Thursday, July 31, 2008

Transaction Wire

Indians trade SP CC Sabathia to the Brewers for 1B/OFMatt LaPorta, P Rob Bryson, P Zach Jackson, and a PTBNL
I expressed my thoughts on this trade right after it happened. To recap: Matt LaPorta? That's awesome!

Cubs trade P Sean Gallagher, OF Matt Murton, 2B/OF Eric Patterson, and C Josh Donaldson to the A's for SP Rich Harden and P Chad Gaudin
The A's are in danger of entering perpetual rebuilding mode. It's been a few years since they last made the playoffs. But instead of trying to win the division with their current incarnation, they instead decided to blow it up and try again in a few years. Oakland needs to be careful that this doesn't become an infinite loop of growing players only to trade them away before they can make a run for the playoffs.

The Cubs, meanwhile, appear to have accomplished quite a bit with this deal. They got rid of Matt Murton and Eric Patterson, who struggled to find a place in the Chicago organization. They added an ace in Rich Harden. But some think the key to the deal is actually Chad Gaudin, a swingman who can do whatever's needed on a moment's notice - be a setup man, long reliever, or even a spot starter.

Padres trade 1B/PH Tony Clark to the Diamondbacks for P Evan Scribner
Tony Clark has kept his career going by becoming a great pinch hitter. He's a good player to have in a pennant race, but not when you're last in your division. Essentially, then, he went from a team that didn't need him to one who did.

Phillies trade 2B Adrian Cardenas, P Josh Outman, and OF Matt Spencer to the A's for Joe Blanton
There were quite a few red flags with this one. Joe Blanton has shown flashes of greatness. But he put up league-average numbers while making half his starts in one of the most notorious pitcher's parks in the league. Now he'll be making half of his starts in one of the most notorious hitter's parks in the league, so we'll see how things play out.

Brewers trade P Steve Hammond and OF Darren Ford to the Giants for 2B Ray Durham
The Bay Area has been second baseman purgatory this year. Mark Ellis is perhaps the most underrated all-around keystone sacker in the game. And while Ray Durham shouldn't be batting cleanup in any lineup (as he often did behind Barry Bonds), he has put up solid offensive numbers every year, including this season. The Brewers add Durham as insurance against Rickie Weeks, who has been one of the few disappointments in the Milwaukee lineup this year.
For the Giants, meanwhile, any trade that unloads one of their 35+-year-olds in exchange for prospects is a good one.

Diamondbacks trade 2B/OF Emilio Bonifacio to the Nationals for RP Jon Rauch
Injuries had just promoted Jon Rauch to the closer's role in Washington (and a spot on my fantasy team) when he was moved to Arizona to be Brandon Lyon's chief setup man. Rauch will also fill in as the Diamondback's closer if the injury bug bites Lyon again.

I can't say I know much about Emilio Bonifacio, but most sources I've read say the Nationals could have gotten much more in return for Rauch.

Astros trade P Chad Reineke to the Padres for P Randy Wolf
Which one of these GMs gets it, and which one doesn't? The Padres know they're out of the race, and unloaded veteran Randy Wolf for the young Chad Reineke. The Astros, meanwhile, still think they can push for a playoff spot, despite most of the outside world disagreeing with them.

Pirates trade OF Xavier Nady and RP Damaso Marte to the Yankees for OF Jose Tabata, P Ross Ohlendorf, P Dan McCutchen, and P Jeff Karstens
I'll be honest: by being a Mark Shapiro supporter, I'm a Neil Huntington supporter by default (even if my application to develop their player development database was rejected). Pirates management set a goal of finishing .500 this year (a goal they've probably had for the past decade or so). Huntington squashed that though, forgoing a mediocre present result to build a more promising future.

This is similar to the Indians' rebuilding at the beginning of this decade, although Pittsburgh's starting foundation isn't as good. Nonetheless, Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte would have been gone after 2009, meaning they weren't part of the Pirates future.

The four prospects Pittsburgh received in return might be, though. Ross Ohlendorf may never be a star, but he's a serviceable major league player. Jose Tabata has some character issues, but he's still just a 19-year-old kid and his future is bright.

Indians trade CIF/COF Casey Blake to the Dodgers for RP Jon Meloan and C Carlos Santana
Casey Blake is a solid major league player. He can play four positions, and despite a rough start was second on the Indians in OPS at the time of the trade. But when a team's out of contention, their need for a versatile 34-year-old lessens, especially when his contract is up at the end of the season. So the Indians turned nothing into something, and left the door open to re-sign blake in the offseason.

Someone pointed out that had the Indians kept Blake until the end of the season, they could have gotten two supplemental draft picks. But the Indians' current window of success is only open until 2012 - that's when Grady Sizemore's current contract is up - and that's not enough time to let those draft picks developed. So the Tribe picked up two players a little further along in the process.

Jon Meloan has struggled as a starter this year, but was lights-out as a reliever in the past. The Indians will move him back to the bullpen. Carlos Santana is leading all minor leagues in RBI this year. He replenishes Cleveland's stock of catching talent, and is said to have the potential to become Victor Martinez with better defense.

Of course, in addition to the prospects picked up, losing Blake gives Andy Marte and Ryan Garko, and to a lesser extent Kelly Shoppach, Ben Francisco, Shin-Soo Choo, and Franklin Gutierrez more of a chance to audition for a spot on next year's club.

Indians trade P Luis Perdomo to the Cardinals for SP Anthony Reyes
This was a slightly more controversial move among Indians fans. Luis Pedromo has some talent, but he may not be ready by the 2012 deadline mentioned above. Anthony Reyes, despite his struggles, already has major league experience. If he works out, that's a plus for the Indians. If not, oh well.

Angels trade 1B Casey Kotchman and P Stephen Marek to the Braves for 1B Mark Teixeira
Many people thought the Braves could get more for Mark Teixeira. But Teixeira is a free agent after this season, so it's esentially a rental. Plus, Atlanta's first base cupboard has been barren for years. So while Casey Kotchman may not look like much of a player to some, he's likely better than any other readily-available replacement the Braves had for Teixeira.

Tigers trade C Pudge Rodriguez to the Yankees for RP Kyle Farnsworth
Most are saying that the Yankees won this swap of free agents-to-be. But Ivan Rodriguez isn't the hitter he once was. Plus, the Tigers need bullpen help, especially with Todd Jones now on the disabled list and Fernando Rodney not too far behind. The move could give new life to The Professor after he struggled in New York. A bullpen of Farnsworth, Rodney, and Joel Zumaya firing 99 MPH heaters back-to-back-to-back will shorten many a ballgame.

