Stadium Issues

January 24, 2008

Thanks to The Sports Economist we have two great articles on stadium subsidies.

#1. The Atlanta school board is considering granting the area around Turner Field the status of Tax Allocation District. This is taking taxes AWAY FROM SCHOOLS and pumping them into the area around Turner Field to encourage growth.

As Skip Sauer pointed out, the stadium subsidy itself isn’t enough, more is needed. So first you build a $400m stadium, partly because that new stadium will encourage growth in that area and generate tax revenue. Unfortunately, it will only do so if you give even more money to the area, preferably money taken from the public schools.

My favorite quote is by economist Roger Noll
“Sports venues alone are just big black holes that have the ability to depress the neighborhoods in which they’re in.”

#2. Our very own Seattle Times published an article where it is alleged, “If the Sonics leave Seattle, the city’s economy won’t suffer and most people won’t care.” Obviously that was said by the Seattle City Council, right? Nope, that was said by the Sonics. Of course it was not too long ago they were arguing the opposite in the hope of a new publicly built arena.

“The financial issue is simple, and the city’s analysts agree, there will be no net economic loss if the Sonics leave Seattle. Entertainment dollars not spent on the Sonics will be spent on Seattle’s many other sports and entertainment options. Seattleites will not reduce their entertainment budget simply because the Sonics leave,” the Sonics said in the court brief.

I have some morbid curiosity with stadium dealings. I’d love to hear anybody explain why building stadiums is good for the economy, all they do is divert money from a variety of sources to the pockets of millionaires. It is a shame that these owners hold municipalities hostage. These are the same owners that turn public sentiment against the players while they rake in millions.

Why I Hate Counting Stats…..(Part 1)

January 22, 2008

So, you thought they wouldn’t have me back, eh? Well, alas, after a one month layoff that’s seen it’s share of responsibilities, and other things, I thought I’d bless the blogosphere with something to read, and perhaps a little bit of what I do best: rant.

I hate counting stats. I hate when people use them. I hate seeing them on baseball cards, I hate seeing them on baseball telecasts, and I hate that they’re used to compare players on completely different teams, in different leagues, or from different eras.

So, why? Why do I hate counting stats? Well, here are a few reasons I’ve come up with. Feel free to add some reasons of your own in the comments section, as I’m quite certain I don’t have ALL the answers.

1. Counting stats leave no room for regression.

I suppose this is pretty obvious. Once you hit that 12th home run, you’re not going to regress to 11 again during that season. Pretty obvious. But how can you quantify the inevitable ups and downs of a baseball season in numbers that can’t regress, when a player’s performance certainly can? I don’t believe you can, and I defy anyone to convince me otherwise. Would you rather have Sammy Sosa with 10 bombs in April and none in May, or Barry Bonds with 5 in each month? As for me, I’m probably going to take the balanced effort (if you’re going to make me choose based on counting stats alone, that is…..).

2. Counting stats are an incredibly small sample size

It’s also true; if Justin Morneau hits 30 home runs next year, that’s likely to represent….oh about 4-5 percent of his plate appearances for the season. Why should I care about 5 percent of Justin Morneau’s plate appearances? How can this be considered a good measure of…..anything? Same goes for RBI…at best a player’s RBI total will represent 25 percent of a player’s plate appearances (I’m thinking a ‘fantastic’ total of 150 RBI (and in actuality, there isn’t a single player that pulls in a single RBI each time, so it’s probably closer to 20 percent) in 600 AB/PA, here). Still, how is 25 percent of anything to be considered a reasonable sample size?

More to come……but I thought I’d get off the schnide and make myself useful.

If you’re looking for solid blogs to read, check out and If you’re looking to talk sports, check out the forums at and give me, brandonwarne52, a shout out!

Thanks everyone for reading!

Some thoughts on replacement level players

January 18, 2008

I’ll bring the discussion that John Bai started on LL over to HR. The topic is Freely Available Talent (or Replacement Players) v. Average players.

