Postgame Spread
You guys hangin' out? I'll hang out.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Are the Angels injured enough, really?    

The injuries to Lackey and especially Escobar have a lot of people, myself included, wondering if the Mariners may actually have a better shot at the playoffs this year than the Angels for once. While I feel particularly bad for Escobar, who I've always liked, there's no question that the possibilities are tantalizing. However, I think many observers may be overly influenced by the psychological impact of seeing the top two guys with injury issues, one probably out for the whole season and possibly much longer. They may be overlooking the number of positions at which the Angels retain a substantial edge.

So, I want to take a closer look and go through these two teams position by position and see where the advantage really lies. There's no question that the Mariners have an OK shot at the playoffs this year, but let's take a closer look here...

1B: Kotchman >> Sexson

I arbitrarily award two points to the Angels here. Kotchman is a better hitter and a better fielder than Sexson at this point, by a substantial margin. Only the slight chance that Sexson's struggles last year were temporary leaves this at only two points.

2B: Kendrick >> Lopez

Defense is basically a push here, in fact Lopez might have a slight edge defensively, so both the arbitrarily-awarded advantage points here are about hitting. Lopez might still break out--he's still young and showed some very real talent for a time--but no one on the planet is betting on it at this point. Kendrick, meanwhile, is soon to be among the best 2-3 second basemen in the AL. There's a chance this should be three points; in fact, I'm making it three.

SS: Betancourt > Aybar

Both these guys took big steps back last year. I fully expect Betancourt to rebound a bit, and his throwing problems to be mostly rectified, but he's already lost a step on defense and may have topped out as a hitter. I'm not particularly sold on Aybar, or Brandon Wood for that matter, but I just can't see giving a 2 point advantage here.

3B: Beltre > Izturis

This might be deserving of 2 points. Beltre is definitely a superior defender and hitter, though I wouldn't be shocked if Izturis outhit him one year or another due to a combination of luck and Beltre tanking, which remains an ever-present possibility. We'll call this 1.5.

C: Johjima > Napoli

Here is where I start wishing I'd given more 3 point advantages earlier so that I could give a 2 point advantage here. Johjima could step back a bit but has been very consistent; Napoli has shown exciting power but doesn't really impress me. I'm not extremely confident here, but I'll award another 1.5.

Running total of arbitrary quantification of talent differential: LAA 5, SEA 4.

This quantification is closer than my instincts about how this will actually play out is, so there's a good chance I've been too generous to Seattle so far.

RF: Guerrero >>> Wilkerson/Morse

If I thought Guerrero was going to play the whole season, I'd be awarding 4 points here. If it weren't for Wladmir Balentien sitting in AAA, I'd be awarding 5. As it is, I still feel like 3 is too low, so LAA gets 3.5 here. But Guerrero's not going to be great forever, so who knows?

CF: Ichiro >> Hunter

While Ichiro may be slightly overrated in his CF defense, Torii's been slipping, which awards a point for offense and a point for defense. I may be being overly cautious here.

LF: GMJR > Ibanez

Ibanez has a chance to close this gap with his bat, but he still can't hit lefties, his defense is atrocious, and I continue to worry he'll stop being effective at any moment. Still, right now, Ibanez is the superior hitter, at least by a hair, so the combination of defense and risk of collapse still only nets the Angels one point.

DH: Anderson > Vidro

I hate Anderson, and I don't think he's very good. I'm not as convinced as some that Vidro is truly god-awful, but this is a very weak position for both teams. I'm only awarding a half point here, but that's not because I think Vidro's going to be any good.

Running total: LAA 10, SEA 6

Well, I may have balanced things out a little too much there, but the point is clear: LAA has the superior offense and defense, and sizeable advantages at key positions. Serious over-achievement by some combination of Sexson, Lopez, Vidro and Wilkerson (or Balentien) is going to be necessary to make this particularly close. Let's go to the pitching:

SP1: Bedard > Lackey

If Lackey wasn't already hurt, I would have called this a push and maybe awarded half a point to Lackey for being so durable (unlike Bedard). Bedard's still an injury risk, but I don't feel bad about giving the Mariners a point here.

SP2: Felix > Weaver

I could have gone with Garland over Weaver here like the depth chart says, but I thought I'd focus on the young guys. Clearly Felix is the superior talent, by leaps and bounds, but I still wouldn't be that shocked to see Weaver out-pitch him one more year. Still, I have to give the Mariners another point here. This would have been a push with Escobar, whose persistent injury concerns would have balanced out the fear that Felix will continue to give up way too many HRs. However, if the Mariners do make the playoffs this year, it will probably be because Felix mops the floor with Weaver and/Garland and/or whoever else, as anyone could predict.