White Sox trade P Nick Masset and 2B Danny Richar to the Reds for Ken Griffey, Jr.
This one has confused quite a few people. Sure, the White Sox helped their batting order by adding another lefty masher to complement Carlos Quentin and Jermaine Dye (and, when he's hitting, Paul Konerko). But where does he fit in on the field? Konerko hasn't hit well this year, so do they put Griffey at first, or DH Griffey and put Jim Thome at first? Thome has only played a handful of games in the field in his White Sox tenure. Plus, one would assume Paul Konerko wouldn't take the benching well.

The early indication is that Griffey would move back to center field. But he's considered a below-average defender in right field, so a move to center wouldn't benefit anyone (except maybe opposing gap hitters). I can only hope to be as fit as Griffey when I'm his age, but let's face it - The Kid and his gut could be better conditioned.

Marlins trade P Gaby Hernandez to the Mariners for RP Arthur Rhodes
Yet another case of a non-contender getting rid of an unneeded luxury. Lefty specialist Arthur Rhodes goes to the contending Florida Marlins for a young starter that the Mariners can take a chance on.

Three-Way Trade:
Pirates trade OF Jason Bay to the Red Sox
Red Sox trade OF Manny Ramirez to the Dodgers
Red Sox trade RP Craig Hansen and OF Brandon Moss to the Pirates
Dodgers trade 3B Andy LaRoche and P Bryan Morris to the Pirates

It's no secret that Manny Ramirez wanted out of Boston. So for the price of two good-but-not-great prospects, the Red Sox got rid of Manny and replaced him with Jason Bay, who was arguably the best remaining outfielder on the market.

Bay had been the face of the Pirates organization, but like Xavier Nady his contract was up after 2009. Pittsburgh accomplished many things in this trade. First, they further replenished their farm system for the years to come. Nate McClouth has made himself a fixture in center field, and with Bay and Nady now gone, I assume Brandon Moss and top prospect Andrew McCutchen will round out the Bucs outfield for the rest of 2008. (McCutchen was left off of the US Olympic team, and this may have been why.)

Meanwhile, while Pittsburgh lost their current face of the franchise, they may have picked up their new face in the process. Andy LaRoche is the brother of current Pirate Adam LaRoche, and Adam says that his younger sibling is a much better hitter. Andy LaRoche may be the best third base prospect not named Evan Longoria, and he could be the cornerstone of the Pittsburgh lineup for years to come.

For Los Angeles, this is a "win now" move. The Dodgers already had a log jam in the outfield between Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Juan Pierre, and Andruw Jones. But Pierre and Jones are both struggling, and LA saw a need to correct that problem. In doing so, they gave up the better of their two third base prospects (Blake DeWitt being the other).

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)

Michelle Wie was disqualified from the State farm Classic after failing to sign her scorecard before leaving the scoring area. We don't fault her. If we played like that, we wouldn't admit it either.

Fidel Castro has blasted the Olympics for dropping baseball from the games beginning in 2012. The good news for Fidel is that the IOC has added competitive cigar smoking.

The Red Wings and Blackhawks will play on New Year's Day at Wrigley Field. With ice on the field, Cub fans may better understand why success keeps slipping away.

Congress may get involved in the NBA's Tim Donaghy scandal. Because Congress really looks down on lying and cheating.

And Seattle Mariners ace Erik Bedard is expected to miss 2-to-4 weeks with a sore shoulder. Bedard is thrilled, since he no longer has to watch the Seattle Mariners.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)

Baltimore has now lost on 15 consecutive Sundays. Just a few more to tie the record set by the Miami Dolphins.

Good news out of Miami, where the Dolphins finally managed to trade Jason Taylor to Washington for a dancer to be named later.

Oklahoma City's new NBA franchise will be called the Thunder. It's the perfect name for a team that will never be seen.

The Florida Marlins are neck and neck in the standings with the Phillies and the Mets. They should be in first place, but the standings are being kept by Dan Uggla.

And Ashton Kutcher wore a Red Sox hat while promoting his new game show. Babe Ruth can rest easy, as Boston finally has a new curse.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)

Randy Johnson is now 13-0 all time versus Chicago. The only thing more humiliating to the Cubs than Johnson is the post-season.

Ricky Williams is drawing rave reviews with the Miami Dolphins. In fact, the entire team seems to be high on him.

Tennis' governing body suspended two players for wagering on matches. The good news is NBA refs now have something to do in the off-season.

Jeremy Shockey was dealt to the Saints. The trade reminded him of the Super Bowl, because both involved Shockey watching from the sidelines.

And the U.S. Olympic basketball team is gearing up for their trip to Beijing. To get used to playing in a city that doesn’t speak English, Coach K plans on asking the Miami Heat how they did it.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)

Alex Rodriguez has signed on with the William Morris Agency. It should be nice to finally see his name in the news.

Tampa Bay Ray farmhand Matthew Walker has been suspended 50 games after testing positive for an amphetamine. It became obvious something was wrong when the powdery white substance on the mound turned out to be his teeth. The minor league baseball player took the drugs to help stay awake while watching minor league baseball.

Bill Parcells says he has no desire to return to coaching. That's a happy coincidence since no one is hiring him.

And a federal appeals court has thrown out a $550,000 indecency fine against CBS for the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show that ended with Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction. However, the network still might be sued for continually airing The New Adventures of Old Christine.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)

NFL draft pick Caleb Campbell will not get a chance to play for the Detroit Lions because of a change in military policy. The US Army felt Campbell would be safer in Iraq than in a war zone like Detroit.

Alyssa Milano says she's done dating baseball players. Because she ran out of them.

Most baseball fans are against Congress and the government getting involved in the league's steroid problems. But we're all okay having the Feds bail out the National League West.

Investigations are still underway about whether Brett Favre used a Packers-issued cell phone to contact the Vikings. Chances are he didn't, because Minnesota is a whole state away, and the Packers use Sprint.

And Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Warrick Dunn is working on his first book. Some day, he might read a second one, too.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)

The New York Yankees are considering adding Barry Bonds for their stretch drive. Because he looks so natural in black and white stripes. Hopefully, the pinstripes will have a slimming effect – on his head.

50-year-old Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman actually recorded two assists for the Detroit Shock in a loss to the Houston Comets. We're confused. We thought the WNBA's slogan was "Expect Great," not "Expect Great Grandmothers."

The Philadelphia Eagles cheerleaders are the first girls to produce their annual calendar on eco-friendly, recycled paper. That should go a long way in offsetting the 37 cans of hairspray they use before each home game.

And a fan was injured after plunging 25 feet from the handrails of an escalator at Shea Stadium during a game between Washington and New York. Unlike the Nationals, the man is expected to survive.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)

The Boston Red Sox may deal Manny Ramirez. Management says that he's so high maintenance, Tom Brady might date him.

The Dallas Cowboys are bracing themselves for Pacman. Meanwhile, the Cincinnati Bengals are bracing themselves for Grand Theft Auto.

