Feliciano, and (after checking) the other two would be Castro and Pelfrey (I assume he doesn't count Wagner or Valentin, since Wagner's on the DL and Valentin presumably won't be on the Opening Day major league roster).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:56 PM | Baseball 2009 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Convicted Thieves We Can Believe In

Did the Obama Administration's "vetting" team somehow miss this?

In the annals of vetting, this will go down as the most laughable miss ever: Vivek Kundra, the D.C. official tapped by Obama to run government technology, pleaded guilty to a theft charge in 1997.

Kundra is currently suspended from his White House job as Yusuf Acar, a manager in the D.C. office Kundra headed, faces bribery charges unrelated to Kundra's 12-year-old theft. When Kundra, an advocate of free Web-based software like Gmail, was first named to the CIO post, tech enthusiasts hailed his nomination as proof that Obama took their concerns seriously. They have fallen strangely silent as Kundra's reputation has grown tarnished. One of Kundra's few remaining defenders, TechPresident's Micah Sifry, noted Kundra's work in "theft and fraud prevention" as he wrote Sunday, "We believe people are innocent until they're proven guilty, right?"

Right. Here's some guilty for you!

Maryland state records show that a Vivek Kundra pleaded guilty to a theft of less than $300, for which he received supervised probation before judgment and a fine of $500, $400 of which was suspended.

I suppose, given Obama's record of endorsements back in Chicago, it's possible that this sort of thing seemed small by comparison.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:09 PM | Politics 2009 | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)
BLOG: Ten Thousand Words

A haunting photo essay on the death of Detroit.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:21 AM | Blog 2006-13 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
March 16, 2009
POLITICS/WAR: Obama Backtracks on Bungled Mexico Policy

President Bush's critics often accused him of alienating key U.S. allies. Frequently that case was overstated, as the Bush Administration forged stronger bilateral ties with many strategically important allies, and as the Administration's foreign critics were often engaged in faux outrage for domestic political purposes over purely symbolic issues. That said, at least when the Bush Administration set out to do something our allies didn't like, it (1) did so to advance concrete U.S. interests and (2) stuck to its guns.

With the Obama Administration, neither is true. Fresh off a bizarre series of unnecessary gaffes in dealing with friend (the U.K.) and foe (Russia) alike, and after already rattling sabers and then caving on trade war threats with Canada and the EU, Obama and Congressional Democrats have brought us to the brink of a full-blown trade war with Mexico - and they are stuck trying to climb down from the ledge. Brian Faughnan has some of the background here; today's news is the desperate scramble to avoid the consequences of the Democrats' own policies as Mexico escalates with new tariffs for the Administration's violation of our treaty obligations under NAFTA:

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Posted by Baseball Crank at 5:52 PM | Politics 2009 | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: New Jersey: Where Today's Mayors Become Tomorrow's Defendants

New Jersey has a lot of Democratic Mayors, and it seems difficult to find a city in the state that hasn't had one indicted in the last few years. The latest is the former mayor of Perth Amboy from 1990-2008:

State Assemblyman Joseph Vas (D-Perth Amboy) was indicted last week on charges that, while he was mayor of Perth Amboy, he conspired with city employees to steal approximately $5,000 in funds from the city to pay for personal purchases and expenses.

Vas, 54, was indicted with his personal driver, Anthony S. Jones, 48, of Perth Amboy, on charges he rigged a city housing lottery so that Jones won the opportunity to buy a home through the city's affordable housing program.

+++

The indictment charges that from June 2003 to September 2007, Vas fraudulently obtained payment from the Perth Amboy Recreation Department for personal expenses.

Vas allegedly conspired with city officials, not named in the indictment, to submit fraudulent invoices, purchase orders and vouchers for the expenses, according to the New Jersey Attorney General's office.

