Thursday, March 31, 2011

Opening Day Ramblings

Hooray. Hooray. Hooray. It's opening day. And no matter whom you root for, no matter where they play, it's opening day. It's opening day. It's opening day.

Okay, so that's not good haiku or even much of anything, but it's a cheer that almost every baseball fan has when this day, March 31, 2011, arrives. It seems to have come very fast for us, but here it is. And we thought we'd throw out a few opening day ramblings that are rumbling around our brain right now, from the nonsense to the off the cuff predictions that have nothing to do with PEVA or SPRO or any of those other new stats has come up with. Well, not much to do with them anyway.

1) 60% of the opening day starters this year, who were eligible for the draft, were drafted in the first round. That's remarkable really, and not what we would have thought. Yes, we always knew that being a first rounder indicated a greater chance of making it to the majors. And a second rounder behind, but a decent chance, too, with rounds lower than that pretty much a flip of the coin. But 60%. So folks. On draft day this June, pay a whole lot of attention to who your favorite team chooses, because it apparently is pretty important that they choose well.

2) Will this be the opening day when the greatest amount of team face snow in the forecast. We're pretty used to seeing that in Colorado, and formerly in Montreal, but it seems that in the northeast a good amount of teams could face this today and tomorrow. Nothing like mittens at a baseball game, and I'm not talking about only in the stands.

3) We think the Phillies are gonna sprint out of the gates, even though their lineup has taken a few hits with the injuries to Utley and the departure of Werth. We think Ben Francisco, and later in the year, Domonic Brown, are gonna fill in pretty well for Werth, and we don't like their bench at all, but pitching is gonna keep them in tons of games. For some reason, we're not that concerned about the loss of Lidge for awhile. The last two years haven't seen consistent production out of Brad anyway.

4) Who will have one of the best seasons ever and join the list of players in our Stat Geek Baseball, the Best Ever Book. Well, we think Troy Tulowitski is gonna be fantastic, and think the park in Boston is gonna make Adrian Gonzalez a household name, just to state a few. Hey, and take a look at our book and think about buying it. I know we're not a household name like Baseball America, but those 5,000 hours of research into who was the best ever in the history of baseball gave us a pretty unique and interesting take on the subject. And we need your support to carry it on. Thanks.

5) Who will be the surprise team of 2011? Well, we don't know about surprise, but we do think the Milwaukee Brewers are gonna contend for the National League title and wouldn't be surprised if the Oakland A's won the American League West. We don't think they will, coming up a couple wins short, but we wouldn't be surprised.

6) We're really hoping this is the year Bud Selig stops trying to come up with new ideas about expanding the playoffs and let's baseball succeed where it is. Com'n, unless you have a team in the first round, you already don't care about it. I mean, we follow baseball pretty darn closely and I couldn't care less, if my team isn't in it, about the playoffs until they're playing for the right to go to the World Series.

7) How many people are gonna be buying ice cream at the park on Opening Day when they can get a snow cone from the arm rest on their seat?

Well, that's enough nonsense from us for now. Enjoy Opening Day, baseball fans, no matter what the weather in your city is like. Here's hoping you have a great baseball season in 2011 and that your team wins more games than anyone is predicting.


Friday, March 18, 2011

American League Team Predictions 2011

American League

Wins Loss
American League East

New York Yankees 97 65
Boston Red Sox * 90 72
Tampa Bay Rays 76 86
Baltimore Orioles 76 86
Toronto Blue Jays 71 91
American League Central

Detroit Tigers 86 76
Chicago White Sox 84 78
Minnesota Twins 82 80
Cleveland Indians 70 92
Kansas City Royals 65 97
American League West

Texas Rangers 92 70
Oakland A's 84 78
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 81 81
Seattle Mariners 71 91

Wild Card Winner - Boston Red Sox

Note: Team predictions based on relationship of PEVA Shuffle Index - Preseason 2011 to wins and losses.

American League East
There are a whole lot of people who think the Boston Red Sox made the biggest gains this offseason and will best the Yankees for the top of the American League East in 2011. We're not one of them. While the additions of Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford will add a new dynamic to their offense, we're just not as sure about their pitching. Of course, a big rebound by Josh Beckett will go a long way toward mitigating that concern and it's not like we're fans of the Rafael Soriano huge contract, either to pitch in the eighth inning or an eventual ninth if needed. We just think the offense of New York, with pillers at every position and new emerging players like Robinson Cano and Brett Gardner will take the cake. But don't fret Red Sox fans, we still think you're gonna make the playoffs as the real Wild Card, before Bud adds another spud to the Wild Card mix in another year or two.

