Election Info

April 11, 2011

http://electionreference.com/governor/louisiana-governors-race/

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Quick Notes on Erik Bedard

February 1, 2008

I’ve spent the last few days watching Erik Bedard’s 2007 starts. They were pretty instructive as to how he works.

  • Low-mid 90s fastball with some movement, spotted well.
  • High 70s 11-5 curveball, sometimes has difficulty locating.
  • Mid 80s straight change. Doesn’t do much.

He gets most of his called strikes with the fastball, working both corners, and he gets a fair amount of swinging strikes on it too. It’s easier to hit than the curve, but still an excellent pitch. He’s especially fond of the outside corner, and you don’t see him elevate the ball that often.

Virtually no called strikes with the curveball, and the catcher’s glove moves a lot trying to follow the pitch around. However, the thing is impossible to hit (I think Jeff Sullivan pointed out to me that there was 7x as many swinging strikes on Bedard’s curve than there were hits). He generally tries to go down and in to righties and low and away to lefties, but the curve has a habit of wandering all over.

The change seems like more of a show-me pitch than  anything else. He doesn’t play around with it much when he’s on with the fastball and the curve.

The key to his transformation from pretty good pitcher to legit ace seems to come from a slight change in his curveball delivery. It was easier for batters to pick up before ’07, and therefore they could lay off it for a ball. Not so much this year. Watching batters go against it is amusing – they really don’t know what’s coming out of his hands, a fastball or a curve, and so they’ll swing at pitches in the dirt or, sitting curve, watch a fastball into the corner of the zone. His delivery on the curve has moved more in line with the fastball, which cuts down walks and boosts Ks (in essence because the bad guys are swinging at balls more often).

The best news about it? It’s sustainable. There’s really no reason I can see that Bedard can’t approximate this level of success over the next couple of years. The only worry I have is injury.

Bedard is awesome. Our rotation kicks ass. I may have issues with the trade from a longterm roster construction point of view, but there’s little doubt that we’re better off this year for it.

Incidentally, I have us at 88 wins right now. That won’t be enough, but hey. We were lucky last year, why not repeat it?


Pitchers and Injuries: The Biomechanics of Baseball

December 13, 2007

Note: The formatting is a bit bollocksed in this post, sorry. Haven’t been able to fix it

If you spend any time at all reading about baseball players, you’ll have seen comments like this regarding certain pitchers:

“[player z] has a very violent delivery, putting too much torque on his elbow, and is therefore a huge injury concern.”

How do the experts in the field come to these conclusions? How much weight should we give to their opinions? These are important questions, and to answer them we’ll have to go right back to the beginning.

The first question we should ask ourselves is this one: What is the goal of a pitcher’s delivery, in the purely physical sense?

The answer’s fairly straightforward – to impart angular (spin) and linear acceleration to a baseball using just the pitcher’s body to do so. The amount of linear force imparted to a ball will manifest itself as the velocity of a pitch, while the angular acceleration more or less controls the spin. We won’t get into the physics of a ball in flight here, rather we’re concerned with a very different problem.

How does a pitcher apply this acceleration?

In essence, what a pitcher does is store up energy in his body, and then release it all at once. The first part is pretty easy to understand, albeit with some gross simplifications along the way…

Muscle systems are more or less paired springs for the purposes of an analysis like this. When you compress a spring, it stores the energy you use in pressing on it as potential energy (the exact amount is determined by what’s called a strain energy function, but as this gets absurdly complicated for biological tissue, we’re going to gloss over that one here), and then releases it as soon as it’s free to do so. If you think of the upper body of a pitcher as a series of springs, you can see that the the windup is accomplishing more or less the same thing. Note that this has very little to do with the leg kick, as that’s exploiting a different type of potential energy: gravity.

So that’s actually pretty straightforward, and really not where pitchers get hurt. Rather, injury occurs in the process of transferring all of that stored up energy to a baseball. Limbs twist, the body gyrates, and the elbow and shoulder are having to hold the whole arm together through what is really a very violent motion. So it is reasonable to say that the more energy which a pitcher has to transmit to get results, the more likely he is to be hurt?

