January 19, 2019

STLCards: Bryce, Manny, or a starting pitcher plus depth?

STL Cards fans: Don't drink the Bryce Harper Kool-Aid
Thursday night, I saw a #Bryce2STL hashtag trending on Twitter.

Time to respond.

First, Paul Goldschmidt IS Bryce Harper for this year, if you will.

Second, especially with that framing, you can never have enough pitching.

And, contra the Mike Shildt bullshit, Adam Wainwright not only is not a sort-of No. 1 starter, he's really not a starter period. Michael Wacha is not a No. 1 starter; he's a recurring injury waiting for a new outbreak. Alex Reyes should not be pencilled in for anything until he hurdles his two serious injuries for more than 25-30 innings.

A rotation that starts off with Miles Mikolas, Carlos Martinez and maybe, say, Dallas Keuchel has a solid foundation. Mikolas should eat a lot of innings, too, and Keuchel can. (I'll have a post next week on a suggested offer to Keuchel, assuming he's still available.)

Jack Flaherty is your No. 4. Luke WeaverJohn Gant and Daniel Poncedeleon fight for the No. 5.

Waino goes in the pen for long relief, spot starts to stretch out the four young'uns early in the season and to mop up. Maybe use Andrew Miller as an occasional "opener" on a lefty-heavy team and have Waino follow. Reyes also spot starts after rounding into shape in Memphis. Reassess the 4-5 spots by or before the All-Star break.

A rotation like that also stabilizes the pen a lot.

But, we need another starter, IMO. Waino isn't one and what I said on Wacha. I got into a fairly friendly, but somewhat heated, Twitter discussion on this last Friday with a group of Cards fans, in the hipster / bro / lumberjack division of male Millennials, perhaps, who can think of nothing beyond the imperative of signing Bryce.
They're intoxicated to the point that they ignore the reality that Manny Machado is much better. (One even pivoted to say that Matt Carpenter said he feels comfortable in the OF, if the Cards needed room for Machado. I'd take Manny well ahead of Bryce, but ... lemme see ... that's the Matt Carpenter with 24 games of MLB outfield experience and none since 2014? Find me a better way to make room for Machado. (Even if WAR is overrated, runs above average, runs from position, and more, Manny is ahead of Bryce on all, which, as much as alleged underpay offers to Machado, may be part of why both are still unsigned. In fact, if 7/$175 from the ChiSox is actually Manny's best offer, I would applaud Mo if he beat that just enough to sign him. Without parking Carp in the OF every day, we'll find a way to make room in the inn-field.)

But, there are cheaper solutions yet that, because they don't involve infield finagling and do address pitching rotation realities, not fantasies.

Anyway, here's a sample Tweet with my quote:
No, just no.

First, per above, Waino ain't a starter. Second, Cards fans counting Reyes eggs before they hatch need to Just.Stop.It. Third, Wacha's an injury waiting to happen, as noted. If you seriously think Waino is a starter (other than Mike Shildt making him one in a lineup) you've already damaged your credibility with me.

As for "fill"? Give Curtis Granderson a cheap contract as a backup LH corner OF. That's especially important if Dexter Fowler doesn't bounce back.

NB: The Reds possibly adding Sonny Gray further underscores the value of good pitching arms.

==

And, if you have to salivate over Harper, at least be realistic about his value. Oh, and hit the poll at right as to when you think Harper will sign, wherever that might be.

January 18, 2019

Drinking the Tulsi Gabbard Kool-Aid
and strawmanning opposition to her

And why is Michael Tracy leading?


So, going well beyond defending the most interesting of announced presidential candidates, who would be ...

Tulsi Gabbard, the lover of Hindu nationalist fascists ... and lover of their campaign finance money ... and lover of American defense contractor finance money ...

Some alleged left-liberal types like Michael Tracy or whatever the hell we call Glenn Greenwald besides libertarian are moving at least partially into full-blown apologetics territory.

Tracey, especially, looks like he's about ready to become at least her PR spox if not her campaign manager.

As for him being an actual, or alleged, or self-presented, or encouraging others to infer, left-liberal? Not so fast on that. I've got that near the bottom of this piece, in a mini-hot take on Tracey and why he's got his knickers in a knot for Tulsi.

