December 09, 2006

Winter Meetings end, Cubs sign Marquis

Props to Jim Hendry for finshing the Lilly deal while in the hospital. The Cubs also signed LH bench guy Daryle Ward, who seems to fit what we need. I do not think the Cubs will trade Jones at this point, it seems like they can only get pennies for him.

The big signing today however is the Cubs' signing of Jason Marquis.

Again, I'm not super-wild about this signing. In the plus column, he has a pretty good sinker, is an innings eater, can pinch hit, and did pretty well in the past few years (the second half of last season notwithstanding). On the other hand, he was AWFUL after the all-star break last year. Also, he's worked under both Leo Mazzone and Dave Duncan, widely regarded as being the best pitching coaches in the league, and even they weren't really able to turn him around. Anyway, this is what I see our rotation shaping up to be:


In terms of healthy-ness, if everyone was 100% and turns into their old selves. I would rank the three question marks in the order Prior, Miller, Marquis...but we need everyone to be totally healthy. I think Prior is more likely to turn things around than Miller, but Miller seems more likely to stay healthy. Once again...Prior is the wild card in our rotation.

Thus Roster/Lineup (12/9)

RF Soriano
SS Izturis (ugh)
1B Lee
3B Ramirez
CF Jones
LF Murton
C Barrett
2B DeRosa

B Blanco
B Theriot
B Ward
B Pagan
B Some FA bat (Floyd?)

1 Zambrano
2 Lilly
3 Marquis
4 Hill
5 Miller/Prior/Rookie

B Dempster
B Howry
B Wood
B Wuertz
B Eyre
B Cotts
B Ohman

December 04, 2006

Lilly signs with Cubs (?), more rumors

Jayson Stark is reporting that the Cubs will sign Ted Lilly. I'm not super wild about this deal...I'm not sure what I think about Lilly. He's a flyball pitcher, which would suggest he is a bad choice for wrigley given our lousy outfield defense and small park. He did manage to keep a decent ERA while pitching in the brutal AL east. However, he was pitching at the Skydome (or whatever it is called now), and that place is such a barn. If I were to rank the (remaining) free agent pitchers, I would put him near the end


All of them have issues...Schmidt and Zito are the only real proven innings horses here. Schmidt is getting older though, and I've never trusted Zito somehow he never seems as good as his numbers. Meche is a perpetual upside guy, but who knows if he'll ever meet the projections people have been giving him - why hasn't he broken out yet? Padilla is a sullen loner and is rumored to have alcoholism issues.

In other news, the Cubs offered Jones (+ one prospect probably) for Jason Jennings. This is the kind of pitcher I want - a groundball machine. I hope we get him.

Hendry also came out to say that he is not trading Matt Murton, which is great news. As was pointed out, he's the best hitting prospect to come out of our system in a long time.

December 03, 2006

Currently reading, Cubs rumblings

I just started reading Cubs Nation: 162 Games, 162 Stories, 1 addiction . I have a feeling this book will be pretty engrossing and somewhat depressing. It chronicles the season of the 2004 cubs, with one article/story for each game of the season. The motivation for the book was, of course, the painful 2003 playoffs and the subsequent improvements the Cubs made in the following offseason. Peter Gammons actually predicted the cubs to win the world series in 2004, and vegas was giving great odds on them too. Then everything just fell apart down the stretch - Prior was hurt, Sosa went from team icon to being run out of town, various members of the team feuded with the broadcast guys, and the Cubs blew a big lead down the stretch to miss the playoffs.

Speaking of offseason improvements, I still think things are looking good for the Cubs. The latest rumors are that we are the front-runners for Schmidt and Lilly, and that we're looking to sign Lofton as astopgap until Pie is ready to make the leap. I think this is great news - lofton is a great fit for many reasons, and he's one of Jennie's favorite players too! I'm not so sure about Lilly. He managed a so-so ERA in the tough AL east, but he was pitching in a pitcher's park and is very much a flyball pitcher - so coming to a hitter's park with sketchy OF defense might not be a good match. I still kind of feel it to be unlikely that the Cubs sign both of the pitchers, but if they did, this would be what we were looking at (with stat predictions). It's pretty awesome, the only issue is that Murton should get more playing time.

LFSoriano .295/.330/.510/112/38/97/32
CF Lofton.270/.355/.420/90/1/56/36
RF Jones/Murton(combined) .290/.345/.495/82/28/96/15
C Barrett.290/.340/.505/76/20/78/1
2B DeRosa.275/.338/.430/78/75/2
SS Izturis.255/.305/.340/60/1/48/5

B Blanco
B Murton/Jones
B Pagan
B Theriot
B Some FA Bench player


December 02, 2006

Damn you, Kwong

I went over to Brian's house today to play with his new Wii. It was pretty damn cool. We played a few of the Wii sports games, and then he showed me the new Zelda game. It looked pretty cool, and it got me all in the mood for older Zelda games.

I have kind of a strange relationship with Zelda games these days. I must have played Link to the Past half a hundred times...though I never managed to enter the triple zero club in that game. I loved Link's Awakening on the game boy too, though from what I read later I was one of the few who did. So as you could guess, when Ocarina of Time came out for the N64 I was beside myself with excitement. Sadly, while the game was a pretty solid game, I was really disappointed in it because I expected it to be the second coming of the game that I played obsessively as a kid. The story was kind of clumsy (I was older and more used to great stories), I hated the 3d environment gameplay, and it just wasn't well LttP! I didn't even finish the game, I just got tired of it.

2 or 3 years later I came back to it and played through it again, and realized that it was actually a pretty good game. I had a good time once it didn't have to live up to my gargantuan reputation. By then, however, FF had earned my total loyalty so I got a PS2 to stick with that franchise. Thus I barely ever saw any of the gamecube games, including the apparently fantastic wind waker. Seeing the new game really brought it all back though. I got home and immdiately downloaded a N64 emulator so I could fire up some Ocarina of Time.

November 23, 2006

Turkey Day!

We cooked a delicious thanksgiving dinner here in WI. We both agree that the turkey was the best we've ever made, let alone eaten. Kira agreed too:

November 19, 2006

Cubs sign Soriano!

The Cubs have agreed to a 8-year $136 million dollar deal with Alfonso Soriano.

When's the last time the Cubs have signed a marquee free agent? This is great news for the Cubs. Now, the only question is where he will play. Many people seem to think he'll be playing CF...but I still don't think that's a great idea, though it might be workable. A better idea would be for the Cubs to try to move Murton or Jones (hopefully Jones) and sticking Soriano in LF. The Cubs could then sign Roberts or some other veteran placeholder to mentor Felix Pie as he traditions to the major leagues in CF.

I still think the Cubs are going to make a trade for Westbrook (I'm thinking Eyre-Cedeno-AAAA pitcher as the package being dangled). Assuming that's the case, here's what the lineup looks like now.

CF Soriano
2B DeRosa
1B Lee
3B Ramirez
RF Jones
LF Murton
C Barrett

1 Zambrano
2 Westbrook
3 Hill
4 Free Agent (Likely Lilly or Meche)
5 Miller/Prior/Marshall

Dempster, Howry, Cotts, Ohman, Novoa, Wuertz, Wood

Bynum or (preferably) some veteran FA bench bat

CF Soriano

November 16, 2006

Cubs trade for Neal Cotts, other rumors

The Cubs just traded Aardsma for White Sox lefty Neal Cotts. This seems like a preliminary trade. I think the Cubs will either turn around and spin him again or try to move Eyre. Most of the rumors seem to be that they're going to trade Eyre, Cedeno and maybe one of their AAAA pitchers to Cleveland for Jake Westbrook or Cliff Lee. I'm hoping for Westbrook - he's a groundball machine that should translate well at Wrigley.

It also looks like the Cubs are ramping up to sign Gil Meche, who used to pitch for Pineilla in Seattle. I'm not super-wild about this deal...but I don't think the Cubs are going to go after the top-shelf pitching this offseason. Clearly Soriano and maybe JD Drew are their main targets.

There might even be a third starter targeted - Pineilla hinted that the Cubs might land three new starters this offseason. Not sure who else they might land, I haven't heard any real rumblings of interest in anyone other than Meche. Lots of people are high on Lilly, Wolf, and Padilla though.

I haven't heard any specific rumors to the case, but there has been a bunch of speculation that the Cubs might try to move Dempster, especially if Wood is healthy. Too bad we probably won't find that out until closer to spring training, if not the season itself.

Other rumors seem to suggest that the Cubs are actively shopping Barrett, which I think is a terrible idea. People are pointing to the re-signing of Henry Blanco as an indicator of this, but who in their right mind thinks Blanco should start every day? Maybe the Cubs would make a run at Bengie Molina if they traded Barrett, but they better be damned sure they can get him if that's the case.

So, this seems to be how things are trending now, assuming the Cubs get Soriano and the more likely situations occur above.

CF Soriano
2B DeRosa
1B Lee
3B Ramirez
RF Jones
LF Murton
C Barrett
SS Izturis

? - maybe another OF, or a CI type like Scott Moore

1 Zambrano
2 Westbrook
3 Hill
4 Meche
5 Miller/Prior

CL Dempster (Unless Wood is healthy)
R Howry
R Wood
R Wuertz
R Novoa
L Ohman
L Cotts

November 14, 2006

DeRosa signs

Derosa just signed with the Cubs

I'm not super-wild about this signing, though I don't think it is a bad one per se. It might end up being a deal for the Cubs in the long run, with the way the market may be working out this offseason. DeRosa would be a great #2 hitter, and could maybe leadoff, though I would prefer Soriano or Roberts in that position if we get one of the two of them for CF. So this is my new expecation of our starting lineup for next season

CF Roberts/Soriano/Matthews/Pierre/Pie
2B DeRosa
1B Lee
3B Ramirez
RF Jones
LF Murton
C Barrett
SS Izturis

B Blanco
B Theriot
B Pagan
B Moore/Cedeno
B Bynum/Cedeno

Trade Bait (for pitching)
Jones or Murton - if we can sign C Lee or Drew

November 12, 2006

Sigh of relief, rumors

Phew. Ramirez just re-signed with the Cubs. All the indications I had been seeing seemed to imply that he was going to bolt for the fat cash waiting for him in this weak, weak free agent market. Now that they have this settled, the Cubs can focus on what they need: pitching.