No, it’s not, and doing so is actually quite lazy. Remember, the best pitchers are the ones putting as much acceleration on the ball as possible, so in terms of pitching performance, maximising torque and such around the joints is a good thing. What we have to do is look at some anatomy. I’m going to specifically examine the elbow here, since it’s far less complicated than the shoulder, but the same principles will generalise to other joints as well.

(source: Gray’s Anatomy)

The elbow is theoretically a biological hinge, but it doesn’t really work the same way your door hinges do. The joint allows for two kinds of motion: flexion/extension, or basic hinging, which everybody is familiar with, and pronation/suppination, which is the rotation of the forearm relative to the upper arm. Three major ligaments provide structural integrity to the joint as it performs these movements. The Ulnar Collateral ligament (UCL) is undoubtedly the best known to baseball fans, due to its place as the ligament rebuilt in Tommy John surgery, but the other two are decidedly less familiar – the Radial Collateral and the Annular. The reason these are less familiar to us is because they’re rarely what goes wrong in an elbow (this is unsurprising if you actually look at where the annular is and what it does).

Anyway, the point of this brief digression into anatomy is to show that far from being a simple hinge, the elbow is actually a fairly complicated system, with each movement stressing many different elements of the joint. None of these ligaments works in torsion, either – they’re designed to generally take tensile stresses (i.e. pulling). In addition, elbow failure will occur when any ligament in the elbow begins to fail, as even if a minor one begins failure, it will put incrementally more stress on the major ones, leading to their eventual yield as well. In essence, what a pitcher ideally does is tailor his motion to take advantage of the capacity of every element in his elbow.

Still, no problem, right? We have models of the elbow that will turn the relative movements of the upper and lower arm into stresses  inside the elbow, right? Uh… Not so much. Same goes for the shoulder, but the main problem here is that we don’t even know the general engineering properties of many of these  ligaments, which causes problems when looking at how to distribute forces in a computer model. Honestly, it probably wouldn’t help much if it did, because of the actual failure mechanism involved. Yep, it’s time for another anatomical tangent.

In order to accommodate the tensile stresses they have to take, cartilaginous bodies are reinforced by fibres running in the same direction as the primary loading they received (this is loosely analogous to rebar in reinforced concrete). These collagen fibrils greatly strengthen the material matrix they lie in, but can themselves fail. And they do, one by one, with each failure causing their neighbours to take on additional stress until they fail as well, which is how tears propagate.

Of course, we don’t really care about the material’s true yield strength, because a pitcher isn’t just throwing a single time and then calling at a career. Hell, a starting pitcher might throw 50,000 pitches over 15 years. What we have instead is cyclic loading, which leads to fatigue failure (or the biological analogue, at any rate).

The danger stress for cyclic loading is, without exception, significantly lower than for a time deal, but here we again run into the problem of lack of research. About all we know is that ligaments can indeed suffer fatigue failure (which will be made manifest as a slow, growing tear), and that they suffer it significantly faster if the stresses that said ligament takes are out of plane with its fibril reinforcements (this is fairly intuitive, and is probably why throwing hard breaking balls is bad for most pitchers). Apart from that, it’s all a bit up in the air.

What doesn’t help is that all pitchers aren’t created equal, in both pure ability and their bodies’ capacity to take punishment. Biological parameters are one of the few things that actually turn up as a true bell curve, and so we’ll have fragile guys, average guys, and indestructible guys in the pool of pitching talent (NB: for the most part, the really breakable pitchers will never get as far as the majors before blowing out their arms). Mark Prior was said to have perfect mechanics until his arm exploded repeatedly, but that doesn’t actually mean the people who said so were wrong. Pitching is an exceptionally violent activity, and a ‘perfect delivery’ will not reduce stress to zero or anywhere close to it, it will merely minimise the damage done while throwing a baseball at 90+ mph, or with obscene spin, and Mark Prior could have been doomed from the start.

So. We don’t know how much stress goes into each element which might fail, we don’t know how much it would take them to fail in the first place, and even if we did we wouldn’t know where a specific pitcher might fall on the bell curve of ligament toughness anyway. Oh dear.

