Archive for February, 2013

On Betancourts and Kings

Posted in non-de Jesus related on February 28, 2013 by wechslerh66

ESPN guru Bill Simmons describes the Rockets-Kings NBA trade deadline deal (Thomas Robinson and Francisco Garcia’s expiring contract for Patrick Patterson, Toney Douglas and Cole Aldrich) as an embarrassment for Sacramento in a recent Grantland exchange:

A lottery team giving up Robinson … I mean … it’s unconscionable…My buddy House and I always called these types of trades “pu pu platter” trades. You know when you order Chinese food in college and it seems like a great idea to order a giant pu pu platter for the table because you get so many things with it? Then the big pu pu platter arrives and it always sucks? You have lukewarm spareribs and overcooked chicken wings and soggy egg rolls? And you wish you had just spent that money on their best entrée? That’s what this trade was. Houston dealt lukewarm spareribs, overcooked chicken wings and soggy egg rolls for a piping-hot dish of kung pao chicken…[Houston GM Daryl Morey probably told his staff,] ‘If we get the fifth pick in last year’s draft for a bunch of crap, this will be the greatest moment of my career, and possibly my life.’

I’m hardly an NBA expert– the only name I’d heard of before this trade was actually Daryl Morey–but I doubt any of Patterson, Douglas, or Aldrich is totally worthless as a player. Even the quintessentially worthless baseball player, Yuniesky Betancourt (now a Phillie!), known for lousy offense, brutal defense, and being an occasional clubhouse malcontent, once hit .289/.308/.418 with a bWAR of 1.7. (Ah, 2007, we hardly knew ye.) And Betancourt’s career negative bWAR of -2.6 doesn’t mean you or I would be an improvement– unless you happen to be a quality AAA player waiting in the wings for potential recall by an MLB organization in the toughest pro league in the world; I’m not.

But we’re missing an even more important concern: Patterson, Douglas, and Aldrich– however Betancourtian they may be– aren’t warmed-over food or shit. Patrick Patterson was a Cub Scout, completed a Communications degree from Kentucky in three years, and has almost 136,000 Twitter followers. Toney Douglas‘s brother plays for the Atlanta Falcons but Toney chose basketball because, among other reasons, “I don’t like the sun like that.” Cole Aldrich was born on Halloween.

Patterson, Douglas, and Aldrich are people. They have mothers and fathers and brothers and lovers and supporters and detractors and probably even stalkers. They may make millions of dollars more than most of us ever will, but that doesn’t mean they deserve to be treated like leftovers when they fail. And if they didn’t make millions of dollars more than most of us ever will, that also wouldn’t mean they deserve to be treated like leftovers when they fail.

Please note that this isn’t an anti-stats rant. Smug arrogance isn’t exclusive to or even typical of sabermetric types or statheads; Bill Simmons isn’t a stats guy (unless you count the Reggie Cleveland All-Stars); and as Sam Miller recently wrote in ESPN: The Magazine about Wins Above Replacement (WAR), statistics can “tell a new story” and enhance rather than detract from a dimensional narrative. Nor is it an argument that the Rockets made a bad trade, or the Kings a good one, or even a non-horrible one. I have no idea, but I’ll take Bill Simmons’ word for it that they didn’t. What I won’t do is compare the Kings’ return to excrement if they didn’t.


Random NHL Notes, 2/22/2013

Posted in Canucks-related on February 22, 2013 by wechslerh66



















My team-by-team overview of the NHL season so far, beginning with seven teams of varying degrees of success (in no order):

Phoenix Coyotes
I was expecting the dropoff from Mike Smith—his SV% was .930 last season, this season it’s .907, meaning nothing other than the Plexiglass Principle—and 107 points of Ray Whitney and Daymond Langkow are gone (though Zbynek Michalek is back), but the Coyotes are still 7th in a tough West playing only Western competition this season. Dave Tippett is a perpetual Adams candidate, or should be.

Vancouver Canucks
I wasn’t expecting them to be this good either—probably because I thought Luongo would be traded, and/or Schneider would slump, or some younger, faster Western team would pass them (the Avs, maybe? the Wild?)—but a long layoff and a 48-game season should help the 4th oldest team in the NHL, who also has the best coach and best GM, in my opinion. Also the only team in the Northwest with a positive goal differential (behind only Chicago and the Ducks in the West).

Washington Capitals
The Filip Forsberg era has begun.

New York Rangers
My preseason pick from the East and despite Pittsburgh playing lights out so far, still within range (tied for the 8th spot, though tied for 7th in overall points with the two Southeast leaders) over the long term. Lundqvist has regressed a bit from the past season or two but is hardly a concern. I’m not sure what’s missing; the Rangers are the 10th oldest team in the NHL but talent trumps age on a seasonal basis. I doubt they’ll miss the playoffs but the Rangers could win the Cup, lose the Cup final, or lose to any of seven other teams in the first round and it wouldn’t surprise me.

Los Angeles Kings
Last in the NHL in PDO as of last weekend, the Kings are obviously better than their record and should make the playoffs (goodbye, Dallas). Despite Quick’s Conn Smythe trophy, I would actually like their 2013 playoff chances better with Bernier, and not because of Bernier’s small 2013 sample size as much as Quick’s large pre-2012 sample size, but I doubt that will happen. The odds are against a repeat, in general and therefore for the Kings specifically.

New Jersey Devils
Top 10 Skaters, Time On Ice Per Game
1. Ryan Suter, MIN D 27:24
2. Jack Johnson CBJ D 27:20
3. Erik Karlsson OTT D 27:03
4. Drew Doughty LAK D 26:59
5. Dion Phaneuf TOR D 26:39
6. Mike Green WSH D 26:33
7. Shea Weber NSH D 26:17
8. Alex Pietrangelo STL D 25:56
9. Ilya Kovalchuk NJD RW 25:52
t10. Brian Campbell FLA D 25:41
t10. Dustin Byfuglien WPG D 25:41

The next forward on the list is Steven Stamkos, who is tied for 67th with Marc-Edouard Vlasic of the Sharks at 21:51. We forget how good Ilya Kovalchuk is.

St. Louis
My preseason pick from the West and for the Stanley Cup and as with my Rangers pick, I’m not wrong yet. The Blues are currently 9-6-2 and +2 in goal differential, but only Calgary and Columbus have given up more goals in the West and the Blues’ 4th-worst PDO is as much because of SV% as team shooting %. Goaltending tends to be overrated (e.g. Antti Niemi won a Stanley Cup; Michael Leighton was two wins away), but this team desperately needs a healthy Jaroslav Halak. Taking out last season, the difference between Halak and Elliott is the difference between Michael Leighton 2010 and Michael Leighton now.