Thursday, October 29, 2009

Fox Trax

The Fox Trax branding is annoying me. Let me count the ways.
  1. Just spell Trax the correct way, misspelling it does not make the product unique. Stupid.
  2. Joe Buck spins it like Fox is revolutionary for having this information available, only its been around for years now. Knock it off.
  3. They randomly show the pitch stats and even the strike zone box. Don't tease me with it, show it to me on every play, or don't show it to me at all. I like the data, I get used to seeing the data, and it really annoys me when I can't see the data! (I will sometimes watch the Pads game and MLB Gamecast at the same time. It is hugely addicting to see the flight, speed and location of the pitch.)
  4. Use the strike zone like TBS did; just stick it in the HUGE empty space behind the right handed batter. That is completely wasted space on the HD broadcast, put that space to use.
  5. You don't have to talk to the graphic every time its on the screen. We viewers do not need to be told what it says, we can read.
  6. If we can't see it for every pitch, at the very least we need to see it on every close pitch. Show the replay with the strikezone graphic EVERY time.
  7. The speed at the plate is COMPLETELY useless! Its meaningless. If the ball gets to the plate, you've MISSED it already! What is it supposed to convey? The ball slows down as it approaches the plate. Duh, ya think? Are we supposed to think, oh, they don't throw that hard? That's ludicrous. This stat is not relative to anything. Maybe if we know that one pitcher had less velocity loss than others, that would be interesting information. But as of now, it tells you less than nothing. Why even show it?

I do like one piece of the Fox Trak: the time the batter has to make a decision. 4 tenths of a second, sometimes less. Even Cliff Lee's change up didn't make it to 5 tenths of a second. Just amazing. To steal that PGA slogan, these guys are good!

Adrian Gonzalez Extension

Jorge Says No had an interesting take on the Adrian Gonzalez extension question. I agree with him that something would have to be done this offseason. I think the longer it plays out, the more likely the two parties disagree on total value, and the more likely AG is traded. But I think the figures he throws out are very un-Padre like:
So how about this deal for Gonzalez and the Padres?
(5 years/$70 million)
Here is the contractual breakdown:
2010: $9 million
2011: $12 million
2012: $15 million
2013: $16 million
2014: $18 million

That replaces the $4.8M in 2010 and the 5.7M in 2010 he is currently contracted for and adds on three years. In the Moores/Towers world, I think any extension would have been added onto the existing deal, with no restructuring of the current amounts. I cannot see the figures for 2010 and 2011 doubling, that would be a deal breaker before anything even got started.

But we are now under the Moorad/Hoyer regime, and we fans have no track record with these two. But for Moorad, we can use his time at the d-backs and look for similar situations using Cot's Baseball Contracts.

The first comp that makes sense is Brandon Webb. He received a three year deal prior to 2004, covering 2004-2006 with an option for 2007, which I believe covered him until free agency. Before 2006, he received a 4 year extension, replacing the last year of his previous deal and the option year. For those two years, which were extremely club friendly at $2.5M and $4.5M respectively, he was essentially given the old contracted rate, the IP incentives were just added to the guaranteed money and no new money was added to the deal. Then the contract went up modestly by $1M each year until 2010's option of $8.5M. All in all, a very favorable contract for the team, which stayed favorable even after the extension.

Then next comp to consider is Dan Haren. He signed a four year deal with Oakland in 2005, covering 2006-2009 with an option for 2010. The option would have covered his first year of free agency. He was traded to Arizona before the 2008 season, and in August of that year signed a 4 year extension covering 2009-2012 with an option for 2013. In the original deal, here is what he was scheduled to make in 2009 and 2010:
2009 $5.5M with $0.75M in incentives
2010 $6.75M with $1.0M in incentives

This was replaced with:
2009 $7.5M
2010 $8.25M
2011 $12.75M
2012 $12.75M
2013 club option $15.5M

So, in both cases, the salaries under the existing contract did not change very dramatically.
So the d-backs added $1.75M to the exiting contract, before really ramping up the salaries in the new contract years.