A few thoughts:
1. Success is defined in wins and losses, not wins per dollar spent. The second is rigged in favor of teams that spend less money.
2. Superstars rarely hit the open market. When they do they can pick and choose where they want to do. Most of the time they don’t want to go to losing teams (A-Rod being the exception).
3. Freely available talent is freely available for a reason. Greg Dobbs is an excellent example of this. Dobbs actually had a decent season last year, but who saw that coming? Except for Pat Gillick. In order for the Mariners to get a shot at such a player, another team must first decide they are of little value.
4. Billy Beane is a savant. Just because he is exceptional at pulling rabits out of the hat, doesn’t mean that the average GM, can be expected to do this on a regular basis.
5. Freely available talent matters more to small budget teams. Teams like the A’s need to get more out of every dollar than do the Mariners in order to get the same win/loss record.
6. This is a seperate argument than the one about prospects getting major league time. Replacement level players are from the Rick Short pool of AAAA ballplayers. Club controlled guys don’t factor into the freely available pool.


This Post is not About Adam Jones

January 11, 2008

I promise, besides the title and this sentence I am typing right now, Adam Jones will not appear in this post. Instead, I’ll take a brief sojourn into what adding Carlos Silva likely means for our 2008 outlook.

To start, we expect Felix Hernandez, Jarrod Washburn and Miguel Batista to return in 2008. The other four guys to get a start last season were Ryan Feierabend, Cha Seung Baek, Jeff Weaver and Horacio Ramirez. All told, they combined for 367.3 innings and 280 runs allowed. Holy batting practice batman, that’s horrendous. How horrendous? It’s 6.86 runs allowed per 9! Replacement level is usually determined to be something around 6 flat, which would have saved us 35 runs all by itself.

Carlos Silva’s last four runs allowed marks are 4.43, 3.97, 6.49 and 4.41. Boy 2006 sure sticks out huh? To get a quick and dirty projection for Silva for 2008, let’s just gaze at a few ways of using these numbers:

1) Straight average of past four seasons: 4.83 RA

2) 50-30-20 weighting over last 3 years: 4.95 RA

3) High and low regressed: 4.69 RA

Based on these, I’d be comfortable penning Silva for a 4.8 RA mark in 2008, were he to be pitching in MIN again. But he’s not, he’s changing parks, and importantly for Silva, changing defenses. Lets examine the park first. Using this article from Greg Rybarczyk we can see that one quirk that will help Silva is that SafeCo is a lot less friendly to yielding homeruns into the right-centerfield gap than the Metrodome.

And, from BBTF, we have these factors from 2003-5:

Team	         R   	 H   	 2B      HR      BB      SO

Minnesota	 1.06 	 1.02 	 1.04 	 0.98 	 0.96 	 1.12

Seattle	 	 0.90 	 0.92 	 0.90 	 0.94 	 1.04 	 1.06 

These show SafeCo as about 15% tougher run scoring environment over the period in question. Now, that doesn’t mean we want to apply a 15% reduction across the board. For one thing, other park factors, notably those at Baseball-Reference, show that scoring is roughly equal in MIN compared to SEA over the past three years. Since SEA’s defense is worse than MIN, (though the Mariners are getting better in that regard with the replacement of Jose Guillen by Ada–err, some new guy), lets just call park and defense a wash for the time being.

Carlos Silva is durable, averaging 193 innings a year over the past four seasons. Lucky for us, that’s about exactly half of the amount of innings taken up by the fearsome (to us) foursome. Let’s translate some of these into runs over a season to get an idea of how much we are improving.

2007: 6.86 RA * 193 innings = 147 runs allowed

Silva 2006: 6.49 RA * 193 innings = 139 runs allowed

Silva Med: 4.80 RA * 193 innings = 103 runs allowed

Silva 2007: 4.41 RA * 193 innings = 95 runs allowed

So we’re looking at around a 40-50 run improvement if Silva stays healthy and manages not to repeat 2006.

For what it’s worth, if we nabbed Erik Bedard and he took over the remaining 175 innings left from the Hindenburg-like foursome above, and notched a (conservative estimate) 4.0 runs allowed mark, he would net us another 55 runs. If he did something insane like repeating 2007, it would jump to 70 runs.