Archive for May, 2012

2012 Stanley Cup pick

Posted in Canucks-related, Flyers-related on May 28, 2012 by wechslerh66

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once, almost two score and ten years past, an age so distant Jamie Moyer was not yet two, the populace, speaking as one if more narrowly as a modest suburban Stanley-worshiping couple in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada, entreated God, the master of the universe and endower of mercy, to endow them thus with a pepperpot, and thus was created Pat Verbeek.

Envious of their fellow Canadians and equally demanding of their creator to atone for the sins to come of the false prophet Ballard, the populace of Mimico, Etobicoke also thus spoke five years hence and were rewarded with one Brendan Shanahan.

Similar bounty bestowed during this term may effortlessly be enumerated: Skelleftea, Sweden’s Patrick and Peter Sundstrom; Kingston, Ontario’s Kirk Muller; Minneapolis’s Tom Kurvers; Madison, Wisconsin’s Mark Johnson; Southboro, Massachusetts’s Doug “Dougie” Brown; Grosse Pointe, Michigan’s Craig Wolanin; Windsor, Ontario’s Sean Burke; Toronto’s Bruce Driver; and of course Roseau, Minnesota’s Aaron “Brots” Broten and Oshawa, Ontario’s John MacLean.

But despite the outrageousness of wealth who would eventually congregate in the wilderness, some would say jungle-land, of North Jersey, a wasteland so barren it was only properly referred to as “Exit 16W,” some having left the more scenic wilderness of Denver and others simply arriving at what some would call the Promised Land, the detractors of these dogged, devoted apostles were many. “A Mickey-Mouse operation,” quoth the Great One, commemorating a 13-4 rout (a Messier-less rout, no less) with unwarranted scorn. Or was it indeed unwarranted: behold the record, and the record shall speak:

1982-83: 17-49-14, 48 points
1983-84: 17-56-7, 41 points
1984-85: 22-48-10, 54 points
1985-86: 28-49-3, 59 points
1986-87: 29-45-6, 64 points,

with no Devil exceeding 79 points (Broten), 35 goals (Verbeek & Greg Adams), 53 assists (Broten), or 24 wins (Alain Chevrier, who went 24-26-2, .873, 4.32 that season). During the high-octane 80s, no less. (When Broten had 79 points, Wayne Gretzky had 183. When Broten led the team with 55 points, Gretzky had 196. It’s doubtful one team leader was ever outscored by 141 points by another team leader before or has been since or will be again.)

But Sean Burke joined the Devils on March 1, 1988 and went 10-1, .883, 3.05; the Devils went 10-3-1 overall and thanks to coach Jim Schoenfeld (who had replaced Doug Carpenter mid-season) and a John McLean overtime goal (against Darren Pang, no less) ended 38-36-6 with a playoff berth for the first time ever, beating the Islanders in six and the Caps in seven before a 6-2, Game Seven loss to the Bruins in the Eastern Conference finals. And I became a Devils fan.

After a few wrong turns (a.k.a. the Chris Terreri era, Sergei Starikov), the clemency of Judge Edward Houston, the Flames’ love of Trevor Kidd, and of course Stephane Matteau, the “Decade of the Devils” t-shirts offered defiantly to the hockey gods at the Meadowlands in the early 1990s were no longer a joke. The Devils would win the Stanley Cup. And another. And another. And I was no longer a Devils fan.

I should probably discuss the Kings as well– I’m rooting for them, to the extent that I care; they’ve obviously suffered enough trauma (e.g. Bruce McNall) and mediocrity (the Vitali Yachmenev era), memory (the Miracle on Manchester, Rogie Vachon) and misery (local news coverage in LA) to be worth something when the other teams I was rooting for (i.e. Canucks, Flyers, Coyotes, even, for whatever unknown reason I will regret someday, the Rangers) won’t be there– or crunch some numbers, most of which would make real Kings fans happy (beginning with Jonathan Quick’s .946 and 1.54 against the top three seeds in the West, compared to Brodeur’s .923, 2.04 against the overrated Panthers, beaten-up Flyers, and shot-block-happy Rangers; the Kings are also the better possession team, even more so since the Carter trade), but it’s enough to say that the Devils will need to totally blow for a minimum of a decade, probably two, before I’m willing to root for them again and hope a savior will rise from these streets.

So it was written, & so it shall be told.

Kings in six.

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Projecting the 2012 Phillies Lineup in 2012

Posted in 2012 Phillies on May 27, 2012 by wechslerh66

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the differences between being a baseball fan as a teenager in the 1980s and being a more nuanced baseball fan (unless, apparently, you’re Paul DePodesta) is the more nuanced baseball fan’s development of a bullshit detector when it comes to the typical “your team’s projected lineup in 2017 based on what we know in 2007” examples of prospect halo effect at best (e.g. Baseball Prospectus) or lazy journalism at worst (e.g. your local Sunday paper). We obviously don’t know who will be traded for whom, who will flame out, who will sign (or depart) as a free agent, who will move from third to the outfield, etc. at any moment. So why bother projecting even one year out, not to mention four or five, if not purely for our amusement when the time comes (if not before)?

