February 10, 2017

PECOTA appears way off on #Cardinals

PECOTA, an acronym for Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm, is possibly the single most head-scratching baseball sabermetric measurement there is. It certainly is so, I think, among team measurements. ESPN has more explanation.

This year, at least at this time, that head-scratching certainly appears to be so with the Cardinals.

A losing record in 2017? Not buying it.

(The last time the Cardinals had a losing record, per franchise history, was 2007. The last time they were 76-86, the PECOTA projection, or worse, was 1999, and 1997 before that, in the club's last doldrums.)

Even should he regress somewhat, Aledmys Diaz offers depth for the Cardinal infield, and he's not as bad a fielder as some thing. Dexter 

Dexter Fowler, even if he regresses to 2014-15 numbers (which is certainly possible) still offers an upgrade over Matt Holliday, and also adds value to the Birds' entire outfield defense.

Carlos Martinez is ready to take it to the next level. A likely successful return of Lance Lynn, plus flexibility in using Trevor Rosenthal, will bolster the pitching staff. And Waino will surely bounce back at least partway from a disappointing 2016.

And, given that David Schoenfield of ESPN projects Martinez, Yadier Molina and Seung-hwan Oh will be All-Stars, again, PECOTA seems wrong. (Enjoy the time with Yadi, fans; as I note, he may be gone in 2018, and very likely will in another year or two.)

Also at Great Red Satan, manager Mike Matheny has further thoughts on the season, including the idea of Electric Twitter himself, Martinez, as a possible Cy Young candidate.

Beyond that, Matheny actually sounds like he's starting to become a proactive, and not just a reactive and by the book, manager in that interview.

And I hadn't even mentioned Alex Reyes yet on the pitching side, even though AP's Cardinals preview gives him a shout-out.

As far as specific mistakes on the PECOTA projection?

The Cards were ninth in NL fielding percentage and 11th in errors in 2016. I expect both to be better in 2017, yet Baseball Prospectus expects them to ran 14th in its Fielding Runs Above Average, as part of PECOTA, with -19.6 runs. I'm not buying that one. I'd say about -6 runs and a rank no worse than last year.

Matheny, in that interview above, specifically addresses fielding errors. He notes they had a generally young team out there. Plus, after the first month or so, Diaz' glove started settling down. He adds that neither Randal Grichuk nor Stephen Piscotty had spent a full season in the bigs before last year. With that no longer true, plus the addition of Fowler (and subtraction of Matt Holliday) the outfield defense should be a lot, lot better.

And, per Matheny, any improvement in infield D will be a boost. 

PECOTA also expects 71 fewer runs scored than last year. Not buying that, even with some degree of regression on both Fowler and Diaz. We'll see what happens on Matheny addressing baserunning. That's been a bit of an issue in the past, with even Matt Carpenter not getting smarter with more service time. Matheny may need to work on his coaches as well as players.

And, it's expecting 44 MORE runs allowed than last year, and I'm buying that one even less, with Lynn back, Rosenthal's depth, and a more stable bullpen setup.

Viva El Birdos offers more of a take on specific PECOTA assumptions that are probably wrong. Not expecting more than 2.5 WAR from any position player, let alone not expecting even 2 WAR from any pitcher, sounds laughable.

Ben Frederickson at the Post-Dispatch has an even more detailed refudiation. And, a follow-up, even more "in the weeds," about PECOTA and Redbird pitching.

I'll eat my PECOTA hat if the team is below 86-76.

That said, will the team finish higher than that, that is, are the 2017 Birds better than last year? Follow me as spring training starts heating up and we'll do some updated looks.

Update: On the other hand, as long as Matheny and his ineptness are still the manager, who knows? That's as Bernie Miklasz rips Matheny a new one over that ESPN interview and some of his claims. Meanwhile, Matheny, a former catcher known for defense, admits he hasn't gotten his team to be where he'd like on controlling opposing baserunners.

This is his sixth year. He does't have La Russa to coast on any more.

February 09, 2017

The First Amendment for me but not thee, #SJW division

Nat Hentoff may have passed away, but the title of his keystone book was never more true than in recent weeks, what with Richard Spencer being hippie-punched, then riots forcing the cancellation of multiple Milo Yiannopolis appearances.

On the latter, especially, SJW folks, and others, are armed for bear. Here's an example.

Problem is, snowflakes like this cannot cite a specific "fighting words" or "clear and present danger" reason to deny Yiannopolis his right to free speech.

Chancellor Dirks at Berkeley put it well on First Amendment issues and public universities.

But, what if student activity fees money went to help put on the event? What if the additional security costs went beyond any campus Republican group's ticket sales? All good thoughts, it seems.

