Friday, December 25, 2009

Week 16 NFL Picks: Now from Seoul

I've been living in Seoul for the last two weeks, so I haven't been able to watch any games except for my Giants absolutely destroying the Redskins and looking like a playofff team again. Anyway here are my picks. I told someone I could go 12/16 this week, so hopefully there aren't too many upsets:

12/25: San Diego at Tennessee: SD is always good in December and beat the Titans the last time they faced each other.

12/27: Seattle at Green Bay: Seattle isn't doing anything against the GB defense. If they couldn't stop Josh Freeman, Aaron Rodgers will tear them apart.

Oakland at Cleveland: Terrible terrible matchup. Can't like either team. One of the at least four I will get wrong.

Cincinnati at KC. Bengals will roll. Larry Johnson won't touch the ball enough to get revenge on his own team but ~50yards from him wouldn't be surprising. Bengals win by two touchdowns to beat the spread.

At Atlanta v. Buffalo: This is a Buffalo team that has made it tight against the Patriots and an Atlanta team that hasn't done anything recently. Michael Turner won't be playing either. They don't the spread.

Houston at Miami: I can totally see everything happening in the Jets favor in order to set up:

Jets At Indianapolis: It doesn't matter if the Colts treat this like a preseason game; the Jets won't beat the spread.

Carolina at Giants: Giants will absolutely roll. Carolina isn't good at the big play (NY's biggest weakness) and they just lost their starting QB.

Tampa Bay at at New Orleans: Who dat will crush whoever they start.

Jacksonville at NEP: Jville beats the spread because they can win on the road.

Baltimore at Pittsburgh: Big Ben passes for either ~125 yards or ~350 yards. No doubt they beat the spread.

Denver at Philly: The Broncos are just broken right now. This loss won't hurt them too much in the WC race though.

STL at Arizona: A 14 point spread might be giving way too much credit to the Rams.

Detroit at SF49ers: I <3 Alex Smith. I'm not sure they beat the 13 point spread but it won't ever feel like a close game.

Dallas at Washington: It was SOOOOOOO close to an upset the last time these teams faced eachother. Also Dallas can't run the ball and the only thing the Skins can do is defend against the pass.


The MNF game will be Bears > Vikings. Forgot about that one.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Week 13 NFL Picks

My predicted winner in bold:

12/3: Jets at Buffalo: This isn't really even a home game for Buffalo, since they're playing at Toronto. TO will be covered by Darrell Reeves the whole game and shouldn't be expected to produce. It must be nice for CFL fans to not have to endure such a long football drought though.

12/6 Games:

Denver at KC: After watching what the Broncos did to my Giants, KC even putting up a fight is unforeseeable. Broncos easily beat the 4.5 point spread.

Pittsburgh at Oakland: There is one thing Oakland does well, and that's defend against the pass. The Steelers are 15th in the NFL in rushing YPG and overly dependent on the pass. Oakland sucks, but they will beat the overly generous 14.5 point spread.

Houston at Jacksonville: I have know what is going on with David Garrard. I drafted him as my backup QB in most leagues but he has just been playing like the football is coated in vaseline. Unless MJD goes absolutely nuts I don't see them doing much against Houston.

Indianapolis at Tennessee: No reason to believe the Colts unbeaten streak will end here.

Philadelphia at Atlanta: An Atlanta team without Michael Turner AND Matt Ryan isn't going to be doing too much against the Philadelphia D. Philly easily beats the spread.

New Orleans at Washington: Considering how badly the Redskins did during their streak of playing teams without a win, they probably won't fare much better against a team with 12 of them. In all fairness, the Redskins do have the top-rated pass defense in the NFL...too bad they can't do anything else. 45 minute game for Brees, Pierre Thomas, and the rest of the Saints' starters.

Tampa Bay at Carolina: It's amazing what rookie Josh Freeman has done so far. However, he's due for an implosion and I can see it coming against the Panthers, whose defense is ranked third in passing yards allowed, in a three-way tie for seventh in interceptions, and tied for 10th with elite defense like the Steelers and Ravens for passing TDs allowed. Furthermore, DeAngelo Williams always turns it on against the Bucs too, rushing for 152 yards against them in their first meeting, and in their two 2008 games he rushed for 213 yards while averaging 7.1 yards per carry.

