Thursday, March 30, 2006

Happy Frank = Smiles

Nice A'S NOTEBOOK today from Susan Slusser

"[Macha] was saying how loaded this team is and how tough it is finding at-bats for everyone,'' Thomas said. "The guy who's swinging the hot bat will probably decide things a lot, but I told him that playing two out of every three games or something like that is fine with me. Whatever he needs to do to keep guys fresh.''

That's just great. The big concerns with Frank Thomas are his health and his attitude. Given his mini-feud with his former GM in Chicago and history as an occassionally selfish player, it's comforting to see Thomas acting like a good team player.

Kendall a Hidden Gem?

Top A's newcomer? Don't forget Kendall / Catcher showing signs of making up for 2005

[Gerald] Perry, who was also Kendall's hitting coach at Pittsburgh, has been working with Kendall on staying short to the ball and standing back better -- Perry believes Kendall was rushing everything last year, which is the same problem Kendall had throwing the ball in 2005.

Kendall spent the winter working hard on his throwing, which was a problem area last year, and he has looked much improved, nailing a couple of would-be base stealers this spring. Manager Ken Macha called one of Kendall's throws this spring the best he's seen him make.

"Every part of his game looks better,'' said bench coach Bob Geren, who works closely with the catchers. "His arm strength, his footwork, his timing -- it just seems like everything is clicking. And offensively, he looks like he's going to have a great year.''

Two things here. (1) I don't think anyone's counting on Kendall improving much from last year. Any improvements could really help the A's separate themselves from the Angels. (2) I've heard nothing but good things about Perry as the new hitting coach - and it's not plattitudes from the players that have me excited. It just sounds like he knows what he's doing. I don't know whether he does or not, but the idea that he's "working with Kendall on staying short to the ball and standing back better" just makes me feel better.

Have I mentioned this yet: I'm feeling good about 2006.

Fantastic World Maps

Worldmapper: The world as you've never seen it before

"Worldmapper is a collection of world maps, where territories are re-sized on each map according to the subject of interest."

There are 56 maps. Click thru to check out all the thumbnails. Fascinating stuff. What's with all the container ports in China?

(Thanks to Stephen Dubner for the link over on the Freakonomics Blog)

Baseball Crank's AL West Preview

Baseball Crank: BASEBALL: 2006 AL West EWSL Report

I'm not sure I see Oakland beating the Angels this year, but this is definitely a team that will make the race neck-and-neck, at least. Much will depend on the health of Milton Bradley and Frank Thomas and the sophomore progress of Haren, Blanton, Street, Nick Swisher and Dan Johnson.

First off, let me say that I love what the Crank is doing with ESWL. I think it's a great idea, and the execution constantly entertains. Thanks for putting in the work, Crank!

Getting to his comments about the A's, it sounds like the Crank is just reluctant to flat-out predict the A's as AL West champions. But in his heart of hearts, he believes. It's hard not to. The Angels look to be re-loading a bit this year, and the A's have (almost) all the pieces - a large handful of quality starters, a solid bullpen, excellent defense and a deep lineup. The superstar slugger is missing from the middle of the lineup, but there's just too much talent on the roster to let that get in the way.

I'm entering this season with high hopes. Let's go A's!

Baseball Musing's AL West Preview

Baseball Musings: AL West Preview

I like [the A's] a lot. They are a young team, but at the same time they have experience. If you look at the lineup, you expect most of the players to be on their way up. That's always a good thing.

The addition of the veterans is similar to the move the Cleveland Indians made in the mid 1990's. They developed a good young team, and when they were ready to win, Hart brought in Murray, Hershiser and Dennis Martinez to plug the holes with solid veterans. Bringing in Thomas, Bradley and Loaiza does the same thing for the A's.

The pitching and hitting were going to be better simply due to the maturation of the players. Actually bringing in good veterans should help even more. My guess is Oakland wins the division.

Good thoughts in there from David Pinto. Looking back a little further in the A's own history, these moves remind me of the Dave Parker and Harold Baines acquisitions in the late 80's. The A's had a strong pool of youngsters in back-to-back-to-back Rookies of the Year in Canseco, McGwire and Weiss -- adding those veteran bats helped the team make 'the leap' towards greatness.

Here's hoping Frank Thomas and Milton Bradley turn out as well.

Sunday, March 26, 2006


"Watching Frank Thomas in an A's uniform," said Beane, "is like having Mick Jagger sing at your wedding."