As poor as the offense was last year, on paper the current projected lineup (assuming we don't sign ANY starters) would probably be

2B Theriot
SS Izturis
1B Lee
3B Ramirez
RF Jones
C Barrett
LF Murton
CF Bynum

1 Zambrano
2 Hill
3 Miller
4 Prior (?)
5 Marshall

Clearly there are some holes here: notably in center field and in the back end of the rotation. I figure the Cubs will make plays at Soriano, Pierre, Matthews, and Dave Roberts and will hopefully and up with one of the latter three.

As far as pitching goes, I don't know if the Cubs will have a shot at the 'premier' free agent pitching. Conventional wisdom seems to be that Zito will go to the Mets, Matsutaka to the Sox (or Mets), Schmidt to the Mariners, and Moose to the Yanks. They might have a shot at Schmidt, or Zito if the Mets end up getting Matsuzaka. I think they'll end up grabbing one or two second or third tier starters. The main canditates I can think of are people like Lilly, Eaton, Wolf, Maddux, maybe Gil Meche. If they end up getting 2 FA pitchers, the Cubs will have to decide what to do when Prior gets back, as the rotation would consist of Zambrano, Hill, Miller, FA1, FA2, Prior. Maybe one of the FAs could be a swingman like Rusch was?

The other big rumor that I'm excited about is that Carlos Lee is apparently quite intereseted in playing for the Cubs. Apparently he wants to stick it to the Sox for trading him a few years back. He would be a GREAT pickup for the Cubs, and would also free up Murton as trade bait for another starting pitcher.

As far as trade bait goes, potential players the Cubs could move (in order of appeal):
A. Guzman

Based on this (and a little wishful thinking), I'm going to take a stab at the eventual cubs opening day roster/lineup.

CF Roberts
2B Theriot
1B D. Lee
LF C. Lee
3B Ramirez
RF Jones
C Barrett
SS Izturis

B Blanco
B Pagan
B Murton
B Cedeno
B Bynum

1 Zambrano
2 Hill
3 Wolf
4 Miller
5 Prior/Marshall/Free Agent

CL Dempster
S Howry
S Eyre
B Wood
B Ohman
B Aardsma
B Wuertz

October 06, 2006

Also, Grady Little is an Idiot

The Dodgers are getting smoked by the Mets, in no small part due to Little's gross mismanagement of his bullpen. He keeps bringing in shaky former starters when he could be bringing in his successful relievers, who are used to pitching in relief and healthy. He's just doing it to spite my pick that the Dodgers would sweep the Mets. Whoops.

October 03, 2006

Okay, I'm an idiot

So I had the playoff matchups wrong in the AL. Let's fix this with new predictions (along with new info about the teams)

A's over Twins in 4
Yankees over Tigers in 4
Dodgers over Mets in 3
Padres over Cardinals in 4

A's over Yankees in 7
Dodgers over Padres in 6

A's over Dodgers in 5

With Santana losing today, the Twins are in deep, deep trouble, especially against Oakland's potent rotation. The Mets are similarly in trouble, as it seems 3 members of their intended playoff rotation is injured in some way or another and can't start game 1 (Pedro - out for playoffs, El Duque - some sort of strain, Glavine - not ready yet). Their pitching is just a mess.

October 02, 2006

Playoff Predictions

So I was pretty wrong about my preseason playoff predictions. Here are the current matchups:


Here's how it should beak down
Twins over Yankees in 5 (Santana wins 2 games)
A's over Tigers in 4
Dodgers over Mets in 4
Padres over Cardinals in 4

A's over Twins in 6
Dodgers over Padres in 7

A's over Dodgers in 5

September 28, 2006

My computer lives!

My computer's power supply finally crapped out last weekend, so I've been waiting for UPS to deliver the new one that I ordered. Now it's all installed and things are back to up and running. Woo!

September 10, 2006

You're on Notice!

August 31, 2006


We got our Engagement Dog on Sunday. Her name is Kira and she is beautiful. Here are some pictures:

July 31, 2006

Trade Deadline

The day of reckoning arrived, and now let's see how things panned out. I'll start by talking about non-Cubs deals (or non-deals, as the case may be), then talk about the Cubs-specific ones.

The Quaker State needs to get out the Quaker State after their trades today. The Yankees stole Abreu from the Philles, and followed that up by dumping Chacon on the Pirates and getting Craig Wilson (by far the most underrated commodity on the market) in return. The Yankees are clearly the favorites in the AL east now. I feel bad for the Jays, they really had a chance to contend this year.

The Nationals failed to trade Soriano...which may end up being a good thing. They couldn't get the price they wanted, so they really need to focus on re-signing Soriano now. There were signs from Soriano that he wanted to stay in DC, and talk that the new owners will bring out the checkbook to keep the star power their franchise desperately needs. If he walks, things won't be looking so good. Although, even if he does leave the Nats came out ahead due to the most lopsided trade of the season in the Kearns+Lopez for 2 relievers and parts.

As far as the Cubbies went, I have extremely mixed feelings about their trades. I had a feeling Maddux would be gone, and statistically they made the right move by trading him. Aside from his last start, he's been terrible for the past 3 months (6+ ERA terrible). The Cubs could get more bank out of his reputation than what talent was left to him. They received Izturis in return from the Dodgers, which is intruiging. If he has more than this season left on his contract it could be a great trade. The talk seems to be that they will move Cedeno over to 2b and have Izturis play SS, which could end up working well (Izturis is great defensively). Offensively, Izturis is not known for his bat, though he does have decent speed. His OPS isn't much better than Perez's but at least he gets on base. Here's my guess at how things should play out for the rest of the season.

Usual lineup (Assuming we don't see Lee again for a while):

CF Pierre
SS Izturis
C Barrett
3B Ramirez
RF Jones
1B Nevin
LF Murton/Pagan
2B Cedeno
P Whoever


Marshall/Miller/Guzman/Rusch (In that order, depending on health)

July 25, 2006

Back in Town, good news

I'm back from Virginia. We had a fantastic time visiting various relatives and sharing our big news -

Jennie and I are getting married next summer!

Everyone was excited to hear the news - most importantly our brothers, who we asked to be our Best Men. We bought a few wedding books to give us ideas on what we want to do (and what we decidedly do not want to do). The most interesting one is titled I do but I don't: Walking down the aisle without losing your mind. It's a book that chronicle's the author's experience with getting married, and it critically examines the behemoth that is the "Wedding-Industrial Complex" along with the various traditions surrounding weddings. It's really opened our eyes to what we want to do with our wedding.

Luckily for us we have both of our sets of parents in our corner (weddings under protest can be quite uncomfortable, as we learned last summer). Just as importantly, Jennie's cousin Beverly Ann will fill in as our unofficial wedding coordinator. She's a huge asset because not only did she have a wedding very similar to what we want, but she missed her calling as a professional party planner. She's organized many company picnics/dinners and has all the relevant connections in Loudoun County.

We made a preliminary guest list and it was much larger than we expected, but after the initial shock we're not overly concerned about it as we plan our wedding to be pretty low-key and fun. Our motto is that we want a fun wedding rather than a Perfect Wedding, and I think we can pull it off. Now we just need to hunt down everyone's addresses - more difficult since our intended officiant and one of the groomsmen are currently out of the country.

We're not sure of our official date yet, but it will probably either be the last weekend in May or in mid-June sometime (we're still waiting to hear on one or two family-related things we need to schedule around). We're planning on doing it at Jennie's parents' house. We'll do the ceremony in the front yard and have the reception/party in the back yard.

July 10, 2006

Headin' home

We're heading home tomorrow morning for roughly 2 weeks. It should be fun - there's a Grandmarama for Jennie's grandmother this Sunday, and we have other various and sundry things planned for our trip home. We have a book on tape and 2 books on paper (?) to occupy us as well, on top of my Mp3 player.

We're hoping to stop by the Chicago Ikea on the way to take our
future couch
for a test-sit. Ikea rules.

July 06, 2006

I'm okay!

I went to what I thought would be my final meeting with Professor Milewski in regards to my research this morning and now things have settled down somewhat. He suggested some original directions to go with my research and when I mentioned the other job that I applied for, he told me he could give me another month of support which should salve my fincancial problems. W00t, I say.

My new goal is to make sure I earn this money rather than hang about. I need to be better about scheduling my time and should definitely budget time for studying/working while I am home.

July 01, 2006


For once this whole job stuff seems to be coming together quickly. Right now I'm looking at 2 possible part-time jobs and I still need to see if anything's going on back at DFM. One of the jobs would be working part time (probably 3rd shift) at the gas station across the street, the other is doing some matlab stuff with a guy in Engineering. Both have possiblities of more I might just squeak by.

June 30, 2006


So, I went to pick up my stipend check from the math department for the summer and found that it was .... $2000 less than I expected! This should make for a crappy rest of summer. Dammit.

I guess I have no one to blame but myself for not being on top of all this...but we were supposed to get the goddamn checks 8 months ago.

June 28, 2006

Oh no!

Peter Gammons is in the ICU afterbrain surgery to treat an aneurysm. I hope he's okay...he's the greatest baseball writer in history (at least in my history). Get better Peter!

June 21, 2006


Hooray for air conditioning!

The A/C in our apartment has always been kind of spotty ever since we moved in. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't work very well, and sometimes it leaked water onto our carpet. We had it on all weekend because of the hot days (and even worse, warm nights) and on Monday it was barely blowing. I called up maintenance to ask them about it...I wasn't sure if it needed to have its filter cleaned or what.

When I got home yesterday I found an entirely new air conditioner in the apartment! They neglected to turn it on after they installed it so I switched it on. The thermostat read 80+ degrees when I turned it on. An hour later, it was already down to 68, and when we got up this morning it was below 60. Our old one could barely get it down to 70!

