Monday, July 27, 2009

Monday Pythagorean, 7/27/2009

2-4, and the AL East lead went and the deficit came and the deficit increased. Losing 5 straight while your chief competitors are winning 9-of-10 is a poor strategy for success.

  • As you all know, I have spent years studying baseball, evaluating statistics, identifying the things that teams and players do that lead to wins and losses. In the course of that study, I have learned a few things. I am about to share one of them with you all now. This is a piece of hard-fought knowledge, but I have amassed a significant body of evidence in support of it, and I feel quite confident that it is, in fact, true.


    You can not win games if you do not score runs.

    There are some who disagree, but you can trust me - I have put years in to examination of all relevant information, and I am convinced that I am right. You want to hear a staggering number? There have been 195,323 Major League Baseball games, and zero (0) of them have been won by a team scoring 0 runs or less.

    You can not win games if you do not score runs.

  • The outfield, DH and corner infielders this week, the offensive core of the team, hit .226/.321/.301/.622. They produced just 3.34 runs per 25 outs, which is the kind of performance that results in 2-4 weeks. Luckily, the pitching was outstanding, because 0-6 isn't out of the question when you average 3 runs per game. And it was actually worse, because they did have a seven run game, which skews the average up.

  • In the last month (6/27 - 7/26) the corner outfielders, Bay and Drew, have combined to hit .164/.300/.296/.596 with 4 HR.

  • Doesn't that mean that they should panic and replace everyone? No. It's just a slump, and everyone went through it at once. They've had a rotten 10 games. That's life. This is still an excellent team, and it still has an excellent chance to be playing October baseball.

  • On the week, John Smoltz gave up 12 runs in 10 2/3 innings. The rest of the staff gave up 10 runs in 40 1/3 innings.

  • Red Sox Player of the Week No one. Sorry, I just can't do it. Lowell, Green and LaRoche produced decent offense in really limited playing time, Ellsbury created some runs but took a lot of outs to do it, and everyone else was just horrible. It's my award to give - this week, I choose not to give it.

  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week This is a tough choice, for the opposite reason. Whereas the offense was putrid, on the pitching staff, there is an embarrasment of riches. 8 different pitchers took the mound for at least 1 2/3 innings this week without allowing an earned run. This may seem a cop-out, but I'm giving the award to the entire bullpen again. The seven relief pitchers struck out 15 in 14 2/3 innings without allowing a run.

AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 7/27/2009



New York5.54(2)4.76(9)0.57(2)564260384

Tampa Bay5.21(3)4.47(6)0.569(3)56435445-2

Los Angeles5.55(1)5(12)0.548(4)534458395










Kansas City3.95(13)4.99(11)0.394(14)385938590

Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
New York9963

Los Angeles9765



Tampa Bay8874

Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
New York9666


Los Angeles9468

Tampa Bay9072


Standings for the week




New York5.57(5)3.71(6)0.677(3)52611

Los Angeles8.5(1)6(10)0.654(4)42612






Tampa Bay3.43(10)4.43(8)0.385(10)34340



Kansas City4.2(7)7.8(13)0.244(13)14150


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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Not gonna phone it in tonight...

Something reminded me of this earlier in the week, and I found that it's online. One of the great SNL openings ever, and it ends with a perfect punch-line.

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Fading magic

Bagehot's famous line on the British monarchy is that you mustn't let daylight in upon magic. Obama's magic is fading because it can't survive contact with daylight.

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Armstrong and Aldrin on the diamond

OK, this is very cool.

(Click on the image for larger picture)

This is a map of the Apollo 11 moonwalks (40 years ago today) superimposed on a baseball diamond. Later missions covered a lot of ground, particularly with the lunar rover, but Neil and Buzz didn't go too far (other than the 500,000 mile round trip, that is)...

(H/T: Dave Pinto)

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Monday Pythagorean, 7/20/2009

1-2 is ... not good. But the sample size is so small that it really doesn't warrant comment.

  • The pitching wasn't great, particularly Penny, but it was the offense that was the real problem. Scoring 7 runs in 3 games, in this day and age, is probably going to result in more 0-3s than 2-1s.

  • The bottom line from Buccholz' start (5 2/3 innings, 1 run) was pretty good. The details (3 K, 3 BB) were not quite as pretty. On the whole, a solid but unspectacular start against a so-so team.

  • I've been pretty positive about the adjustment they made in the pitching rotation. The results thus far suggest [Miniscule Sample Size Warning] that the skipped starts may end up being a negative, as Penny and Lester had both been pitching well before the break, and were less impressive in their first starts (with extended rest) afterwards. [May be coincidence, may mean nothing, but seems worth mentioning.]

  • The good news is, if Boston makes it to the World Series, it will once again have home field advantage.

  • Red Sox Player of the Week - None. We're talking about a 3-game week in which the team scored 7 runs. No award justified.

  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - If we were doing this in reverse, the worst pitcher of the week, well Penny would win. But we aren't. Again, absent something spectacular, I'm not going to give one out for a 1-2 week. There was nothing spectacular.

AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 7/20/2009



Tampa Bay5.35(3)4.48(5)0.58(2)53395141-2

New York5.54(1)4.84(10)0.562(3)514054373

Los Angeles5.36(2)4.93(12)0.537(4)484252384










Kansas City3.93(14)4.84(10)0.407(14)375437540

Top 5 projections (using current winning %)

New York9666

Los Angeles9468

Tampa Bay9072


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

New York9468

Tampa Bay9270

Los Angeles9171


Standings for the week


New York3(10)1.67(1)0.746(1)21301



Los Angeles5.25(4)3.75(7)0.649(4)31310


Tampa Bay5.33(3)4(9)0.629(6)21301




Kansas City4(5)5.33(12)0.371(9)1203-1





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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sports radio mentality

I really think it's kind of funny. The Red Sox are doing something a little bit unconventional and imaginative, and many people seem to think that it's clever to propose that they're actually doing something trivial and cliche, and that it's clever to point out the trivial and cliche thing that they're doing while ignoring the unconventional and imaginative thing that they're actually doing.

The unconventional and imaginative thing that the Red Sox are doing is giving the Friday night start to Clay Buchholz in order to set up their rotation for the second "half" of the season. The trivial and cliche thing that each WEEI caller seemed to think he was really clever to have sniffed out was that the Sox are actually setting up an "audition" for Buchholz in front of the Jays, to enable a trade for Roy Halladay.

As to the "audition" aspect, I think that it's absolutely not part of the decision for three reasons:
  1. I believe that they'd be doing exactly this no matter where the game Friday night was being played, and no matter who the competition was. It's a smart move, in that enables your major league starters to prepare mentally and physically without uncertainty, it gives them all a little bit of extra rest, it allows you to set up the rotation the way you want it, and it offers a little taste and reward to someone you expect to be in the rotation next year for being a good soldier during this season and working hard in AAA. Win-win-win-win. There's really no need to search for hidden motives if the surface motives are clear and make sense.

  2. If Toronto wants Buchholz in a trade, they want him. Everyone already knows that he can throw a great game in the Major Leagues. Not just the no-hitter - even last year when he struggled, he had a number of very good performances. (Six innings, one run against the Yankees. Six inning, no runs against the Rangers. Eight innings, nine strikeouts, two runs against the Rays.) Everyone already knows what he's done at AAA this year. He's been a top prospect for three years know - he's not a mystery.

  3. To the extent that his value can change with one outing, it's far more likely to go down than up. Unless he throws another no-hitter Friday night, his value won't go up any as a result. But if he gets shelled, we could start to hear talk about "AAAA pitchers." In my opinion, there's far more to lose than gain if they were, in fact, "showcasing" him.

I think that the move is being made for exactly the reasons that they've talked about. I think that the fact that they're opening in Toronto is a coincidence, utterly irrelevant in making the decision. I don't think that they're going to trade Buccholz for Halladay if Buccholz is awful Friday night and I don't think that they're going to trade Buccholz for Hallady if Buccholz is oustanding Friday night. In short, I think that talk of an "audition" is an attempt to fit an unconventional management move into a conventional sports-writer and sports-radio template.

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Live-blogging the home run derby

I was half-way through my post on the home run derby ("Not") when I thought I recalled doing one before. So I searched and found my post from last year.

It was the same thing I was writing tonight, almost verbatim. Except that I'm not out tonight - I'll be at home, not watching.

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Monday Pythagorean, 7/13/2009

And into the All Star break we go, with a 5-2 week leading to a 3 game lead over the Yankees, and 6 1/2 over the Rays.

  • So we hit the break with the Red Sox having both the best record and the best run differential in the AL. They're three up on the Yankees in the East and 5 1/2 up on Texas for the Wild Card. They're a long way from locking up a playoff spot, but for those of who thought they were the best team in the league before the season began, nothing that's happened so far has altered that.

  • The Red Sox are currently 54-34, 20 games over .500. When you get to 20 games over .500, that means that .500 ball the rest of the way results in 91 wins. To win the AL East, I suspect that 30 games over .500, 96 wins, is necessary. The Red Sox are obviouly on pace, both by record and by run differential, to exceed that.

  • Earlier in the year, I said that they needed Jed Lowrie back. I said that they had gotten more than they had any right to expect from Nick Green, and hoped that people would recognize that. I wanted him replaced before he turned back into a pumpkin. Well, Cinderella - your coach isn't waiting anymore. In his last 51 games, since May 4, he's hitting .240/.310/.370/.680. That happens to good hitters, of course (though not usually in stretches quite that long), but it also happens to bad hitters. That's a lot closer to realistic Nick Green expectations than what he did the first month.

  • The Red Sox have more road games left than home games (36 vs. 38) while the Yankees have more home than road (39 vs. 35). But. The Red Sox played their last game west of the central time zone on May 17. The Yankees played their first game in the pacific time zone on July 10, and still have two more trips to the west coast. Advantage: Boston.

  • The Baseball Prospectus Playoff Odds Report has the Red Sox with a 52% chance of winning the East and 30% chance of winning the Wild Card, for an 82% chance of making the post-season. This is second in MLB only to the Dodgers, a good team playing in a lousy division.

