Friday, January 13, 2006
Maybe there are formulas and charts that tell you that [John] Franco has been as good a closer as [Mariano] Rivera. Maybe there are statistics that demonstrate little difference between a guy like [Bruce] Sutter and someone like Armando Benitez. But you watch the games and you see the hitters react to them and see the pathetic swings the hitters take, and you know there is a difference that will never be quantified.Really, has it come to this? Olney is apparently so anti-sabermetrics that he's now arguing against numbers that don't even exist. Where are all these metrics showing John Franco being as good as Mariano Rivera? Where are all these statheads clamoring for Armando Benitez's place in the Hall of Fame?
The answer is that they only exist in Olney's mind, where strawmen are pummeled daily and ideas like "there is a difference that will never be quantified" between Mariano Rivera and John Franco is one that seems plausible.
Today at The Hardball Times:
- When Will Bud Whip It Out? (by John Brattain)
Pick of the Day (163-147, +$1,315):
Denver +6 (-110) over Minnesota
Seattle -9.5 (-110) over Washington
New England +3 (-110) over Denver
Indianapolis -9.5 (-110) over Pittsburgh
Carolina +3 (-110) over Chicago
Miami -2 (-110) over Los Angeles
Thursday, January 12, 2006
One Down ...Day 1 of the weight-loss plan went pretty well.
The elliptical machine wasn't delivered until around four p.m., but I still did 3.5 miles on it last night. I worked out on an elliptical quite a bit a few years ago, when my uncle and I would go to his health club to play basketball a couple times per week, and it was a rude awakening to see just how much harder it is for me now. I used to be able to do 20 minutes on it without much problem, sometimes after playing basketball, and now it becomes a strain at around the five-minute mark.
I suppose it's not all that surprising, but I wasn't in great shape back then either. I guess that shows how many of levels of "not in great shape" there are. In addition to doing about 30-35 minutes in three stints on the machine last night, I also managed to cut back on food intake. My plan is to simply cut down on what has been a typical amount of eating for me, rather than try to eat what might be a lesser amount for dieters in general.
Rather than drink milk or Sprite, I struck strictly to water yesterday. And rather than some sort of smorgasbord of fast food for dinner, I ate two relatively small meals. For the first meal I had a small bowl of pasta with marinara sauce, along with sliced turkey and cheese on a plain bagel. Later I ate one hot dog with ketchup on a plain bun. The grand total for the day was 1,330 calories.
That's probably more food than the Olsen twins eat in a given week, but for me it represents a major change. Not to sound like someone in Alcoholics Anonymous or anything, but if I could just report something similar each day from here on out in regard to both my working out and my eating, I'd definitely be on the right track. (Don't worry, I won't be reporting anything, good or bad, each day.)
After one day I can already see what the two biggest challenges are going to be. One is that I need to get into good enough shape so that doing 10 minutes on the machine isn't a taxing thing. I realize how pathetic that sounds, but if I was worried about sounding pathetic I probably wouldn't be talking about being a fatass here. The other thing to work on is eating small meals throughout the day, rather than waiting for a big meal at dinner time.
For as long as I can remember I've skipped breakfast completely, occasionally eaten lunch, and always gorged myself on a gigantic dinner. That can't continue, obviously. On that note, if any of you have good suggestions for reasonably healthy food that I might actually enjoy eating, please post them in the comments section. I'm not talking about tofu burgers or anything like that, just stuff that isn't too bad for you and tastes good.
I'll try to avoid writing about this topic much more after today, since it's even more self-absorbed than the entries here usually are (if you can believe that) and probably bores the hell out of most of you. For the minority of you who are interested, I'll try to update the "Fat-O-Meter" on the left-hand sidebar every few days.
Today at The Hardball Times:
- How Do You Like Your Data? (by Dave Studeman)
- Run Estimation for the Masses (by Dan Fox)
- Daily Graphing: Sammy Sosa (by David Appelman)
Pick of the Day (162-147, +$1,215):
Cleveland +2.5 (-110) over Los Angeles
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Trimming the FatI was a scrawny little kid. I played a lot of sports and was only willing to eat a few very specific things, so for the first decade or so of my life I was really skinny. At some point, probably around 11 or 12 years old, I began growing significantly taller and started to eat a wider variety of stuff. My athletic abilities also peaked around that time, and soon my participation in sports (aside from watching them) declined.