The other great thing is that this one is so much more quiet. We kept our old AC going full blast and kept a fan next to it for better air movement. My computer was right next to this whole apparatus and I entered a black hole of sound whenever I went over there. Now the new AC makes less noise and blows as much air as the old setup, to which I say w00t.

June 20, 2006

Why do you tease me so?

In Rob Neyer's chat today:

David, CT: Do you see Dotel and Pavano making a positive impact on the Yankee's pitching staff this year? If both come back and are effective I think it would put the Yanks in the driver seat in the AL East.

SportsNation Rob Neyer: I agree. I also think the Cubs could get right back in the WC race if Prior and Wood are perfectly healthy from tonight through the end of the season.

I'm feeling pretty pessimistic about this - clearly Prior and Wood aren't, well, Prior and Wood this year. It may be that I'm wrong and their poor velocity and control are due to the fact that they had no Spring Training to build up arm strength, but I have a feeling that their injuries have something do with it (especially in Wood's case).

Then again, they're not really worse than most of the other rotation plug-ins we've been using (see Rusch, Hill, Guzman, Marmol, Ryu). We still have Derrek Lee coming back, though things are still looking kind of dicey on his wrist injury. Similarly, the jury's still out on Wade Miller.

Here's the current NL central standings

StL 42-26 --
Cin 38-32 5.0
Hou 36-34 7.0
Mil 35-36 8.5
ChC 27-42 15.5
Pit 26-25 17.5

And, as Neyer mentioned, here's the even more scary looking wild card race
Cin 38-32 --
SaD 36-33 1.5
LAD 36-33 1.5
Ari 36-34 2.0
Hou 36-34 2.0
Phi 35-35 3.0
Col 35-35 3.0
SFo 35-35 3.0
Mil 35-36 3.5
Fla 29-37 7.0
Was 32-40 7.0
Atl 30-40 8.0
ChC 27-42 10.5
Pit 26-45 12.5

10 and a half games is far more surmountable than 15 and a half...but still there are 12 teams in front of the Cubbies.

June 19, 2006

6 game losing streak

Stick a fork in them. The Cubs are done.

June 09, 2006

Obviously, I know nothing

Despite the good news that Wood had a clean bill of health, the Cubs still put him on the DL it looks like we will be seeing Marmol on Sunday. Maybe he and Prior will be back in the same week.

I'm listening to the Cubs-Reds game and they just picked up a bunch of lucky runs. Maybe offensive breaks like this will signal the start of a surge from the Cubs?

Blanco is playing well today...maybe I should speak badly of otehr players to try to get them to do better?

Non-baseball update!

I've been doing research on various numerical algorithms for solving some fancy wave-modelling equations. I might put some pics up on my math website someday when I'm not feeling so lazy.

As I mentioned a while back, Jim managed to lure me back into WoW. I now have a lvl 35 Warrior on Dentarg. He managed to lure several old high school folks, including my brother, his girlfriend, her brother, and another of their friends. We're in a PvP guild and have had a good time PvPing it up - I'm a big Warsong Gulch fan.

I've read a bunch of (gasp!) new books this summer too. I read the first book (Shaman's Crossing) in the new series by one of my favorite fantasy authors and was merely whelmed by it (not over or underwhelmed). I'll probably buy the next book when it comes out...probably used though. I also read The Briar King, which was also whelming (though slightly more so than SC), I just bought the next book and plan to read it sometime soon.

Currently, however, I am reading Cryptonomicon (which was recommended several times to me by Marijka). Just as an adventure novel it's quite awesome - it gets bonus points for bringing up all sorts of cool math and CS stuff. It makes me want to go take an information theory class!

Last night we went to see The Taffetas - the first of the three shows that Jennie is working on this summer. It was a hilarious show - good tunes and tons of retro humor. There are 2 more shows this sumemr and I'm looking forward to seeing them.

NL Central update

Lots of writers have said that Pujol's injury has opened the division right up...I strongly disagree. Cincy seems to be the biggest beneficiary to the injury, since they're the only other team over .500 in the division and just grabbed 1st place from the Cards. I still don't think they have the pitching to take the division though. Even without Pujols, the Cardinals are still the best team in the division - they're scuffling because their 4 best players are hurt right now, or might as well be. Carpenter will be off the DL soon which will provide a boost. The Cardinals' season depends on how Edmonds bounces back from his abdominal injury and whether Isringhausen gets it together again.

Look at the rest of the teams - Houston is getting Clemens and Oswalt back soon but the rest of its rotation is in total shambles. Milwaukee's pitching is also falling apart. The Cubs will be reloading soon and hopfully will be able to dig themselves out of the hole they are in (they're only 2 games in front of the Pirates !). I'm thinking that the Cubs and 'Stros will make a run before the All-Star break, and the cards and Cincy will slide. My predictions for the ASB standings

Team Back
StL --
Cin 3
Hou 5
ChC 8
Pit 16

Batting update

Things are starting to look a little better offensively for the team.

Among the slumping players, there seems to be some hope. Juan Pierre has raised his average to .250 which still sucks...but it is better than the .215 he was hitting before. Here's hoping he gets better. Similarly, Ramirez's bat has shown some signs of awakening from it's early season slumber. He's always been a slow starter anyway. Murton has proven to be an incredibly streaky hitter.

The best hitter on our team the past few weeks has by far been Jacque Jones, who is now hitting over .300 - exactly as he promised when he signed with the Cubs after his sub-par season last year (take that, Rob Neyer!).

Cedeno, Walker, and Barrett also continue to his around .300, and Womack should be playing at 2nd whenever Nevin isn't playing first. I think that Nevin was a great acquisition too. Though I agree that they picked him up a month later than he was needed...he wasn't available until around when we got him, and the rest of the possible trades out there were terrible.

We just need to hit a good stretch, where more than one batter is hot for once. Also, the less Neifi Perez there is in the lineup the better it will be.

Pitching News

Good news x2 today

Prior had a good outing yesterday in his AA rehab start. He had one brain cramp and gave up a 3 run homer in the first inning, then cruised for the rest of the game. I can't wait till he's back - he can knock Rusch out of the rotation again! He'll probably make 1 or 2 more starts for the AAA team, then we'll have him back.

Kerry Wood had his shoulder checked out again to make sure that his soreness was just the usual pitching soreness and not another injury, and he got a clean bill of shoulder health. He's going to throw on the side today, and if he's feeling good he'll be ready to go on Sunday.

If Wood isn't ready, we'll get to see Marmol pitching. After his 2 appearances this year I've already felt he should be in the rotation over Rusch. He's thrown 4 scoreless innings with several strikeouts, and hasn't even used all of his pitches yet! Hooray for glimpses of the future.

Finally updating

Finally making an update...I think I'll touch on a few points.

Now that the whole Cubs-Sox brawl has had some time to cool down, I acknowledge that the hit by Pierzynski was not a cheap shot, just smashmouth baseball. He's still a tool though, and I do feel that he's at least partially responsible for the fight. The plate slap was showing up the Cubs but that could be written off to enthusiasm, no big deal there. However, I still don't buy the whole "I was going to get my helmet" story - he is so full of crap. Who goes to pick up their helmet? That's what bat boys are for. He wanted to run into Barrett to try to get him to start something, and I'm still glad Michael punched him in the face. If nothing else, it could have hopefully given a spark to a listless Cubs team.

I don't know why MLB is dragging its feet on the whole suspension thing. I feel like they made the right decisions more or less on the suspensions (Mabry and Pierzynski didn't do any actual fighting, hence no suspensions for them). Hopefully we'll know at some point...and Soto or Fox can fill in nicely for Barrett, as Blanco is a terrible everyday catcher.

May 20, 2006

Good for you, Michael Barrett

A.J. Pierzynski is such an asshole. That plate collision was such a cheap shot - I don't know what that dumbass Sox-loving commentator was thinking when he said it was a clean hit. The ball was 10 feet from Barrett when Pierzynski snowplowed him. Then Pierzynski continued to show him up by slapping the plate after scorning and giving him a shoulder after getting up. What a tool. Barrett was totally justified punching him in the face, and it's too bad Podsednik and the umpire was there to hold him back while Pierzynski scampered off to let his teammmates do his fighting for him. I only wish Barrett got a better shot at him - I hope he has a huge shiner.

What a tool

May 11, 2006

Screw you, Phil Rogers

In the Tribune today: Hendry's Indecision hurts Cubs

What the hell? I'm as disappointed that the Cubs are slumping as the next Cubs fan...but let's not blame this on Jim Hendry. For one thing, I think Todd Walker's done a pretty good Job at first base - he's had a fielding percentage of .994 which is just fine (Lee's was .985 before he got injured). Walker's been swinging the bat just fine as well...but having him out of second base has exposed the awfulness that is Hairston and Perez. Okay...I'm following the argument so far.

So who do we pick up? April/May is historically the worst time to make a trade, as the only players that teams are willing to trade are expendable themselves. Let's compare stats. Here are Hairston and Perez's basic stat lines for the year:

Hairston 52 AB, .231 Avg, .523 OPS (ouch), 7 R, 3 RBI, 2 SB, good speed and defense

Perez 53 AB, .189 Avg, .445 OPS, 4 R, 3 RBI, 0 SB, decent speed, good defense

It looks like Conine and Millar are the two top picks to replace them in the lineup

Conine 98 AB, .235 Avg, .734 OPS, 10 R, 14 RBI, 2 SB, very little speed, decent defense

Millar 87 AB, .218 Avg, .665 OPS, 12 R, 10 RBI, 0 SB, terrible defense, terrible speed

Granted, these numbers are better. But how much better? Would getting Conine for two months be worth trading yet another of our prospects? I don't really think so. I think what should be done is to start one of those guys regularly (preferably Hairston, Perez stinks) and hope he heats up.

May 09, 2006

Just when I thought I was out...

They pull me back in.