If you are keeping score at home, Vas joins the following hit parade:

(1) Orange Mayor Mims Hackett Jr, who pleaded guity to extortion;

(2) Passaic Mayor Samuel Rivera, who pleaded guity to extortion;

(3) former Newark Mayor Sharpe James, convicted along with his former mistress in connection with shady land deals;

(4) former Atlantic City Mayor Robert Levy, who pleaded guilty to making false claims to receive more than $24,000 in veterans' benefits;

(5) former Hoboken Mayor Anthony Russo, indicted for extortion and bribery and who ultimately pleaded guilty to mail fraud;

(6) former Guttenberg Mayor David Delle Donna, who was convicted along with his wife of extortion and tax fraud;

(7) former Irvington Mayor Sara Bost, indicted for taking kickbacks and who ultimately pleaded guilty to witness tampering;

(8) former Irvington Mayor Michael Steele (no relation, I assume) indicted for bribery;

(9) former Patterson Mayor Martin Barnes, convicted of accepting gifts in exchange for city contracts;

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:29 AM | Politics 2009
BASEBALL: In The Mail

Two books that look like interesting looks at a pair of the most important figures in mid-20th century baseball. First, Allen Barra's biography of Yogi Berra:

I flipped through it, and it looks good. It's a very thick hardcover. Next, Michael D'Antonio's biography of Walter O'Malley:

Enjoy.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:26 AM | Baseball 2009 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: EWSL 2009 Age and Rookie Baselines

It's time once again for my annual division previews using Established Win Shares Levels, which are explained here. Before we get to rolling out the 2009 EWSLs, I have to update the age adjustments and rookie values I use. These are based on the data I have gathered over the past five seasons, and so with each passing year, one would hope they become progressively more stable and useful (how accurate EWSL was in 2008 is another day's story, but of course as I always remind my readers, EWSL doesn't predict the future, it just provides a rough count of the talent on hand).

First up is the age adjustments; I've reformatted the table a bit from past years (see my writeups on the age adjustments following the 2004 season - also here - 2005, 2006 and 2007.

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Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:22 AM | Baseball 2009 • | Baseball Studies | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
March 13, 2009
LAW: Suing The Constitution

I've seen some strange lawsuits filed by crackpots over the years, but I can't say I have seen anyone attempt to sue the Constitution itself before.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 4:48 PM | Law 2009-13 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Michael Steele Needs To Admit He Is One Of Us

Blue SteeleWhat's the matter with Michael Steele? It's a question a lot of Republicans are asking these days. When the former Maryland Lieutenant Governor was elected chairman of the GOP, many of us who had supported more conservative candidates or more proven fundraisers at least felt good about one thing: because Steele is an impressive and at times eloquent public speaker who's been tested as a commentator on Fox News, we could be sure that whatever else happened, we were getting a guy who would be a good public face, spokesman and salesman for the party and its ideas. Instead, his comments on abortion, on Rush Limbaugh and other topics have ended up dividing Republicans, giving fodder to our enemies and generating one bad news cycle after another.

I think I can explain the problem.

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Posted by Baseball Crank at 3:32 PM | Politics 2009 | Comments (23) | TrackBack (0)
WAR: Now That Is A Flashlight

You know, I'm not a gun guy. Never owned one, never fired one, probably never will. But I have to tell you, I could not resist the immediate gut reaction to this video of, I want one of these:

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:25 AM | War 2007-12 | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
March 12, 2009
LAW: The Big Salad

Judge Posner explains why the meaning of when a salad dressing is "best when purchased by" is not sufficiently well-defined to support a federal wire fraud or food misbranding conviction for a reseller who changed the dates.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:59 PM | Law 2009-13 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Bronx Prosecutors Investigating Obama Appointee

No, not this one, a different Obama appointee: former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, appointed by Obama as director of the White House Office of Urban Affairs. The review is confirmed by a spokesman for (Democratic) Bronx DA Robert Johnson: "The facts as reported raise questions that we are trying to get answers to." What sort of urban affairs does Carrion specialize in? How about urban machine politics of a drearily familiar sort:

