Wednesday, January 21, 2009
According to Friedman, "It’s morning again — in Saudi Arabia," because Americans have short memories.
Sadly, the Minnesota Twins "do not have a department devoted to statistical analysis." In the last decade the Twins have gained an edge by developing talent through excellent scouting and managing at the minor league levels. Unfortunately, while the rest of major league baseball has integrated advanced metrics into their player evaluations, it appears the Twins are resting on their laurels. Perhaps this explains why one analyst ranks the Minnesota farm system 21 out of 30.
"Small-market teams love salary caps. Or rather, they think they do. " If a salary cap were implemented in Major League Baseball, 13 teams would have to spend an extra $15 million to meet the minimum.
Why is it that conservatives only fight for tax relief that would benefit the wealthy? "If the Republicans were more serious about their philosophical commitment against taxation, why not instead propose a either a long-lived holiday or a permanent reduction in the FICA (payroll) tax as the entirety of their stimulus package?...because the payroll tax is capped at about $100,000 in income, suspending or reducing it would not be all that helpful to wealthy Americans, to whom it represents only a tiny fraction of their tax burden." (Read more)
A nice chart of President Obama's cabinet (with pictures and everything).
A liberal uses the "n-word". (More people just like him.)
Greg Boyd finds it a bit ironic that Colin Powell was the keynote speaker at a Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast. Makes a lot of sense to me.
"Liberalism is not America’s problem. A comfortable Church with a tamed Jesus is." (More here)
The current free agent compensation system is screwed up. When the Brewers receive a second round pick for losing C.C. Sabathia (instead of a first) and Jason Varitek is held hostage because any team that signs him will have to give up a first rounder, something needs to change. Look for this to be a topic for discussion at the next round of collective bargaining. In the meanwhile, since the Yanks have already forfeited their 1st, 2nd, and 3rd round picks with this year's big free agent aquisitions, Ken Rosenthal believes they should solidify their bullpen by signing type A free agent, Juan Cruz. I totally agree. Meanwhile, Yankee blog, River. Ave. Blues makes some suggestions for how to fix the free agent compensation system.
There's a lot of hype around the Cleveland Indians this offseason, but "the Twins will be a tough beat in the AL Central in 2009."
Back in October, I complained that the Twins were forced to play a tiebreaker against the White Sox in Chicago because they lost a coin flip. This, despite having won the season series. Well, looks like those coin-flips won't be happening anymore. Thanks Bud. Better late than never I guess.
Check it out, the White House has a blog!
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Two weeks ago, Ricky Henderson and Jim Rice were elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers Association of America (for the most complete list of BBWAA members on the net click here). Henderson received 94.8% of the votes and Rice received 76.4% (for full election results click here). A chorus of sabermetricans have been campaigning for the elections of Bert Blyleven, who received 62.7% of the votes, and Tim Raines, who received 22.6%, both of whom fell short of the required 75% vote.
In this article, ESPN baseball writer, Keith Law, uses statistical analysis to make a convincing argument for Tim Raines' entrance into the Hall and compares his career to Paul Molitor's, suggesting something else may be to blame for his omission.
So Raines was perhaps the best base stealer in the game's history, the second-best leadoff hitter, one of the best hitters at reaching base (the most important thing a hitter can do, after all) and a good defensive player. One common excuse for omitting Raines from Hall ballots is his admitted cocaine use in the 1980s, including his infamous confession to sliding headfirst to avoid breaking the vials of snow in his back pocket. Raines was clean for the majority of his career and became known both as someone who talked about his recovery from addiction and just generally a good character guy, yet voters are still bringing up the drug use from the first two or three years of his career.
Yet another candidate who reached the ballot with similar off-field indiscretions, Paul Molitor, sailed into the Hall on the first ballot with more than 85 percent of the vote and 299 more votes than Raines received in his first year. Molitor also played the first few years of his career with a serious cocaine problem. So why does Molitor get a free pass while Raines struggles to reach even a quarter of the vote? It's not about their playing careers; Raines was the better offensive player and played a thousand more games in the field than Molitor did. Molitor accumulated more bulk statistics at the plate, but his inability to play a position was a big part of extending his career. No, it might be about something far more insidious.I do not think Keith Law is suggesting that racism is to blame for Tim Raines' extremely low vote total. I can think of some other factors that explain the ridiculously low vote totals. For instance, the majority of the BBWAA has been extremely reluctant to considers a player's Hall case using quantitave analysis of baseball statistics, and the new categories that have resulted in the last couple decades. These categories go beyond the traditional HR, SB, R, and RBIs. Some examples include OPS, OBP, WARP, and VORP. Considering Raines' Hall case rests largely on the acceptance of quantitative analysis and these new categories, it is reasonable to conclude that there are just too many old farts in the BBWAA who still believe the earth is flat for Raines to stand a chance as a first ballot Hall of Famer.