  • I commented on this yesterday, but I wanted to note it again - I love the decision to start Buchholz on Friday night. I think that it shows foresight and imagination, while using the organizational depth efficiently. For many teams, a move like this wouldn't make sense, but a) Buchholz has been dominant at AAA and certainly looks ready to throw an effective start and b) they've got roster moves that they have to make (Lowell, Lowrie) anyway. This means that all of the starters go into the All Star break knowing exactly when their next starts are, and when they need to throw to prep. There's no preparation uncertainty pending the appearance or non-appearance of Beckett and/or Wakefield on Tuesday night. It would be a stretch to call it brilliant, but it is unconventional, and I love the move, regardless of how it ends up working out.

  • The big stories of the "first half":
    • The Big Man - Cries for his dismissal abounded as he began the year .185/.284/.287/.570 with 1 HR in his first 178 at-bats. Then Papi returned, as he's hit .278/.368/.617/.986 with 1 HR every 10.45 at-bats since June 1.

    • The Rivals - The Yankees had the first game won until Jason Bay took Mariano deep in the bottom of the ninth. They had the second one won when they took a 6-0 lead over Beckett with Burnett on the mound, until Burnett melted down. They had a couple more that they lost late. Why are the Red Sox three games up on the Yankees? Because they're eight games up on the Yankees head-to-head - against the rest of baseball, New York's five games ahead of Boston. If Boston were 6-2 against New York rather than 8-0, they'd be a game down instead of three games up.

    • The Adventures of Daisuke Matsuzaka in the Land of the Rising Sun - Matsuzaka, who finished 4th in the AL Cy Young balloting a year ago with 18 wins and a 159 ERA+, is 1-5 in 8 starts, with an ERA over 8. The team has been surprisingly (and refreshingly) forthright in blaming the World Baseball Classic, which prevented his having a normal spring training, and left him unprepared for the start of the regular season.

    • A Pair of Aces - The two Aces of the Sox staff started slowly, but since May 1, Beckett and Lester are a combined 16-5 with a 2.71 ERA in 26 starts, while striking out 177 in 176 1/3 innings.

    • There's a Hole in the World - Many teams have struggles with their fifth starters - the Sox have had problems with their third. From May 1 through July 6, more than two months, the pitchers in that slot (Masterson, Matsuzaka, Smoltz) went 1-8 with a 6.59 ERA.

    • The Best Bullpen in Baseball - The 'pen has been mostly outstanding. They've had a couple of significant meltdowns, losing a couple of games that should not have been lost, but they've won a bunch of games that shouldn't necessarily have been won, too. Justin Masterson is struggling, and they need to get that straightened out, but they've got a bunch of pitchers in the bullpen who can miss bats, and if they haven't been quite as dominant as advertised, that's more a result of the advertising than the performance.

    • The Crusty Vet - Though in my opinion undeserved, Wakefield makes his first All Star team at age 42. There's no question that he was very good early and has been pretty good again lately. The long bad-to-mediocre stretch somehow escaped people's attention.

    • Three Musketeers - Pedrioa, Youkilis and Bay were expected to be key offensive contributors, and all of them have been. Youkilis and Pedroia got the big money, and it obviously hasn't affected them (negatively) as it seems to affect some.

    • The Other Crusty Vets - Question marks, coming off of injury and just plain decrepitude, Lowell and Varitek have met or exceeded expectations.

  • Red Sox Player of the Week: In basketball, they used to call Vinnie Johnson "the microwave," because he'd get so hot so quickly. I'm thinking that works for Dustin Pedroia just as well. When he's cold, he gets very cold. But when he's hot, he's scorching hot. The hot Pedroia is back, as he hit a ridiculous .462/.500/.885/1.385 with a home run and six (6!) doubles for the week, despite missing a game to be with his pregnant wife at the hospital.

  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week: No-brainer. Jon Lester was spectacular in his one start with 8 innings of 4-hit shutout ball, and Daniel Bard struck out 8 in 4 1/3 innings while allowing 1 hit, no walks and no earned runs (because of an error and a bloop double, he ended up giving up 2 unearned runs). But Josh Beckett started two games and threw 15 2/3 innings while allowing only 9 hits and 2 runs to earn the honors for the week.

AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 7/13/2009



Tampa Bay5.35(3)4.49(4)0.579(2)52374841-4

New York5.63(1)4.94(11)0.559(3)493951372




Los Angeles5.36(2)4.99(12)0.533(7)464049373







Kansas City3.93(14)4.82(10)0.408(14)365237511

Top 5 projections (using current winning %)

New York9468

Los Angeles9270



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

New York9270

Tampa Bay9072

Los Angeles8973


Standings for the week






Los Angeles7.33(1)6.33(10)0.567(5)33421

Tampa Bay4.5(7)4.33(7)0.517(6)33421



New York6.29(3)6.43(11)0.49(9)34340




Kansas City3.86(13)6(9)0.308(13)25250


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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Interesting news out of Fenway this afternoon

Francona just announced, after the game with Kansas City, that Clay Buchholz is starting Friday, followed by Penny and Lester in Toronto, then Smoltz, Beckett and Wakefield in Texas.

