All hail "small ball."
Saturday, October 22, 2005
Pirate fans have heard a lot of this small-ball stuff the last five years. Did we not conclude it was not a winning strategy?
The lesson of the White Sox and the Astros is the same one we've discussed for two years now. The Pirates do not need to build a "championship team." They need to build a wild-card team.
Friday, October 21, 2005
Mojo, who's been doing well in our pick 'em pool (30-24 YTD), offers this advice:
I've never picked or bet on football games before. And even though I'm not a stathead, I realized that after a rocky early week I needed a system. I also needed it to be simple since I can't even begin to follow 15 different rules about certian quarterbacks on the road or staying away from coaches named "Mike."
So far my system has served me well, but the sample size is still very small.
Basically, I look for close lines and always choose the home team. I will occasionally choose teams with big lines if I think they're capable of scoring the points-- for Instance I chose Indy over St Louis last week because even with 14.5 points, I figured St. Louis would be outclassed in a shoot-out.
But even though Washington looks much better than San Fran this week, I'm staying away because I'm not convinced The Skins can beat anyone by 12.5 points.
I always choose the home team. If I'm not confident in the home team (like Arizona and Seattle this week), I don't pick the game. I'm selective enough that I never choose more than 8-9 games.
MIA over kc
STL over no
PHI over sdg
CLE over det
CHI over bal
OAK over buf
NYG over den
ATL over nyj
Years ago I experimented with a number of systems. One favorite was taking the team with the worse turnover differential. Teams who generate a lot of turnovers get cocky and think it's more than luck. Then they tend to stop getting so many. Teams that turn the ball over a ton have only one thing to practice each week. They tend to cut down the turnovers with effort. There are exceptions - it's not a perfect system - but when I tracked it in the past, it worked real well. Here are the current numbers. In tonight's game, the system would like Miami, who at -4, is more likely or "due" for a good game (turnover-wise) than KC (plus three).
I don't know the all-time NFL record for turnover differential, but we almost never see a team doing better than plus or minus 20. In 2002, the Packers and the Bucs led the league with a +17 turnover margin for the whole year. Other leaders: 2003, Chiefs +19; 2004, Colts +19.
Why the Bengals 5-1? In addition to playing an incredibly weak slate (Cleveland, Minnesota, Chicago, Houston, J'ville, Tennessee), they have gone +16 in the turnover. The Bengals, I'm sure, think this is the result of hard work and good defensive strategy.
Do you believe that? I don't. I think it's 50-60% luck. They are on pace to finish the year +42 in the turnover department. Do you think that will happen? I don't. Odds are they finish in the +10 to +20 range. Are they a 5-1 team - an .833 winner - with more neutral turnover numbers?
Everyone loves to say that you win and lose the game with turnovers. My little turnover system suggests we could do well betting against Cincinnati so long as they continue to impress while on this gaudy plus-43 turnover tear.
Of course, that's not the only reason to bet against Cincinnati this week. And I'm not playing the turnover system this year -- though my lousy YTD record suggests I should do something, anything, differently.
Anyone else playing a system, or a know a system worth sharing?
Clay directs us to today's PG article by Paul Meyer. The Bucs are moving Neil Walker to third base, but they still maintain that he'll make a fine big-league catcher some day.
Walker, a switch-hitter, is 5 for 18 with a home run and two RBIs playing for the Peoria Saguaros in Arizona.
"He's probably the youngest guy in the league, but once the game starts you wouldn't know it," said Peoria hitting coach Hensley Meulens.
Sounds like he's doing just fine. So is Brad Eldred.
Thursday, October 20, 2005
Who wants to write up a few picks this week? Maybe someone kicking ass this year will favor us with the answers in advance.
I've been getting the answers from Becky in first period, but it's clear now that I need a better source.
Email or post below and I'll do up a post for you. All hail you guys who dominated in week 6: yarttar, Mojo, aldrone, SurCrazy, and Gio Marsico.
Ed Eagle sits down with Salomon Torres. I never would've guessed "The Prophet" writes love songs or likes the band Chicago. Funny story about his most embarassing moment.
Tracy supposedly likes defined roles for the 8th and 9th inning guys. Who do people think will fill these roles: Torres-Gonzo? Or Gonzo-Torres?
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Paul Meyer has bad news from Bryan Bullington's labrum surgery:
The Pirates had hoped the arthroscopic surgery wouldn't be as extensive as it turned out to be and that Bullington would be able to begin throwing in December.
But Keith Meister, the Texas Rangers' team doctor who performed the surgery, found more damage than a Magnetic Resonance Imaging test showed.
This explains the loss of velocity. So despite DL's opinion on Friday that "We definitely think he'll be ready for spring training," BB could begin throwing in January, and potentially could be ready by June.
Get well, BB. And all hail Shane Youman who replaces BB on the Fall League full roster.
Monday, October 17, 2005
Brad Eldred doubled twice and drove in five runs today for the Saguaros of the Arizona Fall League. Eldred is in something of a no-win situation in Arizona. If he tears up the league, well, he should tear up the league. If he doesn't, it'll give the Pirates even more reason to use what funds they'll have available to pursue a first baseman this winter. He's currently 4-for-13 with a homer and seven RBI in four games. Oct. 17 - 8:27 pm
Brad Eldred's situation is a bit different than this. He has proven that he can hit for (tremendous) power. He has proven that he can heat up and smoke the ball consistently in AA.
What he has not shown is an ability to get on base at the major-league level. I don't care about the strikeouts. I don't care about the batting average. He can strike out every other at-bat, he can hit .211.
High strikeouts and low batting average are fine provided that the player still contributes a reasonably competent on-base percentage. Think Adam Dunn. If you are going to hit .211, you better draw a lot of walks. Eldred does not do this.
A player with an OBP of .300 has limited value, even if he slugs .450, .500, or .550 to go with it. A .300 OBP is a serious millstone for anyone aspiring to hit fourth, fifth, or sixth.
The Pirates need consistent hitters. I'm all for sticking Eldred in for another 500 at-bats, but if we do that, the Bucs have to find that consistent Jason Bay-ish production at another position. The Bucs desperately need another Jason Bay or a Brian Giles to stack with Bay in the three and four holes. That's how I see it. There are no in-house options. No one on the roster is even close to qualified to hit third on a big-league team -- no one except Jason Bay.
I was going to compare Eldred to Adam Dunn, a guy I think he could imitate. What was Dunn doing at 25? I asked myself. Then I looked it up and saw duh, Dunn is 25 right now. Only eight months separate Adam Dunn and Brad Eldred.