Unfortunately for the rest of the division, they're gonna be playing for themselves as we see no way for the Orioles, Blue Jays, or Rays to contend for the playoffs in 2011. But there are some quiet good things happening in Baltimore as they surround young players like Markakis, Wieters, and Jones with veterans who know how to win. We just wish they knew how to pitch. And there's gonna be a lull in Ray land until all those draft picks they gained from losing free agents come of age. Hopefully Evan Longoria won't get too frustrated by then. The Blue Jays are really counting on young pitchers to make up for the two years of losing their top gun, plus a newly found power hitter in Bautista remaining so for years. We like some players here such as Lind and Hill, plus Drabek in out years, but not this year.

American League Central
This is going to be an exciting race that could go down to the last week between three teams. And even though we're picking, statistically, the Detroit Tigers, to come out on top, it really could be any of the three. There's things to like about all three. Miguel Cabrera and young pitchers in Verlander and Porcello coming of age. In Chicago, the south side has added what we think will end up being the best offensive free agent signing of the offseason in Adam Dunn, and they have just enough pitching to keep competitive in the Central with Mark Buehrle, John Danks, and the rest of the cast. If Minnesota can get and stay healthy, they might even be the favorite, but the injury woes of Justin Morneau and Joe Nathan, and to a lesser extent, Joe Mauer, will go a long way to determining the winner here. We actually think all three are bound to have great years and rebound from last season, but for now, the shuffle index goes with Detroit, winning in two games over Chicago, and four games over Minnesota. It's going to be a fascinating time around the Great Lakes this year. Give the Indians and Royals a couple more years and we think you're gonna see some special things from these teams. Kansas City has, in almost all the experts opinions, the best farm system in baseball with prospects at all corners. Think three years down the line, but they are coming. Some of the comers are already there for Cleveland, but the young players they gained from trades like Lee to Philadelphia, are gonna have growing pains. Donald, Carrasco, and others will start to pay dividends in 2011, but not large ones just yet. And we are rooting for a complete return of Grady Sizemore to the greatness everybody saw in him two to three years ago.

American League West
We didn't foresee the rise of the Texas Rangers last year. But this season, we do see them repeating as AL West champs. Probably don't have them in the World Series again though. And that young crew at Oakland is going to make a lot of waves with a dynamic pitching staff of Anderson, Braden, Gonzalez, and more. We don't think they have enough offense to win 90 games, which we think it would take to overcome Texas, but there's going to be more than a few teams not wanting to take that road trip to the Oakland Coliseum (and it's not because of the stadium) and face those young arms. We think the Angels have just enough to hang around awhile and finish near 0.500. Just don't think they have enough to contend through September. We do, however, like some of their arms as well and expect good years from Weaver, Santana, and Haren. But they could have used one of those stellar free agents to drop into Anaheim and prop up the offense. For Seattle, they have two of the most dynamic players in the game in Ichiro and Felix. Unfortunately, there's just not enough others around, although some are young and good, to win in 2011. But don't give up hope, we were wrong about the Rangers last year.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

National League Team Predictions 2011

National League

Wins Loss
National League East

Philadelphia Phillies 98 64
Atlanta Braves 88 74
Florida Marlins 78 84
Washington Nationals 76 86
New York Mets 76 86
National League Central

St. Louis Cardinals * 89 73
Milwaukee Brewers * 89 73
Cincinnati Reds 86 76
Chicago Cubs 77 85
Houston Astros 70 92
Pittsburgh Pirates6698
National League West

San Francisco Giants 92 70
Los Angeles Dodgers 88 74
Colorado Rockes 82 80
San Diego Padres 77 85
Arizona Diamondbacks 75 87
NL Central Winner - St. Louis Cardinals
Wild Card Winner - Milwaukee Brewers

Note: Team predictions based on relationship of PEVA Shuffle Index - Preseason 2011 to wins and losses. Shuffle Index has been adjusted to reflect injury to Adam Wainwright; see explanation below.

