Sunday, December 19, 2004

Is Zito next?

"Now only Barry Zito is left among Oakland's Big Three -- and there is a chance he could soon be dealt, to Baltimore." - Buster Olney

Hmmmm.

Farewell, Mark Mulder

ESPN.com - MLB - Big three down to one: Mulder dealt to Cards

"In return for Mulder, the A's acquired pitchers Danny Haren and Kiko Calero and minor league catcher Daric Barton."

I think Eric Byrnes says it best, "What, you've got to be kidding me. Wow. I don't know what to tell you."

I must say that I'm shocked, a little disappointed and a little optimistic. A rotation of Zito, Harden, Haren, Blanton and Meyer could be decent. But it's certainly not Zito, Mulder, Hudson, Harden and Blanton. It'll be interesting at least.

As always, it's "In Billy we trust."

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Dan Meyer

SportsBlurb.com

Dan Meyer, SP: If the Braves are not already planning on inserting Meyer into next season's starting rotation, they should be. The 23-year-old lefty has never even had an ERA above 3.00 in pro ball, including Triple-A. He throws in the low-90s with a solid repertoire and excellent control. We hear about Tom Glavine comparisons all too often from young pitchers that do not throw 95 mph, but Meyer might actually be able to have that type of career.


I guess he's in the A's starting rotation for 2005 along with Zito, Mulder, Harden and Blanton/Duchsherererererr?

Feeling Queasy

"With Los Angeles, Boston and the New York Yankees rumored to be pursuing [Tim] Hudson, the Braves swooped in and got the Oakland ace for outfielder Charles Thomas and pitchers Juan Cruz and Dan Meyer." -AP News

We all knew a trade was coming, but I was hoping we'd be wrong. I don't know much about the new guys yet, but I'm going to miss the hell out of Tim Hudson.

I just feel kinda empty right now. Why did it have to be Hudson?

And this isn't helping: First thought - fantastic deal for the Braves!

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Hanukah Tune

Thanks to Aunt Marcia for this one: Hey-Ya

Monday, December 13, 2004

Distraction (!)

How about this fun one, eh? Trebuchet Challange (Thanks to Yahoo!'s daily picks)

My first score was 2300-ish.

How do you like that, marco?

Thursday, December 9, 2004

Great Amazon Review

Amazon.com: Books: A Short History of the Civil War: Ordeal by Fire

Bruce Canton could spend two pages discribing a muddy campaign, and you will come away knowing it was muddy and what a loggistical problem that was. Shelby Foote could spend a chapter on a muddy campaingn and you will come away knowing it was muddy and how much the troops complaigned about it and maybe a funny incident or two. Fletcher Pratt could spend a paragraph or two on that campaign, and when done you'll notice your leg's hurt. Why? Because you didn't want to get mud on your couch.
Loved that review so much, I bought the book.

I Think They Call it Satire

Over on the Hardball Times, Bill James urges caution and patience on the steroid witch hunt:

Gathering

Tuesday, December 7, 2004

Adios, Sayonara, Dye-Dye

A's decline arbitration for Dye

The Oakland Athletics declined to offer arbitration to four free agents Tuesday, including power-hitting outfielder Jermaine Dye.

The A's also declined arbitration for second baseman Mark McLemore and relievers Jim Mecir and Chris Hammond. Oakland is now unable to negotiate with the four players before May 1, and won't receive compensation if they sign with other teams.


Can't say I'm terribly upset to see any of those guys go. Dye was great for us at times, mostly early in his Oakland tenure. But he was injured too often to make his $11M contract worthwhile.

And the article points out the key thinking on Dye. The risk that he would accept arbitration and command a significant salary from the A's outweighed the potential benefit of receiving compensation draft picks should he sign elsewhere. So, farewell.

Here's what we need to replace in terms of Win Shares:

Dye - 12 Win Shares (-3 Win Shares Above Average, given equal playing time)
McLemore - 6 WS (-2 WSAA)
Hammond - 6 WS (3 WSAA)
Mecir - 4 WS (1 WSAA)

That's a grand total of 28 Win Shares and (-1) Win Share Above Average. The A's should essentially be able to replace those four guys with average players capable of consuming innings and at bats.

I for one, as always, am looking forward to how Billy Beane will manage to do just that.

My (obvious) guess - an outfield of Kotsay, Byrnes, Swisher and Kielty. Marc Ellis at 2B again with Marco Scutaro backing him up. I guess the only question is: Who will pitch the roughly 100 innings that Hammond and Mecir contributed last year?

Almost a Compliment?

"Is it really more than a year?" My boss looks back (fondly?) on the founding of AndrewKoch.com. What's remarkable is that Stone linked to me without harping on my lack of blog-effort.

If you go to Stone and search for "Baseball", three of the top four results are posts suggesting that (A) I don't spend enough time on AndrewKoch.com and/or (B) AndrewKoch.com is going down in flames.

While (A) is certainly true, I hope that (B) isn't. Is it even possible for something as small as AndrewKoch.com to really go down in flames?

When a blog dies, isn't it really more like Hanukah candles that slowly melt away before sputtering their last breath and expiring.

Sunday, December 5, 2004

BCS = Big F-ing Joke

Yahoo! Sports - NCAA Football - Cal angry, frustrated after Texas takes Rose Bowl spot

"Cal (10-1) was left out of the Bowl Championship Series... despite a season of statistical superlatives and dominating victories."

Instead of playing Michigan in the Rose Bowl, Cal will play Texas Tech, a 7-4 team that lost to New Mexico(!), Oklahoma, Texas and Texas A&M. The Red Raiders' seven wins were over the following teams:

SMU (3-8)
TCU (5-6)
Kansas (4-7)
Nebraska (5-6)
Kansas State (4-7)
Baylor (3-8)
Oklahoma State (7-4)

That's only ONE win over a team with a winning record. Hardly a team worthy of playing the team that both polls agree is the NUMBER FOUR team in the country.

And what of Texas? Both polls (AP and USA Today) agree that Texas is #5 in the country behind #4 California. While each team has only one loss, Texas was embarrased 12-0 by the #2 team in the country while Cal was barely edged out by the consensus #1 team in the country.

I hope Michigan and Cal win their respective Bowls by 40 points apiece. In fact, if USC destroys Oklahoma, Michigan beats Texas, Virginia Tech beats Auburn and Cal beats Texas Tech, it's not inconceivable that Cal could end the season as the #2 team in the country. And they're playing in the damn Holiday Bowl. What a joke.

This whole BCS thing will always be a farce to me until it's scrapped entirely and replaced with a playoff system.

(By the way, this is my second annual BCS complaint. Here's my first.)

Friday, December 3, 2004

Yanks To Stick Knife in Giambi's Back

From the NY Post, JASON'S LIKELY DONE AS YANKEE

A day after Giambi's grand jury testimony in the BALCO case, in which he admitted using steroids and human growth hormone, appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, the Yankees didn't come running to their troubled first baseman's defense.

...

One option is trying to void Giambi's contract, which has four years and $84.5 million remaining.

...

The [contract] reads, "The player agrees to keep himself in the best possible condition."

The Yankees could argue that Giambi's steroid use caused his left knee to fall apart in 2003 when he hit 41 homers but batted .250, and that the use led to the parasite and a benign tumor that limited him to playing 80 games this past season when he batted a career-low .208.

...

If the Yankees decide not to void the deal, they could work out a settlement with Giambi and he could become a free agent. Never a fan favorite from the beginning because he replaced popular Tino Martinez, Giambi has lied about using steroids. Before long Yankees fans will pin the 3-0 flush job against the Red Sox on Giambi even though he wasn't on the ALCS roster.
Kinda awful to see the Yankees throwing Giambi under the bus so quickly. What happened to the organization that prompted this comment from (longtime cocaine addict) Daryl Strawberry?

"I remain committed to helping the Yankees in anyway I can whenever possible," Strawberry said. "I greatly appreciate the encouragement and support given to me and my family by Mr. Steinbrenner and the Yankees."


And the comment from the post I bolded above (in the original quote) is little more than a suggestion that the Yankee fans SHOULD blame Giambi. I can't think of anything more ridiculous than blaming him for the loss to the Sox.

It's Official

What Bonds told BALCO grand jury

Bonds said he had begun using the cream and the clear [steriods] at a time when he was aching with arthritis and was distraught over the terminal illness of his father, former Giants All-Star Bobby Bonds, who died Aug. 23, 2003.

"I have bad arthritis. I've played 18 years, bad knees, surgeries and so on," Bonds testified, adding that he wanted a product that would "take the arthritis pain away that I feel in the mornings when it's super cold ...

"I was battling with the problems with my father and the -- just the lack of sleep, lack of everything."

But Bonds said he got little help from Anderson's products.

"And I was like, to me, it didn't even work."
Smells like perjury to me.

Thursday, December 2, 2004

Good News, Bad News

THE GOOD: There's now a semi-organized archive of Bill Simmons ESPN writings

THE BAD: Click on any link, say Top-10 Most Tortured City??? and you'll see a paragraph (if you're lucky) followed by an ad - "Want to read the whole article? Open your wallet, insert vacuum."

Probably a good way to increase near-term revenue for ESPN.com, but a bad sign for Bill Simmons (and me). It's only a matter of time before they move Bill's Boston Sports Guy entirely behind the "pay" wall, leaving him a much smaller audience (smaller at least by one - me). And really, he's the only reason I go to ESPN at all anymore.

Is moving all of their best content into their premium "Insider" package really the best long-term move? Do writers like Bill want a small, devoted "customer-base" OR do they want to be cultural institutions? In the long run, will ESPN be able to attract the best talent once they've managed to reduce their audience to the 5% of their current visitors that are willing to pay?

Is this all just a short-term cash-grab by Disney, parent of ESPN? Is there anything wrong with that?