A group of Eagles fans paid tribute to Brett Favre by burning the Packers' legend in effigy. The effigy has since contacted the Vikings about a comeback.

Diminutive Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux rode his 5,000th winner. Desormeaux plans to race for one more year before retiring and becoming a hood ornament.

And Pacers point guard Jamaal Tinsley has reportedly lost 20 pounds during the off-season. He lost most of it running – from the law.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

Monday, July 28, 2008

Weekly Cleveland Indians Lineup Analysis

Once again, this is the weekly series where I plan take the top 9 Indians in terms of OPS and feed them into Dave Pinto's Lineup Analysis Tool to determine the theoretical ideal batting lineup.

This Week's Results
Click here

This Week's Ideal Lineup

Changes From Last Week
Casey Blake is replaced by Ryan Garko, and quite a bit of shuffling ensues.

Theoretical Runs Per Game
4.964, down 0.407 runs from last week. At the time he left, Blake was second on the team (to Grady Sizemore) with an 0.830 OPS.

Theoretical Improvement
The Indians are currently scoring 4.583 runs per game. That's an improvement of 0.381 runs per game, which in turn leads to 62 over the course of the season, or 6 more wins. That's not enough for this team to make noise, but in most year it's the difference between the playoffs and third place.

Defensive Plausibility
Well, Sal Fasano did log an inning at third base for the Royals back in 1998. Assuming you'd rather replace Ryan Garko (the low man in OPS among this starting nine) with Andy Marte, the theoretical runs per game drops to 4.852.

Fan Believability
Offensively, it makes a lot of sense. Jhonny Peralta has been batting cleanup, with Shin-Soo Choo, Kelly Shoppach, and Ben Francisco around him. Jamey Carroll has been getting on base, so fans may buy moving Sizemore to second to drive in more runs. But I think fans would dislike Fasano at third more than they disliked Blake at shortstop, and only slightly less than a struggling Garko hitting third.

My Take
I'm a big fan of this lineup. I probably would put Marte in for Garko, a move that bumps Francisco up to third and Dellucci up to seventh. But you have Sizemore, Peralta, and just about everyone else where they need to be.

Random Indians Thought of the Week
It turns out that Jhonny Peralta spells his name correctly after all. According to Peralta's Wikipedia article (HT: The Dugout), Hispanics often use "jh" to represent the English "j" sound. Had he spelled it "Johnny," his name would have been pronounced "Hohnny."

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Jeff Samardzija PITCHf/x

For those who missed it, Jeff Samardzija made his major league debut for the Cubs against the Marlins yesterday, giving up 1 run in two innings of relief work. Here's a PITCHf/x study of how The Shark fared. This is my first time working with PITCHf/x, so any and all feedback is welcome. I originally was going to work with the data myself, but then I ran across, which does all the dirty work for you. I promise I'll learn how to do everything from the ground up one day, but just not today.

You can see all the charts and data Brooks Baseball provides here. I'll go over the ones that are easier to understand (for me, at least) below. For all images, click for a larger version.

This chart gives the speed of each of Samardzija's pitches. As you can probably see, he started off almost exclusively with fastballs to get himself adjusted. Then, he alternated fastballs and breaking pitches (sliders and changeups, according the MLB Gameday) over the rest of the appearance.

He was in the 96-98 MPH range with his fastballs, topping out at 99. His breaking balls were all right around 84 MPH. If he can keep that 10+ MPH difference between his fastball and his changeup, he'll be quite effective.

Next, here is a plot of balls and stikes. The blue points, labeled "X", are balls put in play.

As you can see, Samardzija pounded the zone pretty well for most of the outing. The extreme outlier was a pitchout/wild pitch. This graph is from the catcher's point of view, meaning that that pitch was high and outside to the left-handed batter.

Here's a graph of Samardzija's release point from pitch to pitch. Having a consistent release point is important for all pitches. If Samardzija had a different release point for his fastball and changeup, for example, batters could pick this up and know when each pitch is coming. Since the main purpose of a changeup is to look like a fastball, this would completely destroy the effectiveness of the pitch.

Samardzija had a consistent release point across all three pitches, which is a plus. The one outlier, I believe, is the pitchout - so absolutely nothing went right there.

This one shows the speed of pitches color coded by result - ball, strike, or in play. The gap in data represents the bottom of the seventh, when the Cubs were at bat. This chart more clearly shows how Samardzija started with just fastballs, then mixed it up, then went mostly offspeed in the eighth.

I'm not sure how much information you can get out of these last two (it's possible that someone can't, but I can't). They are interesting to look at, however. These graphs show how, on average, each type of pitch breaks. The first is an overhead view, as if you were in the blimp with Samardzija at the top of the graph and home plate at the bottom. The second is a side view with the pitcher on the right and home at the left (in other words, as if you were sitting on the first base side).

What can be learned from this? Well, I'm sure quite a bit, but here's what my simple mind picked up: First, Samardzija pounded the zone, showing he wasn't afraid to throw strikes. Second, he had a consistent release point for all pitches, which is a positive. Third, knowing he was only going to throw a few innings (he was a starter in the minors), he was able to max out and throw his fastball in the high 90s, another positive. Finally, his breaking stuff was 10+ MPH slower than his heater, meaning that those pitches will be very effective at keeping batters off balance.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Notre Dame Alumni in Professional Baseball

Copying a page from my book (and using the same picture of Aaron Heilman no less), published an up-to-date list of Notre Dame baseball alumni in affiliated ball.

I like to follow the Irish alums - along with some other local area kids - on If you sign up for a free account, you can "track" any player in affiliated baseball, and will present the previous night's stats for all of your tracked players on one page. Click on a player, and you'll get everything from basic stats to batted ball charts. A very useful site.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Cleveland Browns Training Camp Opens

In case you missed it, Browns training camp opened on Wednesday. The full schedule can be found here. All practices listed on that schedule are open to the public.

Special events include locker room sales on July 30 and August 10, and the popular Family Night on August 1.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Gameday Housing

Gameday Housing, which lets Notre Dame fans rent out local houses during football weekends, recently started a blog. I've added links to both in the right sidebar.

Be sure to check both sites out, especially if you and 14 of your closest friends need a place to stay this fall.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Weekly Cleveland Indians Lineup Analysis

Once again, this is the weekly series where I plan take the top 9 Indians in terms of OPS and feed them into Dave Pinto's Lineup Analysis Tool to determine the theoretical ideal batting lineup.

This Week's Results
Click here

This Week's Ideal Lineup

Changes From Last Week
Grady Sizemore and Ben Francisco flip-flop; the rest remain the same.

Theoretical Runs Per Game
5.371, down 0.253 runs per game from last week. Sal Fasano's regression is kicking in already.

