Cliff Lee, Bob Feller, and More

December 18, 2010

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Free agent pitcher Cliff Lee signed a 5 year deal with the Philadelphia Phillies that will pay him $120 million.  Evan was so excited about the news that he temporarily forgot what Evernote was.  There are plenty of theories about why Lee preferred to sign with the Phillies instead of the Yankees.  Some say that Lee and his wife really enjoyed the city of Philadelphia, while others suggested that he preferred to stay in the National League.  The real reason is pretty obvious.  The Indians, Rangers, and Phillies all use the color red in their logo.  The Yankees do not.  Clifford the Big Red Dog, anyone?

The Boston Red Sox continue to put the screws to the Bronx Bombers.  After adding first baseman Adrian Gonzalez via trade, they nabbed outfield Carl Crawford as a free agent.  It’s a double word score for the Sox, as they not only add a big gun to use in their war against the Yankees, but also weaken their other division rivals, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Hall of Fame pitcher and Iowa native Bob Feller passed away at the age of 92.  Feller was the dominant ace of his day, hurling a fastball that topped out above 100 mph.  It will never be known exactly how fast Rapid Robert could toss the old cowhide, due to the fact that speed gauging technology was in its infancy during his prime.  Feller missed all of the 1942, 1943, and 1944 seasons and started just 9 games in 1945 due to his service in World War II.  Feller won 76 games in the threee years prior to 1942 – it’s not a stretch to assume that the 3.75 seasons he lost to the war may have netted him 95 wins, pushing his career total to 350+.  However, this is a common situation for players of the era (Ted Williams lost time to World War II and the Korean War) and if if and buts were candy and nuts, we’d all have a merry Christmas.  Feller made his debut with the Indians at the tender age of 17 (he went 5-3 with a 3.34 ERA that year).

Jerks all around the world are bristling at being compared to Jets strength and conditioning coach Sal Alosi.  During a punt in the game against the Miami, a player for the Dolphins ran out of bounds on his way downfield.  This is fairly common  – players do it to avoid being blocked in the field of play.  What is not common is to have someone stick their knee out to trip the player, as Alosi did.  Further investigation has also determined that Alosi told 5 inactive players to form a wall near the sideline to prevent the Miami players from going out of bounds.  Alosi has been suspended indefinitely, and I would not be surprised if he gets fired.

Sports Beat – Baseball Deadline Edition

August 3, 2010

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Saturday marked the passing of baseball’s trade deadline.  From now through the end of the season, players must pass through waivers before being traded.  The waivers process is to complex to fully explain in the midst of this article – suffice it to say that others team can claim the players during the process in order to mess up a trade. 

The Houston Astros went into full dismantle mode, crippling their offense and pitching by sending Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt away in trades.  Berkman went to the Yankees, in a classic case of the rich getting richer.

The Oswalt deal was a head scratcher for me.  I don’t blame the Phillies for targeting Oswalt – lots of teams were pursuing the Astros ace at the deadline.  The aspect that had me scratching my head was that they had just dealt away Cliff Lee at the time they acquired Roy Halladay.  Why jumping through all the hoops of trading Lee away and then acquiring Oswalt when they could have just retained Lee.  At the time that the Phillies were rumored to be acquiring Halladay, I was very intrigued at the thought of Halladay and Lee in the same rotation, and was a bit puzzled when Lee was shipped out.  I wonder if this game of musical pitchers is going to end up costing them a playoff spot?  How many more wins could the Phillies have had in the first half with Lee in the rotation?  Having said this, I do think that Oswalt is the better pitcher.

The Yankees made a couple smaller moves, picking up veterans Austin Kearns and Kerry Wood for the stretch run.  Both are players who were once rising stars whose stars are now fading.  Nonetheless, the mention of Wood’s name always begs the question: How much wood could Kerry Wood carry if Kerry Wood could carry wood?  And that other question – did Dusty Baker ruin the acreers of Wood and Mark Prior by overextending them in games?

