Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Monday, November 16, 2009

Getting BillHall'd

It's like getting keelhauled, except a bit worse.

I think "BillHall'd" should be descriptive of signing someone who was valuable when they cost nothing and had a career year, but who you know is actually shitty and who you should trade to a sucker.

For instance:

The Packers really got BillHall'd with that Ryan Grant deal.

Or the soon to be:

I think the Brewers are about to get BillHall'd on Casey McGehee.

Quick Football Notes

1. Jeff Triplette is so terrible at refereeing that I’m not even going to double-check the spelling of his name. His transgressions are obvious, and in this game in particular, I wondered just how much his participation mucked things up.

Wasn’t this game bizarre? I don’t know what I learned about the Packers in this game. I don’t really think they played much better than in any of their recent losses (except maybe on special teams). Offensively they were probably worse. Yet they won. Against a pretty good team. And Tripplete is there with his wacky penalties at strange, important times, allowing extra challenges, making nonsensical explanations. I think Triplet completely mucks up the game, and no new information can be learned about a team if Triplett is involved. For purposes of future analysis, I’m just ignoring this one.

2. Tripllette owes Al Harris an apology. Of course, the Jeff Tripelette apology list is pretty long.

3. Bill Belichick made the correct call when he went for it on 4th down at his own 30 yard line. It didn’t work, but sometimes the right call doesn’t work. He gave his team the best chance to win. It went against conventional wisdom, but conventional wisdom in this case is wrong. More here.

4. Brandon Jennings is apparently awesome. Not a football note, but warrants a mention.

5. I have less confidence in Mason Crosby than in any Packer kicker I can remember.

6. What’s the deal with Greg Jennings? Did we all overrate him? Is this a consequence of the bad offensive line? Has he actually been OK without me noticing? He hasn’t had an impressive game for a long time now.

7. The Pack has to win their next two games v. San Fran and then at Detroit. They play 3 out of their last 4 on the road against some pretty good teams.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Lost Yardage, Lost Opportunity

From Mike Tanier:

The Packers have allowed a league-high 225 yards on 37 sacks this season. The NFL mean is this year 118 lost yards. The Packers have therefore lost 107 more sack yards than the average team.

The Packers have committed a league-high 62 penalties for 509 yards, the second highest total in the NFL (the Ravens are first). The NFL mean this season is 410 lost penalty yards. The Packers have therefore lost 99 more penalty yards than the average team.

The Packers allow 13.4 yards per punt return. The NFL mean is 8.45 yards per return. That means the Packers lose 4.95 more yards of field position on punts than the average team. Spread across 22 punts, that’s 108 more yards of lost yardage.

Add up the sacks, penalties, and punt returns, and the Packers have given up 314 more "hidden yards" than the average team. Prorate for the season and that comes to 628 yards: the contribution of a good slot receiver, or a pass-catching tight end. Or about a game and a half of total offense. That's what the Packers are handing opponents.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Last Play of “Major League.”

I like the last play in “Major League” quite a bit.

The last play is a tough spot for a sports movie. The big home run is too cliché, as is the big strikeout. Football generally resorts to some mix of crazy laterals (the hook and ladder in “Varsity Blues”, the Annexation of Puerto Rico in “Little Giants”, etc.), or improbably long field goals (the flubber-aided kick in the old-school “Son of Flubber”, “Gus”). Other sports feature the ridiculous (any movie about figure skating or diving), the implausible (The Scout), or a Teen Wolf (Teen Wolf, Teen Wolf 2, How I Met Your Mother). Basketball has the “last second shot”. (Hoosiers, Blue Chips, Teen Wolf again. By the way, the last second dunk by Shaq in Blue Chips is awesome. First of all, you shouldn’t dunk when the clock is running down, because if the ball is still in your hand when the buzzer goes off, it’s no good. Second, if you re-watch Blue Chips you will notice that the dunk takes place in slow motion while the clock runs in real time, almost costing Western the game.)

The last play in Major League is exciting without being cliché, and just plausible enough to remain grounded in reality. (What is not plausible is the Indians’ lineup which apparently has a washed up catcher on an AL team hitting second instead of buried in the 9 hole. In fact, I’m pretty sure the Indians lineup makes no sense at all, but we’ll leave that for another post where we have some time to watch the game more closely.)