They're trying to make sure that people know when they are going to throw. With the uncertainty of when or if or how much Beckett and Wakefield throw on Tuesday, they've slotted it so that Buccholz goes on Friday (his normal day), everyone else knows when they have to throw, and Beckett and Wakefield get full rest even if they pitch on Tuesday.

I love this organization. I love the foresight and creativity that goes into a decision like this and I love the depth that enables it.

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Yet another reason to loathe Waxman-Markey... fact, it might be the best reason of all: Former Vice President Al Gore declared that the Congressional climate bill will help bring about “global governance.”

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Friday, July 10, 2009

Media coverage of economic issues

I don't know who Frank is, but this is a great video on the differences in media coverage of the economy depending on the party of the President...

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Thursday, July 09, 2009

Lies and the lying liars who write them

Politics is obviously a profession in which a certain amount of dishonesty is accepted, as people "spin" events or policies, trying to always "frame" their own candidates and policies in the best possible light. But flat-out lying is generally frowned upon, as indefensible statements call all of the other ones into doubt.

In Politico this morning, Democratic pollster Mark Penn writes about the problems facing the Obama administration, and how 10% unemployment could act as a "tripwire" to politically damage the administration. The piece is filled to the brim with selective history and self-serving declarations. But there's as blatant a lie as you'll ever see in a political piece, and really destroys whatever credibility Penn thinks he's bringing.
The Republicans are now on record in opposition to any stimulus.

Please. The Republicans obviously are on record as opposed to the stimulus passed in February. As well they should be - it was a non-stimulating disaster, an economic destruction measure of biblical proportions. But the Republicans have supported any number of true "stimulus" policies, and would do so again if given the opportunity. To suggest that Republicans would not support a payroll tax reduction, or extension of the Bush tax cuts is to suggest nonsense. It's not a "political fib," it's not "spinning," it's a blatant lie.

(H/T: Chris Lynch)

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Politics involved? No, just stimulus...

Arnold Kling, back in February:
it is a reparations bill, not a stimulus bill. People who pay income taxes tend to vote Republican. People who live off taxes tend to vote Democratic. To the Democrats, the Bush tax cuts were a heinous evil, comparable to Germany's violation of Belgian neutrality in World War I. Now, they are demanding reparations, with hundreds of billions of dollars to be paid into teachers unions and other members of the coalition that won the election.

There were lots of reason to believe that it was a bill which would benefit Democrat constituencies, rather than stimulating the economy. And they'd even admit it, albeit anonymously ("this is a once-in-a-25-year opportunity to [implement] a lot of our agenda," a top House Democratic aide says").

So there really shouldn't be much surprise at this:
Counties that supported Obama last year have reaped twice as much money per person from the administration's $787 billion economic stimulus package as those that voted for his Republican rival, Sen. John McCain, a USA TODAY analysis of government disclosure and accounting records shows. That money includes aid to repair military bases, improve public housing and help students pay for college. The reports show the 872 counties that supported Obama received about $69 per person, on average. The 2,234 that supported McCain received about $34.

Anger? Sure. Outrage? Absolutely appropriate. Surprise? Nope...

Maybe it's just an accident. After all, the White House is quick to assure us that "there's no politics at work when it comes to spending for the recovery." That's believable, right? There's a tremendous pile of money being distributed by politicians, but "there's no politics at work."

(Once again, the contempt in which this administration holds the populace is one its least attractive characteristics. Do they really believe that people are stupid enough to buy that? "Beware of politicians" is obviously a truism, but when those politicians claim not to be involved in politics, that's even more disingenuous than usual...)

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What could possibly go wrong?

From Tigerhawk comes the scariest statistic yet about an administration filled with them:
Because its efforts have been broken into separate initiatives with different justifications, few people other than news junkies have noticed how extraordinary Barack Obama's agenda is. Perhaps a number will help: 35%. That is the aggregate percentage of United States GDP produced by the three industries that the Democrats hope to restructure from the top down: Health care (17% of GDP), energy (9.8% of GDP), and financial services (8% of GDP). Think about that. Without even considering the transformational impact of proposed anti-business laws of general application, such as the Orwellian "employee free choice act," the Obama administration wants to redesign 35% of gross domestic product from the center. And he proposes to do it all in a rush this summer, lest the decline in his popularity and that of the Congressional Democrats erodes his power to do so.

Well, central control of the economy has worked well everywhere else, right?

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Idle thought

On Hell's sports radio station, the morning show will be hosted1 by Michael Felger and John Meterperel2.

1 - I'm sure that they'd take this as a compliment if they saw it. It isn't.
2 - If you don't know who these people are, count your blessings.

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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Whose house is it anyway?