Using these two transactions as the new model, I would expect the Padres to come up with something like this:
2010 $6.0M
2011 $7.0M
2012 $11.0M
2013 $13.0M
2014 $15.0M

That's 5 years, $52M. It adds $2.5M to the existing contract, and then spikes his salary to cover the next three years with figures that are club friendly to a small degree. It also allows the Padres a few years to get the payroll back to the $70M level where they can better afford AG's salary.

This does undervalue AG to a certain extent, but I think he would give a decent home town discount, on top of the usual San Diego discount everyone has to give to play here. It could be win-win.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

This is going to be good!

ShysterBall has his summary of the divorce papers filed by Jamie McCourt. I am definitely enjoying this saga way too much. I can't help it. Although it brings back painful memories of the 2008 and the first half of 2009 seasons as a result of the Moores divorce, it's almost exactly opposite that. With the Moores divorce, it seems no information was available, we were left wondering the whole time what, when, who, etc. It looks like this divorce in "Dodgertown, CA" is going to be played on the public stage! I want Jamie to get the team. I want to see Ned bring cut the Dodger salaries in half! Good times.

What's wrong with California?

Wasn't there a time when California was the most progressive state in the Union? (And yes, I read progressive to mean least religious.) I have always enjoyed the thought that California was different than the rest of the country. More tolerant, more open to new ideas and attitudes. I liked the thought of the rest of the country rolling their eyes at those crazy Californians, it fuels my anti-establishment bent.

After Prop 8 embarrassingly passed, I knew that time passed as well. But still, we at least had to be one of the top 10, right? Nope, at least according to the poll from last January. Sad.

On the bright side, being outside the top 10 keeps the evangelists off your back. It seems New England is being flooded with missionaries. My favorite quote:
Joe Souza, a Southern Baptist missionary working north of Boston. "It's like, you found a cure for cancer and you want to give it away and nobody wants it."

Yep, it's just like that Joe. Have fun New England!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Ballad of Jed Hoyer

The Ballad of Jed Hoyer by Mike Dark
(with apologies to Paul Henning of Beverly Hillbillies fame)

Come and listen to a story about a man named Jed
A poor New Englander, all curses in their head,
Then one day, he joins the local team
And wins came round, curses be dead

Titles that is, not one, but two

Well the first thing you know ol Jed's the new heir,
Kinfolk said "Jed move away from there"
Said "A GM is where you ought to be"
So he loaded up the truck and moved to Californy.

San Diego, that is. Petco Park, Padres Baseball

Well now its time to get to work for Jed and his new kin
And they would like to thank you folks fer kindly droppin in.
You're all invited back a gain to this locality
To see him turn around the Padres History

Rebuilding that is. Set a spell, Take your shoes off, have some breakfast

Y'all come back now, y'hear?.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Jed Hoyer, the Padres new General Manager

Jed Hoyer, former assistant General Manger of the Boston Red Sox, has been named as the new San Diego Padres General Manager. You can find out a little about Mr. Hoyer (he's 35, is he really Mr.-worthy? Am I the first to call him Mr. Hoyer?) from Wikipedia. I immediately take notice of the fact he used to be a pitcher, like Towers. Not that will mean anything about his future performance, it is just one of those things we latch onto to like a life raft in a stormy indecisive sea. Its comfortable, its familiar, and therefore it associates itself that way in my impression and I feel a bit of hope. It also appears he is a native New Englander. I hope he doesn't have a thick accent, that would be a bit annoying.

I found a great Q&A from Baseball Analysts, with solid questions regarding the philosophies of running a front office. It is a bit old, published in February 2007, but I wouldn't think its out of date at all. A couple of good quotes:

The money quote (from my speculative Moorad perspective); “As boring as it sounds, I believe that the most important thing is to have a well-constructed,
well-thought out process to player acquisitions.” Does a well-constructed, well-thought out process include contingencies to take payroll from $70M to $40M in two months? I'm thinking no, but hopefully, knock wood, that won't be a recurring problem around here.

I also liked this quote about some prospects: “…but we are going to be careful not to overheat the hype machine.” Its all about expectation management! No, he wasn’t talking about the 37-25 stretch to end the Pads season, but he will be!

