Baseball Crank
"It gets late early around here." - Yogi Berra
April 30, 2007
BASEBALL: Park Violation

So El Duque heads for the DL (disappointing, but this happens with him) and Chan Ho Park comes up. Park has a 7.29 ERA at AAA New Orleans and has allowed 6 home runs in 21 innings. What is odd is bringing him up when teammate Jorge Sosa, also an experienced major league starter of at best uneven recent accomplishments, has a 1.13 ERA there and a 29/4 K/BB ratio. I mean, I don't trust either of them but for a short-term assignment I'd rather pick the hot hand.

UPDATE: Commenters point out that Sosa just pitched and thus the choice of Park is dictated by availability. Of course, if Park gets bombed the Mets may need to rethink their choice if El Duque is out a while.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 2:00 PM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
LAW/RELIGION: Preaching at Volume

So the Ninth Circuit rejects claims that San Francsico discriminated in applying its noise ordinance against roving Christian evangelists, rejecting a rare marriage of evangelical Christians and the ACLU. Maybe it's just me, but my reaction to this case is that I can think of higer-leverage uses for dedicated Christian evangelists than preaching by loudspeaker on the streets of San Francisco.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 1:53 PM | Law 2006-08 • | Religion | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
April 26, 2007
LAW: Zing!

Orin Kerr spots a good one from Chief Justice Roberts at the expense of Justice Stevens.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:16 AM | Law 2006-08 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
April 25, 2007
BASEBALL: The Natural

Sixth home run of the young season tonight, and in less than full time play (at last check, he is slugging .723), for Josh Hamilton, the Lloyd Daniels of major league baseball. That's just so impressive for a guy who was away from the game for over three years and counts 23 games at AA in 2002 as his only prior experience above A ball.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:38 PM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Hunter Becomes Hunted

In light of the Torii Hunter situation, I think what MLB needs to do is retroactively clarify the rule to apply a lower punishment for minor violations. The current punishment is disproportionate to these facts - you can't suspend Hunter for three years. At the same time, if the rule is on the books you have to enforce it, and can't be selective about it. And while the punishment seems especially draconian for a guy who apparently didn't even know of the rule (I'd never heard of it before), I'm not at all comfortable writing into a prophylactic rule of this nature an "out" for guys who claim they didn't know.

This is off topic but this is another reason I've long thought the campaign finance laws were a farce. Back in the 90s, both Newt Gingrich and Al Gore (and they weren't the only ones, witness Tom DeLay's legal difficulties) got in trouble for rather technical campaign finance violations. In both cases their supporters argued that (1) such technical violations couldn't possibly be grounds for prosecuting such important elected officials, (2) they could not have known they were breaking the rule, there was no controlling legal authority, and (3) those laws hadn't been enforced in that way in the past (in Gore's case an 1886 statute nobody'd ever been prosecuted under). Regardless of the merits of the two cases, it seemed to me then and still does that if the laws are vague or technical enough, or the penalties disproportionate enough, that you would blanch at throwing an important person you support in the slammer for breaking them, then they have no business on the books. The same goes here - if you don't think Torii Hunter should be suspended for three years over a couple cases of champagne, change the rule.

PS, Hunter was making good on something he had said last year - did MLB know then, and if so why didn't anyone warn him?

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:39 PM | Baseball 2007 • | Politics 2007 | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)
LAW: Grandstanding

Instapundit quotes Radley Balko arguing that the manifest injustice in the Nifong/Duke scandal should lead to a reassessment of the criminal justice system more broadly because

Nifong is by no means the only overly aggressive prosecutor in this country. And Durham is by no means the only jurisdiction where the wrong people have been wrongly accused. As Seligmann suggested, the only real difference may have been that the Duke players had the resources to fight back. Many others don't.

Balko's other examples support his thesis that the Nifong case certainly wasn't a complete outlier in terms of law enforcement misconduct, but I think Balko sells short a hugely significant aspect of the Duke case that isn't present in a lot of ordinary criminal cases: the fact that an elected prosecutor used a high-profile, highly publicized case to win an election by playing to race and class resentment, with the complicity of the media and powerful forces in the community (in this case, local and national African-American "leaders" and the Duke faculty). While that's hardly the first time that's been done, it does suggest that there was rather a stronger-than-usual motive for the DA and the cops (one of whom appears to have had a long-running vendetta against Duke students) to bend, break and mutilate the rules to frame innocent men.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:22 PM | Law 2006-08 | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Please Put Away Your Tickets

The Mike Pelfrey Bandwagon is not leaving the garage for some time.

Pelfrey has good velocity and he's generally around the strike zone, but until he improves his command within that area and develops a reliable strikeout pitch, he's still a ways from being a dependable major league pitcher. I'm not saying the Mets should pull the plug just yet; Pelfrey is still a significant talent, he's got learning he needs to do sooner or later, and the alternative options are no better.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 1:59 PM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)
LAW: Scalia on Thomas

Justice Scalia defends his colleague:

One of the most persistent media myths about Thomas is that he follows the intellectual lead of fellow conservative Scalia...

...Questioned about that view of Thomas, Scalia replied, "It's a slur on me as much as it is a slur on him - like I'm leading him by the nose... I don't huddle with Clarence and say, 'Clarence this is what we're going to do.'" The myth's persistence, Scalia said, is "either racist or it's political hatred."


Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:30 AM | Law 2006-08 | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Happy Endy

You know, I'm not the biggest fan of the Endy Chavez type of ballplayer, the guy who doesn't hit for much power, doesn't draw many walks, doesn't consistently hit .300, and is a good but not great glove man and base thief. Players like that don't make good regulars, and managers often seem tempted to give them too much playing time.

That said, it's almost impossible to dislike Chavez himself, and a guy like this can be a very valuable fourth outfielder, with his ability to cover all three outfield positions defensively and play small ball in the late innings of close games. Last night we saw the classic example of that - I have been watching baseball all my life and can't ever remember seeing a guy get a walk-off RBI by bunting with two outs.

I was thinking this morning that the Mets have actually had a fair number of Chavez-like fourth outfielders in recent years - Mookie (from 1985 onward), Darryl Boston, Joe Orsulak, Timo Perez, Darryl Hamilton. Ryan McConnell is thinking along similar lines, asking if Endy is the best role player in Mets history.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:30 AM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
POP CULTURE: Some Good May Come of Imus Imbroglio*

The Imus controversy has had a number of ripples, including the car accident that nearly killed the Governor of New Jersey. But now we see the opening of a door that just might lead to some good:

Prominent U.S. hip-hop executive Russell Simmons Monday recommended eliminating the words "b___h," "ho" and "n____r" from the recording industry, considering them "extreme curse words."


Simmons, co-founder of the Def Jam label and a driving force behind hip-hop's huge commercial success, called for voluntary restrictions on the words and setting up an industry watchdog to recommend guidelines for lyrical and visual standards.

Good for Russell Simmons, one of the few people with enough clout and enough credibility to make something like this happen.

* - YMMV as to whether this story was an imbroglio, a kerfuffle or a brouhaha.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:29 AM | Pop Culture | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
WAR/POLITICS: McGovern Agrees With Cheney

In response to Dick Cheney's recent comparison of today's Democrats to the McGovernites of 1972, George McGovern himself responds:

I do agree with Cheney: Today's Democrats are taking positions on the Iraq war similar to the views I held toward the Vietnam War.

Of course, this moment of candid agreement comes in the middle of a long, screedy op-ed basically reiterating that McGovern and Cheney don't agree on very much. But inasmuch as this is virtually the only point in the op-ed where McGovern deals with the specific charge levelled by Cheney, it's a significant concession.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:24 AM | Politics 2007 • | War 2007-14 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
WAR: The Anti-Sarkozy Vote

In pictures.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:21 AM | War 2007-14 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BUSINESS: Does Not Compute

My blog is worth $189,120.90.
How much is your blog worth?