And if you've got $40 to spend on a sports site, isn't Baseball Prospectus going to give you a better bang for your buck? (Even if they're currently overhauling their subscription process...)

Hallworthy?

A co-worker of mine did some work about HOF worthiness that's pretty interesting - I'll have to see if I can get his permission to post it here. The basic approach is to figure out what counting and rate stats the BWAA use (consciously or subconsciously) to determine whether a player belongs in the HOF.

Here's an interesting case:
G - 2,000
AB - 6,976
R - 1,455
H - 2,010
2B - 423
3B - 65
HR - 445
RBI - 1,299
SB - 460
CS - 132
BB - 1,430
SO - 1,112
BA - 0.288
OBP - 0.409
SLG - 0.559
Win Shares - 437

That's Barry Bonds' career through 1999 - a shoe-in Hall of Famer, right? So, when did Barry become a Hall of Famer? And when did he start taking steriods? My guess is that he was a Hall of Famer before he started taking the sauce. What do you think? Does it matter? Should it?

Academic Take on Moneyball

Hardball Times links to Sabernomics links to An Economic Evaluation of the Moneyball Hypothesis.

Our work is essentially an assessment of Lewis' [Moneyball] argument, and as such is merely an after-the-fact replication of work done by the innovators at the heart of his book. But we do find that they (and Lewis) were right, and further, that the process that they set in motion had in large part been completed by the time the book was published.
Essentially, the inefficiency in the market that allowed the A's to compete has been corrected, and the A's have had to move on to new (possibly smaller) inefficiencies, or so we A's fans can hope.

Yet More on the 2006 Baseball World Cup

I took a wild guess at the US roster for the proposed World Cup here. Craig Burley does the same with many more complete thoughts and logical reasoning.

You just have to skim past all that stuff about Diegomar Markwell (!?!?) and the rest of Team Netherlands.

Baseball's Bad Moon Rising

Giambi admitted taking steroids

The onetime Oakland A's first baseman and 2000 American League Most Valuable Player testified that in 2003, when he hit 41 home runs for the Yankees, he had used several different steroids obtained from Greg Anderson, weight trainer for San Francisco Giants star Barry Bonds.
Bad news for Jason Giambi, baseball and Barry Bonds. How bad? Time will tell. Here are the first rumblings:
"Jason Giambi's reported testimony that he used steroids might jeopardize his $120 million contract with the New York Yankees and allow baseball commissioner Bud Selig to discipline him."
-Giambi's steroids testimony may open him to discipline

The weird thing is that Grand Jury testimony is supposed to be secret, right? Isn't anyone upset that "secret", "sealed" testimony is now common knowledge? Well, here's something from that same article (the second one):

Meanwhile, U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan said his office was concerned about the leaks to the Chronicle and asked the Justice Department to investigate. "Violations of grand jury secrecy rules will not be tolerated," [U.S. Attorney Kevin] Ryan said .


Little late there Kevin, don't you think? This cat's already out of the bag...

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Analysis of the Analysis

Beaneball, which I've just discovered(!), wraps up the A's-blogosphere take on the Kendall trade. Jason rightly calls me out for not bothering "with silly things like payroll implications."

The best of the bunch is from Faust on Athletics Nation.

Techmology

Photo Recognition Software Gives Location

Roberto Cipolla and Duncan Robertson have developed a program that can match a photograph of a building to a database of images. The database contains a three-dimensional representation of the real-life street, so the software can work out where the user is standing to within one metre.
This is an old article (4/04), but the idea is pretty crazy. If these scientist-folks can create a scalable solution that actually works, they'll have something I'd be willing to pay $0 for on a regular basis. Seriously, if it was free, wouldn't we all play with it for at least a day or two?

Monday, November 29, 2004

Those Crazy Yalies

Five thousand Harvard students can't all be wrong

Before the Harvard-Yale football game a band of daring Yale students, led by Mike Kai PC '05, donned red shirts labeled "Harvard Pep Squad" and placed thousands of sheets of red and white construction paper on the Harvard bleachers. Yale may have lost The Game, but every time Harvard scored a touchdown the entire Harvard student body proclaimed to the world their own suckiness...


Friday, November 26, 2004

Kendall Trade

Jason Kendall to the A's; Mark Redman and Arthur Rhodes to the Pirates.
Damian Miller to the Brewers.

The A's are essentially replacing Damian Miller, Arthur Rhodes and Mark Redman with Jason Kendall, Huston Street and Joe Blanton.

Here's how this looks from a (2004) Win Shares perspective.

Miller: 15 WS / 4 WSAA (above average, given same playing time)
Rhodes: 1 / -2
Redman: 9 / -1

Kendall: 25 / 7

While we don't have any 2004 WS numbers for Blanton and Street, Kendall's 25 Win Shares equal the contribution of the three guys we're losing. And his 7 WSAA are MUCH better than the combined ONE WSAA from the Miller/Rhodes/Redman combination. From where I'm sitting, this looks like a great move for the A's, as any WS contribution from the two youngsters will put the A's ahead on the ol' Win Share scoreboard.

Concerning Lack of Clue

"We don't need a study, if I remember my biology correctly, to show us that those people who are sexually abstinent have a zero chance of becoming pregnant or getting someone pregnant or contracting a sexually transmitted disease." -Wade Horn, the assistant secretary of Health and Human Services. (Bush Seeks Money for Abstinence Education)

The study in question here is whether or not abstinence education actually leads to abstinence. It's a wee bit disturbing to see the logical failure on Wade's part to make the connection.

Here's a much more reasonable argument from that same article:
"The only 100 percent way to avoid a car collision is not to drive, but the federal government sure does a lot of advocacy for safety belts." -James Wagoner, president of Advocates for Youth.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Shame on you, Cuban

Mark Cuban on Donald Trump

How does it feel to know that in future years when the question is asked , "Which show was the anchor when NBC's Must See Thursday Night slipped from its perch for the first time in decades ?", the answer will be Trump's show ?
Bold words from the man that brought us the suckfest he called "The Benefactor." Here's an independent review from PittsburghLive.com:

"The Benefactor" makes "The Apprentice" resemble an episode of "Masterpiece Theater." Cuban's game, and television show, looks like a child created it. Money cannot buy maturity. Which is something these contestants lack. "The Apprentice" tests people on their business and people skills, and then rewards the winner with a lucrative job. "The Benefactor" asks people to play silly games, possibly humiliating themselves, and then hands them a million dollars. Why? Because Cuban can.
Cuban - pick the fights you can win, like "Hey Donald, who owns more sports teams?" or "Who's younger?"

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Employment Humor

A little wry employment humor for the holidays... Non Sequitur

We're a Much Dumber Country Than I Thought

Third of Americans Say Evidence Has Supported Darwin's Evolution Theory

"Only about a third of Americans believe that Charles Darwin's theory of evolution is a scientific theory that has been well supported by the evidence, while just as many say that it is just one of many theories and has not been supported by the evidence."

If you're in the two-thirds that don't "believe" in evolution - please, for the love of God, read this entry on Evolution. The key phrase in here: "the theory of evolution is widely accepted"

And don't miss the sections on Evidence. I find it all quite convincing...

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Wealthy Beyond Belief

Yahoo! News - Bill Gates Gets 4 Million E-Mails a Day

"Literally there's a whole department almost that takes care of it."

A whole department, just watching his inbox? Yoiks!

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Site of the Day

The Sneeze - An Open Letter To My Hair

"Hey! How are you? Everything's good down here."

It's an old post on what seems to be a great site. I'd recommend extensive exploration from this first post.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Those Zany Red Staters

Stone points us to this article: Hostettler mounting campaign to change the name of Interstate 69

"John Hostettler, the Congressman representing the 8th district of Indiana, has been convinced by local religious groups to introduce legislation in the House that would change the name of an Interstate 69 extension to a more moral sounding number."

Even more amusing than the "moral" legislation is the poll on the left-hand side of the page, asking "Should prostitution be legal in Indiana?"

As of this writing, over 92% of 2,584 are voting in favor of prostitution. If he wants to get re-elected, Hostetler might have to readjust his "morals", eh?

...Or more likely, the same teenagers that "snicker" at his I-69 button are getting a giggle out of the ol' prositution survey.

Friday, November 12, 2004

More on the 2006 Baseball World Cup

Craig Burley posts his thoughts on the World Cup over at The Hardball Times: World Cup 2006: A Look Ahead -- The Hardball Times

Sunday, November 7, 2004

Yee Haw!

ESPN.com - MLB - Report: Baseball World Cup set for 2006

"The first World Cup of baseball will be held in March 2006, Japanese baseball officials told the Japan Times, following meetings involving American, Japanese and Korean officials."

I hope this is true. I can't wait to see it.

UPDATE:
You've gotta like the Dominican Republic:

Catcher - Miguel Olivo
First - David Ortiz, Albert Pujols
Second - Alfonso Soriano, Placido Polanco
Third - Adrian Beltre, Aramis Ramirez
Short - Miguel Tejada, Rafael Furcal
Outfield - Vladimir Guerero, Manny Ramirez, Sammy Sosa, Jose Guillen, Juan Encarnacion
Starting Pitchers - Pedro Martinez, Bartolo Colon, Jose Lima, Ramon Ortiz, Odalis Perez
Bullpen - Octavio Dotel, Guillermo Mota, Damaso Marte, Rafael Soriano, Solomon Torres, Jose Mesa

And the U.S.:

Catcher - Mike Piazza, Jason Varitek
First - Todd Helton, Jim Thome
Second - Bret Boone, Jeff Kent
Third - Eric Chavez, Scott Rolen
Short - Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter
Outfield - Barry Bonds, Jim Edmonds, Gary Sheffield, Adam Dunn, JD Drew
Starting Pitchers - Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens, Ben Sheets, Jason Schmidt, Curt Schilling
Bullpen - Brad Lidge, Joe Nathan, John Smoltz, Billy Wagner, Tom Gordon

Gold Glove - Eric Chavez

"Chavez took home the [Gold Glove] hardware for the fourth consecutive year, becoming the first AL third baseman to win as many as four in a row since Gary Gaetti won each year from 1986 through 1989."
-AL Gold Gloves

I'm pleasantly surprised to see Chavez win this award. He wasn't quite as good defensively this year as he has been in years past, and New York's own Alex Rodriguez, a former Gold Glove shortstop, played fairly well at the hot corner. I thought A-Rod had the GG all wrapped up, but Chavez's award is (again!) one of the few bright spots for the A's between September and March.