Jim mentioned that he was trying to get my brother so sign up for WoW...and I decided that I might as well myself. I've been half-searching for a game to play this summer but nothing has really struck my fancy. I have a feeling that Jim at least will be around a lot, and I'm jumping into an existing guild. It's on a new server so the guild is kinda small, but it's also nice because pretty much everyone there is busy leveling.

I made a Tauren warrior because if I'm going to be a tank, I might as well choose by far the best of the races for it. Also I find Mulgore much more interesting than Durotar...and apparently the undead newb regions are swamped with people.

May 05, 2006

Lack of offense

I'm listening to the Cubs-Padres game on the radio right is the top of the 9th inning and nobody has scored for either team. The Cubs have scored 5 runs in their past 6 games combined, and can't get anything done offensively. So what did Dusty do to address this? He spelled two of the team's two most consistent hitters in Murton and Cedeno and put in Bynum and the incredibly awful Neifi Perez. What the hell? At least Zamabrano has had a good outing.

May 01, 2006

Stephen Colbert

Just rocks.

April 26, 2006

Summer News, ramblings

The semester is winding down...all I have left to do class-wise is 1 homework assignment and an exam for Applied next week, and do a group presentation on a Mathematical Phyiscs paper during finals week. I'm quite ready for summer, though I very much need to make sure that I do my fair share of studying this summer so I can pass my quals. Of course there is also a pile of grading that I will need to do in the next week for the class I'm teaching...blah.

Speaking of the summer, we both seem to have plans pretty much set. I'm getting some summer money from the department as part of my 1st year grad student support, and I have scored a month's worth of support from Professor Milewski in return for some research. Hopefully I'll find something good which will be a starting point for future research in my next few years. After the researching, I will be taking a ~6 week applied math qual prep class from Ben Akers, which should prove to be super useful. After that, we move into our new place, hang with the visiting Morbecks, go to a Cubs game, and then the quals will be upon me. Hopefully we will go to a few Cubs and/or Brewers games this summer too.

Jennie has a job with the University Theatre costume shop and also doing alterations for David's Bridal. She seems excited about both jobs, and they should be fun. She'll be working a lot when the 2 jobs overlap (mid-May to mid-July), so I need to make sure I'm busy with stuff so I don't get Cabin Fever.

Other ramblings...

I still haven't gotten my teaching evaluations back yet. From last fall. Some people have gotten them back yet but it's been pretty spotty all around. I have no idea how my students rated me. I feel like I've done an okay job each semester that I've taught, doing well in different areas. Last semester I was one of 10 TAs teaching for a large lecture and I feel like I did a pretty good job interacting with my ~45 students and staying organized, though I'm not sure how directly useful my discussions were. This semester I was the sole TA for a course of ~75 students, and I saw them less often than in 222. I feel like I did a better job of presenting how to approach problems etc in discussion, but did a poorer job of keeping my students involved. Being the only TA I was far less organized and made more rookie mistake type stuff due to the fact that I didn't have any other TAs to sound off of in the class. It will be interesting to see how they all come back.

In TV-watching news...the only 'live' TV we've watched lately has been Cubs games. We just finished our 3rd run through of Buffy and it gets better somehow every time. Joss Whedon really is great. Jennie has said at several points that the show has renewed her belief in television as a source of truly quality TV shows. I think its terrible that the show never really got any critical acclaim...though not as big of a travesty as Firefly, the best show on TV ever, being cancelled after one season.

In book-reading news, I just finished At All Costs, the most recent book in the Honor Harrington series. Jennie is still slogging through the tepid Ashes of Victory (it gets better!). IM me if you want to discuss what will happen next, impressions, etc...the end of that last book was pretty wild.

Anyway, I've done pretty well at procrastinating to avoid the above homework, I should probably get back to it...

April 21, 2006

Grrr...Rob Neyer

I read Rob Neyer's article about what the Cubs should do now that Lee's gone and it left me pretty annoyed. Neyer rightly points out that we have 0 1b prospects who can fill in adequately for Lee, and recommends that the Cubs call up Michael Restovitch from the Minors to play 1b. That's certainly a reasonable suggestion, but he takes a huge shot at the Cubs when he describes their other option (which is what will likely happen).

The Cubs will probably play Walker at 1b most of the time and use one of their two remaining second basemen (Hairston and Perez - hopefully Hairston) at second. What burns me is that in the article, Neyer writes off both of them as terrible. I'm not going to be waving a flag for Perez anytime soon, but Hairston should do well as a primary 2nd baseman. He's fully healthy, unlike last year, and he had a good spring.

Neyer continues by slamming Jacque Jones, suggesting that Restovitch should have been called up anyway to replace him. This is foolish on two counts. First of all, while Jones's average has been poor, he was injured just has he was getting his stroke back, and he's been hitting the heck out of the ball and has just had bad luck. Rob Neyer is someone who will be the first to tell you that a 2-week sample of ABs (with injury included) is no indicator whatsoever for the rest of the season, and this makes no sense. Speaking of making no sense - it would make no sense at this point for the Cubs to bench a guy they just signed to a decent contract - what are the paying him for? If he's still doing this badly in late May...then things would be a little different. What he seems to think is that the Cubs should call up Felix Pie and put him in the RF spot instead of Jones, which I do not think he is ready for.

Anyway, this what I think the Cubs should do. I do agree with Neyer - they should call up Restovitch. However, he should be around as another utility guy. Mabry will be backing up Walker at first base but Restovitch should be our 4th outfielder - since Bynum is more of a pinch-runner type instead of a pinch-hitter type. He's a good pinch-runner/defensive replacement but he should not have to swing the bat. The new lineup should look something like this:

CF Pierre
2B Hairston
1B Walker
3B Ramirez
C Barrett
RF Jones
LF Murton
SS Cedeno

I guess the only silver lining in this Lee injury was that it cleared up the logjam at second base. If the Cubs can play .500 ball until the horses arrive, they will still be in good shape to make a run at the postseason.

April 20, 2006

The Hammer Falls

And so we find out today that Lee has 2 broken bones in his wrist and will be gone for 8-10 weeks. I'm not saying the Cubs have giant forks in their backs now, but it never helps anyone when the best player on your team goes down for half the season. Here's hoping that our pitching holds things together - we might turn out to be like last year's Astros (great pitching, zero offense, got hot when their best player (Berkman) came back from injury).

April 19, 2006


Just listening to the Cubs game - and both Derrek Lee AND Scott Eyre seem to have been injured on the same play. Dammit. Keeping my fingers crossed for a good injury report...

April 15, 2006

Finally updating

Things are looking cautiously optimistic for the Cubs. The team's speed really as showed up on the field, despite a sub-par start by Juan Pierre. Murton and Cedeno have been doing quite well. The pitching has been the bizarre spot for the Cubs so far however.

Zambrano, the sole healthy ace, has pitched quite poorly, issuing many walks in each of his starts. Maddux, on the other hand, seems to have reversed the declining trend that many had projected for him. Rusch has just been awful - I can't wait for the big guns to arrive. At least our bullpen has been fantastic, as advertised.

Gammons wrote a great article a few days ago about the Cubs, saying that the team had the pieces to contend as it stands right now, and any innings they get out of Prior, Wood and Miller can only be viewed as a bonus. While I may not be as optimistic as Gammons is, he does make the point that the organization's stance has changed - the team no longer relies on Prior and Wood to be the linchpin of the team anymore.

What I'm hoping happens is that if Rusch has another awful start, he gets optioned to the minors and replaced by Hill (who's pitched well thus far) or Guzman. Marshall might get swapped out sooner too - the Cubs won both games he started but his starts haven't been lights out by any stretch. Of course, this isn't to say that these guys they call up from the minors might be any better...

April 04, 2006

Opening Day

Aside from my Cubs post, other news and notes on opening day:

Nomar is injured again. I really feel bad for the seems like he can't stay healthy these days. Losing him shouldn't be that big of an impact on that team anyway - any team that plays in Chavez Ravine is not built around offense.

I was thrilled to see Houston win 1-0 over Florida. Granted, Dontrelle Willis pitched for half that game, but if the Astros could only manage one run against Florida's excuse for a bullpen that bodes well for every other team they play. Their pitching is quite good, but their bats will have to wake up when people not named Pettite or Oswalt are pitching.

I also found the Barry Bonds situation amusing. If Padres fans are booing him like crazy then things should be interesting in other stadiums - they're among the most mellow fans in the league. And the syringe thing - priceless.

Even though the White Sox lost today, I think they are a better than what I wrote in spring training. Thome brings a lot more to that team than gave him credit for, and he will have a better shot at staying healthy as a DH.

Final Season predictions

My mistake if these don't reflect my earlier previews...this is how I'm thinking now.
My 'surprise' good teams this year are Detroit, Colorado, and the Cubs, and the 'surprise' bad teams are the Twins, Jays, and Astros. The NL west is going to be a real dogfight.

AL East
Yankees - 92 wins
Red Sox - 86 wins
O's - 80 wins
Jays - 79 wins
Rays - 70 wins

AL Central
White Sox - 90 wins
Tigers - 85 wins
Indians - 83 wins
Twins - 75 wins
Royals - 68 wins

AL West
A's - 96 wins
Angels - 87 wins
Rangers - 76 wins
Mariners - 60 wins

NL East
Braves - 89 wins
Mets - 82 wins
Phils - 76 wins
Nats - 73 wins
Fish - 71 wins

NL Central
Cardinals - 91 wins
Cubs - 89 wins
Brewers - 84 wins
Astros - 77 wins
Pirates - 76 wins
Reds - 68 wins

NL West
Dodgers - 86 wins
Giants - 83 wins
Padres - 82 wins
Colorado - 80 wins
Arizona - 76 wins

A's over Angels
White Sox over Yankees
Cubs over Cardinals
Braves over Dodgers

A's over White Sox
Cubs over Braves

A's over Cubs

(disclaimer - these Cubs picks are assuming Prior, Wood, Miller stay healthy after they arrive)

Cubs Win!