The electorate for the Hall, comprising BBWAA members who have at some point held their badges for 10 consecutive years (although they need not be active badge holders now), is overwhelmingly white; the organization's secretary, Jack O'Connell, did a quick count of African-American voters and came up with 19 in the history of the organization, at least one of whom (Hall of Famer Larry Whiteside) is deceased. Even if O'Connell undercounted current African-American voters by 50 percent, that would give us 36, out of a total electorate of over 550. Are we just looking at an example, then, of a white electorate treating drug use by a white player differently than it would treat drug use by an African-American player? Many academics, including Princeton professor Cornel West, have written about the way that the American media treats white drug users differently from African-American drug users; perhaps this inequity has seeped into its treatment of baseball players with distant histories of drug use as well, because any gap between Raines' and Molitor's on-field performances could not begin to justify the gap in their Hall of Fame vote totals. This is not to say that any individual voter is racist, but that pervasive societal stereotypes may be hurting Raines' Hall chances.
That said, Law makes a compelling argument, and one that can't be ignored. It would be easy to simplify Raines' omission as the oversight of a bunch of old flat earth cranks, but that might be a mistake. Law's argument certainly deserves more consideration: social stereotypes could be influencing Hall of Fame voting.
(Check out Tim Raines' and Bert Blyleven's Hall of Fame websites. Very convincing.)
Friday, January 9, 2009
After listening to her Congressional testimony I wanted to hear more, so I did some googling and checked out some youtube clips and found this UC Berkeley Graduate Council lecture called "The Coming Collapse of the Middle Collapse". It was eye-opening to say the least. It has always been my assumption that irresponsible consumption was a signficant cause of the current struggles of middle class Americans. While I still believe consumerism is a problem in America, after watching this, I'm beginning to rethink the extent to which over-consumption is to blame for the problems of the middle class.
Because the embeded video is 57 minutes, and some of you may not want to watch all of it, I've outlined some interesting facts from her presentation below.
The Commerce Department has tracked how Americans spend their money for more than a century. Warren used this data to compare the spending habits between two similar families: a mom and dad with two kids in the early 1970s and a mom and dad and two kids in 2003, and adjusted for inflation. Her findings:
- A family of four spends 32% less on clothes in 2003 than in the 1970s.
- A family of four spends 18% less on food in 2003 than in the 1970s.
- A family of four spends 52% less on appliances in 2003 than in the 1970s.
- A family of four spends 24% less per car in 2003 than in the 1970s.
- A family of four spends 76% more on a 3 bedroom one bathroom house in 2003 than in the 1970s. The average American family is about 50% more likely to be in a house more than 25 years old.
- A family of four spends 74% more on health care in 2003 than in the 1970s (assuming this family is fortunate enough to have employer sponsored health insurance).
- A family of four spends 52% more on cars in 2003 than in the 1970s because they now have more than one car in the family.
- A family of four spends 100% more on childcare in 2003 than in the 1970s because mom is now at work.
- A family of four pays 25% more in taxes in 2003 than in the 1970s because mom is now at work.
- Notice, these are all fixed expenses, whereas the earlier expenses are flexible.
Unfortunately, in her presentation Warren does not suggest solutions for this obvious problem, she just presents the data. My personal belief is that she is NOT suggesting that moms stay home. So, then what?
Thoughts? Reactions? Criticisms?
(Btw, I did not outline the last 20 minutes of her presentation. It was too difficult to summarize concisely in bullets.)
Monday, December 29, 2008
So, is Yankee spending once again ruining the competitive balance in baseball? Further analysis is needed.
First, according to River Ave. Blues (and many other sources) the Yankees payroll has not changed dramatically from last year despite signing these three free agents and trading for Nick Swisher. This is because they've shed $59 million in payroll when the contracts of Bobby Abreu, Jason Giambi, Andy Petitte, and Mike Mussina expired. Even with previous commitments, and projected arbitration raises, "the net change in team payroll will be negligible relative to the massive dollar figures connected to those three new contracts."