If you awarded Gold Gloves solely on Fielding Win Shares (courtesy of The Hardball Times), the AL GG's would look like this:

Catcher: Damian Miller (7.9 WS)
First Base: Mark Teixeira (2.8)
Second Base: Orlando Hudson (6.6)
Third Base: Alex Rodriguez (5.8)
Shortstop: Christian Guzman (9.6)
Outfield: Johnny Damon (7.1)
Outfield: Mark Kotsay (5.9)
Outfield: Torii Hunter (5.3)

The only player that the voters and Win Shares agree upon is Torii Hunter. Hmm.

UPDATE: With an extra two seconds of research, I could have just pointed you to this great analysis: American League Gold Glove Awards by Clay Davenport of Baseball Prospectus

Tuesday, November 2, 2004

Fascinating

Yahoo! News - Dow, Nasdaq, S&P 500 Retreat on Exit Poll

"That's what we're hearing," said Lisa Hansen, head trader at Transamerica Investment Management. "Apparently the blogs are saying that Kerry is ahead in one or two of the swing states and that's why the market dipped."

Advice from a Google Investor

It's the people, stupid. Shriram helped co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin in the Menlo Park garage by consulting his "Ram's Book of Mistakes,'' which he said he started eight or nine years ago to help remind him of all the bad decisions he'd made. Bad hiring decisions are the most fatal.

-MercuryNews.com | 10/30/2004 | Google guru shares words of wisdom

Apropos

Non Sequitur

Lloyd Braun

Why would Yahoo! hire such a loser? He lost the election with Dinkins, he was a terrible computer salesman for Frank Costanza and then ABC cut him loose.

;)

--1--
ELAINE: Lloyd Braun? How's he doing?
GEORGE: (almost gleeful) After Dinkins lost the election, he had a complete nervous breakdown. They had to lock him up.

-Seinfeld- The Gum


--2--
George: Well what about all the Lloyd Braun sales?
Frank: He's crazy. His phone wasn't even hooked up. He just liked ringing that bell.

-Seinfeld, Serenity Now


--3--
Lloyd Braun, ousted last year as the chairman of ABC Entertainment, will become head of entertainment and media content for Yahoo, the company announced yesterday.

-Yahoo Names Media Executive


Friday, October 29, 2004

Getting a Little Closer

The race is getting a little closer, this according to the Iowa Electronic Markets' 2004 US Presidential Election Winner Takes All Market.

My guess: election day will be more exciting than all four Red Sox-Cardinals games combined.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Bizarre Coincidence

Since the Redskins became the Redskins in 1933, the result of the team's final home game before the presidential election has correctly predicted the White House winner. If the Redskins win, the incumbent party wins. If they lose, the incumbent party is ousted.
Yahoo! News - Redskins May Predict Presidential Winner

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Over... well, almost

Three outs to go. There's no way the Sox lose this series.

By the way, someone should let the Cardinals know that the World Series is going on. They could have made this whole thing at least mildly entertaining if they could score a run, ever.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Michael Lewis on Motley Fool

Fool.com: Don't Listen to Buffett [Commentary] October 26, 2004

"If we weren't doing things this way already and we were starting afresh, would we do things this [same] way?"

A great quote summing up Bill James' approach to baseball analysis and a good idea to keep in your head. Overall, looks like a mildly interesting series of articles with the author of that baseball book. But at what point does Lewis get sick of the Moneyball questions?

And do I get extra "moneyball" credit for suggesting that Lewis co-wrote the Motley Fool articles about himself...? (background here)

Eminem

Will Carroll Presents...: Eminem

"There is no frickin' way that this one's going to end up on MTV, even after the election."

Just follow the link through Will's site to the video.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Thursday, October 21, 2004

That Fenway-Nike Commercial

I don't understand the new Nike commercial. What's the "it" you're supposed to "Just do"??

Sit there like a bump on a log for 80 years?

Conflicting Priorities

Stone: Yankees Lose

"You'd think a self-styled baseball blog would have some commentary on the baseball story of the season. But, alack, no."

I think this has got to be one of the first times in the history of mankind that a boss has called out an employee for not blogging enough about baseball. This, folks, is historic.

Wednesday, September 8, 2004

Stink

Before their current series against the Red Sox, the A's had won 16 of their last 19 games. Normally, a record like that suggests the team is playing good baseball.

Well, the A's haven't looked like a good baseball team at all over the last four games. They've lost three games and are well on their way to losing their fourth in a row, the last three of these losses against the Red Sox. The Sox have outplayed the A's in every regard: pitching, defense, patience at the plate, power, you name it...

Normally, I like to look at the stats to back up my claims, but I can't bear to look deeper. We can all see with our bare eyes that the A's really don't belong on the field with the Sox right now. This isn't making me feel very good about (A) the A's chances of making the playoffs or (B) doing anything in the playoffs, should they make it at all.

And while I'm griping, why is it that I recently find myself screaming at the TV, "THROW STRIKES" whenever the A's are pitching?

UPDATE: 8-0 Sox in the middle of the fourth, with Tim Hudson already bounced from the game. Ugh.

Wednesday, September 1, 2004

Plight of An A's fan

Here they go again...

"Argh - it's hard to decide which team to root against, the Sox or the Yanks. I usually despise the Yanks above all else, but visions of "Li" and "lly" taped on red jackets and the idiocy of Cowboying Up are being revived by the September weather." - Comment from Nikolai

Absolutely. Another conflict I'm having is whether or not I want the Yankees to miss the post-season entirely. It's not ridiculously out of the question at this point that the A's, Angels and Red Sox could all sneak past the Yankees, leaving the Bronx Bombers out of the postseason for the first time in ages... But that would put the Angels and the Red Sox in the post-season, and I don't really like them either.

I guess I'll just have to root against all three teams and hope the Rangers make the playoffs. I don't hate them yet...

Friday, August 27, 2004

Dr. Arneson

Baysball

"Today, Zito didn't throw a curveball for a strike until the fourth inning. In the third inning, he yielded four runs. After that first good curveball, the Orioles got nothing else. The only thing stopping Zito after that was his pitch count."

-Ken Arneson, filling in at Baysball, making a great point about Zito. So, how do we/Curt Young make sure he's throwing his curve for strikes?

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Playoff Chase

Between the AL West and the AL Wildcard there are four teams fighting for two playoff spots. Here's how their schedules look over the last month+ of the season. (ranked by opponents' winning pct)

Oakland - .493
Anaheim - .500
Boston - .503
Texas - .511

And the key series between these four teams:

Ana at Bos, 8/31 - 9/2
Tex at Bos, 9/3 - 9/5
Bos at Oak, 9/6 - 9/8
Tex at Oak, 9/13 - 9/16
Tex at Ana, 9/17 - 9/19
Oak at Tex, 9/21 - 9/23
Oak at Ana, 9/24 - 9/26
Ana at Tex, 9/27 - 9/30
Ana at Oak, 10/1 - 10/3

And some of those old-school, back-east rivalry games:

Bos at NYY, 9/17 - 9/19
NYY at Bos, 9/24 - 9/26

That gives us a game with HUGE playoff implications every day between 8/31 - 9/8 and 9/13 - 10/3. I give a slight edge to the A's here for two reasons: (1) Their games against the Red Sox are at home instead of at Fenway and (2) They have a slightly easier schedule.

Regardless, there's going to be an aweful lot of good baseball to watch down the stretch, so thank goodness for MLB Extra Innings! Now, if I could only get around that annoying Fox roadblock on Saturday afternoons...

Thursday, August 19, 2004

If It Wasn't For The Internet...

...We'd probably never learn about the booze hound bears.

CNN.com - Bear guzzles 36 beers, passes out at campground - Aug 19, 2004

"A black bear was found passed out at a campground in Washington state recently after guzzling down three dozen cans of a local beer"

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Lowell McAdam Continues to Frustrate

Stone: Oh, Those Verizon Guys! Lowell McAdam is a Bad Executive, Part III

"That sad part is the coverage and the phone plans are so nice, it's tough to leave them. But their customer-facing practices are S-L-I-M-Y."

Marc hits the nail right on the head. Have a Verizon experience (good or bad) that you'd like to share? Post a comment or email Marc over at Stone

Monday, August 9, 2004

Promotion of Jairo

Yahoo! Sports - MLB - A's place reliever Chad Bradford on DL

"The A's filled Bradford's roster spot with right-hander Jairo Garcia from Triple-A Sacramento."

He's been nasty in the minors. Here's hoping he can stabilize the A's bullpen.

Saturday, July 31, 2004

What Happened?

So, I come home from dinner to catch the end of Friday night's A's game. And I wish I hadn't seen it. Turning a 4-2 lead into a 7-4 deficit in the 8th inning just stinks.

And frankly, I was unimpressed with Damian Miller covering the plate in that 8th inning. They teach catchers, “don't reach for the pitch when a runner's stealing.” It's much quicker to let the pitch come to you before trying to throw him out.

Isn't that same thing true when a throw is coming in from the outfield?

If a throw coming in from the outfield is going to beat the runner, shouldn't you just get in the middle of the baseline and totally block the plate? So, why was Miller left diving back to the plate on both Nix' and Young's basehits?

