Thursday, January 28, 2010

The useless, $800 million high-speed rail line between Milwaukee and Madison that we've just been given federal "stimulus" money for - if it stays on budget and can be built for that amount - will cost $157.83 per *inch* to build. The $800 million is enough money to give every man, woman, and child in the state a $142 tax credit, which would stimulate the state economy far more than this albatross ever could.

The projected annual ridership is 872,000 - which is a crock.  Even if everyone who rides it only rides once, that number represents only 15% of the population of Wisconsin.  If the average person who rides it rides 10 times - a more realistic number - it means that less than 2% of the population will ever use it.  Why are we collecting tax from 100% of the people to build something that only 2% will ever use?  Oh that's right - 100% of the people don't pay tax.

The fares are projected to be between $20 and $33.  Take the high end and say it's $33.  Even at the bogus projected ridership, it will take 28 years to collect $800 million in revenue - never mind the daily operating costs.  At $20 per ride, it would take 46 years.  It simply boggles the mind how wasteful government has become.

ALL THAT'S LEFT

With today's signing of Jim Edmonds, for the second time in a week Doug Melvin is gloating about having another lefty bat off the bench to compliment Jody Gerut and Craig Counsell (and Joe Inglett and Mat Gamel and Hernan Iribarren.)  While that may be fine and good, I find it very perplexing that the Brewers don't have any righty bats off the bench - not a one.

Angel Salome, Luis Cruz, Adam Heether, and Lorenzo Cain are the only right handed batters on the 40-man roster who are not projected as starters.  It's highly unlikely that any of them will make the team.  Salome is the only one who may have a chance, but you almost never use your backup catcher as a pinch hitter.  The list of non-roster invitees includes four left-handed outfielders and three right-handed catchers.  That's it.  I'm surprised that Melvin is making the bench this inflexible.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Here's blogger comedy at its best.

Dwyane Wade is an unrestricted free agent after this season.  Isn't it a no-brainer that the Bucks make a strong pitch for him?  I can't think of another move that might inject some life into the organization like that.  It would be almost like when the Brewers brought back Hank Aaron.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

What a horrible way for a great conference championship game to end.  The NFL has got to do something about the overtime rules.

I've always thought that a simple but effective tweak would be to make the team who scores last in regulation, kick off in overtime.  That probably wouldn't have changed the outcome of today's game, but it would have given the Vikings the option of going for a 2-point conversion after their last touchdown.  My next most prefered option would be to allow each team at least one possession.  But make them kick off - I don't really like the way college does it.

THE BORAS EFFECT

It's not an exaggeration to say that Scott Boras is the most recognizable and polarizing players' agent in the history of sports.  In fact, if you asked people to name all of the sports agents they can off the top of their heads, I'd bet that the majority of people could only name Boras.  Even if you read a list of other prominent agents to people, few would know who any of them even were.

Try it.  Here are some names:

  • Rob Pelinka
  • Thomas Miller
  • Greg Genske
  • Jason Fletcher
  • Michael Stubek
  • Arlan Tate
  • Neil Halper
  • Bo McKinnis
Four of these people are listed among the 17 "Notable sports agents" (other than Boras) from the three major U.S. sports on Wikipedia.  The other four are names I completely made up.  See?

Baseball fans hate Scott Boras.  He demands high salaries for players, making them difficult to sign for all but the wealthiest of teams.  He is lambasted in the media, including gems like this:
Scott Boras Demands $35 Million to Rescue Drowning Child
It's true that Boras represents some of the games biggest stars - names like Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, Mark Teixeira and Prince Fielder.  But do Scott Boras clients really get paid more than they should, or does it just seem that way because of his impressive list of clientele?

Let's take a look at a small set of players.  Here are the top 8 home run hitters in baseball in 2009:

Player
Team
HR
'09 Salary
Boras Client
Albert Pujols
StL
47
$14,427,326
No
Prince Fielder
Mil
46
$7,000,000
Yes
Ryan Howard
Phi
45
$15,000,000
No
Mark Reynolds
Ari
44
$422,500
No
Adrian Gonzalez
SD
40
$3,125,000
No
Carlos Pena
TB
39
$8,000,000
Yes
Mark Teixeira
NYY
39
$20,625,000
Yes
Adam Dunn
Was
38
$8,000,000
No

This group of players earned a combined salary of $76.6 million in 2009.  Of that, $35.6 million, or 47%, was paid to Scott Boras clients.  Yet, among this group, the Boras clients hit only 37% (124 of 338) of the home runs.  You could conclude from this example that Scott Boras clients are overpaid as compared to their production.  However this is a very small sample and includes Mark Reynolds who could be throwing the numbers off.  What if you did this same thing though for baseball as a whole?