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Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:00 PM | Politics 2009 | Comments (18) | TrackBack (0)
March 9, 2009
BASEBALL: Storybook

Joe Posnanski has a heartwarming story.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 2:11 PM | Baseball 2009 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS/BUSINESS: Cap and Don't Trade

As anyone who followed the Kyoto Protocols back in the 1990s can tell you, even if you believe that government action to stem carbon emissions would be desirable, Kyoto wasn't a genuine effort to get a worldwide agreement on limiting emissions: it exempted seven of the world's eight most populous nations (the U.S. being the lone exception) from its provisions, including rapidly growing economies like China (now the world's number one carbon emitter) and India. And neither of those countries, with more than a billion inhabitants each, has any intention of being subject to the kinds of restrictions that President Obama's carbon emissions "cap-and-trade" plan would impose on U.S. industries, much less during a global recession. Including industries that employ lots of the blue-collar union workers the Democrats purport to represent.

Those industries' and unions' solution, naturally, is even more government taxes and regulations: use trade barriers to try to inflict the same harm on foreign manufacturers as on American ones. Hey, why not start a trade war? Just remember, one thing, though: Senator Smoot and Congressman Hawley both lost their bids for re-election in 1932.

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Posted by Baseball Crank at 1:43 PM | Business • | Politics 2009 | Comments (13) | TrackBack (0)
March 7, 2009
WAR/POLITICS: Harder Than It Looks

McQ looks at the latest sample of the scathing UK press coverage of Obama's unreadiness for the business of meeting a foreign head of state. Details of how Obama managed to botch nearly every aspect of what ought to have been a routine goodwill visit with Gordon Brown, resulting in Brown's humiliation and a surge of bad British press, here, here, and here. Plus, his State Department can't read Russian.

On the upside, maybe I didn't read the news enough today, but it's almost midnight and I haven't seen an Obama appointee withdraw today.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:16 PM | Politics 2009 • | War 2007-12 | Comments (12) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Piazza and Steroids

Matthew Artus has a good post on the topic, which I pretty much agree with across the board.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:03 PM | Baseball 2009 | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS/SCIENCE: Does The Greenhouse Even Work?

Matthew Hoy looks at some new scientific research on whether the causal mechanism ascribed to manmade global warming even works. As is generally true with complex scientific theories about causation, there's no "case closed" moment here, but it's another piece of the puzzle for those who view such things with scientific skepticism rather than religious/political fervor.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:51 PM | Enemies of Science • | Politics 2009 • | Science | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
March 5, 2009
POLITICS: Foreign Earnings, Continued

A followup here to the post linked here:

If I have profits in Estonia and I re-invest the profits there, the ECTR is 0%.

If I repatriate the profits to the U.S., because there was no corporate tax paid to Estonia to qualify for the "foreign tax credit" I get hit for the full 35% U.S. rate - period.

If the "loophole" of leaving those profits in Estonia (rather than repatriating them) is "closed," I'm getting hit with a 35% "fee" just for being a U.S.-based corporation.

If the "loophole" is closed, the only way to get away from that fee for the "privilege" of being a U.S.-based corporation is simply to take the enterprise itself out of the country - to Bermuda, or the Cayman Islands, or…. Estonia.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:27 PM | Business • | Politics 2009 | Comments (12) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Paying The Piper

Peter Abraham on A-Rod:

So in a span of less than a year, Rodriguez tore a quad and now needs a hip operation. Can you draw a line from three years of steroids to these injuries? I have no idea, medical experts will have to determine that. But signing this guy to a 10-year contract looks like a decision that will haunt the franchise for years to come. They had a chance to be free of him and they let it pass.