St. Louis At Chicago: Jay Cutler has to have a good game at some point, right? Even if it's against the team with the 30th worst passing defense in the NFL it stills count. St. Louis will be his slumpbuster as the Bears beat the spread.

Detroit at Cincinnati: I won't be surprised if Cedric Benson and Larry Johnson get more yards than the entire Detroit offense combined.

San Diego at Cleveland: The only real question about this game is if the Chargers care about padding LT's stats enough to leave him on the field past halftime.

San Francisco at Seattle: Alex Smith is the real deal, coming off a career game, and going up against a banged up defense. 49ers roll.

Minnesota at Arizona. Warner will be sitting and Arizona doesn't play well at home.

Dallas at NY Giants: Do-or-die for the Giants and they know it. They'll find their rhythm as Jacobs rushes for 100+ yards, as he has done in two of the last three Cowboys-Giants meetings (and he rushed for 95 in the third).

New England at Miami: The Dolphins have been a big surprise and the Pats' defense has been pretty atrocious, which I guess justifies the 3.5 point spread and Belichick's hatred of his defensive unit. Regardless, I can't see Miami and their lack of a passing threat making this a close game.

12/7 MNF Game:

Baltimore at Green Bay: The Ravens don't play well on the road and Aaron Rodgers is a beast. A beast I tell you!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Number 27

That is all. I can't even express my thoughts coherently right now.

This blog is now devoted to my move to Korea.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Third Way

Two nights ago, AJ Burnett got absolutely lit up by the Phillies, giving up 6 runs in 2 innings. This was on three days rest, so it was treated as a big shock by the NY media. Of course, about 25% of Burnett's starts are really bad and you never really know what you are going to get. After all, last year he did go 3-0 with a 1.86 ERA on 3-days rest pitching in Toronto. There has been a lot of second guessing as to what Girardi should've done with the pitching rotation and it has centered around two choices:

1) Start Chad Gaudin in Game 5, who hadn't started in over a month and then have AJ and Pettite on full rest start Games 6 and 7 with CC coming out of the pen
2) Stick with the 3-man rotation

But there was a third option, that was of course never considered publicly: treat Game 5 like a spring training game. Why not take advantage of NY's extremely deep bullpen? Have a lineup that looks like:

Two innings of Gaudin...and then completely blowing Charlie Manuel's mind by going:
2IP: Joba
2IP: Robertson
2IP: Hughes
1IP: Rivera
(with doses of Marte and Coke sprinkled in as needed)

I would prefer not to start Gaudin, but Aceves instead. I would just start Gaudin so the trap could be sprung. Gaudin had no place starting against the Phillies anyway; he is absolutely killed by left-handed batting who hit 100 points of OPS higher against him than RHB. The Phillies left-handers would have destroyed him. If he couldn't handle left-handers in the caverns of Petco he definitely couldn't handle them in the bandbox of Philly.

Each of these relievers would be dealing HEAT and it would be a glory to watch.

This couldn't have been any more ineffective than Burnett and the bullpen would be rested due to the off-day in time for Game 6 if it were needed. But it's unfortunate that managers are to risk averse and would rather fail in old-fashioned ways than running the risk of failing in an original way and being crucified for it.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Runner up of the Year pt. 1

Who deserves to win MVP and Cy Young in both leagues is pretty clear-cut. There is absolutely no way Albert Pujols, Joe Mauer, Adam Wainwright and Zach Grienke won't win their respective awards. There shouldn't even be a debate. Well, Carpenter or Wainwright will win NL Cy Young but Carpenter probably won't because there has never been a non-closer who won while pitching fewer than 200 innings. So if he does he win color me surprised.

The real race will be who will come in second. Most interesting is AL MVP. A lot has been written about Jeter vs. Teixera and one of those two will finish second so I'm going to not try and make any arguments about their numbers, which are pretty easy to find, and Teixera posts pretty much the exact same line every year.