The USA Today Baseball Salaries Database lists the 2009 salaries for every player who was on a Major League roster on opening day.  I (painstakingly) matched up every players' 2009 salary to his 2009 statistics.  Scott Boras' Wikipedia entry contains a list of his clients.  I flagged every Boras client in my database.  A total of 401 hitters and 380 pitchers are included.

To create the following charts, I simply divided all players into two groups depending on whether they were or were not a Scott Boras client - 30 of the 401 hitters are Boras clients.  I added all of the statistics and salaries for each of the two groups just like I did in my example, and calculated the percentage of the total for each stat.  Starting with hitters, here is what I found:



I find that staggering.  Among Major League hitters, Scott Boras clients earned 15% of all salaries paid in 2009, yet accounted for only about 9% of all offensive production.  Not only are Scott Boras clients overpaid compared to what they produce, they are grossly overpaid.  As a group, hitters represented by Scott Boras earned about 70% more money than they should given the sum of their offensive contributions.

To properly study pitchers I divided them into starters and relievers.  Here is the same chart for starting pitchers in 2009:



Again, starting pitchers represented by Boras are overpaid for their production.  The difference is not as severe as for hitters but it still clearly exists.  In my database, 15 of the 153 starting pitchers are represented by Boras.

Relief pitchers are the only group that Scott Boras hasn't quite figured out - or cared to bother with.  Salaries for his relief pitcher clients lag their production...



...except for saves - the money stat.  The two most prominent relievers that Boras represents and Mike Gonzalez and Scott Schoeneweis.  Hardly a who's-who of bullpens.

The topic of Scott Boras is of obvious interest to Brewers fans as they wrestle with the next big item on their agenda - whether they should and are able to sign Prince Fielder to a long-term contract. I've got much more data on this topic and many more charts to present.  I just need to put them together into a cohesive article.  I'll do that.  Stay tuned.

p.s. Pelinka (basketball), Genske (baseball), Fletcher (football) and McKinnis (baseball) are the real agents from my quiz above.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

7NNINGS EATERS

In 2009, the Brewers ranked 28th out of 30 Major League teams in percentage of games in which the starting pitcher lasted at least seven innings.  The St. Louis Cardinals led the Majors at 41%.  The Brewers were way down at 18%, followed only by the Washington Nationals (17%) and Baltimore Orioles (16%).

Here is the breakdown by starter:

Yovanni Gallardo - 37%
Dave Bush - 29%
Jeff Suppan - 14%
Mike Burns - 13%
Bradon Looper - 12%
Manny Parra - 11%
McClung, Narveson, Villanueva - 0%

On the plus side, Randy Wolf pitched seven innings in 35% of his 2009 starts; Doug Davis did in 36% of his.  With these two in the rotation, the Brewers should fare much better in this regard next season.

These numbers are also more evidence that Dave Bush was not nearly as bad in 2009 as his surface stats indicate.  I believe he should be very close to a lock to make the starting rotation.  The battle for the last spot is more likely between Manny Parra and Jeff Suppan than involving Dave Bush.

Parra's number is particularly bad.  There was only one other pitcher in the Major Leagues who had 25 or more starts (Parra had 27) with a lower percentage lasting seven innings - Brian Moehler of Houston at 7%.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

PAY THE MAN

Here are the raises being requested by the four arbitration eligible Brewers:

  • Todd Coffey - 206%
  • Carlos Villanueva - 140%
  • Corey Hart - 48%
  • Dave Bush - 11%
Carlos Gomez avoided arbitration by signing for a 151% raise, as did Rickie Weeks for a 12% raise.  Claudio Vargas gets a 125% raise this year.  Craig Counsell will get an extra 110% and Prince Fielder an extra 62% added to their paychecks.  Ryan Braun gets 34%, Trevor Hoffman 33%, and Jody Gerut 13%.

