Monday, March 29, 2010


Buster Olney has a good article on his suggestions for MLB realignment, and in one of his finer points, he says: "The divisions have served baseball nicely, but it makes no sense that the Angels have to compete against three other teams for their division title, and the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds have to compete against five teams."

I mean, seriously.  I understand it made sense to move Milwaukee out of a West Coast league (they played in the AL East with the Angels, Mariners, Athletics, and Rangers until 1993), but it isn't that big of a deal if the Rangers still have to play there.  To stack the deck in the NL Central for six teams hypothetically decreases the odds each team there has to make the playoffs.

Another difficult thing to settle is playing the Yankees and their ginormous payroll every year.  There's no doubt it's tough for the Blue Jays, Orioles, Rays, and even the Red Sox to compete with that every year, but maybe they should create a salary cap and floor or some better system than revenue sharing to fix that problem instead of tearing up the current format and creating a new one.

I'm not a baseball purist or anything, and I'm not sure what the purist argument would be here.  Buster suggests having two different leagues and tearing up the divisional format, giving the top six seeds in each league a playoff birth,  giving the 1 and 2 seeds byes in the first round, and playing a three-game series with the 3s vs. 6s and 4s vs. 5s.  All three games in these "wild card" series would be played at the home of the higher seed, giving the lower seeds a gift of allowing them to make the playoffs, while keeping the important advantage in the hands of the higher seed that performed better during the regular season.

I actually agree with most of what Buster Olney says.  It makes complete sense to tear up the current system and even up the number of teams in each league, you keep things competitive throughout the season (I imagine there will be a substantial handful of teams competing for the 5-6 spots in the last two weeks of the season), and the Astros don't have to play the Reds 15 times (9.3% of your games), and 75 games against your entire division (46.3% of your total games) during the course of an entire season.  The Rangers actually play the Oakland A's 19 times during the season! It makes sense when winning the division is something important, I guess, since winning your division should mean beating those within your division the majority of the time.  The advantage of eliminating the division format clearly would lift the need for the absurdity of playing nearly 40% of your games against three opponents.  MLB still has the advantage of scheduling intra-city/state rivalries through interleague play, so the fans and owners fan stay happy.

I do wonder if 16 teams will stay in the NL and 14 in the AL, or if some franchise prefers to use the DH and wants to switch to the AL.  Is there some sort of perverted application process where Bud Selig chooses a team (probably the Brewers), or is it like the South Park episode on the financial bailout where Congressional leaders decapitate a chicken while playing a kazoo until it lands on BAILOUT!!...?

You have the owners and the players, the umpires, Bud Selig and his own MLB/Milwaukee Brewers' favoring agenda, so there are a lot of pieces to this puzzle.  I don't know how it will be settled, but I think Buster officially convinced me of the merits of ditching the divisional format.

Anyway, talking about Bud Selig so much will probably cause me to be in a bad mood the rest of the day, so I'm going to dedicate the rest of my day to developing a Selig-criticizing post tomorrow.

For now, Bud Selig has been indirectly criticized for allowing this stupid scheduling format to exist.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Doc - Ouch...

Unfortunately, my first news story is a sad one.  I have had the fortune of meeting Dwight "Doc" Gooden, and he was quite possibly one of the most impressive and genuine baseball celebrities I have ever met.  Bad things happen to good people, and a DWI allegation doesn't diminish my view of his personal character in any way.  Great guy, bad decision. He's been through a lot in his life, so this one hurts deep. Best of luck, Doc.

ESPN Story on Doc's DWI

Unfortunately, Doc, today you've been criticized.

Picture taken from

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


OK, so I've done some pretty cursory analysis trying to figure out why closers get paid so much.  They only pitch one inning a game, some barely reaching 70 innings pitched in any given year.  Let's take former Astros' closer, current Tiger closer Jose Valverde.  Jose is a good pitcher, without a doubt.  Last year, he went 4-2 with a 2.33 ERA, gave up 5 HR, walked 22, and struck out 56.  His (Walk + Hits) / IP was a respectable 1.13, and his ERA+ was 180 (which is very good).

So, Joe, why is there a problem here?  For some reason, it bugs me that Jose put up those numbers and made $8,000,000 in 2009 (while I probably made $10,000 in 6 months working for a baseball team), WHILE ONLY APPEARING IN 52 GAMES, PITCHING 54 INNINGS, AND THROWING 887 PITCHES.  If you're trying to calculate, that's $153,846 per appearance, $148,148 per inning, and $9,019 per pitch.  Maybe his dollar per inning would be a little less if the Astros had been in a higher number of closer games. He spent 4 days on the DL in April, all 31 days of May, and 13 days in June for a total of 48 days and a rough estimate of 40 games for the entire 2010 season.

