Monday, June 29, 2009

Early (pre-judicial) restraint from the CJ

I said that I'd have nothing more to say about Michael Jackson, and that's basically true. Let me just say, though, that this story does nothing but increase my affection for Chief Justice Roberts...
Mr. Jackson had visited the White House on May 16, 1984, and appeared with Mr. Reagan at an event on efforts against drunken driving...A correspondence aide at the White House, James K. Coyne, drafted a somewhat goofy letter that he proposed having Mr. Reagan sign....

Mr. Roberts expressed acid disapproval in a June 22, 1984, memorandum to Mr. Fielding:

I recognize that I am something of a vox clamans in terris in this area, but enough is enough. The Office of Presidential Correspondence is not yet an adjunct of Michael Jackson’s PR firm. “Billboard” can quite adequately cover the event by reproducing the award citation and/or reporting the President’s remarks. (As you know, there is very little to report about Mr. Jackson’s remarks.)

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Monday Pythagorean, 6/29/2009

Another 4-2 week, as the roll continues. Sort of.

  • 2-of-3 from Washington, even on the road, is a disappointment. 2-of-3 from the Braves on the road probably shouldn't be, but given that they won the first two, was anyway. It feels different to lose the first and win the next two than to have a chance as the sweep and fail to get it. Which they did this week. Twice.

  • With the AL East playing the NL East, 4-2 wasn't good enough to maintain their lead, as they lost a game in the standings to both the Yankees and Rays. Each of those teams lost their first game, and finished the week with a five game winning streak.

  • We all knew that the AL East was loaded. Well, Pythagoras thinks that the four best teams in the AL are all in the East, and I don't necessarily disagree. The Blue Jays may well finish the season as one of the four best teams in the league while at the same time finishing fourth in their division.

  • The way that the Mets lay down for the Yankees this year was pathetic. Yes, they did win one of the six games, but they had the first one won also and lost it on a dropped pop-up. After taking the second game, they lost the next four by a combined score of 33-3. I hate the Mets, of course, and have no objections to them humiliating themselves, but would rather have had the Yankees lose at least one more of those games.

  • Speaking of ugly losses, Atlanta avoided one yesterday. Bobby Cox's head may have exploded if Ellsbury had gone deep in the ninth yesterday. The game should have ended on Ortiz' ground ball to second, but Braves' second baseman Kelly Johnson inexplicably ran at Youkilis instead of just tossing the ball to second to start the double play. When Youkilis stopped, he had to throw to first to get Ortiz, then Youkilis avoided the rundown and the game continued. Varitek drove in Youkilis with a single, and Ellsbury could have put the Sox ahead with a home run. I'm guessing that Cox "spoke" to Johnson after the game...

  • The Red Sox pitching for the week was, with one (Smoltz) exception, excellent. The offense, on the other hand...wasn't.

  • As to the Smoltz start, let me just say this about that: I saw a lot to be encouraged about. Yes, the first inning was a disaster. It was his first Major League inning in a year, and he clearly struggled - badly - with his command. Once that was out of the way, however, he looked pretty good to dominant over the next four innings. If the latter was more representative of what we can expect to see than the former, then it was a great signing.

  • I wrote about this yesterday, but let me mention it here again - as good as story as it might be, there is no legitimate case to be made for Tim Wakefield as an All Star.

  • You can all look forward to the June audit on Wednesday, as the month finishes Tuesday, and there are some players who have struggled - badly - this month. Struggled the way that Ortiz struggled in April and May. For today, let's just say that the offensive performance this week, as a team, was unimpressive. At best. Yes, they scored a bunch of runs against the Washington bullpen on Tuesday. After that, however, it was 6-3-4-1-1, for an average of 3 runs per game. That's weak. That they went 3-2 in those five is a tribute to the pitching.

  • How good was the pitching? In three games in Atlanta, the starters went 19 innings, and allowed a total of 2 runs. The bullpen allowed 1 run, a solo HR which Papelbon gave up with a four-run lead. This pitching excellence is, of course, the source of the aforementioned disappointment with only taking 2 of 3 against the Braves. The Red Sox went in to Atlanta, allowed only 3 runs in 3 games, and still couldn't manage the sweep.

  • I know that a lot of people have developed significant man-crushes on Nick Green, and God knows, he has given them far, far more than they had any right to expect when the season began. (Everyone get that? This is not a Green-bash - he's given them more or less consistent, nearly average defense at SS with some offensive production. He's not been a gaping hole, and he's done more than they could possibly have expected.) That said, all of the objective evidence continues to suggest that he's a below average defensive shortstop, and that he cannot maintain his offensive performance. His Major League OPS right now is exactly what his career Minor League OPS is. Some would suggest that that means he's playing to his level - I'd suggest that it means he's over his head. His career Major League OPS+ is 76, and that includes the 92 he's put up in Boston. It was 72 coming into this season. Rather than rooting for him to keep the job, Sox fans should be hoping that Jed Lowrie returns before Green completely turns in to a pumpkin.

  • Red Sox Player of the Week: Not a lot of great performances. Mark Kotsay had some production in few at-bats, Varitek had a decent week, Youkilis took some walks to put together a decent OBP. The prize goes, again, to Mr. Papi, David Ortiz, who hit .333/.389/.733/1.122 with 2 HR on the week. He's got two games left to finish off what has been an outstanding month of June.

  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week: Beckett was awesome again, with 7 scoreless innings on Friday. Wakefield threw 6 scoreless on Saturday. The bullpen was excellent. But the award goes to Brad Penny, who threw 2 good starts, allowing five runs in 11 2/3 innings over two starts. They won one and lost one, but he pitched well enough for them to have won both.

AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 6/29/2009


Tampa Bay5.64(1)4.51(5)0.601(1)46314235-4


New York5.53(2)4.8(10)0.565(3)423343321





Los Angeles5.08(5)4.84(12)0.523(8)383541323






Kansas City4.05(13)4.82(11)0.421(14)314332421

Top 5 projections (using current winning %)

New York9369


Los Angeles9171

Tampa Bay8874

Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)

Tampa Bay9369

New York9270



Standings for the week


New York6.17(2)3(1)0.789(1)51510

Tampa Bay5.5(4)3.67(4)0.677(2)42511


Los Angeles7(1)4.83(9)0.663(4)42511








Kansas City3(14)3.67(4)0.409(12)24331



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Michael Jackson

"Beat It" was far and away his best song as a solo artist. Both it and the video for it were pretty good.

de mortuis nil nisi bonum...

This will be my last comment on Michael Jackson.


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Sunday, June 28, 2009

A look in the crystal ball

Obamacare preview:
A critically ill Hamilton preemie turned away from McMaster Children's Hospital is all alone in a Buffalo intensive care unit because her parents don't have passports to get across the border.

Hamilton's neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) was full when Ava Isabella Stinson was born 14 weeks premature at St. Joseph's Hospital Thursday at 12:24 p.m.

