Archive for January, 2009

A Few Weekend Notes

Saturday, January 31st, 2009

... to be seated at the right hand of the father.

I thought I’d keep things rolling here by whipping up a short little number. Jared will, no doubt, give these items more attention in our next In the News.

- It looks like Brian Shouse found that 2-year contract he’d been seeking. He’s reportedly reached an agreement with the defending AL Champion Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays: Milwaukee will receive a sandwich pick from the D-Rays, and Shousey will further solidify an already stacked bullpen. I’m glad for him and wish him the best of luck.

- Touted prospect Taylor Green had wrist surgery and will miss (at least) the first month of the season: Between the wrist issue, the uncertainty over the player to be named later fiasco, and breaking his nose Green has seemed to have a rough go of it these past few months. Hopefully he can come back and resume jetpacking through the farm system sooner than later.

- The Brewers have narrowed their list for Jim Powell’s replacement to just two - Cubs broadcaster Cory Provus and Diamondbacks broadcaster Jeff Munn: To be honest, I’ve never heard either of these men, but they both seem experienced in their craft based on their track records. Either would have a big set of pipes to fill.

And to those automatically against Provus because of his work with the Cubs, shut up! This is simply a job for these people. Being a fan of the team that employs you, or having never worked for a rival team before are not requisites of the position. I’m sure if an anonymous poll of announcers was taken, maybe 5 percent of them would admit to favoring that team over another prior to being employed there.

So long as he doesn’t suck at the job, I have zero qualms bringing Provus over.

- Bernie’s Crew has a 2008 review of Ryan Braun.

- Brewerfan.net has a thread dedicated to Tom Haudricourt’s inaccuracies: Go pile on if you so choose.

An Open Letter to “Rookie” at 107.5 The Fan

Friday, January 30th, 2009

For those of you outside the Green Bay / Fox Valley area, 107.5 FM The Fan is this area’s most popular sports radio channel. As you can figure out, Rookie is one of the broadcasters. He’s one of two guys on The Fan Nation Fan Morning Show. Now, commence the bitching…er…letter.

Dear Rookie,

I’ll preface the main point of this letter by stating that we, the listeners, rely on you for Brewers news, stories and points of view. Minus yourself, and the possible exception of Bill (even though he’s a damn Cubs fan), every broadcaster at The Fan is clueless when it comes to the Brewers…or baseball in general. Though you tend to be the completely negetive about everything Brewers related, you’re all the listeners really have.

With that being said, I’d like to express my complete disbelief of something I heard you say during Friday morning’s broadcast. Like many others, you began expressing your disappointment with the Brewers announcing they are likely done wheeling and dealing until at least Spring Training. Then you dropped the bombshell. You stated that with the loss of CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets, the Brewers lose 26 wins between the two, leaving the 2009 Brewers with a win total of 74.

For real, Rookie? So, you think that two of the Brewers starters are going to go win-less? It takes the smallest amount of common sense to see where that logic lacks. On top of that, you forget about the return of Yovani Gallardo. A healthy Gallardo, himself, will very likely reach 13 wins.

In short, please start taking the approach of a reasonable fan. If we want whiny perspectives, we’ll read the JS Online Blog comments. I’m not saying you should be a blind homer (see Steve True), but come on! Look at the whole picture before you throw yourself off the “ledge” and assume the worst.  Many of us would kill for your gig. Please use a little logic and common sense.

- Joe

Craig Counsell Kicks Ass

Friday, January 30th, 2009

Pure Determination

Pure Determination

Yes, he looks like he’s 12 years old, and he has the approximate power of a 12 year old as well. Craig Counsell, however, has managed be one of the most consistently underrated players in baseball over the last few years.

In fact, only once since 2002 has he had a bad enough year to be overpaid, which was in 2003. Let’s take a look at another graph that should give you a good idea of why Counsell has been so valuable over the last 6 seasons.

This graph looks solely at Counsell’s production, all pro-rated over a full season (700 PAs) to make the baselines easier to identify. We can see that Counsell, over his career, has always been around the average player mark, which is 0 runs above average (obviously) or 22.5 runs above replacement. Other players who are also around this average baseline include Josh Willingham, AJ Pierzynski, Hideki Matsui, and Adam Dunn, which is pretty decent company for a guy who is only receiving 1 million dollars this year. The difference between Counsell and these other guys, especially Dunn, is that Counsell really excels with the glove as the graph above shows.  The yellow line is fielding (including position), and the blue line is hitting, and the green line is overall production, which is the sum of the two. The gray transparent line is league average, and the black line is replacement level. So we can see here that Counsell has been far above replacement level here, and even though his glove has slipped a little bit (which is partially due to him playing less shortstop and more 2B/3B), he has hit better over the last few years. If he puts up another season with a OBP of .355 and continues to play plus defense for the Brewers, he will be well worth the 1 million we paid him for.

