Friday, January 30, 2009

Brewers Sign Stetter as LOOGY

According to TH, Mitch Stetter is likely to be the go to lefty out of the pen after he signed a minor league deal yesterday.

I don't mind Stetter.  He was an effective reliever last year in his 30 appearances.  I do, however, question the logic of using him as a LOOGY considering he has performed better against rhb than lhb over his (very short) career.

Does anyone know if he had more pronounced splits in the minors, or if there is a database out there that provides minor league splits?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Undercover Economist on NFL Overtime

Tim Harford proposes an auction:

An even more elegant solution to the overtime problem was proposed in 2002 by Chris Quanbeck, an electrical engineer (and Green Bay Packers fan). Quanbeck's idea was to auction off possession of the ball in the natural currency of the game: field position. The team that was willing to begin closest to its own goal line would receive the privilege of possession.

Football's number crunchers reckon that this "privilege" turns dubious about 15 to 20 yards away from your own goal line. That is, the expected value of having the ball so far back is negative—it's more likely that your opponent will score before you do. But it's not clear that the same would be true in overtime, when teams would be attempting to get within field-goal range rather than trying for touchdowns. If this system were implemented, it might take a couple of seasons for a consensus to develop about how far back is too far back. Still, everyone would be trying to work that out from a position of equal ignorance.

I like it. He also mentions MDS's pizza-splitting solution, but claims the auction is fairer still, as the "splitting" solution still conveys an advantage to the team that picks second. In an auction, the decision is simultaneous, and no team has an advantage.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Badgers Backed Into A Corner

The Badgers dropped a nailbiter at home to Purdue, and in doing so stretched their losing streak to 5 games, and unprecedented number under Bo Ryan.

The biggest problem with this Badger squad is that no one can create their own shot. Hughes is too content to hoist up bad shots, Landry can be stopped by bigger forwards, and none of the younger guys (with the possible exception of Jordan Taylor) are very athletic. Last night you saw the Badgers put the clamps on Purdue for a good 5 minute stretch near the end of the second half, but they were unable to capitalize offensively, as they settled for several contested lay-up attempts off of the dribble. Keaton Nakivil was a bright spot, especially from behind the arc, but ultimately, Purdue was able to create open looks for their long-range shooters and Robbie Hubble buried the dagger.

The Badgers simply aren’t very that good this year. They still play fundamentally sound basketball (most of the time; there were some serious lapses yesterday), it’s just that they don’t have an Alando Tucker or Brian Butch to fall back on when things aren’t working.

That said, the Badgers have an easier stretch coming up. The best thing that they have going for them is that they don’t have to play at Michigan State or Minnesota until the very end of the season, and if they can regroup, they might be able to put up a few wins before then. If MSU and Minn were scheduled for this weekend and nest week, the losing streak would likely reach at least 7 and we could all kiss the NCAA tournament goodbye. As it is, they play at Northwestern, come home for Illinois, and then travel to face an improved Penn State over their next three games. That is followed by a home stand against Iowa and Ohio State.

I think the NCAA tournament looks like a longshot at this point, but it’s not over yet. While there are no good 5-game losing streaks, two of those losses were to a Purdue team that just seems to have their number, 4 were against ranked teams, (Purdue twice, Illinois, and Minnesota), and the other was a narrow loss at Iowa. You schedule matters a lot, and Bucky should show some improvement over the next 5 games just based on schedule.

Still, they could have used last night’s game. They lack a signature win, in my opinion, and if they make their way onto the NCAA tournament bubble, the lack of a big win is likely to keep them out.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Marquette v. Notre Dame

There is an excellent college basketball game this evening between the Golden Eagles and Fighting Irish. Marquette has yet to lose a game in the brutal Big East and has managed to climb in the polls all the way to 8th. Notre Dame has been reeling a bit lately, having lost 3 straight games (all to ranked opponents). They've also typically struggled against Marquette, having lost 8 of their last 11.

That said, Notre Dame is very tough at home, and this should be a compelling matchup between Marquette's excellent trio of guards (Matthews, McNeal, James), and Notre Dame's inside presence, led by reigning Big East player of the year, Luke Harangody.

Marquette's biggest weakness is on the inside. Their best "big" is the 6-foot-6 Lazar Hayward, and Marquette typically struggles with talented big men like Harangody, but this season their guards have been up to the task, making up for their inside deficiencies with excellent shooting from beyond the arc.

Marquette and Notre Dame used to be huge rivals, and one of the best things about the enormous Big East is that this rivalry may flourish again.

Plus nobody likes Notre Dame.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Weekend Odd Sports

1. Curling is fun. It's also much harder than it looks. Walking on ice is quite tiring, especially while sweeping the entire time. Throwing the rock requires a great deal of flexibility.

I would highly recommend giving it a shot sometime.

2. Fedor Emelianenko is a bad, bad man.

Redd Is Done

And unfortunately, the Bucks are probably done too.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Counsel is a Brewer again.

According to Tom H.