Theoretical Improvement
The Indians are currently scoring 4.567 runs per game. That's an improvement of 0.804 runs per game, which in turn leads to 130 over the course of the season, or 13 more wins.

Defensive Plausibility
Fasano and Kelly Shoppach can alternate between first base and catcher, with everyone else assuming normal responsibilities. Or, Fasano or Shoppach can DH, with one of the outfielders playing first.

Fan Believability
Again, batting Sal Fasano leadoff is akin to asking to be fired. Otherwise, this lineup is balanced enough (for better or for worse) that it otherwise works.

My Take
I also wouldn't bat Fasano leadoff. But I do like Sizemore second and Blake fifth as the team's top two all-around hitters. I may bat Jhonny Peralta at leadoff over Ben Francisco, although Francisco has improved his isolated slugging as of late.

Random Indians Thought of the Week
Look at that, I'm famous.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Cleveland Indians: Quick & Dirty Second Half Projections

The Hardball Times recently released a tool that uses the Marcels projection system to create quick-and-dirty projections of a player's performance over the rest of 2008. Picking up on what's already been done for the Mets and Brewers, here's what the tool had to say about the Indians.


The Marcels are best for rate stats, such as batting average, OBP, SLG, and OPS. Here, I measure improvement or regression in terms of the difference between a player's OPS-to-date and their "balance" OPS, or their projected OPS from now until the end of the year. This is labeled as OPS_delta.

Massive Improvement

(> 3 Standard Deviations)
Josh Barfield
2008 (proj balance)66131123337127200.2640.3080.3874810.6950.695
2008 (proj total)69137129337127200.2520.2940.3694810.663

This one really isn't fair, since Barfield will obviously improve on his 0-for-6 start. Unfortunately, .695 and .663 are still below league-average OPSs.

Much Improvement

(> 1 Standard Deviation)
Jorge Velandia
2008 (proj balance)66105942550310180.2660.3420.424010.7620.245
2008 (proj total)761211092860311220.2570.3290.3994410.729

Travis Hafner
2008 (proj balance)66268226611411238440.2710.3840.49711230.8820.2
2008 (proj total)112456383952311661880.2490.360.43716770.797

I can't guarantee all the Jorge Velandia fans out there that he'll play 66 games over the rest of the season. But I can back Marcel's other guarantee - that Travis Hafner, when healthy, will greatly improve over what he's done so far.

Some Improvement

(< 1 Standard Deviation)
Andy Marte
2008 (proj balance)6617916438101413310.2310.2950.3766220.6720.186
2008 (proj total)9926924653131517540.2150.2710.3368330.607

Asdrubal Cabrera
2008 (proj balance)6623420851111424360.2480.3310.3697720.70.164
2008 (proj total)11942336981181546770.2210.3090.31611730.625

Victor Martinez
2008 (proj balance)6626323669150725290.2940.3680.44910620.8170.149
2008 (proj total)120480434124260741520.2860.3520.39617230.748

Franklin Gutierrez
2008 (proj balance)6619918547101513380.2530.3070.47420.7070.131
2008 (proj total)14243039993202823880.2330.2820.35314160.635

Ryan Garko
2008 (proj balance)6625623063120819370.2730.3470.43410070.7810.11
2008 (proj total)1505845211332301544840.2550.330.387202160.718

Michael Aubrey
2008 (proj balance)662181965091720300.2560.3310.4188220.7490.075
2008 (proj total)752482235591923330.2470.3230.4179320.74

David Dellucci
2008 (proj balance)6621118846102820390.2460.3290.4378230.7660.074
2008 (proj total)143459412972321637920.2360.3120.41317090.725

Shin-Soo Choo
2008 (proj balance)6623220553132524420.260.3450.4198630.7640.018
2008 (proj total)10336331679213840710.2510.3420.41413150.756

There are positives and negatives to be taken away from this group. First, Shin-Soo Choo, who has been hitting well (especially compared to his teammates), is actually due for a minor improvement over the rest of the season. Second, Victor Martinez, Ryan Garko, and David Dellucci are all due to hit at an above-league-average clip in the second half. That's just what this team needs, and what those players need individually. Now the negatives: yes, Andy Marte, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Franklin Gutierrez are due for some improvement. But that still won't make their final numbers very pretty.

Exactly the Same

Jhonny Peralta
2008 (proj balance)6627725168151924530.270.3370.44711310.7850
2008 (proj total)15464959615840225471250.2650.3180.46527810.783

Earlier this year, I noticed that Jhonny Peralta's career slash stats were almost exactly league-average. Peralta once again will live up to that Mr. Average billing; he'll see an increase in his OPB but a slight dropoff in his slugging percentage.

Some Regression

(< 1 Standard Deviation)
Kelly Shoppach
2008 (proj balance)6621019348120715530.2510.3130.4268230.739-0.011
2008 (proj total)1243963618924014261140.2480.310.43315680.743

Jamey Carroll
2008 (proj balance)662392135492222310.2540.3340.3427330.676-0.012
2008 (proj total)134487426111166242690.2610.3360.34145100.676

Ben Francisco
2008 (proj balance)6627224870171823420.2810.3460.45511320.801-0.029
2008 (proj total)1305384871403611645830.2870.350.46422640.814

Grady Sizemore
2008 (proj balance)66303264751631234490.2850.3770.50113350.878-0.034
2008 (proj total)15872963017536735871210.2780.3750.523330110.897

Casey Blake
2008 (proj balance)6625723260141821440.2610.3330.43210040.765-0.05
2008 (proj total)15460253714637118511080.2730.3460.446239110.792

Most Indians fans know that these are the guys who are having good years. Unfortunately, that party's about to end for some. The good news is that the dropoff is slight. For most guys, Marcel predicts most of the regression to come from slugging percentage, not on base. For example, Marcel says Grady Size is due for a 0.003 decline in OBP but a 0.037 drop in SLG. This is because Marcel is an imperfect model (no offense, of course, because it wasn't meant to be perfect) based on past performance. Grady's never hit 23 HR before the break before, and that's taken into account for his second-half performance. Meanwhile, those urging the Indians to sell high on Casey Blake may finally have their statistical proof.

Much Regression

Sal Fasano
2008 (proj balance)6624622654111815540.2390.30.3968950.696-0.232
2008 (proj total)7026123959121817590.2470.310.3999550.709

Sorry Sal, but we knew you couldn't keep it up for that much longer.


The Marcel projections returned two useful rate stats - ERA and WHIP. I added these two together to create a Total_delta for each pitcher.

Massive Improvement

(> 3 Standard Deviations)
Brian Slocum
2008 (proj balance)104.48132102.51001-22.52-1.5-24.02
2008 (proj total)3017.893113113.42527

Brian Slocum was the curve-wrecker on this one. Then again, 2 IP with 6 ER to date will do that for you.

