July 12, 2013

What's next for Tricky Ricky Perry?

Yes, a lot of people are speculating that he'll announce a presidential exploratory committee in due time, etc.

But, what if, instead of president, he wants to be chancellor? As in Texas A&M system chancellor?

If you want wild hair out the ass speculation about what El Jefe Mofo will do, there you go President, Texas A&M, or, even more A&M system chancellor. He's got 18 months to lean heavy on regents and call in chits for top consideration, and you know he'd have fun getting Mr. Democratic Milquetoast, John Sharp, to stand aside for him as system chancellor. True, Loftin's been prez at College Station longer than Sharp as chancellor of the system, but, Tricky Ricky would love the head job. Bob Perry's dead, but, he could surely get some other megadonor to promise the Aggies money, on one condition.

(Update, July 12: If Perry wants to "settle" for being president in College Station, and wants to leave the governor's mansion a year early, he's got his chance. Loftin's retiring in January.)

The guy bleeds Aggiedom profusely even by Aggie standards. Plus, this would be a final eff you at Democrats who think, rightly, that he's anti-intellectual.

Of course, such leadership could look like his ideological counterpart and political peer, former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, in controversy over his leadership at Purdue.

Running for president is still quite possible for Perry, sure. But, I wouldn't be surprised if his heart's not in it. Or his guts.

In the last 25 years, he's run only two really competitive races, and those were at the start of his rise. First, in 1990, he beat Jim Hightower to move from the state senate to secretary of agriculture. Hightower had a few self-inflicted wounds, and also was the No. 1 most hated statewide Democratic officeholder in the GOP target crosshairs. Anybody running against him would have gotten extra GOP support.

Then, in 1998, he beat John Sharp by just a couple of percentage points in the race for lieutenant governor. And, even though the governor and lieutenant governor run separate races, Perry was probably helped by W's long coattails. And, has faced no serious opposition since then in Texas races.

Even with a more organized campaign, and more time to prepare, he'd be an underdog in the 2016 GOP presidential primaries, and on the far side of 65. I'm just not sure I see him doing that. Beyond the general challenge, unless Mike Huckabee runs in 2016, Perry would likely stand out in the race as somewhat of an oldster, and even Huckabee is five years younger than Perry.

Also, unlike in 1998, Karl Rove won't be available to help. Since he kind of undercut a Perry campaign idea in 1998, the two of them have been at least a bit on the outs since then, and Rove would be more likely to sign up with somebody else. (If he puts official skin in the 2016 presidential game, it's with Marco Rubio, IMO, unless Jeb Bush jumps in.)

So, Perry may form an exploratory committee. He may suck up money from it. But, right now, I put his odds of actually running at 50-50.

And, more ammo against a Perry run: He does the worst against Hillary Clinton of any top-tier GOP candidate in a polling matchup, and has than 5 percent support right now within GOPers of a slew of possible candidates.

So, that goes back to alternatives.

If not running the A&M system, becoming CEO of one of the companies helped out by his Texas Enterprise Fund gravy train is a possibility.

July 11, 2013

Is Ozzie Smith a better SS than Derek Jeter, #Yankees fans?

Yes, I know, with the Cap'n back in pinstripes for the first time this season today, fans of the Bronx Bombers probably think it's heresy of some sort for me to compare Derek Jeter to Ozzie Smith.

And, they may be right. But not in the way they think.

The Wiz ranks ahead of Jeter in WAA, WAA and 162-game win-loss percentage, and the 7-year JAWS ranking for shortstops, for starters. He also ranks higher on positional runs, surprisingly. Of course, he obliterates Jeter on fielding runs. The Cap'n's a -229 while the Wiz is a +154.

Oz had four seasons of 4 WAA or better, to Jeter's 3.

The fielding stats above don't tell the whole story, but another one does.

Jeter started his career below the league average in range factor for shortstops. Ozzie ended his career still above the average.

Ozzie had a bit less doubles power and a fair amount less home run power, tis true, along with lower batting average. The lower scoring era, plus playing in the National League, make his numbers look worse.