I was not happy with the House of Representatives voting for the Waxman-Markey energy tax bill. Well, it turns out that the bill is much, much worse than I was even aware:
The program requires that states label their buildings so that we can all know how efficient every building (that includes residential and non-residential buildings) is and it requires that the information be made public. To that end, the bill suggests a number of circumstances under which the states could inspect a building, including:

(A) preparation, and public disclosure of the label through filing with tax and title records at the time of--

(i) a building audit conducted with support from Federal or State funds;

(ii) a building energy-efficiency retrofit conducted in response to such an audit;

(iii) a final inspection of major renovations or additions made to a building in accordance with a building permit issued by a local government entity;

(iv) a sale that is recorded for title and tax purposes consistent with paragraph (8);

(v) a new lien recorded on the property for more than a set percentage of the assessed value of the property, if that lien reflects public financial assistance for energy-related improvements to that building; or

(vi) a change in ownership or operation of the building for purposes of utility billing; or

(B) other appropriate means.

Pay close attention to (iii), (iv), and (vi) because those hit you right where you live. What that's saying is the state will be empowered to inspect your home if you want to 1) renovate your house in any way that requires a building permit, 2) sell your house, or 3) change the name of the person responsible for any utility bill.

You think that the housing market's bad now? If this were to pass, well, you ain't seen nothing yet...

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"Maybe they'll die before the next election..."

I don't know anything about LA Times blogger Andrew Malcolm, but I can't come up with any reading of this that isn't very unpleasant.
In other numerical revelations, just 4% of Americans say that Wall Street or credit card companies are honest or trustworthy. A majority of young people still approve of Obama's job performance, but a majority of seniors over 64 now don't (54%). Maybe they'll die before the next election.

Ha. Ha.

The absolute best case construction that you can put on it is that he's being flippant without recognizing how unpleasant it sounds. Maybe this was just an accident, but I'm long past the point of giving anyone in the mainstream press much in the way of benefit of the doubt...

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US on the wrong side again...

For all those who didn't realize before the election that Barack Obama was a fan of leftist dictators, we follow the spectacles of the US being wrong on Venezuela and Iran with the US being wrong on Honduras.:
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met with ousted Honduran President Miguel Zelaya in Washington Tuesday, signaling unequivocal US support for Mr. Zelaya’s return to office.

Let's re-write that slightly, to make the situation clear:
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met with [legally and democratically] ousted Honduran President Miguel Zelaya [and aspirant leftist dictator] in Washington Tuesday, signaling unequivocal US support for [unrepentant leftist] Mr. Zelaya’s [illegal and unconstitutional] return to office [against the Honduran Constitution and the wishes of the Honduran people].

Matthew Hoy has it right...
The insanity of this policy by the Obama administration cannot be understated. It used to be the GOP that was (oftentimes rightly) criticized for propping up tyrants and despots because they were “our” tyrants and despots. At the height of the Cold War, a valid defense for that realpolitik position could be made. But where is the greater evil on the horizon that we are willing to sacrifice the Honduran people for? It is no longer the Soviet Union and worldwide communism.

In fact, the main evil we face in much of the world today is the thugocratic regimes like Iran and Venezuela, wacko nut-jobs like North Korea, and communist China. Yet, in this situation, we’ve actually allied ourselves with Venezuela’s Chavez!

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Monday, July 06, 2009

Monday Pythagorean, 7/6/2009

When the bad weeks are .500, that's not a horrible thing. But make no mistake about it - this was a bad week for the Boston Red Sox.

  • The dramatic comeback on Wednesday, scoring four in the 9th to tie it and winning in 11, doesn't make up for the hideous meltdown on Tuesday. The weather obviously played a part, cutting Smoltz' performance down to four innings, but there's no excuse for a bullpen as good as this one to give up 10 runs in two innings.

  • The Yankees and Red Sox each scored 6 runs per game this week, and each allowed 5 runs per game. The Red Sox went 3-3 - the Yankees went 5-1. That's the result of ... luck. Luck plays a bigger part in one run games than any other, and the Red Sox went 1-3 this week in games determined by one run, while the Yankees went 1-0.

  • The Red Sox now have the best Pythagorean winning percentage in the American League, as the Rays struggled mightily this week. They're now seven games back in the loss column, six back of the Yankees in the Wild Card race, and reaching a point where they need to get closer quickly in order to have a legitimate possibility of post-season baseball.

  • On Monday morning, May 18, I said "I continue to disbelieve in the Toronto Blue Jays. At some point, they're going to have to play Boston and New York and Tampa, and I don't think that they represent a serious threat to win the division or the Wild Card." Since that point, they've compiled a 16-27 record, and lost 11 games in the standings vs. the Red Sox, 11 1/2 vs. the Yankees and 8 1/2 vs. the Rays. They've a better record than the Royals and a worse record than every other AL team. The crystal ball was well focused that day, but it was a pretty easy prediction to make.

  • The Sox averaged 6 runs per game this week, yet it felt as if the offense were struggling mightily. And, for the most part, it was. They scored 8 on Sunday (in a win) and 10 on Tuesday (in a loss) and didn't do much the rest of the week.

  • One of the reasons that a team can struggle offensively, or at least feel as if it's struggling offensively, is that its middle of the order difference makers struggle. Kevin Youkilis (.214/.241/.536/.777) had a bad week. And it was spectacular compared to the week that Jason Bay (.080/.207/.120/.327) had. Bay actually struck out in more than half of his at-bats, with 13 Ks in 25 at-bats.