Dave Delluci did make a hell of a slide to beat the tag and score the go-ahead run, but Miller simply should have blocked him off.

Or maybe we just need a better bullpen...

Friday, July 30, 2004

Blast from the past

Stone: Super Addictive Racquetball Type Space Game From the Future

Good times. I wasted many an hour horsing around with that game.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

The Sandman and the Duke, Revisited

Back on June 6, I pointed out how similar Mariano Rivera and Justin Duchscherer had been. How have they done since?

Since June 6:
  IP H R HR BB SO
Duke 26.2 34 16 5 15 17
Rivera 20.1 16 6 1 3 20


After both starting the year pretty well, the Duke and Rivera have headed in totally opposite directions. Duchscherer's post-June 6th WHIP is double his pre-6/6 WHIP and his K/BB has been halved. Rivera, meanwhile, has decreased his WHIP to an impressive 0.91 and more than tripled his K/BB rate. Simply put: Rivera is much better.

The lessons:

(1) Don't get too excited about small sample sizes.
and
(2) Don't point out how well A's pitchers are doing and invoke the "Jinx."

(Read this for an explanation of why lesson #2 is a joke.)

Monday, July 26, 2004

Best Rotations

Back in January, I remember reading a number of articles about "The Best Rotations in Baseball." Rotational Metrics was one such article that I enjoyed. The concluding thought there: "The Oakland Athletics get my personal vote as the most promising staff in baseball looking ahead to 2004. An honorable mention has to go to the Red Sox..."

So, what are the league's top Starting Rotations so far? When looking at this, I wasn't exactly how to define a starting rotation. The Yankees, for instance, have used eleven(!) different pitchers as starters. It doesn't really make sense to lump Alex Graman into any discussion of the Yankee rotation, so I decided to look only at the top 5 starting pitchers on each team.

Again, however, I ran into trouble. Should I use the pitchers with the most starts? The starting pitchers with the most win shares? The pitchers with the most IP? The "most talented?"

For simplicity's sake, I went with the most-used starting pitchers - that is the pitchers on each team who had started the most games. For the most part, I think this captures each team's true, intended "starters." The one truly odd exception that I ran into, however, is Mark Prior. Kerry Wood, Matt Clement, Greg Maddux, Carlos Zambrano and Glendon Rusch have all started more games than Prior, so I didn't include him in my little study.

Now, onto success and greatness as a pitching rotation. I've decided to rate each staff by total win shares. Sure, Win Shares Above Average will tell you how well each pitcher has performed, given his playing time, but I want to know how much have these pitchers contributed to team success. Fortunately, that's what Win Shares are all about - how each player contributed to team success.

And the results:

Team - Total Win Shares (Starting Rotation)
OAK - 44
BOS - 36
NYM - 35
MIN - 35
CHC - 34
HOU - 34
CHW - 34
STL - 32
FLO - 31
MIL - 30
TOR - 30
CLE - 29
SFG - 28
NYY - 27
ATL - 26
ANA - 25
TEX - 25
BAL - 25
DET - 25
COL - 23
SDP - 23
SEA - 23
MON - 22
ARI - 21
TBD - 20
PHI - 19
CIN - 19
PIT - 19
LAD - 19
KC - 16

Very interesting stuff. As Jason Moyer predicted in his "Rotational Metrics" article, the A's rotation is indeed the cream of the crop with the Red Sox receiving "honorable mention."

A couple other things that jumped out at me...

-> The Mets' staff has really done a phenomenal job, coming in third in my rankings. I have pretty much written them off in the playoff hunt, but with pitching that good, they should continue to stick around. I guess I'm going to have to reconsider them.

-> The Phillies have gotten terrible starting pitching from pitchers that sound like they should be better: Milton, Wolf, Padilla, Millwood and Brett Myers. If you told me that rotation was going to be the fifth worst in all of baseball, I would have laughed in your face. I'm still shocked to see that the Tigers, Rockies, Expos and Devil Rays all have better pitching than the Phillies. If the Philadelphia pitching doesn't improve, I'm not sure I like them much better than the Mets in the NL East.

-> I'm not surprised to see the Royals, Pirates and Reds in the "Bottom Five" here, but the Dodgers are another big surprise. Their pitching staff was great last year - so great that they felt comfortable giving away Kevin Brown for the enigmatic Jeff Weaver. Kevin Brown's health problems this year come as no surprise, but he did throw 211 innings last year with a 2.39 ERA. It's tough to give that up and get 4.17 ERA in return. And seriously, what's wrong with Hideo Nomo? Did his arm fall off? He has a career ERA of 4.00 and is more than doubling that with this year's 8.06.

-> Gotta love those A's. Starting pitching is clearly their strength, but it's pretty remarkable how much better (and healthier) the A's starting pitching has been than every other team in baseball this year. Oakland's SP's have contributed 22% more Win Shares than the next best team's starters so far. If only the bullpen was this good...

UPDATE: Credit where credit is due. Big thanks to The Hardball Times for their Stats pages. Couldn't live without 'em.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

David Carvajal

David Carvajal joined my company, TheLadders.com recently. He's a tremendous recruiter and a great guy to have on the team. We're all real, real excited have him on board.

As our CEO, Marc Cenedella says, "David helped build an award-winning corporate culture at HotJobs and his previous experience as a recruiter is just invaluable to our business." We're all looking forward to making the world's best job search engine for $100k+ jobs together as a team.

UPDATE: Here's the official press release on our site: David Carvajal joins fellow HotJobs Alums

Monday, July 19, 2004

Married and Honeymooning

Between getting married, going on a honeymoon and returning to 6,000 emails at work, I've been pretty busy over the last month. Let me just say that if you're going on a honeymoon in the Caribbean, you really ought to stay at Guanahani on St. Barth.

And if you're interested in the A's, be sure to check out Athletic Nation's chat with Michael Lewis. Blez, the proprietor of AN, has done a phenomenal job of covering the A's this season. Combining his game-by-game open forums with exclusive interviews and insightful comments, Athletics Nation is a daily must for A's fans.

Sunday, June 6, 2004

The Sandman and the Duke

Which of these lines belongs to Mariano Rivera and which one belongs to Justin Duchscherer?

  IP H R HR BB SO
Player A 33.1 20 6 0 11 24
Player B 32.2 26 4 1 12 24


And does it even really matter? The Duke has been pitching great for the A's this year. Between the Duke and Chad Bradford, I feel pretty good about our bullpen, even if King Arthur Rhodes blows a few saves here and there.

Thursday, June 3, 2004

"Smart" Mob, my A**

Stone: Mob #8: The End

"And do not await instructions for MOB #9. They
will not arrive; not for a long time, at least, if
ever." - Sep. 9, 2003

Just when you thought that silly little "flash mob" fad was LOOOONG gone, some Russians are trying to revive it.

(And don't think I'm not annoyed that I have to link to a site that calls itself "smartmobs.com - the next social revolution.")

Wednesday, June 2, 2004

Well, crap!

ESPN.com - MLB - Chavez suffers 'broken' arm

"It was uncertain how long Chavez will be out."

This is not good. Losing your best player indefinitely is never a step in the right direction.

So, let's try to find some silver lining... According to The Hardball Times' stat page, Chavez has been only the ninth most valuable Athletic. In fact, he's only been about one win share better than the average third-baseman so far this year.

That kind of production should not actually be all that difficult to replace... I hope. The big problem is that Chavez has upside that can't be replaced. You can't expect a replacement player to come in and produce 25-30 win shares per season the way Chavez can.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Hmmm

Yahoo! News - Bush Keeps Saddam's Pistol As Trophy

President Bush keeps in his White House offices a trophy of one his high points in the Iraq war, the pistol that Saddam Hussein held when soldiers pulled him from his underground hideaway.


I don't know what I make of this, but it just doesn't feel quite right.

Friday, May 28, 2004

Cliff Lee

The A's will face 25-year-old Cliff Lee, and I have to say that I'm becoming a big fan of his.

His numbers last year impressed me, despite his 3-3 record. He started 9 games and pitched 52.1 innings. Opponents batted .220/.300/.371 (avg/obp/slg) against Cliff, and he struck out 7.57 per 9 innings.

I liked his numbers enough to draft him late in my fantasy draft. I actually dropped him early on to make room for someone, but have since been wise enough to pick him back up.

So far this year, Lee is 5-0 with a 3.21 ERA. Interestingly, he's started 9 games and pitched 53.1 innings, so his 2004 stats are easily comparable to his 2003 numbers. In fact, the numbers are very similar. Batters have hit .232/.338/.338 against Cliff this year and he's striking out 7.09 per 9IP.

Since so many of the stats are similar, I'll point out the differences in Lee's performance between last year and this year.

->Doubles allowed are way up from 5 to 13.
->HR are down from 7 to 2.
->BB are up from 20 to 28.
->K's are down from 44 to 42.
->SLG is down from .371 to .338
->OBP is up from .300 to .338
(Those last two changes virtually cancel each other out in OPS - .671/.676)

All of which is to say that Lee was pretty good last year, and he's pretty good again this year. While I hope the A's beat him tonight, Cliff is an "Andrew guy."

Thursday, May 27, 2004

The Blog Jinx

Over the last week or so I've suggested that Tim Hudson was pitching as well as anyone in the AL, and that Gary Sheffield is more-or-less clueless. Since then, both players have seen a drastic reversal of fortune. Well, at least for a game or two.

To measure their performances, I'm going to look at Game Scores for Hudson and Runs Created (in a single game) for Sheffield.