Contra the RSS bromance, Tracey says, "but she also spoke to a Congress Party gathering." Yeah, and Hitler spoke to German Catholic bishops. So sue me for trotting out Godwin's Law.

This is far from the only strike against Gabbard anyway.

1. An in-depth 2017 piece by the New Yorker points out that she's a Trump-like level of political weathervane — other than never changing on her BJP support. I've already muted one Twitterer who refused to accept that she could want to stop American involvement in the war in Syria yet still be an Islamophobe (like Trump). That includes, like Trump, supporting a blanket ban on Syrian refugees coming to the US as part of "extreme vetting." Eoin Higgins has details.

2. In 2016, Hawaii's Dem LGBT caucus endorsed her Dem primary opponent, they found her so untrustworthy. As of late 2018, they still find her untrustworthy. So, Tulsi Kool-Aid drinkers who say she supports gay rights? People on the islands kind of disagree. (On the first link, at the time, folks like the idiotic Democratic Underground attacked the messenger, the Maui Times, as a "conservative rag" rather than actually consider the message, just because Tulsi was posing as a Berniecrat. Especially in light of the second link, the message rings true.)

I will give credit to her stepping up in this video. Whether Hawaii LGBT Dems think it's that sincere, I don't know:



Down with Tyranny takes that same tack on "is this sincere"? I think Howie is right; this is a judgment call. That said?

It would mean yet more if she disavowed the RSS. I'm not asking for a disavowal of the BJP, though condemnation of some of party members' more extreme anti-Muslim statements would be nice. I am asking for condemnation of the RSS and a disavowal of her past connections to it in language at least as strong as this video.

3. She did, eventually, support Conyers' HB 676, but I don't trust the depth of that support. Even since then, she's used the New Dem weasel phrase "universal health care."

4. She still has not modified in any way her BJP support. As of six months ago, she still drew ire of Indian minorities for that and the Islamophobia associated with it. RSS leaders spoke at the World Hindu Congress she attended.

(Note: If Modi weren't PM, and Obama were still president, I suspect he'd still be blocked from entry to our country. So, it's the BJP, not just the RSS.)

5. A Jan. 5, 2019 Intercept piece has more.

6. In this video, with quote noted on Wikipedia, Tulsi supports the "ticking time bomb" idea that torture is sometimes justified.

7. She's also pro-drone.

8. She also accused Palestinians in Gaza of using people as human shields, basically spouting standard Israeli talking points, and signed off on a blank check Congressional resolution to that effect.

9. Related to the three above, per a Jacobin piece that Tracey dissed as part of his strawmanning, she has been a suck-up to neocons in general. Beyond that, as it notes, her antiwar stance does NOT extend to other aspects of the War on Terra.

9A. She's a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, for doorknob's sake. Yes, it has more than 100 members; nonetheless, for someone who allegedly stands up to the bipartisan foreign policy establishment, aka The Blob, that's "interesting" at least.

10. She was once a DNC vice chair before opportunistically jumping ship in early 2016 to endorse Bernie. I suspect she either got busted doing something unethical or else made a crude and rebuffed power play. But, the alleged contrarian certainly wasn't so at one time. After all, she was selected for the spot way back in 2013, and she still touts that on her website. Debbie Wasserman Schultz was already known to be a hack at that time, Hillary Clinton was known to be the inside candidate for president at that time, and superdelegates were known to be problematic to left-Democrat reformers at that time. Oh, and per that New Yorker piece, which I link again here? Schultz said she was NOT "disinvited" from the first debate. And, I believe Dancing With the Schultz over Gabbard, which itself should explain her trust level with me.

11. Many Hawaiians see her as a squish on gun control.

That said, the Kool-Aid drinkers, and a strawmanner like Tracey, should note that I did NOT say she's wrong to support Trump on removing troops from Syria. (What Trump actually is doing has been overstated, though.) I've said long ago that we should get out. I've said long ago that Assad, while not "good," is the "least bad" realistic option to keep leading Syria. Ive said long ago that not every gas attack the MSM and the bipartisan foreign policy establishment has tried to pin on Assad was actually done by him. I've said long ago that the White Helmers were a PR outfit connected to ISIS.

