Saturday, April 02, 2005

Soul Patch!!!

Attaboy, Ryan!

---> Homer in the sixth!

---> Baserunner kill at home plate ! In the ninth! To end the game!

I got the D-Rays' broadcast on XM, and let me tell you, the play-by-play guy was just about to launch into a "SAFE AT THE PLATE!!! OH MY!!!" when he realized, "Huh, he was out at the plate. Nice throw by Church."

We're all pleased that Church played so well, of course, but can you think of
anyone who might be overjoyed?

Speaking of Church, while there was talk a few days ago that indicated he was the presumptive starter in center, it might not turn out to be so. The WaTimes article says that it "appears" Church will be the starter, it also reports the possibility that Brad Wilkerson will slide over to center to make way for Terrmel Sledge in left. Then Ken Wright launches into a discussion on the meager offensive performance the last 10 Grapefruit League games and weaves in a quote from Frank Robinson that essentially says, "Yeesh, the bats have sucked." If Robinson is looking for an offensive boost out of the starting lineup, then does that serve to Sledge's benefit and Soul Patch's detriment?

Well, "baseball men" can often be fickle, so who knows what kind of effect today's 5-4 win over Tampa will have on Robinson's demeanor? In addition to Church's homer, it's noteworthy that---in light of Wright's nugget from today's article that the Nats "h[adn]'t produced 10 or more hits in a game since March 20"---the good guys reached double-digits in safeties today.

A couple other items of interest:

---The axe fell on Carlos Baerga yesterday. Even accounting for the general impression that the move is not any great surprise, it's still worth noting my pleasure with the decision not to carry an old, slow, defensively-limited pinch-hitter. The article, by Eli Saslow (who?), notes that Baerga will seek interest from other major league clubs, and the Nationals will not stand in his way if there is any. Also, it appears that Baerga recognizes he is not needed for "veteran leadership"---especially considering Jim Bowden spent the offseason storing up enough of that for a team shooting for, say, 72-77 wins. Baerga's best bet would probably be to latch on in an organization that a) has a shot at contending and b) might need some hitting off the bench late in the season. In some circumstances, a playoff-bound team will often carry a veteran pinch-hitter over a younger bench player, simple for experience, nerve, presence, etc. If that course means Baerga might spend much of the season in Columbus or Iowa or wherever, then so be it. Best of luck, Carlos.

---Regular DC baseball blog reader John Yuda maintains a blog of his own, and it's a nice and interesting one at that. Yuda comments on baseball sometimes and other times on other matters---including, most notably to me at least, films. Recently, "sometimes" popped up again, and Yuda took exception to something Nate Silver wrote for Baseball Prospectus. Silver was apparently adding to the BP pile-on of the Nats and commented that the Nats "almost certainly the most boring club in baseball."

More boring, I ask, than all of:

* the Devil Rays?
* the Blue Jays?
* the Royals?
* the Pirates?
* the Brewers?
* the Rockies?

And I'm just referring to whatever "boring teams" came off the top of my head. Add the Braves to the list, too, I say. The Nats are more boring than all of these guys? Do tell.

Anyway, Yuda---being more charitable than many of us would be---prepared a list of ten items of interest for Mr. Silver to track. Maybe Silver will find even one of two of them interesting. Maybe not; if so, it's Nate Silver's loss. Yuda also pointed out yet another patented BP factchecking error. Good work, Yuda!

(Thanks to Chris Needham for pointing Yuda's entry out.)

---Speaking of Chris, it's time to CRAP! That didn't come out right. Put another way, Chris has released his exclusive CRAP projections for noteworthy Nats. Among the goodies: Brad Wilkerson will come close to a .400 OBP, Jose Guillen will top a .500 SLG, and---demonstrating the sheer clairvoyance of Chris's algorithm---Tony Armas will go 8-2 with a 3.77 ERA before being traded.

Allow me a second to pause and say that I love stuf like this. Like the Marcel the Monkey system, the CRAP projections make light of---mock, even---the obsessive environment of offensive projection systems these days, with sabermetricians and fantasy forecasting businessmen who strive for reaching that extra nth of "accuracy" through refinement every year, when at the same time acknowledging:

the issue of “Marcel the Monkey.” This is the assertion by folks on some of the sabermetric blogs that a “chimp forecasting method” — a simplistic averaging of the last few seasons and making minor adjustments for age — is nearly as good as any other, more comprehensive system.

Well... this is mostly true. If 70% accuracy is the best that we can reasonably expect, Marcel gets us about 65% of the way there. All of our “advanced” systems are fighting for occupation of that last 5%.

In other words, some guy can take a swipe for a minute at what look like reasonable numbers, give it a clever, self-serving, or vulgar acronym, and watch as his "system" has a decent chance at coming close to the ones devised and labored by the pros. What a country!

---Finally, it's already halftime of Illinois-Lousville (31-28, Illinois), and I'm heading over to a Final Four party hosted by some rabid UNC fans (this is ACC territory, after all), so before I leave I want to pick my Final Four predictions. (These are unchanged by the first half of the opening game.)

* Louisville over Illinos
* UNC over Michigan St.

And then, on Monday night:

* UNC over Louisville.

North Carolina is merely a replacement pick for Duke---whom I hate but, based on the theory that teams I hate always seem to win, whom I also picked to win a 1986 final rematch against Louisville. In other words, I got three of the four teams right. I've done okay in the office pool, but my direct supervisor is really racking it up. He's got all four of his teams still alive, and if he gets his Illinois-Michigan State final, then he'll win in a walk. I guess that's good for me, too; he'll take the money and run, but I'll have a happy boss.


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