Did you realize that the White Sox and Phillies engaged in a win-win-win-win trade this past off-season?
The trade only involved the two teams, but actually had a positive effect on no fewer than four teams, indirectly. One of these hidden beneficiaries was the Oakland A's, who have also benefited from another Billy Beane move with regard to the starting rotation.
Last week, former major league pitcher Jim Bouton announced the launch of an organization that will play by 19th century rules: The Vintage Base Ball Federation. The timing is perfect. Fans don't want to see people who make 40 to 100 times as much money as they do lollygag around the bases. They want to see hustle, hard-nosedness, and people earning the money that they make. Playing once again with a dead ball will bring things like hustle, heart, and strategy to the forefront of this great game.
September 2 - Keith - The WMLB-
Keith has another proposal that would serve to turn back the clock on the way the game is played, plus instigate a wide variety of other benefits: form a Women's MLB.
September 1 - Scouting and Moneyball-
One of the things about Moneyball that Asher enjoyed most was Billy Beane/Paul DePodesta/Michael Lewis describing what psychologists refer to as "the confirmation bias." A central element of Billy Beane's "revolution" revolves around de-emphasizing the importance of scouting and emphasizing the importance of crunching numbers. Scouts, as it turns out, often see what they want to see.
Asher got a chance to scout a player named Marcus Thames a few years back, and fell prey to this confirmation bias a bit himself...
Back in April, Richard put together an incredibly in-depth analysis of the effectiveness of Billy Beane's 2002 ideal draft. The article caught the eye of Blue Jays upper management and is linked in Wikipedia under "Moneyball." With another minor league season behind us, Richard has further updated his analysis. Decide for yourself whether Richard's new conclusion holds water or whether he has also succumbed to the dreaded confirmation bias.
August 31 - The NL Wild Card -
Not long after Keith decided that the Reds' administrative stupidity would cost them the NL Wild Card, Tony re-examines the NL Wild Card race for himself. His conclusion? Well for starters, the NL West teams aren't even in the running; a sentiment that Richard takes exception to.
August 30 - Keith - The Tomb of the Unknown -
Not to beat a dead horse (AKA the Boston Red Sox), but in perusing Wednesday's Sox/A's boxscore, Keith couldn't help but marvel. With Ortiz and Man-Ram injured, six of the nine batters in the Boston linup were hitting under .260, and none other than Gabe Kapler was hitting fifth. This offense has transformed from being one of the best in baseball into a bad joke.
But perhaps the most telling part of the boxscore was the pitching line. A pitcher listed only as "Unknown" tossed a one-run two-hit seventh inning for the Dead Sox. You would think that a Yankees fan had generated this boxscore if Boston did not literally have such an unknown team right now.
August 28 - Asher - Phinally a Phillie Phan-
Asher woke up this morning in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. And to tell you the truth, he could not be more pleased. That is because living in Philadelphia means fulfilling a lifelong dream.
He now lives in a city with a baseball team!
Living in Philadelphia as he now does, Asher finds that he would probably feel bound to root for the Phillies even if he didn't want to. However, as Asher notes about his new home, it is actually a pleasure to get to watch a home team that features Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Jimmy Rollins.
August 22 - Keith - Was Hillenbrand Right? -
In July, Shea Hillenbrand wrote on the Toronto clubhouse bulletin board that the "ship was sinking." Well, not only have the Blue Jays gone 12-17 and dropped out of playoff contention over the past month, but pitcher Ted Lilly and manager Jay Gibbons got into a physical altercation on Monday. "Stuff like that's been going on all season over there," claims Hillenbrand. Maybe chemistry does matter.
August 17 - Asher - Is It Time? -
Everyone agrees that bad teams can get better with a change of leadership, but rarely do we realize that good teams can also get better with a change at the helm. The Chicago White Sox finished with a winning record for Jerry Manuel for four straight seasons, yet only after Ozzie Guillen took over did the Sox stop under achieving and win their first World Series in a hundred million years.