If you look at the guys who are believed to have gone on the juice, there does seem to be a pattern of them being basically indestructible for a few years and then starting to break down, especially if they got clean. We don't know when A-Rod started using steroids, aside from his own self-serving account that he started in 2003. Travis Nelson notes that A-Rod never had a sudden or unexplained spike in his production as a hitter - he was a huge star, nationally known since high school and slugged .588 in 32 games at AAA as an 18-year-old - and neither has his physical development been anything but smooth. Neither of those facts prove anything other than that we don't have the kinds of big flashing signs we had with Bonds of a guy doing something unnatural. But if A-Rod was clean before 2003, and if his injuries now are exacerbated by steroid use, then you have to say that he got a terrible deal out of using the roids, as he was arguably no better a ballplayer and no healthier after 2003 than before.

Which might not be the worst lesson for young fans to see.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:41 PM | Baseball 2009 | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)
LAW/POLITICS: Waiting For Bureaucrats To Say It's Time To Make The Donuts

One of the benefits of reading a lot of judicial opinions, as I do, is that you get to see a lot of retail examples of how our government operates at its most legalistic-bureaucratic. Yesterday's opinion by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in River Street Donuts, LLC v. Napolitano is a wonderful little vignette about a bureaucratic system run amok.

River Street runs a donut baking operation, and in January 2003, it wanted to hire a new head donut baker/supervisor for a salary of about $40,000 a year. This is your basic business decision - hire a new baker, try to grow the business - but there's a catch: the guy they wanted to hire, a man named Farag Mohamed, is a foreign national, so River Street needed the approval of the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services to sponsor a work visa for Mr. Mohamed.

At this point, some readers will balk at the fact that River Street wanted to bring in a foreigner, but in a sane world, if a business has a skilled laborer they want to offer a job to, as long as there's not some other reason to keep the guy out of the country, this should not be a terribly onerous process.

But here's where things get complicated. Because BCIS demands that River Street submit proof that it can afford to hire Mr. Mohamed to make donuts, and after reviewing River Street's 2001 and 2002 tax returns, BCIS tells River Street that it knows River Street's donut business better than the company does, and they can't afford a $40,000 a year donut baker. Whereupon River Street enters the mad world of administrative law litigation, proceeding up through the Administrative Appeals Office of Homeland Security and ultimately to a federal court of appeals, consuming six years of litigation that almost certainly cost them more than $40,000 and did not produce any donuts. The First Circuit ultimately upheld the BCIS' and AAO's decisions, rejecting River Street's arguments about how to allocate depreciation in determining its financial strength. The opinion is mostly about administrative procedure, and I can't really quibble with the court's legal reasoning, but I still stand in some awe of the insanity of the entire exercise. Should it really be this complicated and bureaucratic to hire a guy to bake donuts? And is this a preview of the future of the financial and health care sectors?

Now, I don't know any more about this particular case than what's in the court's opinion, so I can't tell you if River Street made a good business decision to hire Mr. Mohamed or if he'd be a good person to have in this country. And I understand that, as with many such legal rules and regulations, there are arguments for why you need this sort of regulation: to make companies think twice about hiring foreigners instead of Americans and to ensure that people don't get brought in on work visas for jobs that dry up.

But no matter how you slice it, making a company spend years and legal fees trying (in this case unsuccessfully) to justify their own business decisions to second-guessintg bureaucrats and judges is a recipe for economic paralysis (as well as an inducement to seek to do business instead on the black market). You can write this off if you will as a symptom of our screwed-up immigration laws, which are simultaneously draconian in their terms and tepid and sporadic in their enforcement, but the nature of bureaucracy is universal and not unique to BCIS. I fear that in the years to come, a lot more businesses large and small are going to be living through similar experiences.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:00 PM | Law 2009-13 | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Brazen Bigots

The place: a city in Texas
The setting: a city council hearing on a local construction project
The chair: the wife of a powerful white Republican Congressman
What happened? Black residents of the city were told to their faces they should leave the hearing. A black labor leader who argued that the project would bring in good jobs was told by the chair, "Those workers look like you; they don't look like me."

I think we all know that if this happened, it would be the end of the political careers of the Congressman and his wife; that the national media storm would swamp all other news for weeks, making the Trent Lott story look puny by comparison; that the GOP's national leadership would be compelled to offer one groveling apology after another; that liberals would raise this as a talking point in discussions of every issue, no matter how unrelated, for the rest of our natural lives.