From about 13 to 23, I gradually got fatter and fatter. I made peace with being a fat guy years ago, embracing the whole look and self-deprecating act, but recently decided that now is the right time to make a change. After all, if you can't lose weight when you're 23, you're probably never going to. Last week I purchased an elliptical machine, which is scheduled to be delivered here this afternoon.
Because working out alone won't fix a problem that is 10 years in the making, I've also decided to change my diet. So, starting today, I'm officially trying to lose weight. I bring this up not because I have delusions of anyone reading this being even remotely interested, but because keeping tabs on my progress here may help me stay with it.
In other words, if in two weeks I have yet to lose any weight and say so here, a few of you are sure to remind me of how pathetic that is. I have no dreams of being particularly fit and I don't even really have a specific number of pounds in mind for a goal. I'd just like to consistently shed pounds on a weekly basis, so that I can motivate myself to eventually drop a significant amount of weight.
Those of you who get annoyed when I discuss uninteresting aspects of my personal life here should think of it this way: Either I begin to lose weight today and shed about half of David Eckstein over the next six months or so, or I'll be a fat guy for the remainder of my life (which will probably be shorter than it should be because of health problems). If you think of it that way it's fairly compelling, right?
While I wait for the delivery that will hopefully change my life, some quick Twins notes ...
To get Branyan the Twins would have to assume a one-year, non-guaranteed contract worth $800,000, which is extremely reasonable for someone who would at the very least be an excellent bench bat and platoon option. Of course, Ron Gardenhire doesn't really platoon, the Twins don't like guys who strike out and are allergic to sluggers, and if they had $800,000 to toss around they should have found a way to deal for Koskie.
May had a nice year with Kansas City in 2003, but is 10-23 with a 5.92 ERA over the past two seasons. The good news? He's held left-handed hitters to a respectable .251/.281/.419 over the past three years, posting a 76-to-19 strikeout-to-walk ratio. The bad news? As I've discussed before Gardenhire is unlikely to use anyone strictly against lefties, and right-handed hitters have bombed May to the tune of .291/.341/.533 since 2003.
Although Toronto was willing to absorb $7.1 million of third baseman Corey Koskie's $11 million, two-year contract if the Twins would give up a minor league player, the reason Minnesota would not bite is that Koskie will receive $6.5 million guaranteed in 2008 if he has 600 at-bats this season or 1,200 over the next two seasons. And there is a $500,000 buyout for Koskie if he doesn't achieve the extra $6.5 million. The Milwaukee Brewers, who traded for Koskie, will pay $2 million of his salary this year, $1.9 million next year.First of all, it's 600 and 1,200 plate appearances, not at-bats. A seemingly trivial point, but one that could easily mean a difference of 60-75 trips to the plate per season for a guy like Koskie. Plus, he has a career-high of just 562 at-bats. A total of 85 big-league hitters reached 600 plate appearances in 2005, but just 33 of them managed 600 at-bats. I'm sure you get the point.
Beyond that, there's just no way that the Twins were so worried about Koskie's option for 2008 vesting. He has topped 600 plate appearances in a season just once in eight years, and if by some miracle Koskie actually stayed healthy for an entire season the team could easily bench him once a week against a southpaw to keep his playing time down.
Plainly illogical and factually incorrect stuff like that showing up in major-market newspapers is a big part of why sites like this one exist, I suppose.
Interestingly, Lima went 1-1 with a 4.83 ERA in five starts against the Twins this year, compared to 4-15 with a 7.49 ERA in 27 starts against everyone else. In talking about signing May, Ryan said, "I know he had a tough year last year, but he's always had some success against us." Here's hoping that way of thinking doesn't apply to all pitchers, because the list of guys Ryan would have to sign would be about as big as Lima's ERA.