Note that "long ago"? As in, I have known this for quite some time, and independently of Tulsi Gabbard?

So, to her Kool-Aid drinkers? I would certainly vote for any reasonable Green for president against her. An Islamophobe who may still be a closet bigot on gay rights hasn't captured me, let alone I wouldn't vote for a Trump-level weathervane and seemingly blatant political climber.

==

As for Tracey in particular? Even before the Gabbard announcement, for the past month or two before that, he'd been writing some hacktacular crap. It's only gotten worse now. He's lost two reputational star levels with me, not just one.

And, until I hit teh Google, I forget Tracey's own #FakeNews claim that Maxine Waters pushed him. I couldn't have forgotten, because I did not know until this teh Google, that Tracey wrote extensively for paleocon outfit The American Conservative. That includes repeating conservative BS that the IRS targeted conservative political shops. Both there, and before that at Reason, he wrote several bromance articles about Ron Paul, never talking about his racism or his Religious Right stances that undercut his claims to really being a libertarian. (And, yes, Michael, they're bromance pieces, and I may just do a separate blog post about this.)

The Paul bromance, assuming the heart of yearning for it still beats — and I have no reason to believe it does not — explains a lot about Tracey running Gabbard up the flagpole and saluting her. I wonder if, in a lower grade way, Tracey doesn't support sort of Caitlin Johnstone-type red-brown or red-black alliance. If not seeing his Uranus rising in the House of Caity, then compare him to a younger Justin Raimondo. (I hadn't looked up his address in years; he comes off more than ever as a self-hating gay if he can't even support traditional libertarian ideas for legal positive protection of gay rights as needed.)

And, no, this isn't an "occasional thing." Tracy was writing for Reason before the Occupy movement started. He wrote nearly 30 pieces for TAC over five years. Which then leads me to wonder: Was The Young Turks that dumb to hire him? That lazy on vetting him? Did he do some good spinning? Many Redditors had the same questions at the time Cenk let him go.

And, I wonder if Tracey has ever thought of modifying his "anti-Semitism isn't THAT bad" comments after the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting. As for him citing Alec Cockburn as support? I stopped reading Counterpunch for years in part because I thought Alec sometimes pushed the envelope on anti-Zionism hard enough to put a toe or two across the line of anti-Semitism. In any case, it was arguably dumb at the time and certainly is now. It comes off as of a piece with his Tulsi comments, though; that he's the one true person to see left-liberal reality correctly.

Speaking of Michael's seeming fellow travelers? Caity's also got the hots for Tulsi. Reason No. 5 is wrong, per what I've read about the reasons behind the DNC split. Besides, things like superdelegates have been around, and have been a problem, for 40 years. And, it took Tulsi three-plus to complain? She also takes a selective look at Tulsi's foreign policy (i.e., not a word about India or about refugees).

(Update, Jan. 29: The wheels are apparently quickly falling off her campaign. That includes her campaign manager re-signing, which leaves an opening for Michael Tracey!)

Glenn doesn't seem to be a Kool-Aid drinker as much as a fence-straddler, or at least he seemed that way when she first announced. But, his tweets were ... not altogether sound, is the best way I can explain it. (Note: More and more left-liberals and leftists who take a serious look at both economic and social injustice have over the past year or two taken a more serious look at Glenn, and found him more and more wanting.)

January 17, 2019

Bryce Harper remains unsigned — how much longer?
And ditto on Manny Machado

So, the Bryce Harper free agency derby carries on, presuming agent Scott Boras is still hunting something like 10/$350 and either one or two opt-outs.

See the poll at upper right or click the link to vote on when you think he signs a deal. Note that we've already gone past the first cut-off point I mentioned.

Do you look at the guy with the 10-WAR year and say, yeah, we hope we get even close to that?

Or do you look at the guy with the THREE sub-2 WAR years (and only one of those due primarily to injury) and say "Too much risk factor"?

Per the third slide in this round-up by Derrick Goold, I presume the Cardinals, John Mozeliak and Mike Girsch have already decided to do the latter.

Let's compare Harper to a big contract the Cards were willing to take on in trade just 12 months ago, namely, Giancarlo Stanton, as I've already done this on Twitter in exchange with Bill James.