I Tivoed yesterday's game and watched it after I got home - it was great, and there were lots of good omens for this Cubs team. Matt Murton (who looks like high school acquaintance Matt Noerpel) showed that he was legit, with a 3 run homer and some good defense. Pierre scored three runs, Walker drove in a few, and Derrek Lee reached base 4 out of 5 abs. One of the best things was seeing the new speed on the cubs lineup. In the 6th inning they scored their first few runs on a walk and 5 singles, three of which were infield hits legged out by Cedeno, Pierre, etc. A lot of out bench players saw action, and all of them performed well too. Hairston, Perez, and Pagan all got on base and showed some great situational hitting. One of the other good signs was that the Cubs scored 16 runs on only one homer, despite playing in a homer-friendly ballpark.

The pitching side was a little shakier. Zambrano's numbers seem worse than they are though - the ump was calling a really tight strike zone and he was pitching in homer-happy GAB. He should perform better once he gets in a groove. The better story was the bullpen though - they pitched 4 1/3 innings and gave up 2 runs (in the middle relief, not late relief). They did walk too many guys, but they were able to keep that lineup quelled in a tough park, especially after the cubs built a big lead. They should get better as the season progresses as well.

Cubs Win!

April 02, 2006

NL Central - Cubbies

Finally, I squeeze my last preview in with 45 minutes to spare (when the season opens). The Cubs are the real wild-card in the division. They could win 90 games, or lose a lot. I feel lame for saying it, but the Cubs record hinges on the old adage "if Prior and Wood stay healthy..." They won't be back until late April/early May, and if the Cubs don't dig a deep hole for themselves they will put together quite a run.

This Cubs team is much more balanced (and speedy) than last year's team. Pierre is still somewhat of a question mark, but if he is even a ghost of the Juan Pierre of years past he will be a much better leadoff man than anyone we had last year, and create havoc on the basepaths. He should make Todd Walker (or whoever is batting 2nd) a much better bat too, since the pitchers will be throwing lots of fastballs in case Pierre tries to steal. Lee and Ramirez should be money in the 3 and 4 hole, and Jones should definitely improve on his performance from last year. Barrett is one of the best catchers in the NL, and I think Murton is the real deal. I'm not sure how Cedeno will do - he had a great winter but an awful spring, and Dusty loves to play washed-up veterans over struggling rookies. I still think Cedeno will get more at-bats than Perez though. The bench is looking quite good, with Hairston, Pagan, Mabry, and Bynum able to play 4 or more positions, and they should be quality pinch-hitters as well.

Once the pitching gets healthy, the Cubs will have a rotation consisting of 3 aces (Zambrano, Prior, Wood), 1 potential ace (Miller), and 1 300-game winner who still has something left in the tank (Maddux). The bullpen is also going to be great, and should add an additional 10 wins to our total from last year alone.

NL Central - Cardinals

For some reason, everyone expects the Cards to just roll over everyone else in the division. Let's look at what they have though.

On offense, Pujols is the best offensive player in the league, no argument. If Edmonds and Rolen stay healthy they should also form a great core for this offense. However, Edmonds is getting older and is always banged up, and Rolen still isn't 100% from his injury last year. Eckstein is a quality sparkplug-type leadoff guy and great defensively. Yadier Molina has a little pop but only really has value as a defensive catcher. But 2b, LF and to a lesser extent RF are holes in this lineup. Encarnacion is a above average outfielder...but that's all you can ever say about him. In left, we have the Taguchi/Bigbie/Rodriguez quasi-platoon. Which is a combination of veteran utility guy, average player, and emerging above-average player. Worst of all, Spivey had a terrible spring offensively and defensively and lost the 2b job to Aaron Miles, who could only post a 661 OPS in Coors field last year.

Pitching wise, the Cardinals have a quality rotation and bullpen. Carpenter is great, and Mulder is great when he isn't fighting nagging injuries. Marquis is their 3rd starter, and he feels like a guy who is prime to have a bad year (his 1.33 WHIP last year is a bad sign). Suppan is a quality back-end of the rotation kind of guy, and Ponson...well he should fall apart sometime in May leaving the door open for the emerging Reyes. Their bullpen is once again quite good, despite the loss of Taveras and King (who were two of their best last year). The only question mark is Isringhausen, who has not been 100% this spring. If he falters, Looper will be their closer and things will be more interesting at the back of the pen.

This team is still quite good, but from a preseason standpoint it's more vulnerable than it was the past few seasons.

NL Central - Brewers

The Brew Crew is seemingly everyone's pick to have a breakout season this year. Their pitching has been quietly great under the tenure of Mike Maddux and their young positional prospects are beginning to emerge. The success of the team depends on how well these youngsters play. On offense, they already have a good table-setter in Clark, 2 RBI guys in Lee and Jenkins, but they still have light-hitting Koskie and Miller at 3b and catcher. J. J. Hardy had an awful, awful first half of the season, but turned it around and put up decent numbers in the second half. Weeks has crazy amounts of speed but has a hard time getting on base. He still walks a fair amount of the time, so he seemingly has a good eye but he also is prone to the strikeout. If he improves his BA he should be pretty good offensively. Defensively he's been quite a liability however. Fielder likelwise needs to show the power that he had in the minor leagues to make him a quality 5th batter.

Pitching-wise, this team quietly has one of the 5 best rotations in the NL, despite not having a single ace. Mike Maddux really knows how to work these guys. Their bullpen is decent. Turnbow and Wise are quite good but the rest of the bullpen is a question mark.

NL Central - Astros

This team suffers from residual greatness. They are a team that relies heavily on starting pitching, and hence unless Clemens comes back, they are a much worse team than they were last year. In fact, they're pretty similar to the Cubs. Their only top-tier bats are their corner infielders (Ensberg and Berkman), they have a rising star and a mediocre veteran in the corner OF spots (Lane and Wilson), a light-hitting defensive shortstop (Everett). The Cubs do have an edge at 1b, 3b, CF (Taveras is also a decent leadoff man, but Pierre is top-shelf if he's on his game), C (Ausmus is only there for his defense) and 2b (Biggio is ancient and the cubs have 2 quality guys). Still, they should probably score as many runs as the Cubs.

On the pitching side, they have 2 top-notch guys in Oswalt and Pettite. I think Backe is incredibly overrated with his 1.46 WHIP and 4.50+ ERA. He's only even mentioned because he had that great stretch as a rookie in the postseason two years ago. Wandy Rodriguez and Buchholz are both fringe 5th starters - so you can see why this team desperately needs Clemens to get back. Again like the Cubs, their bullpen is quite good (though they have a better closer).

I think this team will finish behind the Cubs - both teams will probably reload on pitching in May, assuming Clemens comes back, though the Cubs will recieve a bigger impact by getting 3 aces.

April 01, 2006

NL Central - Pirates

Early in the offseason, this team was a popular pick to improve by a big margin. Things have died down since then, especially since Wells went down with an injury. Their pitching staff will be really good in 2 years or so, they just need to grow into it. They have 3 potential aces (or near-aces) in Perez, Duke, and Snell - they just need to develop some more. Santos was a vastly underrated pitcher in Milwaukee and should be a good 5th starter for them. Their bullpen should be decent as well. On offense, they picked up some decent veterans in Casey, Randa, and the erratic Burnitz, though it foolishly left them with their best offensive player, Craig Wilson without a position to play. They also have some emergin youngsters in Bay and Castillo.

If their pitching develops well this team will flirt with .500, if not they will be fighting the Reds for the division basement.

NL Central - Reds

This team has the rare combination of being terrible and dangerous. Many people forget that they played .500 ball for the second half of last year, and hence weren't the pushovers they were in the first half of the season. As always, their problem is their terrible, terrible pitching combined with their incredibly hitter-friendly ballpark. Their bats are pretty good (their ballpark helps). Their OF is one of the best in baseball - with Kearns (if he ever gets his crap together), Griffey (if he manages to stay healthy for the 2nd year in a row), and Dunn (no caveat here, he's good). Lopez and Valentin are pretty good, and Encarnacion is a promising player. But their newest acquisitions are a downgrade from last year. Womack has nothing left in the tank, and Hatteberg is running out of gas as well. If the Reds finally play Freel at 2b or LF (moving Dunn to First) and have him bat leadoff, they will be a much better team. He's an Eckstein-like sparkplug, except better.

I would also argue that their pitching hasn't gotten any better - in fact it may be even worse. Here's their opening day rotation - Harang, Arroyo, Williams, Claussen, Milton. Of those five, only Harang is going to be decent, though Claussen may improve this season. Milton is the worst possible pitcher for their ballpark, as we saw last year when he coughed up a major-league record 40 gopherballs. Their new guys, Arroyo and Williams, are no slouches with the gopherball themselves. Williams gave up 20 of them last season in only 120 innings - most of which were at pitcher-friendly PNC park too. Arroyo gave up 22 homers last year, though he did pitch a full 200 innings. He's a decent pitcher, but if you subtract the GAB from his projected stats he will probably be pretty sub-par, which is not what you want from your #2 starter.

Cubs Moves

Yesterday the Cubs made another trade and a few lineup related announcements, which I'm kind of on the fence about. First, Baker delcared Todd Walker to be our 'primary' second baseman for the season. It was a tough decision to make - all three of the candidates had great springs. I still feel Hairston was the best choice, now that he is healthy, due to his speed and defense, but Walker pretty much plays only second while Hairston plays 2nd and all of the OF positions. The Cubs also moved John Koronka, who recently had been converted as a reliever and was doing a pretty good job (I thought he would make our 25-man roster). He was moved to Texas in a similarly questionable move for them - they needed a 5th starter but Koronka has been practicing as a reliever for the past 6 months. In return, the Cubs received super-utility guy Freddie Bynum, who is speedy and can play 2b, SS, and any OF position. They picked him up to be another player off the bench. But my question is this - was it worth trading Koronka for what will amount to a month of this guy? When Prior and Wood come back it will squeeze 2 people off the roster - most likely Bynum and whoever is performing most poorly in the BP (Williams or Wuertz I'm betting), though Cedeno is also a possibility due to his recent poor performance and how well Neifi has been doing. Someone else will have to be squeezed out once Wade Miller is back too. I'll have my predictied 'regular' roster for the Cubs mapped out in a later post.