Second, there is no guarantee that these contracts will result in a World Series for the Bombers, let alone an AL East crown. In fact, Resultsdisorientied calculates that replacing Mussina, Giambi, Pettitte, and Abreu, with Sabathia, Teixeira, Burnett, and Swisher will only net the Yankees 2.1 more wins. Unless the Rays or Red Sox significantly falter, this will not be enough to capture the AL East crown. On top of that, in 2008 the Yankees were outspent per win by only two teams, the Tigers and the Mariners, not exactly good company. The Rays, Twins and Marlins spent the least per win. So, which type of team do you want to be a fan of, ineffective big spenders, or efficient penny pinchers?
Is this the watershed moment that should lead toward a salary cap in major league baseball? Baseball Think Factory reveals some interesting facts that lead me to answer, no. To begin with, while revenues have increased dramatically since 2003, the players' salaries have actually decreased by 11% in that time. Is that difference felt by Joe fan, with lowered ticket prices? No way. (According to Peter Gammons, in Boston, the average price for a family of four to watch the Red Sox from the grandstand and buy concessions was $250!) Also, if MLB were to institute a salary cap similar to the NFL's, it would probably set somewhere around $100 million. Of the thirty teams in Major League Baseball, only 11 had payrolls north of $100 mil. in 2008.
Finally, ironically Yankee spending is actually good for baseball. In 2008, only two teams paid the luxury tax, the Tigers and the Yankees. The Tigers paid $1.3 mil. and the Yanks paid $26.8 mil. Along with the luxury tax, the Yankees paid over $100 million in revenue sharing. On the whole, all thirty baseball teams put over $300 mil. in the revenue sharing pot, to be redistributed to the poorest teams with the Yankees portion comprising about a one-third of this money. Does this discourage Yankee spending? No, although the Steinbrenner boys aren't happy about it. And what became of that $300 mil. Well, how many free agents have we seen the Kansas City Royals, Pittsburgh Pirates, Florida Marlins, Minnesota Twins, or Tampa Bay Rays sign?
Oh yeah, remember Mark Attanasio, owner of the Brewers, who called for a salary cap. His profits totaled $40 million in 2006 and 2007, and those are sure to rise as Milwaukee attendance increased in 2008. But please, hate the Yankees.
Update (01-26-09): " Small-market teams love salary caps. Or rather, they think they do." If a salary cap were imposed in major league baseball, the poorest 13 teams would have to spend an extra $15 mil. Check it out.
Friday, December 26, 2008
An employer that promised, back in the nineteen-fifties, to pay for its employees’ health care when they were retired didn’t set aside the money for that while they were working. It just paid the bills as they came in: money generated by current workers was used to pay for the costs of taking care of past workers. Pensions worked roughly the same way. On the day a company set up a pension plan, it was immediately on the hook for all the years of service accumulated by employees up to that point: the worker who was sixty-four when the pension was started got a pension when he retired at sixty-five, even though he had been in the system only a year. That debt is called a “past service” obligation, and in some cases in the nineteen-forties and fifties the past-service obligations facing employers were huge. At Ford, the amount reportedly came to two hundred million dollars, or just under three thousand dollars per employee.
Gladwell takes this one step farther and connects it to healthcare: "The average cost of health insurance for an employee between the ages of thirty-five and thirty-nine is $3,759 a year, and for someone between the ages of sixty and sixty-four it is $7,622." G.M. has an estimated 62 billion dollars in health care liabilities. Of course, ask the CEO of an American automaker who hedged his bet on Hummers and Tahoes, how he feels about universal healthcare, and he'll reply in opposition.
But, please blame the lazy auto unions.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Watch CBS Videos Online
The White Sox earned that victory last night behind John Danks' stellar pitching performance, and the Twins are horrible on the road, so this is no excuse. However, Major League Baseball cannot continue to appeal to tradition in crucial situations such as this. For once Bud, please be proactive. The commissioner's major weakness is his retroactive management style, and this is symptomatic of his capitulation to the almighty dollar.
We saw it during the juiced era, when it took Congress recently strong-arming major league baseball to implement drug testing. We saw it on full display after the 2002 All-Star game. We saw it earlier this month when the Astros were forced to play a series against the Cubs at Wrigley North (Milwaukee) because someone, somehow, failed to anticipate Hurricane Ike. And we saw it last night, with game 163 of the 2008 season. A game played in Chicago despite the fact that the Twins had won the season series 10-8. Why? Because coin flips have always been used.