Yet, that's exactly what happened in Detroit, only the races and parties were reversed:

UPDATE: You can watch video of the hearing here.

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Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:19 AM | Politics 2009 | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Taking Budget Gimmickry To A New Level

Governmental accounting is always a shady business, for a variety of reasons: the Ponzi-scheme financing of entitlements, the brazen use of "off-budget" expenditures (meaning, literally, money you spend and don't count in the budget), the politicized budget forecasts (Crank's First Rule of Government Financial Forecasts: they are always, always wrong), the assumption that reducing the growth of a program is a "budget cut," the tendency to project years into the unforseeable future and cite those figures as if they are single-year up-front expenses/savings, etc. Certainly Republicans have not been innocent of this sort of trickery over the years; it's inherent in the nature of politics and government. Things that would (and do) get people in the private sector fired, bankrupted or indicted continue year in and year out in Washington.

But even by DC standards, it is unusual to see something so laughably dishonest as the Obama Administration claiming a $1.6 trillion "spending cut" or budget "savings" by not repeating the surge in Iraq - a strategy that was explicitly designed to be temporary, and hah already begun drawing down on account of being successful (something one can never say of, for example, anti-poverty programs) - each of the next ten years. Ace, among others, notes the lost budgetary opportunity for the Bush Administration - hey, we could have claimed trillions in annual savings by not fighting the Nazis and the Soviets each of the last eight years!

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:07 AM | Politics 2009 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS/WAR: Democrats May Live To Regret Instituting Witch-Hunting "Truth Commissions" To Follow Elections

Democrats have a long history of constructing their own petards on which to be later hoisted, due to their inability to consider the consequences of their actions beyond immediate partisan advantage. For a classic example of this process at work, look no further than the current proposal for a banana republic-style "Truth Commission" to conduct show trials of the outgoing Administration for the offenses of (1) acting aggressively to protect national security and then (2) losing an election.

The partisan nature of the enterprise is obvious: proponents are calling for a commission whose mandate is expressly limited to investigating Republicans, and control over which will presumably remain with the Democratic majority in Congress. (Not that a commission witch-hunting national security professionals in Democratic Administrations would be a good thing either, unless your goal is to drive good people from the field and make the ones who remain too timid to take action when the nation's security is at risk).

Thomas Jefferson, the first Democratic president and the first president to take office after a change in partisan control, did not bring up John Adams on charges for having passed the Alien and Sedition Acts; Jefferson simply removed the offending policy and cleared those who had been wrongly convicted. Our history, and our tradition of peaceful transfers of power, might have been very different if Jefferson had handed Adams over to Napoleon on the grounds that Adams had abused civil liberties in the Quasi War with France.

David Rivkin, in his testimony yesterday, pointed out that building such commissions as partisan weapons can in the long run have the same wholly forseeable yet unforseen blowback for Democrats as their creation of the Independent Counsel statute did, and then some:

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Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:06 AM | Politics 2009 • | War 2007-12 | Comments (14) | TrackBack (0)
March 4, 2009
BASEBALL: Manny Back In Blue

Maybe it's just me, but I feel like we're finally ready to go now that Manny Ramirez has at long last signed with the Dodgers. This offseason was one of so much suspended animation for such a long time, but slowly but surely the late-to-sign free agents have been coming into the fold - Oliver Perez back to the Mets, Bobby Abreu to the Angels, Adam Dunn to the Nationals - while Ben Sheets opted for surgery. Manny was the last of the really big names still out there, at least the last still near his prime (Pedro's another story).