Once the arbitration dust settles, as a group all of the players listed here will cost the Brewers between 43% and 52% more than they did last season.  These are certainly troubled economic times in which we live, aren't they?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

THANK YOU MASSACHUSETTS!!!

Isn't it a great irony that instead of Teddy Kennedy being the one who brought us government health care, he may be the one who saves us from it.

PUNCH DRUNK

Did you see the video of Jose Offerman punching an umpire in a Dominican league game?  An act for which he is now banned for life from the league?  I've watched the video a bunch of times.  I'm no Marv Albert, but it looks to me like Offferman never landed the punch.  In fact, he didn't come close - missed by six inches or so.  From point blank range.  The ump's head never twitched and a noticeably long moment after the swing he fell backward on his rear.  Watch it.  The whole thing almost looks staged, like a cheap WWE move.

Here is a freeze frame.  You can click the image for a larger view.


My wife yesterday was curious about how many hours a day on average a dog sleeps.  She found that it's 14 hours per day - but no one knows why.

It's because they can.  Mystery solved.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

During dinner tonight, the evening news cut away several times to a remote at a Red Cross phone bank taking donations for earthquake victims in Haiti.  Every phone line was full.  I'm sure this scene is taking place simultaneously across every city in the nation.  There are countless telethons and fund raisers scheduled and money is pouring in from American people in tens of millions of dollars.

Yet, we have a president in this country who sees it fit to run around the world apologizing to our enemies for us and our greed.  I wonder how much money is being sent to Haiti by Hugo Chavez.  Or Fidel Castro. Or Kim-Jong il.  Or Mahmoud Ahmaddinejad.  If it's any, I'll bet it's not a fraction of what the American people are digging out of their own pockets.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

SO CLOSE, YET SO FAR

The Brewers announced the list of players scheduled to appear at the "Brewers On Deck" event later this month.  Being the contrarian that I can sometimes be, I made a list of the players who are not going to be there:

  1. Craig Counsell
That's right - home town boy Craig Counsell will be the only one to miss the show.  (Too far to drive?)  I'm sure he's got some perfectly valid reason, but isn't this a little bit like being the only one to skip the company Christmas party?  It just gives the people who don't care much for you anyway one more reason.

Monday, January 11, 2010

TWO FACED HAMMER

I don't believe I've ever written this in this blog, and I'm sure it's not going to win me any new fans, but my close friends will tell you that I've always felt Hank Aaron to be something of a self-serving and sometimes race-baiting hypocrite.  He has taken up trying to be some sort of ambassador or spokesperson for the game of baseball, but to me it all comes across as him being an ambassador of himself.

Well, today he chimed in on Mark McGwire's admission of steroid use:

"I think that it's wonderful that he did this," said Hank Aaron, whose 755 home runs were the most in baseball history until Barry Bonds— indicted by a grand jury for allegedly lying about steroid use — broke the record in 2007. "It takes a big man to admit this and I want to commend him for that.

"He has asked for forgiveness. He has my forgiveness. If that's all that stands in the way between him being inducted into Cooperstown we should all forgive him. I'm extremely happy he came out with this. Now baseball goes on to another chapter."

Do you remember just this past summer when Aaron wanted to close the Hall of Fame's doors to steroids users?

“If it’s proven that you took any kind of drug or substance, then you shouldn’t be there [in the Hall]. Like I said, the game has no place for cheaters.”
Well which is it?  It appears now that McGwire has come grovelling to the almighty home run king, proving that he is less of a man and no longer a threat to the king's legacy, that the king can now pretend that he is Mark McGwire's best friend.  I find that kind of nauseating.

Bash away.  It's just how I see it.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The sour grapes:

  1. They had no business getting to the playoffs anyway.
  2. At least we don't have to play Brett Favre and the Vikings again.
  3. They wouldn't have beaten the Saints.
  4. This gets us a better draft pick.

