28 January 2008

Santana, Bedard and Roberts Trade Implications ... ?

There is a lot of chatter lately about three potentially big trades that might happen in the very near future, all somewhat dependent on one another. So, out of curiosity, I simulated (on Baseball Mogul 2008) the 2008 season with the current rosters and the three big trades in question (or the nearest I could approximate, plus some hand-in-hand signings) to see the effect on the 2008 season without the trades.

Here are the trades I made:
1. Seattle receives Eric Bedard (SP) from Baltimore for Adam Jones (OF), George Sherrill (RP), Chris Tillman (SP) and a 4th prospect (meaning a random Single A player, here being Matt Mangini (3B)). Seattle goes on to sign Brad Wilkerson (OF) to replace Adam Jones.
2. New York (N) receives Johan Santana from Minnesota for Ryan Church (OF), Carlos Gomez (OF), Mike Pelfrey (SP) and Aaron Heilman (RP).
3. Chicago (N) receives Brian Roberts (2B) from Baltimore for Sean Gallagher (SP), Felix Pie (OF) and a 3rd prospect (here being Single A pitcher Jose Ceda).
I fixed the rosters in question appropriately and ran both the season with trades and without the trades 20 times. Here are the results:
Team: w/o trades (postseason) - w/ trades (post season)  
Minnesota: 81.2-80.8 (1 AC, 3 DW, 1 WC) - 78.7-83.3 (1 WC)  
Difference: -2.5 Wins
Baltimore: 76-86 (none) - 70.7-91.3 (none)  
Difference: -5.3 Wins
Seattle: 81.4-80.6 (1 DW, 1 WC) - 85.8-76.2 (1 WS, 6 DW)  
Difference: +4.4 Wins
New York (N): 95.1-66.9 (5 WS, 15 DW, 2 WC) - 92.8-69.2 (5 WS, 10 DW, 5 WC)
Difference: -2.3 Wins
Chicago (N): 83.5-78.5 (3 NC, 5 DW, 1 WC ) - 87.9-74.1 (1 WS, 11 DW, 2 WC)
Difference: +4.4 Wins
(DW = Division Winner, WC = Wild Card, WS = World Series Winner, AC = AL Champion, NC = NL Champion)

Minnesota: Obviously, losing a pitcher like Santana will hurt any team ... a lot. Minnesota loses 2.5 Wins, and in the AL Central, that translates to missing 3 Division titles. However, it doesn't turn Minnesota into a true cellar-dweller.
Baltimore: Well, what can you say about the Orioles. Ship out their ace and their All-Star 2B and you get, well, an even worse team. The O's lose 5.3 Wins with the two trades, but they weren't going to the postseason anyway, so why not retool?
Seattle: Now, here's a team if ever I've seen one whose mantra should be "Win now!". Adding Bedard for the bounty of players added 4.4 Wins for the 'Ners, and that translates to a World Series win and 6 Division titles. That doesn't knock the Angels from their position as favorite, but it sure does make a dent.
New York (N): Normally, you'd think trading for Santana is a no-brainer, but here the Mets in fact lose 2.3 Wins after trading for Santana. The important thing is that Santana really does't raise the odds at World Series wins and postseason appearances. Given the big money contract involves, I'd say no, but hey, its New York, you have to upstage the Yankees somehow.
Chicago (N): All the Cubbies get from all this is Brian Roberts, a good 2B whose power may have been ... er ... enhanced. However, by adding Roberts and moving DeRosa back to the bench, The Cubbies go from sort-of favorites in the NL Central to hands-down favorites, even collected a (gasp!) World Series win. Here's a trade that should be made, too.