Runs Created Formula

(H+BB+HBP-CS-GIDP)(TB+.26[BB-IBB+HBP]+.52[SH+SF+SB])
-------------------------------------------------------------------
(AB + BB + HBP + SH + SF)

Game Score calculation from ESPN:
Start with 50 points. Add 1 point for each out recorded, (3 points per inning). Add 2 points for each inning completed after the 4th. Add 1 point for each strikeout. Subtract 2 points for each hit allowed. Subtract 4 points for each earned run allowed. Subtract 2 points for each unearned run allowed. Subtract 1 point for each walk
So, we go through Gary and Tim's gamelogs and come up with the following information.

Prior to May 26...

  • Sheffield was averaging .76 RC/game played.
  • Sheffield had cracked 3 RC in a single game only twice.
  • Gary had topped out at 4.17 RC in a single game

On May 26, Sheff created 6.05 runs. That's a 45% increase over his previous best game.


And for Tim Hudson, prior to May 25...

  • He had a 5-1 record and a 2.90 ERA.
  • His average game score was a 58. (Randy's perfect game was a 100)
  • His lowest game score was a 33. (May 2 against the Devil Rays)
  • He had fallen below a game score of 50 only twice!

And then Timmy goes out against the Red Sox and helps himself to a gamescore of 22. Twenty-two!! That stinks.

So, I talk about Hudson's success and it disappears. I mention Sheffield's struggles and they disappear. Perhaps I should point out that the Angels are winning a lot of games...

Lowell McAdam is a Bad Executive

Lowell McAdam, COO of Verizon, is a bad executive.

Read all of Cenedella's Verizon horror story. I had virtually the same experience with their customer service call center today.

I'm 58% of the way through my 400-minute billing cycle - but I've used 95% of my minutes. When I called up Verizon to switch my plan, they essentially gave me three options. (compare to $50 if I stay within my 400-minute allowance)

(1) Stay on my current plan. Estimated monthly charge: $177

(2) Switch to 800 minute plan with pro-rated final month on 400-plan. Estimated monthly charge: $135 (They would bill me as if I'd used 381 minutes on a 232-minute plan before switching over to the 800-minute plan tomorrow)

(3) Go to a Verizon store, sign a new two-year contract, and switch retro-actively to the 800-miunte plan. Estimated monthly charge: $70 PLUS I'd have to deal with the same people that nearly drove Marc insane, and I'd be stuck with Verizon even longer that I currently am.

After hanging up in a huff, I called Verizon back. I asked how much it would cost me to cancel my account, and 5 minutes later, everything's taken care of. They will retroactively switch my account to the 800-minutes for the whole month, and I don't have to do another damn thing.

Meanwhile, I've wasted 50 minutes of my life dealing with Verizon and another 15 minutes writing this. If Lowell McAdam could just put a little more effort into helpful customer service, he would probably make his stock options a little more valuable.

As Marc says:
His poor leadership causes his company’s employees to not respect themselves, their customers, or their own company. When you focus on the short-term revenue opportunity rather than the long-term customer relationship, employees get the message. And as that message seeps into their daily routines – trick the customer into spending more money – it invades their hearts as well. And pretty soon, the low way they treat customers becomes the way they think of themselves.


Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Where's the Fun in That?

Yahoo! News - Doctorow Booed After Anti-Bush Speech

In a 20-minute address to graduates at [Hofstra] on Sunday, [Author E.L. Doctorow] criticized Bush's tax cuts, anti-terrorism policies and the Patriot Act, but focused mainly on what he called Bush's "untrue" stories about the war in Iraq.
Whether you agree or disagree with Doctorow's politics is irrelevant. The point of graduation is to celebrate the graduates, not to make political statements.

Graduates want to be inspired by commencement speeches written just for them. They don't want their graduation to become a sideshow to someone's political agenda.

For all those Hofstra grads out there that feel cheated, pretend that Ray Bradbury made this speech at your graduation. I think you'll feel much better.

Sheff Can't Smell Own Cookin'

Sheff needs a Koufax
"When I face top pitchers, I'm at my best."

Gary Sheffield is trying to say that his stats so far have been poor because he's facing too many bad pitchers. If he were facing better competition, he'd be hitting the ball better, or so he claims. But is he right?

I've played around a bit on ESPN's batter v. pitcher stats for the Sheff and I think Gary's wrong.

I took the stats for all pitchers availbable on ESPN's BvP database for Gary and ranked each pitcher as either "great" or "not-great." It's a very subjective ranking, but I noted these 32 pitchers as "great" (over the course of Gary's career, sorted by Gary AB's):

Curt Schilling
Greg Maddux
Tom Glavine
John Smoltz
Javier Vazquez
Randy Johnson
Al Leiter
Jason Schmidt
Hideo Nomo
Pedro Martinez
Matt Morris
Trevor Hoffman
Kevin Brown
Roger Clemens
Josh Beckett
Tim Hudson
Bartolo Colon
Jason Isringhausen
Barry Zito
Mark Mulder
Robb Nen
David Wells
Wade Miller
Billy Wagner
Keith Foulke
Eric Gagne
Troy Percival
Kerry Wood
Mike Mussina
Roy Oswalt
Mark Prior
Mariano Rivera








































































Opposing
pitcher
ABH2B3BHRRBIBBSOBAOBPSLGOPS
Great596169291269594950.2840.3810.4660.848
Not Great214465110571243813902400.3040.4110.5330.943


I think it's fairly clear (and not that surprising) that Gary hits better against weaker competition, despite his protestations otherwise.

(There's a more scientific way to choose "great" pitchers, but I've avoided doing that work. If someone else would like to address that, please feel free.)

Friday, May 21, 2004

Sports Guy is Rusty

So, the Sports Guy is back on ESPN.com full time. This is great news, but he's not back at the top of his game yet.
Only the NHL would decide one day, "Hey, let's switch it around, we'll have the home teams wear dark uniforms. This won't be confusing at all."
Uh... Sports Guy, what about the picture of Matt Chatham wearing a dark blue shirt on this page, which also clearly notes that Chatham's Patriots were the home team.

The home teams only wear white shirts in the NFL when the weather is too hot. The Dolphins and Chargers are generally the teams that take advantage of this most often. (I vaguely remember a big to-do about this in the last season when Denver played at San Diego and ONLY brought their white shirts, forcing the Bolts to wear their dark jerseys in the oppressive heat. Am I making this up? Can someone else find a link to that story?)

Tim Hudson for 2004 AL Cy Young

Is it too early to start this campaign? A quick look at Huddy's numbers:

(AL ranks in parantheses)

IP - 68.1 (1)
W - 5 (4)
ERA - 2.90 (5)
WHIP - 1.07 (3)
GDP - 10 (1)
P/IP - 13.6 (1)
Opponent OPS - .591 (1)

I think it's amazing that Hudson leads the league in double-plays induced, considering he's allowing the third-fewest baserunners per inning.

I've conveniently ignored Huddy's low strikeout numbers, which will likely hurt him over the course of the year. But for now, Hudson is doing a hell of a job for the A's.

One last tidbit. Opponents are batting .242/.282/.309 against Hudson in 272 AB. The batter who most closely matched those averages last year (min 200 AB) was Gary Bennett (.238/.296/.306 in 307 AB). Who's Gary Bennett? I have no idea! That's how good Hudson has been this year.

Tecate

Front page news on Yahoo!

"The U.S. distributor of Tecate beer says it will pull billboard ads next month that were decried by some Hispanic lawmakers and community activists as offensive."

"...Several people turned out at a rally in Los Angeles to protest the campaign."

Good lord, SEVERAL people came to a rally - we really ought to do something about this.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Burritoville

I got lunch today from Burritoville in New York. The food's good, but it's not quite up to my California standards. I know Baja Fresh is popular with the UCLA crowd, but I'm partial to La Salsa.

Anyway, the Burritoville napkin has their logo on it (you can also see it on their site). The logo has "Entering BurritoVille" written over the skyline of Manhattan - but here's the problem: they still have the twin towers in their skyline.

It's been almost three years! Don't you think it's time for a new logo?!?!

I've just searched the whole internet(!!) And I can't find anyone else who's noticed this. Does anyone care? Is it OK to have a logo that's outdated by three years? Are people offended by the inclusion of the WTC buildings in the B-ville logo? What's the deal here?

Monday, May 17, 2004

2004 Win Shares

Studes never fails: 2004 Win Shares are now available!

Here's how the AL All-Star team might look if you only looked at 2004 AL Win Shares

C - Ivan Rodriguez, Jorge Posada
1B - Jason Giambi, Rafael Palmeiro, Scott Hatteberg(!)
2B - Ronnie Belliard, Alfonso Soriano
3B - Melvin Mora, Troy Glaus
SS - Michael Young, Carlos Guillen
OF - Jose Guillen, Magglio Ordonez, Rondell White, Vlad Guerrero, Chone Figgins

SP - Tim Hudson, Curt Schilling, Carlos Silva, Brad Radke, Freddie Garcia
RP - Keith Foulke, Francisco Rodriguez, Joe Nathan, Mariano Rivera

And the NL All-Stars... (2004 NL Win Shares)

C - Johnny Estrada, Paul Lo Duca
1B - Sean Casey, Lyle Overbay
2B - Mark Loretta, Alex Cora
3B - Scott Rolen, Mike Lowell, Adrian Beltre
SS - Jack Wilson
OF - Barry Bonds, Adam Dunn, Lance Berkman, Pat Burrell, Craig Biggio

SP - Carlos Zambrano, Tom Glavine, Matt Clement, Roger Clemens, Wilson Alvarez, Jake Peavy, Randy Johnson
RP - Armando Benitez, Eric Gagne, Braden Looper

I would love to see these two teams play a 7-game series - or even just the standard one-game all-star exhibition. Now that I look back at the lists I've put together, you might take Hatteberg off the AL team in favor of that A-Rod fella'. And you might even take Palmeiro off the team to make room for (gasp!) Johhny Damon.

Interesting to see the number of Angels, including three outfielders not named Garrett Anderson! Who would have predicted that one?