Um, yeah. Riiiiiight.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:08 AM | Business | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
April 23, 2007
WAR: A Foolproof Idea

What could possibly go wrong with Russia building floating nuclear plants that admittedly "could be sold to other nations."?

That has "next season on 24" written all over it, to say nothing of the "Perfect Storm Meets the China Syndrome" aspect. I mean, I'm all in favor of more nuclear power, but this strikes me as (1) the kind of thing that ought not to be mobile and (2) probably not the kind of project the Russians are likely to get right before anybody else has tried it.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:45 AM | War 2007-14 | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Fair and Balanced

This NY Daily News report is, no doubt, a preview of our own 2008 press coverage:

French pick woman to face rightist in prez race

Nicolas Sarkozy and Segolene Royal advanced yesterday to a runoff vote that will pick a president unlike any France has seen before: a hard-edged reformer pledging a new start, or a woman promising a healing touch.


Royal, 53, perfectly coiffed and dressed in a chic white suit, urged supporters last night to choose a path to a "new France" that cultivates "human values" and cares for the less fortunate.

"I refuse to cultivate fear," she said in a slap at Sarkozy, whose law-and-order image has made him a hated figure in Paris' troubled suburbs, rocked by riots that spread across France in the fall of 2005.


Many are predicting violence anew if Sarkozy is elected. Some voters blamed a strong anti-Sarkozy vote for yesterday's unprecedented 84% voter turnout.


But can a woman be elected president of chivalrous France, where Chirac still routinely greets women - even German Chancellor Angela Merkel - with a kiss on the hand?

"It doesn't bother me, but I don't the think the country is ready for it yet," said Frederic, 30, a white-aproned waiter who watched the results on TV at the Socialist Party office.

"Of course, yes, France is ready," countered Sarah Renzineb, 33, an unemployed Royal supporter from Paris. "Yes, yes, yes!"

But the press has no agenda. Just reporting the facts.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:32 AM | Politics 2007 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
April 20, 2007
BASEBALL: Being Manny

Fascinating profile of Manny Ramirez in the New Yorker, built - predictably enough - around the unknowability of Manny. There's a lot in here I had not read before, from the fact that Manny doesn't keep track of the count except to know when there are two strikes and named his first two sons by different women Manny Jr. to what Dan Duquette is doing now (running the Israel Baseball League). David Ortiz also doesn't exactly mince words about Manny. Manny clearly works extremely hard, and follows one of the cardinal rules of baseball eccentrics, which is to tell different stories to different reporters when he speaks at all. The piece does leave out the time Manny cost the Red Sox Indians the DH for a game by failing to read the lineup card, resulting in Charles Nagy having to bat seventh.

Ben McGrath writes that Boston writers "cover baseball the way affairs of state are covered in Washington," which I would amend to say that the Boston sports media is probably best described as like the political media in a town where all the elected officials belong to one party and all the writers to the other one.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:52 PM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Day at the Fens

Leon at RedState has video of a classic Fenway scene.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:42 AM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
April 19, 2007
WAR: Black Gold, Mosul T, Kirkuk Crude

There may be a lot more oil in Iraq than previously thought. (Via Drudge). That could be very bad news for severely oil-dependent economies like Iran and Venezuela, and good news for the free government and people of Iraq:

Iraq could hold almost twice as much oil in its reserves as had been thought, according to the most comprehensive independent study of its resources since the US-led invasion in 2003.

The potential presence of a further 100bn barrels in the western desert highlights the opportunity for Iraq to be one of the world’s biggest oil suppliers, and its attractions for international oil companies – if the conflict in the country can be resolved.

If confirmed, it would raise Iraq from the world’s third largest source of oil reserves with 116bn barrels to second place, behind Saudi Arabia and overtaking Iran.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:58 PM | Business • | War 2007-14 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Hillary and McCain

RCP looks at the gulf between Hillary's strong position in the polls and her weakness among the lefty "netroots," in large part driven by her stance on the war. In a lot of ways this mirrors John McCain, who is still polling OK but is almost friendless in the blogosphere. In McCain's case that may be due in part to the fact that

1. Bloggers are independent writers about politics
2. McCain is identified as an enemy of independent speech about politics

and thus he may be disproportionately unpopular with bloggers. I think it's at least partly the case that there will be some convergence in each camp, although the presence of Obama does create a serious threat to Hillary that no other candidate could have mounted.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:28 PM | Politics 2008 • | Poll Analysis | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Best Pitchers in Baseball 8/1/06-4/18/07

An interesting slice. I would not have picked Pettitte as #1. Note that tonight's Cubs starter, Rich Hill, looks to extend his string of elite pitching.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:26 PM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
BLOG: 4/19/07 Quick Links

*There's a fair number of debates from the Virginia Tech shooting I don't have time to weigh in on now (there's the gun control issue; Glenn Reynolds aptly summarizes the case for less of it here, there's the university's reaction time, and there's the appalling spectacle of NBC News broadcasting the killer's videotape), though it seems the most important question is why it was so hard to get the killer out of circulation or at the very least on a list of people who should not be permitted to buy firearms, when he was giving off every sign of being a potential danger to himself and others and everyone around him saw those signs and several people tried to do something about it.

In all the horror I did find one moment of a little levity from this quote:

Briettney said her friend, who was shot in the knee, buttocks and shoulder, was expected to be all right. "The one day he goes to class, he gets shot three times!"

*If you were wondering what was so gosh-darn important about holding that Rutgers press conference: the Rutgers coach now has a book deal.

*All three of my fantasy baseball teams have Felix Hernandez. This is not good news for any of them. Perhaps letting him throw a 111-pitch complete game on a cold April night in Fenway in his last start was not such a good idea.

*I definitely did not see a Mark Buehrle no-hitter coming. The past four years, Buehrle has finished second, second, first and first in the AL in hits allowed.

*You can read my reactions to the partial-birth abortion decision here, here and here. This is also a good summary of the concurrence (H/t).

*Please, wear your seatbelts.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:41 PM | Baseball 2007 • | Basketball • | Blog 2006-14 • | Law 2006-08 | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
April 18, 2007
BASEBALL: Good Start

Top of the sixth in Florida.

Mets, 8 runs, all charged to Dontrelle Willis, who was left in to finish the 5th even after allowing the last two runs.

Marlins, 0 hits.

UPDATE: John Maine pitches the sixth inning, Marlins' hit total does not change. Maine has thrown 85 pitches.

UPDATE: Miguel Cabrera leads off the seventh with a hit. 45 years later, the Mets still have never had a no-hitter.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:46 PM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
April 17, 2007
BASEBALL: Prediction

Mark my words, before this season is out, Henry Owens will be the Marlins' closer. Owens has tough stuff and is off to a fine start, while Florida's imported closer, Jorge Julio, has been lit up like a Roman candle in the early going (19.06 ERA after this evening's shellacking). I give Julio until August at the lastest, but if he doesn't get untracked we could be talking May, not August.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:06 PM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (12) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Might As Well Jump

In case you missed it when Bill Simmons linked to it last week: the YouTube video of Joey Gathright jumping a car. If Gathright was any good, the Royals would probably have a stroke watching this, but as it is, it's just entertaining.

He may not be much of a hitter, but Gathright is clearly one heck of an athlete.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:12 PM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BLOG: Jenga!

This is insane.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:00 PM | Blog 2006-14 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: John Edwards: Trust The Government To Do Your Taxes


"I'm from the government, and I'm here to help."

As if he needed to work harder to solidify the perception that he trusts the government to know everything in your life better than you do, John Edwards wants people to trust the IRS to do their taxes for them:

John Edwards is suggesting that the Internal Revenue Service prepare tax returns for 50 million Americans who have simple tax circumstances.

The former North Carolina senator laid out the idea in an audio podcast posted on his Web site April 7. For Americans whose employers and financial institutions send all of their relevant tax data to the government, the IRS would calculate their bills and mail them completed returns, which he called "Form 1." Filers could sign the form and return it, or reject it and file their own return if they disagreed with anything in the IRS's calculations.