The 10 years left on his contract, at $285 million, are actually "just" $28.5 million AAV. (Take away his option year, and 9/$260 is approximately $29M AAV.) But, you'd pay him 10/$350 if Bryce is getting that, right? Even if Bryce is 3 years younger?

So, let's look at WAR.

Harper, seven years, 27.4 WAR is 3.9 per year. Stanton, nine years at 39.2, is 4.35 per year.

Let's throw out best and worst years of both and check that.

Harper? 16.3/5=3.26. Stanton? 27/7=3.85.  You've still got that one-half WAR per year difference. Another way of putting this is, if you throw out the best year of both, Stanton still has four 4-WAR seasons and Harper two. (If you want to round up Harper's 3.7 year, we get to do that with Stanton's 3.8.)

In addition, other than when he got hit in the face by a pitch, Stanton was a much better health risk.

Add in that Harper has, in the past, been valued more highly on defense than Stanton and B-Ref putting him at -3.0 on dWAR in 2018 should be of some concern.

Looking beyond the Cards, remember that Boras doesn't always win, even when he waits and waits and waits. Just last year, he did get a win with J.D. Martinez, but not with Jake Arrieta. Or Mike Moustakas. (Who sits and waits again this year after his one-year contract a year ago.) Or Greg Holland.

What if, per Yasmani Grandal reportedly turning down a solid deal from the Mets, and eventually having to eat a bit of crow on a one-year deal with the Brew Crew, that Washington's original offer to Harper was the best Harper and Boras have seen and the best they will see?

As noted, Boras has had his share of "losses" before. Just never one potentially this big.

What if he and Harper start seeing things crossways from one another, whether it's Harper wanting to capitulate first or Boras?

"That's a clown question bro."

Maybe, maybe not.

Some of this may be at the edges of collusion. I'll likely tackle that in a blog post after this year's free agency class clears the field.

Some of it is the Billyball and analytics revolution — which Boras was trading on a decade ago — hitting enough front offices that it's now been flipped against him. Cards owner Bill DeWitt, and more straightforwardly, his son, Bill DeWitt III, just said this.

Speaking of, let's take a briefer look at Manny Machado, with the same ideas as above, in part because he's represented by Dan Lozano, the biggest agent competitor to Boras. In his case, I am going to throw out a partial rookie season as well as his worst full season.

Manny is at almost 6 WAR per year. The only slight eyebrow raisers are a subpar for him 2017 and bREF ranking him negatively on defense in his Orioles first half of 2018.

If a WAR is worth $7M, and you knock him down to "just" 5 WAR a year, Machado is in today's baseball world easily worth $35M/year for 8 years, or more. In short, he's worth the Bryce Harper contract that Scott Boras is peddling for Harper.

Where are we at?

On Harper, we've not heard any indication that anybody has made a better offer than what the Nats did in-season last year. What if the market dries up enough they pull back in their original offer themselves, knowing they're still ahead of everybody else? Like 9/$260 instead of 10/$300, while throwing in an opt-out year they didn't originally offer.

On Machado, yesterday, MLB Trade Rumors said the White Sox offer was 7/$175. Later yesterday, though, Lozano said that report is totally untrue. Maybe so, maybe not. We know Lozano fell short of his agent grand slam hopes with Albert Pujols, and occasionally manipulated the media in his chase of attempting to pass Alex Rodriguez for biggest contract ever.

And, in a follow-up, there IS at least one "mystery team," because Machado met with one.

Meanwhile, hit the poll on Harper.

January 16, 2019

TX Progressives roundup — the wall, the shutdown, the Lege

The Texas Progressive Alliance stands with federal workers and contractors and their families amidst the longest government shutdown in history as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff congratulates Dan Patrick for his success in claiming victory on the bathroom bill.

SocraticGadfly saw the number of "names" already making 2020 presidential announcements, along with the speculation about many others, and offered his initial oddsmaking take on Democratic candidates along with other assessment.

Stace at Dos Centavos is back! Last week, he provided more context to the recent prison release of La Raza Unida Party's Ramsey Muñiz than the MSM. 

It's been a fun time, but Texas Leftist has decided to finally close up shop in the blog format.  But if you've enjoyed the great content over these years, please give my brand new venture a listen.  Welcome to the Ingressive Voices Podcast!!  Hope to see you (hear you??) there!!