Anyway, Willy Hayes is supposed to be one of the fastest guys in the AL, so it’s entirely plausible the he could score from second on a bunt with a big enough head start, especially considering that Yankee first-baseman Clu Haywood does not look to be a “defense first” player. As the AL triple crown leader that year, he’s on the team for his offense. In fact you can really question the Yanks for not DHing Haywood in this game, though perhaps he is more skilled than he appears.

The scouting report on catcher Jake Taylor would indicate a slow player with bad knees, and with two outs a bunt would be supremely unlikely. As such, the third baseman would be playing back, giving Taylor a decent shot to beat it out. (Quick question: Is “The Duke” a lefty or a righty? If he’s falling off towards first base this is an even better idea.) Calling his shot was just icing on the cake for Taylor.

Would a manager call this play? Probably not, but keep in mind that at some point in the 2009 playoffs Derek Jeter tried to bunt with two strikes on him with no one out, so anything is possible. And what if you had, say, Jason Kendall up there in this situation? Sure he might get a hit, but pulling something like this might cross your mind as “not a bad idea.”

The play itself is has all sorts of drama and excitement. The Yankee 3rd baseman makes a great barehanded play on the ball just barely missing a hustling Taylor. (It is the third baseman, right?) Ironically, if Taylor isn’t such a slow player he might just put it in his pocket and hold Hayes at third, or possibly even get him in a rundown. Hayes gets a great jump, and when the bunt draws in the 3rd baseman it removes any need for Hayes to slow up when rounding third, as he has been taken out of the play. The throw from Haywood to home is strong and on target.

Hayes’ slide always bugged me. He has to go outside to avoid the catcher and just catches the plate with the outside of his trail leg, narrowly avoiding a tag, but had he take a more direct route to the plate he would have easily beaten the throw. Still it creates an excellent moment of drama at home. All in all, on this play we have:

1. A stolen base. (Note: I wish they had a better shot of this, because it looks like a really close play. Hayes may have been out.)

2. A “hit and run.”

3. Not one, but two bang/bang plays (1st and home) which lead to dramatic call from both the umpire and from Harry Doyle.

4. A stellar defensive play from the Yankee third baseman.

5. A pitcher intentionally throwing at the batter.

6. A totally unexpected game-winning play with a great call from the booth.

7. We avoid the standard home run or strikeout and we avoid the supernatural.*

It may not be the smartest play ever designed, but the Major League writers did a great job with their conclusion. Too bad about Major League 2.

*Yes, they did both a HR and a dramatic strikeout earlier in the game.

How Good Are The Bucks?

Of all of the sports I care about, pro basketball is at or near the bottom. That said, the Bucks have a way of managing to draw me in almost every year, for at least a week or two. It's about that time.

I've watched them once so far (against the Bulls) and they looked OK, but I've heard good things, and they currently sit at 4-2. (By the way, most other teams in the NBA have played 9 games, and the Bucks have only played 6? What the hell is that?) I thought it would take them like a month to win 4 games. I'm pretty sure that Bill Simmons picked them to win 16 games all year.

So, are they actually good? Is Brandon Jennings actually a star? (He matched Carmelo Anthony last night, point for point.) Will a good PG make Andrew Bogut into someone who may actually be worthy of #1 pick status? Do they actually have a talented supporting cast in Mbah a Moute (defensive stopper), Ilyasova (athletic big man who can drain a 3 and grab a board), and Warrick (I don't know, but he always shows up in the stat line)?

Will Redd blend in when he returns, making them even better? Should I learn who Carlos Delfino is?

Or are they just going to go to shit like they seem to do every year?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Winter of our discontent

Brewers fans (well, most of us) are going to be in for a long, long winter if early returns are any indication.

First, the Brewers passed on a fantastic young pitcher for a track and field standout. Now, Ken Rosenthal is confirming our worst fears:

The Brewers badly need starting pitching. They bid $100 million for left-hander CC Sabathia last winter. But they do not expect to be a serious player for righty John Lackey, the top free agent available this offseason.

Lackey, Brewers officials believe, would prefer to go to a larger market. The Brewers almost certainly would not make the best offer, and Lackey might only use their proposal to persuade other clubs to bid higher.

The Brewers' most pressing decision involves whether to exercise the $6.5 million option on right-hander Braden Looper or pay him a $1 million buyout. They are likely to pursue mid-rotation starters such as left-handers Doug Davis and Jarrod Washburn.