First of all, start with a mental picture of how exactly a federal agency produces an additional 50 million forms in just a few months, and if you form in your mind an image of smooth, flawless execution by white-lab-coated experts running superintelligent supercomputers, well, you haven't spent much time with bureaucracies.

Of course, the taxpayer will do one of two things with the IRS-prepared form: either check its accuracy, in which case it saves little or no time, or sign it unchecked and return it. Either way, the idea is pointless at best, unduly trusting of the competence and disinterest of the bureaucracy at worst - to say nothing of the infantilizing assumption that people should have yet another thing done for them at public expense.

As Jim Geraghty notes, Edwards is imitating a California program, but there are reasons to believe that this program, ReadyReturn, is not trusted by a lot of taxpayers: only 22% of respondents used it:

At the delightfully unsubtle URL, the ReadyReturn opponents touted a poll that found that 67% of respondents opposed the program, that 7% of respondents trusted a state agency to prepare their taxes, and that 81% preferred "an independent tax preparer."

The tax code is indeed too complicated, but the answer is less complexity and offering people at least the option to use a simplified flat-tax* form, not having the government pass the rules and then interpret them for its own benefit.

* - By which I mean "flat" as in "without deductions/exemptions" - flattening out the tax rates being a separate issue that goes more to the growth vs. progressivity debate than to tax simplification.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:26 AM | Politics 2008 | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
April 16, 2007
BASEBALL: 2007 NL West EWSL Report

The fifth of six division previews, using Established Win Shares Levels as a jumping-off point. EWSL is explained here, and you should read that link before commenting on the method; 2007 revisions to the age adjustment discussed here and rookie adjustments here). Bear in mind as always that (1) EWSL is a record of past performance, adjusted by age to give an assessment of the available talent on hand; it is not an individualized projection system; (2) individual EWSL are rounded off but team totals are compiled from the unrounded figures; and (3) as demonstrated here and here in some detail, nearly all teams will win more games than their EWSL total because I'm only rating 23 players per team. Further disclaimers and explanations are in my AL East preview here; my AL Central preview is here, AL West is here, and NL East here.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Raw EWSL: 220 (73 W)
Adjusted: 252 (84 W)
Age-Adj.: 232 (77 W)

C24Russell Martin*718
1B33Nomar Garciaparra1211
2B39Jeff Kent2218
SS29Rafael Furcal2623
3B26Wilson Betemit#79
RF25Andre Ethier*614
CF29Juan Pierre1615
LF39Luis Gonzalez1411
C235Mike Lieberthal86
INF33Marlon Anderson65
OF34Brady Clark1412
1236Olmedo Saenz86
1322Matt Kemp*27
SP134Jason Schmidt1410
SP234Derek Lowe129
SP329Brad Penny109
SP430Randy Wolf33
SP534Brett Tomko75
RP137Takashi Saito*917
RP223Jonathan Broxton*59
RP330Joe Beimel43
RP433Mark Hendrickson75
RP522Chad Billingsley*37

Also in the mix: Hong-chih Kuo, if he can get healthy, should be in there with Billingsley and the veteran Hendrickson to step into the rotation. Prospect Andy LaRoche is close to ready at 3B. Also Jason Repko, Yhency Brazoban, Tim Hamulack, and Ramon Martinez.

The Dodgers are unlikely to score as many runs as last season without JD Drew and Kenny Lofton's contributions (Gonzalez is nearing the end of the line, and Juan Pierre in his prime is still a poor offensive substitute for Lofton even at his advanced age, though he will compensate a bit with his glove for Lofton's terrible defense in CF), so much will ride on the health of veterans Garciaparra and Kent and the productivity of last year's booming rookie class (Ethier, Martin, Kemp, James Loney, as well as Billingsley, Kuo, Saito and Broxton on the pitching staff). On the other hand, the bench is deep. Dodgers are the clear though not heavy favorites in the West.

San Diego Padres

Raw EWSL: 198 (66 W)
Adjusted: 221 (74 W)
Age-Adj.: 208 (69 W)

C25Josh Bard65
1B25Adrian Gonzalez#913
2B29Marcus Giles1917
SS27Khalil Greene1516
3B25Kevin Kouzmanoff+111
RF36Brian Giles2519
CF34Mike Cameron1918
LF30Termel Sledge33
C226Rob Bowen*12
INF31Russell Branyan76
OF33Jose Cruz Jr.87
1234Geoff Blum65
1326Paul McAnulty+14
SP126Jake Peavy1414
SP228Chris Young1010
SP341Greg Maddux1211
SP427Clay Hensley#78
SP544David Wells77
RP139Trevor Hoffman1210
RP230Scott Linebrink98
RP324Cla Meredith*59
RP429Heath Bell11
RP540Doug Brocail22

The Padres have their own age issues with Brian Giles, Cameron, Maddux and Hoffman. Obviously the bullpen is deep and off to a flying start, as among other things we will see whether Heath Bell finally makes good on his abilities. I would expect Cruz to take Sledge's job at some point. The key guys on this team may be Marcus Giles and the slugging Kouzmanoff, who have the ability to create a powerful offensive infield, especially if San Diego can squeeze a little more out of the 27-year-old Greene. I expect Peavy to rebound strongly from 2006; nothing in his numbers last season reflected a real falloff in ability, just a failure to perform to standards.

Colorado Rockies

Raw EWSL: 175 (58 W)
Adjusted: 206 (69 W)
Age-Adj.: 198 (66 W)

C24Chris Iannetta+111
1B33Todd Helton2421
2B31Kaz Matsui86
SS22Troy Tulowitzki+111
3B27Garrett Atkins#1920
RF28Brad Hawpe1011
CF25Willy Taveras#1316
LF27Matt Holliday1718
C228Yorvit Torrealba55
INF32Jamey Carroll119
OF42Steve Finley105
1236John Mabry43
1326Jeff Baker*23
SP126Jeff Francis99
SP228Aaron Cook99
SP331Rodrigo Lopez76
SP425Jason Hirsh*00
SP530Josh Fogg54
RP131Brain Fuentes119
RP234LaTroy Hawkins64
RP328Byung Hyun Kim55
RP428Jeremy Affeldt33
RP525Ramon Ramirez*48

Also on hand: Cory Sullivan, Denny Bautista, Tom Martin, Taylor Buchholz. I suspect that Colorado will have no better luck with Affeldt and Bautista than the Royals did; those guys need to get attention from someplace that isn't one of the two worst franchises in baseball to pitch for.

No, I don't actually expect Colorado to finish ahead of Arizona, but if rookies Ianetta and Tulowitzki live up to their projections from minor league success, the Rockies will have a very deep lineup; playing in Colorado you really need to lead the league in runs scored to finish much above .500, but this team could do that. The only offensive holes should be Matsui (who is hurt already, what a surprise) and Taveras. The rotation is also not as bad as some Colorado staffs of the past, though there's nobody here you would be happy to start in a posteason game.

The deal that was built around Jason Jennings for Taveras is an interesting one, philosophically. Jennings was the Rockies' ace, and he's pitched well already with the Astros, but is also missing time this week with elbow tendinitis, lending credence to the idea that Coors ages pitchers in dog years. Taveras is basically a poor man's Juan Pierre, one of the fastest men in the game brought in almost solely for the value his glove will bring in Coors' cavernous center field. This deal could be a disaster, or it could work if you think that Jennings is damaged goods or that the value of good center field defense in Coors (given how many potential extra base hits are put into play) is a core survival issue for the team.

If you believe the latter, however, why would you employ a 42-year-old Steve Finley?

