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Archive for the ‘Baseball’ Category

Pretend baseball time

I stocked up on Coke Zero, figs, and rye matzah yesterday and spent the afternoon in a conference room at the TSN Radio 690 for the annual Irrational League draft and bitchfest.

I took an unusual tack with my keepers this year in two respects. I kept no pitchers. Any pitchers I would have kept would have been barely equal in value to my hitter keepers. Since hitters are more reliable than pitchers, it’s an easy decision to keep the bats and cut the arms loose, even if it is Mat Latos.

The second thing I did differently was to pay at least a little attention to positional scarcity. My decision on my last two keepers came down to three choices: Starling Marte; Aaron Hill; and Yadier Molina. I kept the infielder and catcher even though Marte has a higher ceiling.

Ultimately, I kept Matt Kemp, Matt Holliday, David Wright, Jay Bruce, Hill, and Molina. I went into the draft hoping to grab the first drafted pitcher with my #3 pick. That’s how I ended up with Roy Halladay. It’s a calculated risk.

This is a transition years for NL-only leagues, since we lost two teams. Yes, two. The Astros are in the AL now and so are nearly all the decent Marlins. It was deep into the draft before any of us drafted a Marlin besides Giancarlo Stanton and Steve Cishek. The loss of the Astros takes 5400 AB out of the league, or roughly 6% of the available total. I’m not sure enough teams compensated for that in the draft.

I’m happy with my picks, although I have no real first-baseman for a few months. My roster and predictions:

C: Yadier Molina: .285, 15 HR, 70 R, 75 RBI, 5 SB
C: Devin Mesoraco: .245, 10 HR, 30 R, 30 RBI
1B: Logan Morrison: .255, 15 HR, 55 R, 55 RBI
2B: Aaron Hill: .270, 20 HR, 80 R, 65 RBI, 10 SB
SS: Chris Pennington: .255, 5 HR, 40 R, 40 RBI, 10 SB
3B: David Wright: .280, 20 HR, 75 R, 75 RBI, 10 SB
CI: John Mayberry: .250, 15 HR, 50 R, 60 RBI, 5 SB
MI: Darwin Barney: .270, 5 HR, 60 R, 55 RBI, 5 SB
OF: Matt Holliday: .290, 25 HR, 95 R, 95 RBI, 5 SB
OF: Matt Kemp: .285, 30 HR, 90 R, 100 RBI, 15 SB
OF: Jay Bruce: .260, 35 HR, 85 R, 100 RBI, 5 SB
OF: John Jay: .290, 10 HR, 70 R, 60 RBI, 10 SB
OF: David DeJesus: .265, 10 HR, 80 R, 50 RBI, 5 SB
UT: Denard Span: .270, 5 HR, 75 R, 45 RBI, 15 SB
UT: Collin Cowgill: .255, 10 HR, 45 R, 45 RBI, 10 SB

I have Jerry Hairston filling a roster spot while Logan Morrison mends. Yes, that’s the Astros effect. Other than that and John Mayberry, everyone else at least starts with a full-time job.

Last year, I predicted totals of .270, 225 HR, 910 R, 900 RBI, and 140 SB. I wound up with .280, 228 HR, 908 R, 865 RBI, and 130 SB. I earned 37 points instead of the predicted 46, which I thought was optimistic – but Matt Kemp missed a third of the year with injuries.

This year, I’m looking forward to .270, 230 HR, 985 R, 950 RBI, and 110 SB. My projections tell me that’s good for clear first-place finishes in runs and RBI, strong second-place finishes in average and home runs, and a middle of the pack finish in stolen bases. I’m going to be conservative and estimate 42 points.

Despite going into the draft with no pitchers, I came out with a fairly strong pitching staff. I have solid starters and nobody too terrible to ruin the year, which is a big problem on some other teams. I snagged some familiar names. Latos, Estrada, and Fiers finished the year with me last year.