And here are some posts of interest about Texas and the nation of progressive background.

State Rep. Erin Zwiener asks us to take sexual misconduct seriously.

Dan Solomon notes that the town of Marfa is now famous enough to be mocked by The Simpsons.

Grits for Breakfast gives the Lege a to-do list for criminal justice reform.

The Lunch Tray calls for action to oppose the weakening of school lunch nutrition standards.

Paradise in Hell remains our foremost interpreter of Individual One.

Swamplot finds a visual compendium of where Houston's neighborhood names came from.

David Bruce Collins has a roundup of Alexandria Ocasio Cortex thoughts.

Jill Stein's recount effort, having first produced results in Pennsylvania, including a requirement to move to ballots with a paper trail, added to that in Wisconsin, including getting to take a peek at the guts of voting machines.

The Children of the Confederacy plaque is coming down from the Capitol in Austin.

January 15, 2019

As the government shutdown continues:
Playing 'gotcha' with Dems on wall votes

The likes of Brie Brie Joy, writing for The Intercept, and Lee Camp, among others, last week played "gotcha" with national Democrats, claiming that then-Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, along with current Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, in 2006, had no problem voting for a wall.

Politifact rates that half-true, and I agree.

Politifact describes several ways in which the Secure Fence Act was different from Trump.

First, it was for sections of the border as a stand-alone item. It was not to fund part of a barrier for the entire border.

Second, as the word "fence" in the bill's name indicates, it was NOT for a wall. And, although Trump, in his semi-dotage, has slipped at times on Twitter, it's clear he wants a wall.

Indeed, Politifact notes that Trump has called what was approved in 2006 too weak.

Politifact has a related piece from Obama's presidency here.

It's not a totally false claim, whether out of the mouth of wingnuts trying to score purity points or from alleged leftists looking for another "gotcha" on Democrats.

Since, at the level of national politics, I long ago did my duopoly exit, I don't normally feel the need for such gotcha.

So far, only the wingers are saying, "But Dems voted for $25 billion for the wall a year ago." They did. But, for Democrats, that was for a 10-year payout, not one year, it was tied to DACA renewal, and even more, to a better process for legal immigration and other issues, and Trump rejected that.

Besides, as Shep Smith said Jan. 18 in owning Chris Wallace, current House Dems campaigned on not giving Trump more wall money. And took back the House.

Again, so far, only wingers are saying that. Stay tuned, as the shutdown continues.

And, per David Bruce Collins, the Dems themselves, after the disastrous Pelosi-Schumer response to Trump (contra Bernie Sanders' much better personal one), need to up their storytelling and narrative game. (That then said, George Lakoff isn't a perfect adviser on such things.)

==

That said, as Eoin Higgins notes, on things like reauthorizing federal flood insurance just before the shutdown, there ARE things on which to play gotcha on Dems.

January 14, 2019

Charles Davis vs Jill Stein, round 2

I'm no big fan of Jill Stein's recount of the 2016 presidential election, and wasn't from the start. Even though she was hamstrung by election laws in some states, nonetheless, the recount appeared Democrat-biased, and, contra Green Party defenders of the recount who have pointed out those election law issues, I doubt either she or David Cobb knew that at the time. Given her endorsing Bernie Sanders in the California Democratic primary, plus her indication of a willingness to step aside and offer him the Green Party nomination — which she couldn’t do and later claimed she wasn’t trying to do — I have good reason for that.

That's why, when I read Charles Davis' piece in The Daily Beast last May about the lack of FEC filings, the amount of money Cobb and others were being paid for their work, and how the Stein campaign seemed to be reneging on its initial plans for a public vote on using the leftover money, I was intrigued.

Intrigued enough to blog about it.

But, also, "intrigued" by Davis willing to strawman leftists over Syria, to the point of calling Sy Hersh a conspiracy theorist. And, yes, I think this does color to some degree his reporting, or at least potentially.

Let’s also remember that the Daily Beast (not sure if Davis or not) “broke” the story of Stein’s questionable financial investments just before the election. That said, they ARE questionable, and even if they offer lower returns, “ethical” mutual funds exist.