Also interesting to note the name *not* on this list, including Kerry Wood, Sammy Sosa, Albert Pujols, any Red Sox positional player, Carlos Beltran and on and on... Clearly, we're looking at a smallish sample size, and this list will change as we inch closer to the actual all-star game. I'd like to see how this list looks a month from now, so maybe I'll pull that together sometime...

Friday, May 14, 2004

Anger Management

Man angry at Verizon hurls phones

The highlight:Police said Perala took off his shirt and put on safety glasses before throwing around computers, phones and other items.Sounds like fun...

[thanks to AlexR for the link]

Thursday, May 13, 2004

NotGoingToHappen.com

I don't know Paul Ladewski from a hole in the wall, but after stumbling across his latest column, I can't say that I'm impressed.

His suggestion for improving the White Sox is to trade Magglio Ordonez for Mark Mulder. He goes on to make a case for why a contending team would want Mulder (cheap and good) and not want Ordonez (great player but too expensive).

Now, wouldn't the A's see those same arguments and just keep Mulder? Especially since he's signed through next year (with an option for 2006?) and Ordonez is about to become a well-compensated Yankee - uh... I mean "free agent."

And then there's this...

2003 Win Shares
Mulder - 17
Ordonez - 23

2003 Salary
Mulder - $2.65M
Ordonez - 9M

That's $1M per incremental WS and $3M per incremental win. I don't know what a reasonable price per incremental win is, but $3M sounds steep. (yes, I'm mixing last year's stats and salaries with today's realities - it's crazy!)

UPDATE: Studes suggests, among other things, that a marginal win costs about $1.5M, so paying $3M per marginal win might not be a great idea.

Frankie No-Game

Frankie Menechino was something of a fan favorite for awhile. He was a short, plucky second basemen with guts - a Staten Island Mike Gallego.

But Joon Pahk of Barry Zito Forever suggests, "Menechino is a versatile infield defender, and you could do worse (a lot worse) as your utility infielder." (link here)

Wow. Here's what Baseball Prospectus had to say about Frankie:
Since [mid-2001], he's been absolutely awful at the plate. His once surprising pop has abated and his ability to hit for average has gone the way of the dodo... He basically brings two skills to the table: the ability to draw walks, and the ability to passable play the middle infield.
Now, let's take a look at his stats so far this year: (.091/.143/.091)

That's right. Three singles in 33 AB with one walk. That's WAY below replacement level. Now, take a look at Studes' stat page and scroll down to the A's. Notice that Menechino has "created" (-1) runs. We'd do just as well letting the pitchers hit.

So, I'm afraid I'm going to have to disagree with Joon. You really *could not* do much worse than Frank Menechino as your utility infielder.

I know he's a good guy, and I wish him the best. But I am not sorry to see him move on to Toronto. He was killing us.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Bonderman

Thinking about Jeremy Bonderman's time with the A's - or rather, minor-league service with the A's - I'm trying to figure out exactly what the A's got in that deal.

Initially the A's gave up:
Carlos Pena
Franklyn German
Jeremy Bonderman

And got (from the tigers):
Jeff Weaver

They immediately turned Weaver around and got (from the yankees):
Ted Lilly
Jason Arnold
John-Ford Griffin

But it's been almost two years since that three-way deal was consumated. What have those players become for the A's?

Ted Lilly was traded to the Blue Jays this offseason for:
Bobby Kielty (He's an unimpressive .246/.342/.435 so far this year for the A's)

Arnold and Griffin were, as far as I can tell, traded to the Blue Jays together for:
Erubiel Durazo (.272/.382/.486 year-to-date)

In effect, the A's gave up Pena, Bonderman and German for Kielty and Durazo. Only time will tell if that worked out for the A's, but I don't think we A's fans can really complain.

Youngsters

Tonight's A's-Tigers game pits 22 year old Rich Harden against 21 year-old Jeremy Bonderman, a former A's farmhand himself.

That's 43 years of "combined age," just a shade less than 41 yr-old Roger Clemens.

And what's more, it's been a hell of a pitchers duel so far. Harden has allowed four hits and two walks through four innings while striking out 6 and Bonderman has allowed two hits and two walks with one K through 5 IP. The difference in the game so far is Adam Melhuse's solo HR for the A's in the top of the fifth.

Imagine Harden and Bonderman pitching in the A's rotation together behind Zito, Mulder and Hudson. I wouldn't mind watching that staff develop over the coming years...

UPDATE - As I've been pecking away over here, Detroit has grabbed a walk, a bunt single, a sacrifice, another infield single and a run... apparently the ball never left the infield. If someone saw this, please tell me what happened there.

Friday, May 7, 2004

I'm Back

Sooooo, to make a long story short... I started a new job in early March (more on that in a bit). In early April, I moved this site over onto my new company's server. And it's taken me until early May to get it working again.

Basically, I've been working too hard and neglecting my site. That, my friends, will no longer be the case. Now that the site is back up, you can look forward to see at least a little something here every now and then.

(How's that for non-commital?)

Next on the task list is for Greg (tech buddy at the new job) to get the comments working...

Friday, April 9, 2004

Terrible Mets Broadcast

I'm trying to watch the Mets-Expos on Fox Sports NY right now, but the audio keeps fading in and out. It's not quite fading from "on" all the way to "off," but it's damn annoying. I'd say it's waving back and forth from about an '8' to a '13' on my TV's volume control with maddening irregularity.

It's not that anyone should be excited about watching a Mets-Expos game in the near-deserted Hiram Bithorn Stadium, but FSNY could at least make an effort to make it entertaining - or mildly watchable. Thanks for nothing.

Speaking of volume problems, have you ever noticed that Braves games on TBS hardly have any ambient park noise? Would it kill TBS to buy a parabolic mike to pick up a little banter from the crowd? They probably took all that money they saved on parabolic mikes and spent it on Mike Hessman. Again, thanks for nothing.

Thursday, April 8, 2004

Baseball and Exhaustion

Between the overwhelming amount of work I'm trying to accomplish in a new job and the beginning of the baseball season, I'm simply overwhelmed.

I'd love nothing more than to write about Rhodes, Ellis, Dye and the gang, but I simply don't have enough time.

The least I can do is point you towards this great analysis of Rhodes over at "The Times." Gleeman writes so many good articles each week, I wonder how he has time to study and enjoy the college bars too. Must be a busy beaver, or gopher I guess.

Thursday, April 1, 2004

While I'm Thinking About 4/1

Top 100 April Fool's Day Hoaxes of All Time

Google Mail - Hoax or Not?

Via Rafat Ali at PaidContent.org: Google launches GMail

It sounds like an April fools trick. A gigabyte of free mail storage for every user just doesn't sound reasonable. And hasn't Google protested the suggestion that they become a portal?

All the same, Google does own "gmail.com" (check for yourself) and I'd like to be the first to request andrew@gmail.com.

This whole thing is very curious. Another PigeonRank? Or a kick-ass free-mail service?

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Studes is the man

If you haven't already, check out The Hardball Times. It's a collection of baseball writers to rival all-baseball, and eventually (?) Baseball Prospectus.

Studes' latest effort for 'the Times' is a great introduction to his Win Shares Above Replacement idea. A must read.

Monday, March 29, 2004

More on Ellis

Susan Slusser is reporting on the Gammons rumor. Billy Beane is suggesting that the Gammons report is premature - "We really just don't know."

After all that, the best tidbit in the whole article is this:
One option the team won't pursue: Gung-ho outfielder Eric Byrnes volunteered to take grounders at second. "It was tongue in cheek,'' Macha said. "I think.''


Mark Ellis

All reports seemed to indicate that Ellis would miss 6-8 weeks, until Gammons had to come along and rain on the parade: "Mark Ellis is out for the season with a torn labrum..."

I wasn't really worried before. One or two months isn't that big of a deal, but losing a whole season of Gold Glove-caliber second base play could be a big blow. I sure hope Gammons is wrong on this one.

AthleticsNation is on the same page as me here.

Friday, March 26, 2004

How to Fail Chemistry

Thanks to GMSV for this little gem.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

More Penguin Madness

God bless the Pingu. Check out the new game

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

My Goodnes, My Guinness

Marc - this one's for you

Speechless

I have nothing to say. Read it for yourself.

Monday, March 15, 2004

It's About Time!

I'm ecstatic.
At last, the A's will prevent one of their own homegrown stars from leaving town as a free agent.


Read Susan Slusser's whole article.

(I should give credit to Baysball, where I first saw the news)

Great Ad

Check out this ad, courtesy of Will Carroll.

Anyone know who this is an ad for? Who the f*** is "4" ??

Friday, March 12, 2004

Religion V. Red Sox

Yahoo!'s featuring an article about the Red Sox' opening day, which happens to fall on Good Friday.

"I think it's very insensitive to the huge number of people who are Christians and fans." said the Rev. Christopher J. Coyne. The church, by the way, won't give anyone a special dispensation to eat meat - so no hot dogs, sausages or Meat-Beer.

Oh, wait. There's no meat in beer? Ohhhhh. OK.

I think calling this "very insensitive" is a little dramatic. Inconvenient, perhaps. But it's opening day at Fenway - I don't think Good Friday's enough to keep the crowd away. And those that do attend will get drunker. Less money spent on $4 hot dogs will mean more money spent on $5.50 beers.

(Doesn't the church have bigger things to worry about?)

Monday, March 8, 2004

Silence

This site has been silent for what feels like the longest time since its inception in late-November. I wish I had something exciting to tell you about my inactivity, but all I've been doing is jumping from site to site, hitting refresh all day long, looking for the announcement that Chavez has been re-signed.

It's now been three weeks since Will Carroll teased us with "Chavez and Blalock both sign for five years at vastly different amounts...Chavez's seems pretty fair and ends speculation that he'll join the Yankees next season.," and I, for one, can't take it no more. I want Chavez signed, and I want to know about it today. I want less jibber-jabber and more signatures on contracts.