A provincewide search for an open NICU bed came up empty, leaving no choice but to send the two-pound, four-ounce preemie to Buffalo that evening.

It's lucky for little Ava that she managed to be born before Obamacare wipes out the NICU units in Buffalo, too...

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Generational theft

Burt Folsom describes "generational theft":
In 1929, eighty years ago, President Herbert Hoover supported (and Congress passed) a bill to appropriate $500 million to the Farm Board to distribute to wheat and cotton farmers to prop up the prices of their crops. The interest payment on that $500 million is about $25 million a year–or $80,000 a day every day for the last eighty years. I say last eighty years because the borrowed money was not really paid back; we just made interest payments and then borrowed more during the next decade...Today we pay for Farmer Jim’s wheat subsidy eighty years ago. Eighty years from now our grandchildren will be paying for the teapot museum set up a few years ago in North Carolina. The challenge for our generation is this; Who has the savvy to develop the political strategy to stop this Ponzi scheme from driving the U. S. into ultimate bankruptcy?

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Who are the AL All Star pitchers?

Here is a list (incomplete) of AL Starting pitchers who have started 14+ games and thrown 90+ innings. About half of the AL All Star pitching staff should come from this group, maybe 6 or 7 pitchers total from this group of 18. Here is the relevant information for determining which of these pitchers are All Star worthy, including starts, innings, ER, HR, K and BB.

AL Starters - All Star Candidates

Pitcher A15510993233181111041.901.036.17

Pitcher B151101 1/37927729790012.401.072.72

Pitcher C1431039529612882022.531.067.33

Pitcher D161109 2/396317321075092.541.213.34

Pitcher E162112 2/3101331436706042.641.271.94

Pitcher F15310280301032831012.651.112.59

Pitcher G16111111936726792042.921.323.04

Pitcher H152101 1/310335726411013.111.281.58

Pitcher I16099 1/310136727641013.261.302.37

Pitcher J15099 1/391361224613123.261.192.54

Pitcher K162103 1/390397341243253.401.233.65

Pitcher L160108 1/3116411123761113.411.293.30

Pitcher M15198 1/38938732943103.481.262.94

Pitcher N1621098843931786043.551.152.52

Pitcher O15097 1/374391439853013.611.192.18

Pitcher P15198 1/393401429574123.661.281.97

Pitcher Q1509482411347926093.931.441.96

Pitcher R15294 2/39344636509034.181.461.39

It doesn't take a lot of careful examination of that list to see that the bottom half dozen really can't make a legitimate claim to a spot. There are six pitchers with ERAs under 3.00 and WHIPs under 1.3. There are several more with ERAs in the 2.9-3.4 range, with more than 6 innings per start. If anyone can make a good argument for pitcher N-R, I'd love to hear it, because I don't see one.

Here's the same list, this time with the names filled in.

AL Starters - All Star Candidates

Zack Greinke15510993233181111041.901.036.17

Edwin Jackson151101 1/37927729790012.401.072.72

Roy Halladay1431039529612882022.531.067.33

Felix Hernandez161109 2/396317321075092.541.213.34

Kevin Millwood162112 2/3101331436706042.641.271.94

Jered Weaver15310280301032831012.651.112.59

Cliff Lee16111111936726792042.921.323.04

Nick Blackburn152101 1/310335726411013.111.281.58

Dallas Braden16099 1/310136727641013.261.302.37

Mark Buehrle15099 1/391361224613123.261.192.54

Justin Verlander162103 1/390397341243253.401.233.65

James Shields160108 1/3116411123761113.411.293.30

Josh Beckett15198 1/38938732943103.481.262.94

CC Sabathia1621098843931786043.551.152.52

Matt Garza15097 1/374391439853013.611.192.18

Joe Saunders15198 1/393401429574123.661.281.97

A.J. Burnett1509482411347926093.931.441.96

Tim Wakefield15294 2/39344636509034.181.461.39

There are some people in the Boston media, and in the Red Sox nation fanbase, who have been banging the drum for Tim Wakefield to make the All Star team. And it's easy to see that it would be a great storyline - he's got the longest tenure of anyone on the roster, has pitched very well on occasion. But you can't make a case that Tim Wakefield, the pitcher, should be an American League All Star this year. There's not one pitcher on the list that you can plausibly argue is less worthy of going, based on pitching performance.

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

US House votes yea on, well, nobody exactly knows, but it must be a good idea...

The United State House of Representatives, by a 219-212 margin last night, passed a bill that has not yet actually been written.
Through a series of parliamentary inquiries, the Republicans learned that the 300-plus page managers' amendment, added to the bill last night in the House Rules Committee, has not even been been integrated with the official copy of the 1,090-page bill at the House Clerk's desk, let alone in any other location. The two documents are side-by-side at the desk as the clerk reads through the instructions in the 300 page document for altering the 1,090 page document.

But they cannot be simply combined, because the amendment contains 300 pages of items like this: "Page 15, beginning line 8, strike paragraph (11)..." How many members of Congress do you suppose have gone through it all to see how it changes the bill?
[LB: My guess is approximately zero (0).]

Global Warming is apparently so urgent that we can't even wait until members of Congress know what they're voting on.

Of course, only a fool or a racist (Obama supports this) or a sexist (Pelosi supports this) could possibly be opposed to this kind of behavior...

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Friday, June 26, 2009

"the administration has decided to move forward..."

The Competitive Enterprise Institute has been watching this story play out...

The National Council on Environmental Economics has examined the Environmental Protection Agency's Draft Technical Support Document for Endangerment Analysis for Greenhouse Gas Emissions under the Clean Air Act. (As we all remember, the Supreme Court decided that the EPA should regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant, and the EPA promptly decided to regulate carbon dioxide and methane.) So the EPA is preparing an "endangerment" analysis on how Americans are "endangered" by carbon dioxide and methane, and getting ready to propose new regulations.

Of course, you can't do things like that without some analysis of the impact, of the costs and the benefits. so the NCEE has reviewed the draft proposal, and has some comments. But they aren't being released - the EPA is trying to suppress the analysis. Why is that? Well, as the Director of the National Center for Environmental Economics Al McGartland wrote to Alan Carlin, the NCEE scientist who prepared the review:
The time for such discussion of fundamental issues has passed for this round. The administrator and the administration has [sic] decided to move forward on endangerment, and your comments do not help the legal or policy case for this decision...I can only see one impact of your comment given where we are in the process, and that would be a very negative impact on our office.