The deal is for a million bucks. I'm not sure what other options are available, unless we could get Cirillo out of the booth.

a peek through pecota...

hi everybody. honored to be making my first post at brewedsports. as you may or may not know-- i'm a baseball supernerd. so much so, that in the offseason, while waiting breathlessly for the new pecota projections to arrive, i like to look through last year's pecotas and the subsequent year's performance and predict what each player's new pecota projections will be.

i've developed a system of sorts, that works pretty well, where i take the percentile hit this year, regress it to the mean to some degree, take that percentile, and move it forward one year on the player's card. this is not perfect or even rigorous, and it's subjective. however, it's fairly accurate usually.

i've been getting asked a lot in the comments why i'm more optimistic about the brewers than most. while the following set of numbers might not totally explain why, it is the foundation of my optimism (i'll explain further in a later post, if i'm not booted off the blog by then):

rickie weeks 257/360/445
mike cameron 258/333/478
ryan braun 302/366/577
prince fielder 281/373/540
corey hart 273/342/495
jj hardy 277/335/457*
hall/lamb(avg) 249/320/416
jason kendall 244/316/316*

now, that's a pretty damn good lineup. it looks worth 780 runs to me. sure, the shape of some these lines will change-- braun and hart walk less than we expected while hardy has more power than we expected, for instance. but for a "back-of-envelope" calc, i like what i see here. especially given that potential in-house solutions exist for the 7 and 8 hole in the lineup.

* it's interesting to note that only jj hardy and jason kendall outperformed their pecota weighted mean last year.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Fielder Deal

Tom H. is reporting that the Brewers and Prince Fielder have reached a 2-year deal. He thinks it'll be worth around $18 Million and that it'll be reported after Fielder's physical, which is happening today.

I heard it from a friend who heard it from a friend that it's 2 years for $15 Million, not $18 Million. We'll see who's right.

Beautiful Basketball

With Bogut on the sidelines, a recent drop out of a playoff spot, and on the verge of falling away of spitting distance of the .500 mark, the Bucks' match-up with the Dallas Mavericks was important. They won. And frankly, it wasn't very close. The new-this-season defense has been faltering a bit over the last couple games, but I guess defense doesn't matter as much when Redd and Charlie V are hot at the same time. Charlie V led the way with 32 points and Redd added 27, including five 3-pointers in the Bucks 133-99 route of the Mavericks. And it certainly wasn't a 2-man show. Ramon Sessions also added 23 off of the bench, Richard Jefferson was probably only a few minutes of playing time away from a triple-double (15/7/8), as a team they out-rebounded Dallas 46 to 33 without Bogut and were 13 for 26 from the 3-point line. It was like they couldn't miss, well, except Francisco Elson's third-quarter buzzer shot from half court. It may have been the most complete game I've seen the Bucks play in my life, and it looked good.

The only bad part was the 10-year-old kid sitting behind me yelling "you suck" about 25 times per quarter. Man was he annoying. That was almost a swear word when I was his age. I'm not sure who he was talking too.

The Bucks are now 21-24 and back to 8th in the conference. They head to Atlanta (25-16) on Friday, followed by Sacramento (10-33) and Minnesota (13-27) at home on Saturday and Monday.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


You've got to be kidding. You know how Joe Morgan sucks and how, therefore, the announcing on Sunday Night Baseball sucks? You probably think it could not possibly get worse.

Well, you were wrong.

Do you like three-man booths? No? Me neither. Guys stepping all over each other, talking all the time, chemistry problems, etc. Now imagine that the third man is Steve Phillips.

Ken, this is what happens when you aren't around.

Baseball Prospectus 2009 Less Than One Month Away

From BP, of course:

BP 2009 is already rolling off the presses as we speak, and will be arriving in stores and at your favorite on-line vendor just after Valentine’s Day. As in previous years, the BP gang will soon after be hitting the road to talk up the new baseball season, sign books, and perform amazing feats of prediction (in some cases while dodging traffic). Watch BP Unfiltered and our Events page for more information in the coming days. On behalf of my co-editor, Christina Kahrl, the assembled BP authors, and myself, I thank you for your continued patronage of our book, very much hope that you enjoy the results of our labors, and look forward to meeting you and talking baseball at a bookstore near you.

I know I'm a bit of a shill for BP, but the day that I get my Baseball Prospectus is seriously one of my favorite days of the year. If you haven't picked one up in the past, give it a shot.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Does Weeks Deserve To Triple (or even double) His Salary?

You ask me?  Blow it out your ass, Weeks. 

Weeks, who made $1.056 million last season., requested a $2.8 million
salary. The Brewers submitted an offer for $2 million. Weeks is
arbitration eligible for the second time.

Weeks was worse in every single offensive category, some significantly so, and (according the fangraphs value metric) was four times worse a defender than he was in 2007. 

I want to hear the rationale behind this nonsensical arb number, and I want the Brewers to be done with Rickie (who in reality isn't that bad, I just find his who-gives-a-shit attitude annoying and frustrating).