TOMMY JOHN, TOMMY JOHN

Chris Capuano is attempting a comeback from a second Tommy John surgery.  Much has been written about the horrible track record of pitchers having that surgery twice, casting a pall on Cappy's chances at a successful comeback.  Here is the list of pitchers who have had two (or more) Tommy John surgeries:

Dave Eiland 
Chad Fox (3)
Shawn Hill 
Hong-Chih Kuo 
Mike Lincoln 
Scott Mathieson 
Jose Rijo 
Matt Riley 
Denny Stark 
Tyler Yates 
Victor Zambrano 
Jeff Zimmerman 

The first thing I notice is that most of these pitchers weren't that good in the first place.  In fact, no other pitcher on the list has ever won as many games in a season as Capuano did (18).  He's one of only two (Jose Rijo) to have multiple 10-win seasons.

I'm not saying that Chris Capuano is going to win any Cy Young awards.  I'm just pointing out that in his case, because of his past success and because of his relatively young age at which he's making a second comeback, this is somewhat uncharted water.

I'm guessing that Harry Reid's recently revealed comments about Barack Obama - "light skinned" and "with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one." - will unequivocally disqualify him from ever being the owner of an NFL team.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

NEW UNIFORMS

A 30+ year Brewer fan has proposed and designed new uniforms for the Brewers.  He offers a style very similar to the old ball-and-glove look of the late 70's and 80's as well as a "New Classic" look which is sort of a cross between the current style and the old Milwaukee Braves look.

Good for him.  I have never liked the current Brewer uniform or logo.  While it's better than the green, blue and gold look of the Chuckie Carr era, I've always felt it too lavish and ornamental for a town like Milwaukee.  And the "M" with the wheat - that just never did anything for me.  In fact, probably two-thirds of the Brewers garb I own are of the retro ball-and-glove look rather than the current design.

I'd like to throw my own hat in the ring if you will.  How about this...?




UPDATE:  Apparently the Brewers are announcing a new alternate jersey on February 14.

NEWS OF THE DAY

It was a very busy news day in baseball, breaking a long lull.  I have a few quick thoughts:

1. Rory Markas dead at the age of 54

I remember Rory Markus because I remember every Brewers play-by-play announcer.  Nothing in particular stands out about him until now.  I once wanted to be a baseball announcer.  I'm almost 54.  That could be me.  It sends a chill down my spine when some even moderately famous dies at a young age like that.  Prayers to his family and friends.

2.  Matt Holiday signs the rest of his career to the Cardinals

Doesn't Matt Holliday just look like he belongs on the Cardinals?  If I weren't a Brewers fan (or a Yankees fan), I think I'd be a St. Louis Cardinals fan.  I believe they are one of the classiest organizations in sports, their fans are second to none, and they got a very good ball player for a very long time.  Holliday's contract has an option for the year 2017.  2017!

3.  Randy Johnson announces his retirement from baseball

My current fantasy baseball league was formed the year before Randy Johnson debuted as a rookie for the Montreal Expos.  He would break your heart back then.  He'd strike out 15 guys one game and walk 15 the next.  We always said that if he could learn any command of the strike zone that he could turn into a phenomenal pitcher.  He obviously learned.

Finally this...

4.  Mariners close to deal for Casey Kotchman

According to the 2010 Bill James Handbook, the projected starting fielders for next year's Seattle Mariners saved 116 runs last season with their defense alone.  Four of the eight were ranked #1 at their position (Figgins, Wilson, Gutierrez, Johnson - Kotchman was ranked #6 at 1B, Ichiro was #4).  That's about 11 extra wins and 116 fewer runs that the pitching staff gives up by doing nothing different at all.  Look for Felix Hernandez to win the 2010 AL Cy Young and the Mariners to win the AL West because of this.  Nice work, Jack Z.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Milwaukee Bucks this year are 4-11 in games which Michael Redd plays and 9-7 when he doesn't play.  I'm just sayin'.

With the AFC playoff picture so convoluted, no sports sites seem to be bothering with the NFC seeding scenarios. According to Yahoo's Playoff Scenario Generator, here is how things break down from the Packers perspective:

1.  If the Vikings beat the Giants in the noon game, the Packers will play the Cardinals in the playoffs and today's game is meaningless.

2.  If the Vikings lose and the Packers win, the Packers will still play the Cardinals in the playoffs.

3.  If the Vikings lose and the Packers lose, the Packers will play the Cowboys if the Cowboys beat the Eagles, and will play the Vikings if the Eagles beat the Cowboys.

Got it?

 
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