How do we tell if a pitcher is going to get hurt then?

Well, we wait for them to start hurting, and if it’s bad enough, they put them through an MRI and look for tears. If they find them, it’s rehab/surgery time. Otherwise, it’s back to the grind until they actually break.

No educated guesses?

Well, yeah, you can make some, and this is really all the experts are doing, unless they’re holding back key information from academia at large. Watching for guys with painful looking deliveries is a start. Fransisco Rodriguez instantly jumps to mind. Liriano is another example, and he’s one of the few guys I’m comfortable with predicting future injury problems before if he keeps throwing the same way he does (after all, he’s already busted his UCL once). Honestly, if you start watching closely enough, your guess is as good as anyone else’s. It will take a lot of research and work before anybody’s really qualified to look at a pitcher throwing, stick the numbers in a computer, and give him [x%] chance of damaging [ligament y] in the next 10,000 pitches. I can’t wait for it to happen, though.

Man, that was a lot of writing, and I didn’t even touch on some of the subjects I’d have liked to, like development and the injury nexus. I think I’ll leave it at that, anyway. Feedback is more than welcome.

Graham MacAree is currently working on a Masters degree in Biostructural Engineering at Cambridge University in the UK, specialising in structural failure of cartilagenous material


R.A. Dickey

December 7, 2007

All I wanted from the winter meetings was an ace and all the Mariners gave me was a lousy knuckleballer.

Yesterday, I drove up to Bellingham to watch the Cougars play Gonzaga and see one of my fellow bloggers (who just so happens to be my brother in law). The Cougars didn’t play their best game but they beat a good team on the road. I was hoping that the Mariners would make a splash move for Bedard (or Santana) to make it a truly great day for my fandom. Unfortunately, the only player the M’s have acquired has been from the rule V draft.

I’m of the opinion that knuckleballers haven’t caught on because you don’t know what you are getting pitch to pitch. When I play catch, I’ll break out the knuck from time to time. Sometimes it dances and hits the person I’m throwing to, other times it’s the juiciest meatball you’ve ever seen in your life. Imagine being a manager watching Tim Wakefield give up 7 runs in the first two innings: Do you pull him or do you leave him in? With a traditional pitcher, a manager goes to the pen to clean up the mess. With Wakefield (or any good knuckleballer) they can put it together on any given pitch. The other dilemna is when to pull a knuckleballer. Managers don’t like making those kind of decisions.

R.A. Dickey must pass two tests for the M’s to profit big from this move. First, he must play well in the small sample size theater known as spring training. Dickey will need to impress in this brief audition, even though his success will largely hinge on where batted balls drop. A few balls bounce the wrong way for Dickey and he’ll be blocked in the Twins system. Second, Dickey needs to actually be good. Depending on who he matches up against in spring training, he may face a bunch of kids who have never seen a knuckleball before. Hard to tell from a month.

 If Dickey is good enough to survive in the major leagues, he will be a no. 3 starter. If not he will be worthless. Should be fun to watch.


What the Twins could do/should do/probably will do for the upcoming 2008 season.

November 11, 2007

There are few ‘sure things’ in life. This also applies to baseball, and as we’ll see today, the Minnesota Twins prospective 2008 roster.  The ‘sure things’ at this point are catcher Joe Mauer, first baseman Justin Morneau, shortstop Jason Bartlett, left fielder Jason Kubel, and right fielder Michael Cuddyer.

 

As I see it, here’s how the Twins roster shapes up for 2008:

 

Batters-

 

C: Joe Mauer

1B: Justin Morneau

2B: Open competition between Alexi Casilla, Nick Punto, Matt Tolbert, and possibly FA/Trade

SS: Jason Bartlett

3B: TBD

LF: Jason Kubel

CF: TBD

RF: Mike Cuddyer

DH: TBD, with potential of moving Kubel here if a better LF defensive option arrives.

