Bill Simmons is a writer for ESPN that you probably have heard of. He's probably the biggest "celebrity" writer on the internet and is responsible for roughly 1/5 of the posts at Deadspin. Despite influencing roughly every sports blog on the internet and setting a gold standard that anyone who thinks that it's a good idea to write on the internet should try to attain, he is one of the most divisive figures in the sports blogging world. Often accused of being smug, a name dropper and overusing the same references time and time again (I once emailed him begging him to stop with the Battle of the Network Stars references) Simmons is generally un-apologetic over his style. His style is his style. He has his fans (which I count myself as one) and his detractors, but in the end there's not much you can say negatively about him. His "voice of the fan" perspective has become skewered a bit over the years, but it still is a "voice of the fan" because when it comes to baseball, the NFL or gambling on the NFL he doesn't know what he's talking about most of the time (just like a real fan.) However, when it comes to basketball Bill Simmons leaves the "voice of the fan" behind and becomes something wholly different, one of the greatest living basketball writers alive.
Now, I've never been the biggest basketball guy. I think it's a great sport to watch, but there have been one too many times in my lifetime when the officials have clearly affected the outcome of a game and you can't tell me any different that the league didn't influence these decisions. The most egregious example would of course be the Dallas/Miami Finals from a couple of years back. I know that I'm not the only one who feels this way and was completely turned off by this series, but somehow the NBA always finds ways to pull me back in. Whether it's Lebron James or Brandon Jennings, I always find a reason to end up watching some games and a lot of this can probably be attributed to the writing of Bill Simmons. His passion for the game in his columns is infectious and there have been more than a few times I have ended up watching a playoff series because he will not shut up about it (Bulls/Celtics from last season is a great example.) When I found out that Bill Simmons had written a 700 page book about basketball I pre-ordered it right away. I've always enjoyed him as a writer and he is far too serious about the sport of basketball to mess this up. When The Book of Basketball arrived eight days ago I dug right in and I wasn't disappointed. Continue reading »
I've been reading Al's Ramblings over the weekend and I was shocked at how Al was slowly convincing himself that he really liked this trade. I mean, this is the same guy who thought Corey Hart would be a good center field option and now he's down with a .287 on base percentage? This didn't seem right to me so I shot him an email and decided to engage in a little conversation with him (like we did before). Here's what we came up with. Beware nerdy baseball talk ahead.
MPD: Alright Al I have a bone to pick with you about this Hardy/Gomez trade. Sure, it's a cheap alternative who is great at defense (just like the cheap alternative that is great at defense we have at shortstop), but you of all people should hate this trade. After all you are the one who is constantly talking up the excellence of OXS in predicting runs and you are the one who takes joy in the failures of Jack Wilson. Now, you're okay with a lineup where 1/3 of the players in it have a combined OPS of 650-700 (and that's without including the pitcher.) Seriously, look at this group as it stands now: Continue reading »
Ryan Braun loves him some offseason projects. He doesn't want to be a baseball player. He wants to be Coke, he wants to be Pepsi, he wants to be Chevy, Ford and BMW. Ryan Braun isn't just an All-Star, he's a brand. The name Ryan Braun equals quality and it reaches far beyond the baseball field. Whether it's Ryan Braun's Tavern and Grille, RB8 or Remetee, he sets out to do good things. I like Ryan Braun, he impresses me.
Why should he stop here? He needs to just keep getting bigger and bigger. Obviously the next logical step is movies and boy oh boy, do I have the perfect movie pitch for you Ryan Braun. You want to be a movie star? You want to extend your brand? You want to get laid about 15,000 times more than you do now? Well, I've written you a screenplay that will BLOW YOUR MIND and surely become one of the top box office hits of 2010 (that's right, we're fast tracking this baby!) I have the story that's going to take Ryan Braun from "Major League Baseball Star" to "Bigger than Jesus, Babe Ruth, Leonardo DiCaprio and 80's Michael Jackson combined". I have the idea that is going to make Shaq and his movies like, well, Shaq movies. Are you ready for this? Are you ready for....
When a group of Neo-Nazi's seek to re-animate Hitler and kill all the famous Jewish people in the world, there's only one man who can stop them and his name is Ryan Braun.
It's time for this Jewish All-Star to deliver some suffering of his own - with a baseball bat!
As the Phillies gift wrap a World Series for the Yankees, the time for offseason moves is approaching. The Hot Stove League is one of the best times of the year. Lots to think about, lots to talk about, tons of speculation and none of those pesky losses to agonize over. As the days roll on, I become more and more convinced that my favorite player, Mike Cameron, won't be back. Rumors of him signing with the Cubs swirl and all of the sudden I start to feel like this guy:
“It’s like going into church on Sunday and the priest says, `Everybody go home, Jesus has now sided with the devil,”’ [Packers fan Mark Fields, who was wearing a Favre jersey with "JUDAS" written on the back] said.
(It's okay, buddy. Have some milk and cookies then go take a nap. Everything is going to be all right.)
The consensus seems to be that Mike Cameron will not be back and that the Brewers starting center fielder for 2010 will be none other than Jody Gerut. He's cheaper, he's under team control and he could put up roughly the same numbers. To prepare for this seemingly inevitable move I keep looking at Gerut's stats, his projections, his Wikipedia page and I just can't figure him out. He just doesn't make any sense. He's either going to be a great steal and an amazing asset or one of the biggest busts in team history. I haven't been this confused since my middle school thought the best way to teach kids about sex was by watching Degrassi episodes from the 80s. Not that I was complaining. (Hey Shane, if you think you are responsible enough to handle a kid when you are in middle school maybe you shouldn't eat acid and jump off a bridge a couple years later. Just a thought.)
I am going to attempt to be smart. Bear with me, unless you're attractive then bare with me.
The Brewers currently have a run differential of 442 scored to 448 given up. Their record is 48-47 while their pythagorean record is 47-48. Their second and third order records (go to the link for explanation) have them being even worse at 45-50 and 44-51. With the Brewers being 4th in the National League in runs scored it's not hard to tell that this is completely the fault of the pitching which is also 4th in the National League, 4th to last. Their current average score of a game is 4.7 to 4.7. Even if the Brewers can maintain their offense and drop the pitching down to 4.1 per game (which is what the division leading Cardinals are currently doing) they would still finish around 83 wins. Things do not look good for the Brewers and a .500 record could very likely be a reality. Here is a graph.
Projected win percentage
Now, that does not look good. However, this team won't look the same through the last 67 games as it did through the first 95. There will be changes. Already Felipe Lopez has stepped into the leadoff spot and he should be able to add a few runs to the team. If Bush comes back and rounds into form and Parra continues to be good Manny or if the team trades for a starter, they won't give up 4.7 runs the rest of the way. Ideally the rest of the way the team will average 5 runs per game and give up something like 3.5. Here's what that team would look like.
Projected win percentage
86 wins.Will that be enough? It could be. The NL Central isn't that strong (using this same formula the Cardinals finish 83.79-78-21) and at the very least that would put the Brewers in the discussion for the Wild Card. Add in some luck and who knows? The Brewers sure haven't had any this year.
I know the idea of scoring more and giving up over a full run less over the rest of the season can be a tough pill to swallow, but the past is the past. It doesn't matter how they got here, it matters what they do from this day forward. ZiPs Rest of the season projections are favorable for Parra, Bush, Villanueva and whoever isn't Mike Burns on the pitching side and JJ Hardy, Corey Hart, Jason Kendall and even Ryan Braun on the hitting side. Say what you want about the Brewers this season, but as a whole they have underachieved a bit and should expect to be better from here on out. How much better? That is the question.