The Rangers were a team that pushed all their chips into the middle of the table.  Texas acquired the aforementioned Cliff Lee earlier in July to bolster their rotation.  At the deadline, they firmed up their infield by picking up Jorge Cantu and Cristian Guzman.  The Rangers might not play in the AL East, but look for them to be a tough out in the playoffs.

On Friday night, my Rockies hammered the Chicago Cubs 17-2.  The margin was just 5-2 entering the bottom of the 8th inning.  The first two Rockies got hits.  The next two hitters made outs.  Then the floodgates opened.  The Rockies got eleven straight, then two walks, before finally making the third out.  Eighteen batters came to the plate and the Rockies scored twelve runs.  The eleven straight hits were an all-time Major League record – and bear in mind that Major League Baseball has been around since 1876.

You may ask yourself – what are the odds of this happening in a game?  Well, with Kosmo in the house, you don’t need to ponder the answer.  Well, if you have a team consisting entirely of .300 hitters (which is virtually impossible), the odds of turning two consecutive at bats into hits is just 9%, or .3^2.  The odds of eleven straight hits would be .3^11 – or one chance in 564,503.  If your team consist of all .260 hitters (much more likely), the odds are just one in 2,724,540.

This does, of course, assume that each at bat is an independent event, which isn’t the case.  Subsequent batters may learn from the experience of the first batters, and pitchers may lose confidence in their breaking pitches and throw more fastballs.  This would cause these odds to shift a bit more in the favor of the hitters.

Of course, these are just the odds at bats turning into hits.  An at bat in a trip to the plate that results in either an out or a hit (statisically, a defensive error counts as an our for the hitter, which sucks).  The thing that made the Rockies hit parade even more unlikely was that it was not interrupted by any walks – the walks came later (a trip to the plate that results in a walk is not charged to the batter as an at bat, but is merely included in the more broad classification of plate appearances).  I can’t even calculate the odds of this happening – because the pitcher can easily stop such a streak by intentionally walking a batter.

On Saturday night, Carlos Gonzalez hit for the cycle against the Cubs.  This means that he had a single, double, triple, and home run in the same game.  Gonzalez completed the cycle in dramatic fashion – bashing a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 9th.

This Week Sucks

December 15, 2009

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This is the worst week for sports this time of year. No college football….does anyone else feel the same way.

So with nothing really FUN to talk about here are a few quick hits this week in the world of sports.

Roy Halladay vs Cliff Lee. The baseball pundits are already spinning their webs on this one. I like Halladay more, much much more. He has been in the brutal American League East for years pitching on bad teams and dominating the competition. He will go to the National League and be totally dominating, even more so than he has been. Cliff Lee …. two seasons does not a career make.

Jake Locker – What are you doing? You have the chance to be the number one overall pick in the NFL draft according to some of the experts. Come back for your senior year for the Huskies? It is not like your team is going to contend for the National Title or even Rose Bowl for that matter. Take the money and run kid. Even if you have a good year in 2010 you are STILL going to get drafted high by a crappy team in the NFL, and the money won’t be near as good one Goodell restructures the rookie contracts this off-season.

Tiger Woods – Just when you thought you had heard it all, now possible ties to doctors that have prescribed steroids and HGH to the likes of Marion Jones and A-Rod. Could it get any worse for Eldrick? Can’t wait to see what transpires with this story in the next couple of days.

Toby Gerhart once again proves the East and Southeast bias in the media is alive and well. We have too many folks voting for the Heisman. How you can have Colt McCoy ahead of Gerhard on ANY ballot is a crime. I am still not convinced Ingram is the best candidate but I do think the person that should have won the award got jobbed.

And now the all obvious NFL comments of the week

Will everyone on ESPN quit talking about the Dallas Cowboys? We get it already, they don’t win in December. We can watch our Plasma big screens and figure that one out by ourselves.