National League East
It's really a huge change since their World Series championship in 2008 for the Philadelphia Phillies. This team is all about pitching with a big four in Halladay, Lee, Oswalt, and Hamels in which every one of them could contend for the Cy Young Award. Their PEVA preseason shuffle pitching total of 129.754 is huge. How huge you might say? Is it best ever huge? Well, not quite, but if they perform up to their pitching level of 2010, it would be the fifth highest total in the history of the game. That's pretty big. But there's been a decline, it seems, on the offensive side. When you're missing Pat Burrell, (yes, we said Pat Burrell. You did notice him winning another World Series in San Francisco last year) Jason Werth, and perhaps for some of the season, Chase Utley, it hurts. Fortunately for Philly, they might only have to score 3 runs to win on a lot of nights. There are some who think this team could win 110 games. It could, but only if the offense rebounds to the way it used to score runs. Right now, the stats say 98 wins, but we wouldn't be surprised if there were more. The Atlanta Braves are a good team and getting better all the time. With the addition of Dan Uggla in the middle of their lineup, along with old stars like Chipper, and new ones like Jason, we predict a lot of wins for the Braves this year and contention for a Wild Card slot with the likes of St. Louis, Milwaukee, and the Dodgers. Down the Eastern Division line, the Nationals of Washington are going to be better than people think. We wouldn't have signed Jason Werth to that contract, but if he can perform like he did in 2010 with Ryan Zimmerman becoming a force at 3B there and on a national stage, they might move up the standings some. Might need that Strasberg fellow to do more than that though. Florida is likely to edge them out for third spot, however. They have their own youngsters on the rise there in Mike Stanton and better pitching. And those Mets. I guess if they get healthy players, they could get more wins, but there seems to be a culture there that would be better off changed. We don't think that change is now.

National League Central
Yes, we've adjusted the PEVA shuffle index to reflect the loss of Adam Wainwright for the season to the St. Louis Cardinals. We don't usually do this, but it seemed appropriate since his PEVA factor from 2010 was so high (he might have been the 2nd best pitcher in baseball last year) and we know he's out for the year. And how much is this gonna cost the Cards? We think in the range of 9 wins. But guess what, this team is so good, they're still gonna win 89 times and edge out the Milwaukee Brewers in a one game playoff for the title. Exciting, isn't it! But don't fret, fans of Fielder, Braun, Wolf, and Greinke, you're still gonna make the playoffs. But neither of these tasks is gonna be easy as the offensive juggernaut that is the Cincinnati Reds, is bound to win more than a few contests. And if their pitching holds up, we wouldn't be surprised if the Reds took the top spot and knocked one of the other two from the playoff round. For the Cubs, Astros, and Pirates, this might be a long year. We do not like what the Cubs have been doing over the last decade in constructing a team and we haven't seen enough change yet to think they're bound to contend. We think the Astros, or Phillies retread south, will be better than many think and could surprise for awhile. We've always liked those past Phils like Happ and Bourn. They're better than many think. And oh, those Pirates. Think Royals without as much coming from the farm.

National League West
Pitching, pitching, and more pitching keeps coming at you in that beautiful ballpark on the bay and we don't see it stopping any time soon. A repeat in the NL West by the Giants, who added some nice pieces on the offensive side with the addition of Miguel Tejada, is in order, although we do see the LA Dodgers making them run for their money. Colorado has been signing their young players to long term contracts and see this version of the Rockies as having tons of potential. So do we. Just don't think it will be this year. For San Diego and Arizona. Just too many losses in players and victories to add up to contending seasons. They'll pitch well in Padre land and hit well in Diamondback territory, but their lack of punch on the other side of the ball will see that stacking up losses at a higher pace than their fans would like in 2011.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

PEVA Shuffle Index 2011

PEVA Shuffle Index - Batting Power Rankings

March 16, 2011 - The Hot Stove league is behind us and preseason games are about to give way to the regular season. And then we'll know, won't we. Just who did the best job of the off-season and shuffled their lineup into a juggernaut, or not. And it's funny. With all the yammer about that great pitching rotation in Philadelphia, or that great team in St. Louis that just lost the second best pitcher of last season, or about those Yanks and Sox, the team that may have made the best overall splash of the offseason, but did it very quietly, was the Los Angeles Dodgers. Hmmm. I wonder if that'll mean those Dodger blue will contend with their Giant foes for the title this year. But we're getting ahead of ourselves, or at least diving into the overall effect pool, so before we go too far afield, let's get back to the topic at hand. Who has done the best offseason job in the PEVA Shuffle index for batters. Well, it's another blast from the past team, ... those Baltimore Orioles.

Top Five
1. Baltimore Orioles - No, Cal isn't coming back to play, but somehow, this squad has done a pretty nice job of adding productive offseason players this year. Yes, they're a bit gimpy, ... see Vladimir Guerrero, and Derrick Lee, but they are a whole lot better than what was there last season, and those two old warhorses look pretty good surrounded by the up and coming young stars of Nick Markakis and Adam Jones. Never really heard about them, ... well, we get the feeling that you will. And let's not forget Mark Reynolds coming over from Arizona. Yes, he'll strike out alot, and that can be a problem. But he's gonna hit a bunch of homers out of Camden Yards and make for some interesting games. Unfortunately for Oriole fans, the pitching staff didn't make as many strides, so you might be looking at football scores, but it will be interesting.