SP3: Garland > Bastista

I know Batista is supposedly our #5 pitcher this year, but I think he's better than Silva or Washburn, so I'm putting him here. I think Garland is not actually very good, so I'm only giving half a point here, but my rosy-glasses with regard to Batista may be on full display.

SP4: Santana > Silva/Washburn
Santana was overrated, now he's probably underrated. He's not much better than the Mariners' guys, but he's better.

SP5: Washburn/Silva = Saunders/Moseley

I'm not awarding any points here, because I think the real difference is going to be in how well depth can cover the various losses in playing time, etc., and more because I just don't feel like I know how this is going to turn out.

Running total: LAA 11.5, SEA 8

Now, to round it all out...

Bullpen: SEA > LAA

If Shields turns out to be fine for most of the season, this could go the other way, and it could be that my ignorance about a lot of the other guys in the Angels pen is making me underestimate them. But I don't really think Shields will be OK, and while the Seattle pen makes me nervous, there's some pretty good talent there.

Bench: LAA >> SEA

Seattle's bench is terrible. It's the worst bench construction I have ever seen. The Angels have some pretty great talent on their bench. I'm only awarding a point and a half here, because I don't think the bench is as important as some of the other stuff , but if this race turns out to be nowhere close, the huge gulf in class between these benches will be a big reason why.

Depth in minors: LAA > SEA

If I was ranking these systems overall, the Angels would get two points here, but in terms of what we'll need and when, I think Seattle isn't so miserably positioned here. There's a good chance Balentien will be able to step in and really help at some point this year, and Baek and Rowland-Smith are pretty solid #6 SP types to fill in for a start here and there (I guess technically those guys are in our bullpen, but they're still essentially available AAA talent the way I look at things). The Angels still have a better group of kids to make use of, but Seattle isn't as far behind as they would appear at first glance, with the exception of the chance that the LAAoA may be able to make use of some of that talent to make an important trade, which could end up making a big difference.

Final tally: LAA 13, SEA 9.

I suppose that means that if I magically intuited the exact difference in talent between the two teams, then the Mariners have a 41% chance of making the playoffs (I submit that their practical chance at the wildcard is 0.0%). That's probably a little harsh, but I think the safe money is still on the Angels.

Don't get me wrong; my hopes are still up, and the thought of Bedard and Felix catching fire in the playoffs is very exciting. But I do believe that the Angels should still be considered the favorites to win the division.

Thoughts? Disagreements?

MLB Predictions    

Quick predictions on Opening Day.

AL East
New York (WC)

AL Central
KC Masterpiece

AL West

NL East
NY Mets

NL Central
Chi Cubs
St. Louis

NL West

San Diego
LA Dodgers

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Zing of the day    

Although our love of all things Dikembe is already documented, in case you needed one more reason that Dikembe Mutombo is the greatest of all time, enjoy his take on Isiah Thomas:

"I had a guy tell me that I couldn't play basketball no more, to go to the beach and onto vacation. That's the same guy who's losing his job tomorrow."
Update: FuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckFFFFFUCK. "If Isiah isn't the coach, Jim still wants him to stay in the organization in some capacity." Here's hoping that capacity is Jizzmopper.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Tip of the hat / Wag of the finger    

Tip of the hat - to MLB, for letting me wake up to the middle o fa Sox game, on an otherwise mind numbingly boring Tuesday. Say what you will about the ridiculous disruption of rhythm placed on the A's and the Sox, breakfast baseball is cool.

Wag of the finger - to Buster Olney, for destroying all the goodwill engendered by morning baseball, by dropping this nugget of horror into today's chat:

Buster Olney: (2:30 PM ET ) Jason: I think C.C. Sabathia is going to have a very difficult/great decision to make, because the Yankees are going to offer him a staggering deal of maybe $40 million more than any other team.


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Monday, March 17, 2008

Where Brown-Bag Protests Happen    

Wearing brown bags in protest of your team's rudderless leadership = old and busted.

Wearing brown bags and terrifying Herb Kohl with your Ruben Patterson jersey = new hotness.

THAT, messieurs et mesdames, is where amazing happens.

(h/t to Fanhouse for the story and Yahoo! Sports for the pic)

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Words (Briefly) Escape Me: Bruce Bowen Steps On Chris Paul's Junk    

The NBA... where getting stomped in the Timbits happens!

The tone of reaction from folks who linked this video, appropriately, has not been outrage. It's been acceptance. The world apparently accepts that this is okay, and holds Bowen's behavior up, weakly, for ridicule.