 

Bench Options-

 

C: Mike Redmond, Jose Morales, Chris Heintz*

IF: Nick Punto, Brian Buscher, Matt Tolbert, Alexi Casilla, Matt Macri, Chris Basak

OF: Jason Tyner, Darnell McDonald*, Denard Span

Both IF/OF: Garrett Jones

 

Rotation-

 

Johan Santana-Matt Garza-Boof Bonser-Kevin Slowey-Scott Baker

 

Other options-

 

Francisco Liriano- Nick Blackburn-Glen Perkins-Matt Guerrier

 

Bullpen-

 

Dennys Reyes-Matt Guerrier-Glen Perkins-Jesse Crain-Pat Neshek-Juan Rincon-Joe Nathan

 

Other Options-

 

Boof Bonser-Carmen Cali-Ricky Barrett-Jose Mijares-Julio DePaula

 

* Denotes uncertainty on minor league free agent status

 

As you can see, some pitchers are options for both the rotation and the bullpen, such as Glen Perkins, Matt Guerrier, Boof Bonser, and perhaps Francisco Liriano as he recovers from Tommy John Surgery. Only one hitter, Garrett Jones, is really an option in both the OF and IF, and realistically I don’t like him as an option for either.

 

So where does that leave holes for this team? Primarily, the biggest holes are 3B-DH-CF, but we also can not ignore the possibility of adding a useful 2B, at least for next year if we decide Alexi Casilla needs a little more time at Rochester. So let’s take a little time to dissect each position and what we could do (who the options are), what we should do (the best option given all factors considered), and what we probably will do (a prediction of the final result).

 

3B- 3B has been a trouble spot for the Twins ever since Corey Koskie fled the country to play for his homestead Blue Jays. Mike Cuddyer played their briefly with mixed results, and the Twins have since gone with Nick Punto, with mixed but mostly negative results. So where should we look to find the next Twins 3B? Well, the free agent market at 3B isn’t very strong. Mike Lowell could be a good addition, but there’s prevalent wisdom that his career was resurrected by the Green Monster, and that he’d become a flyball machine elsewhere. Also, he’s been offered a relatively lucrative deal (rumored at 3/36) to stay in Boston. So, scratching off Lowell from our short list, what else do we find on the market for 3B via trades and free agency.

 

Miguel Cabrera (Marlins): Keep dreaming. Upcoming contract demands and the overall cost to acquire him don’t make him a good fit for the Twins. Buyer beware, he’s looked awfully puffy lately….

 

Scott Rolen (Cardinals): A brief rumor surfaced sometime last week suggesting the Twins had voiced interest in the 32 year old injury prone defensive wiz, but that was quickly squashed when the Minneapolis Star Tribune suggested that Minnesota GM Bill Smith and his colleagues never even inquired about Rolen. At 3 years and 11+ million per remaining on his contract, and coming off a .729 OPS (89 OPS+) season, no thanks!

 

Garrett Atkins (Rockies): Atkins name has been a real buzzword for Twins fans lately, with almost all message board trade scenarios leading to the starting 3B for the defending NL Champion Rockies. While solid offensively, Atkins is not what you would call stellar defensively (Fielding Bible lists him as the 2nd worst defensive 3B in the ML last year), and he’s not much of a hitter outside of the hitter-friendly confines of Coors Park (.936/.773 Home-Road OPS splits). He’s also rumored to be looking for an extension in the near future, perhaps as high as 5/75, so the Twins might be better off abstaining here. There’s also a chance the Rockies hold onto him and move super prospect Ian Stewart to 2B, especially if they’re unable to retain FA Kaz Matsui.

 

Other options include Rangers 3B Hank Blalock, Mets 3B David Wright (in a Santana trade of course), Blue Jays 3B Troy Glaus, White Sox 3B Joe Crede, Indians 3B Casey Blake, Devil Rays IF’s Evan Longoria and B.J. Upton, FA Corey Koskie, FA Morgan Ensberg, and FA Russell Branyan.