And the comments that would have such a negative impact?
The current Draft TSB is based largely on the IPCC AR4 report, which is at best three years out of date in a rapidly changing field...
- Global temperatures have declined - extending the current downtrend to 11 the same time atmospheric CO2 levels have continued to increase and CO2 emissions have accelerated...
- The idea that warming temperatures will cause Greenland to rapidly shed its ice has been greatly diminished by new results indicating little evidence for the operation of such processes...
- A new 2009 paper finds that the cruial assumption in the GCM models used by the IPCC concerning strongly positive feedback from water vapor is not supported by empirical evidence and the feedback is actually negative...
- A new 2009 paper...suggests that solar variability could account for up to 68% of the increase in Earth's global temperatures...
...these are just a few of the new developments since 2006...the extensive portions of the EPA's Endangerment TSD which are based upon the old science are no longer appropriate and need to be revised...

But the science doesn't really matter - "the administration has decided to move forward on endangerment..."

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Watching the (next) disaster coming

Out to destroy the US economy based on shaky science:
Among the many reasons President Barack Obama and the Democratic majority are so intent on quickly jamming a cap-and-trade system through Congress is because the global warming tide is again shifting. It turns out Al Gore and the United Nations (with an assist from the media), did a little too vociferous a job smearing anyone who disagreed with them as "deniers." The backlash has brought the scientific debate roaring back to life in Australia, Europe, Japan and even, if less reported, the U.S.

Remember when the Obama administration was "about ensuring that facts and evidence are never twisted or obscured by politics or ideology?" Yeah, me neither. One of my primary concerns with the "global warming" panic is, and always has been, that it looks to me like an excuse for central planners and anti-US consumptionists to implement the same kind of policies that they've always been looking for a way to implement.

Of course, destruction of the economy is always good for politicians, at least those who can avoid the blame for said destruction. In the United States, those politicians are, primarily because of the whims of the media, called "Democrats." The worse things are, the more call there is for power for government Democrats to make things better. They never do, which is is why the calls continue and the power expands. We call this "positive feedback," and it's a very bad thing. They get power and importance from damaging the private sector - of course they have incentive to damage it further.
The collapse of the "consensus" has been driven by reality. The inconvenient truth is that the earth's temperatures have flat-lined since 2001, despite growing concentrations of C02. Peer-reviewed research has debunked doomsday scenarios about the polar ice caps, hurricanes, malaria, extinctions, rising oceans. A global financial crisis has politicians taking a harder look at the science that would require them to hamstring their economies to rein in carbon.

Well, some politicians. If the US Congress passes the Waxman-Markey abomination, you'll know that either a) they didn't look hard enough at the science or b) global warming amelioration isn't actually the real goal.

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When Government runs health care

ReasonTV. Not their best effort, but frightening (and probably accurate) anyway...

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

Investors Business Daily:
The House of Representatives is preparing to vote on an anti-stimulus package that in the name of saving the earth will destroy the American economy. Smoot-Hawley will seem like a speed bump.

Not since a misguided piece of legislation imposed tariffs that turned a recession into a depression has there been a piece of legislation as bad as Waxman-Markey.


It's what Janet Napolitano, secretary of Homeland Security, might call a "man-caused disaster," a phrase she coined to replace the politically incorrect "terrorist attack." But no terrorist could ever dream of inflicting as much damage as this bill...

I've actually, for the first time, called my "representative." She'll vote for it anyway, of course.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The OUTRAGE! of the day - Manny's rehab

I didn't spend much time listening to the radio yesterday, but I heard enough to know that the latest occasion for high moral dudgeon on the part of sports fans, writers and broadcasters is the Manny Ramirez "rehab" assignment in Albuquerque. People are OUTRAGED! mainly, I think, because they enjoy being OUTRAGED! and so will grasp for any possible reason. And for many, the fact that Manny Ramirez is getting some at-bats for a Dodgers minor league affiliate before the end of his 50-game Major League Baseball suspension qualifies as an OUTRAGE!

Rob Neyer, with whom I agree on many topics, thinks that "allowing suspended major leaguers to play in the minors is a farce, plain and simple." He echoes Tracy Ringolsby, who asked "why should Ramirez be given the privilege of getting to play in minor league games before he has served his full suspension?" He feels so strongly about it that he calls it a "farce" twice.

But why is it a farce? I've heard a couple of different arguments, and none of them is self-evident. Nor is any one of them indisputable. I don't even think that any of them are particularly strong.
  • "The minor leagues had a drug policy long before the big leagues." (Ringolsby) So what? He isn't a minor leaguer, and he wasn't suspended under the minor league drug policy. The minor league drug policy is aimed at minor league players, and is irrelevant to this discussion.

  • "It isn't like Ramirez was injured. He was suspended for his own actions. So he should have to pay the full price." (Ringolsby). Right. And what is the full price? As determined by Major League Baseball, and collectively bargained with the players' association, the "full price" is that he has to miss, and forfeit his paycheck for, 50 of his team's games. His team is the LA Dodgers. When he returns next week, he will, in fact, have missed 50 Dodgers games, and 50/162s of his salary. That sounds an awful lot like "full price" to me.

  • "Teams should be held accountable for the transgressions of their players. If teams suffer enough they might be more vigilant in dealing with potential violations." (Ringolsby) I'm sorry, but this is just silly. The Dodgers will have played 50 games, 30.8% of the schedule, without their highest paid and most valuable player. If that's not enough to make them "vigilant," would 58 games be enough? 67 games? Would they have been less vigilant if the suspension were only 40 games? Where's the line?

  • (This is a paraphrase, not a direct quote, but it accurately represents what was said:) "It's not fair to some AAA player, who has to go down to make room on the Albuquerque roster for Manny to rehab." There may have been stupider comments made yesterday - in fact, I'd bet on it - but I didn't hear them. This gem was from WEEI midday host Dale Arnold, who apparently didn't realize that that would also have been the case if he'd had to wait ten more days.

Major League Baseball has rules for drug use. Manny Ramirez violated them, which brought on a pre-determined punishment. Manny has served, and is continuing to serve, that punishment, as pre-agreed upon by all interested parties. This outcry would have been a lot more effective the first time it actually happened, when JC Romero pitched in minor league game(s) while still suspended from the Phillies earlier this year, because "Major League Baseball rules allow him to pitch in the minors for 16 days before the suspension ends." Where were Tracy Ringolsby and Rob Neyer and Dale Arnold and all of the outraged WEEI callers then? I heard them, and it sounded a lot like ... [crickets] ...

Here's the bottom line: if people are offended by the current policy, then what they are actually saying is that the 50 game suspension is not enough - it should be longer. It's fine to take that position, but be intellectually honest and take it. Admit that that's your position. Say, "50 games without pay isn't long enough - it should be 60. Or 80. Or public flogging." Or whatever, but say it. Don't try to argue that Manny is or the Dodgers are somehow getting away with something because he's going to try to be ready to play at the end of his 50 game suspension. This isn't something that was done to accommodate Manny and it isn't a prize or reward or bonus (ask the typical Major League player how much he'd enjoy forfeiting 6% of his salary for the privilege of going back to the minors). It is part of the established policy, which recognizes that with that much time off, a Major League player needs to see some game action to get ready to return. The policy is 50 games, and is designed to be, in fact, 50 games. Not 50 official and 8 unofficial.