There's been talk of late that David Stern's biggest failure as commissioner is what's happening in Seattle. Hard to argue against that choice based on the gravity of the end result. But at least that makes SENSE. Stern is employed ownership, and the Sonics situation, awful as it is, is nevertheless understandable based on Stern's job responsibilities. Wrong? Of course. Out of bounds? Not at all.

The classically dictatorial Stern's failure to discipline Bowen and curb his behavior, however... that is beyond comprehension for me. Stern is the biggest star-fucker of any sports commissioner in American history. Why does he allow his precioussssss superstars to be put at risk like this?

Back in the playoffs last year, I advocated banning Bruce Bowen for the balance of the playoffs, based not on the Game 4 incident in isolation but rather on Game 4 in the context of his body of work. I stand by that. I honestly believe that Bruce Bowen has accrued, at this point in his career, at least 30-40 regular season games' worth of unallocated suspensions. I also believe it would be justifiable, in the eyes of an omniscient and omnipotent God, to suspend Bowen for half of a regular season without pay.

In fact, how about this. Bowen just kicked a New Orleans Hornet in the beanbag. Bowen also seems to like being the face and voice of that unintentionally hilarious NBA Cares commercial. (The commercial wherein, miraculously, he resists the urge to kick those kids in their Achilles tendons while they're distracted by the story he's reading.) So why not have Mr. Charitable Contributions spend half a season rebuilding the Ninth Ward? Suspend him without pay, but then take the suspended salary away from the Spurs and allocate it to Habitat for Humanity. (The Spurs created this monster, so why let them keep the spoils?) That way any accusations made towards the controversial punishment will be shielded by 9/11-esque Katrina allusions! Gee, you know it's not fair, but I'd hate to take away from the rebuilding effort in New Orleans... there's so much left to be done... etc. etc.

A guy can dream, can't he? I put it to you that if the NBA really cared, they'd do exactly what I say.

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Monday, March 10, 2008

This Story Is Nuts    

Or should I say nutYou decide.

Ugh.  Poor friggin guy.  Like listening to Lou Piniella's shit on a daily basis isn't bad enough...

No Fat Chicks    

A history of Mutumbo's finger wag

Red Sox = Chubby Chasers    

Somehow this story completely escaped me.

From ESPN: COLON'S COMEBACK CONTINUES (4:58 p.m. ET)Bartolo Colon's comeback picked up speed Sunday when he showed excellent control in his first batting practice session of spring training and was scheduled to pitch in a game Thursday.
Colon has been impressive since Boston signed the 2005 AL Cy Young Award winner to a minor league contract Feb. 25. He threw three bullpen sessions in the previous six days without facing hitters.
"He's ready for some game activity," pitching coach John Farrell said after Sunday's 43-pitch session.
Colon won't throw more than 30 pitches or two innings against Tampa Bay in his spring debut, Farrell said.
After Sunday's batting practice session against four minor leaguers, Colon said through a translator that he "feels better than ever" after two injury-plagued seasons. -- The Associated Press

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

Eagles Offseagle Neagle at Wide Receagle    

Just read this post. The article's main arguments appear to be (1) the Eagles need a WR, (2) in that category, their need is for a big red zone receiver, (3) building through the draft is a great option, and (4) Larry Fitzgerald is the best overall option.

First, the premise is interesting, if not entirely new (how many years have the Eagles been looking for a WR?).

Second, my uninformed opinion they're overstating the effectiveness of Curtis as a deep threat (and therefore underestimating the need for one), which is a great example of why I wish they had KC Joyner's Hollinger-like stats available on Also, Jabbar Gaffney is a red zone receiver -- I think it's fair to say the Eagles need something more than that.

Third, I'm also not nearly as excited about the WRs in the draft because (a) admittedly, I don't know anything about them, (b) it appears particularly difficult for teams to predict what college WRs will give them, and (c) Andy Reid's offense seems especially difficult for rookies to pick up.

Fourth, I think they overestimate Fitzgerald's availability. Are the Cardinals really going to accept Sheppard (who is very good, but overrated; plays a position that is generally less valued; is 2 years older; had a sub-par season last year; and will probably be cut if he isn't traded, due to financial considerations), an underachieving OT, and a first-round pick (likely to be low with Fitzgerald on board) for their best player (a former first rounder himself)? If anything, I think Boldin is the guy on the Cardinals you go after. He's not as big, has injury issues and is a little older, but that's exactly why he'd be available and he'd still present a major change for their offense.