Time for Bud to make a retroactive change, again.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
In some ways, the subprime mortgage mess and housing crisis are metaphors for what has come over America in recent years: A certain connection between hard work, achievement, and accountability has been broken. We’ve become a subprime nation that thinks it can just borrow its way to prosperity—putting nothing down and making no payments for two years. Subprime lenders told us that we could have the American dream—a home of our own—without the discipline or sacrifice that home ownership requires. We didn’t need to study hard and build a solid educational foundation. We didn’t need to save an build a solid credit record. The bank around the corner or online would borrow the money from China and lend it to us—with a credit check no more intrusive than the check you get at the airport when they make sure the name on your airline ticket matches the one on your driver’s license. When the whole pyramid scheme, operated by some of our best financial institutions, collapsed, everyone from simple homeowners to unscrupulous lenders looked to the government for a bailout. The politicians accommodated them, even though everyone knew that the lenders had not been betting that their customers’ penchant for hard work or frugality or innovation would enable them to make the payments. They were simply betting that the housing bubble would keep driving up the prices of homes and that mortgages rates would keep falling—that the market would bail everybody out forever. It did—until it didn’t. As with out houses, so with our country: We have been mortgaging our future rather than investing in it?So, the question then becomes, what to invest in?
Sunday, September 21, 2008
An argument I continue to hear in support of the $700 billion dollar bailout has been that because assets are clogging up the system, credit could be very difficult to obtain if the federal government doesn't step in, quickly. I wonder if easy access to credit, or desire for that credit, wasn't the problem in the first place. From Naked Capitalism,
The US needs to wean itself of unsustainable overconsumption, and since consumption has come to depend on growth in indebtedness, a reversal, however painful, is necessary. Our excesses have been so great that there is no way out of this that does not lead to a general fall in living standards (note that the officialdom in the UK is willing to say that, but since perpetual prosperity is a God-given right in America, admitting we will be getting poorer is verboten). Thus, a sharp contraction in lending seems inevitable; the trick is to prevent it from crossing the tipping point into a vicious, accelerating downward spiral.Naked Capitalism goes on to summarized two problems with the proposed legislation. The first comes from the direct wording of the bill, "Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency." So, this bill grants the Secretary of the Treasury power that would exempt him from judicial or legislative review? Not a huge fan.
Secondly, the bill does NOT require the federal government to pay market value for these mortgages. Imagine that, lenders holding the federal government hostage, extracting top dollar for toxic mortgages, while tax payers flip the bill.
While such a bailout may be a necessary evil, hopefully the government does not make a bad situation worse in haste.
(The proposed $700 billion legislation is too dense to read myself, but have at it here if you'd like.)
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Monday, July 7, 2008
Obama the most liberal Senator?
Chairmen of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, summarizes the challenges that lay ahead as we look to reform the health care system in America. A nice concise overview.
If you've listened to sports talk radio at all recently then you've probably heard the Bud Light commercial tribute to another Real Man of Genius: Mr. Roller Cooler Cooler Roller (hear it at budlight.com). Well, it turns out members of the St. Louis Cardinals bullpen are also Real Men of Genius. So, does this mean Kyle McClellan is Mr. Cruzin Cooler?
A Pastor who previously supported President George W. Bush, launched a website called James Dobson Doesn't Speak For Me to refute claims made against Barack Obama by Dobson during his June 24th broadcast. After listening to that broadcast, where Dobson devotes a good portion of the program criticizing Obama's '06 Call to Renewal speech, it became very clear that Dobson was willing to take quotes out of context to suit his purposes.
An Ode to Baseball Cards, "Growing up on the mean streets of Bath, Maine, I never saw anyone riding their bicycles with baseball cards in the spokes. And if I did, I’d have shoved the ungrateful little punks off their banana-seated Huffys and rescued all the Garry Templetons, Oscar Zamoras, and Felix Millans as if they were my own cardboard children. Because that’s how I rolled, yo." I could not agree more.
Fascinating details behind the fall of Bear Sterns. Based on this account, it sounds like no one truly knows what caused Bear's collapse , but conspiracy theories have emerged.
Bishop of Durham and New Testament scholar (not to mention super smart theologian), N.T. Wright appeared on the Colbert Report and discussed heaven.
John McCain responded to criticism to his proposal for a gas tax holiday,"You know the economists?'' McCain said June 12 at Federal Hall, near the New York Stock Exchange. "They're the same ones that didn't predict this housing crisis we're in. They're the same ones that didn't predict the dot-com meltdown. They're the same ones that didn't predict the inflation that's staring us in the face today.'' Silly economists. So, does this mean McCain won't be putting his "lot in with economists"?