Paul’s Ten Biggest Brewer Fears

10. Prince Fielder’s increased platoon split

Year - RHP _ LHP (OPS)
2006 - .835, .819
2007 – 1.100, .834
2008 - .955, .733

When Prince came into the league he hit lefties and righties reasonably well. In 2007 he (in my opinion) began to pull the ball more frequently, and to great effect, however, the league adjusted and while Prince still pounds righties something fierce, lefties are having an increasingly easy time with the hefty lefty. Having a platoon split is fine. Most players have them. The problem with the Brewers is that they are very right handed, and if Prince stays this way or gets worse, it will make him very easy to manage in high leverage situations. He didn’t even take his walks last year against lefties, putting up a terrible .313 OBP. Yuck.

You can count me amongst those who would like to see Fielder traded. His offense isn’t that great for a first baseman, and his defense gives a lot of his value back. He should be traded while something can be had for him.

9. Corey Hart’s Swing

Say Mr. Hart, why the long swing?

One thing I’m always on the lookout for is luck v. adjustments. Sometimes a slump or a hot streak is due to luck, but in Corey’s case, I think it may be more than that. Corey’s always had a long swing that makes him prone to striking out. The problem last year was that pitchers would set him up with a fastball, and then pound him low. Corey couldn’t (and couldn’t afford to) lay off those low pitches. If he is to get back to being a productive player, he has to develop more of a take and rake mentality, and let those low pitches go by.

8. CC and Sheeter will hurt more than you think

Why? Because in games pitched by Sheets and CC, the bullpen often did not see much, if any action. Granted the bullpen will probably be better this year, but you’re also likely to see more of it. Gallardo will probably be treated with kid gloves, at least early on (and especially if he plays in the WBC, as expected), and Parra is still young enough to warrant a pitch count. We are used to getting big doses of the bullpen in Jeff Suppan and Dave Bush starts, but now this may be a common occurrence.

7. Who is number 5?

Is it McClung? If not, who else, and if so, who is going to pitch the second half of his games?

6. Depth

So long, Gabe Kapler. By Russ, King of the Three True Outcomes. Hello Mike Lamb. Hi there, Tony “Not Tony Gwynn, Sr.” Gwynn, Jr.

5. Our Wart Covered Prospects.

Angel Salome has a weird body type that scouts can’t figure out. If he can’t catch adequately there is no place for him. Mat Gamel has been Braun-like at third and his value goes wayyyy down at first. Jeremy Jeffress digs the weed. Brad Nelson is actually a beaver. There are no sure things down there.

4. Bill Hall/Mike Lamb

Bill Hall and Russell Branyan. Yeah, OK. Bill Hall and Mike Lamb? I guess it’s better than just Bill Hall.

3. Who is on second?

Do we continue the Rickie Weeks experiment? Can he finally get his head out of his ass?

2. Who is catching?

This is a bigger problem than just the catcher. In general, you have a dead out in the 9 spot. When Kendall catches, they basically have a dead out in the 8 spot as well. With 2 dead outs in the lineup you can’t give too much more away, which is why it’s crucial that Hart starts watching those low pitches, and Rickie plays at least average, and either Bill Hall or Mike Lamb takes advantage of this platoon, and Prince Fielder doesn’t try to pull lefties. The offense wasn’t that good last year. They can’t give too much more away. And remember, without Branyan last year, they do not make the playoffs.

1. What if disaster strikes?

The single worst part of Doug Melvin’s lack of spending this offseason is what it may mean as the season moves along. Think about this. Reed Johnson takes out Yovanni Gallardo’s leg last year, and the Brewers manage to go out and get CC Sabathia, an adequate replacement if ever there was one. What happens if there is a major injury this year? What if Ryan Braun gets hurt? You will not see Adam Dunn brought in, because the budget is too tight. You won’t see a pitcher brought in either, in all likelihood.

Last year this team dealt with bad luck by using their financial resources. This year they have to rely on good luck. That’s a tall order, because injuries are the norm in professional sports, not the exception.

For all of these reasons, I am not optimistic. I do not think they will me an unmitigated disaster, but for now it’s hard for me to imagine this team being substantially over .500.

Meet your 2009 Brewers?

It seems as though Melvin is done making any substantial moves for the time being. With Hardy resigned, Fielder not on the trading block, and not looking for starting pitching, it looks like this is the team. I really would have liked to see some additional starting pitching, some outfield depth, or another infielder as those all seem to be places where the team could still improve.

Monday, January 19, 2009

It's Capers

In case you haven't heard, the Green Bay Packers have hired Dom Capers as their new defensive coordinator. I think it's a very solid hire.

MU comes back to beat Providence

Over the weekend, Marquette traveled to the Dunkin' Doughnuts Center to take on the Friars of Providence. Providence has been a tough team this year with their only loss in conference being at Georgetown in a game where Providence gave GU all that they could handle. Providence has a very fast team and experienced leadership in guard Sharaud Curry, and a new coach in Keno Davis, who came in this year after leading a surprizing Drake team a year ago.