At Baseball Prospectus, Will Carroll wrote an article in June 2008 about the next 10 names that would be showing up in GM searches. He had Mr. Hoyer as the number 1 name, with the following write up:

"Hoyer has been at Theo Epstein's right hand since the start of the Red Sox revival. Taking over as Assistant GM after Josh Byrnes left to head up the rebuilding of the Diamondbacks, Hoyer was mentioned by nearly everyone asked as "the next big thing." Given Byrnes' success in Arizona, the Boston slot seems charmed. Like many in the delegatory Sox front office, Hoyer has had his hands in the various areas of baseball operations and doesn't seem to have a pronounced weakness. Some may remember that Hoyer was briefly the co-GM of the Red Sox during Epstein's equally brief hiatus, a testament to John Henry's confidence in the young exec. (Being 34 isn't the knock it once was; maybe it's old for this new generation of front office talent.) Hoyer has made it clear that he's comfortable winning rings in Boston and would want a similar situation to what Byrnes has in Arizona before leaving."

I last thing I found was a recap of a chat at, a Red Sox fan blog, from September 8, 2008. Nothing interesting there however, just a bunch of worthless Red Sox questions.

In all, not a lot of web content about Mr. Hoyer. He has some big shoes to fill, and seemingly a lot to learn in switching from a cash cow to a small market team, but has a couple of things going for him. First, the relaxed and patient atmosphere of San Diego in which to work. More importantly, there is hardly any pressure in this situation, and no where to go but up.

Welcome and good luck Mr. Hoyer.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

It all comes down to this

My son did an art project at his Christian preschool last week. Here is a picture of it hanging on the fridge:

“I am special.” Its simplicity struck me.

That is the root of religion/theism. That is the hook that pulls you in, and holds you in. That is the choice, either you are special, or you are not. And boy, they hit you with it from the very beginning! (Not that I would tell a 4 year old anything different. As I have said before, I let my kids believe in fairy tales of all kinds: the Easter Bunny of course, Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, God, Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, etc. Its part of childhood and I don’t want to deny them their childhood.)

But it will always come back to this one question: Am I special?

Its the same question as: Am I an individual? Am I unique? Do I matter?

Sure religion is a divisive force in the world, and sure the Bible is a crock of shit, and Intelligent Design is anything but intelligent. But religion is the only game in town that believes I’m special, and I want to believe I’m special. So despite all of the messiness associated with theism, and in spite of the rational world that contradicts any deity, I choose to believe, because I want to be special.

The New Atheists can attack religion all they want, but very intelligent people cannot get past this one last hurdle, the belief in self. There has to be a me, a me that makes choices in this life, a me that matters. Meaninglessness is not an option.

For most anyways. We here at the Church of Irrelevance embrace meaninglessness. Free of the constraints of self is how we prefer to live.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Irrelevance song of the day

Happy Birthday Karl Wallinger! I heard on 94.9's This Date in Music History segment that today is his birthday, so I tuned my phone to World Party's Goodbye Jumbo on my commute to work today. Just an unbelievable album that never gets old. Anyway, track 8, God on my Side, inspired this post, as it is fantastic example of irrelevane in action in the world:

Well I seen you out there parading
In the streets of your distant land
In your strange caps and clothing
Shouting, "I don't understand."
But you, you look so loaded
It's somethin' I can't feel
But I'm into some God action
And maybe yours is real
'Cos I'm falling
I need your God on my side
I need your God on my side

Well I see you objecting so strongly
To the ways of the liberal disease
And your armchair satisfaction
As you narrow the meaning of free
And I dream of a home that is tidy
And a church full of money bees
And I wonder about the suppression
That you get when you're down on your knees
And I'm falling
I need your God on my side
I need your God on my side

God on my side ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh
God on my side ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh
God on my side ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh
God on my side ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh

Well I see you thought we could change the world
If we gather round and pray
But it's just like sending one letter
to more than just one place
But, "Dear God can you help us"
Must be the opening phrase
Cos we're falling
Need your God on my side
One I can call my own
I need my God on your side
Make a happy home
We need their God on our side
In search of him I will roam
Need our God on our side
Mine got up and left home
You need our God on your side
Ooh ooh ooh
Just noticed the release date on Amazon, April 1990. 1990! Man oh man, what a long time ago. Yet the song is just as appropriate as ever, showing how little change has taken place these last 19 years. Sad.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Irrelevance song of the day

Hell, for me, this is the song of the last year! It is from MGMT, off of Oracular Spectacular. The song is called Time to Pretend. I listen to it two or three mornings each week on my commute to my office job.