Here is another news flash, Randy Moss appears frustrated and played like a pouting four year old on this past Sunday. Have we heard this story before.

And while we are at it … Will the Colts sit their players? Will the Saints sit their players? Who freaking cares? They are both going to the playoffs. Just as long as I don’t have to listen to another crappy 1972 Dolphins and drinking Champagne reference over the next couple of weeks.

Here is hoping next week has better “and fresher” stories to talk about

Bah Humbug!

Cameron Delivers Titanic Blow to Bay, Holliday

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Red Sox sign Mike Cameron, John Lackey

The Red Sox snuck one past me yesterday by signing Mike Cameron to patrol their outfield.  I had been under the assumption that the Red Sox would sign either Jason Bay or Matt Holliday to patrol left field, and was a bit stunned to hear of the signing.  Cameron is a fine defensive player (a three time gold glove winner), but is a big step down from Bay or Holliday offensively. 

Cameron, who will turn 37 in January, is also considerably older than Holliday (who will be 30 in January) or Bay (32 in September).  Players tend to lose a step as they age, and their offensive skills tend to erode.  So it is pretty likely (almost a certainty) that the Red Sox will get less offense from Cameron than they would from Bay or Holliday.  Cameron is a better defender, although defensive range is less important in Fenway Park than in other ballparks because the left field wall is very shallow.  The ability to gauge where balls will ricochet off the 37 foot high Green Monster is more important than foot speed.

On the flip side, the two year deal, worth a total of $15.5 million, is a lot less money than Bay or Holliday will command (easily twice that much, and for five or more years.)  The Red Sox may have simply decided that it would be more cost effective to upgrade a corner infield sport (with either 3B Adrian Beltre or 1b Adrian Gonzalez).  Gonzalez has come into the spotlight a bit in recent years, but Mr. Eyebrows still doesn’t get the respect he deserves.  His raw numbers (3 straight 30+ homer season, 40 homers and a .958 OPS in 2009) are impressive.  When you stop to think that he plays in a park (Petco) that greatly depresses offense, the numbers are even more amazing.  Put him in Fenway, and he’ll win a couple of MVP awards.

The signing is bad news for Bay and Holliday, as it takes a rich suitor off the table. Bay and Holliday will certainly get some serious coin in their deals, but the Cameron deal may end up costing them a couple of million dollars per year. 

The Red Sox also shored up their rotation by signing right handed starting pitcher John Lackey.  This move makes sense on a number of levels.  Other than the cash given to Lackey ($85 million over five years), the marginal acquisition cost was merely a second round pick.  The Red Sox had signed Marco Scutaro (another type A free agent) earlier in the offseason, and were thus bound to lose their 2010 1st round pick.  Signing Lackey merely means that their 2010 first rounder will go to Anaheim as compensation for losing Lackey, while reducing Oakland’s compensation for Scutaro to a 2nd rounder.  Additionally, taking Lackey away from the Angels makes it a bit easier for Boston to get past the Angels, if they were to face them in the playoffs.  While Lackey isn’t as flashy as some of the other top pitchers, he’s definitely an ace-caliber guy.

Phillies Acquire Ace, Trade Away Ace

The Phillies made waves by finally ending Roy Halladay’s long twist in the wind by acquiring Doc from the Toronto Blue Jays.  The Phillies then turned around and traded their existing ace, Cliff Lee, to the Seattle Mariners.  Prospects were the counterweight in both trades.  Halladay is a year older than Lee, but has been a more consistent performer over the course of their careers.  Additionally, Halladay is righthanded (Lee was a lefty), allowing the Phillies to pair him with Cole Hamels for a righty/lefty combination at the top of their rotation.  While the Phillies were able to neutralize teams that were heavily left handed (the Rockies in the NLDS for example) because of the lefty-dominant rotation, having a balance of righty/lefty makes them a bit less susceptible to teams that lean heavily one way or the other.