Again, if you think that it is an insufficient penalty for either the player or the team, then make the case that it's an insufficient penalty. But don't pretend that somehow Manny and/or the Dodgers aren't paying the full price for his actions, because he is and they are. The rules were agreed upon beforehand, and they're being followed.

UPDATE: David Pinto disagrees. He thinks that there's no problem with being outraged over a rule (with which I agree) or with this rule in particular (with which I strongly disagree).
...we should have been outraged when the rule was first written. That doesn’t mean, however, that now that we are aware of the rule that we shouldn’t be outraged. A suspension to me means you don’t play ball for 50 days. Major League players can afford to hire batting practice pitchers or batting practice batter to help keep them sharp while they’re not on the team.

Wouldn't taking batting practice qualify as "play[ing] ball?" Manny (and JC Romero before him, and whoever comes next) weren't suspended from "play[ing] ball" - they were suspended from playing Major League Baseball. I can understand being outraged about a rule, I just don't understand the source of the outrage over this one. Unless, as I said, you think that the 50 games isn't long enough.

But the fact that he's getting minor league at-bats, and Romero got minor league inning(s) before the Major League suspension was officially over, well, I don't see any "farce" or cause for outrage there. Maybe I'm just thick, but I don't just disagree with the outrage - I cannot even understand the reason for it. As near as I can tell, people seem to think that the rehab makes the punishment only a nominal 50 games as opposed to a real 50 games, that this makes the MLB claim of a 50 game suspension a lie. I just don't see it.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Idle thought

How many men died because Robert E. Lee turned down Abraham Lincoln's offer of command of the Union forces?


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Piano Recital (cont.)

Sam, June 13, 2009

He's played the Beethoven better, but there was almost a full hour between warmup and performance, which affected his play...

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Piano Recital

Ben, June 13, 2009

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Monday Pythagorean, 6/22/2009

All things considered, this was the worst week of the past three1 for the Red Sox. When you're going 4-2 in your down weeks, things are going well.

  • Well, when the week started I said that Boston needed to sweep Florida to maintain their two-game lead over the Yankees, as New York was hosting the woeful Nationals. I could not have been more wrong, as Boston took 2-of-3 and extended their lead from 2 to 3 games in the AL East. Not only did the Yankees drop 2-of-3 to Washington, they flew to Florida and dropped 2-of-3 to the Marlins2, as well.

  • So not only are the Sox still in first, they've actually started to build a real lead, pushing it out to four games. They're headed out on the road for 9 games with bad (Washington, Baltimore) and so-so (Atlanta) teams, before coming home for a 10-game homestand prior to the All Star break, also against relatively weak competition. It's not unreasonable to hope and suppose that they might be up by 6 or 7 in the East when the All Star break gets here, and if so, they'll be very tough to catch.

  • According to the Baseball Prospectus Posteason Odds report, the Red Sox are one of three teams (the Cardinals and Dodgers are the other two) who are currently better than 50-50 to win their division.

  • Those other two teams are playing in significantly weaker divisions. By Pythagorean record, the four best teams in the American League are all in the AL East.

  • There was some grumbling from the Red Sox players after Thursday's 5-inning 2-1 loss to the Marlins, and that's understandable. The playing conditions were bad right from the start, and they played just long enough for the game to be official, at which point they called it with Boston down by only one. So that seems like some bad management and bad luck. But they really can't complain too much - this was a week in which the Yankees lost 2-of-3 to both Florida and Washington, and the Red Sox won a game on a Nick Green walk-off homer. As frustrating as Thursday was, the Baseball Gods were, on the whole, very generous to the Sox.

  • The offense was weak. All of the guys who were hot early are cold now, as Bay, Pedroia, Youkilis, Varitek and Lowell combined to hit just .184/.254/.301/.555 for the week. Fortunately, Mr. Ortiz has returned and if he isn't going to be peak Papi again, which I don't expect, he's likely still a good Major League hitter.

  • How good has Ortiz been in June? For the month, he's played in 17 games, and hit .308/.400/.654/1.054 with five HR. That's very good. I suspect that the real performance level isn't quite that high now, but it's sure nice to see. And it's come at a good time, as many of their best hitters have struggled this month.

  • So there's something actually physically wrong with Matsuzaka, which makes sense. I still think he's had some bad luck, but he's clearly not been right, and they reached a point where they had to deal with it. This is why you accumulate pitching depth, and they've got a ton of it. So Smoltz just fits into the rotation, everyone else keeps going, and they still have Buccholz and Bowden at Pawtucket, and Masterson in the 'pen.

  • Even with Matsuzaka struggling, the starting pitching has been excellent. In the last month (28 games), the starters have averaged 6.05 innings pitched with an ERA of 3.88. Without the guy who is now on the DL, they've averaged 6.4 innings pitched with an ERA of 3.19.

  • Every year in which Nick Green has hit a walk-off HR during a Braves-Red Sox game has finished with the Red Sox winning the World Series.

  • Red Sox Player of the Week: With 2 HR and a .316/.409/.737/1.146 line, it's David Ortiz for the second straight week. Honorable mention to Nick Green, who hit .353/.421/.647/1.068 in 19 AB, and closed out the Braves with a shot around the Pesky Pole on Sunday.

  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week: For his 5-hit complete game shutout against the Braves on Saturday night, this one clearly goes to Josh Beckett.

1 - Why was this worse? Well, last week they went 5-1 against first place teams. The week before, they went 4-2 against first place teams, half of the games on the road. This week, they went 4-2 at home against weaker teams.

2 - Well, the Yankees lost 2-of-3 in Florida unless their protest of Sunday's game is upheld. There was a substitution irregularity, and apparenly one pitch thrown with a should-have-been ineligible outfielder in left. Doesn't seem to have affected the outcome, and it would be surprising to see the game replayed from that point, but until MLB rules, we don't know for sure.

AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 6/22/2009


Tampa Bay5.65(1)4.58(7)0.595(1)42293734-5



New York5.48(2)4.96(12)0.546(4)383138310




Los Angeles4.91(6)4.84(10)0.507(8)343336312






Kansas City4.15(13)4.93(11)0.422(14)293929390

Top 5 projections (using current winning %)

New York8973




Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)

Tampa Bay9171


New York8973


Standings for the week






Tampa Bay5.67(3)4.17(10)0.637(5)4233-1


Los Angeles5.5(4)4.33(11)0.607(7)42420





New York3(14)3(2)0.5(11)3324-1


Kansas City4.33(8)8.83(14)0.214(14)15150

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

"diversity is the number one priority"

This strikes me as a fireable offense:
The Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead announced in Annapolis recently that "diversity is the number one priority" at the Naval Academy.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Monday Pythagorean, 5/15/2009

5-1 is a very good week against the Nationals and Indians. It's a great week against the Yankees and Phillies.