Arizona Diamondbacks

Raw EWSL: 146 (49 W)
Adjusted: 177 (59 W)
Age-Adj.: 173 (58 W)
Subjective Adj.: 184 (61 W)

C26Chris Snyder56
1B25Conor Jackson*615
2B29Orlando Hudson1816
SS24Stephen Drew*311
3B27Chad Tracy1516
RF31Eric Byrnes1311
CF23Chris Young+111
LF27Scott Hairston19
C223Miguel Montero+04
INF35Tony Clark75
OF24Carlos Quentin*36
1224Alberto Callaspo+14
1330Robby Hammock10
SP128Brandon Webb1818
SP243Randy Johnson1313
SP332Livan Hernandez139
SP431Doug Davis108
SP524Edgar Gonzalez22
RP127Jose Valverde76
RP227Brandon Lyon33
RP327Brandon Medders#55
RP428Juan Cruz44
RP525Tony Pena*11

Micah Owings has pitched well in the rotation so far, and also on hand are JD Durbin and Brian Barden. I gave subjective bumps up for Drew (from 8 to 11) and Hairston (from 1 to 9) to reflect increased playing time/opportunity.

EWSL punishes the D-Backs for the lack of star power in their lineup (my guess is that Chad Tracy has an up year this year with the bat, Hudson and Byrnes have down ones), a lack of depth in proven quality pitchers, and the heavy mileage on Johnson, Hernandez and Davis. Hairston is something of a wild card but once healthy, Quentin will get playing time from someone.

San Francisco Giants

Raw EWSL: 215 (72 W)
Adjusted: 222 (74 W)
Age-Adj.: 173 (58 W)

C32Ben Molina1210
1B35Rich Aurilia149
2B35Ray Durham1812
SS40Omar Vizquel2011
3B32Pedro Feliz1110
RF33Randy Winn1715
CF35Dave Roberts1611
LF42Barry Bonds2212
C228Eliezer Alfonzo*32
INF36Ryan Klesko97
OF37Mark Sweeney74
1228Lance Niekro#44
1325Kevin Frandsen*00
SP129Barry Zito1513
SP222Matt Cain#710
SP326Noah Lowry1010
SP432Matt Morris86
SP533Russ Ortiz22
RP134Armando Benitez75
RP234Steve Kline53
RP326Kevin Corriea44
RP428Vinnie Chulk33
RP524Jonathan Sanchez*12

Tod Linden is also on hand at present, and star pitching prospect Tim Licencum should make his presence known later. The Giants' rebuilding/youth movement is well under way in their rotation - Cain, Lowry, and Licencum should provide plenty of upside in years to come, with Zito (still under 30 and signed for 7 years) anchoring the staff. I expect a good year from Zito, with the switch of leagues probably making 2007 the best season of his outrageous contract.

Beyond the rotation, evidence of the rest of the Giants' roster can be obtained from archaeologists - I mean, look at the age of their double play combination and their outfield. In fact, that age alone makes me more skeptical about Zito and the other starters (although last year's Giants barely missed second in the NL in defensive efficiency on balls in play, and thus far this season they are not too far from last year's pace, albeit well behind the league). There is simply no sign that San Francisco has even started the rebuilding job in the lineup, which is why it should be years before they can field a strong contender. The quality of their young pitchers contrasted with the deperate state of their lineup makes the decision to commit all those resoruces to Zito all the more bizarre.

The best they can hope for is a solid showing in a tight division where nobody wins 90 games. And, as usual in recent years, if Bonds goes down the Giants plunge deep into the cellar.

Check out the prior EWSL reports for the NL West: 2004, 2005, 2006.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:15 PM | Baseball 2007 • | Baseball Studies | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
April 13, 2007
BASEBALL: HGH Doesn't Work?

I have long been skeptical of people who say steroids don't help in baseball; as I have previously explained, for that to be true you have to show either that (1) steroids don't help you get stronger or (2) strength doesn't help you as a baseball player. I don't buy either one.

JC Bradbury, however, has looked closely at the issue and says that human growth hormone (HGH) actually doesn't help you get stronger.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 1:44 PM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Low Scoring

Scoring is way down thus far this season:


For those of you who are picky about such things, the 2006 figures for Avg/Slg/OBP are batting figures, the HR/BB/K numbers are pitching figures. The distinction is irrelevant for 2007 stats since there have been no interleague games yet.

There are a number of reasons why scoring tends to be low quite this early, the main ones being (1) cold weather, (2) extra days off means more games started by #1 starters and few yet by #5 starters, and (3) injuries and fatigue as the season progresses tend to hit pitchers harder than hitters. It's been an unusually cold April, so that is probably a major reason why.

Still, if the trend continues a few more weeks it may bear watching. Note that both batting average in general and home runs in particular are down very sharply, while K and BB rates are largely unchanged.

UPDATE: I see Pinto had the same thought this morning, and compares apples to apples with the scoring through this point last season.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:00 PM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (21) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Today's Trivia Quizzes

1. Who holds the record for most strikeouts (as a batter) while winning the MVP award?

2. Even more endangered these days than the 300-game winner is the 200-game loser. Tom Glavine needs 8 more losses to reach 200; name the only other four pitchers to enter the league since 1970 to lose 200 or more games.

UPDATE: By the way, last night's victory raises Glavine to precisely 100 games over .500 for his career (292-192), and 1 game over for his Mets career (50-49).

Read More »

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:07 AM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
April 11, 2007
POLITICS: Chris Dodd Can't Do Anything Right

I'm sure Senator Dodd is desperately hoping that nobody remembers where he announced his 2008 presidential bid: on the Don Imus show. (H/t).

Of course, this assumes that anybody remembers that Dodd has announced a 2008 presidential bid at all.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:48 PM | Politics 2008 | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)

But in his matchup with Dice Matsuzaka, Felix Hernandez has thrown five innings against the Red Sox. And the Red Sox do not have a hit.

I should add that he has also not allowed a run, unlike Oliver Perez who left tonight's game having allowed three runs on one hit - and 7 walks.

UPDATE: Seeing as how I have King Felix on all three of my fantasy teams, I'm not exactly excited by the possibility of him trying to throw a complete game on a cold night in April in Boston. Then again, he is pitching on 8 days' rest due to the snowstorms in Cleveland. But say this much, Matsuzaka's first two starts have produiced plenty of drama in the matchups.

UPDATE: Six innings. Cerrone must be envious. Somewhere, Bob Murphy is too.

UPDATE: Felix gets Youkilis, Ortiz and Manny up next in the seventh. This is the big test.

UPDATE: He gets Ortiz and Manny. Wow. Felix has thrown 85 pitches, so he should at least go 8.

UPDATE: JD Drew breaks it up to lead off the 8th.

UPDATE: Hernandez finishes with a 1-hit shutout, throwing 111 pitches and finishing by striking out Youkilis with Ortiz on deck.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:36 PM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)
POP CULTURE: Sticks and Stones

So the Rutgers women's basketball team held a team press conference yesterday to respond to Don Imus:

Rutgers' outraged coach, C. Vivian Stringer, wiped away tears as she recounted her own battles with racism and said she won't let Imus "steal our joy."

Then each player stood up, walked over to the microphone and introduced herself.

Towering over her teammates, Vaughn gave a cheery "Good morning, everyone." But her broad smile faded as she opened up about the hurt she feels - as an African-American and a woman. "I'm not a ho, I'm a woman. I'm someone's child," she said.

The decision to hold this press conference is a horrible failure of leadership on the part of Stringer and anyone else in the athletic and academic establishment at Rutgers who let this happen.

To recap, for those of you just tuning in, radio 'shock jock' Don Imus is in hot water, and justifiably so, for referring to the Rutgers women's hoops players as "nappy headed hos," and a fair debate is to be had as to whether this proves that Imus is

(a) a racist and/or sexist;
(b) a boor and a moron with no sense of propriety;
(c) a cranky old coot whose brain is permanently addled by drugs having a 'senior moment' on the air;
(d) an aging shock-radio guy trying desperately to stay relevant by talking like a 22-year-old rapper; or
(e) my personal favorite, all of the above.