See for example Baseball America’s December 2010 “Projected 2014 lineup” for the Phillies, featuring a left fielder and number five starter who are now Astros, a closer who’s now an injured Red, no Cliff Lee or Jonathan Papelbon who actually are under contract for 2014, and a number three starter who is now probably shooting elk from his porch in Mississippi.

Based on the typical Phillies lineup this season, what would have been an accurate “Projected 2012 lineup” three offseasons ago (e.g. December 2008, when the Phils were briefly kings of the world)?

Catcher: Our backup catcher just had an OPS of .620 (OPS +63). He went crazy in the postseason, though, so we may not need to bring Chris Coste back.

First Base: Decline years? Check. Bad body type? Check. Poor defense? Check. We need to outbid the market to resign Ryan Howard even before he’s ON the market. And why not sign the Astros’ third baseman/left fielder as a backup?

Second Base: Obviously, Utley, but that 18 year old Venezuelan kid who just OPS’d .588 in the Sally League may be ready too.

Third Base: Hmm, I doubt we would want that Adrian Beltre, or even Wilson Betemit. Is Polanco on the market?

Shortstop: Jimmy Rollins.

Left Field: No way will Dom Brown be ready in the next 4 years (though we won’t trade him for an ace either). Would we ever be able to outbid the Dodgers for Juan Pierre (.283/.327/.328, 75 OPS+ in 2008)? I mean, he did just bat .667 against the Phils in the NLCS (sample size: three at bats).

Center Field: Shane Victorino.

Right Field: No way will Dom Brown be ready in the next 4 years (though we won’t trade him for an ace either). We need to trade our 2014 first baseman and number five starter to the Astros in a few years for their 105 OPS+ right fielder.

No. 1 Starter: Irish dude who just won 20 games for a Blue Jays team that won 86.

No. 2 Starter: AL Cy Young winner (22-3, 2.54) Cliff Lee. We should trade spare parts for him. No, wait, trade him for spare parts. Wait, maybe free agency is better.

No. 3 Starter: World Series MVP Cole Hamels– why shouldn’t he be the #3 pitcher on the defending champions?

No. 4 Starter: World Series slugger Joe Blanton.

No. 5 Starter: Williamsport Crosscutter/Lakewood Blue Claw Vance Worley, who’s too much of a stud for the Sally League. & if he goes down, how about someone who just won 11 games despite a 5.49 ERA (79 ERA+), 3.9 K/9, and a WHIP of 1.612 over 155.2 IP? Kyle Kendrick is the Antichrist.

Closer: The Red Sox won’t be able to keep their all-star closer (2.34 ERA, 41 SV, 0.952 WHIP) in four years. Let’s throw ridiculous money at him when the time comes. I mean, the more economical option will need Tommy John surgery anyway.

Phils Roundup, May 2012: Lies, Damned Lies

Posted in 2012 Phillies on May 20, 2012 by wechslerh66

Why the Phillies (21-20) may blow:

Oldest team batter age in the NL at 31.2, almost a full year older than the Dodgers (30.3). The Yankees (32.8) are the only older offense in baseball.

Second fewest walks drawn in the NL with 101 (the Pirates have drawn only 87; somehow the Padres are 1st with 152, led by Chase Headley’s 29, which is 29 more than Chase Utley has so far).

An exactly league average 93 OPS+. (The Pujols-less Cardinals lead the NL with a 122 OPS+, almost double Pujols’ 63 OPS+.)

Third oldest team pitcher age in the NL at 30.0 (somehow the Pirates and Mets are both older despite the potential to suck even worse).

Team ERA only 9th in the NL at 3.61 (the 2011 Phils led the league with a 3.02 ERA).

Tied for 5th in HR allowed with 43.

Why the Phillies may not blow:

Stolen base to caught stealing ratio of 34-6– even without Davey Lopes.

Third in the NL in batting average at .266 (though only 8th in OBP at .318 thanks to the poor walk ratio; 6th in SLG at .393, however).

Fewest walks allowed in the NL at 93, second most strikeouts at 349, best K/BB ratio at 3.49, third in WHIP with 1.191 (though only 7th in ERA+ at 107).

Also, the Phils defense has turned the 2nd most DP’s in the NL with 43 (St. Louis leads the league with 45), though when you allow more runners, you create more DP opportunities, so this is a mixed blessing.

As far as BABIP, neither the offense (.305) nor the pitching (.294) is too out of whack, though breaking down the offensive BABIPs, some Phils are due for a major regression:

Nix .394
Orr .385
Pierre .356
Ruiz .350
Mayberry .342
Wigginton .338

Unfortunately, some of these players (the top three names, for example) are borderline terrible, and because of timing (e.g. Juan Pierre is currently batting .327, meaning he may well be perceived as the .297 career hitter who helps a team rather than the .708 career OPS who hurts a team), will be given plenty of opportunity to hit their way back to normalcy. Somewhere a lucky full season translates into five years and $11M, a lucky half season could mean an extra 250-300 at bats, minimum. (Of course, an unlucky 280 at bats translates into something as well.)