Two Bethel University Professors (my alma mater) wrote an article for Christianity Today, "How to Pick a President: Why Virtue Trumps Policy." An interesting perspective. Not what you'd expect given it's title.
Monday, June 23, 2008
"Our enormously productive economy...demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction, our ego satisfaction, in consumption...We need things consumed, burned up, replaced and discarded at an ever-accelerating rate."
For the entire Story of Stuff click here.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
The last week of school, in U.S. history, I asked students to share examples of social and political commentary from their music collection. Well, here is mine. After visiting a hospital in Malawi with 300% bed occupancy and failing to receive support from American Christian leaders for his ONE campaign, Bono wrote "Crumbs From Your Table" during a night of drinking. The "crumbs" in the song refer to a passage from Matthew 15: 27. I've included a few more verses below for context:
21 Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.
22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly."
23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, "Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us."
24 He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel."
25 The woman came and knelt before him. "Lord, help me!" she said.
26 He replied, "It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to the dogs."
27 "Yes it is, Lord," she said. "Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master's table."
28 Then Jesus said to her, "Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted." And her daughter was healed from that very hour.
From the brightest star
Comes the blackest hole
You had so much to offer
Why did you offer your soul?
I was there for you baby
When you needed my help
Would you deny for others
What you demand for yourself?
Cool down mama, cool off
Cool down mama, cool off
You speak of signs and wonders
I need something other
I would believe if I was able
But I’m waiting on the crumbs from your table
You were pretty as a picture
It was all there to see
Then your face caught up with your psychology
With a mouth full of teeth
You ate all your friends
And you broke every heart thinking every heart mends
You speak of signs and wonders
But I need something other
I would believe if I was able
But I’m waiting on the crumbs from your table
Where you live should not decide
Whether you live or whether you die
Three to a bed
Sister Ann, she said
Dignity passes by
And you speak of signs and wonders
But I need something other
I would believe if I was able
I’m waiting on the crumbs from your table
Thursday, June 5, 2008
“He feels like he needs to show this league and the people in this country that he is better without Shaq,” Allen says. “He can win championships without Shaq. So offensively, he's going to jump out and say, 'I can average 30 points. I can still carry the load on this team.' If Kobe doesn't see he needs two and a half good players to be a legitimate playoff contender or win a championship, in about a year or two he'll be calling out to Jerry Buss that 'We need some help in here,' or 'Trade me.’ And we'll all be saying, 'I told you so,' when he says that."Jesus Shuttlesworth, the prophet.
Allen concludes by stating, “He has the talent [to lead a team], he can do it. But is his attitude going to allow him to take a back seat and let Lamar Odom shine and let Caron Butler have his nights and bring those big guys along with him?”
When Shaq left, Kobe shot, and shot, and shot, and shot, without making his teammates better. Caron Butler left town, and flourished in Washington, making the Eastern Conference All-Star Team. The Black Mamba (easily the stupidest nickname I've ever heard) began this season demanding that the Lakers upgrade the roster or trade him to a contender. When the Grizzlies gift-wrapped Pau Gasol at the trade deadline, the Lakers immediately became the best in the West. Kobe? Still a punk. Just a punk with a huge front line.
Of course, now he has a score to settle with Ray Allen, and that should scare the hell out of every Celtic fan out there. If you haven't noticed Ray Allen hasn't exactly been lights out this postseason. Those two ankle surgeries in the offseason seem to have taken their toll. Kobe will use those words from 2004 and try to put up 50 every night, no matter what Zen tactics Phil uses. And we all know he could do it.
But that would require him to shoot, and shoot, and shoot, and shoot...
And that hasn't worked so well in the past has it?
Friday, May 23, 2008
Just finished a workshop on equity and religion in public schools. Workshops suck as it is, but they are worse when presenters don't practice what they preach. The facilitators of the equity discussion gave us norms to follow as we participated in this discussion about equity and religion in the public schools (they anticipated conflict). During that discussion, much to our surprise, one of these presenters decided the list of social norms did not apply to her, and chastised a grown man who expressed a dissenting view from that which the equity folk were preaching.
However tasty the equity kool-aid may have been, teachers were not drinking after that exchange.