Two years, $45 million is not a bad deal at all - sure, it's an outrageous salary for a guy Manny's age with Manny's durability issues, personality issues, and lack of contribution in the field and on the bases, but the man can hit. I'd have taken that deal happily if the Mets had made it.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:28 PM | Baseball 2009 | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Running Gags Aren't Always Funny

This is a sad story: a minor league pitcher who became the butt of jokes after being traded for ten maple bats (he was in good company - Cy Young was sold to the Cleveland Spiders for $300 and a suit) ends up dead six months later of a drug overdose. No precise connection is drawn, and he obviously had drug problems already, but the story at least suggests that his initial good humor about the bat deal faded in the face of heckling and struggles on the mound.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:20 PM | Baseball 2009 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS/BUSINESS: Obama's Plan To Drive Corporations Out Of the U.S.

I know I link to a lot of pieces by my colleagues at RedState, but this from Skanderbeg (who knows his stuff because he does a lot of business abroad) is really a concise masterpiece explaining the lunacy of Obama's latest plan to jack up taxes on already-battered American businesses. A sample of his explanation of the existing anti-business rules that Obama wants to make worse:

Suppose you are CEO of XYZ Widgets, Inc., an international widget supplier based in the U.S. You have a competitor, ABC Widgets Oy, based in Finland. Both of you sell widgets in the U.S., earn profits, and pay U.S. corporate tax on those profits. Both of you sell widgets in Finland, earn profits, and pay Finnish corporate tax on those profits. So far, so good. However, here things diverge. ABC Widgets Oy can take its remaining after-tax profits from the U.S. and bring them back to home base in Finland to invest in things like increasing widget production - and not face another hit of Finnish corporate tax on that money. In contrast, if you (XYZ Widgets, Inc.) want to repatriate your after-tax profits from Finland back to the U.S. - to invest in things like increasing YOUR production of widgets...well, you have to pay the full (and also too-high) U.S. corporate tax of 35% on those already-taxed-in-Finland profits. You'd probably choose to leave that money outside the U.S. - and, oh, use if for something like investing in increasing your widget production by building a new plant in someplace like Romania.

In the above, replace "Finland" with the name of any other country in the world, and the story is the same. The U.S. is the only country that has this "double-taxation" rule.

There are three possibilities. One, Obama really is this economically ignorant. Two, Obama knows the consequences of his actions and genuinely desires to reduce the presence of large corporations in the U.S. and replace them with government employment. Three, Obama is cynically pandering to his economically ignorant base and, perhaps, hoping that somehow his plan will end up getting scuttled.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:06 AM | Business • | Politics 2009 | Comments (17) | TrackBack (0)
March 3, 2009
POLITICS: Dirt-Digging We Can Believe In

One of the more laughable notions during the campaign was Obama's claim to represent some sort of "new politics"; one of the sillier fictions of the last several years was that Democrats were less prone to dirty tricks and bending the apparatus of government to narrow partisan interests than Republicans. But of course, in any election season there are people eager to lie to themselves and be lied to. Young voters in particular seemed especially, cloyingly eager to swallow this particular nonsense. Worse yet, people like David Brooks (see here and here and here), who in a sane world should have known better, talked themselves into ignoring the warning signs that were written all over Obama's record and career that he's never been anything but a front man for bareknuckles Chicago machine politics that runs on patronage, favor-trading and dirt and never, ever places any value above partisan entrenchment and the enrichment of its supporters.

The saga of Shauna Daly is yet another in a seemingly endless series of proofs of this over the first six weeks of united Democratic governance. In late January, Daly was hired as "White House counsel research director". Daly is 29 and has no experience relevant to the job, having worked for the DNC and a number of Democratic campaigns, including Obama's:

Miss Daly holds no law degree and doesn't list any legal training on her resume.

Her sole experience has been as an opposition researcher for Democratic political campaigns: She helped dig up dirt on rivals, or on her own nominee to prepare for attacks.

Daly apparently got the job through the influence of a man who has made a career of flacking for the Daley machine and, apparently, masterminding leaks of divorce files that crippled Obama's political opponents:

David Axelrod, a senior White House adviser to President Obama, had a hand in bringing Miss Daly to the campaign, and is thought to have been instrumental in bringing her to the White House.

