Friday, March 27, 2009

2009 Baseball Predictions

I went for a short run this morning around the Phonebooth. It was swarming with cleaning crews and there were two mowers in the outfield and life is good. My predictions for this year1:

AL East

I think 95 wins will be enough to win this division. Due to the unbalanced schedule, the three good teams are going to beat each other up a lot.

1. Tampa Bay (Tampa? whatever)-Last year they were all around good. Add in David Price (yes, he'll be back in the Show soon, and another year, and I think they're as good as last year. Really, I'm picking them beacuse the Sox and Yankees have too many weaknesses to be dominant.

2. Sox-I think the pitching will be pretty good. Assuming Matsuzaka isn't burned out from the World Baseball Classic, a rotation of Beckett, Lester, Matsuzaka, Wakefield, and then some of Clay Buchholz, Smoltz (not impossible), or Brad Penny (why not?) looks pretty good. That looks like two #1 starters, a solid #2, a #4 and plenty of potential.

I worry about the offense. Papi had a down year last year. True, he doesn't have Manny in the lineup, but he's also 33 and a big dude. I like Mike Lowell, and he's supposedly healthy this year, but his offense is also slipping. Varitek is great with the staff, but can't hit anything anymore. Jason Bay is good, but he's no Manny.

The Sox scored a lot of runs last year. I think that number goes down a bit in 2009.

3. Yankees-Sort of like the Sox, but they look a little weaker across the board. Good, but not great pitching, and too many holes on offense, from a team that was average last year.

Their pitching is improved. Offense? Teixeira, unfortunately, is terrific. But Jeter seems to be (quickly!) trending down, Matsui's coming off an injury, Jorge Posada hits like Varitek (horrible to say about anyone, but it's true).

And who's going to play center field? Melky Cabrera? He hit .249 last year.
For that matter, is Xavier Nady really the rightfielder?

4. Toronto-I still believe that if you have to pick one pitcher for the upcoming season, you still have to go with Roy Halliday. I would not be surprised if he again leads the league in complete games and innings. But he can't pitch everyday, nor can he play other positions.

5. Baltimore-The Orioles are going to lose a lot of games. Again.

AL Central

I dunno. I figure the Twins are always good, and maybe the Tribe too.

AL West

Probably the Angels, again. I mean, Texas and the Mariners are both bad, so the only question is if the A's can make a run at them.

NL East

You gotta love Jamie Moyer. This will be his 23rd year in the bigs. His ERA last year was 3.71. The list of active pitchers with more wins the Moyer is (1) Randy Johnson and (2) Tom Glavine. Because of him, I'm rooting for the Phillies.

NL Central

Sigh. I don't know. The Cardinals aren't going to win many games if everyone's hurt. Chris Carpenter may be healthy, but he's started four games since the 2006 season. Adam Wainwright had a pretty good year last year, as did Kyle Lohse. Todd Wellemeyer wasn't bad either. To me, they're three solid #3 starters. As with years past, I think Carpenter's health is the key o the staff.

Obviously, Pujols is the #1 pick if you're choosing someone in the field, but other than him? I don't know.

NL West

1. Dodgers-It's all about Manny, obviously. When he plays hard, he's just dominant.

Then there are the Giants. It's deja vu. Last year their offense was awful. It's still going to be awful.

With the Franchise, the Old Creaky Unit, Matt Cain, Noah Lowry, and Zito, they may have the best rotation in baseball. (Quick, how good was Randy Johnson last year? His ERA was 3.91) I don't think you want to be going into the season hoping to win every game 1-0, espcially when your closer's ERA was 4.62 last year.

1-For teams and divisions I pay attention to

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Curt Schilling retired. Or rather, he announced he was finished, surprises no one.

I've wondered for a while now about whether his numbers are Hall of Fame worthy. I was on the fence, but now I'm thinking that he makes it.

216 wins isn't a lot of wins, but he did get them in the Steroid Era.

