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May means more baseball

My Irrational League team spent most of April solidly in seventh place but during the month’s last week tremendously climbed into a tie for third. My hitting couldn’t be better. My pitching could only barely be worse. This is the first week my team ERA has started under 6.00.

I dropped Ben Sheets, who is struggling and won’t be an asset even if ever traded to the National League, with Carlos Silva, who may continue his fluke run or may revert but in any case can fill in for the injured Jason Marquis.

No one picked up Livan Hernandez. Unbelievers!

How I stand:

.272 batting average (3rd)
49 HR (1st)
177 RBI (2nd)
30 SB (tied for 2nd)
5.70 ERA (10th)
1.37 WHIP (7th)
12 wins (tied 8th)
6 saves (6th)

All that adds up to 48 points, good for a third-place tie and only half a point out of a second-place tie. It’s 20 points behind the current leader, however.

Bonus foreboding:

I still have two posts I want to write, one a summary of the year’s Atom B hockey with plenty of photos and the other a summary of how my Department of Journalism has toyed with me.

The 2010 Angels with Crystal Balls

The Irrational League held its annual April fantasy-baseball draft. I think I did OK, although my starting pitching makes me queasy. I was expecting Hiroki Kuroda to be on the table a few rounds in, but he was snapped up sooner than I had anticipated, probably because we held our draft after his first start, a masterpiece. I took some risks – rather, I took what most people would consider risks. I, however, am confident that Adam Laroche will thrive in Arizona’s home-run environment. Jay Bruce will bounce back. He has too much talent for last year and the first week of this year to be the norm. Mat Latos has a live arm in a forgiving ballpark. I have two good starting catchers. Every hitter brings something to the table, much like my team last year. In fact, I think I have more than last year.

My hitters and projections:

C: Yadier Molina: .280, 5 HR, 55 RBI, 5 SB
C: Miguel Olivo: .260, 15 HR, 50 RBI, 5 SB
1B: Adam LaRoche: .260, 25 HR, 90 RBI
2B: Kelly Johnson: .275, 15 HR, 65 RBI, 10 SB
SS: Ryan Theriot: .280, 5 HR, 55 RBI, 20 SB
3B: David Wright: .305, 20 HR, 80 RBI, 25 SB
CI: Adam Kennedy: .280, 10 HR, 55 RBI, 15 SB
MI: Freddy Sanchez: .290, 10 HR, 45 RBI, 5 SB
OF: Matt Holliday: .300, 25 HR, 85 RBI, 10 SB
OF: Matt Kemp: .290, 20 HR, 80 RBI, 30 SB
OF: Jay Bruce: .290, 35 HR, 95 RBI, 10 SB
OF: Nate McClouth: .265, 20 HR, 75 RBI, 20 SB
OF: Ryan Ludwick: .270, 25 HR, 80 RBI, 5 SB
UT: Melvin Mora: .280, 5 HR, 40 RBI, 5 SB
UT: Lastings Milledge: .275, 10 HR, 60 RBI, 20 SB

On my bench, I have Jeff Baker to sub until Freddy Sanchez comes back from an injury. Greg Zaun also has a seat there.

I figure my final hitting stats will come out to something like .280, 250 HR, 1015 RBI, and 180 SB. It’s more or less what I expected last year, with an extra 40 SB tacked on for the loss of 20 RBI. I guessed second or third in batting average and homers, first in RBI, and third or fourth in stolen bases. I think my first three categories hold, but if my team gets 180 stolen bases, I will win that outright – let’s conservatively predict a second-place finish there. That’s 36 points in hitting.

Those 36 points better be enough to buoy my pitching.

SP: Chris Carpenter: 14 W, 3.40 ERA, 1.15 WHIP
SP: Ted Lilly: 11 W, 3.75 ERA, 1.20 WHIP
SP: Mat Latos: 10 W, 3.60 ERA; 1.20 WHIP
SP: Kevin Correia: 11 W, 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP
P: Jason Marquis: 11 W, 4.05 ERA, 1.30 WHIP
P: Kyle Lohse: 12 W, 4.25 ERA, 1.30 WHIP
RP: Trevor Hoffman: 30 Sv, 2 W, 3.15 ERA, 1.15 WHIP
RP: Billy Wagner: 25 Sv, 2 W, 3.10 ERA, 1.20 WHIP
RP: Latroy Hawkins: 3 Sv, 3 W, 3.50 ERA, 1.20 WHIP
RP: Danys Baez: 4 Sv, 3 W, 3.40 ERA, 1.20 WHIP

I do not like three of my six starters, who are consistently league average. They have no upside. Fortunately, starting pitching is unpredictable and the most available commodity. Also, I have Pedro Martinez and Ben Sheets on my reserve list….