 

Best Case Scenario: The Twins manage to swing a deal for uber-prospect Evan Longoria. Longoria has some real big time pop, hitting 44 minor league home runs and slugging a solid .546 in 733 career minor league at bats. His most recent stop at Durham resulted in a .269/.398/.490 line, suggesting he’s not too far from making a serious impact at this level. Another awesome idea would be to acquire B.J. Upton, but it’s really hard to say if he’d be available at all (same goes for Longoria, really) or if he could handle 3B. (Likelihood of this scenario: Probably about 5%)

 

Reasonable Scenario: Twins sign 3B Casey Blake or Corey Koskie. Blake has been solid if unspectacular for the Indians, with OPS digits ranging typically in the high .700s to low-mid .800s. If we could pull him in on a 2 or 3 year deal averaging 6 million dollars a year, I’d be 100 percent down for it. That’s really hard to say, given the market this year. As for Koskie, I’d love nothing more than to see him get a shot in spring training to show he’s healthy, and return to the club as full-time 3B. He’s usually good for an .800 OPS and very, very good defense. Even if he’s lost a bit, and drops to .750 for his OPS, he still provides a HUGE upgrade. I imagine we can snag him on a 2-4 million dollar non-guaranteed contract with an invite to ST.

 

Prediction: Twins sign Corey Koskie to 1 year, 3 million dollar non-guaranteed contract. This is a very good deal for us, especially if he proves healthy. Teams like the Twins need to find guys to succeed on below market value contracts, and he seems to be a good bet. Koskie then posts .250/.340/.440 season, and is well worth 3 million dollars.

 

DH/LF: The DH spot was real sore for the Twins last year, seeing names like Jason Tyner, Mike Redmond, Jeff Cirillo, and such pass through it on a regular basis. This is another spot where just a simple decent upgrade will make a huge difference. The reason I have DH/LF here is that if we acquire a solid LF type player defensively, I have no qualms about moving Kubel to DH. I’d rather see Kubel play LF everyday, but as long as he gets his AB, I’m happy. Personally, I’d LOVE to see Barry Bonds brought in to the Twin Cities. As a DH, he could play almost every day. If he comes close to replicating his 170 OPS+ last year, he might post the best season for a Twins hitter EVER. That said, there seems to be some prevalent detraction to the deal by most Twins fans, suggesting he’s not a “Twins type of player.” Who knew that the Twins weren’t about winning? Not me. In addition to Bonds, here are some other intriguing LF/DH options:

 

Luis Gonzalez (FA): Since Joe Torre signed on as the new skipper at Chavez Ravine, Gonzalez has changed his tone and is interested in another go round in LA. However, it’s unknown if the interest is mutual. Gonzalez is aging like a fine wine; he still managed a solid .278/.359/.433 (101 OPS+) last season. That would be perfect in the Twins DH slot, but his left handedness might not be as great. He’s not likely to command a huge deal, nor a multi-year deal, which is why I feel he’s a good fit.

 

Mike Piazza (FA): Piazza slipped into slight mediocrity last year, compiling 309 AB of .275/.313/.414 (96 OPS+) baseball. He didn’t catch a single inning last year, and can no longer be viably relied on to even be a backup, and maybe not even an emergency option. There is a chance that he could rebound a bit if given enough playing time, as he rebounded in 2006 from a couple below par seasons in 2005 and 2004, but it’s relatively unlikely. He’s near his end.

 

Sammy Sosa (FA): While many people point to his 92 RBI to talk of a great rebound season for Slammin’ Sammy, his .252/.311/.468 (102 OPS+) line as a whole is not so impressive, especially considering he’s asking for 7 million dollars to play next year. This is not a good move for the Twins, and it’s not a good move for anyone. Even if he withdraws that demand, he’s still not a good option for the Twins, unless it’s on a minor league contract with an invite to spring training. Very, very unlikely scenario there.

 

Cliff Floyd (FA): The Cubs declined their 7.5 million dollar option on Floyd, making him a free agent after he posted a .284/.373/.422 line in 282 at bats on the North Side this year. Floyd was sort of a man without a spot last year, considering the Cubs had Matt Murton, Alfonso Soriano, Jacque Jones, Felix Pie, and Angel Pagan to find playing time for as well as Floyd. Cliff appears to be a good bet to go to the AL and prolong his career as a DH, but it’s uncertain if that’s what he’s most interested in doing. He’d be a good fit for the Twins at DH, but like Gonzalez, he also is a left handed hitter and the Twins are very, very left handed. I personally like Floyd better than Gonzalez due to age, and slightly better OBP, but I think they’re both good options.