Much Improvement

(>1 Standard Deviation)
Tom Mastny
2008 (proj balance)414.39686301.933213-8.62-0.59-9.21
2008 (proj total)1029.521421151102.2979415

Like Slocum, Tom Mastny's numbers were affected by his small sample size. (Unlike Slocum, Mastny also had that ugly emergency start to his credit.)

Some Improvement

(< 1 Standard Deviation)
Jeremy Sowers
2008 (proj balance)664.733037191111.61145516-2.79-0.31-3.1
2008 (proj total)15156.3974103453021.793591553

Rafael Betancourt
2008 (proj balance)2903.58292926911.32126411-2.42-0.16-2.58
2008 (proj total)7105.027177682311.413111239

Juan Rincon
2008 (proj balance)1604.17192116811.579029-1.94-0.18-2.12
2008 (proj total)4005.324754362431.68223728

Paul Byrd
2008 (proj balance)12124.766982351531.42951137-0.710.05-0.66
2008 (proj total)30305.18171203793281.377303499

Jensen Lewis
2008 (proj balance)1603.942425201011.46109210-0.47-0.18-0.65
2008 (proj total)4004.225863462931.57269627

Edward Mujica
2008 (proj balance)904.111118301.284715-0.750.14-0.61
2008 (proj total)2204.55282620711.19116414

Those who have watched Jeremy Sowers' last two starts know he's already started to improve. Meanwhile, it's nice to see Rafael Betancourt, Paul Byrd, and Jensen Lewis - the poster children for regression on the pitching staff in 2008 - at least have some room for improvement over the rest of the year.

Some Regression

(< 1 Standard Deviation)
Rafael Perez
2008 (proj balance)2903.652926261011.241203120.49-0.070.42
2008 (proj total)7203.367266692621.28297827

Aaron Laffey
2008 (proj balance)10104.216160372041.312616280.6-0.030.57
2008 (proj total)25253.851511517849131.336451664

Fausto Carmona
2008 (proj balance)773.943939261621.381733170.84-0.210.63
2008 (proj total)17173.449793495451.5428437

Jake Westbrook
2008 (proj balance)334.01242413711.3942110.90.151.05
2008 (proj total)883.485857321421.21233723

Masa Kobayashi
2008 (proj balance)2904.183029201011.281243141.130.131.26
2008 (proj total)7103.517469482121.2306829

Cliff Lee
2008 (proj balance)12123.668579582221.193318341.350.161.51
2008 (proj total)30302.852091881644221.18191366

Matt Ginter
2008 (proj balance)114.11332101.2814024.110.284.39
2008 (proj total)221.66887101.113402

Again, most Indians fans would agree that these are the pitchers who had good first halves. Rafael Perez, Aaron Laffey, and Fausto Carmona are all due to see their ERAs increase but their WHIPs decrease. I'm not sure what to make of that, other than the fact that neither is a perfect stat to indicate a pitcher's overall performance. Meanwhile, predictably, Cliff Lee is due for some regression to the mean. Still, I doubt anyone will be upset if he finishes with a 2.85 ERA and 1.10 WHIP.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)

The Milwaukee Brewers traded a few prospects for Indians ace C.C. Sabathia. Sabathia will pitch every fifth day, and spend the other four fighting Prince Fielder for the last pork chop. Sabathia will suit up as soon as the team makes him a jersey out of the infield tarp.

A-Rod's wife has filed for a divorce, claiming that Rodriguez has abandoned her, and she deserves to be treated better than the Yankees in October.

41-year-old Dara Torres earned a spot in Beijing by winning the 50-meter freestyle at the U.S. Olympic Trials. The veteran swimmer enjoys the pool because she actually emerges looking less wrinkled.

And Floyd Mayweather accused HBO's boxing analysts of being racist. Because clearly, they favor all the white boxers. I'm sorry, that's white boxer.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)

Elton Brand has agreed to a five-year, $82 million deal with the 76ers. Philadelphia fans are so excited with the signing they've agreed to wait a full two days before booing him.

Former NFL player Brian Bosworth recently rescued a Calgary woman from an auto accident. Bosworth saved the woman after first mistaking the car wreck for his career.

Yankees radio announcer John Sterling is being called out for routinely dipping his finger into the ice cream barrel in the stadium's press room. Authorities originally suspected Alex Rodriguez since the ice cream tasted like Madonna.

And NBC Universal will present an unprecedented 3,600 hours of Beijing Olympic Games coverage. The amount of coverage isn't just unprecedented, it's also unsolicited and unwanted. And if that's not enough to rile Americans, at least 200 of the hours will be encased in lead.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)

A professional soccer referee had to be helped off the field after showing up to work drunk. And thus ends John Daly's summer job.

Cleveland snapped their ten game losing streak. If the Indians kept playing like that, their only chance of winning anything would be opening a casino.

West Point grad Caleb Campbell is hoping to make the transition from the U.S. Army to the Detroit Lions. It should be a natural fit since neither organization has won anything lately.

The Milwaukee Bucks have agreed to sign center Andrew Bogut to a five-year, $72.5 million extension. The contract makes Bogut the NBA's highest paid white guy outside of an owner's box.

And Michael Vick is currently busy writing his life story. In fact, he's already on chapter 11.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)

The demolition of Tiger Stadium's walls and seating areas has begun. Construction workers were happy to report that the stadium fell apart almost as quickly as Detroit's starting rotation.

The FBI is currently investigating the 2006 Washington Nationals signing of shortstop Esmailyn Gonzalez. It's nice to hear the Bureau has wrapped up all of the country's security concerns and can now move onto the issues that are really troubling America.

The Golden State Warriors have acquired free agent Corey Maggette, the Los Angeles Clippers' scoring leader. Of course, being the top scorer on the Clippers is like being the smartest woman on The View.

New England Patriots running back Kevin Faulk has pleaded no contest to drug charges after being caught with marijuana at a Li'l Wayne concert. It's hard to say what's more embarrassing: getting busted by the police or having the world know you're a fan of Li'L Wayne.

And the Baltimore Ravens are reportedly interested in quarterback Brett Favre, and will sign him once they buy a time machine.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)

The New York Yankees have stumbled so awkwardly into the All-Star break that next year they'll be running in Belmont.

Billy Packer's run with CBS has finally come to an end. This is one Packer that will stay retired.

A federal judge has sided with the Washington Redskins in a lawsuit regarding the team's name. Sadly, it's the first major victory the franchise has enjoyed since 1991.

Former NFL special teams star Vai Sikahema knocked out Jose Canseco in their celebrity boxing match. Sikahema tried to knock Canseco senseless, but Mother Nature beat him to it.

And three teams appear to be interested in Bucs quarterback Chris Simms. Two of them are the Chicago Bears.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)

Stephon Marbury has gotten a tattoo of his sneaker logo on his left temple. It's nice to hear that he's finally found a use for his head.