I'm not here to defend Imus, as his remark was indefensible, and besides, Imus endorsed and relentlessly touted Kerry in 2004, so let the Left defend him. On the other hand, as I have long argued, not everything that is indefensible is necessarily a capital crime. Imus has, appropriately, been given a two-week suspension for the same reason you hit the dog with a rolled-up newspaper when he poops on the living room rug. Whether he should be fired depends on what you think more generally about shock-jock radio, since this kind of thing is basically an occupational hazard of employing people like Imus. Of course, there's also the fact that Imus isn't funny (granted, I've never been a regular listener, and I first heard him around 1980 so I may be selling his early work short, but in my book a guy who is unfunny for going on three decades is not funny).

But here's the thing: whether or not they think they are just in the business of winning ballgames, college coaches are role models to their players. College students are at a particularly impressionable stage in their lives: finally old enough to first start to see adults as peers rather than distant authority figures, they naturally begin to model themselves on whomever they meet that most impresses them. Most college athletes - and I assume this is true of the Rutgers women as well - will not become professional athletes, and thus are preparing themselves for life and jobs in the real world. It is incumbent on their coaches to teach them lessons that will help them there.

Imus' remarks were crude and ugly, but the lesson Stringer should have been sending these young ladies is that they say a lot about Imus but nothing about them. Different people handle these things differently, but a coach worth his or her salt could have played this at least two perfectly reasonable ways. One is to laugh it off with the traditional "sticks and stones" attitude, and show the players that this really shouldn't mean anything to them; there will always be people who say inappropriate and mean-spirited things in life, and you shouldn't take that seriously. A more combative personality of the Bobby Knight variety would respond by taking some personal public potshots at Imus, drawing the story away from the players and into coach vs. shock jock; this would teach the players the valuable lesson that when somebody sucker punches your people, you hit them back in kind and teach them a lesson.

What you do not do is call a press conference like this:

"I want to ask him, 'Now that you've met me, am I ho?'" said Rutgers center Kia Vaughn of the Bronx. "Unless they've given 'ho' a whole new definition, that's not what I am."

Declaring that Imus has "stolen a moment of pure grace for us," the wounded women spoke out for the first time about Imus' racist radio remarks.

"This has scarred me for life," said guard Matee Ajavon of Newark. "I've dealt with racism before. For it to be in the public eye like this, it will be something I will tell my granddaughter."

Somebody gave these young women the message - or at least failed to disabuse them of the notion - that they should take Imus' words seriously, take them to heart. This press conference was a show of the coach and the players wallowing in Imus' words, embracing them, and thus elevating them as if any serious person would think less of them - rather than of Imus - for what Imus said. This story should never have been about the players, because Imus' words were generic (indeed, that's precisely why they were offensive). It's the Culture of Victimology at its most destructive, teaching these young women that they should consider themselves to have been genuinely maligned by an aging boor and to seek out the status and posture of one to whom a deep wrong has been done and who is owed.

Put more succinctly, when someone calls you a 'nappy headed ho,' you should not feel the need to call a press conference to deny it. Maybe these young women don't know that - but if they don't, it was the business of someone in a position of authority to teach them. Shame on Vivian Stringer and Rutgers University for failing to teach them that.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:22 AM | Basketball • | Politics 2007 • | Pop Culture | Comments (26) | TrackBack (0)
April 9, 2007
LAW: Preposition Trouble

CNN header on the front page: "Howard K. Stern hires lawyer in JonBenet case".

The actual story shows that Stern - of Anna Nicole Smith fame, not the radio shock jock - hired the lawyer from the JonBenet case. As in, a guy who represented the Ramseys. But to read the headline you would think he was a suspect in the JonBenet case, a combination that would keep the tabloids in business for centuries.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:03 PM | Law 2006-08 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Don't Believe All The Hype

Royals super-prospect Alex Gordon is hitting .050.

Will Gordon be a great player? Quite possibly. A good one? Quite likely. Will he be the AL Rookie of the Year? He's still as likely as anybody.

For all that, a reminder that jumping from AA to the big leagues isn't a seamless transition. Gordon should still have a fine year on the way to a fine career, and fortunately for him the Royals are likely to be patient with him and not bail after a bad week or two, but it's not really that unlikely that he will be hitting .225 at the All-Star Break, either; it happens to the best of rookies. (Here's just one example that pops to mind of a great hitter who had some early struggles in a fine rookie season).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:55 PM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Edwards and Sullivan

Last Wednesday I noted a story by the WaPo "Sleuth" blogger showing that John Edwards' campaign was harvesting the names of people sending emails of support to Edwards' cancer-stricken wife for Edwards' campaign fundraising list. Andrew Sullivan linked to my post, with a post consisting entirely of the following text:

A swipe at Edwards and a defense. Count me among the latter.

Bizarrely, Sullivan linked for "a defense" to the very Sleuth article I linked to. I have no clue what he's talking about - the Sleuth item contained the Edwards campaign's terse response, but not any sort of real denial.

Anyway, today the Sleuth reported that Edwards has modified the form to include what the Sleuth describes as "an "opt-out" option" but actually appears from the factual description to be an opt-in option; either way, a tacit admission that they couldn't defend the prior practice. Sullivan hasn't responded, so I still have no idea what he was talking about or why he thinks it's OK to hit people up for campaign cash when they are just offering sympathy.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:38 PM | Politics 2008 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Josh notes the passing of B.C. creator Johnny Hart, who suffered a fatal stroke (at age 76) while working on his comic strip: "the dude died at his drawing board. That's hardcore."

As Josh notes, B.C. was a deeply idiosyncratic strip, with thick and sometimes impenetrable doses of Hart's Christianity and a lot of running gags, most of which were not funny. I bought a book of B.C. strips some years back; when Hart was on he could, in fact, be both funny and thoughtful, even though a lot of what he did wasn't really my cup of tea. I agree 100% with Josh that the strip shouldn't be continued by Hart's family.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:16 PM | Pop Culture | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Making 'Em Count

Highly touted D-Backs rookie Chris Young is struggling mightily at the plate, batting .192/.346/.214 - but has driven in 9 runs in 7 games.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:25 AM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BLOG: Swimming the Amazon

52-year-old Slovenian swimmer Martin Strel has set a world record by swimming the length of the Amazon River - but somehow, this article just doesn't make it sound like much fun:

By Thursday evening, he was struggling with dizziness, vertigo, high blood pressure, diarrhea, nausea and delirium, his Web site said. But despite having difficulty standing and being ordered by the doctor not to swim, Strel was obsessed with finishing the course and insisted on night swimming.


He said he was lucky to have escaped encounters with piranhas, the dreaded toothpick fish, which swims into body orifices to suck blood, and even bull sharks that swim in shallow waters and can live for a while in fresh water.


Cramps, high blood pressure, diarrhea, chronic insomnia, larvae infections, dehydration and abrasions caused by the constant rubbing of his wet suit against his skin frequently tormented him.

Strel, who lost some 26 pounds, said there were times he felt such pain in his arms, chest and legs, "that I could not get out of the water on my own."

Why? Because it was there, I guess.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:25 AM | Blog 2006-14 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Hated Yankees can't be happy with their starting pitching thus far - five games into the season, they have yet to have a starter throw more than 5 innings or allow fewer than 4 runs, and against Tampa and Baltimore, no less. The most disturbing performance had to be Saturday's outing by the new Japanese import, Kei Igawa, getting tagged for 7 runs by the Orioles.

On the other hand, Yankee fans and Yankee haters alike will have to stretch long and hard after Saturday's come-from-behind, walk-off grand slam by A-Rod to claim that he never comes through in the clutch. I think I may have run these numbers before, but A-Rod has played 35 career postseason games, and entering the 9th inning of the 23d of those games (Game Four of the 2004 ALCS), his career postseason line was .375/.670/.421 with a 162-game pace for 120 Runs, 113 RBI and 21 SB. His "choke" tag is based almost entirely on the 44 bad at bats that followed.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:16 AM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)
April 7, 2007
BASEBALL: Switching Hands

Alan Schwartz profiles a college baseball pitcher who is taking the switch-pitching experiments of Tony Mullane and Greg Harris and applying them full-time.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:23 PM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Getting in the Mood

Mike Pelfrey is pitching in A ball today to prepare for his next start against the Nationals.