I figure I’ll get roughly 60 saves (good for fifth), 80 wins (good for fifth), but come in strong with an ERA of 3.80 (third) and a WHIP of 1.25 (first). That’s 30 points to total, with the hitting, 66 points – more than enough for the 60 points usually needed to win.

Let’s see how this all shakes out. I know I’ll be shaking when Lohse, Correia, and Marquis toe the rubber.


This was weird. Today, we had to submit our list of four keepers for the 2010 version of the Irrational League.

I kept reaching the same conclusion: I have to drop two guys that have been mainstays of my team for years. Aging sucks. You hurt, you get slower, and you can’t quite reach places you used to. I feel that myself, too.

I’m keeping:

Matt “Summer” Kemp OF LA
David “Two Wrongs Don’t Make a” Wright 3B NY
Matt “Roman” Holliday OF STL
Chris “Karen” Carpenter SP STL

Goodbye, Lance (Berkman). So long, Carlos (Beltran). Please empty your desks and have security escort you to the front door.

The strange thing is that this completes an absolute turnover in my keepers. A year ago, only Kemp was on my team, and that was only his second year with me. I acquired the other three through last year’s draft and a trade (Ryan Zimmerman for Wright).

Why, hello there

September was slow. I had little work, lots of sleep at unnatural times, and little motivation to write.

I’m back, baby.

I’m not sure if it’s coincidence or cause, but at the same time jobs are falling out of the sky. I nearly pulled an all-nighter Tuesday night to get my work done.

It started with computer-consulting work for a new client, converting his (very) small office from Windows XP to Macs. That’s technically not work I’ve ever done before, but I carried it out smoothly, only losing iTunes playlists and the attachments from the curs-ed Outlook to Mail.

That’s a huge pain, that Outlook. In order to overcome Microsoft’s proprietary e-mail-storage format, you have to first use Thunderbird in Windows to import te Outlook mailboxes, then export, transfer those exported files to the Mac, and import in Mail. Wheee.

My client loved his Mac so much after one day with it that he bought another for his wife.

A second job I caught involves research for a publisher. This publisher, as publisher s are wont to do, published a self-help book along with a marketing brochure. The book is fine, but the consumer affairs division of a first-world country is suing the publisher because whoever write the brochure was careless with paraphrasing and accuracy. That’s fun work, trying to rationalize with research the claims of the brochure.

There’s more potential work on the horizon – Web copywriting for a tech product. We’ll see if that pans out.

The best of all news is that I hung on to win my second consecutive Irrational League title. It was close, and with the benched pitching staff I had, I wasn’t going to hang on much longer. I won by half a point with a total of 57.5.

.286 batting average (1st)
188 HR (9th thanks to off years by all my sluggers)
974 RBI (2nd)
137 SB (4th)
4.12 ERA (6th)
1.30 WHIP (4th)
96 wins (1st)
74 saves (tied for 3rd)

My preseason estimates can be seen here. I topped my expected batting average but fell short by 75 home runs. On a team with Beltran, Ludwick, Berkman, and Zimmerman/Wright, Matt Kemp lead the team in home runs with 26. That says it all.

My starters’ health did not hold up, yet I finished first in wins, which surprises me. I did trade a closer (Chad Qualls) for a starter (Javy Vazquez, who nabbed 12 wins for me) early on, which is part of that. Chris Coghlan was a nice mid-season pick-up and the Matt Holiday gamble paid off handsomely.

So that’s me at this time. Happy Thanksgiving.


August has not been kind. Oh, heck. It’s September already, isn’t it?

Maybe I pushed myself too hard in July, but August was a month of fatigue, possible a relapse of my mono. As if taking a clue from their general manager, my Angels with Crystal Balls have also been lagging, so much so that the team now sits in a tie for first place and occasionally dips to second.

As of this morning:

.289 batting average (1st by .008)
160 HR (10th but only 5 HR out of eighth)
819 RBI (2nd by 3 RBI)
116 SB (5th, 4 SB out of third)
4.14 ERA (6th)
1.29 WHIP (3rd)
81 wins (2nd, 1 win out of first)
65 saves (2nd and falling)

The league champion will be decided by whether or not the team I’m battling with can keep its batting average above the three teams on its heels.

Bonus van story for Naila:

I went to an ELAN schmoozer a week and a half ago, held at the St. Sulpice on St. Denis. I parked on de Maisonneuve (that’s not important, but it helps place the story for locals) and walked down to my van at 9:00 p.m.