  • I do understand its appeal, but the "Tim Wakefield makes the All Star Team" story would be a much better story if he deserved to make the All Star team. I've said it already but he didn't. At, Keith Law says, correctly, that
    the selection of Tim Wakefield is disgraceful. Sure, it's a feel-good story, but there's the minor fact of him posting a 4.30 ERA, good for just 29th in the AL, with nothing in his peripherals to suggest that he's pitched better than his ERA would indicate...Wakefield is here because of the idiotic fascination that people have with win totals...The inclusion of Wakefield...comes at the expense of his far superior teammate, Jon Lester. Lester has been extraordinarily unlucky this year...and still has a lower ERA than Wakefield, and he has more than double Wakefield's strikeout total in only four more innings.

    By definition, when someone who doesn't deserve to go gets a spot, it takes it away from someone who does deserve to go. I understand people being happy for Wakefield, but he's been given something unearned, something that should rightfully have gone to someone else, and I can't celebrate that.

  • Certainly, he wasn't the first mistaken All Star, or the last, or the only one this year.

  • I'm convinced that the "Wakefield needs a win to get to the All Star game" story also cost the Red Sox a game this week, as Francona let it affect his pitching decisions, and sent Wakefield out to give up another run in a game that they ended up losing in extra innings.

  • Red Sox Player of the Week: Going with co-players of the week, Jacoby Ellsbury (.375/.423/.667/1.090) who also stole four bases and J.D. Drew (.318/.423/.682/1.105) who also drew four walks. Both outstanding.

  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week: Jon Lester, who, in two starts, threw 13 2/3 innings and allowed four runs, three of which were unearned. He struck on 17 while walking 3. Lester was hurt by poor defense behind him earlier in the year, poor defense resulting in earned run, not unearned, and his ERA was inflated. In his last 9 starts, dating back to mid-May, he has struck out 69 batters in 59 innings, with an ERA of 2.29.

AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 7/6/2009



Tampa Bay5.41(2)4.51(5)0.583(2)48354439-4

New York5.57(1)4.81(11)0.566(3)463548332




Los Angeles5.21(4)4.89(12)0.529(7)423845353







Kansas City3.94(14)4.72(9)0.418(14)344735461

Top 5 projections (using current winning %)

New York9666


Los Angeles9171


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

New York9468

Tampa Bay9072


Los Angeles8874

Standings for the week





Los Angeles6.57(2)5.43(11)0.587(4)43430


New York6(3)5(8)0.583(5)33512





Kansas City2.71(13)3.57(2)0.377(11)34340



Tampa Bay2.5(14)4.5(5)0.254(14)24240

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Mixed emotions

This causes very mixed emotions.
The Celtics pulled out all the stops when their campaign to sign free agent forward Rasheed Wallace started last week. And the tactics paid off as Wallace committed to sign with the Celtics, a league source said yesterday.

There's is not a single NBA player for whom I'm less inclined to root than Rasheed Wallace. I don't like him - I don't like his appearance, I don't like what I perceive as his personality, or his past behaviors. I don't want to root for Rasheed Wallace.


I think he certainly makes the Celtics a better team. And I like to root for the Celtics.

Mixed emotions...

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Saturday, July 04, 2009

Happy Independence Day!

233 years ago...

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

The 56 signatures on the Declaration appear in the positions indicated:

Column 1
Button Gwinnett
Lyman Hall
George Walton

Column 2
North Carolina:

William Hooper
Joseph Hewes
John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge
Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Thomas Lynch, Jr.
Arthur Middleton

Column 3

John Hancock

Samuel Chase
William Paca
Thomas Stone
Charles Carroll of Carrollton

George Wythe
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Jefferson
Benjamin Harrison
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Carter Braxton

Column 4

Robert Morris
Benjamin Rush
Benjamin Franklin
John Morton
George Clymer
James Smith
George Taylor
James Wilson
George Ross

Caesar Rodney
George Read
Thomas McKean

Column 5
New York:

William Floyd
Philip Livingston
Francis Lewis
Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton
John Witherspoon
Francis Hopkinson
John Hart
Abraham Clark

Column 6
New Hampshire:

Josiah Bartlett
William Whipple

Samuel Adams
John Adams
Robert Treat Paine
Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins
William Ellery

Roger Sherman
Samuel Huntington
William Williams
Oliver Wolcott

New Hampshire:
Matthew Thornton

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Government monopoly? No problem!

Yet another preview of government run health care.
[Washington] State workers are scrambling to fix a distribution problem that has crimped the flow of alcohol to customers across the state, as liquor stores and restaurants are gearing up for one of the busiest weekends of the year.

"For us, the timing is really brutal," said Anthony Anton, president and CEO of the Washington Restaurant Association, who said some restaurants have been unable to get key ingredients for their most popular cocktails. "For a small-margin industry like ours, where every sale counts, that's an issue."

Dozens of "temporarily out of stock" signs dot the shelves of some state liquor stores, and store managers say they're not sure when their complete product line will again be available.

State officials blame the difficulties on a glitch in a new software system that controls the movement of 18,000 cases of liquor a day through the state's distribution center on East Marginal Way South in Seattle.