Do I need a punchline?

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:14 PM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
April 6, 2007
BASEBALL: Plodsednik

Since late July 2005, only four major league players have been caught stealing more than 17 times. This in and of itself is testimony to the startling conservatism of major league baserunners these days - the stolen base really is a dying art - but of those four, three have produced prime time steals numbers to offset the cost of running - Jose Reyes (93 SB, 26 CS, 78.1% success rate), Juan Pierre (86 SB, 29 CS, 74.8% success rate), and Chone Figgins (82 SB, 27 CS, 75.2% success rate). The game's other elite base thief, Carl Crawford, has gone 71-13 (84.5%) in that stretch.

That leaves us the fourth player: Scott Podsednik. Podsednik has been caught 35 times to only 50 steals, a 58.8% success rate, including twice in three attempts this season. For any other player, you'd say he should just stop running at that point - but running is nearly Podsednik's whole value, with a .268/.354/.333 batting/slugging/OBP line over that time period while playing left field. If he doesn't shape up on the bases very soon, it may be high time for the White Sox to just stop playing him.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:52 PM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Blame-Rod and the Rays

The Yankees lose their first game of the season, and as day follows night, A-Rod's picture appears on the back page of the Daily News and the NY Post. Note that two games into the season, A-Rod has singled, stolen second and scored the winning run in the late innings of a tie game only once.

Meanwhile, Elijah Dukes - initially thought to be up just to spot the Devil Rays outfield until Rocco Baldelli healed - homered again, which will undoubtedly increase the pressure and temptation to keep Tampa's second stud outfield prospect in the majors along with Delmon Young and the fully-matured-to-stardom Carl Crawford. Baldelli is too good to go the Wally Pipp route, but this creates an interesting dilemma for Tampa on two levels. First, do you turn Baldelli into a DH? He's a solid glove man but with his health record that may be a necessity. Second, what about Jonny Gomes, who despite last season's injury-marred disaster has as much power and patience as anyone in the Tampa lineup? Do you try to turn Gomes or Baldelli into a first baseman to replace Ty Wigginton, who is a useful sub but not enough of a hittter to hold an everyday job at first? Probably the best bet would be to keep Gomes as the everyday DH for now and hope you can trade him, or maybe deal Baldelli for a serious first baseman.

(Amusing note: having Ben Zobrist on my fantasy team, I was stunned to see he stole two bases yesterday with Andy Pettitte on the mound, but I checked the play-by-play and sure enough one was a steal of third and the other was immediately after Pettitte left the game).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:13 AM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)
April 5, 2007
BASEBALL: The Early Lead

If you think, as I do, that the Phillies are the bigger threat in the NL East, you may be comforted by the fact that they are already three games behind the Mets.

If not, there's the fact that the Braves and Mets are tied.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:54 PM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Broom, Broom, Broom

You can't get even in April for a loss in the postseason, but it was nonetheless satisfying to see the Mets dismember the defending World Champion Cardinals this week. It was doubly amusing (given how the World Series played out) to see them undone in significant part by appalling outfield defense (surprisingly, mostly not involving DH Chris Duncan). And the Mets have showcased some solid starting pitching and really tremendous work up the middle by Reyes, Valentin and (of course) Beltran.

It's a long season, but 3-0 and a 2.5 game lead over the Phillies is a good start.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:14 AM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: 2007 NL East EWSL Report

The fourth of six division previews, using Established Win Shares Levels as a jumping-off point. EWSL is explained here, and you should read that link before commenting on the method; 2007 revisions to the age adjustment discussed here and rookie adjustments here). Bear in mind as always that (1) EWSL is a record of past performance, adjusted by age to give an assessment of the available talent on hand; it is not an individualized projection system; (2) individual EWSL are rounded off but team totals are compiled from the unrounded figures; and (3) as demonstrated here and here in some detail, nearly all teams will win more games than their EWSL total because I'm only rating 23 players per team. Further disclaimers and explanations are in my AL East preview here; my AL Central preview is here, AL West is here.

New York Mets

Raw EWSL: 243 (81 W)
Adjusted: 251 (84 W)
Age-Adj.: 226 (75 W)

C35Paul LoDuca1511
1B35Carlos Delgado2416
2B37Jose Valentin116
SS24Jose Reyes2025
3B24David Wright2532
RF34Shawn Green1413
CF30Carlos Beltran2927
LF40Moises Alou179
C231Ramon Castro33
INF37Damion Easley74
OF29Endy Chavez98
1222Lastings Milledge*29
1348Julio Franco63
SP141Tom Glavine1413
SP241Orlando Hernandez76
SP335John Maine#34
SP425Oliver Perez44
SP523Mike Pelfrey+05
RP135Billy Wagner149
RP228Aaron Heilman78
RP330Pedro Feliciano44
RP423Ambiorix Burgos#33
RP533Scott Schoeneweis64

I've been super-conservative with the Mets projections, leaving Pedro Martinez, Duaner Sanchez, Guillermo Mota and Juan Padilla entirely out of the picture. Also on hand is sidearming rookie ROOGY Joe Smith to replace Chad Bradford, plus David Newhan, Anderson Hernandez and an unusual number of guys with major league track records or who are as major league ready as they will ever be in the wings: Jorge Sosa, Aaron Sele, Chan Ho Park, Jon Adkins, Dave Williams, Jason Vargas, Anderson Hernandez, and Ben Johnson (Alay Soler, who looked to be in the same boat, was cut in the spring and has been snapped up by the Pirates).

The Mets should justifiably be the favorites this year, despite the fact that numerous key players are unlikely to repeat last season (especially Lo Duca, Chavez, Valentin and Feliciano). They still have the young core of Wright and Reyes, they still have Beltran and Delgado, and the pitching staff, if healthy, should be adequate despite the palpable absence of a legitimate #1 starter.

Philadelphia Phillies

Raw EWSL: 212 (71 W)
Adjusted: 234 (78 W)
Age-Adj.: 226 (75 W)

C31Rod Barajas97
1B27Ryan Howard#1823
2B28Chase Utley2324
SS28Jimmy Rollins2425
3B31Wes Helms86
RF26Shane Victorino*613
CF29Aaron Rowand1312
LF30Pat Burrell1817
C228Carlos Ruiz*12
INF31Abraham Nunez65
OF28Jayson Werth55
1234Chris Coste*47
1324Michael Bourn+04
SP126Brett Myers1111
SP223Cole Hamels*48
SP331Freddy Garcia1513
SP444Jamie Moyer1010
SP529Adam Eaton54
RP139Tom Gordon119
RP226Ryan Madson66
RP330Geoff Geary65
RP435Antonio Alfonseca21
RP537Jon Lieber98

Also on hand on the pitching side: Fabio Castro, Clay Condrey, and at AAA Scott Mathieson.

It's worth noting here that Howard, Utley and Rollins, the Phillies' core offensive players, are (respectively) three, four and four years older than David Wright, Jose Reyes and Miguel Cabrera, who in turn are a year older than Brian McCann and Hanley Ramirez, who in turn are a year older than Ryan Zimmerman (Burrell is two years older than Utley and Rollins). Granted, the key pitchers (Hamels and Myers) are younger than that, but this is not an up-and-coming team relative to the rest of the division; their future is now.

That said, the present looks solid - Hamels and Myers give them the chance to have the best 1-2 pitching punch in the division, the talent on hand is mostly prime-age, and the rotation and lineup have soft spots but no glaring holes. The Phils would be division favorites but for the disastrous Bobby Abreu deal, which leaves them with a significantly weaker outfield than the Mets or Braves, both of whom have an anchoring superstar in center. Even without Abreu, they should give the Mets a serious rival.