  • I've mentioned it before, but it remains astounding to me how strongly our perceptions are colored by what we last saw. This week felt like a triumph through the fourth inning on Sunday, and it still should - they went 5-1 while playing two teams that started the week in first place, but Sunday's loss just put such a damper on the emotional reaction to this week's games.

  • A similar phenomenon relates to the starting rotation. Daisuke Matsuzaka was good in his first season, was one of the best starters in the AL last year, and yet his slow start has huge numbers of WEEI callers (and hosts) looking for a way to get him out of the rotation. Just ridiculous.

  • Speaking of Matsuzaka, he needs to get cut some slack for Saturday's performance, as Philadelphia's three run fourth came nearly three hours after he pitched the first inning. That he came back at all after a nearly two hour rain delay was very helpful for the team, but it created a situation in which it would have been very difficult for anyone to pitch well..

  • I was shocked to see the Red Sox as 9th in the AL in runs allowed this week. What that says is that there were a lot of low-scoring games everywhere. They allowed 0, 5, 3 and 2, for a total of 10 runs in their first four games, 2.5 runs per game. Of course, they then allowed 17 in the last two, so I guess that skews the averages a little bit...

  • The 8-0 start vs. the Yankees is nowhere near as meaningful as some people want to make it out to be. I think that Boston's a better team, possibly the best team in baseball, but this doesn't prove it. Most of the time, the Red Sox are going to lose when Rivera is on the mound with a two-run lead in the ninth, but in game one of this season, Bay homered. Most of the time, they're going to lose when Sabathia takes a two-run lead into the 8th, but they happened to beat him this week. Most of the time, they're going to lose when Beckett gives up six and Burnett's on the mound, but Burnett had a meltdown in May, and the Red Sox won that one, too. Boston's a better team, with a better starting staff and a better bullpen, but Alex Rodriguez missed the first five games of the 8, and the Sox have had some good timing with some of their production. And it's fortunate for them that they have, as a 6-2 record against the Yankees would have them two back in the East instead of two up.

  • Can we all agree that Toronto's relevance, other than as a spoiler in games played against the real AL East contenders, has ended for the year?

  • Can we all agree that Tampa's 5-1 week1, hosting the Angels and Nationals, is nowhere near as impressive as the Red Sox 5-1 week, hosting the Yankees and visiting the Phillies?

  • Can we agree that the Yankees 3-4 week was even less impressive than it sounds, as it really was a 2-5, and then the Mets turned a loss (a real honest-to-goodness loss, not an "a loss if we don't get something done here" almost loss) into a win on Friday night?

  • Red Sox Player of the Week: By Runs Created, it was Jason Bay, who had 25 at-bats, hit .360/.433/.560/.993 and created 6.14 runs. By Runs Created/25 outs it was Julio Lugo, who had .750/.727/1.000/1.727 and created 4.67 runs in only eight at-bats. But neither wins, as the award goes instead to David Ortiz, who hit .308/.471/.769/1.24 with 2 (important) home runs and 4.44 created runs in at-bats, and finally looked as if the slump might be just a slump (albeit one of epic proportions) rather than the end of his viable MLB career.

  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week: Through four innings in Philadelphia yesterday, this was Josh Beckett's award to lose. He proceeded to do so. That leaves me with three choices. Jonathan Papelbon threw three innings, allowing no runs and only 2 baserunners. Jon Lester, for his second consecutive start, allowed two hits, two walks and only one run while striking out 11, albeit over only seven innings as opposed to nine last time. And Brad Penny went six scoreless as the Sox completed the sweep of the Yankees. And the winner is ... Jonathan Papelbon. Saves are wildly overrated as a statistic, but the Yankees have a great lineup, and Papelbon closed out consecutive one-run games against them.

AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 6/15/2009


Tampa Bay5.65(2)4.62(7)0.591(1)38273431-4


New York5.71(1)5.14(12)0.548(3)352836271





Los Angeles4.85(7)4.89(11)0.497(8)303132292


Kansas City4.13(12)4.55(5)0.456(10)283428340





Top 5 projections (using current winning %)

New York9369



Tampa Bay8577

Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)

Tampa Bay9171

New York9072



Standings for the week


Kansas City5.67(4)3(1)0.762(1)5142-1

Tampa Bay6.14(2)3.57(3)0.73(2)52520



Los Angeles6(3)5(13)0.583(5)33421



New York5.57(5)4.86(12)0.562(8)4334-1







1 - Tampa was actually 5-2 on the week, as they finished a wraparound in NY against the Yankees on Monday. The 5-1 comparison is for the last 6 days, Tuesday-Sunday.

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Monday, June 08, 2009

Unemployment chart

From the report prepared to sell the stimulus, The Job Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan
First, the likely scale of employment loss is extremely large. The U.S. economy has already lost nearly 2.6 million jobs since the business cycle peak in December 2007. In the absence of stimulus, the economy could lose another 3 to 4 million more. Thus, we are working to counter a potential total job loss of at least 5 million. As Figure 1 shows, even with the large prototypical package, the unemployment rate in 2010Q4 is predicted to be approximately 7.0%, which is well below the approximately 8.8% that would result in the absence of a plan.

Well. I seem to recall criticism from the left aimed at the Bush administration for "fear-mongering," but this is a pretty scary chart:

The Obama team sold the stimulus by telling the Congress and the American people that unemployment would be much worse if the stimulus were not enacted than it would be if We The People agreed to take on the additional $775 BILLION in debt. And the President sold his plan hard, using the full standard Obama quota of strawmen and false choices.
If nothing is done, this recession could linger for years. The unemployment rate could reach double digits. ...There is no doubt that the cost of this plan will be considerable. It will certainly add to the budget deficit in the short-term. But equally certain are the consequences of doing too little or nothing at all, for that will lead to an even greater deficit of jobs, incomes, and confidence in our economy...That work begins with this plan – a plan I am confident will save or create at least three million jobs over the next few years. It is not just another public works program...Our government has already spent a good deal of money, but we haven't yet seen that translate into more jobs or higher incomes or renewed confidence in our economy. That's why the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan won't just throw money at our problems – we'll invest in what works...I urge Congress to move as quickly as possible on behalf of the American people. For every day we wait or point fingers or drag our feet, more Americans will lose their jobs. More families will lose their savings. More dreams will be deferred and denied. And our nation will sink deeper into a crisis that, at some point, we may not be able to reverse...It will not come easy or happen overnight, and it is altogether likely that things may get worse before they get better. But that is all the more reason for Congress to act without delay. I know the scale of this plan is unprecedented, but so is the severity of our situation. We have already tried the wait-and-see approach to our problems, and it is the same approach that helped lead us to this day of reckoning.

So the President was going to act, unlike unnamed others who want to "want-and-see," or other unnamed others who want to do "too little or nothing at all." He recognized, as that chart above showed, that things would get worse before getting better, but was confident that things would be much, much worse, possibly irredeemably worse, if the stimulus package were not passed. And the Congress gave it to him.