SP: Mat Latos: 13 W, 165 K, 3.80 ERA; 1.25 WHIP
SP: Roy Halladay: 13 W, 145 K, 3.45 ERA, 1.16 WHIP
SP: Marco Estrada: 12 W, 150 K, 3.65 ERA; 1.20 WHIP
SP: Mike Fiers: 12 W, 145 K, 4.00 ERA, 1.30 WHIP
P: Edwin Jackson: 13 W, 160 K, 3.95 ERA, 1.30 WHIP
P: Juan Nicasio: 10 W, 120 K, 4.25 ERA, 1.30 WHIP
RP: Chris Capuano: 6 W, 70 K, 3.60 ERA, 1.20 WHIP
RP: J.J. Putz: 30 Sv, 4 W, 65 K, 3.00 ERA, 1.15 WHIP
RP: Jason Motte: 25 Sv, 4 W, 65 K, 2.80 ERA, 1.15 WHIP
RP: Mark Melancon: 5 Sv, 3 W, 55 K, 2.90 ERA, 1.15 WHIP

Waiting for injuries to heal are Francisco Liriano and my man-crush, Corey Luebke. I also have Taylor Skaggs (another Angel refugee from last year) for those who believe in pitching prospects. I only believe in them when the option is Jason Marquis.

Liriano when healthy will replace Nicasio, I suspect, unless there’s an injury.

My projections give me good but not great WHIP and ERA in the second to fourth-place range. Let’s call that two third-place finishes for 16 points. I should expect 90 wins, 60 saves, and 1,140 Ks. Normally that’s middle of the pack in saves and upper third in wins and strikeouts. This year, the cumulative stats will be harder to come by, so I may finish slightly better than that. Call it fifth, second, and third respectively. Pitching points total to 39.

Hmmm, 39 and 42 points sum to a league championship, as long as I only suffer the standard injury losses. We’ll see.

Bonus cleaning tip:

Ever burn sugar or milk in a pot so badly that you think of throwing the pot away? I was reducing some balsamic vinegar when it turned on me and carbonized, welding itself to the inside of a saucepan. ONline hints told me to try Tide or bleach. Neither worked and neither did generic CLR. I had an idea, though, and that worked: use spray-on oven cleaner! Let the pot soak in for a few hours and the mess wipes up easily.

Loose ends

It hasn’t been a great two weeks, overall.


  • Old man without driver’s licence opens the door of the cab he’s riding in. The cab is in the left lane and Nibbler (with me) is in the right, waiting to make a right turn. Nibbler’s driver door has a small but perceptible dent and scrape. While waiting for the cops to show up to make a report to force the old man to pay for the damage, I hold my wallet and iPhone in the same hand and the wallet’s money clip gouges a scratch in the iPhone screen. Two hours later, the nice police officer convinces me not to write a report and wait for the cabbie to come back.
  • I receive a vinyl badge I ordered for Nibbler’s flank. The postman bends the envelope to put it in my mail slot despite the large “DO NOT BEND” warning on the mailing label. I now have an irreparably creased vinyl sticker. Canada Post may or may not reimburse me.
  • Someone broke into Nibbler and rifled through the car’s contents. My sunglasses and softball bat are missing.
  • A blue minivan with Ontario plates BMLN 401 (or close to that) drifts into my inside lane on Cote-Saint-Luc Rd. just before Wilson. I avoid being hit by the van, but my passenger side window explodes into a dozen fragments as it connects with a parked car. The parked car suffers nothing but a few scratches on its mirror. The van drives away. I leave a note on the parked car.
  • My Irrational League baseball team finishes in sixth place. I estimated .275, 225 HR, 910 R, 900 RBI, and 140 SB for 46 points. I finished with .280, 228 HR, 908 R, 865 RBI, and 130 SB but that was only worth 37 points. Another 40 RBI would have gained me only one point. The big blow in hitting was Jason Bartlett, who I thought would get me 20 SB but got me none. While my ERA and WHIP were as good as predicted, losing six starters was too big a hole to climb out of with respect to wins and strikeouts.


  • I had forgotten my softball bat at a game. It wasn’t stolen from the car. I have it back.

The fantasy baseball roller coaster

I was flying high three weeks ago, touching third place. Then my pitching took a vacation for a week, losing seven points and sending me plummeting to ninth.

On the bright side, I almost got to pick up Adrian Gonzalez. I had second pick, though, and opted for yet another pitcher, Tyler Skaggs. That was fortunate as I lost another starter this week when Pittsburgh dumped Erik Bedard. All is not quite lost, though, as I’ve regained four of those lost points in the last four days.

I have a headache. Please excuse me for not posting the list of stats. I’m sure one or two of you are disappointed.

Elvi and the girls are on the road to Chicago where they will attend Chicon 7, the 70th Worldcon. The boys are staying home to go to high school, sit around in underwear, and pee in the dining room.