In the News (1/30)

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

Please, ask me about Ben Sheets again.

Brewers News

- Yet another article about the non-existent back and fourth between Milwaukee and Ben Sheets: He doesn’t want a one-year deal, Milwaukee would only consider a one-year deal. Isn’t there a feature about J.J. Hardy and his brother that can be written instead?

- Doug Melvin talks about some of Milwaukee’s young talent: I love what he has to say about J.J. Hardy, and actually agree with his assessment of Rickie Weeks too.

- Brew Crew Ball projects the 2009 bullpen.

- BCB also features your and my favorite hideous douchebomb, Jon Corey Hart in their advent calendar.

- Learn the new (or changed) numerals of your 2009 Milwaukee Brewers: Who knows, it may actually matter at some point.

- Sure, Craig Counsell signed/continued to ruin my life Monday, but you should be interested to see the “incentives” that make his $1M base salary much less appealing.

- I’d tell you Mike Hunt has a sports blog, but I can’t. I’m a dude (wacka, wacka).

Minor Leagues

- Brewers tendered contracts to seven minor leaguers Thursday.

- Brett Lawrie comes in as prospect 5 at Bernie’s Crew and Angel Salome sits 5th at Between the Green Pillars.

- The Rattlers are getting a video scoreboard!!! This is like putting a smaller cherry atop a larger cherry that’s already sitting upon a dank ass sundae…  balancing on a quarter barrel of PBR that’s being straddled by a newly divorced Elizabeth Banks. But, you know, not nearly as cool as that. Still… not bad.

NL Central

- NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

- Pittsburgh also bought out Paul Maholm’s three remaining arbi years (and option for first year of FA) for an estimated $12-13M: That’s a pretty good pitcher for that salary, if you ask me.

- The Cubs are reportedly close to dealing Rich Hill to the Orioles: On behalf of all those who dislike the Cubs, please, please do this, Chicago. Continue the terrible offseason.

- Epic murder rate, watery beer and indoor football aside, St. Louis has the right idea sometimes.

Other News

- Jason Varitek is contemplating sitting out, or retiring rather than accepting Boston’s offer: Maybe he and Ben Sheets can be battery mates on a beer league softball team comprised completely of stubborn player who overvalue themselves in a weak market. Sheets would still get hurt.

- If there’s a heaven, I bet THIS constitutes a “light snack.”

- Some of you read our half-baked, often near grammatically correct thoughts almost every day. And without our friend Aaron’s hard (and uncompensated) work, this site would probably have some wack MVN-type look to it and some labyrinth-like URL. He’s done a lot for us, and I like to pitch his services now and then: Check out his portfolio and contact him to make your Web site. He accepts money and/or cases of salsa for his labor.

Hump Day ReHeckler: The Reprised Rants of a Working Class Enemy of Lameness. A Spirit to Behold.

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

Shit, Brewers! How are you going to play me like that, girl?!?

As was the case with most other literate followers of the Brew Brew Dolls, that was – verbatim – my reaction in reading that Milwaukee was most likely done adding parts this offseason. But don’t mistake my sentiment here; my displeasure lies not in Milwaukee’s refusal to sign another recognizable name… quite the opposite in fact.

I’ve actually been largely impressed with the Brew Man Groups’ winter transactions. The Chris Capuano minor league deal was one hinged on pure upside and will undoubtedly see a more than worthy return. The bullpen moves straight up gave me wood – all of them, I’m literally pitching a sequoia over here. Shit mengala, even the arbitration figures (to date) and Fielder signing went over better than I expected.

I’ve been raised to suck the flabby, unimpressive teat of fiscal savvy. It didn’t take DM saying “absolutely not” to Oliver Perez to let me know Milwaukee was absolutely not in on him. Adam Dunn… doubtful. It’s simply in my nature as a fan of this organization to accept past-prime or pre-payday pieces to comprise one unified team that, when fully operational, can flirt with the prospect of being above average.

But sometimes I get greedy and expect my wasted years of emotional attachment to something that gives approximately zero shits about me to be rewarded with the employment of a sideshow, a representation of the proletariat – a fan favorite. And what do we get? Menasha’s own, badass, metalhead, salt of the Earth, gash-slamming, son of a bitch bastard Eric Hinske? No, assclowns, you must’ve forgot Craig “jailbait” Counsell was a free agent. Apparently $1M (plus incentives) is better served for employing a light-hitting tween than it is a left-handed masher with equal versatility. Now Hinske is probably signing with Pittsburgh as I write this, and will taunt me like 15 times this season.