So, now that we've seen the Stein recount effort produce results in Pennsylvania, including a requirement to move to ballots with a paper trail, and now in Wisconsin, including getting to take a peek at the guts of voting machines, 



I tweeted Davis back, asking for an update/folo piece, since part of the thrust of his original was that Stein hadn't gotten any results, probably wouldn't get any results, and to the degree that her effort probably was not a traditional recount, was reduplicative of other, established, election security agencies.

Well, he did nothing more than double down on his original statement. He eventually gave me a suggestion on Twitter to "do check out" the blog at Stein's new site, and the ongoing pay issues.

I counter-suggested that, if we're giving suggestions, that he do stop strawmanning leftists on things like Syria. In my second-last Tweet before that, I made clear that I'm not a Stein fan because she's an AccommoGreen, per above.
"(D)o stop strawmanning leftists over Syria and other foreign policy issues, as long as we're offering suggestions here." 
Somehow, I doubt that will happen. Just as much as I doubt he'll write an honest folo, if any.

And, to the degree my tweeting was trollish, the man has well earned it.

That said, my straight take?

On the Wisconsin issues, Stein may have accomplished something, since it was in the envelope of a recount, that already-existing vote integrity nonprofits could not have gotten.

That then said? Do I think voting machines have been regularly hacked by Putin, or regularly manipulated by voting machine companies? No.

Do I think previous claims about how easy they are to hack have been overstated?

Absolutely, as I recently blogged.

The paper trail issue in Pennsylvania? Corrupt Democrats and about equally corrupt Republicans have both refused to do anything about that in the Keystone State. Straight-up win, there, Charlie. (Are paper ballots perfect, themselves? Nope. They can still be stolen, or added unto. Landslide Lyndon, 1948, kids.)

As I told you? Man up. Stop being a hack.

January 13, 2019

Beto-Bob O'Rourke doesn't walk the walk on legal pot (updated)

Yes, this is primarily a state issue, but to some degree, it's also a federal one. And, while Beto O'Rourke talks the talk about marijuana, as far as I know, he has sponsored no bill to even address the Drug Enforcement Administration continuing to list pot as a Schedule 1 drug, let alone do anything more than that. Anne Helen Peterson doesn't discuss this issue in her 8,000-world puff piece, which itself indicates how much Beto's putting it on the back burner in red-lands Texas. (I searched the piece. The word "marijuana" is not mentioned once. In turn, it seems like Beto is stereotyping old, white, red-lands Texas on this issue, as old, white, pro-pot Willie Nelson is from Abbott.

Per a piece Walker Bragman just wrote in The Intercept, the legend of "Beto loves pot legalization" most likely got its start from when he was on the El Paso City Council. There, it was simply a tactical ploy, threatening to start a dialog about drug legalization. Whether Beto then primaried Sylvester Reyes because he actually supported pot legalization or just because he was mad about Reyes threatening to whack Obama stimulus money for El Paso after the council approved a Beto-pushed regulation is open to debate, as is the issue of how much this played in Beto's first House run, period, as this went down in 2009 and Beto didn't run until 2012, not 2010. So, claiming this drove Beto to challenge Reyes is itself an uncritical promotion of the legend of Beto on pot.

In any case, by the time he got elected to DC, to any degree Beto actually believed in marijuana decriminalization, let alone legalization, in the hinterlands of El Paso, he took a pass in Washington. Kind of like Reyes.

In fact, in 2017, a bill was introduced in the House to force the Drug Enforcement Administration to move marijuana from Schedule 1 to Schedule 3. The bill has three co-sponsors in addition to the Congresscritter who introduced the bill. None of them is named Beto O'Rourke. The sponsor, Congressman Gaetz, even spoke about the bill on the floor.

Per Brookings, rescheduling down to Schedule 2, though it might mean less to state governments, would have at least symbolic value. As for what Brookings states about many people in officialdom worries about international law obligations, I believe Canada just legalized pot nationwide, becoming official Oct. 17. And nearly 50 countries have decriminalized it. The horse is out the barn door.

==

This is kind of similar to the Cares act that got moderately more support in the Senate. That said, it would only have moved pot down to Schedule II. There's a fair difference between Schedule II and Schedule III, per this list of federal schedules.