My hand is healing nicely. The infection is down to resembling a pimple about a centimetre in diameter. The wound is still there but healing. I should be OK for the flag-football championship game tonight if my knees hold up. I’ve lost four pounds this summer, whcih is a nice change from the year on the gimpy ACL.

I’ve been meaning to put up a post of all the animals I took photos of in Maine. Unfortunately, I didn’t think to take a pic of the squid or mackerel.

Bonus name-dropping:

Students to whom I lectured about Wikipedia may remember this story (scroll down to the changes in 2007).

The “in the final turn” baseball post

I’m a week late on this, but things have been happening (see previous post) and Elvi and I spent three days in Boston so that she could attend an Amanda Palmer concert. Subsequently, we toured Beacon Hill, Harvard Square, and met my old WarBirds crony Tone to take the Rangefinder Challenge.

Currently, I’m on a porch on Lake Winnipesaukee while a Christian faith retreat goes on around me. I suspect I am the only atheist Jew here.

A week late on what? On a fantasy baseball update. Don’t you read headlines?

One week ago, I had fallen to eighth place, which sounds worse than it is. The spread between third and tenth is less than ten points, and the standings are dynamic day to day. I was able to grab young phenom Starling Marte with my pic. I don’t care what batting average he puts up so long as he keeps playing and adding to the counting stats.

I’m in a good position to move up if my team merely does what it should. We’ll see.

.286 batting average (in first by 0.11)
160 HR (3rd and nine out of 2nd)
622 runs (3rd, two out of 2nd)
605 RBI (3rd by nine)
86 SB (8th by two, five out of 7th)
3.78 ERA (6th, 0.10 out of 4th)
1.27 WHIP (8th, 0.16 out of 6th)
679 K (10th, 28 out of 9th)
46 wins (tied in 7th, four out of 6th)
12 saves (8th)

I’m in fifth, only four points out of the money with two months to go.

Bonus whine:

Why, when I’m retreating and hiding around Wi-Fi-enabled corners, do people keep seeking me out to chat?

Midpoint mayhem

THe beginning of July marks the middle of the MLB and fantasy baseball seasons.

Although I hadn’t noted it, I was in seventh place at the beginning of June, and I stayed there most of the month. Last week, pick-up Travis Wood and a more typical Mat Latos propelled me from despair to hopefulness. They combined for four wins over 32.2 innings with 14 hits, 3 walks, 2 earned runs, and 30 strikeouts. My pick-ups this year have all been pitchers and they have all contributed, and will continue to do so as Marco Estrada is back from the disabled list and I added Michael Fiers this weekend.

Fiers is a weird egg. He has had superb minor league stats but he seems not to have registered on many prospect lists. So far, he’s been lights out. He’s a bit old for a rookie, but I think he’s for real – real enough that I chose him over old favourite Chris Young (the pitcher).

My hitting is holding up, and that’s without Matt Kemp. I’ll get more counting stats from Jim Thome now that he has a real job as a DH. Third place is definitely in my sights, although it is within many teams’ sights. There are five teams no more than 2.5 points back of third.

.284 batting average (1st by .01)
117 HR (3rd, four back of 2nd )
468 runs (2nd, eight back of 1st)
446 RBI (3rd)
61 SB (9th, five back of 6th)
3.83 ERA (5th, a gain of four points!)
1.28 WHIP (7th)
465 K (10th)
30 wins (9th, six back of 6th)
10 saves (8th)

I have 53 points, tied for fifth.

Pitching a fit

This is the time of month when I list the accomplishments of my fantasy baseball team.

These were my starters at the beginning of the year, and I added Marco Estrada whom I picked up at the start of May:

Mat Latos
Ted Lilly
Jordan Zimmermann
Jhoulys Chacin
Erik Bedard
Chris Narveson
Corey Luebke
Chris Carpenter
Marco Estrada

These were my healthy starters Sunday night:

Mat Latos
Erik Bedard
Jordan Zimmermann

Narveson and Luebke are out for the year. Chacin and Carpenter are still not throwing. Lilly and Estrada are expected to miss weeks, possibly months.

I added Travis Wood on Monday but there’s no recovering from this disaster.

It doesn’t help that my power has disappeared.