26 January 2008

The Joys of Finding a Faculty Position

I've been reading Love is a Mixtape by Rob Sheffield - a pretty good book, maybe a little depressing and less music oriented than I expected - but Sheffield did hit it with this quote about grad school. Specifically, he talks about the idea of going to grad school and getting a tenure-track faculty job ...
My friends and I assumed that we would soon be tenured professors, which is an excellent life goal - it's like planning to be Cher. You think, I'm going to wear beads and fringed gowns, sing "Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves" on the way to work every morning, and then one day, I'm going to get a call saying, "Congratulations! You're Cher! Can you make it to Vegas by showtime?"


25 January 2008

End of the Holocene

Apparently, the Holocene Epoch is over ... ?

California, get with the program

Not to harp on this point, but I've seen Dunkin' Donuts in the International Terminal in Santiago, Chile, in a pedestrian plaza in Cologne, Germany and, well, every-other-block back in Massachusetts. And now they're opening 100 stores in Shanghai!

Sure, I'm not thrilled to see Food Network hack Rachael Ray advertising for DD, but I am weary of the burned coffee taste of the supposed "dark roasts" they seem to love in California.

That being said, if you try to find any DD within 50 miles of, oh, I don't know, Sacramento, CA, what do you find?

Nothing, that's what.


23 January 2008

Early Early Early simulations

I've been a big slacker today, mostly because its my "big" 31, but hey.
With baseball season around the corner (well, OK, its a wide corner), I've been playing around with some BB Mogul 2008 simulations of the 2008 season. It is clearly not perfect as I've been updating rosters manually, but some points of interest.
After 322 simulations of 2008 ...

- The Red Sox are still the World Series favorites, winning 63 (with an average record of 92.8-69.2). Next up are the Mets with 45 World Series wins, followed by Cleveland (34), Los Angeles of Anaheim (33), Detroit (31) and Atlanta (22). Interestingly, Baltimore, Minnesota, Arizona and Cincinnati each won once while Pittsburgh (yes, that Pittsburgh) won 3 times, more than Milwaukee and the same as San Diego and St. Louis. 2007 World Series Runner-up Colorado won 15 times.

- In only one division did each team win at least 1 World Series: the NL Central. That might surprise some of you, but I think the division is so close in talent that almost any team has a chance to win it, and once the playoffs start, its anybody's game to win the whole thing.

- Only three teams failed to make the postseason after 322 runs: Kansas City (67.5-94.5), Oakland (sorry Louis, 68.1-93.9) and Florida (66.8-95.2). The Nationals made the playoffs 6 times as the Wild Card and San Francisco won the NL West 4 times.

- Early Division/Wild Card favorites:
NL East - New York Mets (189 times, next is Atlanta with 80)
NL Central - Chicago Cubs (116, next is Houston with 75)
NL West - Los Angeles Dodgers (119 times, a slight edge over Colorado with 115)
NL Wild Card - Philadelphia Phillies (70, next is Atlanta with 60 and New York with 53)
AL East - Boston Red Sox (233 times, next is New York with 64)
AL Central - Detroit Tigers (187 times, next is Cleveland with 119)
AL West - Los Angeles Angels (239 times, next is Texas with 48)
AL Wild Card - Cleveland Indians (80 times, followed by New York with 59 and Detroit with 57)