As for thoughts on other options: Evans would be a great fit, and considering their financial situation, Buffalo might be happier trading him than paying him. Roy Williams could probably be had; a year-in-the-league Calvin Johnson to replace him, plus parts to improve the secondary (Sheppard) and O and/or D lines (where the Eagles almost always have a surplus) would make sense. It might be worth taking a look at one of the underachieving Falcons receivers (Jenkins or White) to see if they're busts, or if they were just on a busted team (White especially had some nice games last year). I'd be happy with a trade for Ronald Curry; he's not a big name and hasn't stayed healthy, but he's been very good on a bad team when he's played. As for why the Raiders would trade him, they need pieces on lines (especially on offense) and someone to play opposite Asomugha, the Javon Walker signing makes him expendable (at least in the Raiders' eyes) and the Raiders aren't going anywhere anyway (so why not load up on picks?). Other than that, it doesn't look like there's much out there (unless you want to roll the dice on whichever Jaguars WR gets cut. Show me Troy Williamson!).

Rajon Rondo Done Gone Made Us Up A Poster    

Witness THIS:

That makes two ridiculous 10-points-out-of-10 slams for Rajon Rondo in two weeks, the other being this nasty MFer right here:

If you think Sam Cassell is challenging THIS guy for the starting job, forget about it.

Rondo's not the de facto starter. Nor has he been at any time this season. He's the STARTER, and he's earned it. He's as much a reason for the team's success (and aesthetic pleasure) as anyone.

Dude's a menace. He's an excellent defender. He's as good as anyone on the team at creating his own offense. And watch the organization of this team when Rondo's on the court, versus when the otherwise-capable pair of Eddie House and Tony Allen run the show. Night and day.

The moment is coming when it won't be the Big Three anymore.

On a different topic, I love the Cassell move. It puts the C's over the top, making them the prohibitive favorite in the East as opposed to the favorite with contingencies. Celtic opponents can only put together runs when Rondo's off the court, just because the offense is so disorganized and amateurish in his absence. Cassell solves that problem the instant he steps into his uniform.

I sure hope this doesn't happen again in practice:

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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em    

In case anyone forgot why the Sixers traded Korver...

Monday, March 03, 2008

Massholes On Parade    

This season, I'm on a mission of mercy. I'm here from Mitch and Murray!

With a division title under my Red Sox' belts, and a fast-ballooning Boston payroll, the playing field is truly even, for the first time since the days of Donny Baseball. We can finally be magnanimous about the local nine, and not treat baseball like an arms race. Acting like dickheads about the Yankees is entirely unnecessary; we have nothing to prove and nothing to gain by doing so. Theo the Pimp has afforded us the luxury of sitting back and just enjoying the ride. We can free ourselves of all this hate and just be happy.

But nobody's getting that message. It's just the same old Yankees-suck bullshit as always. We've all been greedy. Envious. Wrathful. Prideful.

We have a fast-growing karmic deficit on our hands. If we're not careful, Kevin Spacey is going to put our heads in a box. (And God knows what he'll do to the rest of our bodies.) Hell, after this past Super Bowl, a well-deserved kick in the nuts to an entire region (my testicles are still ringing like Christmas church bells), maybe it already happened. Maybe we've already been Spacey'd. It sure feels like it.

Well, I'll be goddamned if I'm going to endure another nightmare scenario because of my compatriots' aggregate assholery. This season cannot be allowed to devolve into the same old bitterness, bile, and bloviation. It's time to fight back against my own kind.

How, you ask? By pointing out every case of Massholery that I find.

Trust me. It's for our own good.

Anyway, the first entry is the perfect example to get this series started:

The victim’s sobbing girlfriend told police the couple went to the Cantab Lounge at 738 Mass. Ave. midnight Saturday. The couple was inside the bar for a while when a large group of people came up to them and started arguing with the victim because he was wearing a New York Yankees baseball cap, according to police reports.

Best part: the Irish accents. Worst part: everything else.

Gentlemen... you skidmarks on the underwear of life... this isn't cute anymore. Five years ago, this might have elicited a brief, evil smile from me. Now I just roll my eyes at how pathetic and pedantic it is. Gee, you really showed that guy. If you stood under a blacklight, you'd shine blue, like the cumstains that you are.

I hope I won't need more installments in this series, but if Chuck E. Cheese's fights are any indication, I probably will.

In closing, this town needs an enema.

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I'm sure most of you have at least glanced at some of the Sonics mailbag stuff Simmons has been posting. If not, you should. I guess, or not, I don't know.

I don't have a lot to say, except that while it's true that I'm incredibly frustrated/sad/furious/resigned/outraged about the whole situation, I am still glad the city of Seattle is not ponying up this money. Screw 'em all. I don't want to lose the Sonics, but I'd rather see them go than see these assholes get what they want. I look forward to watching the NBA fail in OKC eventually, not that I bear any particular ill-will towards NBA fans in that city.

No more extortion of municipalities for new stadiums. I will vote against any measure I have the opportunity to no matter where or when.