Preseason predictions
Eric Hinske: 15 spuds, 50 ribs, 8 swipes, 6,000 beers, a legacy left.
Craig Counsell: Apt defense, unnecessary eyeblack, Nutcracker performance… and (if it’s a breakout year) maybe puberty.

You mean, I didn't make the team, Skip? (everyone else laughs)

 If anything, I guess this means Brad Nelson will make the team and Casey McGehee will hit the bricks, which shows there are at least glimmers of justice on this unforgiving rock from time to time. How can I be so sure Casey McGehee won’t make the team in January? Because he’s number 52 and is neither a relief pitcher nor CC Sabathia. The only way you’ll hear anything about McGehee come April is if the other four infinitely more capable hotcornermen competitively eat peanut butter, or you attend a Sounds game and Scott Thorman gets the shits for the better part of a month and/or kills someone.

Where was I? Oh yeah, Ben Sheets. As popular as this candle (sincerely lit) light vigil over the 5 percent chance Milwaukee is even interested in Ben Sheets, I am fucking sick of Ben Sheets. Yeah, he was a Brewer. OK, when going well, he can be considered above average. But how often do those two factors warrant a multi-year deal for a cat that makes Chris Carpenter seem durable? I think I know why Milwaukee only won a single playoff game in the past 26 years – 1. Dave Bush is tits city and won that game himself, and 2. The organization lets go of its greatest players too early (and, until somewhat recently, get too little in return) while letting hacks whose throwing arms resemble poorly-made spaghetti to milk a limited payroll and fashion undeserved pedestals to ward over a hardworking fan base brainwashed into thinking they’re top-tier players.

Let Sheets go everyone. You’ll be happy you did. I’d rather be allegedly married to Alcides Escobar than hold my breath for another 2004 from Ben Sheets.

And yeah, I know I misspelled “Deux.” DON’T EVER QUESTION MY ART!!! Oh, and have a good weekend.

- This Heckler brought to you by Tyson Any’tizers. Please don’t bring up our random apostrophe. Adam in marketing said it’d help sell in Santa Fe. Tyson - E’at some ‘’’’Now.’

In the News (1/29)

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

C'mon Man, I Needs Me Some Guarantees

Brewers News

- The latest in the Sheets Saga is that Benny wants a guaranteed contract and not a contract like Brad Penny or John Smoltz.

- Ryan Braun was on MLB Network’s show “Hot Stove” reuniting with Trenni! This guy just knows how to say the right things, but man is that shirt loud or what?

- Powell’s goodbye tour continues with a stop at Brewerfan.net.

Minor Leagues

- Brett Lawrie is #5 on Bernie’s Crew and Angel Salome is #5 on BTGP.

NL Central

- The Cubs traded for Aaron Heilman and the Pirates might announce the Hinske signing Friday.

Other News

- Twins have reportedly ended their talks with Gagne.

- John Garland for 6-7 million is a steal! I wish we could refi Suppan for a deal like that.

In the News (1/28)

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

Brewers News

- Adam McCalvy reports that the Brewers might be done dealing until Spring Training. Again, (and I know I say this every week) WHY when there is cheap starting pitching out there? One of the starters is going to get hurt for at least a little while because it’s baseball. There’s nobody trustworthy of picking it up in the minors right now, so let’s get some insurance. Geez. The Brewers and Ben Sheets should both swallow their pride and get a deal done.

- Doug Melvin is absolutely not interested at Oliver Perez for the price he’s asking. Good, the kid’s a headcase. You never know if he’s going to be lights out or blow the whole game in 1.3 innings.

- The Brewers losing Jim Powell was a shocker. CC we were ready for. Similar to Benny. But not Jim…This one was tough to take. Jim, being the absolute professional he is, writes the fans a letter.

- According to The Bucky Channel, the Brewers have at least 5 nationally televised games this year including two on Sunday Night Baseball.

- Are you feeling lucky? Open Day Lottery Opens tomorrow..er today.

- Brew Crew Ball shares some projections. I think a mid .290 average for Braun is likely.

- Bernies Crew takes on the “Curious case of Rickie Weeks”.

Minor Leagues

- Marcus Hanel is number 17 on the advent-ish calendar.

- Brett Lawrie and Jonathan Lucroy are the number 7 prospects according toBetween the Green Pillars and  Bernie’s Crew, respectively.