Well, Geoff at InnocentBystanders has been comparing the Obama economic projections to evolving reality. He's been adding the actual unemployment numbers to the Obama team's chart on a monthly basis. The results are ... informative.

Some of us thought that the stimulus package was far more likely to do significant harm to the economy than to stimulate anything like economic recovery. The evidence thus far suggests that we were right and the President was ... not.

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"They lined up the wrong way..."

Great piece from former congressman J.C. Watts on the Sotomayor nomination and the hypocrisy of the Democrats.
Judging from the accolades showered on Sotomayor over the past several weeks, you would think that coming from humble beginnings is the benchmark for the Supreme Court.

Well, if that's the case, recall how Clarence Thomas was treated in his confirmation process. I guarantee you'll not find more humble beginnings than his birthplace in Pin Point, Ga.


Think of Miguel Estrada, the 2001 circuit judge nominee whose confirmation was filibustered by Democrats to where Estrada withdrew. He came from humble beginnings in Honduras and arrived in the United States as a teenager with limited knowledge of English.

Think of Janice Rogers Brown's nomination to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. She took her seat only after two years of procedural delays. And you can't find more humble beginnings than being the daughter of sharecroppers who attended segregated schools in Alabama.


The people who put these three nominees through their living hell somehow failed to slobber all over themselves concerning their paths from the valley to the mountaintops.


The reason these three minority candidates got no credit for their individual journeys is due to the fact they lined up the wrong way on the Second Amendment -- the right to keep and bear arms. They lined up the wrong way on when life begins -- at the time of conception. They lined up wrong on how to make policy. They believe our nation creates policy through legislation -- not through the courts, as Judge Sotomayor and President Obama seem to believe.

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Monday Pythagorean, 6/8/2009

The Red Sox finish the first of their two weeks playing only first place teams1 with a 4-2 mark. Objectively, that's pretty good, but because they started 3-0 and come into this week having lost 2-of-3, it's actually disappointing.

  • For the first month, the starting pitching struggled, but the offense and bullpen kept the team successful. The offense has struggled mightily for the past couple of weeks, but the starting pitching, at least the front of the rotation (i.e., Beckett and Lester) has started to perform as expected, so the team is still winning.

  • Through April, Beckett and Lester combined to make ten starts. In those ten starts, they compiled a 6.29 ERA in about 5.9 innings per start. Since then, they've made 13 starts with a 3.45 ERA while going almost a full inning per start longer.

  • The defense continues to be a problem. I said earlier in the year that I thought Lester was pitching better than his numbers indicated. I still think so. According to Baseball Prospectus' numbers, the Red Sox are 27th out of the 30 MLB teams in defensive efficiency. And Lester has had less effective defense behind him than most of the Red Sox pitchers2. The Sox have made a lot of errors, led by Nick Green with 9, but that isn't the biggest problem. The biggest problem is the balls that they're just not getting to. In particular the left side,, where Lowell's lost a step, Lugo's lost two, Nick Green was never a Major League caliber shortstop and Jason Bay, who we all love, is not, as we all expected, a defensive upgrade over Manny Ramirez. The team ERA doesn't accurately reflect how well the pitchers have pitched.

  • The offense has struggled for a couple of weeks now. They've had a few players (Youkilis, Bay, Lowell, Varitek) carrying the offense at basically unsustainable levels. Ideally, when those players inevitably cool off, others pick up the slack. Other than Pedroia, who has actually been excellent and pretty consistent all year, there's been no noticeable slack-picking up.

  • The Yankees had another 4-2 week as well, finishing the week with the same half game lead with which they started the week. It may or may not be true that the Rangers struggle against the Yankees more than most teams, but it did feel like a gift when Texas took 1 of 3 in Yankee Stadium.

  • Is there still anyone out there who thinks that New York would be better off with Joba Chamberlain in the bullpen?

  • Tampa continues to lead the AL in run differential. And five games in early June doesn't seem like an insurmountable deficit. Unfortunately for them, it's five games behind what are probably the two best teams in baseball.

  • Red Sox Player of the Week: J.D. Drew. He only played in four of the six games, but he hit .417/.632/.667/1.299 in them, with a home run and a slew ("slew" being used here as a synonym for the number 7) of walks at the top of the order. Some weeks he might not win because of playing time issues, but this week, there was no strong competition.

  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week: If asked on Thursday, the answer clearly would have been Josh Beckett, who continued a streak of outstanding pitching by taking a no-hitter into the 8th in Detroit. He ended up giving up 3 runs in 7 2/3, but none of the runs were earned. But that performance was eclipsed by Jon Lester, who took a perfect game into the 7th on Saturday night against Texas. Lester gets the prize for his complete game, 2 hit, 2 BB, 11 strikeout, 1 run performance.

AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 6/8/2009


Tampa Bay5.59(2)4.74(7)0.574(1)33252929-4




New York5.73(1)5.18(12)0.546(5)312533232




Los Angeles4.73(9)4.87(11)0.486(9)272828271




Kansas City3.96(13)4.71(6)0.421(13)243224320


Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
New York9567





Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)

New York9171



Tampa Bay8973

Standings for the week



Tampa Bay6(2)3(3)0.78(2)41410



New York6.33(1)4.5(8)0.651(5)42420


Los Angeles4.5(6)4(6)0.554(7)33330






Kansas City2.17(13)5.5(13)0.154(13)15150


1 - Twelve consecutive games against Detroit, Texas, NY Yankees and Philadelphia, each of which was in first place in its division when the stretch began. The Yankees and Red Sox are essentially tied, and have bounced back and forth between first, tied and second for the first week, and may do it for the second as well.

2 - Part of the reason that Matsuzaka has struggled is that the defense has been worst behind him.

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Saturday, June 06, 2009


65 years ago, the allied landing at the beaches of Normandy marked the beginning of the end of the Third Reich and the European front of World War II. Young men from Canada, England and the United States died by the thousands to liberate the captive nations of Europe. "They came not as conquerors but as liberators."

All those living in freedom today are doing so at the cost of their sacrifice.

Here, from 25 years ago today, is President Ronald Reagan, speaking in Normandy on the 40th anniversary.

The first speech was given at the Ranger Memorial at Pointe du Hoc.

And the second was given at Omaha Beach.

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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

It's a poor craftsman who blames his tools...

Dennis Eckersley, during the NESN broadcast tonight, (including a quote Jacoby Ellsbury said earlier in the day), in reference to Ellsbury's OBP and the paucity of walks that he's drawn:
"Well, how do you expect me to walk? They're not trying to walk me - they don't want to walk me, because I'm fast. They don't want me to get on base." So that's why he's had a hard time with his On-Base Percentage.

In 2004, Barry Bonds became the all-time career leader in walks. Anyone know whose record he broke? Who has drawn more walks than anyone in the history of the game other than Barry Bonds?

Rickey Henderson.

