Saturday, September 17, 2005

the Jacksonville at Indianapolis game

Indy was taken by 27 of 28 players in the pool (still open spaces - join up if you want).

If you took Indy because the line was 1 1/2 earlier in the week, know that the one guy who runs our website corrected it to 8 1/2. He will make mistakes, and he will correct them. I've used the service for a few years, and I've seen this before. It's not like a bookie where your bet is locked in at whatever line was posted when you made your pick. From time to time, he'll have the spread or the favorite wrong. I'd say he could be more careful but hell, the service is free so I am not complaining.

Since most everyone is taking Indy (as of right now), any bad effect or misunderstanding will be cancelled out. The pool will triumph or fail together.

Know the lines from pages like this one (always on your left, linked as "Live Odds"). If a line looks too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true - check back in a few days to see if the wrong line hasn't been corrected.

Also note that lines that drift a point or two will not be corrected. I've only seen him correct the obvious bone-headed mistakes. So if a game starts as Arizona -2.5 and move to pick 'em, that won't be adjusted. If you trust the public and believe in bargain-hunting, that's an angle you can play specifically against the lines employed by our website.

Game 148: Reds at Pirates

Harang and Maholm. The Maholm rhymes from Kovacevic's last Q & A were pretty funny, esp. "Duke and Maholm, and three in the loss column." Let's hope we can do better than that in 2006.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Games 146 and 147: Reds at Pirates

Doubleheader starts in twenty minutes. Wily Mo Pena, the lefty killer in the Reds' lineup, bats cleanup against Zach Duke. Good luck with that, Zach.

If the Bucs sweep, they will have achieved win #60 half-way through September.

Welcome new guys

Rotoworld reports the Bucs just activated Matt Capps, Bryan Bullington, Tom Gorzelanny, Jose Bautista, and Ronny Paulino.

I look forward to seeing these men play. Bautista has two weeks to prove the Bucs don't need to acquire a Mike Lowell this offseason.

...P.S. Here's the link for Rotoworld: Link. I find they are agonizingly hit or miss. Knowing as much as I do about the Bucs, I know they don't always know what they are talking about when they analyze news. Scroll down the page, for example, and they write that the Bucs "are reportedly interested in hiring Jim Tracy." While that may be technically true, non-Pirate fans are not likely to understand that they are interested in Jim Tracy only to the extent that they are interested, reportedly, in managers with big-league managerial experience. And that Tracy interviwed for the job in 2000. But has Tracy leapt to the top of the list? I don't think any reports have suggested anything of the kind.

He prances up and down the dugout

Pirates interim manager Pete Mackanin likes what he sees from rookie outfielder Nate McLouth.

It's been a long season for Joe Rutter, I think.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Hometown Discount

Baseball Prospectus's Nate Silver makes a case for a "hometown discount" program in which MLB would release money from a team's revenue-sharing duty so that team could retain a free agent who is worth more to another team.

Here's part of the problem, as Silver explains:

Let's shift gears for a second and revisit the finding I introduced last week, that from a revenue-generation standpoint, players are worth significantly more to teams with a reasonable near-term hope of competing for a playoff spot. One of the implications of this is that teams that are not competitive, particularly ones that play in smaller markets, are at risk of joining something of a permanent underclass. When Jason Bay becomes a free agent in a few years, and the Pirates still stink, they're going to find that he might be worth $8 million per season to them, while he would be worth $10 million to the Phillies, who presumably will have gone 85-77 for seven years running and will desperately need a player to get them over the playoff bubble. If the Phillies outbid the Pirates for Bay, it's because he really is worth more in Philadelphia, not because the Pirates are being cheap.

Link here (premium content; req's paid subscription). More fans could understand the economic logic of that argument.

My initial response to his proposed solution was, Great idea, but how would the league explain this to the fans? On second thought, I think it would be an easy sell. The program could be wrapped in some kind of "family values" or "we build teams" context that might also do much to shed the negative connotations steroids has attached to the sport.

It would do nothing to improve the attitude and/or performance of notable grousers like Kris Benson, Kip Wells, or, more recently, B.J. Upton, who approach their time with a small-market club as the heavy dues they have to pay before they can play for a "real" team.

NFL week 2 picks

Still plenty of time to get in the Honest Wagner pick 'em pool. It's free of course.

I went 8-8 last week. This week I have eight picks: Buffalo (+2.5), Cincinnati (-2.5), San Francisco (+13.5, ATS only), Cleveland (+7.5, ATS only), Miami (+6.5, ATS only), San Diego (+2.5), Oakland (-1.5), New Orleans (+3.5). Those lines come from the free office pool website we are using,

Use this thread to trash these picks or explain your own.

