Sunday, May 30, 2004


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

(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

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 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.


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


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

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


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.


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...