Here's the opening day lineup/roster
CF Pierre
2B Walker
1B Lee
3B Ramirez
RF Jones
C Barrett
LF Murton
SS Cedeno
B Blanco (C)
B Mabry (1B/3B/LF/RF)
B Perez (2B/SS/3B)
B Hairston {2B/LF/RF/CF)
B Pagan {LF/RF/CF)
B Bynum {2B/SS/LF/CF/RF)

1 Zambrano (R)
2 Rusch (L)
3 Maddux (R)
4 Marshall (L)
5 Williams (Long Reliever until needed in mid-april) (R)
C Dempster (R)
S Howry (R)
S Eyre (L)
BP Ohman (L)
BP Williamson (R)
BP Wuertz (R)

March 31, 2006

AL Central

This should be a rollicking division, and the more I think about it, the more clueless I am as to who will win it. The White Sox and the Indians are two very good teams, as are the Twins. Detroit and KC should also be better than they were last year.

I still feel like the Sox have the best chance to win the division due to their phenominal starting pitching. But, as many people pointed out last year, they were quite lucky to win as many games as they did due to their weak, weak offense. Their offense should only marginally improve - they picked up Thome but lost Aaron Rowand. Their pitching should backslide a little too - Buerhle and Garcia should have similar years but I would be surprised if Contreras and especially Garland have another season like last year's.

This leaves them vulnerable to Cleveland and Minnesota. However, I don't think Cleveland has the pitching to win the division this year (and maybe not even the wild card). They lost Millwood, and while they have many quality pitchers, Millwood was their Ace last year. Byrd and Johnson are innings-eaters and the team will definitely lose more than half their starts. Their bullpen is also a question mark - Wickman had a great season last year but has proven in the past that he cannot stay healthy. They have several decent relievers but do one is really closer stock.

As for the Twins, I think this is the year they finally take a huge backslide from their 'perennial contender' status that they've enjoyed the past few seasons. Santana is money, as will be Liriano once they finally put him in the rotation (didn't they learn their lesson with all that time Johan freaking Satana spent in their bullpen?) Radke will likely decline, and the rest of their rotation has never been good to begin with. Their bullpen at least is better than the rest of the division, but they will ilkely be seeing lots of work. The real problem with this team though will be offense. Mauer and Morneau will be expected to carry this team, and they had awful seasons last year (along with Hunter). I expect them to improve, but this team will surprise everyone with the scarcity of runs they score. They will get off to a terrible start and then start playing .500 ball once Liriano gets in the rotation.

So in summary, I expect all three of the 'big' teams in this division to decline, and the Sox will win due to the fact that they will decline the least.

White Sox - 86 Wins
Indians - 82 Wins
Tigers - 80 Wins
Twins - 75 Wins
Royals - 68 Wins

March 27, 2006

I can't stop blogging!

Just felt like sharing more of my random thoughts, though these aren't baseball-related. As I mentioned earlier, we bought Buffy The Vampire Slayer for our anniversary 2 weeks ago. Since then, we've watched the entire series and most of the commentaries, featurettes, etc. I think it was a fantastic show - Joss Whedon truly is The Man when it comes to making TV shows. I still think Firefly is better, and it stirs up the what-might-have-been thoughts about the show. Joss admits in some of the Buffy featurettes that he was new to TV when he started the show, and to imagine, say, 5 seasons of Firefly with an experienced Joss at the helm is a thing of beauty. Sadly is was not meant to be...Oh well.

Since I love lists and rankings so much, here are a few Buffy-related top-5s of mine.

1. Spike
-No explanation needed. Badass, funny, and everything else rolled into one character.
2. Xander
-He really grew on me. He was very much my least favorite of the core characters through most of the series...but then towards the end I finally got him. The producers etc go through great lengths explaining how crucial Xander truly is to the show, and I love goony henchmen whatever side they are on.
3. Anya
-She's just so damn funny and energetic. It must be Bunnies!
4. Willow
-I liked her much better as Geek Willow than Witch Willow, though her relationship with Tara was the best of all on the show (rivaled only by Buffy-Spike)
5. Principal Wood
-He was quite badass, and had a great story arc.

Top 5 Villains
1. The Trio (I always call them the Geek Squad)
-They were just so funny. I also think that Warren was by far the scariest of all the story arc villains. When he pulls out the gun and shoots Buffy and Tara it was the only moment in the entire series when I almost fell out of my chair - I literally shouted "Holy Shit" as it happened. What really sets him apart is the fact that he is not a demon/monster/whatever, he's just simply a really really bad person. It's not his nature to be evil - he made his own choices and had many opportunities to get off the path he was on. Just a fucking scary guy, despite the hilariousness of the three nerds together. I was glad they kept Andrew around in season 7.

2. Spike/Drusilla/Evil Angel
-They were all so great - especially the dynamic after Angel went evil. He was so much more fun as Evil Bastard Angel than Dark Brooding Angel. Spike and Dru worked so well together, and I wished there was more Drusilla across the whole show. She was jsut so deliciously insane.

3. The Gentlemen
-These guys were just fucking terrifying, with the floating and their freaky smiles. Such a great episode.

4. Evil Faith
-She was pretty good, just for the whole Dark Slayer angle. She played really well off Buffy

5. Sweet
-This is more due to the awesomeness of the episode that he was in, though he really played the badass cool card very well, with all his tap dancing and crazy glares.

Honorary Mention - Harmony the Vampire
-Good lord, so funny. I can't decide if the unicorns or the i's dotted with smiley faces are funnier.

Top 5 Episodes
1. Once More With Feeling
-No doubt, best episode. I wasn't sure what it's deal would be, but about 10 seconds before Buffy started singing I figured out that it was a musical. So much stuff goes down in that episode, funny and plot-advancey. The songs really get stuck in your head too.

2. Hush
-Again, such a great concept for an episode. Joss Whedon just owns. The Gentlemen were such great monsters. They did such a great job keeping all the humor in the show despite the fact that there was no speaking at all. I just loved the whole overhead projector scene. I don't know what was funnier - Giles bringing background music or Anya eating popcorn while she watched it.

3. Fool for Love
-Probably the best of the Spike episodes, though there are many. It's probably the best episode that really fleshes out the Spike character. It just sheds a ton of light on his character and his relationship with Buffy, Druscilla, and Harmony and women in general, and we get to see him turn from foppish awful victorian poet to the Spike we know today.

4. Lies My Parents Told Me
-Again, more Spike background stuff. All the storylines going on are great - I think the whole Principal Wood arc was great and it was very nicely interwoven with the whole early Spike storyline. I don't think Jennie will ever forgive Giles for being in on Wood's plan for revenge.

5. Same Time, Same Place
-This demon deserves an honorable mention for scariest monster on the show. It was also a great episode all around.

Honorable Mentions
Conversations With Dead People
The Zeppo
Seeing Red

I could write more and more, but I should stop...

Pitching News

Prior threw off the mound today, for the first time in the 2 weeks since he had the shoulder strain. He threw 30 pitches, which seems like a good sign, though he cartainly won't be ready for the start of the season. No timetable has been set yet for his return.

Meanwhile, Williamson, who seemed to have a bullpen spot all but locked up, left a game yesterday with back spasms. Baker said he would be day to day, but the bullpen battle has turned into a dogfight. Before spring training started I had the bullpen projected as Dempster, Eyre, Howry, Ohman, Wuertz, Williamson, and Novoa. Now Wuertz is having an awful spring, Novoa had pneumonia, and Williamson might miss the opening of the season with this back stuff. My guess right now is that the opening day pitching staff will look like:
Rotation: Zambrano, Rusch, Maddux, Williams, Guzman (5th starter, called up when needed on 4/15)
BPen: Dempster, Howry, Eyre, Ohman, Koronka, Wellemeyer, Novoa, Aardsma (Until Guzman needs to start)

Fantasy Baseball

My first draft went down yesterday, and I'm mildly pleased with it. I only made one mistake pick - taking Noah Lowry when I meant to take some other pitcher (don't remember who). This is a 6-team NL-Only league, 5x5 with roto format.

C Willingham
1B Dunn
2b Utley
3b Wright
SS Renteria
CI A Ramirez
MI Greene
OF Pierre
OF Winn
OF Lane
OF Murton
Util Alou
B C Jackson
B E Encarnasion

P C Zambrano
P Pettite
P K Wood
P N Lowry
P L Hernandez
P G Maddux
P Gagne
P Valverde
P M Gonzalez
P Howry
P Linebrink

I went a little Cub-heavy in this draft...and I was trying not to make so many homer picks. Oh well. I even got an ex-cub in Moises Alou. I can picture Jennie reading this and saying "Alouuuuu!"

The biggest holes in this team are in Saves and my catcher position. If this rookie works out I'm set, if not no big deal - it's not like C is a good NL position (Barrett is the best one for God's sake...) Hopefully these closers should work out - Gagne is coming back from injury and has been a little shaky spring, and Valverde and Gonzalez aren't on rock-solid ground in their positions. Howry has had a great spring, and if Linebrink doesn't work out I can just find the inevitable "reliever with a breakout year" as the season progresses.

NL East

Many people are pointing to the NL East as the most interesting division this season. It certainly was last year - all 5 teams were in contention for a major part of the year. This year however the prevailing wisdom seems to be that the massive decline of Florida combined with the big acquistions of the Mets should result in a runaway victory for New York. I beg to differ. As much as I hate to say it, I think the Braves will win the division, AGAIN, and the Mets will again be the target of the gleeful NY tabloids.