.281 batting average (barely 2nd)
71 HR (tied for 2nd)
295 runs (2nd)
272 RBI (4th)
46 SB (7th)
4.04 ERA (9th)
1.32 WHIP (9th)
306 K (10th)
21 wins (7th)
9 saves (tied for 7th but not for long)

Angels with smokin’ hot bats

So far, it’s a pitcher’s year in major-league baseball. Not on my team, however.

I pass the first monthly milestone with massive advantages in hitting, due in part to Matt Kemp, who leads the National League in batting average, home runs, RBIs, runs, and hits. David Wright, with the second best batting average, and Jay Bruce, with the second most homers, are a capable supporting cast.

My pitchers are also bucking the trend somewhat, unfortunately. Mat Latos has been almost as bad as Matt Kemp is good. My relievers have had some bad outings and I’ve lost for the year a back-end starter, Chris Narveson.

Yet I find myself in third place at the end of April. I dropped Narveson and picked up Marco Estrada, his replacement on the Milwaukee Brewers. Estrada will get more strikeouts.

.284 batting average (1st by .013)
46 HR (1st by 16!)
146 runs (1st by 2)
145 RBI (1st by 13)
20 SB (5th in the middle of a pack)
3.68 ERA (7th)
1.28 WHIP (6th)
145 K (9th, ten out of 7th)
10 wins (tied for 6th but two out of 4th)
6 saves (tied for 6th)

Remember how I estimated 46 points of hitting? Right now, I have 46 points of hitting. I estimated totals of .275, 225 HR, 910 R, 900 RBI, and 140 SB. On a pro-rated basis, I have .284, 276 HR, 876 R, 870 RBI, and 120 SB. Of all my estimates, I’m only really off in wins and strikeouts, and with seven active starters (Chris Luebke and Estrada qualify as relief pitchers, and if Chris Carpenter starts, he would make it eight), those numbers should start to climb.

Here we go again…

Over the past year, I’ve added several fellow managers in the Irrational League to my Facebook friends list. Doing this little monthly updates may expose my position, but so what.

We held our draft last Saturday. As a reminder, we’re in a ten-team NL-only 5×5 league with 25-man rosters and four reserves apiece. We start with six keepers (new) and over five hours scrape every last dreg out of the pot.

This year, I had some choices to make. I had eight protectable players: Matt Kemp, David Wright, Matt Holliday, Lance Berkman, Jay Bruce, Mat Latos, Corey Luebke, Chris Carpenter.

Chris Carpenter’s neck injury quickly whittled the list down to seven, and as much as I love fellow Rice alum Lance Berkman, he was the oldest of the bunch. Bye, Lance.

I went conservative this year. Last year I finished in the money by the hair of my chinny chin chin, with Chris Carpenter’s masterpiece edging me in. A lot went wrong with the draft, as several of my hitters fell off the face of the Earth. This year, I went with more reliable choices… I think. We’ll see. I did take a chance on Chris Carpenter, but that was a late pick and he’s deep in my reserves. And my only first basemen are both question marks, but how hard is it to find a first baseman?

My 2012 hitters and projections:

C: Yadier Molina: .290, 10 HR, 50 R, 55 RBI, 5 SB
C: Miguel Montero: .285, 15 HR, 60 R, 70 RBI
1B: Bryan LaHair: .270, 15 HR, 45 R, 50 RBI
2B: Aaron Hill: .245, 20 HR, 70 R, 70 RBI, 15 SB
SS: Jason Bartlett: .255, 5 HR, 55 R, 45 RBI, 20 SB
3B: David Wright: .285, 20 HR, 80 R, 80 RBI, 15 SB
CI: Justin Turner: .260, 5 HR, 45 R, 45 RBI, 5 SB
MI: Omar Infante: .290, 5 HR, 55 R, 55 RBI, 5 SB
OF: Matt Holliday: .300, 25 HR, 75 R, 80 RBI, 5 SB
OF: Matt Kemp: .290, 30 HR, 100 R, 100 RBI, 30 SB
OF: Jay Bruce: .255, 30 HR, 85 R, 90 RBI, 5 SB
OF: Nyjer Morgan: .280, 5 HR, 55 R, 40 RBI, 20 SB
OF: Chris Heisey: .260, 20 HR, 55 R, 60 RBI, 5 SB
UT: Jim Thome: .240, 15 HR, 35 R, 35 RBI
UT: Gerardo Parra: .290, 5 HR, 45 R, 35 RBI, 5 SB

Adam Kennedy and Josh Hamilton have bench spots. Hey, if the Rangers tank, Hamilton will be on the move.