 

Other options include Cubs OF Jacque Jones, Phillies OF Pat Burrell, FA OF Shannon Stewart, FA OF Kenny Lofton, FA OF Jose Guillen, and FA OF Milton Bradley.

 

Best Case Scenario: Twins sign Barry Bonds to a 1 year deal, somewhere in the 12-15 million dollar range if needed, less if possible. Bonds still has some left in the tank, and coming to the AL would allow him to DH and probably get 500 AB rather than the 300 or so he was getting in the NL. He would add instant legitimacy to the Twins 2008 playoff run, and despite the fact that he’s a left handed hitter, he’s still murdered lefties in his career at a .984 OPS clip. He would look VERY nice in between Mauer and Morneau in the cleanup spot.

 

Reasonable Scenario: Twins sign Milton Bradley to 2 year, 18-20 million dollar deal. Bradley will need some time to recover from his torn ACL, but he may be able to return more quickly to the DH role while easing him back to health, and then perhaps once healthy he could take over full time in CF. He’s got a career OPS of .797, and Torii Hunter’s career mark is .793. Certainly it makes more sense to pay Milton 9 or 10 per year than it does to pay Torii 18 million per year, does it not? We could/should probably add Jacque Jones to play CF in the meantime in this scenario.

 

Prediction: Twins choose between Luis Gonzalez and Cliff Floyd, signing one of them to a 1 year, 5 million dollar deal. This turns out to be a good flyer, as I can see either player going .270/.340/.440 and stabilizing a very, very unstable DH spot for the Twins.

 

CF: Let’s face it, Torii Hunter is gone. That’s not going to hurt very much if the Twins can simply fill their other holes (and CF too) with simply useful (.750-.800 OPS types) players. See, when you have absolute black holes in some spots (it’s never good to have a .562 OPS at any place), it can really overshadow having solid players at C, 1B, SS, LF, and RF. So, while everyone is crying over the loss of Torii Hunter, GM Bill Smith and his comrades have the task of filling the CF hole with something productive. I think we can all agree that Denard Span and Jason Tyner are NOT that option. Both of them profile as 4th outfielders who catch the ball, run well, and in Tyner’s case, make good contact. You can count the Twins out on the Kosuke Fukodome sweepstakes, and the Aaron Rowand race as well. So, who can we expect to roam CF for us as the Dome next year?

 

Jacque Jones (Cubs): Jones is due 5 million dollars in 2008. This is a total bargain when you consider that Torii Hunter and Jacque Jones are more or less clones. The two players may have a 9 million dollar difference in what they get paid next year (or more), but I don’t believe that you should paid 1 million dollars per OPS point. Translated: Torii Hunter’s career OPS is .793, Jacque’s career OPS is .784. They both catch the ball, and Torii has a markedly better arm. I think this is a good potential move for the Twins, allowing the club to see if anyone in the farm system emerges as an option, or buying another year to see what’s on the free agent market next year.

 

Milton Bradley (FA): See above.

 

B.J. Upton (Rays): B.J. had a fantastic season last year, posting a .300/.386/.508 (136 OPS+) line while spending time at both 2B and CF. He appears to be a better option in CF, and it looks like that’s where he fits long term on the Rays. Now, if we come calling with Matt Garza, I think they’ll listen. They have Baldelli, Dukes, Young, Gomes, and Crawford in their OF stable as is, so I think we could manage to get one of them.

 

Rocco Baldelli (Rays): Baldelli hasn’t played a full season since 2004, but at age 26 he’s still a good gamble for the Twins, especially if he doesn’t cost Anthony Swarzak, Matt Garza, or Kevin Slowey. While Baldelli’s career mark of .282/.332/.443 (102 OPS+) probably sells his talent level short, it’s really tough to know what type of player is beneath all that undoubted rust. I still feel it’s a good gamble, though.