...oops, forgot the Steelers. Make it nine.

Off-day NFL thread

Only two adjustments to my preseason rankings in light of week one: OK, maybe Kansas City will be good this year. And while I still don't expect much from Miami, I have to move them up off the dirt floor where the Cardinals, 49ers, Vikings, and Clowns lie and moan.

So what are the big games in week two, the ones you'd want to see if/when you aren't watching the Steelers thrash another hapless opponent?

Buffalo at Tampa Bay intrigues me. The Bills look like the much better team, but the Dolphins (I learned) hold a sick home-field advantage in August and September. Will the Bills wilt in Tampa Bay? Have the Bucs had similar success outlasting rivals in early-season heat? Here's a link to the Tampa forecast.

The primetime games include some storied division rivalries (Dallas-Washington, Kansas City-Oakland) and the big schedule-change story (New Orleans). Miami and the Jets always play great games. Doesn't one team always beat the other? San Diego and Denver also looks like a great game, and it's one that will surely have a big impact on the tough AFC West division race.

And this may be somewhat degenerate to say, but Detroit at Chicago also looks like a good game to me. Do the Lions ever win at Soldier Field? Are the Bears as good (mediocre) as I think they are?

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Zach Duke alert

Pirates have Thursday off, come home, and host the Reds Friday night. Zach Duke is scheduled to start.

Game 145: Pirates at Cardinals

2:10 PM EST. Oliver Perez vs. Jason Marquis. Stakes are high as the Cards could clinch the division with a win and an Astros loss.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

All hail Mojo

His 7-4 work with the Magic 8-ball has him leading the pool.

I thought going with the crowd would get you nine or ten wins, but it was only good for six.

I bought the NFL FieldPass thing so I can listen to the games I missed during the week. Right now I'm listening to that New York Jets at Kansas City game. The Chiefs destroyed New York from play 1. It was relentlessly one-sided from the start.

... OK, that game sucked. Denver-Miami on now. Fourteen minutes into the game, and all I've heard is how hot and humid it is in Miami. The Denver broadcasters sound confident Denver will eventually destroy Miami, too.

... and the Seahawks fumbled away the opening kickoff. Not hard to guess why they went on to lose.

Pirates of the Allegheny

All hail Wilbur Miller for the Zimbalist report in Baseball Prospectus.

I haven't been a huge fan of the theory that payroll determines winning percentage. I was all about the 2005 plan and thought it would work. But WTF do I know? The season since the 30-30 mark has been more shameful than I ever would have expected. And yeah, throwing money at the problem just might help.

Game 144: Pirates at Cardinals

8:10 PM EST. Ian Snell vs. Chris Carpenter. Furmaniak makes his Bucco debut playing 2B and batting eighth.

Redman breaks finger

Squaring around too late on a first-pitch sinker from Mulder, Mark Redman broke the tip of his left (throwing) index finger fouling off a bunt tonight. Since he's likely out for the year, odds are he'll pick up his $4,500,000 player option to return in 2006.

Redman finishes the year at 5-15. In 178.1 IP, he gave up 188 H, 18 HR, 56 BB to 101 Ks for a 4.90 ERA and 1.37 WHIP. Not good, but not as terrible as the record might indicate. Redman's ERAs by month Apr-Sept: 2.78, 3.43, 4.01, 6.94, 7.63, 11.57. Let's hope he can reset that come April '06. Wow, there should be quite a logjam competing for '06 rotation spots.

Why do the Pirates lose?

Brian O'Neill thinks it has something to do with being outslugged and outwalked.

Also some interest in Mackanin's bunts. McClendon had a reputation for bunting a lot which he didn't deserve. I think it was that his pitchers were good bunters and bunted a lot. E.g., Kris "Super-bunter" Benson (insert "laying one down" joke here) had 15 in 2004.

But forget about laying down bunts. Talking to fans, it sounds like the new dipshit thing the Pirates do is not field them correctly.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Game 143: Pirates at Cardinals

Mark Redman vs. Mark Mulder. Bucs up 2-0 in the fourth. Eldred's 2-for-2. Wiggy's also 2-for-2 and just barreled over Molina, but couldn't jar the ball loose.

Q & A with Brian Graham

Link here.

Graham would like to manage at the big-league level some day.

True or false: the younger batch - the newest arrivals - play fundamentally better baseball than the older younger batch. Indy people, Altoona people: do the guys down there field bunts, for example, better than the guys up here?