Today at The Hardball Times:
- Really, Bruce Sutter? (by Aaron Gleeman)
- THT Interview: Jim Bouton (by Steve Treder)
- Business of Baseball Report (by Brian Borawski)
Pick of the Day (162-146, +$1,325):
Chicago +5.5 (-110) over Minnesota
Monday, January 09, 2006
So Much For ThatThe first week of 2006 was filled with speculation about the Twins trying to re-acquire Corey Koskie from Toronto. One day they were said to be going after him hard, they next day they reportedly had zero interest in him, and the day after that they were supposedly trying to work out the money with the Blue Jays. That all came to an end over the weekend, when Toronto sent Koskie to Milwaukee for a non-prospect named Brian Wolfe who was actually property of the Twins as recently as a few months ago.
Details of the negotiations remained sketchy throughout, but the one key piece of information that was finally clarified is Koskie's contract. He will receive $5.25 million in 2006 and $5.75 million in 2007, and there is a $6.5 million option for 2008 that vests if Koskie reaches 1,200 plate appearances over the next two seasons. The time Koskie had to reach those 1,200 plate appearances was in question, but the Minneapolis Star Tribune's Joe Christensen apparently got his facts straight from a copy of the actual contract.
Koskie's injury history makes it extraordinarily unlikely that he'll get 1,200 plate appearances between 2006 and 2007 -- he's had 600 plate appearances in a season just once, back in 2001 -- essentially making his remaining contract $11 million over two years. Plus, in shipping him to Milwaukee, Toronto reportedly agreed to pay approximately $7 million of that remaining $11 million, leaving the Brewers with a total commitment of around $4 million over two seasons.
Now, it's certainly possible that the Blue Jays didn't offer the same sort of deal to the Twins. Perhaps Toronto GM J.P. Ricciardi was willing to pay more to get Koskie out of the AL or maybe he has a grudge against Terry Ryan. However, I find it unlikely that the Twins couldn't have had Koskie for, say, $5 million over two seasons. After all, regardless of Ricciardi's preference for dealing Koskie, he was clearly willing to deal with the Twins and his mind likely could have been changed for a million bucks.
All of which means one of two things happened. The first is that Ryan wanted to re-acquire Koskie, was willing to give up a mediocre prospect while taking on a $4-5 million commitment over two seasons, and could not find room in the budget to do so. In this scenario you can either blame Carl Pohlad for not giving Ryan extra money to work with in order to make an important last-minute addition or you can blame Ryan for choosing to commit his last few million to Kyle Lohse.
The other option is that Ryan was never really all that interested in bringing Koskie back. Perhaps he contacted the Blue Jays just to see if he could get Koskie for virtually nothing, and when the asking price got up to even the modest sum of a non-prospect and a couple million bucks per season he bowed out. In this scenario you can blame Ryan for thinking that Tony Batista is a better option at third base and for not realizing that Koskie, even with his faults, is a bargain at that price.
Of course, it's very possible that a combination of those things kept Koskie from coming back to Minnesota. Whatever the case, the Twins had an opportunity to address one of the team's biggest weaknesses heading into 2006, and they failed to do so. Whether it had to do with haggling over a relatively small amount of money or with incorrectly evaluating the options at third base, I think a mistake was clearly made.
Either Ryan is unable to see that Koskie, warts and all, is a lot more likely to contribute positively to a contending team than Batista, or Pohlad was unwilling to spend some more of that additional revenue he'll pocket this season. Either scenario is extremely disappointing and they may ultimately be equally damning. The bottom line is that the Twins could have significantly improved themselves for a total of about $5 million and chose not to do so. As a fan I find that difficult to swallow.
Today at The Hardball Times:
- Letís talk: A Look At Player Agents (Part 2 - Perspectives) (by Maury Brown)
- Top 20 Catchers for 2006 (by Tim Dierkes)
- Daily Graphing: Corey Patterson (by David Appelman)
Pick of the Day (162-145, +$1,435):
Toronto +6 (-110) over Chicago
Wisconsin -2 (-110) over Minnesota