Please.

Tuesday, March 2, 2004

Drinking Buddies

Glenn Dickey has this nugget in his article today:
My favorite Lon Simmons story is the one he tells about his early days on the Giants' broadcasting team. Russ Hodges told him, "When the Giants lose, the rule is that we drink after the game to drown our sorrows. When they win, we drink to celebrate victory. The only time we don't drink is when there's a tie."

Then, there came a time in Philadelphia when the Giants and Phillies ran up against the city's blue laws and a tied game had to be halted in the 11th inning because of the curfew.

In the broadcasting booth, Hodges turned to Simmons and said, "Tonight, we break a rule."


Monday, March 1, 2004

Blogging is Gathering Steam

Yahoo!'s running an article about a study from the Pew Internet and American Life Project. The result of their study? Blogging Still Infrequent It's an interesting article that seems to downplay the prevalence of blogging in general, but it also points out, "That survey [in May '03] found only 2 percent of users keeping blogs, although a preliminary analysis of follow-up surveys from early 2004 showed the figure increasing to about 7 percent."

Two percent to seven percent? If I was writing this article, I might feature that 250% growth more prominently. I think the message from the study is clearly that blogging is gaining a lot of momentum.

Take a look at A's Blogs alone. I launched my site in November, but didn't post anything about the A's until 12/2/2003. AthleticsNation's first post came on 11/7/2003. Baysball, now part of the all-baseball family, originally launched (as far as I can tell) in 3/03. Barry Zito Forever (BZF) launched with their first post in August of 2003. Elephants in Oakland is a dinosaur by comparison, with his first post coming way back on 8/1/2002.

So, you've got one site launching way back in late 2002, one in early 2003 and three in late 2003. To me, that's the beginning of a trend. But the Pew study is right, however, that the (growing) number of A's blogs is still quite small when compared to the total number of A's fans on the internet.

Friday, February 27, 2004

The Great Deliberative Body

An excerpt from the third book in Robert Caro's phenomenal LBJ series, Master of the Senate:
“The use of the Senate,” Madison said, “is to consist in its proceeding with more coolness, with more system, and with more wisdom, than the popular branch.” It should, he said, be “an anchor against popular fluctuations.” He drew for parallels on classical history, which, he said, “informs us of no long-lived republic which had not a Senate.” In two of the three “long-lived” republics of antiquity, Sparta and Rome, and probably in the third—Carthage (about whose governmental institutions less was known)—senators served for life. “These examples . . . when compared with the fugitive and turbulent existence of other ancient republics, [are] very instructive proofs of the necessity of some institution that will blend stability with liberty.” Thomas Jefferson had been in Paris during the Convention, serving as minister to France. When he returned, he asked George Washington over breakfast why the President had agreed to a two-house Congress. According to a story that may be apocryphal, Washington replied with his own question: “Why did you pour your tea into that saucer?” And when Jefferson answered, “To cool it,” Washington said, “Just so. We pour House legislation into the senatorial saucer to cool it.” The resolution providing for a two-house Congress was agreed to by the Constitutional Convention with almost no debate or dissent.

And to ensure that the Senate could protect the people against themselves, the Framers armored the Senate against the people.

...The Senate had been created to be independent, to stand against the tyranny of presidential power and the tides of public opinion.


Should it come down to it, I would hope that the Senate will do its job and put this silliness behind us.

And as far as the Fourteenth Amendment is concerned, it doesn't look like the states have a right to amend their constitutions to prohibit same-sex marriages either.
Section. 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.


Thursday, February 26, 2004

More Penguins

This version of the penguin game is a little more gruesome. My best is 692.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

DePodesta's Baseball Pedigree

I have a problem with the coverage of Depodesta, and it's not Bill Plaschke's fault. Don't get me wrong - I'm not going to side with Plaschke on the issue. I'm all for Aaron Gleeman's trashing of Plaschke.

Gleeman points out,
DePodesta played both football and baseball at Harvard University, where he graduated with honors. I certainly could be wrong, but I suspect that means DePodesta played two more collegiate sports than Plaschke did."


Having read Gleeman and innumerable other articles about DePodesta last week, I was surprised to hear a friend (and former college baseball player) tell me that DePodesta never played baseball for Harvard. How could everyone, from the "mainstream media" to Gleeman, be so wrong about this? Wasn't it more likely that my buddy had erased his senses with the seven scotches he threw down?

Well, it turns out that the media's got this one wrong.

A search through The Harvard Crimson's Archive for "Depodesta" (1990-2004) turns up only three articles. Each article points out his actual athletic experience at Harvard.

DePodesta's age may raise eyebrows, but another surprise is his high status in baseball having never played for a varsity team in college. He pitched on the JV squad for a season before [blowing out his shoulder] at the end of his freshman year... DePodesta did letter in football while at Harvard for three years before stress fractures in his legs shut down his football career as well. - "Oakland's 'A'-List"
and
The move makes the 31 year-old DePodesta—who lettered in varsity football for three years and played one year of JV baseball while at Harvard—the third youngest general manager hired in big league history. "Harvard Alum DePodesta Named New Dodgers GM"
and
[Peter] Woodfork, 26, becomes the latest young Ivy League alum to enter the executive ranks in the majors as he joins [Theo] Epstein, who graduated from Yale in 1995. The growing list of recent Harvard baseball players includes Paul DePodesta ’95, a former JV player who is now the assistant general manager of the Oakland A’s, former captain Mike Hill ’93, who is now director of Player Development for the Colorado Rockies and David Forst ’98, who played alongside Woodfork in the infield and now works with DePodesta as an assistant to Oakland General Manager Billy Beane. - "Former Harvard Infielder Hired by Sox"
To say that DePodesta played baseball at Harvard is to distort the facts. But does that mean he's going to be a bad General Manager? Absolutely not. Does it mean he's a nerd? Of course! He went to Harvard! (Having played football, however, makes him a little less nerdy.)

I think Paul will be successful with the Dodgers, but he did not play college baseball.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Chavez?

Will Carroll thinks the A's have locked up Chavez:
Chavez and Blalock both sign for five years at vastly different amounts. I'm not sure why Blalock took the offer, but it's cost certainty for both parties and $15m isn't chump change. Chavez's seems pretty fair and ends speculation that he'll join the Yankees next season. It's also something of a shift for the A's. I'm curious to see how this will affect the re-signing of the big three.
I haven't been able to confirm this rumor anywhere else, but Will says he's posting a more detailed account on Baseball Prospectus. (I guess I should stop holding out and just buy a subscription already, huh?) Anyway, I'm waiting with bated breath...

If this deal goes through, it may leave the A's with the following question: "If you can only keep one of the Big Three (Hudson, Mulder, Zito), which one do you keep?"

I'm a Mulder man myself. What about you?

Friday, February 20, 2004

2004 American League Predictions

My 2004 American League Predictions - Based on 2003 Win Shares
(as of 2/20/2004)

With Spring Training right around the corner, 2004 Predictions are starting to fly. Baseball Crank (AL West and AL East) and Phil Rogers are two who have started the inevitable onslaught of prognostications. Well, here are my two cents:

My idea was to take BaseballGraph's 2003 Win Shares and move each player (and his win shares) to his new team. This redistribution would allow me to "predict" the 2004 standings. Obviously, there are huge failings in this system, so let's address a couple of them.

1)The assumption that an individual will exactly reproduce his 2003 performance is preposterous. Some players will be better this year and some will be worse. I hardly even have to say that. So, when you finally see my projections, just consider them as a baseline.

2)Teams needed an average of 1,440 innings from their pitching staff and 6,250 plate appearances in order to make it through the 2003 season. Those numbers are likely to stay about the same in 2004, so I've adjusted playing time for a number of players in order to match "guesstimated" usage and to meet the team-level requirement of roughly 1440/6250. (I actually tried to make each team's 2004 total within 5% of their 2003 total for IP and PA.) When doing so, I've just pro-rated a player's Win Shares based on his "adjusted" playing time.

3)I didn't nail each team's 2003 IP and PA totals with my playing time adjustments, so to make the comparisons even, I fudged the last few percent (up or down) to 100% of last year's total. This really doesn't have a huge overall effect, but it does compensate for the fact that you're not going to get Win Shares from plate appearances that don't happen. Consider this adjustment #1.

4)My projections are mostly optimistic - a best-case scenario in terms of health for most players. So, when I summed up the wins for each team (after adjustment #1), the league total is about 2,520 wins. The problem here is that thirty teams each playing 162 games and winning half of them works out to 2,430 wins. In order to correct this, I've adjusted each team's win total down 4% in order to make things add up. (Call it a final adjustment)

5)In some cases, I'm projecting a full season based on only a few Plate Appearances. Using small sample sizes like that to project perfomance over the long haul is clearly a big mistake, but I'm willing to live with it. After looking through the results, I don't feel like there are any truly eggregious errors.

So, without further fanfare, the American League Projections:

TeamLeagueDivisionAdjusted
Wins
Adjusted
Losses
SEAALWest8775
OAKALWest8676
ANAALWest8577
TEXALWest6993
NYYALEast11745
BOSALEast10359
TORALEast8973
BALALEast8577
TBALEast6795
KCALCentral8775
MINALCentral7983
CWSALCentral7686
CLEALCentral6597
DETALCentral61101


Remember, this is based on 2003 performance only, so it's just a baseline. And you'll note that I have the American League finishing a combined 46 games over .500, which would have to be the result of really beating up on the National League in interleague play. Since the National League was 22 games over .500 last year, I think we'd all be surprised if the American League made such a large reversal. Regardless, I feel like my projections will be directionally accurate. Detroit may not win exactly 61 games, but they will definitely be one of the worst teams in all of baseball, yet again.