Teixera has been good this year. Mark Teixera good. He's posted Gold Glove caliber defense and has impressive range. But defense doesn't matter that much when you play first base. It's the easiest position to play and any position player can be converted to it. You don't even need a good arm. But what's Teixera's true value? Not very high. Something valuable is rare, but every team that was in the AL playoff race had a first baseman who posted similar numbers to Tex. He's competing with four other first basemen who posted lines of around .300/30HRs/100RBIs. Three other 1B had OPS over .900. They also all play for lesser offensive teams so their contributions were more unique. There really isn't anything to separate Teixera from Kendry Morales, Kevin Youklis, Miguel Cabrera, and Justin Morneau, aside from slightly better defense. But fielding at first base isn't that valuable. So first base MVP is a push, with a slight edge to any of them depending on how much you value defense, OBP, and slugging on a weak hitting team. Note to fantasy players: First base will always be really deep so don't waste a first-round pick on a player whose name doesn't rhyme with "Ballhurt Truholes"

How many AL shortstops who played for contending teams posted quality defense to go along with great offensive numbers? Exactly one - Jeter, and that's what makes him the second most valuable player in the American League in 2009.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"An American League Offense in the National League"

I forget who said that, but it seems to be a common theme in discussing the upcoming Phils-Yanks World Series. It also sounds pretty catchy. But it's by no means true.

The Phillies are, without a doubt, the hardest hitting team in the National League. They led the league in runs scored, homers, slugging, and isolated slugging. They're the only team with 4 players who've hit 30+ homers. In the NLCS they outscored the Dodgers 35 to 16, averaging 7 runs per game. ESPN analyst John Kruk, argued on air that the Yankees just won't be able to handle the Phillies "offensive onslaught" and would lose in 6. But are they really an American League caliber offense? Not really. When you consider that the Yankees beat two better hitting teams to get to the Fall Classic the argument that falls apart. The Phillies' knocking the Dodgers out of the park had as much to do with Torre's horrible starting pitcher selection as it did the Phillies' offensive capabilities. I wouldn't even call the Phils an AL East quality offense.

In OPS, the Phillies are fifth in the majors, behind the Yankees, Red Sox, Angels, and Rockies. In runs scored they're fourth, behind the Yankees, Angels, and Sox. And they only scored three more runs than the Twins. And for all the power the Phillies lineup has, the Yankees hit 20 more homers and are, I believe, the only team in history with seven players with 20+ home runs. I won't deny their a great hitting team, but in the AL they'd be nothing special.

The Phillies run total is drastically inflated by the fact that they got to face the Nationals (5.02 team ERA) and the Mets (4.46 team ERA) and feast on their terrible pitching 18 times each. Against the Nats, the worst throwing team in MLB, they scored 116 of their 820 runs, almost 1/7th of their total runs even though they only played 1/9th of their games against them. The Phillies team OPS was .880 against the Nats, 100 points higher than their regular season average.

The most damning proof of this is looking at the third-order runs scored from Baseball Prospectus adjusted standings. These take into account the quality of opponents' pitching. The Yankees led the majors in adjusted equivalent runs, with 948. The Phillies scored 791 adjusted equivalent runs, which is good for second in the NL after the Rockies. But it would be good for 5th in the AL East, behind the Yanks, Rays, Sox, and Jays(!). It's 14 runs fewer than the Twins, and 87 runs fewer than the Angels. If they were in the AL, the Phillies would be tied for 8th with the Rangers in adjusted equivalent runs. That puts them...right in the middle of the road in terms of offensive power.

The Phillies have a strong offense, but there's no denying that the Yankees are stronger. It's time for analysts to stop pretending they're a more slugging team than the Yanks.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

An IPhone app would have done a better job than Girardi last night

I speak of course of this awesome app

Girardi made so many dumb decisions in game three it was mind boggling. He'd consort his magic binder, which I can only assume is the MLB equivalent of "Ask Madden", and then proceed to help the Angels win the game. The defensive replacement of Damon for Hairston makes little sense. Hairston posted an ultimate zone rating of 0.4 in 2009. Damon posted an -11.2 UZR. That isn't a huge defensive upgrade and certainly not one worth sacrificing the designated hitter for.

This decision led to another bad decision. Mariano was due up in the top of 10th with two outs. So Girardi pinch-hit for him. Why he would do this boggles my mind. There is almost no chance of scoring a run in this situation. The pinch-hitter promptly grounded out. Rather than letting Rivera hit (and maybe hitting a home run, who knows), he had to be taken out of the game after having only pitched an inning.

The Yankees bullpen were settling into a rhythm. David Robertson had recorded two quick and easy outs. But then Girardi looks into his files and decides to pull Robertson and go with Aceves for whatever reason. Aceves promptly comes in and gives up a single and a walk-off double. At least he could have let Robertson try and finish the inning. The bullpen was pretty much empty by that point.

At least Nick Swisher didn't lay down any bunts.