But, the fielding flips everything 180 degrees. Not only does it indicate Ozzie's the better shortstop, it says that the Yankees probably never should have had the Cap'n at short in the first place, instead of third base. At the least, they should have bit the bullet on his popularity and looked at moving him over when they got Alex Rodriguez, instead of moving A-Rod.

If we hadn't had his creative flip in the playoff series against the A's, even some fans not totally inclined to sabermetrics probably would have recognized just how bad a defensive shortstop he was.

Now, the $64 question — WHY is Jeter's range factor so bad?

Is he that slow? Or that slow of a first step?

Or, to rack up Gold Gloves, was he trying to preserve his fielding percentage, either consciously or unconsciously?
 
Now, Jeter fans may say, "But Ozzie played on Astroturf!"

Not so fast, Cochise.

First, his San Diego years were on grass, as were his last few Cardinals years, as old Busch ripped out the turf before he retired.

Second, while turf  theoretically gives truer hops, A: That difference isn't that great, with good grass grooming, and B: In the dirt-meets-turf junctions around the bases' sliding bits, hops can be worse on a turf field than a grass one.

Third, while turf can speed up some slow balls enough to allow plays to be made, or to turn force outs into more double plays, it can speed up already-fast hits to give them a better shot at getting through the short/third hole.

And, B-R's Fan ELO Rater agrees with me. The Whiz is at No. 108, while the Cap'n is at 121.

John Cornyn addresses fears of getting "primaried"

Guess the following press release is proof that Cornyn is still concerned about the Ted Cruz effect. The first graf says enough:
Today Senator John Cornyn announced that he has hired Brendan Steinhauser as his new Campaign Manager. Steinhauser is a nationally recognized campaign strategist and grassroots organizer whose work helped usher in many new conservative members of Congress in the 2010 and 2012 elections. Previously, Steinhauser was the Director of Campaigns for FreedomWorks, where he ran dozens of statewide issue campaigns, and led the group's effort to elect Ted Cruz to the Senate in 2012. Steinhauser also led grassroots campaigns to help elect Senators Marco Rubio, Mike Lee and Pat Toomey.
Still no musings of note that I am aware of, of a possible primary opponent, but he's clearly concerned.

That said, if anybody wants to add to the speculation, please feel free to drop a comment. I've personally wondered if Dan Patrick might switch to hear from the governor's race.

July 09, 2013

#Obamacare: What's being gutted next?

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has an important media presser about Obamacare tomorrow.

Given other recent announcements, something's being delayed, cut, massively changed or explained away:

Your choices are:
A: Since HHS is now OK with self-reporting income for eligibility purposes, it will now also be OK with self-reporting medical, hospital and surgical procedures for reimbursement purposes.
B: President Obama is going to personally walk a patient through signing up for an insurance exchange.
C: Edward Snowden will reveal that electronic medical records are subject to National Security Administration snooping, under the aegis of Operation Microscope.
D: A "doughnut hole" is being rolled out for prescription costs in states that are expanding Medicaid.

More seriously, given House GOP pushback on the issue, Dear Leader's probably going to push back the individual mandate a year, since he just pushed back the employer mandate.

July 08, 2013

For farmers, but denying global warming

Yes, Texas has had drought before. But, it's not been this serious, this long, over this much of the state.

Now, computer modeling is not at the point where we can say that "X percent of the drought is due to climate change," or anything similar.

However, out in West Texas, we can say — and climate researchers do say — that such droughts are more likely, more likely to be longer, and more likely to be more intense with climate change.

So, the PR director of the Texas Farm Bureau, Gene Hall, is pretty irresponsible to his own "constitutency" to have a blog post like this.

Problem 1:
I’m not seeing how unilateral surrender of our own economic fortune does any good whatsoever in the climate change grand scheme of things.
The reality is that, with food one of the few things we still generally import (although off and on, annually, in the last decade, we've been a net importer, which few people know), it's unilateral surrender to add to global warming while knowing its hurting agriculture.

Problem 2:
All this comes up at a time when the U.S. has reduced its carbon emissions to early 1990s levels. 
Not quite true. We're well above 1990 on total emissions. We're roughly the same on per-capita emissions, but that doesn't count. And, as for "economic fortune," part of the decline is due to economic struggle. 