Here are the guys I want Melvin to target. I'm not putting a ton of thought into this, and neither should you. At this point, it's sort of difficult to guess what kind of market there will be, and where the numbers will fall. Some of these guys will end up with valuations that don't make sense. If there is someone you really really want the Brewers to sign, write him down. Then find a guy who is about 60% as good as that guy and hope the Mustache pays him too much to play for Milwaukee. You're less likely to be disappointed.

ESK's 2010 Brewer Free Agent Wish List:

Russell Branyan - obvious. McGehee will pull a Hall and even if he doesn't Branyan is instantly the best right fielder on the team

Mark DeRosa - hopefully the AL stint diminished his value where he makes sense as a third middle infielder. If not, pass.

Melvin Mora - Cheap pinch hitter? Has to be very very cheap, and only in the event Doug still hates the Muscle

Jason Bay - yeah...fucking....right

Matt Holliday - see Jason Bay...it's nice to want things

Vladimir Guerrero - put him in right, trade Corey Hart

Matt Stairs - because he's better than most of the Brewers outfielders

Justin Duchscherer - too expensive most likely

John Lackey - not going to happen

Brett Myers - Instant #2...plus, he's an asshole...and only 29.

Cha Seung Baek - eh...we need pitching and there is a lot of shitty pitching...he is a bit less so, plus, imagine Uecker calling his games!

Chad Bradford - bullpen arm...real name Chadwick. Terrible year after awesome year.

Horacio Ramirez - lefty bullpen arm

None of these names excite me, aside from the obvious Branyan. The guys who I think would be an excellent fit are guys I know Melvin won't go after, where as the rest are crappy hole fillers.

My last, and most important signing the Brewers could make this winter: Kim Ng.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Terrible Game

The Journal's Greg Bedard tweeted after the game that:

I'm not joking: Packers could have won that game if they didn't throw one pass.

I think there's some truth to that. The Bucs needed a lot of help to beat the Packers, and the Packers obliged. Keep the ball on the ground a bit more against the 30th ranked rushing defense, and you probably cut down on some of the Bucs opportunities.

That said, it's getting pretty hard to argue that the Packers are even a mediocre team. The offensive line continues to be terrible (although the Tauscher/Barbre differential was made very clear in this game. Once Tauscher left everything went to shit). Aaron Rodgers continues to be the only QB in recent memory who elicits cries of "Throw the ball!" from the stands. The pass rush is spotty at best, and requires extra rushers to really be effective. Ryan Grant had success, but in general he's terrible.

And special teams. I don't think I've ever seen a punt blocked as much as that punt was blocked. And every returner suddenly becomes Devin Hester (the old un-ruined version) against the Packer special teams. Tampa never had to travel very far to score.

The Packers are going to have a hard time making the playoffs. This was the easy half of their schedule and they could only muster 4-4. They have 2 consecutive games at home, and then go on the road for 4 of their last 6. They don't exactly play a murderer's row down the stretch, but there are no more Rams or Browns. (Well, there are the Lions, but that's it. And they're not even pushovers anymore.)

That game was infuriating. They should have won, but did not because they're stupid.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Trim the Mustache

Wow. If reports out of Boston are correct, and the Red Sox were willing to deal Michael Bowden for JJ Hardy, Doug Melvin should be run out of town today (actually he should have been run out of town the minute he turned that deal down).

According to a baseball source, the Sox had been engaging with the Brewers in on-and-off discussions involving Hardy since the trading deadline, roughly two weeks before Milwaukee sent the struggling shortstop to the minor leagues. Talks continued up until recently, when the Brewers agreed to send Hardy to the Twins for outfielder Carlos Gomez.

According to the same source, Milwaukee wanted either starter Clay Buchholz or reliever Daniel Bard for Hardy. The Sox were not willing to offer either pitcher. Milwaukee was not interested in righthander Michael Bowden, whom the Sox would have been willing to part with, and the Sox did not have a center field prospect who could match Gomez’s skill set.

I like to think that Massarotti was taking a dig at Melvin there when he said the Red Sox don't have anyone with Gomez's "skill set." Gomez's skill set is ideal for track and field, atrocious for Major League Baseball.