- And, for what its worth, potential MVP and Cy Youngs
AL MVP: David Ortiz (1B-BOS) at 200 times, followed by Alex Rodriguez (3B-NYY) at 50 times and Curtis Granderson (OF-DET) at 24 times. Interesting to note that Luke Scott (OF-BAL) won once, along with Garret Anderson (OF-LAA), and Carlos Pena (1B-TAM) won 8 times! Newly minted Tiger Miguel Cabrera won 15 times.
NL MVP: Matt Holliday (OF-COL) at 220 times, followed by Mark Teixiera (1B-ATL) at 25 times and Albert Pujols (1B-STL) at 19 times. Rick Ankiel (OF-STL) won once, while Brad Hawpe (OF-COL) somehow won 7 times (as long as he isn't facing AL pitching I guess).
AL Cy Young: Josh Beckett (BOS) won 85 times, followed by C.C. Sabathia (CLE) 44 times, Fausto Carmona (CLE) 41 times, Justin Verlander (DET) 34 times and John Lackey 30 times. Oddly, Eric Bedard (BAL) threw 22 no hitters in the simulations but only won the Cy Young 24 times, implying how anemic the Baltimore offense will be. Some fun 1-offs include James Shields, Dontrelle Willis, Carlos Silva, Jarrod Washburn, Jake Westbrook, Nate Robertson, Jered Weaver, Joba Chamberlain and Jeremy Guthrie. King Felix won 4 times and Dice-K won twice.
NL Cy Young: Jake Peavy (SD) won 70 times, Tim Hudson (ATL) won 55 times, John Smoltz (ATL) won 35 times, Brandon Webb (ARI) won 34 times and Roy Oswalt (HOU) won 18 times. The surprise for me was Shawn Hill (WAS) winning 8 times. Newly acquired Danny Haren (ARI) won 5 times and Dodger rookie Clayton Kershaw won 4 times. One-offs include Matt Morris, Tom Gorzelanny, Micah Owings, Wandy Rodriguez, Mike Pelfrey, Aaron Cook and Tim Lincecum. And the revivied Pedro Martinez (NYM) won 6 times!


Oh yes, and a new review:

18 January 2008

New Review Update

I have two more TIG reviews for your entertainment.

One album I liked a lot:

One album I liked less:

17 January 2008

Konono No.1

Normally I don't fall prey for the world music "Flavor of the Month", and I suppose that Konono No.1 is not a flavor of the month as such. However, I find this act remarkable. Apparently they made all their instruments and amplifiers from junk they found in their home country of Congo. The sound they make is amazing, sort of neither world nor electronic, but straddling both worlds. And with the African music revival we seem to be entering (see Jens Lekman's new album and Vampire Weekend), Konono No.1 are primed for it. Enjoy.
Konono No.1 - Lufuala Ndonga (sorry, Blogger seems not not let me link youtube video directly ... or I'm just dumb).

15 January 2008

TIG Update and a sort-of Top 10

Not much to say today beyond the feeling that I should have more enthusiasm towards seeing Bill Clinton speak in Davis tonight except (a) I have no intention of voting for his wife in the primary and (b) it will be a madhouse. Sorry, I think I might be a lazy, unpolitical American tonight.

Anyway, here is a new TIG review of one of my new favorite bands, the Toothaches from Jamaica Plain, MA. Good, cute stuff:
(And if you order it from the band, they will make it in their kitchen and package it with a bow and all!)

Now, over Christmas I had to wipe my iPod and reload everything, so I lost my playcount. So, my current new playcounts are a little odd, so my Top 10 is equally odd.
1 Avantcore by Busdriver
2 Sophia by the Toothaches
3 Heart It Races by Architecture in Helsinki
4 Over the Rainbow by Rufus Wainwright
5 Einfach Sein by Die Fantastischen Vier
6 Down Boy by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs
7 2AM by Thee More Shallows
8 Throw It On Me by Timbaland with the Hives
9 One More Night of This Shall Be the Death of Me by Dichotomy
10 Hunting for Witches by Bloc Party

I'm sure it will change a lot by the time I next post.

Oh yeah, and its less than a month until pitchers and catchers report. How exciting is that? Very, that's how.

10 January 2008

iMix of my "Best of 2007" CD

If you're interested in my Best of 2007 CD, I've made an iMix with the tracks that I could find on iTunes. Enjoy!

07 January 2008

Best of 2007 CD

I have one more copy of my "Best of 2007" CD and will send it to the first person who emails me. Shoot me your name & address to erik (at) threeimaginarygirls (dot) com and I'll send you the CD. It is nothing fancy package-wise but it is loaded with 23 of the best songs (in my opinion) from the year that was.

05 January 2008

2007 Red Sox Offense - Starters

Here's my review of the 2007 Red Sox Offensive Starters.
Stat set is AB/BA/OBP/HR/RBI/2B/SB.