Anyway, there's more in this vein.

Given that most of the proposed changes would but have small and indirect impact on farmers, and some, like biofeedstocks for cellulosic ethanol, etc., could be to the good, this piece appears to be little more than anti-Obama mongering.

#Stlcards: David Freese + extras for #CliffLee AND Michael Young?

That crazy idea, of the St. Louis Cardinals trading David Freese, and whatever other prospects (read: "young pitchers") are desired, to the Philadelphia Phillies for All-Star pitcher Cliff Lee and Viagra-less utility fielder Michael Young, has popped out of the mind of Fox's Ken Rosenthal (who has now Tweeted me that it's "just speculation).

Several points.

First is financial. Freese has two years of arbitration before he hits free agent eligibility. Let's pencil him in for something around $12M for next year, but no more. Lee, of course, gets $25M a year.

Second is, I do NOT want Viagraless Michael Young. The man is so-so at doubles power, and has almost no HR power any more. Yeah, he's had a recent surge, but I don't trust it to last. Plus, he's a free agent this year, and one that the Cards wouldn't sign.

Why not?

Because Matt Carpenter would be the long-term answer at 3B, which would then open 2B for the Cards' No. 2 position player prospect, Kolten Wong.

I would trade Freese plus any younger-gun pitcher below Lance Lynn and Shelby Miller for Lee straight up, if the Phils ate part (not necessarily a majority) of his contract.

And, yeah, I'd like to have Lee.

First, I expect him to have at least two more years of 125 or better on OPS+.

Second, he's a lefty, and top-level lefty starters don't grow on trees.

Third, and speaking of, we don't know how well Jaime Garcia will bounce back from his surgery.

Fourth, we don't know if Michael Wacha will develop a consistent third pitch or how well Tyler Lyons or John Gast will pan out. I'll bet more money on Wacha than on Lyons or Gast, though.

Fifth, are you a Cards fan, and you're going to tell me a 1-2-3 of Adam Wainwright, Lee and Miller doesn't make you drool?

Add in that that makes it a lot easier to let Jake Westbrook walk after this year, and apply his salary toward whatever part of Lee's pay is left after you get the Phillies to eat anything. (And, if you're offering a Freese just entering arbitration, they should eat some salary. I'm thinking up to $10M is not unreasonable, and $5M minimum, though, if push came to shove, if I'm the Cards, I consider a trade like this while eating the whole contract. But, that's a last option, and I'd still lean against. The Birds still need to look at the cost of a better shortstop.)

So, there's your trade: Freese plus Lyons or Gast for Lee, period. If the Phils want more, you negotiate but hold the line close. No Wacha, no other staring pitchers at MLB level.

After that 1-2-3 above, you've got Garcia as potential No. 4 then Wacha as No. 5. Top to bottom, the best rotation in the league. And, if Wacha still scuffs it at the start of next year, you find an MLB-replacement guy who didn't make somebody else's 40-man.

Adios, mofo

Yeah, we're saluting you good-bye, too.
Unfortunately, El Jefe Mofo, Rick Perry, by announcing he won't run for governor again, means that an even greater mofo, Greg Abbott, is likely to succeed him as governor in 18 months.

Seriously, who is going to challenge Abbott in the GOP primary? Lite Guv. David Dew-less got his hat handed to him by Ted Cruz, and isn't likely to tangle with somebody else who's a darling of the far right. The tea party types would also give Abbott a kudo for halfway announcing that he was running for gov well before Perry said he wouldn't.

Update, Dec. 30: The mofo is adiosing even as his "Texas Miracle" crumbles into dust.)

If not Dew-less, then who? Todd Staples and Jerry Patterson won't. Tom Pauken?  I had at first forgotten about him already being in this race, and that's because his was the first non-newspaper email blast I just got. The only other remote possibility is Dan Patrick switching races, which Abbott would love.

Either one of them, or even the two together. enough of a challenger to juice campaign fundraising efforts and sharpen up his campaign skills, while enough of a nutbar for Abbott to try to paint himself as a relative moderate going into the general election. Pauken,  or other "mosquitoes," will play Gary Mauro to George W. Bush in this race.