I'm feeling rough, I'm feeling raw, I'm in the prime of my life.
Let's make some music, make some money, find some models for wives.
I'll move to Paris, shoot some heroin, and fuck with the stars.
You man the island and the cocaine and the elegant cars.

This is our decision, to live fast and die young.
We've got the vision, now let's have some fun.
Yeah, it's overwhelming, but what else can we do.
Get jobs in offices, and wake up for the morning commute.

Forget about our mothers and our friends
We're fated to pretend
To pretend
We're fated to pretend
To pretend

I'll miss the playgrounds and the animals and digging up worms
I'll miss the comfort of my mother and the weight of the world
I'll miss my sister, miss my father, miss my dog and my home
Yeah, I'll miss the boredom and the freedom and the time spent alone.

There's really nothing, nothing we can do
Love must be forgotten, life can always start up anew.
The models will have children, we'll get a divorce
We'll find some more models, everything must run it's course.

We'll choke on our vomit and that will be the end
We were fated to pretend
To pretend
We're fated to pretend
To pretend

Yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah

The lead song off your first album, I'd say MGMT gets irrelevance! Just a brilliant, kick ass song!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Question of God

"Do you believe in God?"

I think the question of God is a very funny question, but to most it is such a serious subject they don't seem to understand it in my context. You have to re-phrase the question back to them:

"Do I believe in an omnipotent, omniscient entity that created the world five thousand years ago, that created people in his image, that demands the worship of and closely watches over all seven billion people, all the while adding to his naughty and nice list to determine who will gain entry into his eternal club upon their death? That God?"

"Too literal? Then do I believe everything we see/touch/feel/hear/taste was purposely created by one all powerful entity who should be revered for giving us the gift of life? That God?"

Either way, I would have to say no. An emphatic no.

It also works for meaninglessness.

"How could you believe your life has no meaning?"

"How could you believe, as one speck of a person among billions on this speck of dust circling one of billions of stars in this galaxy, which is one of billions of galaxies in the known universe, that your life does have meaning?"

Monday, October 12, 2009

Another Padres Offseason Preview

Dan Hayes at the NC Times lists the important questions for the Padres this offseason. Since he asked, I think the quick answers are keep AG and Blanks as he is fine in the OF, keep Bell for PR, trade Kouz, Hundley is fine, Tony Jr is a 4th outfielder and you can never, ever have enough starting pitching.

A couple of comments:
  • Another mention of the 37-25 stretch. If I was the Front Office, I would spend some time addressing that stretch. On his way out, Towers pointed to it as an indicator of the Pads being ready to contend next year. Moorad talked to it as well as a positive sign and part of the excellent job done by Towers this season. But, it just screams SMALL SAMPLE SIZE. And, with runs scored of 275 versus runs allowed of 259, Pythagoras would have had them at 4 games over .500 during that stretch instead of 12. I bet the new GM comes in trying to manage expectations a little better than has been done so far.
  • Another mention of how the Pads should have money to spend. Yes, maybe even $8-10M! What does that get you in today's game? You could get one aging star trying to re-establish some market value for a year. You could get an average starting pitcher if you are willing to do that range for at least 3. You could get a couple of veteran projects, guys that have plenty of service time, but for whatever reason have a hole in their game that keeps them from finding a home in a teams line up. In other words, not much!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Playoff rooting interests

As with most years, the Padres did not make the playoffs and I must choose foreign teams to root for in the playoffs. (Heck, even when the Pads make the playoffs, it is more likely they are 3 and done than advance deep into the playoffs. But that is neither here nor there.)

Now, this is very complicated in my book, made doubly tough this year by double the NL West teams in the dance this year. I am not one of those guys that says "hey, they beat us, but they represent our division, so I hope they go all the way." I root against the Dodgers, Rockies, Giants and Diamondbacks not just for 162 games, but all year round. This especially includes the playoffs, but also includes things like extensions to GMs (way to go Giants, keep Sabean on. Come on Dodgers, lock Ned up for a few more years!)