 

Other options include Astros OF Luke Scott, FA OF Kenny Lofton, FA CF Mike Cameron, Red Sox CF Coco Crisp, and Yankees CF Melky Cabrera (likely in a Santana trade).

 

Best Case Scenario: Twins bring in an OF from Tampa Bay, namely B.J. Upton. Upton is an offensive stud whose rights are controlled for the next 4-5 seasons, and would provide a great right-handed middle of the order bat for this club for years to come. He’s also got good speed, so he should be sufficient to roam the Dome in CF.

 

Reasonable Scenario: I would say the two most reasonable scenarios are the Milton Bradley scenario posed in the DH slot, or adding Rocco Baldelli into the mix by dealing Brian Duensing or Nick Blackburn, or perhaps both.

 

Prediction: Twins trade for Coco Crisp. Twins wind up dealing minor league pitching, and Crisp comes in and hits either leadoff or second with Bartlett filling the other spot. Crisp hits .280/.350/.425 and stabilizes the top of the order, making this a good move for the Twins.

 

To sum everything up, I feel the Twins will continue to talk a big game, but probably will wind up making some moderately conservative moves. This would be fine with me, as long as we have no black holes on the club.

 

Next time: Trading Johan Santana and the 2B spot.


Some Economic Thinking about Baseball

November 9, 2007

FSN and the Mariners announced an extension to their television deal. Starting next year FSN will broadcast all available Mariners games, at least 150 (Fox and ESPN will broadcast some). This is a huge reason why the team can compete. Local revenues are vastly more important to MLB teams than NFL teams. The market for Mariners games on TV in Seattle is huge, and FSN pays up. Between a few states and Canada, FSNW reaches 3.4 million and the M’s will continue to have an advantage for the next few years. It isn’t wasted money either as the team led the league in local TV ratings for 8 straight years between 1996-2003.

Elsewhere, an estimate by Vince Gennaro, writer of Diamond Dollars, which took a look at the marginal revenues of winning in baseball, estimates that the Red Sox will accumulate $45 million from their title, and the Rockies $30 million. The estimates, I believe, are for the next 5 years and don’t include 2007 revenues. This is how a guy like A-Rod or Santana might be worth $20-$25million, and why every year people scratch their heads at a few FA signings. If your team is sitting at the 87-90 win level, an extra couple of wins could increase your chances at the playoffs/World Series or at least a pennant race by a good margin, and revenue increases as well. When all you need is a couple of wins, those free agents get more and more enticing.

Lastly, Michael Lewis (Moneyball) published an article in the NY Times against revenue sharing. He notes that clubs like Tampa Bay and Kansas City are using the money as a revenue source rather than building their clubs. His argument is that (remember Microeconomics!) the marginal revenue of a win does not justify the marginal cost required to obtain said win. Increasing spending to increase revenues cuts away at the revenue sharing check. An exception to this rule of pocketing money is the Rockies, who increased payroll $15m after their $16m revenue sharing check. I hate revenue sharing, and it pisses me off that every year that bastard Selig talks about how much parity there is, and how necessary revenue sharing is. Ask a fan from Toronto how much parity there is. I am pretty sure Selig’s definition of parity is that the Yankees did not win the World Series.

To be fair, Lewis assumes the only way to improve a team is to spend money on free agents at the Major League level. It is very possible and could help a club more to spend that money on signing bonuses and international scouting instead and Lewis fails to address this. Nevertheless, he brings up some good points.


Welcome to the rest of your lives.

October 11, 2007

Well, I’d like to kick off this blog with a welcome.  My name is Brandon Warne, and I’ll be one of the 4 bloggers that will primarily comprise the blogosphere of this place…..

Edit: My name is  Brent Schwartz, but those around the Seattle-net-o-sphere would know me as as etowncoug. Hopefully you don’t think you will enjoy reading this site. The other authors will edit this little get to know you section when they get the chance.

Look forward to hopefully interacting with some readers

Peace

BW52