15 June 2007

Non AAAS update.

You know what? I really don't even pay attention to the All-Star game that much. I don't have cable, so I don't watch the HR derby or anything like that. That game is usually not that great. I don't know. I guess I just like to see the right players recognized for how well they are playing, which sometimes happens & sometimes doesn't happen.
So, using the "dollar value" method for the HPRL, I'll list the players who should be starting for the AL & NL in San Fran next month. Since the league uses a buttload of different criteria, I think it's a pretty accurate judge of who is performing & why. These rankings, of course, will change by gametime, but I'll keep this updated until then. Here we go.
AL Catcher = Victor Martinez - Cleveland
NL Catcher = Russell Martin - Los Angeles

AL First Base = Kevin Youkilis - Boston
NL First Base = Prince Fielder - Milwaukee
AL Second Base = Placido Polanco - Detroit
NL Second Base = Chase Utley - Philadelphia
AL Third Base = Alex Rodriguez - New York
NL Third Base = David Wright - New York
AL Shortstop = Orlando Cabrera - Los Angeles
NL Shortstop = Jose Reyes - New York
AL Left Field = Carl Crawford - Tampa Bay
NL Left Field = Matt Holliday - Colorado
AL Center Field = Ichiro Suzuki - Seattle
NL Center Field = Eric Byrnes - Arizona
AL Right Field = Magglio Ordonez - Detroit
NL Right Field = Ken Griffey Jr. - Cinncinnati
There you have it. Now get out the vote!

06 June 2007

My President.