So let me break down my rooting interests this year, worst to first, and share my "logic":
  • Tied for 7th and 8th - Dodgers and Rockies. Rooting for two 3-0 sweeps of our NL West colleagues. There is literally no situation that can force me to root for the NL West. And even though I am a staunch NL guy, if either of these teams makes the World Series, I will cheer for the AL. I have done it three times this decade, and I'm not one bit ashamed to admit it.
  • 6th - Red Sox. Three words: Red Sox Nation. The next three: Sick of you!
  • 5th - Cardinals. I don't like Tony LaRussa. The Cards just own the Padres. Regular season, post season, its just ridgoddamndiculous and I would cheer for every other team on this list ahead of them. Yes, even the Yankees.
  • 4th - Yankees. They have spent eleventy billion dollars since their last title, I think that's enough to buy a trophy. Besides, George doesn't look so good in the pictures published nowadays, and love him or hate him, giving him one more title wouldn't be that bad. He loves baseball, and was good for the game. I can admit that. And 1998 was such a long, long time ago that I can also admit, yes, the Yanks were damn good that year.
  • 3rd - Twins. Small market. Miracle run to get in the dance. Last year of the Metrodome. Get those towels ready, seems like we've been down this path before, and it ends up with a party in the Twin Cities more often than not. (And my uncle is a diehard Twins fan.)
  • 2nd - Angels. The only NL team in the AL, with a couple aging NL stars in Vlad and Bobby going for one last shot at a title. Our So Cal brethren. An easy choice at number 2, only some staunch NL loyalty keeps them out of the top spot.
  • 1st - Phillies. The only worthy, that is Padre loving worthy, team to root for from the NL this year, that automatically makes them #1. Utley is so good you can't help but root for him. I can see Cole Hamels high school from my house and my boys will go there someday. Howard sought out T Gwynn for advice a few years ago, that kind of goodwill goes a long way. The flying Hawaiian played at Qualcomm for a year. See, lots of reasons for them to hold the top spot. And some of them are even logical. Go Phillies!

Unintentional comedy link of the day

I was on ScienceBlogs this morning, reading Dispatches from the Culture Wars when I learned about Conservadpedia, The Truthful Encyclopedia (that was my favorite part. Right when the site pops up, The Truthful Encyclopedia as part of their logo just screams at you. Big laughs.) A link was posted, which I followed, showing re-definitions of both conservative and liberal terms. A few of the more entertaining ones, new conservative terms first:
    • Force-feed: what liberals do to students in public schools today in training them to be atheistic socialists
    • Insightful: what conservatism is about: gaining insights into the truth, and bettering individuals and society with them
    • Ivory tower: a description of the pampered culture of liberal professors, and how far out of touch with the truth it is
Force-feed made me laugh, but for highly personal reasons. We recently put my 4 year old in a Christian preschool down the street, which never bothered me because I think preschool is primarily for socialization, and this school is budget friendly. Yesterday, he is walking around signing parts of a song about how Jesus loves him. I expected religious art projects and such, but this took me back a little bit. Force-fed perhaps? I countered with Spider-Man loves him too, as we were putting on his Spider-man jammies, leading to this exchange:

Him: And Spider-man loves everyone?
Me: Of course.
Him: And Spider-man saves the world?
Me: Yep.
Him: But why?
Me: Because Spider-man is a nice guy, and that is what nice guys do.

Needless to say, I'm now regretting this Christian preschool!

Back to the post at hand. Here are some shocking liberal term definitions:
    • Environmentalism: a mixture of pseudoscience and neo-paganism used to justify the imposition of socialistic controls.
    • Global warming: The baseless environmentalist mantra that the earth's temperature is rising, and that human intervention is the cause.

Scary, yet funny at the same time. Turns out there's a term for that besides unintentional comedy. Its another thing I learned today reading the comments of the Dispatches original post, Poe’s Law (I don't get out much apparently, because from the comments it sounds like this has been around awhile): “Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody of Fundamentalism that SOMEONE won't mistake for the real thing."

