Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Layouts

We'll be trying out a few new layouts over the next couple of months. While I liked the colors of the previous layout, we were unable to adjust the width of the text area, which meant a lot of scrolling, and articles that appeared exorbitantly long. So, specifically, we'll be trying out templates that stretch the full width of the screen.

The current one, which has an orange headline bar, is called Sand Dollar. Let me know what you think of it, particularly if you dislike it.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

NFL Draft 2010 - Rounds 2-7

First round analysis can be found here.

Picks

The Vikings traded out of the first round, but put themselves behind the Colts, Saints, and Rams, three teams who wouldn't take a quarterback. So, with Brett Favre's future in question and Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels unlikely to be long-term options, I expected/hoped that Minnesota would snag Jimmy Clausen at great value. They didn't, so hopefully Favre will be back in 2010.

Clausen meanwhile ended up with the Panthers. The Panthers, who were without a first round pick, ended up with a very appealing quarterback option with the 48th pick in the draft. I'm not sure why they took QB Armanti Edwards in the third round (though he's likely to change positions) and Tony Pike in the sixth round after grabbing Clausen, but one thing is for sure: the Panthers are committed to finding a new quarterback.

The Ravens traded out of the first round, picked up 3rd and 4th round picks, and still got a first-round talent in Sergio Kindle. Unbelievable how this team is able to constantly acquire great players at great value. If I didn't dislike them so, they'd be the kind of team I'd love to root for.

I saw mock drafts in March suggest that the Raiders might take Bruce Campbell with their first round pick because of his excellent combine performance. The fact that he was available in the fourth round makes me think two things: first, the league is cooling off on dramatically changing a player's draft stock based on a few workouts, and second, despite general opinion, the Raiders have some idea what they're doing.

Trades

The Vikings traded up to grab Toby Gerhart, an interesting player, but one who Minnesota must like a lot more than I do, because I just couldn't see giving up a third rounder to move up 11 spots to make the pick. I could be wrong, though; my brother thinks he's going to be fantastic.

The Seattle Seahawks traded down a couple picks to acquire RB LenDale White, who'll be reunited with his old coach at USC, Pete Carroll. White showed flashes of being a very good short yardage back, and he could be a nice complement to the speed and elusiveness of Justin Forsett. The Seahawks also traded their 5th round pick to the Jets for Leon Washington, giving them several options going into training camp. The backfield will give fantasy owners fits, but could be productive in the world of, you know, real football.

There were several other trades made in the later rounds, but mostly they involved teams selecting players I've never heard of, so I don't feel qualified to talk about them.

Coming up, I've got an all-Redskins article, which will evaluate the Redskins' offseason moves, with an obvious emphasis on the draft.

Drive home safely everybody.

Monday, April 26, 2010

NFL Draft 2010 - First Round

So we're going to split this into several posts. The first one (this one) will be about the players selected and trades made in the first round of the NFL draft, last Thursday night. It won't include any selections by the Washington Redskins, which I'll cover in a Redskin-specific post in the near future.

First things first, the St. Louis Rams took Sam Bradford as the number one pick in the 2010 NFL draft. A lot of people like Sam Bradford, and I'm one of them. I think he's going to be a good pro quarterback. But for the Rams, I think grabbing one of the premier defensive tackles would've been a better move. Last week's pre-draft post goes over most of the logic behind taking someone else, but just for the record, I'll let you know that this quote was mine:
"First off, I acknowledge the importance of a quarterback. It's extremely rare that a single player at any other position takes their team to the playoffs; you're talking about Barry Sanders and Warren Sapp in those instances, a couple of all-time greats. But I'm going with Ndamukong Suh, and here's why. First, he's probably the safest bet for long-term production, with the potential to in fact be one of those amazing players who can put a team on their backs. More importantly, I don't know that Sam Bradford is the best quarterback in the draft, and I'd be loathe to take Bradford and have Jimmy Clausen blossom into a top-tier signal-caller. Suh saves me from that possibility."
Seeing how the draft ended up playing out only makes me more certain that a defensive tackle was the way to go. Clausen being available at the Rams' second round pick means that they could have still likely acquired the #2 quarterback on every reasonable person's draft board, but been able to draft a potentially franchise-changing defensive player like Suh or Gerald McCoy.

I think Eric Berry was skilled enough to go #1 overall, as I really think he'll have that kind of long-term impact, but I get that teams are more willing to invest in quarterbacks and defensive linemen. Still, I think he'll help Kansas City in a big way, and wouldn't have been mad if Washington had elected to take him instead of an offensive lineman.

I've heard some talk about the Raiders' selection of Rolando McClain being surprising and a reach, but he was creeping up draft boards all week. It's obvious he's perceived to be a potentially great player, so I'm not going to say Al Davis made a bad move here. Now, Darrius Heyward-Bey last year over Michael Crabtree was just silly.