As I started my engine, a red Volkswagen Jetta parallel-parked into the empty spot in front of me. He stopped and I turned on my lights. The passenger in the rear left seat opened his door but then shut it again. I took that as a cue that he say me and I pulled out to go on my merry way.

My merriment was interrupted by a thump. As I passed the Jetta, that rear passenger opened his door right into the side of the van, denting everything from my front door handle back to the rear panel. I had a series of nice red racing stripes, too. The Jetta door was twisted in a way that looked like its edge had melted.

The insurance companies properly deemed the other car to be 100% at fault. The poor driver was just a kid from the boonies, maybe 18, maybe with his first car. I bet the kid in the back seat never opens his door into traffic again, though.

The van’s in the garage, but we have a loaner car.

Best baseball all year

Monday, I came home early from our three-day multi-family camping trip (briefly: heat, beach, heat, food, and heat at the Upper Canada Migratory Bird Sanctuary) to coach our minor baseball A’s in the extra innings of a tie game called on account of darkness Thursday. The other team could not field enough players and had to forfeit, putting us in the final losers’ bracket game against a team that beat us 8-5 previously.

We had a bit of infield practice instead of our game in anticipation of yesterday’s losers’ final.

Wow, did it pay off. Our team played the best defensive game of baseball I’ve seen and that includes the B-level tournament select members participated in a few weeks ago. Our pitchers threw strikes. Our two pitchers got through the six innings in 80 pitches.

Our shortstop, who had never played baseball before mid-summer, played a flawless game. Our third baseman likewise. Our outfielders got the ball back to the infield quickly. I don’t want to dwell on errors, but on defense we made only two: a misguided throw home instead of to the cutoff man that allowed a runner to advance to third and a ground ball that our second baseman should have grabbed. Every other ball in play was either a solid hit or, more often, turned into an out. It was a spectacular game to watch.

We need to work on our hitting, though. We won only 2-1. Part of that was poor baserunning. We handed over three crucial outs on the basepaths. One was our first batter of the game, who walked and took a step off first base to be tagged by the first baseman. I’ve seen better sportsmanship, but not better gamesmanship. Another out was a foolish attempt to steal third on the runner’s own initiative, and another was a baserunner who took off for third, stopped, and returned to second as the runner from first slid in to that base. Those outs may have cost us runs; regardless, we still need better hitting.

We play in the championship Saturday and we’ll need to win twice to be champions. We can do it.

If you want to see photos of our boys, go to this page and scroll through. That’s Child Three with the wide stance at the plate. Here he is catching. In this one, you can see me with mono coaching third base and scoring.

That time of month

The injuries to Carlos Beltran and Dave Bush have hurt my Angels with Crystal Balls, to the extent that my lead a week ago had shrunk to 4.5 points. Blame lies primarily with my pitchers, who don’t give up many baserunners but seem to give up more than their share of home runs with men on base. Check out that discrepancy between WHIP and ERA.

Chad Gaudin had a marvelous week to help start bailing, and the good ship is righting itself.

.284 batting average (1st by .012)
95 HR (5th, with the potential to quickly move anywhere from 2nd to 9th)
459 RBI (barely 3rd)
76 SB (tied for 2nd)
4.15 ERA (6th)
1.24 WHIP (2nd)
40 wins (4th and about to climb)
42 saves (2nd)

I’m in first by 7.5 points.

There was nothing left to add by the time it was my turn to add/drop. I could have added Omir Santos and dropped Yorvit Torrealba, but how much will that really help? Johnny Gomes was available, but he’s worse than any of my hitters. I settled on Pedro Feliciano, a decent middle reliever who might help me get that ERA down. I dropped the even more useless Cha Seung Baek.

On the eighth day…

…Webs decided he should call the doctor on the ninth day.

I woke up feeling great, so great that I decided to walk the four blocks to the garage that repaired my van’s axle and gave it a tune-up and surrender $1,469 with a smile on my face and a dog by my side.

When I got home, the effort hit me and I’ve been feeling as bad as I have with this whatever since I came down with it. I conked out around 5:00 p.m. and slept two hours but that didn’t help.

I know I promised you faithful readers a torrid tale of chinchilla romance but that will have to wait because today was our first add/drop in our fantasy-baseball Irrational League. I picked tenth, because I finished April in first place. My stats:

.273 batting average (3rd)
38 HR (3rd)
156 RBI (3rd)
15 SB (9th)
3.90 ERA (2nd)
1.29 WHIP (2nd)
9 wins (tied 8th)
18 saves (1st)

That gives me 56.5 points and a lead of two points, down from nine mot too long ago. My only serious injury is Chris Carpenter and to replace him today I picked up Chad Gaudin (and dropped Josh Kinney). I had wanted Joel Pineiro, but he was snagged by the second-place team.