Sometimes I think this equity discussion gets too complicated. I'm the heterosexul, white, english-speaking, able-bodied, Christian guy, so that gives me power and privilege in this society. I get that. But do we have to argue over semantics? Seriously. Look at how former rotund black Portland Trailblazer, Kevin Duckworth recalls white teammate Danny Ainge,
"We knew Danny was Mormon [Kevin Duckworth said]. I drilled Danny about everything I didn't know, why there were no black Mormons and that kind of thing. When you're with all black guys, you don't learn about other cultures. Danny was great. It was like Danny Ainge, the brother.He never even saw color. Wow. Multiculturalists would say we cannot ignore people's race or culture, we should learn about it, celebrate it. I don't know what a multiculturalist would say to Duckworth's comments. Heck, who knows, I might even be a multiculturalist. These arguments always seem so circular and pointless though (if you've been in these workshops you know what I'm talking about). Usually, when it comes down to it, it's a bunch of well-intentioned white people, who are privileged in some way, sitting in a room, arguing with each other about semantics. But, when it comes down to it, it's all about treating people right. Not just people of color, non-whites, minorities, subordinates, etc. (whatever you want to call 'them'), but all us privileged types too.
And during the Finals, when Spike Lee sent along some Malcolm X hats and t-shirts to the Blazers to help promote his new movie, the players made sure Ainge got one. "Danny was part of the team, too," Duck said.
"We called him token, in a light-hearted sense," said Abdelnaby. "I called him 'Ritz' for cracker and he called me 'Mandingo.' I've played with a lot of white people, and I don't know too many other people who could have handled it as well as Danny. That's probably the thing I most respect him for. There was never an inkling of anything from him of racism, of being uncomfortable... I don't think I could have handled it as well as Danny. We would talk black-white relationships. Part of the reason Danny and I got along so well is he was naive to what was going on as a black person. He never even saw the color."
"Do unto others..." and leave semantics to authors and consultants.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
The embedded video below is a debate, "Does Christian Rock Suck?" from Rodish's blog. One discussion point: Does Christian rock have to come from the crotch? It is interesting.
Debate: Does Christian Rock Suck? from Daniel Radosh on Vimeo.
Monday, March 31, 2008
East: New York Mets
The Braves will push them until September. Fortunately for the Mets, Tom Glavine plays for the other guys this year.
Central: Chicago Cubs
Jim Hendry should not give up the farm system for Brian Roberts. They can win without him. If Kerry Wood can stay healthy that entire bullpen will fall into place, and it looks very scary.
West: Arizona Arizona Diamondbacks
They gave up too much for Dan Haren. Nevertheless, youngsters like Upton, Young, Drew, and Jackson will make up for it with another year of maturity a the plate.
N.L. Wild Card: Cincinnati Reds
I can't believe I'm choosing a team managed by Dusty Baker, but what are predictions without a few risks? I can't help but to think the N.L. East will beat up on each other and the Reds and and Cubs will emerge in a weak N.L. Central (Yes, I think Ben Sheets will get hurt again).
East: New York Yankees
There are too many questions surrounding the Red Sox starting rotation for me to choose them. The Yankees have more pitching depth this year than I can remember in any year's past, and suffice it to say, there will be no Roger Clemens signing come July.
Central: Cleveland Indians
This division comes down to bullpens. Edge: Cleveland.
West: Seattle Mariners
For years people have been raving about the Angels farm system, and we have yet to see it's fruits. The Mariners may have sacrificed the long-term health of the franchise by trading Adam Jones, but they now have the best 1-2 in the majors, and a nice bullpen. So, what the heck.
A.L. Wild Card: Boston Red Sox
Ultimately prognosticators have to leave one of the following four teams out, Tigers, Indians, Red Sox, and Yankees. I do not like the current make-up of the Tigers, especially Todd Jones. They are old and I believe they will be plagued with injuries, rendering their lineup much less potent than projected.
N.L. Champs: Arizona Diamondbacks
A.L. Champs: New York Yankees
World Series Champs: New York Yankees
With that farm system replenished, do not be surprised if September call-ups make the difference.
Friday, March 28, 2008
To accurately assess the Joe Nathan deal we need to look at the closer market. Below are closer contracts that compare to Nathan's in order of the date they were signed. In brackets is each closer's approximate age when they signed their respective contracts.