Providence was quick out of the gate, and Marquette was down 13 in the Second half. Interestingly, it may have been this guy (highlight begins around :50) who keyed Marquette's comeback over the last 15 minutes to eventually win by 9.

Seriously, what was he doing? and isn't there any security to restrict people from entering the court during a game?

Anyways, Marquette is off to their best start in conference play since joining the big east, and have a lackluster DePaul team coming into the Bradley Center this weekend. But after that the honeymoon is over with eight of MU's final twelve games against ranked opponents.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Some day I hope to make the playoffs so that I can commit pass interference too.

I like the NFL, but I hate how calling penalties changes in the playoffs because refs do not want to make game-deciding calls at big moments. The alternative, of course, is that they allow cheating in big moments. Poor Eagles.

Friday, January 16, 2009

What About Rich Hill?

It is very likely that Rich Hill will not be a Cub when the season starts, and since the Brewers need a starter and don't want to spend any money on one, how would you feel about a flier on Hill? Once upon a time great things were expected of Hill, but he seems to have had a bit of a complete mental breakdown. I'm for it for a few reasons:

1. He'd be cheap.

2. He's old for a prospect, but not that old for a pitcher at 28.

3. His stuff is good.

4. He's been relatively healthy.

5. The Cubs suck at developing players, and there's a shot that we could actually fix him.

6. He still a has high ceiling.

7. It would be funny if he turned out to be good and dominated the Cubs, and entertainment value counts for something.

8. His most recent PECOTA projection (which is admittedly before last seasons complete disaster) had him putting up a WARP of 3.4, 1.26 WHIP, and a 4.06 ERA. Not bad.

9. While were on the subject, how do you feel about Felix Pie? I'm not a fan, but he will turn 24 this season and may still develop.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Would you want Michael Young?

Assume that the Brewers could get Young (to start at 2B) for players who are of lesser importance than a starting second basemen. I have no idea what it would take to get him, he is unhappy with the position change but Daniels is claiming they have no interest in moving him. Here is my fantastical scenario:

Michael Young for Hall. Move Hardy to third. Bring up Escobar at SS.

That gives the Rangers a third basemen, gets rid of a clubhouse cancer and gives the Brewers an All Star second basemen with a career .350 OBP. The salaries I believe are close enough that the Brewers could pick up the difference without getting killed, and there is an existing relationship between Texas and Milwaukee.

By no means do I ever expect it to happen, but there is nothing going on in Milwaukee sports right now, and I am chomping at the bit for the Brewers to get better. Sadly, I don't think Melvin is feeling the same.


UPDATE: Chris doesn't want Ben Sheets. Since it looks like the market is undervaluing him, I think this is a foolish position. So does, which puts Sheets on par with Derek Lowe:

Even with those injury concerns, Sheets is a valuable asset. Sheets’ streak of 200+ inning seasons ended in 2005. Yet despite reduced innings Sheets has posted win values of 3.5, 4.2, 2.5, and 3.9. That’s an average of 3.5. Coincidentally 2005 was also Derek Lowe’s first season with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and in the same time span, Lowe has averaged 3.48 wins. It’s worth noting that Lowe also pitched in 244 more innings...

This suggests that while Sheets will not match Lowe in quantity, he will match him in quality. It also reinforces the idea that having an above average often-injured pitcher can be beneficial.

Sheets 148 IP 3.84 FIP
Lowe 171 IP 3.71 FIP

Sheets 173 IP 3.61 FIP
Lowe 185 IP 3.67 FIP

Yeah, I'll take that, especially on this worthless staff the Brewers would be trotting out there today.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Myth Of The Rational Voter, Part 2

When you vote in an election, the odds that your vote will swing that election are extremely small, especially in federal races. While it would be nice if people would do a little research before voting, most will not, and because their votes probably won’t count, that is rational.

The BBWAA is charged with electing people into the Hall of Fame. There are roughly 539 members (if anyone has an exact number, please supply), and you need 75% of the vote to get in. This gives an individual vote more significance, and the consequences of a vote are immediate, and apparent. Moreover, the job of a baseball writer is presumably to write about baseball, and these people should therefore be accustomed to researching baseball.

That is why it is infuriating that many members of the BBWAA do not take this responsibility seriously. Look, this frankly isn’t that important. It’s not like anyone is going to starve due to not being into the Hall of Fame (or alternatively, that Jim Rice will use his hall membership for nefarious purposes), but being in the Hall of Fame has real world consequences. It is financially rewarding. It is a great matter of pride for the honoree. It keeps a player alive in our minds.

If you have a vote, it is not good enough to “never forget Donny Baseball.” I too will never forget Donny Baseball and his mediocre hitting outside of a brief three year window (where he was very good). That should not get him a hall of fame vote. Jim Rice being “feared” should not get him in. The fact that we now think of Jim Rice as “feared” just means that his contemporaries were sissies, or that his PR machine has done a very good job. It’s meaningless. I mean, if Jim Rice was “feared” surely Barry Bonds was what, terrifying? Albert Belle. Now that guy was feared.

