Friday, November 7, 2008


good stuff

Godspeed You Enormous Scientist

Handsome, smart, but mostly humongous

Author, pituitary freak, bioengineering genius, and general kicker of ass Michael Crichton died two days ago after an extremely private (nobody knew he had it!) battle with cancer. What kind of cancer? The kind that would have made a superb Michael Crichton villain, obviously, had it not killed him.

Crichton, who was inexplicably almost seven feet tall, was one of the most critically acclaimed and prolific fiction authors of the 20th century. His 1990 magnum opus, Jurassic Park, is one of the best-selling novels of all time and its subsequent film adaptation was the highest-grossing film in the history of the universe until every woman dragged her husband/boyfriend to Titanic a few years later.

All told, he wrote 26 (!) novels, 16 of which I have read, including The Andromeda Strain, Sphere, Congo, Eaters of the Dead, and The Lost World. He wrote four works of non-fiction.

In addition to his literature, Crichton also invented the television series ER, which was pretty much the only show on NBC that anyone watched over the past five years.

May you forever defeat synthetic dinosaurs in heaven, sir. Farewell.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Baseball Season in Review

The 2008 Major League Baseball Season has reached its conclusion. The Philadelphia Phillies (?!?!?!) proved to be the team to beat as they won their first World Series in 28 years. But now the real season begins. The off-season is where championships are won and lost. Some investments go poorly (the Blue Jays and David Eckstein...I love being right) and some are season-makers (the White Sox and Carlos Quentin). So here are a few thoughts about the past season and a few looking forward.


  • Teams that should be happy with their seasons for one reason or another:
Philadelphia Phillies
Tampa Bay Rays
Boston Red Sox
Chicago White Sox
Los Angeles Angels of Porkenheim
Chicago Cubs ( make the playoffs, it's a good season)
Milwaukee Brewers
Los Angeles Dodgers
Baltimore Orioles (what?!?!?!? I'll get to this later)
Minnesota Twins
Florida Marlins
Houston Astros
St. Louis Cardinals

  • Teams that should be unhappy for many, many reasons (namely expectations):
New York Yankees
New York Mets (seeing two unhappy NY teams makes me if only Boston had failed too...)
Cleveland Indians
Detroit Tigers
Seattle Mariners
Washington Nationals (low expectations? yes...but I'll get to this later)
Cincinnati Reds
Colorado Rockies
San Diego Padres

  • Once again we had a team win that wasn't particularly dominant during the regular season (though they certainly were good) but got hot and rode some good pitching and timely offense to a champeenship. Philly proved that it's still kinda a crapshoot in the playoffs and it's just as important to be lucky as good (though I contest that, as put so eloquently by Branch Rickey, "luck is the residue of design").
  • What do you do if you're the Yankees or Mets? You spent more than anybody but you couldn't even make the playoffs? We'll I'll tell you what you do. If you're the Yankees, you go back to the drawing board with your young pitchers...examine who really isn't that good and who just needs some polish (my thoughts: Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes are good...the others? I might invest in CC Sabathia). I'd starting chewing out Robinson Cano and tell him to get his ass in gear. I'd hope you're ancient outfield holds up for a season or two more while Austin Jackson and Jorge Tabata develop. And basically I'd get back to being the Yankees...developing young talent and buying up so really good mid-level free agents. As for the Mets, I'd not pick up any option on Carlos Delgado as he only had one good (albeit really good) half season and is on the decline (oops). Otherwise, I'd invest in pitching, pitching and more pitching.
  • The Baltimore Orioles should be really pleased by this season. First, the Rays proved that if you do your homework while you're losing, the payoff can be great for pretty cheap. That being said, the O's haven't been doing said homework until recently...but they can perhaps have a nice turn-around soonish because of deeper pockets. The Orioles two major offseason trades worked out really well. The pieces of the Tejada trade proved to be useful fillers with decent futures and Luke Scott, kinda an afterthought, actually was one of the Birds' best players. The Bedard trade was a coup. George Sherrill proved to be a pretty good big-league pitcher though he's a bit stretched as a closer. Adam Jones continued his development, showing flashes of greatness but still exhibiting the inconsistency of many younger players. Nick Markakis continued to become one of the better young outfielders in baseball. Some suggestions moving forward: Pursue Mark Teixeira, but don't get into a bidding war that you can't afford. While Teixeira is really, really good, it's not worth blowing your entire budget on one player. Drop Kevin Millar as soon as possible. Get Matt Wieters into the line up.
  • Just a little closer to my home, the Washington Nationals have no future. To say they suck would be a huge understatement. Here's a list of players on their roster I'd consider league-average or better for their respective positions: Ryan Zimmerman. That's it. Seriously, their team OBP was .323, a full 20 points lower than their opponents. This team needs to quit paying guys like Dmitiri Young, Nick Johnson, Ronnie Belliard, Austin Kearns, and Wily Mo Pena (hurts to say, but it's the truth) and invest in some decent prospects. You gotta spend money to make money, so stop paying hurt and over-the-hill guys on the big-league team and start drafting better and investing in your scouting and development department. That's all.
  • Albert Pujols played out of his mind this year. For one reason or another, I never really liked Pujols. I never disliked him, and I always have respected his great playing ability. Until this season I always kinda viewed him as a really good player but not a season changer; that is, a guy who not only could change his own team's fortunes, but actively inhibited other teams' chances. But then this season happened. Pujols single-handedly kept a crappy Cardinals team (yo, Ryan Ludwick isn't that good) alive for a hefty part of the season. I had thought that Pujols would be a Hall of Famer, barring injury before 2008. Now I think we'll be talking about him as the quietest All-Time Great ever.
A few thoughts about the impending offseason.