But, in the flip side of the Citizens United "money = speech" idea, Dirks said that to impose extra fees would itself be a burden.

As for the idea that no student activity fees go to such an event, period? Well, since Henry David Thoreau, if not earlier, such ideas have been raised in conjunction with various local, state and federal taxes. And, if we really took that idea to its logical conclusion, then we'd have a federal budget subject to 250 million line-item vetoes. That's no way to run a railroad.

As for Thoreau? He went to jail.

I guess some sort of suspension would be similar punishment for a college student refusing to pay activity fees.

To put this another way, here's Roper and More, in a famous interchange from "A Man for All Seasons":

Roper: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law!
More: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
Roper: I'd cut down every law in England to do that!
More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you — where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast — man's laws, not God's — and if you cut them down — and you're just the man to do it — d'you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake.

"Snowflakes," if you take Roper's position, then you have no room to complain when some government censors you, too.

February 08, 2017

Will the #Cardinals dump Molina after this year?

Yadi Molina
The long-term fate of iconic St. Louis Cardinals catcher, team leader and firebrand Yadier Molina is among team topics broached by Derek Goold on Tuesday.

Yadi is entering his 14th year, with a lot of mileage on his behind-the-plate wheels, despite manager Mike Matheny saying every spring he plans to rest him more. Injury last year to Brayan Pena spiked that idea in 2016.

With Carson Kelly offering promise of being the signal-caller of the future, and the Cards in the NL not having a DH slot, I'd argue that odds are slim, if not quite none, that he stays, at least not for a long-term deal.

This year is his last guaranteed year. The Cards have a $15 million team option or $2M buyout for 2018.

The Cards have in the past promised they were seriously looking at keeping the likes of Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday, and we know what happened there. My best guess is that the Cards either pick him up for the one year, or else try to get that into something like a 2/$30 rollover, depending on what Kelly does this year, but, no more than that. It's possible Molina picks up a third baseman's glove in spring training to increase his versatility, whether that keeps him in St. Louis or betters his stock elsewhere.

In St. Louis, that would be predicated in part on the team not resigning Jhonny Peralta, which is a likely move, especially if Jedd Gyorko backs up third this year as part of being a super-sub. That said, if Aledmys Diaz shows his performance last year to be fluke not reality, Gyorko is moving back to SS more.

Right now, tentatively, I'll offer 60-40 odds that Molina is in St. Louis for 2018 and about 35-65 that he is in 2019. I'll put the 2020 odds at 4-1 against.

Picking up the one-year extension, or making it a two-year deal, with Yadi running out to third at times, would let GM John Mozeliak explore other options at the hot corner. Manny Machado and Josh Donaldson will both be free agents after 2018 — and both will be pricey.

Your thoughts? See the two polls at left to vote on both 2018 and 2019 and whether or not Yadi is still in St. Louis.

February 07, 2017

Trump saves #SNL

There's no other way to put it. The one-time must-see late-night comedy program Saturday Night Live, which a few years ago was scraping the bottom enough it was running a second copy of the show in prime time Saturdays with a slot at 10 Eastern/9Central, is now posting its best viewer ratings in 22 years.

And, you and I know why that's the case.

The show, meanwhile, is going to spin off the popular Weekend Update into a separate prime-time piece.

What is it right now, about 7 minutes on average? So, you're going to stretch it out to a full half hour and hope you can be funnier than John Oliver? Good luck with that.

You're fortunate Jon Stewart isn't still on air.

It probably won't be a total disaster, but I can foresee David Spade/Adam Sandler type over-milking of routines.

So, Trump has saved the program. Will it now kill its own goose?

February 06, 2017

#Txlege & #bathroom blather — Danny Goeb et al vs Boy Scouts, Texas mayor? (updated)

If you missed it Monday in all the Trump blather, the Boy Scouts of America has voted to accept transgender youth who identify as male. This is a big deal. (BSA still doesn't accept atheist Scouts, and has other issues, but this is a start.)

But, we now have a Wednesday update.

New Hope's mayor, formerly known as Jeff Herbst, is now transgenderly out as Jess, as pictured at left, as both Jeff and Jess.

In another story, she says she's not gonna kill people for using the wrong personal pronoun. But she makes clear that this is something that goes all the way back to her childhood, and that now is not too late to be public.

"I thought I was the only person on earth like this," she says.

That said, both of these are ... in Texas. New Hope is a small burg at the northeastern edge of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metromess.

And, the BSA is headquartered in Irving, Texas, right in the middle of the Metromess.

So, my question is, has anybody in the inside-the-Mopac media asked Lite Gov Danny Goeb, its chief backer, or state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, its sponsor, about Senate Bill 6, the so-called "bathroom bill"? As of the time I read about Ms. Herbst, I was unaware of the dynamic duo above being asked yet even about the BSA.