2. Texas Rangers - Geez, the club that lost Vlad comes in at number #2. What's up with that! Well, what's up is that even though they made that subtraction, they added three bats with solid credentials. One big stick in Adrian Beltre, and a couple smaller ones in Mike Napoli and Yorvit Torrealba. Now we're not big fans of Adrian, but maybe that's just us, and we'll have to see whether this second big contract, and a hitter's park, will work out better than the first one in a pitcher's park. But for now, he's the big part of why the Texas Rangers have made the #2 spot on this shuffle list.

3. Boston Red Sox - Not alot to say about this. Pretty simple really. Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford. Enough said.

4. Chicago White Sox - For some reason we think the White Sox got the best of free agency when they signed Adam Dunn. No, he's not a gazelle anywhere in the field, but he's one of the most consistent power hitters in the game who's not considered great, and added to the power already on the south side, we think the White Sox are gonna contend for the Central title with Detroit and Minnesota all year long.

5. Oakland A's - No big time moves for the moneyball crowd, but the additions of David DeJesus, Josh Willingham, and and Hideki Matsui will provide a better offense for those good young pitchers to pitch behind. Don't be surprised if they contend, although they may fall just short in the end.

Bottom Five
26. Florida Marlins - Dan Uggla can hit, and now he's doing it in Atlanta. And I'm sorry, but super sub Omar Infante is not an All-Star caliber player. Yes, they're not gonna be counting on him to carry them, that'll be up to the young guns like Mike Stanton, but as far as experienced major leaguers, the Marlins took a step back. But they're used to it.

27. Philadelphia Phillies - Focused on pitching by adding Cliff Lee and losing Jason Werth gets you into this bottom five.

28. San Diego Padres - Any team that loses Adrian Gonzalez is gonna take a hit.

29. Tampa Bay Rays - We're having a sale. They all must go, except Evan Longoria. And now they're gone, but hey, Tampa Bay has so many draft picks in 2011, they'll be able to field one pretty good team in six years or so. Hopefully, for Tampa fans, it won't take that long.

30. Toronto Blue Jays - Second year in a row, they've taken the last spot. That's no way to run an airline.

PEVA Shuffle Index - Pitching Power Rankings

March 15, 2011 - It's hard to believe if you're a Philly fan, but the best pitchers in the game want to pitch in your bandbox. Last year, Roy Halladay helped Philly to the #3 spot in the positive pitching shuffle rankings, and this year it's Cliff Lee who puts them into the top spot.

Who has done the best in the PEVA Shuffle for pitchers.

Top Five
1. Philadelphia Phillies - Okay, we already stated the primary lead, but let's not forget, lead number #2. They now also have a full year of Roy Oswalt.

2. Los Angeles Dodgers - Even though at a lower scale than the Phillies and their two big guns, the Dodgers have quietly added 21.898 PEVA points to the pitching staff (Philadelphia added 29.097). Jon Garland won 14 games last year; that's not too shabby. And Ted Lilly will be on staff for the whole year as Oswalt will. Add to that the minor, but important additions of Matt Guerrier and Blake Hawksworth. We get the feeling the Dodgers will surprise some folks this season.

3. Milwaukee Brewers - Zach Grienke won the AL Cy Young in 2009; he's now on staff. When you add pitching to those boppers, it might be a season of fireworks in Brew Crew land.

4. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim - Yes, even though those Angels seem to be in a decreasing mode the last couple years as they missed out on free agent after free agent, and lost some of their own, they made a few nice changes on their pitching staff between the start of last season and this one. Dan Haren back for a full year and Hisinori Takahashi on board as well.

5. Florida Marlins - Took some hits on the offensive side of the ball, but with the additions of Randy Choate, Edward Mujica, Dustin Richardson, and Javier Vasquez, things look up. And if Vasquez pitches as well as he usually does in any place not named New York, this positive impact could even be greater.

Bottom Five
26. Seattle Mariners - The Cliff Lee era of Seattle lasted a very short time, none of it is going to happen in 2011.

27. Houston Astros - Ditto for Roy Oswalt, although we actually think the addition of J.A. Happ is gonna end up being very good for them.

28. San Diego Padres - Jon Garland is now pitching north of here, although with this ballpark, we're guessing some of their young pitchers will be able to fill in the gap.

29. Toronto Blue Jays - Last year, it was their best pitcher, Roy Halladay going south; this year, it was their best pitcher, Shawn Marcum, going west. Not a good trend in a division that includes Yanks and Sox.

30. Tampa Bay Rays - Matt Garza and relievers de jeur flying the fish coup.
Time to wade into the kiddy pool.

PEVA Shuffle Index 2011