What pushes him over the top is the postseason. Everyone knows that he thrived (throve?) on pressure. But this ESPN article points out that he was 11-2 in the postseason, the best playoff winning percentage ever for guys with ten decisions. His postseason ERA is even more remarkable1. These games are (obviously) games against the best teams, to have a 2.23 postseason ERA is amazing.

Does that matter for the Hall of Fame? I think it does. Postseason success matters.

The Hall of Fame is also comparative. If Mussina gets in, I think Schilling has to get in.

Since Schilling hasn't pitched since 2007, I believe he'll be eligible in 2012, a year earlier than Maddux. I don't think Schilling is a first ballot hall of famer, and it wouldn't surprise me if voters want to give Maddux the honor of going in alone, so it wouldn't surprise me if he has to wait a couple of years. But I think he gets in.

Tangentially, Schilling had an extremely unusual career, in that he was a late-bloomer. As Rob Neyer points out, Schilling's record at age 30 was 52-52. The only present player I can think of who's remotely similar is Jamie Moyer. Why Moyer? Astonishingly, Jamie Moyer's record at age 30 was far worse: 34-50.

1-It's worth noting that these statistics necessarily eliminate great money pitchers of the past like Bob Gibson, because they pitched in so many fewer playoff games.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Michigan Basketball

This is what I was talking about yesterday. We have a good team, a good coach, and (finally!) hope for the future of the program.

We even have a great blog (who knew?). I didn't start reading until the NCAA tournament started, but I'll remember it next year.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


It's disappointing Michigan lost in the second round, but all in all I'm pretty pleased. This was the best team in more than ten years, and all of the significant players come back for next year. We lose our starting point guard, a walkon who's a legitimate student athlete getting a master's degree in public policy, but that's about it. He's replaceable.

Now I can go back to ignoring college basketball, although I expect I'll be paying attention next season.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Go Blue!

I remember the last time Michigan was in the NCAA tournament. It was my final spring of law school, 1998. Robert Traylor, Lou Bullock, Maurice Taylor. I remember being late for some portrait (for the law school maybe?) because I was watching that team being upset in the tournament. I never would have imagined it would be 11 (!) years until I again got to watch Michigan in the NCAA tournament.

But we're back and we won. Whoo-hoo! Sweet victory!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


I've bashed Dan Wetzel before, but now I think he has his place in the sportswriting firmament. He should be an old time investigative reporter.

I felt slimy just for reading this. It's all the worst parts of big time college sports.

I have no idea if Kevin Love is any good (and I can't make myself care), but he comes across as a decent guy trying to navigate a crowd of complete blood-suckers and bottom-feeders.

(Dan, seriously, stick with reporting. This is great stuff. Shine some sunlight into this dark corner. You are a terrible columnist, but a great reporter.)

Thursday, March 05, 2009


So A-Rod needs hip surgery and will be out ten weeks? And from the sound of things, he didn't tell Girardi beforehand?

If this sad, sad development is true, on behalf of everyone here at drakethoughts, I wish him a healthy recovery. A long, healthy recovery. In fact, I would recommend he wait a bit to even have the surgery. There's no need to rush things.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Bonds Appeal

Prosecutors have appealed the judge's earlier ruling on perjury. Basically, it looks to me like the Feds don't have a case without this evidence. Anderson isn't going to testify, and if they can't introduce this evidence of Bonds' steroid use, prosecutors won't have anything to go on.

Legal Note: Normally you have to wait for a trial to be over to appeal. The idea is that if you appeal every ruling, you'd never finish the trial. Sometimes, though, you can file an interlocutory appeal, which is what this is. It's essentially a timeout in the trial.

However, this will irritate the judge, as noted in the Chronicle article. Trial was to start this week and the judge probably wants to (finally!) get rid of this case.

I predict that if the Ninth Circuit (the court that hears appeals from courts in California and other western states) doesn't allow this evidence, prosecutors will drop the case and Bonds will walk.