At the same time, has anybody asked the BSA if it would move its headquarters out of Texas if SB 6 passes? After all, the bill explicitly targets school district bathrooms, and Boy Scouts are under 18 and attending schools. And, while it's a nonprofit, not a for-profit business, it employs a lot of staffers at its headquarters.

I won't hold my nose over the daily newspaper version of the inside-the-Mopac asking a thing. After all, in another sign of how the allegedly might have fallen ...

The Dallas Snooze had the Boy Scouts story, as written in Tuesday's paper, off wire reports.

Think about that.

Nobody at the BSA gave the hometown paper an advance heads-up and nobody at the hometown paper regularly reports on what's happening there. No, the BSA isn't Texas Instruments or eXXXon Mobil. It's still the largest nonprofit organization in the area, surely. And, depending on exactly how one defines "service agency," is almost certainly one of the largest service agencies in the country. (That said, this isn't totally unique to the BSA. MADD is in the same geographic area, and sometimes gets short shrift itself.)

Update, Feb. 3: Sorry, inside-the-Mopac, or at least, inside-the-LBJ-Freeway, thought leaders. I wasn't really asking about the BSA's take on the bathroom bill. Rather, I was asking about Goeb's and Cockwhore's take on the BSA welcoming transgendered.

You know, the BSA that at one time, the likes of Danny Goeb probably put alongside "baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet."

Lemme know when y'all write that story, m'kay?

It's very simple, whether you are inside the LBJ, or any of the papers with offices inside the Mopac.

You simply go up to Danny Goeb and ask: "Do you want to be policing Boy Scouts going to the bathroom?" If he tries to claim the bill "really" is about adults, then ask, "Do you want to be policing Scoutmasters going to the bathroom?"

Or, "Do you want to let local businesses ban mayors from the bathroom?"

Update 2, Feb. 6: Lauren McGaughey has a new story up for the snooze. Neither of those questions are asked, and she wrongly calls the bill's impact "extremely narrow," even though it would do things like ban those newly-welcomed transgender Boy Scouts from men's rooms in public schools.

Now, back to Tweedledee and Tweedledum. For Goeb and Cockwhore, the whole idea of "biological sex" is what they get wrong in deliberately misunderstanding transgenderism. And, Goeb seems like a transgender version of a stereotypical anti-gay male who is often, in reality, "repressing." One kind of tell on that is that he's only worried about transgenders who identify as male going into women's restrooms.

And, speaking of ...

Update 3, Feb. 8: The Texas Trib has an analysis wondering if/when Gov. Abbott will shit or get off the pot on the bill, and just how much or how little support it has in the senate. So far, as of a month later, even with the bill still clearing its initial Senate hurdle, Abbott has wimped out. (Surely Abbott has seen polling that a plurality of his own party [includes "undecided" or "no opinion," hence more than just "yes" or "no" options] opposed the bill.) Is he afraid of Goeb?

TX Progressives offer dose of anti-Trump sanity

The Texas Progressive Alliance wonders if invading Australia will be next on Trump's to do list as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff interviewed Jose Garza, counsel for the Mexican American Legislative Caucus (MALC), about the ongoing voter ID litigation.

Libby Shaw at Daily Kos reports on her street activism in Houston. Together We Are a Formidable Force. #Resistance #Indivisible #DailyAction.

Socratic Gadfly takes note of two pieces of transgender news this week and connects some snarky dots to the bathroom bill sponsored by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst.

With Trump's Nixon impersonation just a week old, and more cabinet nominee confirmation votes coming this week, PDiddie at Brains and Eggs hopes the Democrats have a Patriot-like comeback performance in them.

Mindful of the key role in the Trump White House played by white supremacist Steve Bannon, Neil at All People Have Value visited the Houston Holocaust Museum. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.


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And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Elise Hu shares the story of her father and his journey to the United States as a refugee.

Grits for Breakfast calls on the Lege to raise the age for adult crimes from 17 to 18.

Jay Blazek Crossley criticizes the Houston-Galveston Area Council for lack of diversity on its Transportation Policy Council.

The TSTA Blog bemoans Dan Patrick's dishonesty on vouchers.

Paradise in Hell delivers the National Prayer Breakfast speech Donald Trump meant to give.

Scott Braddock reports that Dan Patrick and Steven Hotze are still besties.

R.G. Ratcliffe at the Burka Blog has a Friday roundup of Texas happenings.

Ted Cruz and Greg Abbott are both backing Congressional term limits.

C.D. Hooks at the Observer calls for a Tea Party of the left, but David Bruce Collins of the Texas Greens says we need more than that.