A month later, she was back at the DNC:

Shauna Daly, 29, will be the DNC's research director, returning to the fast-paced realm of bare-knuckles politics that associates said suits her best.

Given that the White House counsel's office deals in privileged legal advice to the president, including on sensitive issues of national security, there are reasons to be concerned that Daly has used her brief tenure in the office for gathering information that was never supposed to be used for partisan purposes:

Daly did not waste her time in an office that had reams of Bush Administration documents related to such things as the firings of U.S. Attorneys, the use and internal debate over the USA PATRIOT Act, FISA, and the Scooter Libby and Karl Rove investigations, among others.

"She saw everything, and who knows what she was able to scan and pull out on data sticks," says a Senate Republican Judiciary Committee staffer. "We'll find out soon enough when we see what the DNC is putting out during [Sen. Patrick] Leahy's 'truth committee' hearings."

+++

"She realized that she could do more with all the material she saw outside of the building than inside, where she'd be bound by the rules and legalities of the White House Counsel's Office. Now she isn't," says a DNC staffer who works in the communications field. "She's good at what she does; her time at the White House means we've got a mother load of material that will have Republicans scrambling. At least that's what we hope."

That view would explain what Daly was doing if she had neither training nor assigned official duties:

Daly, according to White House staff, was often in her office early and one of the last to leave the Old Executive Office Building, which does not jibe with official White House claims that Daly was not doing much in the office, which was one reason for her leaving.

And coincidentally, shortly after her departure, we have Attorney General Holder - a man who was notorious during the Clinton years for subverting things like DOJ's pardon process to narrow partisan ends - dumping previously privileged or classified legal advice on the war on terror into the public domain, wholly without regard to the precedent this sets for the president's future ability to get such advice, and all for short-term partisan advantage.

No, you should not be surprised at any of this.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 1:26 PM | Politics 2009 • | War 2007-12 | Comments (15) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Denial is a River in Queens

It's too early to worry about Johan Santana's elbow.

It's too early to worry about Johan Santana's elbow.

It's too early to worry about Johan Santana's elbow.

It's too early to worry about Johan Santana's elbow.....

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:58 PM | Baseball 2009 | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
BLOG: Quick Links 3/3/09

*I had a quick piece up at RedState yesterday on Ron Kirk's tax troubles. Kirk is actually not one of the more egregious offenders like Geithner, Daschle or Charlie Rangel, but when you start talking about a third of Obama's appointees, it stops looking like just a coincidence. Maybe Taranto is right that Joe Biden questioned their patriotism.

*I don't think the Lord expends much effort intervening in public policy disputes, but it's kind of hard to avoid wondering if He has a wry sense of humor in tweaking people who think human beings control the weather.

*Ed Morrissey looks at the wholly predictable train wreck that is the Minnesota Senate recount.

*A man punches dog story, sort of. Not a very good idea.

*Of course, Obama wants to vastly increase the federal payroll, with unionized workers who will then be compelled to kick back dues to be donated to the Democratic party. We should be surprised?

*Even venture capital needs federal subsidies?

[M]atch funds for venture capital and angel investments. Venture firms and investors need financial incentives to invest in companies that create U.S. jobs. What if firms with credible histories could receive as much as $100 million in federal matching funds if their investments create jobs in the United States? Investors could keep their normal return plus 50 percent of the returns on the matching funds, while the other half goes back to the government to revitalize further investment. This would give individuals an incentive to double down on investments they would make anyway, but sooner rather than later.

Have we really just been through a credit crisis without learning that people make bad investments when they get too much easy money to play with? And traditionally, the reason to invest in venture capital instead of established companies was the potential for rapid growth and big profits....but of course if you are making it harder for new companies to grow, and easier to take away their profits, then I guess you do end up short on incentives.

*Warner Todd Huston looks at Rahm's message coordination meetings with his old pals Carville, Begala and Stephanopolous.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:54 PM | Blog 2006-13 • | Politics 2009 | Comments (21) | TrackBack (0)