The average salary for current expected MLB closers is a little over $5,000,000, but when you factor in the 26.7% of closers who were supposed to start this season as a closer but are currently on the DL, that number jumps to almost $6,000,000.  If you were curious, Mariano Rivera is obviously the highest paid closer (and rightfully so) at $15,000,000 for 2010.  The Reds are paying Francisco Cordero $12,000,000 to pitch this year, and he accumulated 66.2 IP last year.  Those numbers just seem insane for someone who might contribute 5 innings a week.  You have Joe Mauer, on the other hand, who signed an extension with the Twins for somewhere around $24.5 million to play every day.  Assuming he plays 130 games and each inning in every game, he will make approximately $188,462 per game and $20,940 per inning. Let's compare that last number to the $148,148 Jose made per inning last year. Does something seem off to you?  It does to me, too.

Maybe closers have some innate character trait that enables them to drown out the crowd like Kevin Costner in "For the Love of the Game." But they are still a situational pitcher.  They go in, on the majority of occasions, ONLY when their team has a small lead going into the ninth inning.  The 26.7% of relief pitchers that are STARTING their season on the DL is further evidence of an unbelievable market price for such a replaceable position.  I think it's virtually guaranteed that every closer will end up hitting the DL at some point during the season.  Why would you pay someone that much for such little output and expected injury time?

Maybe this problem is beyond me.  If I had it my way, I would keep rotating my best minor league closers into the MLB role at the $400,000 league minimum for two or three years, then use them as trade bait in July if it didn't seem we would be in contention.  I think you could take some franchises teetering on a playoff birth to the cleaners for a young, proven closer and pick up some nice pieces along the way for your own playoff run.  Plus you can spend that extra $5,500,000 on a certifiable stud you might not have thought you could afford, or spread it over various tiers of relief pitchers to strengthen the bullpen.

Anyway, enough with this rant.  I need more statistics to back my theory up, and rest assured I will be hitting and for some Sabermetric stats to enhance its validity.  Baseball fans, I would appreciate any commentary.

For now, MLB GMs, consider yourself criticized.

Monday, March 22, 2010

J.R. Towles - Officially Criticized

I'm going to start posting a baseball thought/picture/news story daily, and I'd love to start it off with a picture of the Astros' presumptive 2010 starting catcher taking a baseball straight to the face.

Sorry, J.R. You've just been criticized.

Image taken from:

Some Changes

So I am only a couple of weeks away from starting this crazy process of short Southwest flights, taxis, dumpy hotel rooms, and stadium food.  I've made some changes to the itinerary for my West Coast leg, scheduled to begin when I fly out of Houston on April 13th for San Francisco.  Here's the updated schedule (home team in CAPS):

April 14th, 12:45 PM: SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS vs. Pittsburgh Pirates
April 15th, 7:05 PM: OAKLAND ATHLETICS vs. Baltimore Orioles
April 16th, 7:10 PM: SEATTLE MARINERS vs. Detroit Tigers
April 18th, 1:05 PM: SAN DIEGO PADRES vs. Arizona Diamondbacks
April 19th, 6:40 PM: ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS vs. St. Louis Cardinals
April 23rd, 7:10 PM: COLORADO ROCKIES vs. Florida Marlins

I wish I could watch a game in Denver right after the game in Phoenix, but MLB has sucker-punched me with the scheduling here, so I will be flying out of Phoenix on the night of the 20th to Denver, where I will be staying with my good friend David Cummings.  I know Phoenix is a great city (one of the fastest growing urban areas in the United States), but spending 3 or 4 days in outdoorsy Denver is too hard to pass up.  Plus, I know I'll be staying there for free.

You might be wondering: "Joe, you're an idiot.  There are two teams that supposedly cohabit Los Angeles together, but you've obviously forgotten about them here. Jackie Robinson's Brooklyn Dodgers who fled the Northeast for cozy SoCal? Joe Torre? Manny being Manny and Torii Hunter? A team that isn't actually in Los Angeles but loves to put the city name in front of its official team name anyways? Hollywood, Santa Monica, Rodeo Drive, In 'N Out Burger, Heidi Montag, HOW COULD YOU FORGET ABOUT LA???!!! HOW COULD YOU DO IT, JOE?!!!???"

For all you doubters of my organizational and scheduling capabilities, Los Angeles will merit its own special trip at the end of June when I can visit my best friend, David Atlas, who will be leaving Jay-Z and the bright lights of New York City for the beaches of Santa Monica. I have a feeling I won't be the first or last friend to visit him. We're going to enjoy animal-style burgers, the sun, and the talent, all while cruising down the Pacific Highway in David's new Smart Car.

*An aside: David will punch me if I do not disclose the fact that he will refuse to buy or lease a Smart Car.

So I have some more rescheduling to do, but I will post the new itineraries for each leg in the near future.  If anyone has a friend in Seattle, San Diego, or Phoenix that might be interested in putting me up for a night or two, tell him/her I will buy them dinner and a six-pack (or cheap bottle of vino).

I've given a shot out to David and David for their willingness to help already, but I also need to thank James Pritchett, who has graciously offered his place in Oakland for a day or two at the beginning of my journey.  Looking forward to the Golden Gate Bridge and some pancakes, my man.