The Mets' big pickups were Delgado and Wagner. This certainly addressed issues the Mets had last season, and they will probably score a lot of runs (there's no way Beltran has another lousy season like last year). However, they very much DO NOT have the pitching to compete in the national league. Their staff isn't even as good as the Yankees', who will need to score a lot of runs to support their staff. Look at their starters: Glavine will run out of gas this season, Pedro is battling a bizarre foot injury and has his best years behind him anyway, Trachsel has always been a junkball thrower, and Zambrano and Heilman are consistently inconsistent. Similarly, in their bullpen they have no one after Wagner and Julio, and they will need bodies to pitch even if their old starters pitch well since they can't go deep into games. The mets should finish around .500

The Braves will likely win the division, and only the Phillies will be able to give them a run for their money. My final predictions for this division is

Braves 90 wins
Phils 87 wins
Mets 80 wins
Nats 78 wins
Fish 60 wins

March 25, 2006


There's no question that this team will score the most runs in all of baseball. The only 'hole' in their lineup is Bernie Williams at DH, as he has long ago run out of gas. However, this team will probably give up a ton of runs as well. Their defense is pretty dodgy, with Damon's total lack of a throwing arm and A-Rod's sketchy D at third. Despite his reputation, Jeter is a sub-par defensive player as well. Their pitchers will give plenty of opportunities for errors as well. All of their starters have question marks - Unit and Mussina are definitely on the decline, Chacon and Wang need to prove that last season was not a fluke, and Wright/Pavano need to prove that that they can stay uninjured for any sort of reasonable stretch. Even more telling, their bullpen is quite questionable. Rivera is still good, but he isn't Mr. Sandman anymore. After seeing Farnsworth in Chicago, I don't think that the Yankees' big investment in him will pay off either. He won't be able to handle the pressure of pitchin in New York. The rest of their guys are washed up starters - this team is really missing the Tom Gordon/Mike Stanton/Jeff Nelson/Steve Karsay type guys that were the workhorses of their staff on all those good Yankees teams.

Like I said earlier, it's a 50/50 chance between the Yanks and the Sox as to who will win the AL east, and whoever doesn't win the title between the two of them won't make hte playoffs at all.

March 23, 2006


So, it looks like my plan of posting about all the MLB teams might have been a pipe dream. I'm going to finish up the AL east with the yankees and do quick overviews of AL Central and NL east. I'll probably do each team in the NL central since I'm most familiar with them anyway. Then I can make my picks, bitch about my fantasy drafts, and get ready to start the season - woo.

March 16, 2006

Shoulder Injury

Reports are coming in that the Prior shoulder injury is merely a strain, rather than a, God forbid, tear or anything like that. This should probably push back his schedule a bit too. None of the reports I've seen seem to say how long he should be out, though I'm guessing a week. Certainly starting the second game of the season is out of question.

Luckily we have a lot of off days early in the season, so we won't need the full 5-man rotation probably for the whole first month of the season. I wonder why no one else has seen this as a mixed blessing though, since logic dictates to us that more off dates early in the season means less down the stretch, when the players really need the rest.

I also don't care for the people who bash Dusty, Hendry, et al about "overworking" the horses on the team. As Dusty pointed out, these guys are horses, and I think their injuries have more been due to bad luck (in Prior's case) or a history of bad mechanics (in Wood's case). It's not like Zambrano is having any problems and he's done the most work of all three of them, knock on wood. Hell, two or three years ago everyone was raving that Prior had the best mechanics in the game, and that every young pitcher should emulate his delivery.

March 15, 2006

Red Sawx

This should be an interesting team. As usual, depending on how things shake up either the Sox or Yankees will win the AL east. However, I do not think that the loser between these two will win the wild card, due to the rising quality of the AL east and the quality of the White Sox and Indians.

They can hit the ball like no other - with Manny Ramirez and Ortiz in the lineup they will score a ton of runs, and Nixon and Varitek are no slouches either. The rest of their lineup is filled with the same question marks, with different names. Gonzalez is not known for his bat, and Lowell slumped spectacularly last season. Loretta is a quality guy, and Youkilis is as yet unproven as a Major Leaguer. And, despite his awesome name, I'm not sure how Coco Crisp will do in his first season in the Black Hole that is Boston after filling Damon's shoes.

Likewise, their pitching is full of question marks. Schilling still isn't the Schilling of 2 years ago, Wells has nothing left in the tank, you never know which Tim Wakefield you will see, Clement is the very definition of the enigmatic pitcher, and I still don't expect Beckett will ever be able to pitch a full season. At least their bullpen has improved from last year.

I predict ~90 wins for this team

March 14, 2006


Toronto spent a lot of money in the offseason, and anyone expecting the team to get significantly better will be disappointed. On the pitching side, look at what they added: a perennially underachieving (and injured) starting pitcher, and a half-decent closer who was wildly overpaid. These additions, while great, won't contribute as much to this team as having a healthy Roy Halladay. On the batting side, Glaus should mash and Overbay was a great pickup. However, Molina did not seem very happy to sign with the Jays...we'll see if he has a Revenge Season or a Sullen Season. Aside from the new guys, only Wells is any good, though their young middle infielders are highly touted and may progress this year.

I predict yet another slightly sub-.500 year from this team.

March 13, 2006


I'm posting this a day late, but yesterday was our 5th anniversary. We had a good, relaxing, and fun day, and continued our membership in the Cult of Joss Whedon by purchasing and watching the first season of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and capped off our evening with a delicious caramel apple and walnut pie.

Jennie, you are my love. I can't wait to see the smile on your face after you read this.

Love, Your Jorah


This team is a mystery. They have the bats in Tejada, Mora, Lopez, and Roberts, and on a pure stuff level their pitchers are pretty good. This team's chances hinge on the impact of Leo Mazzone, which was by far the best signing by any team this offseason. Their entire rotation is full of pitchers who haven't lived up to their potential, and Mazzone can turn things around. The only question is - will their starting pitching be enough to hang with the rest of the AL East?

This team certainly should have the offense to hang with any team but the Yankees. Matos is the only hole in their lineup, provided Patterson gets his act together now that he doesn't have the boo-birds hovering around his head.

However, their bullpen is not looking to be very good. And the linchpin of their offense last season, Brian Roberts, is still coming back from an injury and reports are looking like his elbow isn't the same. I predict the Orioles to have a sub-.500 season (though not a 100-loss season by any stretch of the imagination).

March 11, 2006

Devil Dogs

The Devil Rays are intriguing this year, for once. They certainly will not make hte playoffs this year, but it will be a different team than we are used to seeing. I think they will surprise many people with the pile of runs they will score this year - Baldelli and Crawford are crazy fast, and Cantu, Huff and hopfully Delmon Young (their can't-miss prospect) will drive in the runs. Lugo, Burroughs and Hall aren't very good, which may be a problem, but at least the team can play defense as well.

The reason why this team will not contend is their awful, awful pitching. Kazmir is the only decent pitcher on the entire staff, everyone else (starters and relievers will be lucky to have ERA's under 4.5. Look for this team to starting making a real push in 2 years, if they ever sign or develop any pitching.

The class of the West

Oakland is clearly the best team in either western division, AL or NL. They have the best rotation in the majors, a great young closer, a decent bullpen, and a bevy of young hitters - This is the kind of team that Billy Beane and the other saber geeks drool over. The only question marks on the team are Milton Bradley and Jay Payton - Payton will get surly due to lack of a starting role, and Bradley is kind of a surly guy anyway.

I think this team will win 100 games and likely win the World Series.

March 06, 2006


This Mariners team is part of an unlucky pantheon - teams that have no chance whatsoever to make the playoffs, joining such illustrious teams as Kansas City, Colorado, Arizona, Washington, Cincinatti, and Tampa Bay. Not to insult other well-'deserving' teams, like say Baltimore or Pittsburgh, whose chances are infitessimally small.

The team does have a few bright spots. Management wisely brought in another Japanese star - I would guess that the presence of Ichiro and Matsui have given the Mariners and Yankees mad $$ from overseas, much like Yao and the rockets. Jeremy Reed is a rising star, and Sexson is solid. The rest of their infield is quite forgettable, yes, even the tantalizing Adrian Beltre. Beltre is the poster child of the athlete who suddenly has a career year when he has a new contract coming - He'll wake up again when his current deal begins to run out.

The Mariners real problem is their pitching. Jarrod Washburn and Jaime Moyer are their top 2 starters? I'd be shocked if they win 15 games between them. Among all their pitchers (starters and BP) only Felix Hernandez, who is 3 years younger than me (man I am old), is the only one worth his salt. They are going to have a ton of runs scored on them, and will be lucky if they lose less than 100 games.

They lose bigger in Texas

This is an easy post to write - the Rangers have some bats, and they have no pitching. Their corner infielders are blue chippers (Texiera and Blalock), they have a (questionable) Nevin at DH, and Young is quite good at SS. Wilkerson is pretty good too, but the rest of their team is just replacable parts, with Generic McOutfielders like Dellucci and Mench, and Barajas isn't going to win awards anytime soon. Still, surrounding 2 blue-chippers with average offensive players (rather than sub-par ones) is a good recipe for runs, especially at The Ballpark.

Pitching on the other hand is a different story. They overpaid for Millwood, who had an inexplicable career year last year but is quite prone to the gopher ball and starting the stage in his career when pitchers beging to decline. Eaton never got his act together in San Diego, mainly due to injuries, and is not known for his control. Padilla is also an injury risk who hasn't got his stuff back, and may never have really had much in the first place. The rest of their rotation is full of scrubs, and their good bullpen will be negated by their lousy starters. They'll probably finish around .500 and give anaheim and oakland a few headaches.

March 04, 2006

More previewage - Angels

I'm going to do the AL west next - luckily this division is quite easy to call (the A's should run away with the division)

The Angels are the only team with a remote chance of challenging the A's for the title. Their hitting and defense should be pretty good, though Vlad and Erstad are clearly declining in both categories. Catching should be a slight question mark for them, but this team's biggest question will be pitching. They just don't have the horses the A's have, though Colon, Weaver, and Lackey are no slouches. Their bullpen is still the great Angels bullpen we've become accustomed to seeing since their 2002 title run.