Florida Marlins

Raw EWSL: 145 (48 W)
Adjusted: 211 (70 W)
Age-Adj.: 239 (80 W)
Subjective Adj.: 224 (75 W)

C28Miguel Olivo1010
1B26Mike Jacobs#810
2B27Dan Uggla*1225
SS23Hanley Ramirez*1336
3B24Miguel Cabrera2937
RF23Jeremy Hermida*49
CF22Alejandro de Aza+011
LF28Josh Willingham*715
C231Matt Treanor33
INF34Aaron Boone76
OF28Joe Borchard22
1229Alfredo Amezaga32
1330Alex Sanchez22
SP125Dontrelle Willis1618
SP223Anibal Sanchez*510
SP323Scott Olsen*510
SP424Ricky Nolasco*35
SP522Josh Johnson*612
RP128Jorge Julio55
RP224Taylor Tankersley*35
RP329Kevin Gregg43
RP423Randy Messenger#11
RP526Sergio Mitre11

Also on hand: Cody Ross, Eric Reed, Reggie Abercrombie, Henry Owens, and Nate Field. Jorge Julio has solved the question of who would claim the Marlin closer job, but don't be surprised to see Owens grab a significant late-inning role - the Mets gave up on him due to a single bad outing last season, but Owens has some nasty stuff.

I'm applying the subjective adjustments here downward - Josh Johnson down to 9 WS to reflect his injury status, Ramirez to 27 and Uggla to 22 to reflect the problem I identified with Melky Cabrera in the Yankees comment of over-projecting improvement based upon one single season of play. In Uggla's case, I just don't think he can improve on last season; Ramirez may really be a 36-WS player someday but I don't see him taking that dramatic a step forward all at once. Without those adjustments, this would be listed as the first-place team.

Two main questions linger about the Marlins, those being the pitching staff and the outfield. On the former, Dontrelle Willis will be solid, but we don't know if he will return to his elite status from 2005, and almost everyone else in the rotation is still a seriously unknown quantity. As to the latter, Willingham is dependable but we don't know what direction the injured Jeremy Hermida will go in (Hermida has major offensive talent but hasn't hit the ball with authority in the bigs yet) or what to make of de Aza, the latest center field experiment (the presence of Alex Sanchez should tell you all you need to know about the Marlins' own uncertainty at that position).

My guess is that this is the year that Cabrera becomes a really big time 40+ home run hitter.

Atlanta Braves

Raw EWSL: 182 (61 W)
Adjusted: 200 (67 W)
Age-Adj.: 199 (66 W)
Subjective Adj.: 207 (69 W)

C23Brian McCann#1322
1B25Scott Thorman*13
2B25Kelly Johnson#35
SS31Edgar Renteria1715
3B35Chipper Jones2014
RF23Jeff Francouer#1220
CF30Andruw Jones2119
LF27Ryan Langerhans#810
C225Brayan Pena+14
INF31Chris Woodward33
OF30Craig Wilson98
1229Matt Diaz#55
1324Willy Aybar#58
SP140John Smoltz1615
SP231Tim Hudson119
SP325Chuck James*49
SP433Mark Redman64
SP526Lance Cormier22
RP138Bob Wickman86
RP229Mike Gonzalez98
RP327Rafael Soriano44
RP425Oscar Villereal44
RP524Macay McBride#22

Also on hand: Pete Orr, Kyle Davies, Mike Hampton (both injured), Chad Paronto, Tanyan Sturtze, Tyler Yates, and Peter Moylan. I used subjective adjustments to bump up both Thorman and Kelly Johnson to 8 WS to reflect the fact that their EWSL numbers reflect very little playing time; 8 is a conservative measure but I try to limit the size of the subjective adjustments when possible, since they are based on pure speculation (plus, Thorman will be platooned with Craig Wilson, while Johnson may well lose his job to Aybar once Aybar is healthy). Either way, Atlanta's offense will miss Marcus Giles and Adam LaRoche; I have trouble seeing this as an elite offensive team.

EWSL still projects Francouer, solely on the basis of his youth, to develop significantly; I think that's possible but his strike zone judgment is so terrible that I can easily see him playing his last season as an everyday player around age 25.

On the whole, last season has stripped the Braves of the air of invulnerability that says that we just know that everything will turn out better for them than it looks on paper. Hudson in particular is now just another pitcher trying to make ends meet, and if Smoltz goes down, things get grim indeed. Oddly, the bullpen, last year's Achilles heel, could be an elite pen this year with the addition of Gonzalez and Soriano.

Washington Nationals

Raw EWSL: 94 (31 W)
Adjusted: 110 (37 W)
Age-Adj.: 139 (46 W)
Subjective Adj.: 115 (38 W)

C30Brian Schneider1312
1B28Nick Johnson2021
2B27Felipe Lopez1617
SS29Cristian Guzman54
3B22Ryan Zimmerman*1354
RF27Austin Kearns1314
CF27Nook Logan33
LF28Ryan Church#79
C222Jesus Flores+04
INF33Dmitri Young65
OF25Chris Snelling#13
1232Ron Belliard1512
1333Robert Fick32
SP129John Patterson65
SP226Shawn Hill*11
SP325Jerome Williams34
SP424Matt Chico+05
SP533Jason Simontacchi00
RP125Chad Cordero1315
RP229Luis Ayala44
RP328Jon Rauch56
RP424Ryan Wagner11
RP529Jesus Colome21

I cut down Zimmerman, the most egregious of the 1-year guys, from 54 (!) win shares to a still-optimistic 30, but didn't bother with other subjective tweaks even despite Nick Johnson's injury; basically, this team will have to manufacture wins ex nihilo, because there is nearly no talent on hand with any kind of established track record you could rely on. You have to work really hard to lose 115 or more games - the odds say the Nationals catch some breaks somewhere and end up closer to 108 losses - but the Law of Competitive Balance is pretty much the only reason to think they won't lose that many. This will very likely be the worst team in baseball; there is hope for at least modest improvement in Tampa, Kansas City and Pittsburgh, but not Washington.

The infield will be much better off if Cristian Guzman can reclaim his 2006 form as early in the season as possible, and he appears well on his way. The thumping the Nats took for the first two and a half games of their series with Florida is indicative of the pitching, especially if John Patterson - their one potential quality starter - doesn't have a full, healthy season. It's gonna be a long summer.

Check out the prior EWSL reports for the NL East: 2004, 2005, 2006.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:13 AM | Baseball 2007 • | Baseball Studies | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
April 4, 2007
LAW: Not Really Injured

In a concurring opinion, Seventh Circuit judge (and Supreme Court short-lister) Diane Sykes calls foul on plaintiffs who claimed taxpayer standing to sue to block the Army from aiding the Boy Scout Jamboree (on grounds of the Scouts' rather bland and generic religious requirements) but didn't have the guts to take their position to its logical conclusion:

The district court held that Sec. 2554 violated the Establishment Clause and enjoined "the U.S. Secretary of Defense and his officers, agents, servants, employees and attorneys . . . from providing any aid to the Boy Scouts of America pursuant to 10 U.S.C. Sec. 2554, with the sole exception of aid provided or to be provided in support of the 2005 Jamboree that will take place from July 25 through August 3, 2005." (Emphasis added.) This order was dated June 22, 2005, and it notes that "[t]he injunction the plaintiffs are seeking specifically excludes the upcoming 2005 Jamboree." Whether the plaintiffs’ forbearance in this regard was the product of generosity, the spirit of compromise, or a desire to avoid the public relations fallout that would have attended their eleventh-hour scuttling of the 2005 Jamboree (if that’s what would have occurred), their conduct undermines any claim that they were suffering a grave constitutional injury. Constitutional litigation is legitimate only where there is a real injury and a legal remedy available to redress it. A willingness to postpone the remedy suggests that the plaintiffs' injury was not real but only a legal fiction to get their Establishment Clause claim before the court.