Maybe it's the peripherals.
It's gotta be the peripherals, those stats that ask the "why" instead of the "what", like FIP-ERA & BABIP, stats that elude the laymen but are the hidden subtext to us scientists. They supposedly help indicate when a pitcher is being adversely affected by bad defense or poor run support or things that they can't really control, which applies to everyday life as well. You could bust your ass every day & get nowhere or you could be a rude & apathetic retail worker & still own a great record store!
I dropped Dave Bush on May 13th, only to turn around & trade for him 2 days ago (Bush & Dempster for Howie & Linebrink). Those kind of moves are generally laughed at in fantasy baseball circles & with good reason. They reek of sentimentality & show a general uneasiness that leads to more foolhardy roster decisions. "Just look at the numbers, man! Dave Bush has been one of the worst starters in MLB this year." (His current dollar value in my league is $-7.6). But Dave & I go back a long way...
This was the game that attracted me to Dave Bush.
His first start as a Brewer, 2 day before my birthday. I had heard of the name since he was involved in the Lyle Overbay trade, which gained some press, not so much for the particulars involved, but more for the fact that Prince Fielder would then be given the 1B job in Milwaukee. DB won the competition for the 5th starter spot & pitched brilliantly in his debut. Now, alot of fantasy baseball leagues are won on moves made in April, so I'm always on the lookout for some breakout guy that nobody suspects & DB made the list with this start. He subsequently got bombed in his next start, pitched ok in the start after that & then did this.
That was it. I had to have him. Look at those strikeouts! And he doesn't walk anybody! Sure, he had/has a proclivity for the long ball, but so does Pedro & Johan & Schilling, so there... Just for the sake of total inclusion, this sort of fantasy baseball strategy is nothing new, but sometimes it works wonderfully. Usually, when you pick up a Dave Bush, you have to ride him out for the duration, because his lack of hype makes him virtually untradeable to the other owners in the league. Guys generally don't want to trade you for a guy they've never heard of & who may turn into a pumpkin at any moment. That's fine. Guys like me who employ this strategy prefer the apathy, that way we can form a "special" bond with "our guy". From then on, every time Dave Bush went out & threw 7 innings of 6 hit ball, striking out 6 & walking 1, I would feel a warm glow in my ample belly, not unlike a ...uh-hum... father...
Problem was, I'd never actually seen him pitch! Since I didn't have cable or a dish or MLB.TV, I had no idea of what my favorite son even looked like throwing a baseball. So, I decided to make a Wednesday afternoon journey over to Wrigley last year to see him face off with the Cubs & he didn't disappoint, getting the typical quality start, 7 K, 1 BBI, no-decision that marked most of his year last year, but hey, at least he had the decency to serve up Juan Pierre's only home run ball of the year, which was crushed, by the way.. Furthermore, I was happy to see that DB's delivery has a little character to it, with that premature hand release thing that he does (boy, that sounds kind of.. sexy..), causing baseball pundits who've never heard James Brown or Rufus Thomas to claim that he has a "funky" delivery..
Well, DB pitched well pretty much all season last year, causing me to throw out pundits like "This guy is the next Chris Carpenter" or "He's no longer Dave Bush, he is 'El Presidente' to you, buddy!".. Now, I tend to draw myself towards characters in baseball, but DB doesn't seem to be all that entertaining, shall we say. Here's the official bio. I mean reading & woodworking? Shawshank? How vanilla can you be? Couldn't his favorite book be "All We Need of Hell"? Couldn't his favorite movie be "Performance" or, at least "Starship Troopers"? No matter. His blandness of character was off-set by my roster of thugs (Giambi, Dukes, & the like) & I won the league anyway.
Our league has keepers from one year to the next, so, of course, I kept Dave Bush for the not too paltry sum of $9.6, using that money on him instead of, say, Rafael Furcal or Carlos Guillen... So, when his first start of this year was to be against the Cubs on WGN, I raced home from work early to catch El Presidente in action. I raced up the stairs & turned on the TV. Since we don't have cable & antenna-tv reception in Chicago is notoriously bad, I couldn't read the numbers on the top of the screen very well. I did notice that DB was walking slovenly off of the mound, so I'd get to see the bigger, easier-to-read number that pop up after each 1/2 inning. The results were not good. 6 - 0 Cubs, end of the 1st... Ugh. He went on to do typical DB work the rest of the way, but, little did I know that the seeds of discontent had been planted...
When the Indians played the Angels up at Miller Park, I made sure that I would leave with some sort of Presidente paraphernalia, so I walked into the Brewers Clubhouse, or whatever they call it, & found the first employee I could & yelled "DAVE BUSH! WHERE'S THE BUSH??". The nice young man directed me to a wonderful Navy blue jersey t-shirt with "Bush 31" on the back. Cash was slapped down & wardrobe was instantly changed. This is my guy.
Then, Dave Bush kept pitching poorly... and more poorly... and more poorly... So poorly, in fact, there were rumors afloat that El Presidente may be heading for the bullpen to make room for this jerk..
I couldn't stand it. How could "my guy", the vanilla gorilla, cause my fantasy team so much pain? Didn't he understand that I need him to not get pulled in the 5th after giving up 5 runs? Didn't he know that those strikeouts matter? My team was floundering, at the tail end of a 40 point drop in the standings when DB's final dagger was inserted into my back. While The Wife & I were attending this game, I kept my eyes on the scoreboard, as DB was starting against Maddux & the Padres that night. It was a west-coast start time, so I'd only get to see the score for about the first 3 innings, although if Maddux & Bush are on, that game would go considerably faster, what with their non-walking-guys ways.... At the Cell, they have an older LED-style out-of-town scoreboard above the right-field wall that has the inning, the score, the number of the pitcher currently on the mound, & a small red dot next to the team who is currently hitting. The red dot left the Brewers rather early in the 1st & then sat on the Padres for awhile, which can mean only one thing... big inning.. oh no... Sure enough, the Pads put up 1 in the 1st & 1 in the 2nd to go up 2-0. Oh well, that was actually good compared to the last few starts that Bush had had, so I'd ride out the train ride home & check the live scoring when I got there...
That was the last straw. The Thin White Dukes were going to make a move that would shock (or, more to the point, humor) the rest of the HPRL.
I dropped Dave Bush.
The same Dave Bush who was hyped by "fantasy experts" the world over this year as a 'great sleeper candidate', had turned back into a pumpkin. Well, not really, (here come the excuses..) but he's just... let's just say his worst tendencies (being hittable & not just for singles; trouble in the 1st inning; the long ball) have been amplified up to this point.
Check out his line so far.
His FIP-ERA is the worst in baseball, meaning his ERA is higher than it should theoretically be. He's still striking enough guys out... He's still not walking anybody... His HR rate isn't that bad... Zak, of course, picked him right up after I dropped him & his first start for Zak was quintessential Dave Bush. 7 IP, 6 HA, 1 BBI, 6 K's, QS, bullpen blows the victory. I'd seen it so many times that my heart sank..... I had to get him back...
So, I did.
Isaac pegged it right in a poll he recently put up on our HPRL homepage, "Dave Bush is like an abusive boyfriend. You know that things will never get better, no matter how much he claims to have changed, but for some reason you just keep taking him back. It is sort of pathetic, really, but who are we to judge?"...
I really don't care what Dave Bush does the rest of the year. Unless he gets demoted to the bullpen, he will be starting for the Thin White Dukes for the rest of 2007.
I'm not keeping him though....