Alex Rodriquez has revealed that his iPod contains an eclectic mix of Frank Sinatra, 50 Cent, Sting and Tom Petty. Because he gets to hear enough Madonna at home.

Barry Bonds said that not playing baseball is like a huge void. That's fine – his bulbous head should fill it. Bonds' agent says there is little chance the slugger will play this year. So the biggest cheater in California remains Wesley Snipes.

And a baseball cap worn by Yankees slugger Babe Ruth has been auctioned for a record $328,000. There was no need to authenticate the hat since it still smells like mustard and bourbon.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)

The American League won the All-Star Game again. Their winning streak is getting to be so long, the '73 Dolphins are starting to talk smack.

The National League committed four errors - five if you count their decision to play Dan Uggla at second base.

Uggla committed three errors over the course of the game. Good thing he stopped there. One more and the Astros would have traded for him.

The game took a record-breaking four hours and 50 minutes to complete, prompting both teams to use all of their pitchers. Things got so desperate that when the game ended, Whitey Ford was warming up in the bullpen.

And Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig insists a tie was not a possibility despite the length of the game. And if you can't trust a former used-car dealer, who can you trust?

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)

Dolphins quarterback Josh McCown needed six stitches on the index finger of his throwing hand after mishandling a chainsaw. On the positive side, McCown has had plenty of practice getting cut.

Injured Chinese superstar Yao Ming has returned to the hardcourt, since air pollution is even worse when you're two feet taller. Yao said he was hungry to get back. And in an hour he'll be hungry again.

Double-amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius fell short of the 400-meter qualifying time he needed to make the Olympics. Ironically Pistorius appeared to be in great shape until the last two legs of the race.

And the Packers have filed tampering charges against the Vikings alleging the team made inappropriate contact with Brett Favre. Favre has been asked demonstrate exactly where on the doll the Vikings touched him.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Baseball News: Golden Spikes, Team USA, Samardzija, Manship, Ty Cobb

  • From a list of five finalists, all first round draft picks, Florida State catcher Buster Posey won the 2008 Golden Spikes Award as the country's top amateur player. Baseball America, The College Baseball Blog, and have more coverage.

  • USA Baseball announced the Olympic team roster on Wednesday. Again, Baseball America, The College Baseball Blog, and have coverage.

  • Thanks to an injury on the parent club, Jeff Samardzija has moved up to AAA, and he's arguably pitching better than he did at AA. Samardzija has struggled to get strike outs as a pro, but he had nine K's in his last outing. Here's a trio of local articles on The Shark.
  • Coincidentally, for the past few weeks Jeff Manship has been pitching on the same day as Samardzija. Manship was moved up to AA and appears to be struggling. However, on closer look, Manship has given up 11 runs in two starts against Portland, and only seven runs in his four other starts.

  • Finally, July 17 is the anniversary of Ty Cobb's death. The Biz of Baseball has a nice writeup on those trying to reform the public's view of the Georgia Peach.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Weekly Cleveland Indians Lineup Analysis

Once again, this is the weekly series where I plan take the top 9 Indians in terms of OPS and feed them into Dave Pinto's Lineup Analysis Tool to determine the theoretical ideal batting lineup. I originally set the threshold very low - 10 plate appearances. Sal Fasano passed that threshold the other day, but just barely. So for the sake of argument, I've included a lineup with Fasano and one without.

This Week's Results
With Fasano
Without Fasano

This Week's Ideal Lineup

Changes From Last Week
Too many to count.

Theoretical Runs Per Game
With Fasano: 5.624, up 0.558 runs per game from last week.
Without Fasano: 5.105, up 0.069 runs per game from last week. This lineup features the same players from last week, meaning that their net individual numbers have increased since then.

Theoretical Improvement
The Indians are currently scoring 4.532 runs per game. With Fasano, they gain 1.092 runs per game, which is 177 runs or 17-18 wins over the course of the season. However, Fasano's small sample size is a factor here. Without Fasano, the team gains 0.573 runs per game. That translates to 92.8 runs over the course of the season, or just over 9 more wins.

Defensive Plausibility
Fasano and Kelly Shoppach can alternate between first base and catcher, with everyone else assuming normal responsibilities. Or, Fasano or Shoppach can DH, with one of the outfielders playing first.
Without Fasano, the lineup is the one the "real" Indians send out against righties, so there are no issues.

Fan Believability
Sal Fasano has 20 speed (at best), so batting him leadoff is akin to volunteering to be fired. And while batting Grady Sizemore cleanup may be statistically optimal, I don't see why a manager would do that instead of batting him fourth. The rest of the lineup falls into place rather well, though.
The way Casey Blake has been hitting as of late, he probably could bat leadoff for a poor team without any better options. However, the Indians have several better options. After Blake and Sizemore, the rest of the lineup is very similar to what the Indians have been using as of late.

My Take
I agree that the Fasano lineup is very far-fetched. The one without him isn't too bad, though. I'm not saying I'd bat Casey Blake in the leadoff spot if my job was on the line, but I'd at least consider it.

Random Indians Thought of the Week
Congratulations to Cliff Lee - from AAA to All Star Starter.

Monday, July 14, 2008

All Star Lineup Analysis

Dave Pinto ran the All Star starting lineups through his analysis tool, and the NL came out with a distinct advantage. Is that a sign that the elder league that much better, or do they just have smarter voters? Are they finally ready to turn the tide and win home field advantage? Or will pitching make the lineup differences moot?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Home Run Derby Monday at 8:00 on ESPN

Monday night is the Home Run Derby, at 8:00 PM Eastern on ESPN. HitTracker is a site that attempts to track and graph every home run hit, so I thought it would be a good way to preview how each of the participants may hit in the contest in Yankee Stadium.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to determine whether I'm allowed to post the graphs on my own site, so to be safe (yet boring), you're stuck with links.

First, here's the layout of Yankee Stadium.

Here are the home run charts of the eight participants:
Lance Berkman
Ryan Braun
Josh Hamilton
Evan Longoria
Justin Morneau
Grady Sizemore
Dan Uggla
Chase Utley

Yankee Stadium is known for its short right field and deep left/left-center field. As the only righties in the contest so far, that puts Dan Uggla, Evan Longoria, and Ryan Braun at as disadvantage. Uggla and Longoria are especially at a disadvantage, as almost all of their power is to left field this year. Braun, meanwhile, has hit his share of opposite field homers. It will be interesting to see what switch hitter Lance Berkman does this time around. He's traditionally batted from the right side in home run derbies, even when the situation dictated that he'd have an advantage as a lefty.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Futures Game Sunday at 12:30 on ESPN2

This year's Futures Game, a showcase of the top minor league talent, can be seen live Sunday at 12:37 PM Eastern on ESPN2. Baseball America has writeups on the US and World rosters, and an interesting column on how this year's Olympics are impacting the rosters.