I bet that they will be competing with the White Sox/Indians for the AL wild card spot, and will probably win it over either of those teams (I think both of them will decline)

Wood has surgery

In news that was no surprise to any Cubs fan, Kerry Wood had his knee scoped this week, pushing back his rehab about two weeks. Wood didn't want the surgery but this was probably the right decision. Hendry pointed out that though Wood can still pitch on that knee, his fielding/baserunning/hitting will suffer and might cause an even worse injury to it. Still though - GRUMP. They shuold just put a giant "If Prior and Wood stay healthy..." message on the big sign on Wrigley Field all season.

March 02, 2006

Chicago Cubs baseball is on the air!

The first Cubs spring training game is in 13 hours and 53 minutes (they have a ticker on the cubs website). Sadly I'm going to miss the beginning of it, since I have class until 2:15. Luckily the class I usually have at 2:25 has been cancelled tomorrow, so I should be able to catch a good chunk of the game. We're going to meet to do homework when class normally would meet, but I'll probably boogie early to try to catch some of the game.

March 01, 2006


Before I start talking about this team, did you see the crazy "Giants Idol" event they're holding this year.
The writeup
made it seem pretty cool - they even got Bonds to dress up in drag (see pic below). Apparently he was hilarious as "Paula Abdul."

I'm not a big Barry Bonds fan, but I think a lot of the "Barry Bonds is a dick" stuff is more related to how he treats the media as opposed to whether or not he actually is, in fact, a dick. This whole thing has made me think twice about whether he's an amenable guy or not (though it has not made me think twice about him and the steroids issue).

Anyway, the Giants. Everyone seems to be saying that they will win the NL West if Bonds stays healthy, but I don't agree with this. While their outfield would be pretty good offensively with the speedy Randy Winn, Barry Bonds and his giant head, and Jennie's boy Moises Alou, the rest of their offense is pretty forgettable. Though their bullpen looks decent, after Jason Schmidt they do not have the starting pitching needed to win the division. Morris was overpaid for and I think he is definitely on the decline. What is more important for the Giants is for their rookies/young players to do well (especially Lowry and Niekro). They certainly have the best chance to win the division after the Dodgers, but I'm not really seeing it.

February 25, 2006

Elves = Cowards

We're watching Lord ofthe Rings, and every time I see it I become more and more annoyed with the elves. I've never been a big elf fan in fantasy settings in general, but the Middle-Earth elves are cowards. They're all just fleeing the continent and leaving everyone else to fight Sauron. And everyone seems to be cool with this! Everyone seemed so honored when those elves showed up in Two Towers, but that wasn't even in the original book. Grr....

The Fathers

We now move to the reigning NL West "champs," the San Diego Padres. They won the division last year, despite barely even having a winning record. It wasn't just that there was parity in the division (all the teams were bad) but they got knocked around by everyone else too.

Their team has defnitely declined from last season. Aside from Peavy (a genuine ace) their pitching is lousy despite the fact that they play in a fantastic pitcher's park. I wouldn't take any of their non-Peavy starters on the road if my life depended on it. You're in trouble when Woody Williams is your #2 starter, and your rotation is rounded out by the incomparable (except maybe with each other) Chan Ho Park and Shawn Estes. Their bullpen is quite terrible too, with a declining Trevor Hoffman the only pitcher of note.

Offensively, they have improved. They kept Brian Giles, will hopefully have a healthy Dave Roberts this year, and have made a huge upgrade with Mike Cameron in center field. In a wash, they traded away their disappointing 3b prospect Burroughs and replaced him with the aging Vinny Castilla, who I bet will have a terrible year in Petco. They signed Piazza, who is declining but could probably reproduce Hernandez's numbers. His defense is terrible, but luckily(?) his body is so worn out that he can only catch so many games this season anyway.

This team is still better than the D-backs or the Rockies, but San Fransicso and LA are clearly the 'class' of this division, and the Padres will likely be lucky to be less than 10 games out of second place at the end of the season.

February 23, 2006

The Classics

We're watching Jurassic Park on Bravo right now. Every time I see it I remember what a great movie it is. I actually read the book before I saw the movie, years ago when I was in elementary/middle school. I actually read it (and a few other Crichton books) at the Summer Enrichment Program camp thing that I went to at UVA. I actually wasn't a big fan of the movie when I first saw it, because it was my first introduction to the movie-ization of a book a loved.

Now that I'm looking at it again, they did a pretty good job with their adaptation. Lex was pretty useless in the book, and I like the movie Grant as much as the book one, despite the fact that their personalities are completely different. Malcolm gets more hilarious every time I watch the movie too - it really is the perfect Jeff Goldblum role.

When I heard they were making a sequel with more dinosaurs, my reaction was "What the hell?" I thought that someone found Nedry's shaving cream can and made new dinos from that. The movie sequels were pretty bad...though I would give them tentative "Good Bad Movie" status, since the action was pretty good.

More NL West mediocrity

The Dodgers made a few head-scratching moves this offseason. Their all-star shortstop, Cesar Izturis, went down with an injury late last year and is currently rehabbing it. He probably won't be back until mid-season. However, the Dodgers went out and grabbed Rafael Furcal (the #1 shortstop on the free agent market), and then signed another shortstop in Garciaparra. Nomar was signed to play first base, which unclogged some of the middle infield situation, but one has to wonder what will happen when Izturis comes back? The Dodgers will have 3 all-stars slated to play 2 positions (Jeff Kent is at 2B) someone will probably have to go either to the outfield or out of LA. The problem is that none of them (other than maybe Furcal) would make a good outfielder, especially in spacious Dodger Stadium.

As questionable as their offseason hitting decisions went, the Dodgers managed to do a nice job with their pitching deals. They acquired the underrated Jae Seo from the Mets (which the Mets will definitely regret later), and managed to shore up their bullpen with Baez, who can step in to close if Gagne isn't back yet from his surgery. They have no established super-ace (not many do) but their rotation is full of decent to good pitchers, backed up by a solid bullpen.

I'm not sure where I see this team going - they have the pitching (and the stadium to pitch in) and a slightly more powerful (and much more athletic) offense to go far, especially against the tepid NL west. We'll see how the chemistry issues play out as the season goes on. I think they probably have the best chance of winning the division (maybe 50%) but I wouldn't call this a big endorsement.

February 21, 2006


I'm watching PTI, and they just mentioned that the Daytona 500 telecast outdrew the World Series and the NBA finals. What the hell? Anyone who trivializes baseball down to "a bunch of guys standing around scratching themselves" could do the same to Nascar with "a bunch of guys driving in circles." I don't like Nascar, but I can see how others can find it interesting (though if I ever got into following racing, Formula 1 would be much more interesting). I just find this depressing, since it's another reminder that baseball will never become America's Pastime again (football passed it long ago, after the '94 strike).

On another note, I booked it home early today to catch Dom (from Megatokyo on Jeopardy today, only to find that it was pre-empted by the (usually) incredibly boring Winter Olympics. Like I care about the Nordic Combined? It would still have been on except for the fact that our NBC affiliate keeps the mind-numbing Wheel of Fortune on in prime-time and shunts the more intelligent show into the much less prestigious "daytime" hours. I say boooo to you NBC. Boooo.

Speaking of the Olympics, the Winter Olympics are at least somewhat more interesting than the Summer Olympics, mainly due to curling. A competition with a strategy other than "be fast!" makes things far more interesting. Though I could really do without them, at least other non-sports like ice dancing justify the existence of other non-"athletic" sports. It would be great if they added other strategy-type stuff like chess, bridge, or poker to the Olympics too.

February 20, 2006

D'backs - some promise

Continuing our trend of lousy teams, we now look at the Diamondbacks. They have some real players on their team, and some highly touted youngsters that probably won't break through until next season. They have no superstars on their team, but they do have a bunch of good (or formerly great) players in Green, Gonzalez, and Estrada. Their defense is much better with Hudson at second base and should make Brandon Webb a great pitcher this year.

However, after Webb they don't have anything worth mentioning. The rest of their rotation consists of underachieving and overrated, over the hill pitchers like El Duque, Batista, and Russ Ortiz. Their bullpen should be okay, but only Valverde is lights out. As for the rest, it will likely be hit or miss (figuratively and literally) as to whether they stick around.

This team will likely suprise people, and will probably finish with 70 wins or so due to its offense. You can only go so far with crappy pitching.

My first preview thingy - Colorado Rockies

I'm going to start with the NL West because it's by far the least interesting division...the only interesting question is which of the teams suck the least. So, I'm going to start with the team that definitely sucks the most: the Rockies.

Bizarrely, for a team with a great hitting park the Rockies seem to be flush with scrub hitters. Helton is the only blue-chipper in the bunch, though Barmes might be someday barring any more grocery carrying incidents. As far as pitching goes, they seem to be focusing on so-so sinkerballers. If their GM was smart, they'd be trying anything to get groundball machines like Derek Lowe or Brandon Webb on their team. At least their closer is pretty good. Rob Neyer (I think) pointed out a few days ago that moving their fences in would do them a lot of good, as their whole humidor-ball program has limited the number of home run balls...however the massive size of the park is still allowing tons of doubles and triples. If they ever found the rest of the formula to nullify the Coors effect, then they might be in business to actually compete without radical personnel strategies. Until then they will remain perennial losers as always. This feels like another 100 loss team this year.

February 19, 2006

New Blog!

I was talking to Jennie the other day, and I decided that I shouldn't inflict my baseball-related ramblings on a single person. Then again, as not many people will likely be reading this blog, it's not like the punishment will be spread around very much.

My plan is basically to put any of my baseball-related thoughts (and maybe other stuff) somewhere where others can read them later. Prepare to be amused and confused, I'm usually not very coherent. It will likely soon be obvious that I am a Cubs fan, and once the season starts a large part of my blogging will be related to them and to my perennially underachieving fantasy teams.

For now though, I'm going to further fuel my excitement by writing my own team previews/thoughts/etc, hopefully for all 30 teams in the league before Opening Day, followed by my own predictions.