The fact is that most professional baseball writers are completely unprofessional in their voting. The bastion of objectivity that is journalism is, at least in this instance, ruled by gut feeling, emotion, the smell of the grass, and all of the other stuff that just makes you want to puke on Kevin Costner. If you voted for Don Mattingly, you should lose your vote. If you voted for Jay Bell, you should lose your vote and probably your job. If you voted for Jesse Orosco, your last name better be “Orosco.” And if you didn’t vote for Rickey Henderson, then you should lose your vote, your job, and you should never be allowed to watch baseball again as you obviously don’t pay attention.

Two more things. First, here’s ESPN’s Rob Neyer, they’re best baseball analyst on not being a BBWAA member:

“I don't know exactly what went down and probably never will. According to BBWAA president Bob Dutton, my membership was rejected because I don't go to the ballpark often enough (not that anybody really knows how often I'm at ballpark). I believe -- based on some scraps of information I've got -- that was merely a convenient pretext for blackballing me, and today I would be a member if I'd been a bit more circumspect with my opinions over the years.”

And here’s the BBWAA’s pathetic website, which was clearly designed by Strong Bad.

Joe Morgan: Hypocrite

Joe Morgan, from a Joechat, as captured by FJM:

Kevin (Boston): Schilling a hall of famer, Joe?

Joe Morgan: I do not like talking about it since I am invovled with the Hall of Fame...

Garry Howard, as captured in this post by ESK:

Give all the credit to HOF Joe Morgan for this Rice vote, since Morgan single-handedly talked me into it. Morgan noted that Rice's peers felt he was one of the best hitters during a pitchers era and he was also an eight-time all-star with a career .298 average over 16 seasons.

Garry D Howard's Reasoning is as bad as his ballot

I don't know why I'm finding this years Hall of Fame results so hilarious. I should probably just follow Matthew Carruth's lead and say "who cares, place is a joke." However, I could not pass this up. The Journal lays out how their writers voted. Each writer also gives their rationale. Dubious is a compliment, especially for Garry D. Howard, who clearly does not take his vote seriously at all. A ballot, with reasoning like this, should get a man banned from the BBWA:


Andre Dawson, Rickey Henderson, Don Mattingly, Mark McGwire, Jim Rice

Comment: Henderson made me smile every time he played; McGwire should be in the HOF, but he's facing a writers' backlash. Give all the credit to HOF Joe Morgan for this Rice vote, since Morgan single-handedly talked me into it. Morgan noted that Rice's peers felt he was one of the best hitters during a pitchers era and he was also an eight-time all-star with a career .298 average over 16 seasons. And since the main thing against the man for this Bronxite was that he played for the Boston Red Sox, I got over it. Still love Donnie Baseball.

Not a single reason is actually related to baseball, other than quoting stats that show Jim Rice to be incredibly average.

Pathetically ignorant fool submits terrible ballot for Hall of Fame. News at 11.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Pedro Gomez is a God Damned Idiot

According to Pedro Gomez Jay Bell is a first ballot Hall of Famer.

First ballot.  Are you God damned serious?

He didn't even vote for Bert Blyleven, didn't vote for Tim Raines...but he votes Jay Bell as a first ballot?

The world was a better place when Pedro has his nose buried in Bonds' sphincter. 

No wonder we end up with such a diluted Hall.

Kapler signs...with the Rays

Ouch.  This team is looking worse and worse (I think this actually means Tony Gwynn Jr will make the squad).

By the way Danny, fangraphs puts Hardy's worth at $25 million even last year.  Not too shabby (even if James, CHONE and Marcel all see him back sliding in 09).

Big Bucks Trade?

Brew Hoop is talking about a trade that would send Ramon Sessions and Joe Alexander to Memphis for Mike Conley. It seems like a bad move to me, since Sessions is better than Conley at the same position. But maybe this is the kind of trade that made Hammond so successful in Detroit. So much of managing an NBA team seems to be managing your payroll cap. That has obviously been a problem for the Bucks in the past. I'm not completely sure what the payroll ramifications for this deal would be, but we should find out soon.

Hardy Signs

Tom H. is reporting that J. J. Hardy has signed a $4.65 Million deal for 1 year. I'm okay with that. It seems a little high, but that's probably because I always thought of Hardy as undervalued.

Jim Rice lowers the bar

And Ricky Henderson doesn't get 100%.

Can we officially say the Hall of Fame is as meaningless as the Gold Glove?

Friday, January 9, 2009

Tim Tebow: Savior

Last night was, without question, the worst football broadcast I have ever heard. I agree completely with this guy:

I do not know if FOX BCS National Championship game announcer Thom Brennaman is, in some obscure way, related to Tim Tebow. I do not know if he is secretly a gigantic Florida Gators fan. I do not know if Brennaman believes Tebow is the second coming.

