Archive for October, 2009

Predicting the Unpredictable No-Hitter

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

A few years ago, Bill James designed a system to predict the likelihood of a particular pitcher throwing a no-hitter at some point, taking into account his career strikeout and double-play rates. In The Bill James Handbook 2009, we listed the ten pitchers most likely to achieve this rare feat during their career, led by Giants ace Tim Lincecum. Coming in at #8 on the list with a 12% chance at a no-no: Lincecum’s teammate, Jonathan Sanchez.

By late June, Sanchez had lost his spot in a strong Giants rotation. When Randy Johnson went down with an injury just a few days later, Sanchez was given another shot. On July 10, Sanchez took the mound with Sigfredo “Freddy” Sanchez in the stands, the first time the father had seen his son start a Major League game. Nine innings and 11 strikeouts later, Sanchez completed the no-hitter, allowing only Chase Headley to reach on an error in the eighth inning.

Of course, we can’t claim to predict every no-hitter, but we can give you a pretty good idea who might be next. From the “Career Targets” section of The Bill James Handbook 2010, due out November 1:

Most Likely No-Hitter
% chance to reach milestone
Tim Lincecum, Giants 25%
Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers 23%
Rich Harden, Free Agent 21%
Justin Verlander, Tigers 20%
Yovani Gallardo, Brewers 19%
Jon Lester, Red Sox 18%
Zack Greinke, Royals 17%
Jonathan Sanchez, Giants 15%
Jorge de la Rosa, Rockies 15%
Javier Vazquez, Braves 15%

Of course, Verlander, Lester and Sanchez have already etched their names in history, but our system doesn’t know that. The system gives strikeout-machine Lincecum a one-in-four shot at throwing a no-hitter before his career is over. Lincecum, Greinke and Harden may not be surprises on this list, but how about Yovani Gallardo and Jorge de la Rosa? You might laugh, but a year ago you probably had the same reaction when you saw Jonathan Sanchez’s name on the list.

Also in the Career Targets section of The Bill James Handbook 2010, you will find the most-updated odds that Alex Rodriguez breaks Barry Bonds’ career homerun record, Albert Pujols reaches 3,000 hits, and that Dustin Pedroia breaks Tris Speaker’s doubles record.

To pre-order The Bill James Handbook 2010, visit www.actasports.com.

“Used with permission from John Dewan’s Stat of the Week®, www.statoftheweek.com.

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You Don’t Think He’d…..Right?

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

Mark posted yesterday that the Cubs finalized the deal with Rudy Jamarillo to be their hitting coach. In the ESPN Chicago article on the signing, it mentioned “The 59-year-old Texas native coached both Alfonso Soriano and Milton Bradley during their time with the Rangers. Bradley had his best major league season in 2008 under Jaramillo’s tutelage when he lead the AL in OPS.” – (Source)

You don’t think Hendry would be dumb enough to think this signing might be the missing piece to making Bradley work in Chicago, do you?

Marc Silverman of ESPN 1000 went as far as to say that if Hendry makes that decision, he’s not going to any of the games this year.

Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, shame on you Jim Hendry!

Please tell me you’re not dumb enough to bring Milton back. Just say game over.

If it’s not, it will be over for me.

As a lifelong suffering Cubs fan who has enjoyed Wrigley Field hundreds of times starting with my first game in 1975 against the San Francisco Giants, I hereby announce that I will NOT attend a game in 2010 as long as Bradley is on this team. I will not pay for tickets, will not accept comps, will not sit on the rooftops, won’t give them my seven bucks for a beer — or many beers.

What difference will this make? Who knows? The only other boycott I’ve taken on was in 2006. Others joined me and seats were empty. Enough for the Tribune to notice. They dismissed the team’s president Andy McPhail and spent a ton of money. Division titles followed in ’07 and ’08.

I know the economy is bad now, Tom Ricketts, but it’s time to cash out of the Milton Bradley investment or you lose me.

Some may call me a bad fan, so be it.

Many others will follow me. If you’d like to be one of them, please join my Facebook group. (Source)

I don’t think we’ll see Bradley back in 2010, but I’m not 100% certain. There were rumors at one point that the Padres were possibly interested, but the GM at the time, Kevin Towers, is gone. There are rumors that the Padres are close to signing Jed Joyer as their new GM. Hoyer was an asst. GM in Boston, where they have said they value players who don’t make outs and play hard. Milton fits that bill. Perhaps Hoyer will want to take a chance.