With that in mind, here are the playoff contenders as I see 'em...

------------------------------

NEW YORK, 117 Wins - Projecting a team over 100 wins makes me a little nervous, so predicting 117 makes me feel light-headed.
Position Players:
Player2003 PA2004 PA2004 WSAdjusted WS
G Sheffield6786783533
A Rodriguez7157153331
J Posada5885882827
J Giambi6906902827
D Jeter5426502121
H Matsui6956951918
K Lofton6106101817
B Williams5215211313
M Lamb4210077
E Wilson14730044
M Cairo29029033
J Flaherty11611633
T Clark28010021
D Bragg18118111
R Sierra33610011
T Houston1035011
A Boone654000
E Almonte111000
J Girardi262600

Pitchers:
Player2003 IP2004 IP2004 WSAdjusted WS
J Vazquez230.7230.72120
K Brown211.0211.02019
J Contreras71.0200.01918
M Mussina214.7214.71918
M Rivera70.770.71717
P Quantrill77.377.31111
T Gordon74.074.01110
J Lieber141.0180.099
F Heredia87.087.098
S Karsay88.350.066
G White46.746.744

The key, as everyone already knows, will be the health of the pitching staff. If Kevin Brown, Lieber and Contreras each goes down, the Yankees will have a tough time replacing those innings. Then again, the Yanks could afford to lose 45 win shares and still win 100 games - They could replace both Jeter and Posada with players contributing ZERO win shares and still make the playoffs. This team is that good. It will take a collapse of epic proportions for a team this talented to miss the playoffs.
------------------------------

BOSTON, 103 Wins - The only real additions from last year's squad are Schilling, Foulke and Bellhorn/Reese. These moves make the Red Sox a better team, but they're nowhere near the Yankees.
Position Players:
Player2003 PA2004 PA2004 WSAdjusted WS
M Ramirez6796792827
N Garciaparra7197192524
B Mueller6006002423
T Nixon5135131919
J Damon6906901818
J Varitek5215211716
K Millar6186181615
D Ortiz5095091515
E Burks22815033
M Bellhorn30720022
B Daubach21921944
G Kapler24724744
D Mirabelli17617622
P Reese12040066
A Hyzdu757511
T Shumpert999911

Pitchers:
Player2003 IP2004 IP2004 WSAdjusted WS
K Foulke86.786.72121
P Martinez186.7186.72019
C Schilling168.0200.01817
B Kim122.3180.02019
D Lowe203.3203.31211
T Wakefield202.3202.31212
M Timlin83.783.788
S Williamson62.762.788
A Embree55.055.055
B Arroyo17.380.099
J Shiell23.323.311
E Almonte11.311.300
N Bierbrodt43.343.300
Re Garcia18.018.000
R Mendoza66.740.000

There aren't too many wild assumptions in there, so I feel pretty good about this projection. The Red Sox should win the wild card with ease, but they're not in the same league as the Yankees. A lot of people had the Sox as a favorite in the AL East before the A-Rod/Soriano trade, but the trade didn't make a huge difference in the Win Share projections. The Sox have been behind the Yankees all along in my book. They'll be lucky to even sniff a lead in the AL East after the All Star Break.
------------------------------

SEATTLE, 87 Wins - Adding Raul Ibanez, Rich Aurilia and Scott Spezio to your starting lineup doesn't sound like the best way to upgrade your team, and the numbers prove that out. The Mariners won 93 games last year, but will only win about 87 this year (according to the projection).
Position Players:
Player2003 PA2004 PA2004 WSAdjusted WS
B Boone7057053029
I Suzuki7257252322
R Winn6606602120
E Martinez6036032019
R Ibanez6716001413
J Olerud6346341514
R Aurilia5456001414
S Spiezio58140098
B Davis26926977
D Wilson33733777
R Santiago50710011
W Bloomquist22017522
D Hansen15915933
P Borders151511
W Gonzalez737311
Q McCracken22622611

Pitchers:
Player2003 IP2004 IP2004 WSAdjusted WS
J Moyer215.0215.01817
E Guardado65.365.31514
R Franklin212.0212.01312
S Hasegawa73.073.01313
J Pineiro211.7211.71313
F Garcia201.3201.388
G Meche186.3186.388
J Mateo85.785.777
R Soriano53.053.077
R Villone106.780.044
M Myers36.336.311
K Jarvis92.030.000
A Looper7.07.000
J Putz3.73.700
A Taylor12.712.700

Their eight best positional players (hitting and fielding combined) are Bret Boone, Ichiro, Randy Winn, Edgar Martinez, Raul Ibanez, John Olerud, Rich Aurilia and Scott Spezio. Average age in 2004: 33! These Mariners are much more likely to get worse than get better. On the whole, the Mariners should be right in the thick of the AL West hunt, although I suspect they'll fall short of the AL West crown. They're just too damn old.
------------------------------

OAKLAND, 86 Wins - Big losses in the forms of Keith Foulke and Miguel Tejada are going to cost the A's about 10 wins overall in 2004. I see the A's dropping from 96 to 86 wins.
Position Players:
Player2003 PA2004 PA2004 WSAdjusted WS
E Chavez6546542524
M Ellis6226221817
E Durazo6456451716
E Byrnes4604001313
S Hatteberg6225001111
M Kotsay5415411413
B Kielty5096001414
D Miller4004001010
E Karros36520044
B McMillon17517555
A Melhuse8620099
J Dye25330022
F Menechino10910922
M Scutaro919122
B Crosby1460077
M Edwards6600
E German4400
J Grabowski9900
G Koonce8800
M Watson252500

Pitchers:
Player2003 IP2004 IP2004 WSAdjusted WS
T Hudson240.0240.02322
B Zito231.7231.71817
M Mulder186.7200.01817
M Redman190.7190.71111
C Bradford77.077.099
C Hammond63.063.077
R Rincon55.355.366
R Harden74.7170.099
A Rhodes54.054.044
J Duchscherer16.380.066
J Mecir37.037.011
C Harville21.721.700
M Ramos13.013.000
B Reames1.31.300
M Wood13.713.700

I have the A's with the 5th best pitching staff in terms of Win Shares, but only the 22nd best team in terms of hitting Win Shares. It's no secret that the A's will struggle to score runs, but I'll consider any contributions from Jermaine Dye and Bobby Crosby to be gravy. This system has very low expectations for the two of them, so anything they do will help the A's exceed my projections for them. Barring injuries, the A's will be in a dogfight with the Angels and Mariners to the end.
------------------------------

ANAHEIM, 85 Wins - The Halos were big mover is the offseason, acquiring Bartolo Colon, Kelvim Escobar and Vladimir Guerero. Those acquisitions make a big difference in this projection.
Position Players:
Player2003 PA2004 PA2004 WSAdjusted WS
G Anderson6736732524
J Guillen5345342019
V Guerrero4676002322
T Salmon6216211716
B Molina4304301615
A Kennedy5105101413
J DaVanon38215054
D Eckstein5175171110
T Glaus3676001514
C Figgins27015044
D Erstad28460077
S Halter39325011
J Molina12312322
A Amezaga12012011

Pitchers:
Player2003 IP2004 IP2004 WSAdjusted WS
B Colon242.0242.01716
B Donnelly74.074.01211
K Escobar180.3180.31212
S Shields148.3148.31212
J Washburn207.3207.3109
F Rodriguez86.086.099
J Lackey204.0204.087
T Percival49.349.387
B Weber80.380.388
R Ortiz180.080.022
A Sele121.750.011
D Turnbow15.315.322
C Bootcheck10.310.300

After "career" years from a lot of players in 2002, the Angels bottomed out in 2003. They only won 77 games, and got disappointing seasons from Glaus, Ramon Ortiz and Jarrod Washburn. If those three players can improve their game a bit, the Angels will be tough team to beat. I don't see the Angels as prohibitive favorites this season, as seems to be the popular notion. As I alluded to before, it's a toss-up between the A's, Mariners and Angels, making the AL West the most interesting pennant race in the AL.
------------------------------

KANSAS CITY, 87 Wins - The Royals are 8 games better than anyone else in the AL Central, based on their players' 2003 seasons.
Position Players:
Player2003 PA2004 PA2004 WSAdjusted WS
C Beltran6026503029
A Berroa6356351615
M Sweeney4636001918
J Randa5665661414
B Santiago4344341313
M Stairs3574001414
A Guiel4014011111
D Relaford5575571110
J Gonzalez3464501312
T Graffanino28128198
K Harvey52460087
K Stinnett20720744
D Brown14314322
A Brown161600
G Dawkins3300
D DeJesus101000
J Patterson252500

Pitchers:
Player2003 IP2004 IP2004 WSAdjusted WS
D May210.0210.01717
J Affeldt126.0126.01212
B Anderson99.399.31211
C Leskanic52.752.788
M MacDougal64.064.098
D Carrasco80.380.366
R Hernandez91.791.766
S Sullivan64.064.066
J Grimsley75.075.044
K Snyder85.385.344
K Wilson72.772.744
K Appier111.7111.733
M Asencio48.348.332
J Gobble52.752.733
N Field21.721.722
C George93.793.722
M Venafro19.019.011
R Bukvich10.310.300
J Cerda32.332.300
J Dawley7.07.000
R DeHart4.04.000
D Reyes12.712.700

You'll notice that only one of the Royals pitchers threw more than 130 Innings in 2003. I don't really know what to make of that, but it can't be good. I think the Royals are good enough to win the division, but I also think the other teams are not. I have the Twins ranked 18th (out of 30) in both hitting and pitching Win Shares, and I just don't see how they're going to make the playoffs.
------------------------------
Sorry About Your Luck - The Blue Jays and Orioles could be good enough to win the AL West or AL Central crowns, but it'll take a miracle for either of them to sneak into the playoffs from the East.
Coming soon, the National League.