What I do know is this: Brennaman was so far over the top in his pro-Tebow hyperbole on Thursday that the game became darn-near unwatchable unless the volume was off.

It started in the first half, when Brennaman stated that "if you're fortunate enough to spend five minutes or 20 minutes around Tim Tebow, your life is better for it," and continued from there. He basically repeated that line early in the second half and then, when Florida put the game away in the fourth, Brennaman let it all out.

Not only did Brennaman go on and on about what a remarkable man Tebow is, but he backed Tebow against Oklahoma cornerback Dominique Franks -- who said Tebow would be no better than the fourth-best QB in the Big 12 -- stating that was "probably the most ridiculous statement ever said." Even after Tebow earned a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for taunting Oklahoma's defense, Brennaman claimed: "That might be the first thing he's ever done wrong."

I can say, without hesitation, that if I spent 20 minutes around Tim Tebow it would be strange and awkward, and I would be worse off from the experience. Tim Tebow may be a fine young man, it's just that I don't have much to say to him. Other than "Did you learn your delivery from Kerry Collins?"

Anyway, the gushing was embarrassing. I would not be surprised if Pat Robertson or some Pat Robertson type person goes on the 700 club and denounces man-love making it's way into big time sports based on Brennaman's broadcast.

Perhaps Fox was attempting to gain tax-exempt status through its exaltations of the Great Tebow and His magical healing presence. Maybe Brennaman lost a bet with someone. Maybe young Timmy circumcised Thom Brennaman in the offseason and he's just grateful. Who knows?

So, thanks to Fox, for ruining a perfectly good football game. We all really appreciate it.

Here's Chuckie Hacks.

Here's Deadspin.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Brewers Sign Hoffman

Tom H. is reporting that the Brewers have signed old closer Trevor Hoffman. The deal is for $6 million in 2009 with $1.5 million in incentives, with a club option for 2010. That sounds like a good deal to me, and frankly, I'm surprised we got it done.

Now we just need to get Sheets signed.

Morning Links: Killer Bs

1. Bill James BCS Boycott.

2. Brewers sign old reliever who gives up flyballs. Deja Vu.

3. Badgers up.

4. Bucks Down.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

HOTD: The Cubs Get Worse, The Cubs Get Better

The Cubs went out and signed the Rich Hardin of hitting, which will complement the Rich Hardin of pitching (Rich Hardin) nicely.

When Milton Bradley is healthy and sane, he really has no peer. He’s a switch-hitter, he hits for average, he hits for power, and most importantly, he gets on base. He’s been a darling of the SABR-folk for a long time. His only problem is that on average he plays fewer than 100 games per season.

Bradley makes the Cubs much better, as he will provide a left-handed power presence in a righty-heavy lineup, and he’ll be an enormous upgrade over Kosuke Fukudome. The Cubs definitely took a downgrade when they acquired Aaron Miles, but this more than makes up for it.

And by the way, at 3 years/30 million, it would have been nice to see Doug Melvin get into the bidding for Bradley’s services, as he is exactly what the Brewers need in their lineup.

Is Mike Nolan the new Packer defensive coordinator?

He’s allegedly assembling his staff already. Nolan is a very good defensive coordinator, and typically runs a 3-4 defense. It will be interesting to see if he implements this right away:

“Aaron Kampman does not fit that mold. Sure, he could bulk up but why would he want to? He's one of the top players at his position. Even if he lost weight, he's not fluid enough to play outside linebacker. Cullen Jenkins would also have to gain some weight. He wouldn't want to either, for the same reason. Both could be valuable in the trade market.”

Who’s Better Than “Contract Year Charlie”?

I don't even think that Contract Year Tim Thomas can hold a candle to Contract Year Carlie. Charlie V. and Michael Redd combined for 60 points last night as the Bucks took it to the Toronto Raptors 107-97 at the BC. I believe this was their first win without Andrew Bogut in the lineup.

A Note To Jim Tressell

When you have Terrell Pryor playing QB, and you need a two point conversion, give him a run/pass option. He’s pretty much unstoppable when he takes off.

Today’s HOTD is brought to you by Highland Park 12 Year Old Scotch Whisky.

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Terrible NFL AND College Overtime Rules

This is yet another area (along with "playoffs") where people confuse fairness with excitement. Many people think that the NFL overtime is unfair because there is no guaranty that both teams will get the ball. Take Peter King:

The overtime rule continues to be the dumbest, stupidest, most indefensible rule the NFL has on its books. Giving a coin flip more power than Tony Soprano has now deprived us of a satisfactory ending to two pivotal games this year -- Jets-Patriots in Week 11, when the Patriots and 401-yard passer Matt Cassel never saw the ball in overtime after a heroic fourth-quarter comeback, and Colts-Chargers, when we didn't get to see the NFL MVP even play in the fifth quarter because it was a one-possession overtime.