Jason Isringhausen (2005) 4 yrs./$33.75 mil. [33 years old]
Mariano Rivera (2006) 3 yrs./$45 mil. [36 years old]
Trevor Hoffman (2006) 3 yrs./$21 mil. [38 years old]
Billy Wagner (2006) 4 yrs./$43 mil. [34 years old]
Francisco Cordero (2008) 4 yrs./$46 mil. [32 years old]
Joe Nathan (2008) 4 yrs./$47 mil. [33 years old]
When comparing Nathan's contract to those of his peers who signed at a similar age, it is a very fair deal for the Twins, especially considering Nathan's record setting 160 saves since 2004. Not only that, the market only seems to be inflating. Any one who thinks Francisco Cordero and Joe Nathan are comparable needs to take a closer look at the numbers. In his four seasons as the Twins closer, Joe Nathan has compiled a 1.94 ERA. In those same four seasons Cordero's ERA sits above 3.
Why Not Johan?
In the immediate aftermath of the contract extension many people second-guessed why Twins management would invest in a 33 year old closer rather than putting that money towards locking up Johan Santana, a 27 year old two-time Cy Young winner. The reality is that Joe Nathan may be a less risky investment than Johan Santana. Rarely have large, long-term contracts like the Mets gave to Santana worked out (i.e. Mike Hampton, Denny Naegle, A.J. Burnett). Even though, Joe Nathan's contract will make up somewhere between 12-15% of the Twins payroll throughout the deal, it is much more likely that his performance will be worth it, throughout the deal. This cannot be said for Santana, whose skills will probably decline dramaticaly in years 5 and 6 of his contract with the Mets. There were indicators of such decline last year, as Johan did not have his typical second half surge, and gave up a career high in home runs. Being in the National League may stall the inevitable for Santana, but Joe Nathan has showed no signs of decline, and should prove a bargain in years three and four of the contract.
What About Trading Nathan?
Some believe the Twins would have been better suited not signing Joe Nathan to an extension and trading him at the deadline. Not true. Bill Smith, once again would have been held hostage, like he was in the Santana negotiations, with no leverage, unable to extract high level talent from other teams because Nathan would have been viewed as a rental. I believe Joe Nathan is still very much on the trading block. However, now that he's signed to a four-year deal, he does not need to sell at the trade deadline in July. He can wait. He can wait for teams' bullpens to crumble, and then raid their farm systems. The contract is a very trade-friendly contract too. It comes with a no-trade clause that allows Nathan to block block a trade with three teams each year. I am sure that Smith agreed to pay Nathan more money up front in exchange for as few teams as possible in that no-trade clause.
So, G.M. Bill Smith has taken another step towards building the Twins toward becoming contenders in 2010. Carlos Gomez has already showed us flashes of brilliance on opening day. Justin Morneau, Michael Cuddyer, and Joe Mauer are locked into long-term deals. The Twins acquired former Rays #1 pick Delmon Young in the offseason and head into June's draft with 4 of the first 61 picks. In the Nathan signing Bill Smith has obtained leverage for the trade deadline that he did not have during the Santana negotiations--he doesn't have to make a deal if the prospects offer do not satisfy his demands. He may not trade Nathan this season, but don't expect Nathan to finish this contract in the new balpark. This contract extension is a means to an end: Restocking the farm system
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Monday, March 10, 2008
Thursday, March 6, 2008
First on Torii Hunter's character,
When Hunter's agent, Larry Reynolds, told Angels owner Arte Moreno that Torii's social dreams had to be a part of the contract, the Angels built Hunter's Hundred into the contract so that not only will 100 underprivileged children go to every game, but the team also will invest in and work with agencies of Hunter's interest.As always, looking for a way to link baseball to it's cultural context, Gammons draws a parallel between Hunter's clubhouse presence and American politics,
Hunter and his wife, Katrina, already have The Torii Hunter Project, which donates huge amounts of money to Little League and youth programs in depressed areas. They sponsor 14 teams to go to Williamsport, Pa., and other areas of the country, and work with the RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) program.
"I can't stand hearing people complain that 8 percent of major league players are African-American," says Hunter. "I say, 'Do something.'" When asked about the funding for his project, he says "some comes from corporate sponsorships, some comes from other players, and whenever we need more, I pay for it. I can afford it."
It is a joy to read Peter Gammons. I wonder who he'll vote for?
The Angels know who they got in Torii Hunter -- a man who drips energy and preaches hope and potential. There are numbers that will quantify what Hunter is or isn't worth, just as there are politicians who try to tell us that "experience" is far more important than the foundation of hope and potential.Those numbers don't matter as much as Hunter's ability to energize and inspire his teammates, with character that cannot be quantified...