Matt LaPorta is expected to play in the game for the US team. Indians fans should be sure to set their DVRs so they can catch their first glimpse of this young talent. In addition, Indians prospects RHP Hector Rondon will be on the World squad. Rondon currently plays for Class A Kinston.

Speaking of prospects and the Olympics, Canada just announced their baseball roster. It features two future Indians, RHP Tim Burton and OF Nick Weglarz.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Batting Stance Guy

I'm working on some All Star stuff that I plan to post this weekend. In the meantime, Batting Stance Guy has posted videos for most Major League teams now. So if you're in a place where you can watch and listen to videos right now, be sure to check out Batting Stance Guy's YouTube channel.

Here's the Indians video, complete with a few special gems.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Upcoming Major and Minor League All Star Schedules

More coverage (hopefully) of the Futures Game and Home Run Derby are to come. For now, here's a look at upcoming All Star events. All times are Eastern.

  • Futures Game: Sunday, July 13, 12:37 PM. Shown live on ESPN2.

  • All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game: Sunday, July 13, 4:00 PM. ESPN will show the game on tape delay on Monday, July 14, after the Home Run Derby. (It's scheduled for 10:00 PM, but I strongly doubt it will start that early.)

  • AA Southern League All Star Game: Monday, July 14.

  • Home Run Derby: Monday, July 14, 8:00 PM. Shown live on ESPN.

  • MLB All Star Game: Tuesday, July 15, 8:00 PM. Shown live on Fox. (My over/under for first pitch is 8:22.)

  • AAA IL/PC All Star Game: Wednesday, July 16.

  • AA Eastern League All Star Game: Wednesday, July 6.

  • Short Season NY/Penn League All Star Game: Tuesday, August 19.

Here is's All Star page. The Minor League page is here, and includes recaps of All Star games already played.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)

Ten freshmen were selected in the first round of the NBA draft. There haven’t been this many teenagers selected for something since Roger Clemens took Viagra.

China's top backstroker Ouyang Kunpeng has been banned from swimming for life for failing a doping test. Terms of the ban are so restrictive that Kunpeng won't even be allowed to wash his face without permission.

Michelle Wie had a quintuple-bogey 9 during her first-round 81 at the U.S. Women's Open. Wie has since been downgraded from phenom to Kournikova.

The Baltimore Ravens are planning to turn trained ravens loose before home games this season. If you think that’s impressive, Houston is planning on doing the same thing with trained Texans.

And Willie Randolph will be replaced by Cubs manager Lou Piniella on the coaching staff for next month's All-Star game. The crazy part is that Randolph was told of the decision during the daytime.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)

The Williams sisters are both still alive in the Wimbledon quarter-finals. Las Vegas is taking bets on which sister will go further, as well as on when Don Imus will be fired.

Two years after his victory, Floyd Landis lost his final appeal, and must forfeit his Tour De France title. The appeal process was grueling, but hopefully Landis had enough steroids to get him through.

The West Virginia University president said that former coach Rich Rodriguez was "distraught" before he left the school. As opposed to all the other minorities in West Virginia, who love it there.

First baseman David Ortiz announced that he will miss the All-Star Game due to injury. First baseman Carlos Delgado announced that he will miss the All-Star Game due to suck.

And the Boston Red Sox allegedly received a threat targeting all black and Latin players. Or as Major League Baseball calls them, the New York Mets.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)

Dwyane Wade's image has started appearing on a brand of sex pills in China. Much like Wade, your potency will drop sharply after its peak.

South Korea plans to propose a joint march to North Korea at the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics. A joint march? Sounds like Josh Howard in college.

Georgia's bulldog mascot, Uga VI, was buried after passing away over the weekend. The death came as a surprise since the Bulldogs generally don't collapse until half way through the season.

Ricky Williams has said he'd like to go to medical school once he’s finished his playing career. Probably to get his hands on a prescription pad.

And the Cowboys are charging up to $150,000 to lease club seats at their new stadium. The seats are at the 50-yard line, in front of the referees, on the lap of a Cowboys cheerleader.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)

Fox will ask every player, manager and coach in the MLB All-Star Game to wear a microphone, which is a wonderful idea, if you speak Spanish.

Sources close to the Yankees are reporting that third baseman Alex Rodriguez has been spotted cavorting with recently separated pop star Madonna. The two go well together since he hit 50 the same year she did.

The Memphis Grizzlies have agreed on a thee-year, $10 million deal with center Marc Gasol. Right idea, wrong Gasol. Maybe next year they can sign Lane Bryant.

And Seattle point guard Earl Watson will miss four months after breaking his thumb. On the positive side, the injury should cut his texting bills in half.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)

U.S. Basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski insists this year's Olympians are not going to Beijing to "sell shoes." Of course not. They're going there to visit the five-year-olds who make their shoes.

Alex Rodriguez's wife, Cynthia, has been in Paris for the past week visiting Lenny Kravitz. It's nice to hear she's finally found a man who has no problem performing in October.

The asterisk-branded ball that Barry Bonds hit for career homer No. 756 will be headed to the Hall of Fame after all. Bonds' head must be swelling with pride. Or steroids, one or the other.

And John Daly wowed a crowd at the Buick Pro-Am by driving a golf ball off of an empty beer can. If there's one thing Daly knows how to do, it's drink and drive. The only thing that would have wowed the crowd more is if Daly had left a beer can unopened.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)

Celtics forward Glen Davis was recently spotted in the Bahamas. By someone standing in Florida. Explorers were excited, as they thought they discovered a new island.

Charlie Weis predicted 9 to 12 victories for Notre Dame this season. In other news, Notre Dame's season has been expanded to 100 games.

The Harlem Globetrotters selected Patrick Ewing, Jr. as the top pick in the team's annual draft. Ewing was selected just ahead of a basketball on a string and a bucketful of confetti.

And four teams are currently chasing Indians ace C.C. Sabathia in an effort to bolster their rotations. Others are setting bear traps, and hoping for the best.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)

Kansas City tight end Tony Gonzalez recently saved a California man from choking. Now, if only he could do the same thing with the Chiefs.

The NHL is hoping to stage an open-air hockey game at the new Yankee Stadium. We expect Alex Rodriguez to be there, since he’s very familiar with thin ice. Cynthia Rodriguez has accused her husband of cheating on her in her divorce papers. We find it hard to believe that A-Rod has ever loved anyone other than himself.

The Red Sox are considering adding Barry Bonds for the stretch run. Because Boston fans are already used to having an over-sized monster in left field.

