Saturday, August 11, 2007

I couldn't make this stuff up

The Steelers' new mascot is named Steely McBeam.

I'd say "insert your own joke here", but that's really making it too easy.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Yanks Are Coming!

So the Yankees have gone 20-8 after the All Star Break, to close within 6 of the Red Sox. Bravo, except that they've spent the month playing:

Tampa Bay
Tampa Bay (again)
Kansas City
Chicago (AL)
Kansas City (again)
Toronto (again)

Not too hard to run up your record against that lot, really. If they survive their upcoming stretch against teams with a pulse, then maybe they'll have something. But lots of these mid-summer "surges" are a product of a decent team chewing into the soft underbelly of their schedule, and the 2007 Yankees are no exception.

Elbow Sex! Elbow Sex! Elbow Sex!

(and a big thank-you to Patricia Quinn and Richard O'Brien for that one)

The latest Barry Bonds tomfoolery has a cartoonist-slash-"motion consultant" claiming that Barry's elbow brace is in fact secretly a Transformer from the planet Cybertron, which straightens, levels, and powers Barry's swing to the tune of 75-100 extra home runs. Will Caroll over at BP has already taken the cole slaw shredder to this far more effectively than anyone else could, taking the radical step of interviewing the guy who makes Barry's brace. And according to him...

...Barry's arms haven't changed size in twelve years.

Interesting, isn't it?

Of course, if you really want to look at a player whose career statistics were wildly enhanced by an elbow guard, I suggest pointing your peepers at Craig Biggio. Big's massive elbow guard allowed him to lean over the plate without fear of damage (Many of his historic plunkings show him making as much effort to evade the ball as Terrell Owens makes for a pass in traffic over the middle), taking away the inside half of the plate for the pitcher and giving him extension over the outside half of the plate. In other words, it was a huge benefit to his hitting and his OBP...almost sort of a performance enhancer.

Nothing against Biggio, mind you. I've always enjoyed watching him play, and he's clearly a superior talent. But at this point the baseball meta-narrative doesn't allow us to attribute success by a player of his ilk (read: short, white, scrappy, middle infielder) to anything other that scrappiness and indomitable will. At this point, it seems likely that Biggio received far more benefit from his elbow guard than Bonds did from his.

And if David Eckstein, Joe McEwing, David Newhan and Scott Podsednik start showing up in the batters box in +4 plate mail, well, you know where it started.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Neifi Perez Suspended...

...80 games for a third strike on the performance enhancing drugs policy. This, of course, begs the question - what would Neifi Perez hit like without PEDs?

(According to Will Carroll at BP, it's actually on the amphetamine side of the ledger, but work with me here.)

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Trade Deadline Analysis, Part II

Braves get Texeira for Most of Their Farm System
Winner: Tied
Years from now, this has the best chance of being seen as 2007's version of Doyle Alexander for John Smoltz. Tex is a huge upgrade on the various Scott Thormans, Craig Wilsons, Julio Francos, and Mumm-Ra The Destroyers who have been manning first base for the Braves this year. About the only first baseman the Bravos have trotted out there who hasn't been noticeably worse than Texeira is...Jarrod Saltalamacchia, the centerpiece of the very tasty package that went back to Texas. Throw in the fact that Texas now has an abundance of elite catching prospects, they also got three of Atlanta's other top prospects, and they'll control Saltalamacchia for years yet, and it becomes clear they got an elite haul for the elite player on the market. With the Mets' rotation in a shambles and the Phillies going down like they're charging Marye's Heights, Texeira could conceivably be the piece that puts the Braves over the top. But the price may be a half-decade of hearing about the success of Salty, Elvis Andrus, and the two live arms they gave up to get him.

Braves trade Kyle Davies for Octavio Dotel
Winner: Royals (and do you have any idea how hard it is to write that?)
With Bob Wickman doing his best impression of Frank Langella in The Ninth Gate (sorry, should have been a spoiler warning there), the Braves needed more bullpen help, stat. Dotel is a great rental, a power arm who wasn't doing the Royals much good but whom the Braves can use as either a strong setup guy or a replacement for Wiki when he finally goes kaboom once and for all.
Meanwhile, Dayton Moore does the standard new GM-shtick of looting his old organization. Sometimes it works (Dallas Green & Ryne Sandberg), sometimes it doesn't (Pat Gillick & any former Mariner), but it keeps happening. In this case, Moore pillaged the Braves for iffy starter Davies, a former top prospect who'd never made a dent in the Majors. Whether or not Davies pans out is, ultimately, almost immaterial. Dotel was a rental, a short-timer at best, and getting anything for him is a win. Dave Littlefield, pay attention - this is what you do with mediocre-to-solid-vets at the trade deadline. Davies still has a high ceiling, Moore knows and likes him from his days with the Braves, and it sure as hell beats letting Dotel walk for nada at year's end.

Phillies Acquire Lohse for Maloney

Winner: Phillies
Insofar as that Kyle Lohse has not yet gotten hurt, this one is a win for the Phillies. It's a case of "decent now vs. possibly decent down the road", and considering the fact that the Phillies have been reduced to looting Ottowa's rotation, "now" sounds good.

Pirates Acquire Morris and Massive Debt Service for Davis
Winner: Zoltag, Psionic Overlord Of the Ninth Galaxy, who has demonstrated that he can project his consciousness into Dave Littlefield at Will
Rajai Davis could spontaneously combust tomorrow and this deal would still work for the Giants.

Morris is old, expensive, and lousy, and if there is a single area where the Pirates have something vaguely approaching depth, it’s starting pitching.
And for the record, “He eats innings” is not a valid reason for picking up a terrible pitcher. If a guy is closing in on an ERA of 5 in San Francisco, he’s not going to get out of the fourth inning a lot in Pittsburgh. At best, that's an inning-light-snack.