...the pinch is compounded by the fact that a state alcohol surcharge takes effect Aug. 1, which will force bar owners to increase prices.

The surcharge, which will add between $1 and $3 to the price of most bottles of booze, was enacted to raise about $80 million to replace money legislators took from a liquor-reserve fund to balance the state budget.

I don't drink, so even if I lived in Washington, this story would have no impact on me. But that's not the point. The point is, if a company operated this way, it would go out of business. The state provides services inefficiently, with no competition to improve behavior and no incentive for workers to satisfy customers. I spent an hour at the Registry of Motor Vehicles a week ago pondering this. A business with a waiting line like that...well, it wouldn't have a waiting line like that. It would put more workers on, or it would open another branch, or it would have the workers moving more quickly, taking fewer break, doing less wandering and chatting. Or it would go out of business. But the state is a monopoly, a monopoly that requires its "customers" patronize it.

Well, if that's true for getting a driver's license, why would anyone expect it to be any better when it comes to getting an x-ray or an appendectomy or a radiation treatment? Government provided health care is the destruction of the health care system, as has been shown wherever it's been tried. How can you think that the federal government will provide health care any more efficiently than the Washington government provides alcohol?

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Friday, July 03, 2009

Giving one away...

I'm a big fan of Terry Francona, as I've made clear before. I think that he's done a very good job. I also think that he's hurt the Red Sox tonight. I understand what (I think) he's doing, and it might be that, in the long run, it helps the team as it increases the players' loyalty to him, and responsiveness to him. But I think it was for a bad reason, and it hurt them tonight.

Tim Wakefield had thrown 95 pitches through seven innings and allowed four runs. They played in the afternoon two days ago and didn't play yesterday, so the bullpen is completely rested. But they were trailing, 4-3. Wakefield went back out to start the 8th, not pitching a great game, with 6 better pitchers rested and available. And he went back out there, I'm convinced, for one reason, and one reason only - Terry Francona wants to get him a win, in the misguided belief that that would make him a good choice for the AL All Star team. Which he isn't.

As I said, I don't think it's a good reason, though it may not be, in the long term, a bad thing for the team. But it hurt them tonight, whether they come back and win it or not...

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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Red Sox - June Audit

The season started with the expectation that the three best teams in the American League were all in the East, and the three would be battling for two playoff spots. The month of June saw expectations met on the field.


June arrived with the New York Yankees in first place, Boston 1/2 a game back, and the Rays 5 1/2 out. It ends with Boston up by 2 1/2 over New York and 4 over the Rays. So Tampa was 1 game better than Boston in June, and 4 games better than the Yankees.

AL East - End of May vs. end of June
Tm W L W-L% GB RS RA pythW-L%

NYY 29210.58-- 2832630.533

BOS 29220.5690.52672360.556

TOR 29240.5471.52702410.552

TBR 25280.4725.52942600.556

BAL 23280.4516.52502880.436







For the season, the Red Sox have the best record in the American League and the second-best Pythagorean record, behind the Rays. Tampa has significantly underperformed its Pythagorean.

AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 7/1/2009


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

For the month of June, as for the season as a whole, Tampa put up the best Pythagorean, followed by the Red Sox and Yankees. Unlike the rest of the season, their actual record pretty much matched their Pythagorean record.

AL Pythagorean - June


Tampa Bay5.69(1)3.42(2)0.717(1)1971970


New York5.38(3)3.92(5)0.641(3)1791511-2

Los Angeles5.69(1)4.62(10)0.595(4)15111792










Kansas City3.69(14)5(13)0.365(14)91710161

  • I know that Toronto still looks like they are in the race. I still don't buy it.

  • All three of the AL East competitors have played more games on the road than at home.

    AL East - Home v. Road
    Games PlayedGames Remaining



    NY Yankees36404541

    Tampa Bay39404241

  • The most frustrating loss for the Red Sox, before last night, came on June 18, as they trailed Florida 2-1 after 5 1/2 innings when the rains came in a game that was never resumed. June 30 was pain of an entirely different sort, though it was related to the rains once more. John Smoltz was pitching very well when rain stopped the game after 4 1/2. When play resumed an hour and a half later, the bullpens came in, and for one night, the dominant Boston 'pen ... wasn't, losing a game that they led 10-1 after 6 1/2 innings.


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 138 runs in June over 26 games, an average of 5.31 runs per game. That makes June the best offensive month of the season thus far for Boston. Boston has had the 3rd best offense in the AL for the season, and it was 4th best in the AL in June.

Red Sox Offense - June, 2009

David Ortiz 2422751324407181201801011.320.409.6531.06218.5548.6

Jacoby Ellsbury 2322801125123119210120012.313.391.488.87917.2587.4

J.D. Drew 2120721421423121712020001.292.433.528.96117.1528.2

Kevin Youkilis 2625901722614141932631003.244.393.467.86016.9725.9

Jason Bay 25251001223314201012701022.230.301.400.70111.7823.6

Dustin Pedroia 252510816247001490861001.