With this in mind, Asher ponders a novel idea brought up by a Cardinals fan - is it time for Tony LaRussa to move on?
August 17 - Asher - Even a stopped clock is right twice a day -
On his way to predicting that the Washington Nationals would post an 85-77 record in 2006, and predicting that Alfonso Soriano would suffer a down year after being traded to the Nationals for Brad Wilkerson, and predicting that Ramon Ortiz would lead the league in homeruns allowed, Asher did actually manage to make one somewhat astute observation about the Washington Nationals heading into the 2006 season.
Perhaps Asher's most outlandish statement of all concerning the Nats was "I am not totally convinced that there is a whole lot of difference between Nick Johnson and Todd Helton." At the end of his Nationals First Base analysis, Asher wrote, "look for 25 100 .290/.410/.515 from Nick Johnson this season."
It is obviously to soon to "call it" by any stretch of the imagination, but through August 15th, Nick has played in 114 of the Nationals 119 games, and is batting .289/.422/.519. Additionally, he is on pace to finish the season with 24 homeruns and 81 RBI. Obviously off on the RBI, but pretty close on the other stats.
Asher drew the most fire, however, for comparing Johnson to Helton. Nevertheless, Helton is currently hitting .293/.407/.481. Helton also trails Johnson in homeruns (18 vs. 12) RBI (60 vs. 57) and runs (76 vs. 64). Surprisingly similar, one would have to say.
In this season in which Asher's Washington Nationals predictions were wildly inaccurate, we must give him credit for the one prediction that he appears, to this point, to have nailed.
August 16 - Keith - Narron's a Dunnce -
Jerry Narron shunned conventional wisdom by batting Adam Dunn second 26 times this year. In those 102 at bats, the Dunner went .333/.433/.627. Clearly, he thrives on the predictable fastballs he sees in that slot. So why has Narron stopped hitting him there for the past two weeks?!
Going into Wednesday's games, the NL has nine teams withing 5.5 games of the Wild Card leading Reds, whereas the AL has just two withing 5.5 games of the WC leading White Sox. We can't predict who is going to emerge as the Wild Card winner in either league, but we can tell you that it won't be the Reds in the NL.
August 14 - Keith - Forgot About McCann -
Nowadays, everybody wants to talk like Mauer's the best catcher around. But the stats don't pan out. When you crunch the numbers, you expose all of the blunders. Namely that those people forgot about McCann.
Brian is a year younger than Joe, yet has a higher OPS. He would be leading the NL in hitting (the way Mauer is in the AL) had he enough plate appearances to qualify. McCann also has a higher Predicted OPS and plays in a less accomodating home ballpark.
August 12 - Keith - Win More, No? -
Francisco Liriano may be lost for the year, and many people are writing the Twins off because of this possibility. But there's a player on the Twins that's just as hot as Liriano had been. Since June 1st, Justin Morneau has hit .367 with 20 homers and 65 RBI. His home run on Thursday made him the first Twin since 1987 to hit 30 homers in a season. These Twins could still be in it.
August 10 - A Whole New Humidor? -
The days of Coors Field as a hitter's park appear to be over. We know that part of the reason is because the Rockies are now leaving balls in the humidor for "months" as opposed to varying shorter lengths of time. But Richard suspects foul play beyond what Rockies officials have already revealed. Why isn't this causing the kind of controversy that the humidor's first appearance in 2002 did?
August 7 - Tim Lincecum Scouting Report -
What do you do with an undersized pitcher with a loaded repertoire? Do you start him and hope that he remains healthy, or do you use him as a closer and waste some of his talent? One thing's for sure: you make sure you select him in the draft, something that nine teams decided not to do. But for the Giants, Tim Lincecum is the future.
August 1 - State of the Empire Address -
A slow month for trades ended in a cacaphony of moves on Monday. Most notable among them were the Yankees' acquisitions of Bobby Abreu, Corey Lidle, and Criag Wilson. Tony covers the moves in his State of the Empire Address, and as you might have guessed, the prognosis is a good one.
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