It is true that winning the coin toss gives the receiving team an advantage. Since kickoffs were moved back to the 30-yard-line, receiving teams win overtime games about 60% of the time. Prior to the move it was about 51%. As you can see, winning the coin flip is a pretty big deal.

The problem is that people are idiots about college overtime where winning the coin toss matters nearly as much. (Note: One of the consequences of the focus on the NFL's overtime is that it is very difficult to find stats about how the coin toss winner fares in college overtime. If anyone finds a reliable stat, please pass it along). The team that wins the coin toss in college always elects (properly) to go on defense first. The reason for doing so is that it gives your offense an informational advantage, as they will know exactly how much they need to score. If they only need a FG, they can play conservatively and minimize the risk of a turnover. If they need a TD they can repeatedly go for it on 4th down, something that you would never see if they had no such advantage.

The college overtime is exciting, but it's incredibly unfair.

The best possible overtime has been put forth repeatedly by our friend Michael David Smith first here, and then again today:

The solution is this: Let one team determine where the overtime kickoff will take place, and then let the other team choose whether to kick or receive.

I've been arguing this for years, and my idea hasn't gone anywhere, but I'm going to keep at it. They don't even need to have a coin flip. Just say that the road team picks a yard line, and the home team picks whether to kick or receive. Right now, the overtime kickoff is at the 30-yard line, which benefits the receiving team. But what if they moved the kickoff by 20 yards, to the 50-yard line? Or by 40 yards, all the way to the other 30-yard line? All of a sudden, receiving wouldn't be an advantage anymore.

The NFL, of course, will never implement this rule. But it should. A coin toss followed by the words "game over" is no way to conclude a playoff game.

This idea should be implemented tomorrow. No one can claim that it's unfair. If you want the ball first, you can get a price.

Just remember, the next time you here someone claim that the college overtime is better because it's not "decided on a coinflip" that it is, in fact, decided on a coinflip. The auction is the way to go.

Update: More here:

The win probability is almost the same in each period: a little over 0.52. To put this in perspective, it's a smaller advantage than a team would have if they could start a game with a 1-point lead (0.53 according to the Dynamic Programming Model), and is a much smaller advantage than the coin-toss winner has in the NFL's current sudden-death format, which we estimate to be 0.57. Still, a coach who mistakenly selects the first possession after winning the coin toss lowers his team's win probability by more than 0.04, which qualifies as a major coaching blunder. For those whose distaste for sudden death derives mainly from the importance of the coin toss, the NCAA format would not appear to be a good substitute, particularly when there are alternatives that truly render the coin toss irrelevant.

HOTD: Hens Love Roosters, Geese Love Ganders, Everyone Else Hates Bob Sanders

Sanders has been fired. I've never been a big fan myself. I always like Ed Donatell, and never thought it was a huge overreaction to fire him because of 4th and 26, and I think it's been downhill ever since. That said, I can't help feeling a bit like that with regard to Sanders. While the defense was rather terrible this year, much of that can be attributed to injuries and personnel moves, both of which Sanders had little control over.

Whoever replaces Sanders has a tall task ahead of him. With little ability to stop the run, a linebacking corps that appears to be in shambles, and a secondary that relies on somewhat elderly players, a major overhaul may be in order.

Wisconsin Goes To 2-0 in Big Ten

Cornley, Pringle put up delicious, fried effort, but can't outduel Marcus Landry.

Give Penn State some credit. They actually have a few good players this year, and gave the Badgers everything they could handle on Saturday. Fortunately, they also had no answer for Marcus Landry, Travon Hughes hit a huge, clutch 3-pointer down the stretch, and the Badgers managed to completely shut down Talor Battle, holding him to 6 points on just 2-11 shooting.

It's a good thing that Bucky is off to such a hot start with an impressive win over Michigan on the road to go along with this nailbiter, as they will see Big Ten powers Michigan State and Purdue, plus a trip to Minneapolis, over their next three games.

Marquette 2-0 in Brutal Big East

The Big East is something else this year. It is as loaded as any conference I've ever seen, which is why Marquette's 1st conference win over 13th ranked Villanova and subsequent annihilation of Cincinnati were every bit as important as Wisconsin's first two conference wins. It doesn't get any easier. Dominic James, Wesley Matthews, and Jerel McNeal are as good as any backcourt in the country, especially when James can curb his seemingly unquenchable thirst for shooting. This Marquette team (like last year's) is extremely dangerous for that reason, as any of their guards is capable of taking over and dominating. Their front court, however, remains an Achilles heal. Still, they're extremely exciting if nothing else.

Cubs Get Worse

In case you didn't notice, the Cubs replaced this guy with this guy, and may hit Aaron Miles and his sparkling .329 OBP (career) in the leadoff spot. We here at Brewed Sports wholeheartedly support this move.

Today's HOTD is brought to you by Three Floyds' Alpha Klaus. 'Tis an excellent brand of holiday cheer. And I have some leftover.