H/t Bashman.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:44 PM | Law 2006-08 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Chasing the Ambulance

Send a note of sympathy to Elizabeth Edwards, and you will be added to her husband's fundraising list.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 1:34 PM | Politics 2008 | Comments (11) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Raise The H-1B Cap

Lost in the perennial debate about amnesties, guest workers and lettuce-pickers is the H-1B visa, an economically vital program to let highly educated professionals who already have jobs lined up to enter the country to do them:

There's currently an annual cap of 65,000 H-1B visas, which allow foreigners with a bachelor's degree in their area of specialty to spend up to six years working for companies in the United States. Up to 20,000 more visas are available for foreigners with advanced degrees from U.S. universities.

Whatever your thoughts on immigration more generally, these workers - many of them with advanced high-tech degrees and in great demand by U.S.-based businesses who are trying to onshore employees instead of offshoring facilities - are an exceptionally valuable economic resource our government should be encouraging. And as this year's H-1B lottery, which yet again was massively oversubscribed in record numbers from the very first day it opened (this Monday) shows, the dynamism of the U.S. economy is attracting far more of these workers than our government will permit into the country:

A spokeswoman for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services told CNET on Wednesday that the estimated 150,000 petitions received by the agency as of Monday afternoon--and an as-yet uncounted number that came in on Tuesday--set a record for the first days of a new application round.

Yes, you read that right: more than half of the applicants just on the first day will be turned away. Some of those opportunities may not knock a second time.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:38 PM | Politics 2007 | Comments (25) | TrackBack (0)
POP CULTURE: Drugs Are Bad

More details here.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:36 PM | Pop Culture | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
WAR: McGovern's Book

Sooner or later I will have to read "All American: Why I Believe in Football, God, and the War in Iraq," by Ropb McGovern, a lawyer, former NFL player, and graduate of Holy Cross and of my high school's arch-rivals Bergen Catholic who left the Manhattan DA's office after September 11 to become a JAG lawyer in Afghanistan and Iraq (I linked to an interview with him here).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:08 PM | Football • | War 2007-14 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Roto 2007, Part I

Apologies for the lack of original content here lately - life has been intervening more than usual. For those of you who are interested, I annually review my Rotisserie draft here on the site. Let's start with the main roto team, drafted March 31 - AL league, traditional roto rules (4x4, 12 teams, $260 for 23 slots, 10 reserves) - for what it's worth, last year's team finished fourth (in the money), though only because two teams dropped out of the money for failing to meet the 1000 innings requirement:

Read More »

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:30 AM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
April 3, 2007

You know you want it. They're asking $150K. Of course, some disclaimers are apparently thought necessary:

Although it cannot achieve the 300 mph speeds that KITT reached, soar 50 feet in the air or throw smoke bombs, key features of the star car are intact. Perhaps most important, the red scanner light on the nose glows and makes a humming noise.

The car has two working video screens on the dashboard, and the cockpit features buttons that light up in green, yellow and red: ski mode, rocket boost, micro jam, silent mode, oil slick and eject.

Most of the buttons don't do anything, Verhoek said. Nor can the car hold a conversation or drive itself.

Well, I'm glad they cleared that up. Of course, you will want the car David Hasselhoff drove before he ended the Cold War.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:42 PM | Pop Culture | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
April 2, 2007
BASEBALL: Amusing Ad

Cerrone has video.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:49 PM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
LAW: On the Record

Patterico thinks the FBI should drop its resistance to taping interviews with suspects and witnesses. As he notes, there are practical reasons why you can't and shouldn't record every such interview, but no particularly good reason to have a blanket opposition to them.

In fact, the Scooter Libby case provided a good example of why - recall that, if I remember correctly, Libby was acquitted on the count of lying to the FBI that related to an interview that was not transcribed in contemporaneous notes produced at trial, even though the jury convicted him of what was apparently the same general statements to the grand jury. And there were signs that the jury simply didn't believe that Fiztgerald had proven beyond a reasonable doubt what Libby said in that interview.

Any lawyer who has ever gone back to a deposition or court transcript - or even a legal brief - knows that you sometimes come away recalling that something was said that wasn't, at least in so many words. That's why transcripts are invaluable. And it's why recorded interviews or videotaped confessions are, when practicable, a tremendous step forward for the system.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:41 PM | Law 2006-08 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Well Begun, Dunn

At this writing, through the 4th inning, Adam Dunn has hit 5 home runs and driven in 10 runs in the past three Opening Days.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 3:29 PM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Wright On!

NY Magazine has a long profile of David Wright, including how he views Derek Jeter as a role model and where women stand in his life these days:

"I don't want to put them in the same category as drugs, but women can be a ... a distraction," he says. "I have to remember, baseball is the reason I have my apartment, baseball is the reason I'm on the cover of video games-baseball is what I do. I'm not saying I don't ever ... I mean, I go on dates, but I'll just never let something like that become as important as the game. Not right now, at least."

I think I will not comment on that. On the other hand, Wright appears to have lost interest in his blog, not posting since the beginning of the NLDS last season.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 1:04 PM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Baseball Prospectus' team PECOTA projections ($) have the Mets finishing third in the NL East in scoring, well behind Philly and Atlanta, but winning the division on the strength of the third-fewest runs allowed in the National League.

BP is - unsurprisingly, given the conservatism of their projections - projecting a real shortage of quality starting pitching, especially of the 200+ IP variety. You will have to login or buy the book to get the hard numbers, but PECOTA projects only the following starters to meet the most basic ERA/IP standards:

200+ IP, Sub-3.00 ERA

AL: Johan Santana
NL: None

200+ IP, 3.00-3.99 ERA

AL: Jeremy Bonderman, Roy Halladay, John Lackey, CC Sabathia, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Curt Schilling

NL: Chris Carpenter, Jake Peavy, Brandon Webb, Roy Oswalt, Carlos Zambrano, John Smoltz

100-199 IP, 3.00-3.99 ERA

AL: Felix Hernandez, Jered Weaver, Kelvim Escobar, Rich Harden

NL: Ben Sheets, Cole Hamels, Randy Johnson, Anthony Reyes, Adam Wainwright, Greg Maddux

200+ IP, 4.00-4.49 ERA

AL: Danny Haren

NL: Dontrelle Willis, Aaron Harang, Freddy Garcia

200+ IP, 4.50-4.99 ERA

AL: Jon Garland

NL: None

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:30 PM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Best Record in Baseball

Certainly an encouraging start to the Mets' season last night, and particularly a good start against the Cardinals to beat Chris Carpenter with Kip Wells and - chortle - Braden Looper starting the next two games. It was much better than, say, 2005, when the Mets played a beautiful game on Opening Day only to have it spoiled by - say it again - Braden Looper blowing the game in the ninth in spectacular fashion.

The Mets drip-dripped Carpenter with singles right up the middle in the rally that let them pull away, before David Eckstein finally decided to just plant himself behind second base...some great defense by Jose Reyes last night as well. After his offensive breakout in 2006, one of the major questions of 2007 is whether Reyes can start putting up great defensive stats to match his tremendous tools - his quickness, athleticism and the best shortstop arm in the game. His numbers thus far haven't been impressive by most measures, though if Jose Valentin's bat holds up, it may help to finally stabilize second base - like his crosstown rival Derek Jeter, Reyes has suffered from a revolving door at second including some highly questionable gloves.

The one moment I didn't understand last night: 8th inning, 5-1 Mets, two men on, Joe Smith on the mound, Albert Pujols at bat, Smith throws his first pitch out of the strike zone. Smith throws his second pitch out of the strike zone. And I'm wondering: you have a raw rookie on the mound, a guy with 12.2 career innings above A ball, making his major league debut on the road on national television on Opening Day against the defending World Champions, best hitter in baseball at the plate, tying run on deck in the person of Scott Rolen, the one thing you don't want to do here is walk Pujols - yet, when Smith gets himself into this position, nobody goes to the mound to talk to him. Isn't that kind of what you pay a 35-year-old catcher to do, settle the kid down and focus him on making Pujols hit the ball? Instead, Smith walks him and the Mets had to get Aaron Heilman in the game to get Rolen.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:19 AM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)