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Cubs sign Jaramillo

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

Today the Cubs signed the best hitting instructor available to a three-year contract. I think this is a positive move because it shows that the club realizes a specific weakness and it is taking concrete steps to try to rectify things. At the same time I have to recognize that just changing management personnel won’t be a magic wand either. Soto, Fontenot, Theriot and Soriano had major drop-offs in production – each of these guys is going to have to step it up if they are to rebound in 2010. Soto looked heaver in 2009, much like he did in 2007 – if that is the case weight can be lost in the offseason. Hopefully Soto, Soriano and Ramirez will also rebound from nagging injuries that undoubtedly affected their performances in 2009 as well. There is also the question about what to do with Micah Hoffpaiur and I’d be willing to wager that a young player like Jake Fox could benefit from Jaramillo’s approach and experience as well.

It was interesting to note that no mention was mentioned of Milton Bradley in the article, Muskat simply said that Jaramillo had “worked with current Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano.” Although Carrie is not an official mouthpiece of the Cubs organization her lack of mention here was noticeable. My sense also would be that the hiring of Rudy would not indicate a willingness on the Cubs part to rehabilitate Bradley. Another off-season issue will be what to do with Derrek Lee; the Cubs first baseman had an outstanding year and is entering the final year of his Cubs contract. The same can be said for Ted Lilly.

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Would You Rather

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

I love listening to Waddle & Silvy on podcast from ESPN 1000. They play a game called would you rather in which people pose two options for the boys to choose from. Let’s give it a try with this one.

Would you rather see the Cubs win the World Series, but do so after moving to a new stadium OR never see a World Series win, but stay in Wrigley Field forever?

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Who is this masked man?

Monday, October 19th, 2009

Orton

I’m starting to wonder what the heck is going on – Cutler put up solid numbers in Denver last year and Orton was mediocre at best. Switch the guys around and the numbers reverse. One QB looks like an over-achiever, the other is a very talented guy who seems to make mistakes. So what gives? Normally I don’t like to blame coaching, unless it is totally incompetence like we saw with Johnny Baker. Take the Titans – they are the laughingstocks of the NFL but I’m not blaming Fisher as much as I am the team (which doesn’t seem to care too much) and a tight-fisted owner.

But in this instance I have to wonder if Ron Turner is way out of his league. And what the heck are the Bears doing staying with Orlando Pace at left tackle after four games? This guy is clearly nearing retirement age, he holds all the time and he gets confused by cadence.

The Bears are still in the hunt only two losses behind Brett Favre and the Vikings. So all is not lost, despite injuries in the linebacker corps this team still has a chance. We just need smarter and better production from the offense.

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Monday Morning Cup O’Joe

Monday, October 19th, 2009
  • Rudy Jamarillo on the radar screen (Source) – “Jaramillo, 59, spent 15 seasons as the Rangers’ hitting coach and earned a reputation as one of the best in the game. He left the Rangers this week because he wanted a multiyear contract.” I’m not a big believer in the hitting coach, but after the slump we saw last year, it can’t hurt, can it?
  • So Taguchi shown the door (Source) – I wondered why he was on the roster all year last year anyway, but this one simply becomes a move to make room on the 40 man roster heading into the off-season. Taguchi is 39, and my guess is that he’ll retire.
  • Jason Marquis leaving Colorado? (Source) – Tracy Ringolsby mentions that former Cub, Jason Marquis has it in his plan to sign with the NY Mets this off-season. My question is if you had the chance to sign him back, would you take him on the Cubs? I think I would. Every team he’s ever been on has been in the post-season. Think about that for a second. That’s insane.
  • Opening Day Lineup Quiz – I took this quiz and had a blast. I scored something like 123, which wasn’t bad, considering I generally don’t remember much about the current season, let alone the past seasons. Take the quiz and post your score.
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Schadenfreude

Sunday, October 18th, 2009

Schadenfreude: glee at another’s misfortune

I expected to be watching postseason baseball to enjoy the game I love being played the way it was meant to be played.

Instead, I find myself deriving pleasure from blown saves, fielding errors (double play ball tossed from third base into right field; double play relay thrown from second base into the first base dugout), and watching the shivering “Boys Of Summer” dressed to mush dog sleds at the Iditarod.

So far, the best played postseason game was the last game of the regular season.

I actually saw a beach ball being bounced around behind home plate at Dodger Stadium. Say what?

Baseball playoff games postponed due to “snow”?

Play by play and color guys babbling incoherently? What’s that saying about: ”Better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool,…”?

An entire weekend of Yankee Stadium games facing postponement due to rain/sleet/ winter weather?

Ball games going into the wee hours of the morning in the home time zone??

Pitchers whose curve balls won’t curve due to the weather?

Outfielders losing routine fly balls in the “lights/towels/hankies”?

Freezing fans huddled for warmth in the stands?

Empty seats at Chavez Ravine?

I was expecting the Cardinals to go to the World Series. Oops! They gone.

The eighth inning meltdown of the Phillies bullpen?