Catcher - Jason Varitek (435/.255/.367/17/68/15/1)
I'm not sure any traditional analyses of Varitek, el Capitan, could do him justice. At this point of his career, his batting stats are merely passable - sure, he's not Brad Ausmus, but his days of being really productive at the plate are behind him. This leaves us to wonder about those intangibles and semi-intangibles like his ability to call games and his defensive prowess. He's never been a Howitzer when it comes to throwing out baserunners, so that is hard to judge. However, in watching the Sox run through the 2007 playoffs, I was struck with the fact that Varitek seems to call a lot of fastballs for all his pitchers in many situations. I can remember quite a few times when I would see Gagne, Delcarmen or Beckett pitching and screaming "throw a knee-buckler" only to get another fastball off the plate. Now, is that due to Varitek's game-calling, knowledge of the batter or just stubbornness of the pitcher? It is hard to tell. That being said, 'Tek is still probably marginally worth his money for 2008. Now as for an extension? I suppose its inevitable to keep 'Tek here for the rest of his career (especially with no apparent heir) and maybe beyond (can anyone say Francona's replacement?), but much worst catching situations exist out there.

First Base - Kevin Youkilis (528/.288/.390/16/83/35/4)
For a first basemen, Youkilis' numbers aren't all that exciting, but when you add the fact that he didn't commit a single error all season over 1094 inning at 1B, well, then we might be onto something. And before you say "well, maybe he has no range!", his range factor was 8.88, which isn't too shabby. Youkilis also gets points for looking like a rabid Viking throughout most of the season. I like the fact the Sox are willing to take a bit of a high production-wise at 1B to keep Youkilis in the lineup, but I suppose the production of Lowell and Ortiz make up for the lower run-production of the God of Walks.

Second Base - Dustin Pedroia (520/.317/.380/8/50/39/7)
How glad am I that Pedroia won Rookie of the Year? Sure, it helps that he's from right up the road from my current location, but even so, I've been a fan of his as he's worked his way up the Red Sox minor league ladder. He seems to be rather sure-handed defensively, at least based on the games I saw on TV - he seems to pull some rather tough balls out of the dirt. His offensive stats speak for themselves, with the .380 OBP and the fact he was rather tough to strike out, he looks like he could be a solid 2B for the Sox for years to come (and rather cheap for a few more years as well).

Third Base - Mike Lowell (589/.324/.378/21/120/37/3)
In a season where the two offensive juggernauts of the Red Sox - David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez - had less-than-stellar season (OK, well, Ortiz's was stellar, just not 50+ HR stellar), Mike Lowell might have been the team batting MVP. Not only did he set career highs in BA, OBP and RBI, but he was was consistent all-season, without his usual second-half swoon (or at least his perceived second-half swoon). Now, I'm not sure if his new contract for 3 more years will pay off overall, he will be 34 in 2008, but even if he hits at 80% of his 2007 numbers, something like .280/20/95, he should be a solid 3B for the Sox.

Shortstop - Julio Lugo (570/.237/.294/8/73/36/33)
And then there is Julio Lugo. I feel, sometimes, Theo Epstein is brought down by the man-crushes he has developed on certain players throughout the years, leading to signings like Renteria, Julio Lugo, J.D. Drew, Joel Piniero and other duds. The fact that Lugo made it as the starting SS for most of the season with an OBP under .300 and didn't get his defense together until late in the season speaks volumes for the Sox faith in their 4 year investment in Lugo. Hopefully Jed Lowrie will light a fire under Lugo because I'm sure the Sox won't have much problem with jettisoning Lugo the further into the deal current deal we get. I expect that Lugo will rebound some in 2008, at least to passable offensive numbers, maybe an OBP ~.330-.340, but I'm not holding my breath, either.