The San Francisco 49ers grabbed potentially the top tackle and the top guard in the draft, giving them a completely rejuvenated offensive line. Mike Singletary clearly is putting his stamp on this team, and you have to think his hard-nosed mentality can rub off on these guys. If it does, they could both be stars.

Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Steelers got Maurkice Pouncey at 18, and the Green Bay Packers nabbed Brian Bulaga at 23. Apparently everyone else though that it was important to give a couple of very solid teams the chance to dramatically improve their offensive lines. Well done, NFL teams.

Picks 24 and 25 couldn't be more different. Dallas took Dez Bryant at 24; he's a kid with character questions but a world of talent. Meanwhile, Denver traded up to the 25 slot and acquired Tim Tebow, a god-fearing, hard-working project of a quarterback. I hate the idea of taking a quarterback like Tebow in the first round, when his skills don't really scream quarterback. Tarvaris Jackson was a project in 2006 when the Vikings took him in the second round, and he's still a work in progress...hopefully. Still, Tebow could end up being very productive, and certainly his work ethic screams leadership.

I think the Colts did great to acquire Jerry Hughes with the 31st overall pick. His size doesn't wow you, but everything else about him does. The Colts just know how to do business.

Well, that's the first round for you. Next, I'll look at the happenings in the remainder of the draft, including some of the notable trades that took place. See you soon.

Twi-Night Doubleheader - Week 3

Fantasy Players of the Week

AL Hitter: Kendry Morales, 1B, Angels (.542, 7 R, 3 HR, 10 RBI) - Morales was one of the bigger question marks coming into this season, but so far, it's pretty obvious that his breakout 2009 was just the beginning.
NL Hitter: Mark Reynolds, 1B/3B, Diamondbacks (.421, 5 R, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 1 SB) - After a slow start, Reynolds went on a tear last week, more than doubling his RBI output on the season. And he's likely now unavailable in a trade.
AL Pitcher: John Danks, SP, White Sox (2-0, 14 Ks, 1.69/0.69) - Danks had a great week, even outdueling laser hot David Price in a game against the Rays. His second great start helps him edge Phil Hughes' near no-hitter.
NL Pitcher: Mike Pelfrey, SP, Mets (2-0, 9 Ks, 0.00/1.33) - The WHIP is a little higher than you'd like, but all you can really ask of a guy is to give up no runs and get the win, and Pelfrey did that twice last week. Would've been nice if he pitched like this back when I drafted him last year.

Go Pick Up

AL Hitter: Brett Gardner, OF, Yankees (36% owned) - In case you haven't noticed, Gardner is getting regular playing time in the Yankees' lineup. That means he shouldn't have any trouble blowing past his career-high 48 runs from a year ago. He's also got plus speed, and the Yankees love sending him, so his 9 SB are just the beginning. His .327 batting average is probably an aberration, but .290 isn't unreasonable at all.
NL Hitter: Scott Rolen, 3B, Reds (28%) - Rolen is looking like he did a half a decade ago when he was healthy and productive. The chances of him continuing to be both are pretty slim, but you gotta ride him while he's hot.
AL Pitcher: Joel Zumaya, RP, Tigers (13% owned) - Don't necessarily count on him getting more wins (he's 2-0), but it looks like he's recaptured his rookie pitching form. Even better, he hasn't walked a batter yet in 12 IP. Closer Jose Valverde has been very good as well, so I wouldn't expect Zumaya to wrestle the closer role from him, but good innings are good innings, and Zumaya may have quite a few of them to offer.
NL Pitcher: Livan Hernandez, SP, Nationals (18% owned) - I can't believe I'm recommending that you go pick up Hernandez, but the numbers are right there. Three starts with 7+ IP, just 2 ER over 24 innings, and a WHIP under 1.00. I'd be an irresponsible fantasy writer if I didn't tell you to go pick him up.

A Tearful Goodbye

Though it pained me to do so, I waived two of this year's draft picks from my keeper league team: Drew Stubbs, and...sigh...Chris Davis. As last year's second place finisher, it's my responsibility to act like a team wanting to win this year, and after giving me zero production from 3B, then getting demoted, Davis really was just not going to offer anything in the near future. If no one picks him up, I'll keep an eye on him, but I'm expecting someone to be willing and able to take a flier on him.

Stubbs' departure was a little easier to palate for two reasons. First, he's well behind my top four outfielders (Matt Kemp, Vernon Wells, Alfonso Soriano, Alex Rios), and I've already got Carlos Lee riding the pine while he figures out what to do, so Stubbs was essentially sixth on my OF depth chart. Second, he's already cleared waivers, so I feel comfortable thinking I didn't make a big mistake. I will be interested to see how long it takes for his hits (9) to eclipse his runs (11).

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Abbreviated Story of Chris Davis

I know you're all expecting analysis of the first round of last night's NFL draft, but I think it's a little rash to start analyzing teams' moves before they've actually made them. The Ravens acquired several picks last night in the trade that allowed the Broncos to select Tim Tebow, but we won't know how good the trade looks for the Ravens until they use those picks.