I estimate totals of .275, 225 HR, 910 R, 900 RBI, and 140 SB. That’s less than I normally draft, but I think that’s a function of last year’s overall reduction in hitting. By last year’s stats, those numbers are good for first in average, home runs, and RBI while well above average in the other two categories. Let’s call it third. That’s 46 points, which is amazing, but I think it’s an exaggeration.

I like my pitching, especially Luebke, who still qualifies as a reliever. There are very few decent starters who qualify as relievers this year. I can think of one, and I have him. There are others, but I don’t like their chances.

SP: Mat Latos: 14 W, 175 K, 3.45 ERA; 1.20 WHIP
SP: Ted Lilly: 12 W, 145 K, 4.15 ERA, 1.25 WHIP
SP: Jordan Zimmermann: 12 W, 140 K, 3.60 ERA; 1.25 WHIP
SP: Jhoulys Chacin: 12 W, 145 K, 3.70 ERA, 1.40 WHIP
P: Erik Bedard: 9 W, 135 K, 3.90 ERA, 1.35 WHIP
P: Chris Narveson: 11 W, 130 K, 4.50 ERA, 1.45 WHIP
RP: Corey Luebke: 12 W, 145 K, 3.50 ERA, 1.20 WHIP
RP: Sean Marshall: 30 Sv, 4 W, 70 K, 2.60 ERA, 1.15 WHIP
RP: Eric O’Flaherty: 5 W, 60 K, 2.20 ERA, 1.10 WHIP
RP: Bill Bray: 3 W, 55 K, 2.90 ERA, 1.15 WHIP

Chris Narveson is the only guy I can’t stomach, but he’s only holding a place for Chris Carpenter. I also have Francisco Rodriguez on the bench for emergencies, or if John Axford goes toes up.

I figure I’ll get 30 saves (good for sixth), 94 wins (second), 1195 K (third), an ERA of 3.65 (fifth), and a WHIP of 1.27 (sixth). That’s 33 points in total, which is weak on its own. Combined with the 46 hitting points, though, the total of 79 points should be enough to win. It should take 76 (I had 70 last year).

Carpenter produces miracle

Chris Carpenter saved his best start of the year for the last day of the year. His two-hit, one-walk complete game capped a spectacular month of pitching by the hurlers on my fantasy team and gained me two points in WHIP. Those two points moved me from fifth to sole possession of third place. I finish in the money.

My final stats:

.2686 batting average (3rd, up one place in the month)
230 HR (1st, post to post)
930 runs (2nd)
936 RBI (1st, post to post)
126 SB (4th, down one place in the month)
3.74 ERA (8th)
1.2628 WHIP (5th by 0.0001 – literally the difference of one hit or walk over the entire season – up from 7th)
1279 K (2nd, up from a tie in 3rd)
90 wins (2nd up from 4th)
5 saves (10th)

In September, my pitchers threw 287 2/3 innings and produced 259 Ks and 341 hits and walks, a WHIP of 1.185. Latos and Carpenter were as untouchable this September as they were decrepit a year ago.

That’s all I have to say about this for now. Sorry, Liz.

And into the stretch

There’s a month left in baseball’s regular season and when it ends, so does the Irrational League.

I’m still in fifth place, but inching inexorably toward the money. My pitching is finally approximating what it should and as go its fortunes, so go mine. Paul Maholm got hurt in time for me to ride Randy Wells’s hot right arm. Time is still my enemy, but all the trends are pointing in the right direction. The additions of Hiroki Kuroda (4 wins, 27 K,2.16 ERA, 1.14 WHIP) and Jose Altuve (.292, 3 SB) have helped. Compare these stats with last month’s.

.267 batting average (4th but only .0009 out of third)
199 HR (still 1st by 23)
782 runs (in 2nd 36 out of 1st and 23 ahead of 3rd)
793 RBI (1st by 55)
108 SB (4th but four out of 3rd and four ahead of 5th)
3.82 ERA (8th but now only 0.02 out of 7th)
1.28 WHIP (7th)
1012 K (tied for 3rd, rising from 7th in a month)
73 wins (4th but two out of 2nd)
5 saves (10th)

That’s 65.5 points, but I’ll only need four to show. It’s been worse. My last pick-up of the year was Kevin Kouzmanoff. I’m hoping for a batting average north of .275 in Colorado.

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