Jason Varitek 2020641215701101211300012.234.359.391.7509.4524.5

Nick Green 252173121740311421800014.233.288.411.6987.5613.1

Rocco Baldelli 15730710002550400002.333.429.533.9626.1226.9

Mark Kotsay 17842313101220601000.310.341.405.7465.5304.6

Mike Lowell 191768514102680601012.206.286.309.5955.3582.3

Julio Lugo 1162679200330810110.346.400.423.8235.0196.5

George Kottaras 962356400320500010.261.308.435.7423.3184.6

Jeff Bailey 11433010010000000.750.8001.2502.0502.7167.4

Josh Beckett 52511001100300000.200.200.8001.0001.046.0

Tim Wakefield 51201000000100000.500.500.5001.000.4111.1

Hideki Okajima 130100000000000000.

Ramon Ramirez 100100000000100000.

Daisuke Matsuzaka 41200000000000000.

John Smoltz 21200000000200000.

Jon Lester 52300000000200200.

Brad Penny 52500000000000000.


  • The big individual story for the month of June is clearly the resurrection of David Ortiz. There's no way that he can put together a productive season, but if what he did in June represents his actual performance level now, then he's going to have just a bad season, and he'll be a strong asset from now 'til the end of the year.

  • Jacoby Ellsbury has thrived down in the bottom third of the order. Which is just fine and dandy with me. I keep hear people talking about how the Red Sox best lineup has Ellsbury at the top, and I don't agree. I think that he's more valuable in the 7th spot. Speed is relatively more valuable when the following hitters are relatively less likely move runners. Likewise, On-Base Percentage is relatively more valuable when the following hitters are relatively more likely to move runners. (By move runners, I don't mean "bunt" - I mean draw walks and get hits and get extra-base hits.) A fast runner can score with fewer subsequent hits - at the bottom of the order, there are likely to be fewer subsequent hits. The object of the lineup construction isn't to maximize Ellsbury's runs scored, but the team's runs scored, and I think their better off with the higher OBP guys (Pedroia, Drew) in the first couple of spots, and Ellsbury down low.

  • Pedroia had a rotten month (.222/.282/.287/.569). So did Jason Bay (.230/.301/.400/.701). And Nick Green (.233/.288/.411/.698). And Mike Lowell (.206/.286/.309/.595).

  • Youkilis finally had a down month (.244/.393/.467/.860). His plate discipline is so good, however, that he's able to keep his OBP at a very good level while only hitting .244.

  • And people are still talking about what a disappointment J.D. Drew (.292/.433/.528/.961) is, and what an awful contract he had. Do I think that the Sox would love to have more HR from Drew? Sure. But since a 3-month "adjustment" period (with a hospitalized child), he's been an extremely productive hitter in Boston, and I bet that they're happy to have him. They should be.


The Red Sox allowed 96 runs in June for an average of 3.69 runs per game. This was 4th in the AL for the month. For the season, they're allowing 4.31 runs per game, which is second in the AL behind Seattle.

For June, 88 of the 96 runs were earned, for a staff ERA of 3.44. The starters compiled a 3.27 ERA - the bullpen's was 3.82.

Red Sox Pitching - June, 2009

Josh Beckett 55410135.672510614351.51.818.75

Jon Lester 55310034237726401.85.856.67

Brad Penny 55120028.33281110310213.181.342.10

Tim Wakefield 55400031.3334121215123.451.242.40

John Smoltz 220100910660276.001.333.50

Daisuke Matsuzaka 44120018.6731161648197.712.092.38


Manny Delcarmen 100100099440554.001.561.00

Jonathan Papelbon 1301060121111169.751.421.50

Takashi Saito 11021009.676441693.721.241.50

Daniel Bard 10000101098607105.401.601.43

Hideki Okajima 130100012127723125.251.254.00

Justin Masterson 90000012.33127614154.381.303.75

Ramon Ramirez 100000087333373.381.252.33



  • Matsuzaka struggled and went to the DL. Smoltz came off of his rehab assignment, made his first appearance in the Majors in a year, and struggled mightily in his first inning of work. Other than that, the starting pitching was outstanding.
    • Josh Beckett allowed exactly 0 earned runs in 4 of his 5 starts on the month.

    • Jon Lester allowed 3 runs once, 2 runs once, 1 run twice and 0 runs once.

    • Those two combined to strike out 75 batters while walking 10.

    • Brad Penny seems to have found himself, coming back from injury, making 5 starts with a 3.18 ERA.

    • Wakefield recovered from his May struggles, to post a 3.45 ERA in 5 starts.

  • The bullpen ERA jumped by over a full run in the last 2 innings of the month. Through 71 innings in June, the bullpen allowed 21 earned runs for a 2.66 ERA. In the last two innings, they allowed 10, raising the bullpen ERA for the month to 3.82.

  • Papelbon is not pitching the way he has in the past. He's allowing more baserunners, more walks and fewer strikeouts. But he's still getting the job done the vast majority of the time. One can speculate that, "wow, he really knows how to bear down and get those last outs." Or one can say, "hmm, maybe that job really doesn't need to be as specialized as it has become - most pitchers pitch most innings without allowing two runs."

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