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Smart Pick, and The Alternative Viewpoint

With the exception of last season I have been quite good at predicting the Super Bowl, but I’m lousy at predicting much of anything else in football (and I don’t really try). I can almost always see both sides of the argument with regard to playoff matchups, and this week is no exception. All 4 road teams are favored this week, and I think that’s proper, but even those games that people seem confident about, I think, could go either way. Let’s take a look.

Atlanta at Arizona

The Smart Pick: Atlanta

Why it’s smart: The Falcons play in a very tough NFC South, won more games than the Cardinals, and have a more balanced offense than the Cardinals with Michael Turner in the running game, and Matt Ryan and Roddy White on the passing game. The Cardinals can’t run the ball to save their lives as Tim Hightower looks to be a huge bust and isn’t even better than the ancient Edgerrin James.

What could go wrong: Atlanta, for all of their advantages, isn’t very good at pass defense. While a stout defense would likely make the Cardinals one-dimensional and pound Kurt Warner into submission, it’s likely that the Cardinals will be able to put up points against the Falcons, and when the Cards put up points, they can win. According to DVOA, Atlanta ranks 18th against the pass. In week 14 the Falcons lost a to a very similar pass-first Saints team , and in an earlier win against the Saints, they saw Drew Brees throw for 422 yards. This is not necessarily a good matchup for Atlanta, who would probably fair better against a more balanced offensive attack. While Matt Ryan has been brilliant this year, he is still a rookie, while Kurt Warner has as much playoff experience as anyone. If this turns into a shootout, don’t be surprised if the Cards come away victorious.

Philly at Minnesota

The Smart Pick: Philly

Why it’s smart: The Vikings have a terrible QB. Say what you will about Donovan McNabb, but the guy has won a bunch of playoff games in his career, especially early playoff games. The Eagle defense has been monstrously efficient lately, and should be able to take advantage of the one-dimensional Viking offense. Pat Williams will be a game-time decision, and if he’s not effective the Eagles new-found reliance on Brian Westbrook and Correll Buckhalter should be effective. There may be as many Eagle fans as Viking fans. The Eagles played in a much tougher AFC East, whereas the Vikings won more-or-less by default. The Vikings have a shitty coach.

What could go wrong: Adrian Peterson could go nuts and win the game single-handedly. The Eagles had a bunch of trouble earlier this season when they went pass-heavy. If the Williams wall is intact, they may have to go pass heavy. I keep hearing about how the Eagles have momentum after killing the Cowboys, but this team also got destroyed by the Redskins the game before that. How is one game “momentum?” The Eagles completely implode on a regular basis. If the Vikings get ahead, Taylor and Peterson will make it hard to come back. If the Eagles suffer an early turnover, watch out. Andy Reid is also a lousy in-game coach.

Baltimore at Miami

The Smart Pick: Baltimore

Why it’s smart: The Baltimore defense is second only to the Steelers in shutting people down. Baltimore’s offense has also been shockingly good lately. Baltimore and Miami finished with the exact same record, but Baltimore outscored their opponents by 141 points while the Dolphins only outscored their opponents by 28, indicating that they have severely overachieved. Chad Pennington doesn’t get a lot of zip on his passes and it is difficult to see how the Miami offense will score any points, especially since Ronnie Brown has basically disappeared. The Miami offense prominently features someone named Devon Besse.

What could go wrong: Joe Flacco isn’t actually very good, and threw nearly as many interceptions as touchdowns. By advanced stats he’s right in that Kyle Orton range. LeRon McClain, Ray Rice, and Willis McGahee, have been OK, but can be shut down. If they get shut down, Miami, and not Baltimore, may be able to create some defensive points. Especially when you consider that the Miami offense was the league’s best at NOT turning the ball over. Chad Pennington has been far better than Joe Flacco, and while noodle-armed, he’s very smart and is unlikely to screw up. In short, Baltimore is far more likely to shoot itself in the foot.

Indianapolis at San Diego

The Smart Pick: Indianapolis

Why it’s smart: Indy has won 9 games in a row. San Diego limped into the playoffs at 8-8 by beating a Bronco team with a terrible defense and Tatum Bell (and Rudi Johnson’s luggage) at RB. Peyton Manning is the league MVP. The offense, while not as explosive as in year’s past, is very good. Ladanian Tomlinson probably only looked “rejuvenated” because he was playing the Broncos. San Diego has a lousy defense. Indy already beat San Diego this year. Tomlinson and Gates are both dinged.

What could go wrong: One of the reasons that Indy has a 9 game winning streak is that they played the Jags, Lions, Bengals, Browns, and a resting Tennessee team down the stretch. Indy won the first meeting between these two on a 51-yard FG by Viniateri as time expired, which is not exactly confidence-inspiring. San Diego actually had a slightly better offense on the year, and actually outscored their opponents by more than did Indy. Even with a struggling Tomlinson the Chargers still run the ball better than Indy. Joseph Addai has been very bad. The Colts have historically struggled against the Chargers.

So, there you go. Enjoy the weekend!