So unintentional comedy to me, Poe's Law to the everyone else, but entertaining no matter what you call it!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Offseason previews

The UT had their offseason preview today, and MLBTradeRumors ran theirs last week.

With payroll in the $40Ms, the new GM should have some room to make changes to the big league roster. Both articles suggest trades this offseason of arbitration eligible players; UT points to Kooz, due to the overlap of his and Headley's skill sets, and MLBTR says it should be Bell, to sell high. I agree on Kooz, especially if he can win the Gold Glove the Pads were campaigning for, because his value may never be any higher either. One of Kooz or Headley has got to go, and since Kooz is more expensive, I would bet it would be him.

I cannot see a new GM coming in and trading Bell. I could have seen Towers trading him, because he brought him in for nothing and has always been able to put a bullpen together from the scrap heap. But a new GM faces a number of hurdles:
  • he would have to get a ton for him
  • it would immediately start comparisons with Towers and remind everyone that Towers brought him in for nothing
  • with the big change on Friday, losing one of the few immediately recognizable guys on the team would be another PR issue for the team

Not to say that any of these cannot be overcome. Just altogether, it makes a deal unlikely in my mind. I also think selling high is always a good idea. If we could count on Adams to stay healthy, I think its a no-brainer. But you can't, so it would be risky.

As always, they could use a big corner bat to help with the middle of the lineup. I would feel comfortable with the everyday lineup with one more hitter in the outfield, joining Venable in center and Blanks at the other corner. The infield is set with AG, Eck, Everth and Headley/Kooz. I think Hundley will get a little bit better behind the dish and stay above replacement level. That could be an above average lineup.

That leaves the rotation as the biggest question. And it starts with can we believe the performances we have seen, or were they just good (misleading) streaks? Is Correia's improvement for real? Is Richard a solid major league starter? Will CY stay healthy for a full season? Will the real Wade LeBlanc please stand up? How many innings will Latos be available for next year? There are a dozen internal candidates for the 5 spots, but do any give you the warm and fuzzy comfortable feeling?

I think that was KT's biggest plus, he knew pitchers. Pitching drives the team's performance. Its nice to have a good offense, but you need a good staff to compete. You can look at the stats all you want, and that may allow you to put together an effective pitching staff, but it made me comfortable that Towers had that gift of evaluating pitchers. When to buy (Heath Bell), when to sell (Adam Eaton), that's the most important thing Towers brought to the Pads for the last 15 years. And that will be hard to replace. And it will take time to get comfortable with the new GM, whoever they may be.

But change happens. Past performance doesn't guarantee future returns. It is what it is. Worry about the things you can control. Go ahead and pick your cliche. I am not making these decisions, so I don't fret over these decisions that are made. Lets see who comes in, and lets see their plan of attack. In the end, we all want the same thing, the Pads winning some games.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Unintentional comedy link of the day

Thanks to Greg Laden's Blog, I came across the site this morning. Too much fun. Right from the get go, the header states "Supernatural chance or supernatural creator?" Uh, can I go with random chance, does it have to be supernatural?

I clicked on the Junk DNA tab, "The biggest blunder of evolutionary science". It makes a big deal that science got junk DNA all wrong, it is actually useful based on the latest studies by other scientists. I guess that is supposed to convince me that science is wrong, all of evolution must therefore be wrong, just as creationists KNEW all along! "You should have listened to us" is what they imply. Except that its not creationists debunking the science, its other scientists! So, isn't science still right?

That's the great thing about scientists, they don't just believe what they are told. Scientists once thought the earth was the center of the universe (albeit based on some misleading information passed around as TRUTH), then figured out it was not, and changed their minds! Scientists have been wrong thousands of times, which they will readily admit, and other scientists have always been there to correct any mistakes and further add to the knowledge.

Creationists have been wrong just one time, but have yet to acknowledge it and have not tried to correct it in any way. But I for one am glad about that. I appreciate their effort and enjoy their twisted logic. Without them, I wouldn't have had such a good laugh to kick off my Friday morning.
The Out Campaign: Scarlet Letter of Atheism