  • CC Sabathia is going to, deservedly, cash in this winter. America's most athletic fatty was absolutely awesome down the stretch for the Brewers (which is the perfect team for him...too bad they probably can't afford him). He's a hard throwing lefty who can go all day and often did. The logical places to go are the Yankees or the two LA teams. The Angels don't really need him, but the Dodgers have some money and could use a stud at the top of the rotation, especially if Derek Lowe leaves. Naturally the Yankees can and will outspend everybody, but it genuinely seems like Sabathia will give a California team a hometown discount. But buyer beware! While Sabathia has been very durable and his hefty frame can take a lot of punishment, the man has thrown more innings and pitches than anybody thought could be possible. When Sabathia pitched in the playoffs, he looked to finally be out of steam. Any team should that signs him should be wary of his workload and could expect him to struggle a bit with fatigue early in the season.
  • Jake Peavy? Probably not worth the trouble. No doubt, Peavy is a very good pitcher. But only for 6 to 7 innings. Much like Pedro Martinez used to be, Peavy starts to fade around 100 pitches. Only difference? Peavy is no Pedro. Whereas Martinez would routinely make hitters look absolutely foolish with overpowering stuff, Peavy gets a lot of outs by working the hitter; not a bad approach, but something that makes you easy to get to every now and then. Peavy will make some team very happy but it's unlikely that he's worth 4 prospects as that's what Johan Santana was worth and he, historically, is significantly better and more impreseeive than Peavy.
Free agent position rankings:

  1. CC Sabathia
  2. Derek Lowe
  3. Ryan Dempster
  4. Ben Sheets (provided he can stay healthy-ish, a big if)
  5. Oliver Perez
9125623. Sidney Ponson

  1. Francisco Rodriguez
  2. Kerry Wood
  3. Brian Fuentes
  4. Juan Cruz
  5. LaTroy Hawkins
  1. Jason Varitek
  2. Ivan Rodriguez
  3. David Ross
  4. Javier Valentin
  5. Brad Ausmus
  1. Mark Teixeira
  2. Tony Clark
  3. Sean Casey
  4. Kevin Millar
  5. Rich Aurilia
  1. Orlando Hudson
  2. Felipe Lopez
  3. Juan Uribe
  4. Mark Grudzielanek
  5. Ray Durham
  1. Hank Blalock
  2. Casey Blake
  3. Joe Crede
  4. Russell Branyan
  5. Mike Lamb
  1. Orlando Cabrera
  2. Edgar Renteria
  3. Nomar Garciaparra
  4. Nick Punto
  5. Jerry Hairston, Jr.
  1. Manny Ramirez
  2. Adam Dunn
  3. Milton Bradley (if he's healthy)
  4. Raul Ibanez
  5. (tie) Bobby Abreu/Jim Edmonds