The pitching BABIP breaks down as .289 for the starters and .299 for the relievers. Only Lee (.236 BABIP) is due for major regression; at the other extreme, Worley (.325) and Kyle Kendrick (.333 as a starter/.364 as a reliever) are due for improvement. Based on xFIP, Kyle Kendrick’s 5.96 ERA should actually be 4.88. On the other hand, that’s a $7.5M, two-year contract for a reliever with an ERA approaching 5. Kyle Kendrick is the Antichrist.

Statistics courtesy of baseball-reference.com and fangraphs.com.

2012 NHL Playoff Picks, Round Three

Posted in Canucks-related, Flyers-related on May 13, 2012 by wechslerh66

Phoenix/Los Angeles
One can only write so much about any of the four remaining NHL teams, so what’s left? Mike Smith’s hometown (Kingston, ON, also hometown of the Tragically Hip, where rumor has it they shot a movie once)? The fact that Smith’s .948, 1.77 so far in the playoffs is actually worse than opposing goalie Jonathan Quick’s .949, 1.55 (vs. the top-seeded Canucks and second-seeded Blues, rather than Chicago and Nashville)? I’m 0-2 picking against the Kings so far, and the fact that I’m rooting for Phoenix here and never was much of a Kings fan (post-Bernie Nicholls, anyway) shouldn’t matter, but one of these rounds the Kings will run on empty. On the other hand, the only teams to outscore LA’s 3 goals per game this playoffs are the Flyers and Penguins, two teams to whom the difference between Smith and Quick wouldn’t really matter that much. The Kings have the 15th ranked power play in the playoffs out of 16 total teams at 8.5% and are 14th in faceoff percentage (ahead of only the Rangers and Devils, oddly enough) at 48%, trailing the Coyotes’ 51.3%, though. LA’s scoring has been a bit more top-heavy (Brown/Kopitar/Richards) than Phoenix’s, too. Phoenix in seven.

NY Rangers/New Jersey
The two worst faceoff teams in the playoffs (47.6% and 46.3%). A team whose goalie’s .937, 1.68 (with a shutout) has translated into back-to-back seven game series, thanks to 2.07 goals per game. (Braden Holtby’s 2012 playoffs, for what it’s worth: 7-7, .935, 1.95.) Meaning the Rangers; the Devils are tied with LA at 3 goals per game and are also the top 5-on-5 team with a 1.85 scoring edge. On the other hand, the Devils faced Jose Theodore, Scott Clemmensen, and Ilya Bryzgalov rather than Craig Anderson and the aforementioned Holtby. I wouldn’t expect as many fireworks here– unless of course Eric Boulton, Cam Janssen, and John Scott (total GP as a Ranger: 6; since March 9th: zero) are in the lineup. I’m actually rooting for the Rangers because they may be the most offensively exciting team to watch left in the playoffs. Which is fucking brutal. Rangers in seven and cover your eyes.

Why Kyle Kendrick is the Antichrist, #105

Posted in 2012 Phillies on May 4, 2012 by wechslerh66

When ex-Phillie Kyle Abbott went 1-14, 5.13 (69 ERA+) in 133.1 IP in his NL debut in 1992, he struck out 5.9 per 9 innings.

Kyle Kendrick has never struck out more than 5.1 per 9 innings.

Other than this season. When he is 0-2, 6.59 (57 ERA+) in 13.2 IP so far.

After bombing in 1992, Kyle Abbott would pitch 28.1 relatively effective innings as a Phils reliever the following season (ERA+ of 111), whereby he departed as a free agent to the Angels and would only pitch 4 more innings in the majors.

After bombing in 2008 (11-9 but 5.49 (79 ERA+) in 155.2 IP with even worse peripherals than Abbott’s 1992), Kyle Kendrick would pitch 26.1 relatively effective innings as a Phils reliever the following season (ERA+ of 125), whereby he was given the opportunity to go 11-10, 4.73 (86 ERA+) in 180.2 innings the season after that; 8-6, 3.22 (120 ERA+) in 114.2 extremely lucky innings (BABIP of only .261) the season after that; and will now make $7.5M over the next two seasons.

Kyle Kendrick is Kyle Abbott plus one halfway decent rookie season in an unexpectedly successful pennant race that bought him endless opportunity to bomb for the rest of his Phils career.

Kyle Kendrick is the Antichrist.

Name That Closer

Posted in 2012 Phillies on May 2, 2012 by wechslerh66

Some small sample size fun:

Closer A: 0-0, 0.82 ERA, 9 SV/9 OPP, 11 IP, 6 H, 1 HR, 3 BB, 11 K, 0.82 WHIP, .162 vs.

Closer B: 0-0, 1.17 ERA, 6 SV/6 OPP, 7.2 IP, 3 H, 1 HR, BB, 5 K, 0.52 WHIP, .115 vs.

Closer A is the Phillies’ Jonathan Papelbon (2012 salary: $11,000,058), who has been brilliant for the 12-12 Phillies.

Closer B? Ex-Phil Brett Myers (2012 salary: $12,000,000), who has been equally brilliant in fewer opportunities for the 10-14 Astros.

So effectively, the Phillies have $999,942 worth of VOM (Value Over Myers).