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
That said, it does surprise me to see these comments in the LA Times,
"I'd grown tired of being punished for not being an NFL superstar. Analysts who don't work as hard as me, don't prepare as hard as me, and don't have my resume were making more than me just because of their ability to throw or catch a football.It's ironic that Sean Salisbury casts himself as a victim given the way he bullied fellow analyst John Clayton on ESPN's "4 Downs" (see embedded video below). On one hand, he believes he should be rewarded for his hard work as an analyst (and is clearly bitter), yet when John Clayton, who is another respected (and a bit nerdy) football analyst, challenges Salisbury, he resorts to name-calling. Nice. Way to show that hard work and preparation Sean.
"Don't get me wrong, I appreciated the opportunity ESPN gave me, but they had capped my ceiling. There was only so far I could go there.
Friday, February 15, 2008
I'll be honest, I'm little bit ashamed here. I was kind of hoping for Jack or Locke. Maybe even Desmond I suppose. But so what if I'm girl. I'd rather be Claire, than Charlie or Hugo--easily my least two favorite characters.
Aside from shaming me, this quiz is bogus. But click away, I suppose it's kind of fun.
1. Andy Pettite was just dragged through agonizing testimony against one of his best friends, Roger Clemens, and is returning to a clubhouse of Yankees who may treat him like Fredo Corleone. He currently projects as their #1 starter, but will carry the weight of the Clemens saga with him wherever he goes. In fact, road trips may be refuge from the New York media for Pettite this season.
2. Curt Schilling is in a spat with Red Sox management over how to manage a shoulder injury. He would like to play through the pain, rehabbing along the way, while team doctors have recommended season ending surgery. Such a surgery would leave the Sox with a rotation of Beckett, Matsuzaka, Wakefield, Lester, and Bucholz or Tavarez.
Certainly the Yankees and Red Sox would dip their toes back in the trading waters today or at least place the same offers on the table they had in December. Perhaps three teams competing for Santana's services would have compelled the Mets to include Fernando Martinez in their offer, or at least Mike Pelfrey?
We'll never know. But I do believe Santana's rumored threat to exercise his no trade clause and the motivation to end this saga by Twins management before pitchers and catchers reported prevented the Twins from getting the best deal possible.
If only Bill Smith had waited two weeks, that magical leverage would have appeared.
Monday, February 11, 2008
An advertising and marketing paradigm of evangelism and theology internalizes an exchange mentality in both the evangelist and the target—one where salvation can be “obtained.” It is made into a transaction. Not one where people are purchasing an object with money but, rather, one where their payment is in the form of their conscious attention. Their regard toward God and their conversion is objectified nonetheless. Christianity is possessed—something one “has” rather than what one “is.” In this way, faith is mediated through the advertising and marketing paradigm.When the church markets the gospel the same way Nike markets it's shoes, it creates consumers rather than people who are genuinely transformed. Not exactly what Jesus had in mind, methinks. Thanks for this Todd.
For more of this post, read here. It is one part of five separate posts, and I'm assuming more are on the way. Search his blog for much more on this topic (and some Apple propaganda).
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
The Timberwolves one chance at a sellout may disappear with the possibility that K.G. may miss the Wolves/Celtics tilt this Friday at the Target Center due to injury.
For Christians who get wrapped up in politics (like me), this is a good reminder. Politics, specifically the democratic brand, is good, but will always be polluted by human self-interest, and thus cannot be looked to as the ultimate hope for all of humanity. Plus, Christians will never agree on political solutions to the world's problems.
Maybe if Twins fans had made more Johan tribute songs like this, he would have never left town.
Trade your exercise for beer. Yes!
The worst day in Celtics franchise history, now made into a full-length documentary (all due respect to Reggie Lewis).
One thing I know, God is not a con-man. He might change His mind, but he is not a con-man.
Hard to believe that while the Twins lost Torii Hunter, they are projected to increase the amount of runs they produce per game.
Remember when evangelicals won the White House for George W. Bush? Well, things look to be changing. A segment of those evangelicals, who label themselves "Born Again," no longer favor Republican candidates according to this study by the Barna Group.
If you are tempted to caucus in Minnesota, but are just uninformed please check the following links or watch the interview with Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie below. If you are not from the state of Minnesota, check your Secretary of State's homepage.
- The Minnesota Secretary of State's caucus finder. A non-partisan tool that will help you find where you can caucus.
- Information from the Minnesota DFL about precinct caucuses.
- Information from the Minnesota GOP about precinct caucuses.
- Information from the Independence Party of Minnesota.
- My Fox Candidate Matchmaker.
- Minnesota Public Radio's Select a Candidate Campaign 2008.