Henderson could run a little, too...

You can't fix something if you don't recognize it as a problem.

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Congratulations, Terry Francona - 500 wins!

When Terry Francona was hired in 2004, I defended him against criticism of his record in Philadelphia. I think that managers can't win without good players, and he didn't have enough of them, whether he used it well or not. I didn't know whether he was the right guy, but I liked what I heard from him, thought he'd probably learned something from his Philadelphia story, and I was willing to give him a chance.

In the last five years, I think he's been one of the very best managers in baseball. I don't agree with every move a manager makes - indeed, I don't think that's possible. Even if I were the manager, I'd probably disagree with 20% of what I came up with. ;-) But I think he's demonstrated an understanding of baseball strategy, an understanding of baseball tactics, and, most importantly, an understanding of when strategic concerns override tactical concerns and vice versa.

So I want to make sure to note, and offer my congratulations on, the 500th win for Terry Francona in a Red Sox uniform, last night in Detroit. He's done a great job, and I expect him to continue doing a great job for years to come.

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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Where The Wild Things Are

Coming in October:

I loved the book, but had never, ever considered it movie material. But someone saw something in it, and this looks as if it will be interesting at the least. After Adaptation and Being John Malkovich, Spike Jonze has some credibility with me...

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Monday, June 01, 2009

Red Sox: May audit

Two months into the season, the AL East is shaping up as extremely competitive, albeit possibly at worse records than we expected. As for the Red Sox, they played better in April than they did in May. The pitching was slightly better in May, but the offense a lot weaker. From a runs scored/runs allowed perspective, they were the third best team in the AL in April, only the sixth best AL team in May. They actually finished April with the best record in the AL, but only had the sixth best AL record in May.


AL Pythagorean Standings for the month of May




New York5.54(3)4.54(5)0.59(3)171117110


Tampa Bay6.13(1)5.23(11)0.572(5)17131614-1




Los Angeles4.57(9)4.68(8)0.489(9)141416122




Kansas City4(13)5.32(13)0.372(13)101811171


In the East, they were 1/2 a game behind the Rays and 2 1/2 behind the Yankees for the month, and 1 game better than the Blue Jays and Orioles.

AL East - May 2009

NYY 17110.607-- 155127

TBR 16140.5332184157

BOS 15140.5172.5141129

BAL 14150.4833.5134144

TOR 14150.4833.5128129

They began the month in a virtual tie for first with Toronto, two games ahead of the Yankees...

AL East - End of April 2009

BOS 1480.636-- 126107

TOR 1590.625-- 142112

NYY 12100.5452128136

BAL 9130.4095116144

TBR 9140.3915.5110103

...and finished it 1/2 a game behind New York.

AL East - End of May 2009

NYY 2921.580 - 283263

BOS 2922.5690.5267236

TOR 2924.5471.5270241

TBR 2528.4725.5294260

BAL 2328.4516.5250288

  • Part of the reason for the weakness of the Red Sox performance may be related to a schedule discrepancy. Over the past several years, they've been a decent team on the road but a great team at home. Well, in May, they played only 11 home games vs. 18 on the road. For the season, they've got five more home games remaining than road games.


This table contains some standard offensive numbers and a couple of more advanced metrics. The last two columns are Bill James' Runs Created, and Runs Created per 25 outs, an estimate of how many runs per game a lineup would score with nine hitters performing the way that hitter performed. (The fact that it can end up negative is, indeed, an indicators that these are estimates.)

The Red Sox scored 141 runs in May, an average of 4.86 per game.

Red Sox hitters - May 2009

Jason Bay 2828106192880103014300040.264.355.623.97822.36.8

Dustin Pedroia 272710422388011317511150.365.455.471.92622.07.4

Jacoby Ellsbury 27271201637710661141000.308.346.383.73016.94.8

Mike Lowell 28281141335904123000060.307.325.491.81615.64.6

J.D. Drew 27258917235041315010100.258.368.449.81715.35.6

Kevin Youkilis 16165511185041610000120.327.441.6361.07814.39.0

Jason Varitek 2222789184061210000210.231.311.513.82412.75.0

Julio Lugo 20187081921136100000.271.329.371.7009.24.5

Nick Green 17145351750084120030.321.368.415.7846.64.0

Jeff Bailey 19165971131266000040.186.304.373.6775.82.8

David Ortiz 242491613601615000030.

Rocco Baldelli 98323811251000000.250.273.531.8044.74.9

George Kottaras 117275740042000100.259.300.407.7073.54.2

Jonathan Van Every 2160200010000000.333.333.333.667.64.0

Gil Velazquez 1000000000000000.0001.000.0001.000.3 -


  • Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia are doing everything in their power to make Theo Epstein look like a genius. Youkilis has been hot from the word "go," and that continued in May despite missing two weeks to injury. Pedroia's been fighting a groin strain that's cut down on his swing and his power, but all he did in May was hit .365/.455/.471/.926.

  • They aren't the only ones hitting. Jason Bay had another very good month, as did J.D. Drew. And I didn't expect six home runs from Jason Varitek this year, never mind in one month, as he hit in May.

  • But there are problems. Jacoby Ellsbury hit .307 and stole bases, but hit for no power and took few walks. That's not good enough to make him a good Major League leadoff hitter. For him to be productive without significantly increasing his power, he's got to get his OBP up to at least .375. In order to do that, he's got to hit .330-.340, or he has to walk. There are people who think that he's a budding star. I'm more pessimistic about his future now than I have been at any time before now. He's an OK player, giving you good defense and exciting base-running, but he's not a good offensive player, and won't be without adding something to his game.

  • The team continues to miss Jed Lowrie. The SS tandem of LuGreen (or GreenGo - your pick) is not a problem offensively, though not a great asset either. The rest of the SS comment comes later.

  • The big problem is, of course, the BIG problem. Is David Ortiz done? He's certainly done nothing positive so far. Indeed, much to my shock and horror, he followed up an awful April (.230/.290/.333/.623) by doing something I'd not thought possible - having a worse - significantly worse - May (.143/.278/.242/.520). So, is he done? I don't know the answer, but I know this - I lived through the last days of Jim Rice, and this is frighteningly reminiscent of that. David Ortiz has been a tremendous hitter for the Boston Red Sox. The organization owes him consideration for all that he's done, and they still owe him money. What they don't owe him is continued at-bats if this is all that he's capable of. I'm not the one to make that decision, and I'm glad that it's not mine to make, but something has to be done, because right now he's hurting the team. Badly.


The Red Sox allowed 129 runs in May, an average of 4.45 per game.

