Friday, December 28, 2007

Seeing with Your Tongue

The Seeing Tongue: Science News Online

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin­, Madison are developing this tongue-stimulating system, which translates images detected by a camera into a pattern of electric pulses that trigger touch receptors. The scientists say that volunteers testing the prototype soon lose awareness of on-the-tongue sensations. They then perceive the stimulation as shapes and features in space. Their tongue becomes a surrogate eye.

That is extremely cool. (hat tip to Freakonomics)

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Farewell Dan Haren

The Oakland A's traded Dan Haren to the Diamondbacks last night. (Story on SFGate)

Now that we know the A's are rebuilding, what other moves make sense? Should they deal Blanton too? Probably. But what about Harden, Street, Swisher, Ellis, Crosby and Chavez. If we're going to rebuild, let's not mess around with a half-assed effort. As GM Billy Beane said, "We finally know where we're going and we're going to go full bore." It will be tough to watch the A's struggle through their 2008 season, but I am excited about rebuilding. Bring on the changes.

As for Haren, he gave the A's 660 innings with an ERA of 3.64 over three years. That's pretty darn good pitching, especially when you consider the alternative. Since the Haren-Mulder trade, Mark Mulder pitched 300 innings with a 5.00 ERA. Beane definitely got the better end of that deal (even before you factor in Daric Barton), and I'm optmistic about this latest trade as well.

So, what did the A's get for Haren?
The prospects coming to Oakland are left-handed pitchers Brett Anderson, Dana Eveland and Greg Smith, infielder Chris Carter, and outfielders Aaron Cunningham and Carlos Gonzalez. -A's Official Site

David PInto over at Baseball Musings has some thoughts on five of the newest Athletics:
All five players sent to the Athletics are prospects. Brett Anderson will be 20 in 2008 and had an outstanding season at A ball. Dana Eveland hasn't translated his low minor league walk numbers to the majors yet. Greg Smith also posts good walk and strikeout numbers in the minors. Aaron Cunningham is developing power as he rises through the minors. Carlos Gonzalez is the least impressive one of the group, but he's only 21 and already at AAA. Basically, the Athletics restocked their system with five good players.

Well, I don't own an Athletics Nation t-shirt with "In Billy We Trust" on the back for nothing...

Mitchell Report Falls Short

I've glanced through the "REPORT TO THE COMMISSIONER OF BASEBALL OF AN INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION INTO THE ILLEGAL USE OF STEROIDS AND OTHER PERFORMANCE ENHANCING SUBSTANCES BY PLAYERS IN MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL." My impression was that George Mitchell and crew were really only able to get a couple people to really talk. They were then able to follow the new leads from the first interviews to unravel what you might call a steroid ring. But I have a hard time believing this is the only group of ballplayers to use steroids. In fact, the first page of the report admits as much:

We identify some of the players who were caught up in the drive to gain a competitive advantage through the illegal use of these substances. Other investigations will no doubt turn up more names and fill in more details...

I, like many others, had somehow expected a comprehensive list of people using performance enhancing drugs, so I am disappointed that the report listed so few people. There are certainly players named in the report whose careers will be judged differently now, but besmirching Roger Clemens' legacy isn't enough. I still want to know the full list of players on steroids and when they took them.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Good News, Bad News

Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis going to the Tigers is both good news and bad news for the A's. The bad news is that they're moving into the AL, but the good news is that the Angels didn't get them.

So far this offseason, the Angels have been mentioned as potential suitors for every significant trade and high-end free agent. It's been great news for the A's that nothing has worked out for them yet. I'm curious to see what the rest of the offseason holds. Will the A's deal Haren? Blanton? Anyone?

Recognition for the Boss

Marc Cenedella, CEO of TheLadders, was named #21 in the Silicon Alley 100. Kudos, Marc!