And Imprisoned quarterback Michael Vick has filed for bankruptcy protection while serving time for federal dogfighting charges. In the ultimate irony, the only transportation he can now afford is Greyhound.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

Monday, July 07, 2008

Thoughts on the CC Sabathia Trade

If you're reading this, you know enough about baseball to have heard about the CC Sabathia trade already. My initial reaction came in four parts:

1. At least he didn't go to the Red Sox or Yankees.
Personal feelings aside, CC is only 28 and has a good chunk of his career ahead of him. The team he's going to also has a leg up on resigning him for the next year. The Indians still want to contend over the next few years. Giving Sabathia to Boston, New York, or any other AL contender would have been a sign that Cleveland didn't want to contend against those teams in 2009 and beyond. But by refusing to make their direct competition better, Cleveland has kept itself in the race.

2. Matt LaPorta? That's awesome!
Everything I've read about LaPorta, including this breakdown by's Jonathan Mayo, suggest he's an absolute stud. The only question has been LaPorta's defense, but Mayo quotes an MLB scout who says that the prospect will be passable as a left fielder in the majors.

3. Why not Mat Gamel?
Gamel plays third base at AA for the Brewers, and is supposed to be just as good of a hitter as LaPorta. Some think Gamel (along with LaPorta) is Major League-ready. Why not ask for Gamel instead of LaPorta, especially when the current Indians outfield is already set, but the future at third base is still in question? Maybe, with current third baseman Bill Hall already all of 28 years old, Milwaukee sees Gamel as their own future at third. Or maybe it's a moot point, as Baseball America's Jim Callis reports that Gamel would be a liability at third.

4. Matt LaPorta? That's awesome!
Yes, I'm very excited about this.

The Other Prospects
Jonathan Mayo also gave a quick rundown of all the known prospects included in the trade. Let's Go Tribe's summary post can be found here. From their understanding, the PTBNL will be the second best guy the Indians receive, which is great news.

Further Analysis
The Indians have lost a great player. Fausto Carmona played like an ace in 2007, but he's not at CC's level yet. Plus there's the question of his control issues. Then again, Sabathia was always questioned for his poise and control issues until he put together his Cy Young season last year. So maybe Carmona can develop to that level. If not, who's to say that the Indians don't trade a few prospects for a Cy Young winner in a few years?

One thing that is certain - the road to the playoffs is a lot easier if you have two aces on your staff (as contradictory as that sounds). Cliff Lee won't always pitch like he did at the beginning of this season, but he should pitch well, so resigning him is a high priority.

Where does this leave the Indians?
As Victor Martinez and Travis Hafner age, they will become role players to the "new core" that features Carmona and Grady Sizemore. Sizmore is signed through 2012 (Carmona a few years more), so the goal should be to reach the top with this current team before then.

Weekly Cleveland Indians Lineup Analysis

For those who missed last week's edition, this is a new weekly series where I plan take the top 9 Indians in terms of OPS and feed them into Dave Pinto's Lineup Analysis Tool to determine the theoretical ideal batting lineup. Again, in an attempt to be realistic I'll only include players on the active roster with 10+ plate appearances.

This Week's Results
Click here for full results.

This Week's Ideal Lineup

Changes From Last Week
Kelly Shoppach and Ben Francisco switch spots, while everything else remains the same.

Theoretical Runs Per Game
5.036, down 0.127 runs per game from last week. The same players remain from last week, so in essence this means their performance has dropped since then.

Theoretical Improvement
The Indians are currently scoring 4.398 runs per game, meaning this would be an improvement of 0.651 runs per game. That in turn translates to 105 additional runs in a year, or 10.5 wins.

Defensive Plausibility
All infield spots are covered, with four outfielders who can rotate between the field and DH. As mentioned last week, this is the same starting nine that Eric Wedge has been using in real life, so there are no problems here.

Fan Believability
If Eric Wedge put together this batting order, would the fans call for his head? Possibly, especially in a year that has already been disappointing. Kelly Shoppach has been playing very well lately, but jumping him from ninth in the lineup to cleanup, and dropping Ben Francisco down to seventh would raise some eyebrows.

My Take
There's only one change from last week, so I'll basically repeat what I said then. I like Grady Sizemore batting second, where he can both get on base and drive in runs. Casey Blake has become the team's second-best hitter, so he's perfect in the #5 spot. And Shin-Soo Choo and Jamey Carroll lead the team in On Base Percentage, making them perfect for first and ninth, respectively.

Random Indians Thought of the Week
Before a recent Indians-Twins game, Sports Time Ohio showed the won-lost records and ERAs of the starters:
Paul ByrdLivan Hernandez

Their ERAs were nearly identical. But judging by their records alone, Byrd was having a terrible year and Hernandez a very good one. That just goes to show you how much a pitcher's won-lost record can be affected by his team's overall performance.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Ten Ways A Wedding Can Be More Like Sports, In Ascending Order Of Potential Entertainment Value

#10: Corporate Sponsorship
Tuxedos may not look good with tennis shoes, but the wedding party could at least roll up to the event in a cool car. A sports-drink punch bowl could be easily incorporated into the reception, thus making everybody sweat neon colors that would sparkle on the dance floor.

#9: Vending
Having a vendor roam the pews with hot-dogs and Cracker Jack would certainly break up the tedium. Unfortunately, beers would be $9.50. Also, a reception dinner consisting of nachos and Diet Pepsi would be questionable at best.

#8: The Wave
The more people invited to the wedding ceremony, the more impressive this would be.

#7: JumboTron
It could be set up right behind the altar. This way, even the folks in the back pews could get a good look at the action. Instant replays would be popular. It could even display those cartoonish racing animations during the boring parts.

#6: Baselines
It's no coincidence that, in a regulation church, the distance from the doors to the altar is always exactly ninety feet. The groom will have to remember to slide so as not to be tagged out by a member of the opposing family.

#5: Mascots
Each family could pick one. Their wacky hijinks would add some color and humor to an otherwise solemn affair.

#4: Referees
Just to make sure everything runs smoothly. Is the maid of honor's speech too long? TWEEEEEET! Delay of game! Groomsmen getting too rowdy? TWEEEEEET! Sideline Infraction! You get the idea.

#3: Cheerleaders
Just let them do their thing. "GO! FIGHT! MARRY! YAY!" They could also enthusiastically hold up signs that say things like "I" and "DO" to fire up the crowd.

#2: Playoffs
Sixty-four groomsmen compete for one best man position and three runners-up. Likewise with the bridesmaids. Competitions would be along the lines of American Gladiators. Only, you know, with normal people.

#1: Color Commentary
Marriage veterans could provide context and insight. They could even illustrate their points with a telestrator for the viewers at home.
"You see, Mike, what the father's going to want to do is walk down this aisle here [draws an arrow] and hand his daughter off to the groom here [circles]."
"That's an interesting gambit, Steve. Let's hope the groom doesn't fumble the handoff."