Right Field - J.D. Drew (466/.270/.373/11/64/30/4)
Another one of Theo's mancrushes, J.D. was well below expectations. Sure, he stayed mostly healthy and put up a .373 OBP, but beyond that, what did we get for the millions bestowed upon Mr. Drew? 64 RBI? 11 HR? Alright, he did put on a display in the playoffs, especially with his dagger-in-the-heart grand slam against Cleveland, but we expect a lot more from J.D. in 2008. Maybe he'll feel more comfortable in Boston now that he's had a year to get used to playing in the pressure cooker. Maybe there will be less attention on him. Who knows. All I know is I hope that he can at least crawl his way back to 20 HR and maybe 80-90 RBI to get a respectable, Trot Nixon like production out of RF.

Center Field - Coco Crisp (526/.268/.330/6/60/28/28)
You have to feel for Coco, to an extent. He tried to win the heart's of New England with his stellar defense and Arroyo-like cornrows, but with the wunderkin Jacoby Ellsbury waiting in the wings, he would have had to have had a stellar 2007 to keep our attention. Now, after Ellsbury wonderful run through the 2007 Playoffs solidifying him as the Sox #1 CF, you wonder how long Crisp has on this team. He is attractive to other teams thanks to his aforementioned defense and his relatively low cost, the question is whether any other teams will offer the Sox enough for Crisp that Theo will pull the trigger - he isn't going to just give away Crisp. Good luck to Coco no matter where he ends up.

Left Field - Manny Ramirez (483/.296/.388/20/88/33/0)
Well, the ride had to end sometime. Manny had his first true "off" season in 2007, falling well below his career averages in HR, 2B, and RBI. It didn't help that he spent a month on the DL, but he did at least come back refreshed for the postseason and seem to hit like the Manny we all know and love. In theory, 2008 could be Manny's last year with the Sox - the team holds options for 2009 and 2010 and could let him walk after the season, but my guess is that Manny has a few more top 10 hitting seasons left in the tank and strikes me as the sort of guy who will want to go out on top. Not counting for incidental injury, I'll guessing he'll bounce back to something around 30-35 HR and 120 RBI in 2008 and the Sox will pick up his options.

Designated Hitter - David Ortiz (549/.332/.445/35/111/52/3)
What can be said about Big Papi that hasn't already? Sure, he wasn't as dramatic as he was in 2003-2006, but for a guy playing on bad knees all season, he put up monstrous numbers. Sure, 35 HR was almost 20 fewer than 2006, but did anyone notice his 52 2Bs? 52 doubles. Yikes! Add some of his power back in 2008 after offseason knee surgery, and we could see Ortiz back in the 40+ HR range easily - and add a few more seasons like that, Papi could be looking at a Hall of Fame career. Not bad for a guy non-tendered by the Twins.

California, you fall to pieces so fast people get hit by the sharpnel.

My recent trip back to Boston over the holidays made me realize a few things:

(a) I like New England. I dislike most of California.
(b) I miss Dunkin' Donuts (quiet, Louis.)

A recent corollary to all this is the recent storm in California - some wind and rain - that has now knocked out power in my apartment for going on 36 hours. Now, mind you, some branches fell and what not, but if PG&E can't restore power to a 50K+ city after a wind/rain storm in less than 2 days, I can't imagine what would happen if a real disaster happened in California or if they got real weather like blizzards and hurricanes. I've tried calling the oh-so-helpful PG&E "Outage Status" hotline that has provided me this with information so far:

"We know. We have no idea when we'll fix it. F&%k you."

Thanks PG&E!

I feel sorry for California, considering how it falls to pieces after a storm. And how you're saddled with such a slip-shod power company like PG&E. Getting hexavalent Chromium in your water? Easy! Fixing your power outage? Call again later!

01 January 2008

Happy New Year

Happy 2008! 

I realized that I've only gotten through the pitching aspect of the 2007 Red Sox, so I think today I'll try to get to the hitters. Seems only fair.