NL Central

- Pirates might be targeting the Eric Hinske. In related news, Tyler is seen urinating on pictures of Mike Lamb.

In the News (1/27)

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

Brewers News

- Rickie Weeks and Corey Hart are both hoping to avoid a salary arbitration hearings with the Brewers. Who would want to hear why their team thinks they suck.

- The signing of Craig Counsell was made official today. If you haven’t heard, the deal is for one year, $1 million. Tom Haudricourt says its a perfect fit for the little guy.

- You can watch the September 6, 2008 dual against the Padres ace Jake Peavy here. Sheets threw a complete game shutout to lead the Brewers to a 1-0 win.

- The Brewers search for Jim Powell’s replacement has been narrowed down to four.

- Beginning this Wednesday at 10 am, you can register for your chance to buy four opening day tickets. Some more details here.

- Jeff Suppan is number 18 on Brew Crew Ball’s advent calander.

- According to this article, Brewers manager Ken Macha says he has five guys who could hit 25 or more taters. I agree with the author in that there are actually seven guys who could, and they may have to for the Brewers to compete at a high level.

- Milwaukee’s Decider has a recap of the Brewers Winter Warm-Up.

Minor Leagues

- Bernies Crew profiles their number 8 Brewers prospect, Taylor Green.

- At number 8 for Between the Green Pillars is Lorenzo Cain.

- Here is an update on Huntsville Stars.

NL Central

- MLB.com says the Cubs starting rotation should be their strong point. You think? Well, as much as I hate to say it, they are pretty strong all around. Although, with the DeRosa trade along with the unlikely hood that Dempster can repeat 2008 and the minimal chance that Rich Harden stays healthy, leaves me some hope of a Chicago collapse. Plus, one of these years Zambrano is going to literally blow up on the mount. Literally.

Other News

- Ben Sheets popped up in another headline on MLB.com. The article says Sheets very well may have made a mistake not accepting arbitration with the Brewers. This article discusses whether the reward for the Rangers signing Sheets is higher than the risk of the team signing him.

- The signing of Andy Pettitte by the Yankees, as well as the likely re-signing of Oliver Perez by that other New York team and Milwaukee’s apparent disinterest, makes it all the more likely that Sheets will end up in Texas. Could be he’ll end up signing a one year deal worth less than what he would have made had he accepted arbitration with the Crew. Can’t wait to see what happens there.

24, part 2

Sunday, January 25th, 2009


A few days ago, I took a broad look at the 24 possible base/out states that determine the course of an individual inning. Now I’d like to go a little bit more in-depth and take a look at how we can use these states to quantify player performance. First, let’s take a look at our major tool: a number called Run Expectancy. This number, as its name suggests, shows the expected amount of runs from a certain base/out state to the end of the inning. It is important to note that RE does not take into account previous runs scored in the inning. Here is a table of approximate run expectancies for the 2008 NL.

Runners Outs Run Expectancy
Empty 0 0.5
Empty 1 0.26
Empty 2 0.1
1st 0 0.88
1st 1 0.52
1st 2 0.23
1st_2nd 0 1.49
1st_2nd 1 0.91
1st_2nd 2 0.44
1st_3rd 0 1.85
1st_3rd 1 1.19
1st_3rd 2 0.5
2nd 0 1.12
2nd 1 0.68
2nd 2 0.32
2nd_3rd 0 1.99
2nd_3rd 1 1.41
2nd_3rd 2 0.6
3rd 0 1.42
3rd 1 0.94
3rd 2 0.36
Loaded 0 2.34
Loaded 1 1.57
Loaded 2 0.77

As common sense would imply, RE is much higher with fewer outs and with more men on base. That goes along with what any person with any baseball knowledge would say, of course. The question is really what we can use this for. Let’s take a look at how run expectancy works for our sample inning from my last post.


BOTTOM 8TH INNING:
Baserunners: ___ Outs: 0 Runs Scored: 0 RE: .500
Sabathia was called out on strikes;
Baserunners: ___ Outs: 1 Runs Scored: 0 RE: .264 (Change: -.236)
Cameron singled to left;
Baserunners: 1__ Outs: 1 Runs Scored: 0 RE: .524 (Change: +.260)
Durham flied to right;
Baserunners: 1__ Outs: 2 Runs Scored: 0 RE: .230 (Change: -.294)
Braun homered [Cameron scored];
Baserunners: ___ Outs: 2 Runs Scored: 2 RE: .104 (Change: -.126 + 2 runs scored = +1.874)
Fielder struck out; 2 R,
Outs: 3 Runs Scored: 2 RE: .000 (Change: -.104)
Inning Summary: 2 H, 0 E, 0 LOB. Cubs 1, Brewers 3.