Red Sox pitchers - May 2009

Hideki Okajima 1100000-0012 1/3600021200008.761.460

Daniel Bard 600100-008 1/37110370001.087.563.240

Takashi Saito 1000900-00108220292001.88.11.80

Josh Beckett 5500301003428119312281002.387.413.180.79

Ramon Ramirez 14004220.50013 2/39441580012.635.273.290.66

Manny Delcarmen 1100301000912430282013820

Jonathan Papelbon 1100100107011 2/3114425151003.0911.573.861.54

Brad Penny 6600310.750036 2/346181726281004.176.871.470.49

Justin Masterson 74010200032351818413255015.067.033.661.12

Jon Lester 6600330.50035 1/3412323614411025.8610.443.571.53

Daisuke Matsuzaka 22000200010147715100046.394.50.9

Tim Wakefield 6600420.6670034 1/3432626519215016.825.54.981.31

Javier Lopez 300100-00474411200094.52.252.25

David H Jones 400000-003 2/377714200117.184.919.822.45


  • One of the early concerns was Josh Beckett, who finished the month of April at 2-2 with an ERA over 7. In 5 May starts, he averaged nearly 7 innings per game, going 3-0 with a 2.38 ERA. I'd say that we can stop worrying about Beckett for the time being.

  • The next concern would be Jon Lester, who also had a rocky April. Unlike Beckett, he had a rocky May as well. He had a couple of outstanding performances, but has far too often had decent starts ruined by one very bad inning, the kind of very bad inning that he never seemed to have in 2008. And he hasn't been able to "build momentum" by stacking solid starts in succession. There doesn't seem to be anything wrong with him, but he's giving up to many HR, too many big innings, and not showing the kind of consistency that he showed last year. Until he gets straightened out, he's the biggest concern in the starting rotation.

  • Well, many would disagree with that last comment and say that Matsuzaka is the biggest concern in the starting rotation. I disagree. He's come back from the DL and pitched close to the way he pitched last year. He's exasperating to watch, with too many baserunners, too many pitches, too much time between pitches and all the rest that comes with the Daisuke package. That said, I expect him to be fine, and effective and productive. Some of the criticism he'll take this year will relate to his W/L record, because too many people don't recognize how little that actually tells about a starting pitcher. It won't be as good as last year's, but he can, and I expect will, be an effective starting pitcher for the rest of this year without it being very good.

  • Tim Wakefield saved the staff in April. In May, his 6.82 was the worst on the club, save for Javier Lopez and Hunter Jones who are no longer here.

  • Brad Penny had a good month, going over 6 innings per start with a better than league average ERA, increasing his value to the team both staying and as a potential trade chip. Which is very possible, as John Smoltz is probably within two weeks of being ready, and they've already got eight starters (if you include Masterson, Buccholz and Bowden.)

  • The 'pen wasn't quite as stellar as in April, but they've continued to pitch well. They took four losses as opposed to two in April. (W/L is not particularly meaningful for starters, but losses can be a useful metric for relievers - they have to have been in late in a situation where their team was ahead or tied in order to get them.)

  • Daniel Bard made his Major League debut and has been outstanding, allowing only 1 run over 8 1/3 innings in six appearances. The depth of the system continues to shine.

  • "Pitching" includes, of course, defense. And they've got a problem here. I said earlier that they were missing Jed Lowrie - this is why. They've got two shortstops right now, and neither is capable of playing shortstop at a Major League level right now. But Lowrie should be back this month, and that should fix that problem...

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Monday Pythagorean, 6/1/2009

At 3-4, for the Red Sox this was the worst week since the first week.

  • I've written, many times, on the role of luck and sequentiality in baseball. This week was a great example. The Red Sox offense was, from a runs scored perspective (and that's really the bottom line number), very weak. Even including Sunday's eight run outburst, they scored fewer than four runs per game, 10th in the AL. But the component's of that offense weren't quite that bad. Using Bill James Runs Created metric, they produced enough hits, extra-base hits and walks to score a little over 35 runs. Instead, because of the sequences in which they produced the offense, they were limited to 27 actual runs scored.

  • Some would argue that this means that they were chokers this week. That they couldn't get a hit with runners in scoring position because they were mentally weak, that they weren't focused or something. I think it's just luck. That's the way it goes. Sometimes you create 35 and score 43, sometimes you create 35 and you score 27. Simple variation, law of averages stuff.

  • I'm not sure what, exactly, the point of moving Ortiz down in the lineup was. Some said it was "to take the pressure off and get him started," but, for someone concerned about who is batting behind him, taking him out from in front of Youkilis strikes me as counter-productive. Others said it was, "because you can't win with a number 3 hitter as bad as Ortiz has been." Which is true long term, but not an argument for moving him down - if this is what he is as a hitter, you've got to replace him, because you can't win getting that performance from any of your hitters. Getting that performance from your number six hitter may be marginally less damaging than getting it from your number three hitter, but only marginally, and we're talking about really small margins. No, if Ortiz is done, if this is his real performance level now, you can't keep him in the lineup at all. If he isn't, the question is, "how do you get him going again?" I'm skeptical that moving him down in the lineup does that. So, while I understand that there was enormous fan and media sentiment for the kind of move Francona made this week, I'm very skeptical about its potential efficacy.

  • While the Sox were playing this desultory and dreary brand of ball, the Yankees continued a streak that saw them win 14 of 17 to move into first place in the East. If Boston were 3-2 against the Yankees instead of 5-0, the Red Sox would currently be 4 1/2 games out of first place.

  • It looked like a three-team race when the season started, but with Tampa's loss of Iwamura, Percival and Kazmir, and the slow start leading to the current 5 1/2 game deficit despite having outperformed Boston and New York in the pythagorean standings, we could conceivably be, once again, looking at a two-team race in the AL East. A lot depends on what David Price's growing pains look like. If they're short and mild, Tampa may climb back into contention. If he goes the Buccholz/Hughes route, well, probably not.

  • Toronto's losing streak ended at nine, but that was enough, I think, to remove them from first permanently in 2009.

  • Red Sox Player of the Week: Getting monotonous, but until someone else steps up, it is, once again, Keven Youkilis, who hit .292/.400/.625/1.025 with two more home runs. Youk is making a case to follow-up his teammate's MVP award with one of his own.

  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week: Tough call. Three good-to-excellent relief performances for Okajima, two for Bard. Penny made two decent starts, Beckett one excellent one. Going to go with quality over quantity among the starters, and quantity over quality between the starters and relievers, and give it to Josh Beckett this week, one start, seven innings, three hits, one run, eight strikeouts.

AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 6/1/2009





Tampa Bay5.55(2)4.91(9)0.556(4)29242528-4


New York5.66(1)5.26(12)0.533(6)272329212


Los Angeles4.76(10)4.98(10)0.479(8)232625242



Kansas City4.18(13)4.62(5)0.454(11)232723270




Top 5 projections (using current winning %)

New York9468




Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)




New York8973

Standings for the week



New York6.67(2)3.5(2)0.765(2)5142-1








Tampa Bay4.43(8)5.43(10)0.408(10)3425-1


Los Angeles3.67(11)6.5(13)0.26(12)24240


Kansas City3.17(13)7.5(14)0.171(14)15150

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