It's been quiet around these parts all throughout spring training. A few things have caught my eye, but nothing quite as much as this gem from Billy Beane. Needless to say, I'm very excited about the A's.

(...and if you haven't stopped by, please check out Baseball Crank's ESWL projections, starting with the AL East)

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Nerd Heaven

Web 2.0 or Star Wars Quiz

(I got 32 out of 43 correct)

Friday, March 10, 2006

Nobody Home

Robert Wilson asks, "Is Anyone Home at HotJobs?"

My guess is "no". The entire Product department has been turned over since I left HotJobs two years ago, and virtually everyone in the Marketing department jumped ship (or was forced out?) within the last three months, as I understand it.

Like Marc said,'s sad that the energy and optimism of this e-mail haven't been justified by subsequent events. HotJobs has dropped to a distant third. 9 out of 11 of the top people at HotJobs were gone within 6 months, and the remaining stragglers have now left. And the place has lost that old HOTJ feeling -- the manic, exuberant, juvenile atmosphere of "hey, let's put on an internet company!"

I had drinks with one of the new HotJobbers the other night, and none of the history has been passed down. None of the tradition, none of the pride or legacy, none of the crazy celebrations, none of the misguided sense that we deserved to be #1. And so it's sad to see that loss. Because what's been lost isn't just the spirit of HotJobs, but a beautiful, inspiring example of the entrepreneurial best in all of us.

And for that, we are all the poorer.

I hope I'm wrong, but it looks like Yahoo's just letting HotJobs die.

Wednesday, March 8, 2006

Bonds - Still a Hall of Famer

Baseball Toaster : Mike's Baseball Rants : Grin and Barry

[Barry] Bonds will now be asterisked and marginalized to death. Never mind that the man already had 411 home runs, 8 All-Star appearances, and three MVPs before he started taking steroids after 1998, when the writers allege that he started roiding. He was already a Hall of Famer, but now that will be forgotten.

That's an excellent point. A co-worker of mine wrote a paper, Modeling Election to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame through the use of Genetic Algorithms in which he established that a player must meet 14 of 19 possible criteria (all listed in this post).

Based on those rules, Bonds became a Hall of Famer at the end of the 1997 season, after he'd hit 355 HR, scored 1145 Runs and brought his postseason slugging percent above .269 - And of course, that's before Bonds started 'roiding, allegedly.

Tuesday, March 7, 2006

Bonds & Steroids - MLB - Shadows reveals truth behind Barry Bonds' steroid use - Tuesday March 7, 2006 1:57PM

Beginning in 1998 with injections in his buttocks of Winstrol, a powerful steroid, Barry Bonds took a wide array of performance-enhancing drugs over at least five seasons in a massive doping regimen that grew more sophisticated as the years went on, according to Game of Shadows, a book written by two San Francisco Chronicle reporters at the forefront of reporting on the BALCO steroid distribution scandal.

Barry Bonds is royally F-ed. I think we all knew this to be true in our heart of hearts, but seeing it laid out like this is something else. Bud Selig has to do something when faced with this information. This is no Jose Canseco tell-all

Thursday, March 2, 2006

Fantastic Baseball Salary Applet

Marc forwards this fantastic tool. View salary by team, by player, highlight by position. Great way to see who's spending money and on whom.

(Can you call it a cartogram? I'm reminded of the great cartograms following the '04 election: Alternate views of the electoral map)

So, what does it say about the A's? Each of the following groups looks to be about even, salary-wise, at roughly $10 million (forgive my aggressive rounding):

Group 1 - Jason Kendall
Group 2 - Kotsay and Zito
Group 3 - Eric Chavez
Group 4 - Loaiza and Payton
Group 5 - Bradley, Ellis, Kennedy and Kielty
Group 6 - Witasick, Harden, Calero, Crosby, Haren, Frank Thomas, Melhuse, Dan Johnson, Blanton, Duchscherer, Ron Flores, Chad Gaudin, Antonio Perez, Marco Scutaro, Huston Street, Swisher and Matt Watson

It's fascinating to see the allocation of resources, the tremendous cost of Kendall and the great values found in the 63% of the team receiving only 17% of the money. Also funny to see the A's total payroll graphically lined up against the Yankees starting infield - well really just A-Rod, Jeter and Giambi, who earn the same $60 million that the entire A's team will earn this year.