Melvin shoots for Bucholz or Daniel Bard. OK, that is asking a bit much for just JJ Hardy. Red Sox counter with excellent 22 year old prospect Micheal Bowden. He's been hit pretty hard in the majors in two brief stints (in the AL, in the East mind you) but has absolutely burned up the minors. 1.156 WHIP, 8.1 K/9 and a 3.1 K/BB ratio in 5 minor league seasons. The kid is good.

From Baseball Prospectus:
For the first six weeks of last season, Michael Bowden was the one pitcher known to man who could actually succeed in the pinball-machine atmosphere of Lancaster. From there, he went to Double-A, where he wasn't nearly as good. The mitigating factor is that Bowden was among the youngest starters in the Eastern League. There is still some work to be done, particularly on his changeup and his anything-but-ideal mechanics, but he's a future rotation piece.
A future rotation piece...in Boston. My God, he could be an ace in the NL Central.

Going into 2009, Micheal Bowden was number 9 overall in Jon Sickels' yearly pitching prospects. He had a bit of a rough year.
9) Michael Bowden, RHP, Boston Red Sox
4-6, 3.13 with an 88/47 K/BB in 126 innings for Triple-A Pawtucket, 106 hits. Got knocked around in brief major league trial. Component ratios slipped this year and his stock has dropped slightly.
So, his stock dropped slightly. Lets say that means 20 spots. He is still a top 30 pitching prospect in the minor leagues. Top 50 conservatively. Overall.

To me that puts him at least at the back end of the Brewers rotation this year, and at the very very least he is a bullpen arm working his way into a starters job in the future. He is 22 years old!

How do you pass up on Michael Bowden for Carlos Gomez? You have got to be absolutely kidding me. The best Brewers fans could have hoped for with Michael Bowden is a solidified rotation spot. The best we can hope for with Gomez is that the Brewers find his replacement quickly.


Friday, November 6, 2009

ESPN Plagiarizes Michael David Smith

Michael is a friend so I thought I'd spread the word about the Worldwide Leader completely copying and pasting his writing, and claiming it as their own. Read all about it here.

You can find Mike's writing at Fanhouse here, and his posts at PFT (in their original form and location) here.

Update: They now acknowledge the issue.

Though they don't explain it.

I hate, hate, hate this trade.

First of all, it is now obvious to everyone that the time to trade JJ Hardy was LAST off season. But Carlos Gomez? Really? That's the best you could do? I have a few Twins fans as friends and not a single one of them likes Carlos Gomez. Their scouting report would be something like, "A dumb player. Bad baserunner. Does not make good use of his speed. Tried to pull the ball too much when he hits, and bunts in inappropriate situation. The kind of prospect who sticks around on tools, but never develops in part because of those tools."

Let's meet our new crappy outfielder:

His career line in the majors is .246/.292/.346. That's awful. And it's not a small sample size, as he's played almost 2.5 full seasons.

In 2008 BP had this to say:

Pressed into duty when Moises Alou went down (didn't see that coming!), Gomez was more exciting than good. While Gomez is a high-ceiling prospect with a ton of talent and amazing speed, it was apparent that he wasn't ready for the big leagues. Worse, a strained hamstring and broken hand cost him the majority of the season at an age and stage that was crucial to his development. Between Alou's injuries and his own, Gomez lost a year of progress that should have been made in the minors.

We trade our former All-Star short stop and get this? I almost liked Carlos Gomez better when he was named Tony Gwynn, Jr.

Anyone have anything positive to say?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Favre: Full of drugs...and shit

PFT has the story:
Before the 2009 season began, we developed a distinct impression that Vikings quarterback Brett Favre was trying to develop advance excuses for playing like, you know, someone who is 40.

Despite an obsession by most teams to keep injury information secret, Favre was openly talking about a partially torn rotator cuff, cracked ribs, and sore ankles.

So with arguably the most stressful game of his career only hours away, Favre tells ESPN's Ed Werder that the veteran quarterback "hasn't been feeling well and has been on antibiotics two of the last three weeks."

Favre also said he has felt "bad" as recently as Friday.

But the Vikings haven't disclosed on the injury report that Favre has any type of illness. Given that the Jets were nailed for hiding Favre's partially torn biceps tendon in 2008, we tend to think that if Favre were feeling sick, the Vikings would have disclosed it.

So, basically, Favre is saying, "If I stink today, it's only because I have swine flu, polio, and/or lupus."

Jump in a fire, Brent.