And, if Abbott's worried otherwise, as AG, he can always push for an investigation into Tricky Ricky's money laundering, aka the Texas Enterprise Fund, and thereby get further separation from Perry. (Which he won't; he's got too much skin staked to the ground in that game himself.)

So, no, Battleground Texas or Wendy Davis fans — don't think this is some sudden opportunity. Abbot might beat Davis MORE than Perry would have. So, focus long term and don't expect results statewide before 2020.

Would that it were different. Davis is more dynamic than either Bill White or Chris Bell, certainly a real Dem unlike Tony Sanchez (and more liberal than White), and has shown she can win over independent voters.

Speaking of ...

People who tout Davis' state senate results ignore that even if her district tilts Republican, it's still suburban Republican. In the less Austinized portions of the Hill Country, in the Piney Woods, in West Texas, that means bupkis. Sorry, folks but true.

And, now, back to Dudley Dewless.

Dewless is likely to lose the Lite Guvship to whichever far right challenger becomes most darling to the polloi. (I'm assuming, especially if Patrick stays in this race, it heads to a runoff.)

His best bet for remaining politically relevant would be to challenge Cornyn. If he doesn't, but decides to run for Lite Guv again, two straight campaign losses will make him irrelevant.

Isn't it about time we call him the Tom Dewey of Texas? Seriously, he's in a box.

True red wingnuts don't trust him, a true red wingnut, but a "moderate" one, is odds-on to become governor, multiple true red wingnuts have already filed for his current job, and even Big John Cornyn is at least modestly to moderately more wingnut-friendly than Dewless. But, primarying Cornyn seems the best of bad options.

Meanwhile: Tricky Ricky's next move?

Most likely is for him to form some sort of Super PAC, about the end of this year. Stay tuned. It would allow him to allegedly stay "focused on Texas" by exactly how he crafted the goals of the Super PAC, while if he said something about "spreading Texas (whatever, up to and including USDA Prime GOP bullshit)," still have the national focus angle. That's all he needs.

He'll get crushed again, of course. But, I expect him to run, and not just to buff over the image of 1, 2, 5, no 3 sir, and forgetting three in 2012.

He'll still be crushed, though.

In the last 25 years, he's run only two really competitive races, and those were at the start of his rise. First, in 1990, he beat Jim Hightower to move from the state senate to secretary of agriculture. Hightower had a few self-inflicted wounds, and also was the No. 1 most hated statewide Democratic officeholder in the GOP target crosshairs. Anybody running against him would have gotten extra GOP support.

Then, in 1998, he beat John Sharp by just a couple of percentage points in the race for lieutenant governor. And, has faced no serious opposition since then in Texas races.

And, although he'll never admit it, and although (due to name recognition difference) he allegedly was still strongly outpolling Abbott, that's at least part of why he didn't want to run for guv again. He knew Abbott had his number (beyond the fundraising one, though that was itself significant).

And, if you want wild hair out the ass speculation about what El Jefe Mofo will do? President, Texas A&M, or, even more A&M system chancellor. He's got 18 months to lean heavy on regents and call in chits for top consideration, and you know he'd have fun getting Mr. Democratic Milquetoast, John Sharp, to stand aside for him as system chancellor. True, Loftin's been prez at College Station longer than Sharp as chancellor of the system, but, Tricky Ricky would love the head job. Bob Perry's dead, but, he could surely get some other megadonor to promise the Aggies money, on one condition.

See an expanded version of these thoughts on Perry's future here.

And Abbott?

Meanwhile, is it too early to speculate much about how Gov. Abbott will be different from Gov. Perry? Texas legal blogger Grits for Breakfast says he might be a bit more libertarian on some police powers issues.

And, speaking of Greg Abbott and legal issues, Mother Jones reminds us that the love child of Greg Abbott's war on any legislation connected with Barack Obama is the guy who guarantees Tea Partiers won't unite around Rick Perry — Ted Cruz. (For non-Texans unaware of it, Cruz used to be Abbott's solicitor general.)