ARod coming to a rolling stop before attempting to “barrel” into the catcher at home plate? He didn’t look too athletic on that one!

Idiotic fans being told when to cheer: “Duh-Duh-Luh- Dut- Duh-Duh……CHARGE!!”

You couldn’t make this stuff up.

I shouldn’t be enjoying this, but I am.

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Cinderella Story

Saturday, October 17th, 2009

***CubbieDude Note: I realize that this book isn’t about the Cubs, or even about baseball, but since this is the offseason, and since the author, Bill Murray, is a Chicago area native and a humongous Cubs fan, I was hoping to get a free pass.***

The full title of this one is “Cinderella Story – My Life In Golf”. It’s written by Bill Murray with George Peper, and was published in 1999.

Bill, of course, is the local boy who figured big in the movie “Caddyshack”, playing groundskeeper Carl Spackler. That movie is based on his experiences as a caddy. As Bill says:

- “I caddied to make enough money to pay my tuition to Loyola Academy, a Jesuit high school. This was a tradition among the hardworking Murray boys – a tradition that did not include Andy and John, who were gifted and lazy and attended public school with the heathens. It was those two who kept caddying from becoming the family business.”

Caddyshack is a very funny movie, which I haven’t seen in years. I’ll have to watch it again, soon.

It turns out this book is largely about golf. And about the golfing in Bill’s life. Which should come as no surprise, given the book’s title.

**FULL DISCLOSURE** I am not now, nor have I ever been, a golfer. Or a caddy. Some guys in “the new neighborhood” (we moved while I was in 8th grade) caddied on a regular basis. Tried to get me interested. Didn’t work. But I can appreciate the comedic possibilities which Murray mines to great effect.

The book opens in The Lodge at Pebble Beach. I have been to Pebble Beach. And Spyglass. I’ve dined at The Inn At Spanish Bay. Heard the bagpipes. I’ve even camped on the fairway at Monterey Pines Golf Course. I’ve driven the Seventeen Mile Drive (“No Motorcycles Allowed”). Let me tell you, the Monterey Peninsula is spectacular. In many ways. But I’ve never golfed there. Never even thought of it. Does that make me a mutant? I prefer to think of it as “unique”. In any event I thoroughly enjoyed Bill Murray’s descriptions of that area.

Mr. Murray refers to our (his and my) home state of Illinois as “perhaps our nation’s greatest state”. That’s a good way to start off, regardless of how deeply his tongue might be planted in his cheek.

Then he riffs on the “actually” virus, which is, actually, very funny.

The author describes himself as: “a sore loser, but incredibly gracious in victory.”

He details the sensual assault that is breakfast at Paul Bunyan’s in Woodruff, Wisconsin, which I, too, have experienced.

Later, we spend time in Gilson Park and at the Bahai Temple in Wilmette, Illinois.

Here’s a quote from the book: “But once again, the French have an expression – better remorse than regret.”

Here’s another quote: “Life just becomes complicated, and in order to do some things well, like parenting or spousing, certain things have to fall by the wayside. For me it was hockey. No tears. No regrets. Hockey is out of my life now. Eliminating all televised sports is still on the docket.”

In my case, I had to let golf fall by the wayside. No regrets. Golf is out of my life. Fortunately, reading about golf, particularly humorous books like this one, is still on the docket.

I enjoyed reading “Cinderella Story – My Life In Golf”, and I recommend it very highly.

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GirlieView (10/16/2009)

Friday, October 16th, 2009

Pretty dry week for baseball. I suppose that will be the case now for the next month or two. So I’ll have to find another way to amuse myself, particularly while writing this column. So I’ve got a game for you.

You need to figure out the wording that goes with the numbers.
Example: 12 M in a Y (you have to figure out what the M stands for and what the Y stands for).
Answer: 12 months in a year

So here’s some for you. They are all sports related. More or less. Not all baseball related. You can google the answers but then please don’t post. I’ll update every now and then as people guess.

  • 100 Y to a T D
  • 18 H on a G C
  • 9 B P in the L U
  • 15 M in a F Q
  • 6 P on a P T (hint: “sports” related might be pushing it on this one)
  • 15 F from the F T L to the B
  • 25 P on the A R
  • 3 S Y O at the O B G

Good luck!

Lizzies

  • I took a whole lot of pleasure watching the Cardinals get booted in front of their home crowd.
  • Interesting to wonder how the NL Central rearranges if St. Louis loses the best manager and the best pitching coach in baseball today, and even moreso if the duo goes to a Central competitor.
  • Now we get on with showering as well as taking a look at news and notes I found.
  • Nonperformance will not be rewarded.

Lizard

  • I mean, he’s no Doc Raker, but he’s not too shabby…

Have a great weekend! :-)

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