The lack of wins I expected but the lack of stolen bases is disappointing, and the only surplus I have is my three closers. It’s time to talk trade.

Duck season! Rabbit season! Baseball season!

Yesterday was the annual six-hour crankfest known as the Irrational League draft. This year’s was a standard draft and I think I did well. My batters are all starters except for the catchers, both of whom are backups, but with a bit of oomph in their swings. I have no Jack Wilsons this year, but Cristian Guzman comes close. Guzman was the only batter pick that made me cringe.

I left Jamie Moyer on the table slightly too long and he was drafted a few spots before I would have grabbed him to complete my pitching staff. Instead I had to go with either Mike Hampton (ugh), Zach Duke (double ugh), or Joel Pineiro (more double ugh). I went with Hampton under the assumption that he has the most chance of being good, even though I think they will all disappoint.

My keepers were Carlos Beltran, Lance Berkman, Matt Kemp, and Ryan Ludwick. I wasn’t happy keeping Ludwick, but he was the best option. Now, my team, with my projections….

C: Ramon Castro: .265, 11 HR, 30 RBI
C: Yorvit Torrealba: .260, 5 HR, 35 RBI
1B: Lance Berkman: .300, 30 HR, 90 RBI, 10 SB
2B: Luis Castillo: .275, 40 RBI, 20 SB
SS: JJ Hardy: .275, 25 HR, 90 RBI, 5 SB
3B: Ryan Zimmerman: .295, 25 HR, 100 RBI, 5 SB
CI: Nick Johnson: .295, 20 HR, 70 RBI, 5 SB
MI: Edgar Renteria: .285, 10 HR, 65 RBI, 10 SB
OF: Carlos Beltran: .275, 30 HR, 95 RBI, 20 SB
OF: Ryan Ludwick: .265, 30 HR, 85 RBI, 5 SB
OF: Matt Kemp: .276, 15 HR, 70 RBI, 30 SB
OF: Randy Winn: .285, 10 HR, 60 RBI, 15 SB
OF: Cody Ross: .255, 25 HR, 80 RBI, 5 SB
UT: Cristian Guzman: .290, 10 HR, 65 RBI, 5 SB
UT: Skip Schumaker: .275, 10 HR, 55 RBI, 10 SB

I think the team will reach a .280 average and 255 HRs – probably good for second or third place. I expect to finish near first in RBIs with about 1035. Steals should top 140, which will also rank fairly high, say third or fourth. Figure 33 points in hitting. I have three shortstops for trade bait, although I did last year, too, and no one wanted them.

My pitching is both better and worse than last year. It’s better in that I have three bona fide closers whereas last year I had one, plus a wannabe. My closer choked and lost his job (Manny Corpas) and my wanna be came through. I had better starting pitching last year. This year’s starters are all injury risks, but should be good enough to help we win the rate categories. Wins will donate the fewest points to my score.

SP: Rich Harden: 12 W, 3.25 ERA, 1.15 WHIP
SP: Chris Carpenter: 10 W, 3.55 ERA, 1.15 WHIP
SP: Randy Johnson: 12 W, 3.70 ERA; 1.20 WHIP
SP: Dave Bush: 13 W, 4.15 ERA, 1.25 WHIP
P: Braden Looper: 13 W, 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP
P: Mike Hampton: 10 W, 4.50 ERA, 1.40 WHIP
RP: Kevin Gregg: 33 Sv, 3 W, 3.40 ERA, 1.20 WHIP
RP: Heath Bell: 25 Sv, 3 W, 3.00 ERA, 1.15 WHIP
RP: Chad Qualls: 25 Sv, 3 W, 3.80 ERA, 1.25 WHIP
RP: Josh Kinney: 4 Sv, 2 W, 3.50 ERA, 1.25 WHIP

I figure I’ll end up 85 saves (top three finish), 81 wins (sixth, maybe fifth place), 3.80 ERA (top two), and a WHIP of 1.24 (top two). Split a few hairs and that grosses me another 33 points or so, to give my team an expected 66 points overall – and that total is money in the bank. Of course, the starters’ health has to hold up.

My reserves are OF Matt Holliday (yes!), 1B/2B Jeff Baker, SP/RP Cha Seung Baek, and RP Will Ohman. Impending free agent Holliday is a gamble on next year (I think the A’s will be in the race long enough to keep him the whole year), and the others are all useful plug-ins. Between Schumaker and Baker, the only position at which I’m without a back-up is 3B, and I expect big things from Zimmerman.

I’m more confident this year than I was last year.

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