So here we can assign run values to each event. Sabathia’s K was worth -.236 runs, Cameron’s single was worth .260, Durham’s fly out worth -.294, Braun’s HR worth 1.874, and Fielder’s K worth -.104. The important thing to remember is that these values are being compared to the average. The theoretical average ML player would have a 0.00 RE24 (this is what FanGraphs calls the stat) at the end of the season (closest example this year was Hunter Pence with a -0.23 RE24). RE24 is only for hitting, and does not take defense into account, so it is not a total player value stat either. For pitchers, the pitcher is assigned the negative value of the play result. So the pitcher, here, received +.236, then -.260, then +.294, then -1.874, then +.104. The important thing to remember here is that the total RE24 between offense and defense for each play (and thus each game) is 0.

One usage of RE is to create something known as Win Expectancy. This is how FanGraphs live game graphs work, and what WPA and WPA/LI are derived from. A table showing all the numbers is contained in The Book, but it’s far too large to reproduce here. Win Expectancy, or WE, is derived from Run Expectancy and also empirical data of how often teams win based on the current scoring margin. WPA, like RE24, also has the same property in which total WPA for each play is 0, and win expectancies are all compared to an average baseline as well.

WPA is almost completely a retrodictive stat - that is, it is very good at telling you what happened then, but will not do a good job at telling you what happens next. However, we can still use RE to produce a very good predictive stat, and that is Linear Weights. Basically, Linear Weights ask this question: how does RE change in the average 1B, 2B, 3B, HR, etc. (this can cover as many events as you can think of - bunt, pickoff, sac fly, balk, whatever). This is generally found using retrosheet play-by-play data, and it is also what wOBA and WAR are based off.

Hopefully this doesn’t create more questions than it answers, and feel free to comment or email me at jack@rightfieldbleachers.com if you have any questions on this stuff. I also recommend reading Tango, Lichtman, and Dolphin’s The Book, which completely changed my view on baseball.

Woman Claiming to Be Escobar’s Wife Says He’s a “Monster”

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

As a blog covering the Milwaukee Brewers, we strive to be a resource for Brewers coverage and opinion beyond what you can find at the Journal-Sentinel or on Brewers.com. That includes our own opinions and speculation on things, the unique information we somehow attain (interviews, for example) and linking to other online sources for different takes and tidbits on the team we love. Oftentimes, the information we’re dealing with is highly speculative. It’s hard to trust any information you find on the Web because most of it is impossible to verify. So, we simply point to the information and report it for what it is — a rumor. Sometimes we’re even lucky enough to break a story on this little blog before  the big dogs get to it. For example, we heard about the Ryan Braun contract extension talks well before that story reached the mainstream media and, more recently (and much less importantly), we heard that the sausage assaulting Randall Simon would be trying out for the Crew before it was reported. Other times, there is absolutely nothing to the rumors we link to. That’s simply the nature of what we do. I just wanted to get that disclaimer in before I post the link to the story that the blog headline above refers to.

Fans Deserve to Know the Truth Behind Milwaukee’s Alcides Escobar

A poster on Bleacher Report claiming to be Alcides Escobar’s wife says Escobar has abandoned her and his newborn baby girl, who was born in December. The poster claims that Escobar was not there for the birth of the child and has told her that she is “fat and ugly” and that he’s “found someone better.” She goes on to allege continued emotional abuse from Escobar and the woman he’s now with, who is allegedly now pregnant with Escobar’s child. The poster claims Escobar is a “monster” and that “the little time he spent in the majors made his head swell to the max.” The post details the downfall of the couple’s relationship, beginning with the end of the ‘08 season.

This is obviously a particularly sensitive situation. If the post is true, it could have ominous implications for Escobar’s reputation in a state that holds family values very high. We would probably have chose to not post it because it’s a little too tabloid (even for us), but  if true, it also foreshadows trouble for Escobar’s career on the field, as the poster alleges that Escobar is very mentally unstable right now including getting kicked off his Venezuelan team, booted out of his family’s home and wrecking a car. Again, to be clear, we have no idea if the person who wrote the post is really who she says she is. And even if she is, we have no way of knowing what she is writing is true. If it is true and can be verified in some way, it will be incredibly disappointing.

If we hear that this post is not true (and we all hope we do), we’ll be happy to post that it’s false. And hopefully we have some much more pleasant news to report in the coming weeks…

Insomniac Ink