So, in the meantime, I figured I'd talk about a guy who I drafted fairly early in our keeper fantasy league, and whose story just got at least one chapter longer: Texas Rangers' first baseman Chris Davis.

Davis grew from relative obscurity to become one of the most prolific power hitters in the minors, and by the middle of 2008, the Rangers had to call him up. He produced immediately, smacking three homers in his first 19 MLB at-bats. But the warning signs were still there, as he struck out in six of those at-bats as well. Right away he established his propensity to be a "feast or famine" kind of player, and it's very difficult for those kinds of players to stay productive over an entire season.

He finished his rookie 2008 season with 17 HR and 55 RBI (along with 88 Ks) in 80 games, and his upside made him a keeper in our fantasy league. His owner, Vandelay Industries, saw the full crushing weight of those strikeouts firsthand, as Davis struck out 110 times in 247 at-bats through June, and while he had 15 home runs, he was hitting just .202, and his inability to make consistent contact held him to just 31 RBIs through the same time frame.

Davis was demoted in the first week of July, and many fantasy owners were happy to finally be rid of the question of what to do with him. But Davis worked on his approach, and earned another call-up in late August. He still suffered from a high strikeout rate, but he found his way to a lot more singles, and hit .308 to raise his average from .202 to .238 by the end of the season. He hit only 6 homers after his call-up, but a compromise between his two major league stints would theoretically offer a .275 hitter with 25-35 homer potential. It was that potential that led me to taking him in the 3rd round of our keeper league draft (after 8 keeper rounds).

Davis has been abysmal in 2010. Going into today's games, he was hitting .188 with zero home runs and 1 RBI. His single RBI accounted for the only RBI out of first base for the Rangers this season, the worst in the majors. He's still striking out a lot (17 times in 48 ABs, making his career rate a strikeout in 34.7% of his at-bats), and his complete inability to hit left-handers (.218 and a .409 slugging percentage in 220 career at-bats) makes me think he may be destined for a platoon.

Or not. Davis was demoted to triple-A Oklahoma City this morning by the Rangers, who called up super-prospect Justin Smoak to take over at first base for Davis. Smoak has played in just 134 minor league games since being drafted in 2008, but he's hit .293 with a more palatable 20.1% strikeout rate. Smoak hasn't displayed elite power potential in the minors thus far, and Davis will get an opportunity to play every day in Oklahoma City, so a return to the Rangers for Davis isn't impossible. But he's got to work on his approach again, and revisit the changes he made at the end of 2009 that turned him into a .300 hitter, albeit briefly.

I'm not dropping him just yet, as I had already grabbed Alberto Callaspo, who you may remember I told you to go pick up. So for as long as I can afford to sit on a minor leaguer with high-end power potential, I will. But it'll be a long time before I entrust him with a lineup spot again.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Who Should The Rams Take With The #1 Overall Pick?

I decided to ask this question of anyone whose email address I could get my hands on. I now offer you their anonymous responses.

"Ndamukong Suh
The Rams have problems everywhere...everywhere. They aren't going to be a playoff team this year, next year or probably the year after that. Suh is the surest bet in the draft, can make an immediate impact and will probably still be around in 3 or 4 years when the Rams get out of their substantial hole...something that is 50-50 for quarterbacks. Names like JaMarcus Russell and Alex Smith should be ringing in the ears of St. Louis execs."
-Chevy Chase, MD

"Sam Bradford - They say his pro day workout was something like best seen since Aikman, and they ain't got no QB. Then again, some people say that McCoy would work better for their scheme, but since I don't know jack about their scheme: Bradford."
-Rockville, MD

"Tim Tebow, because he loves Jesus and circumcises babies."
-Rockville, MD

"I would trade down with the Redskins, get Haynesworth or Cambell from them and select Russell Okung, OT. I don't think any of the QBs are worthy of the first overall pick. I question Bradford's durability, and he played in a spread offense. I'd draft Suh if I had to stay at that pick, but would be hesitant since the last two drafts we went defense and neither of those picks panned out."
-Frederick, MD

"The Rams have to pick a QB. They are in a rebuilding stage and the best way to start that rebuild is with a QB. So that means they are going to select Bradford right? The experts would have you believe there is no other possible choice. So why hasn’t a contract been agreed to? Have there even been any contract talks between Bradford and the Rams? The Rams are going to select Jimmy Clausen. He has proven he can be successful behind a crappy o-line and an even worse defense. He has proven his durability and toughness by playing through injuries. The last thing the Rams would want is to take a QB number 1 and have that QB go out with another shoulder injury. And Clausen has played his whole career in a pro-style offense, not the spread like Bradford. Clausen is the pick. (I make no apologies for my bias opinion on all things Notre Dame football)."
-Rockville, MD

"First off, I acknowledge the importance of a quarterback. It's extremely rare that a single player at any other position takes their team to the playoffs; you're talking about Barry Sanders and Warren Sapp in those instances, a couple of all-time greats. But I'm going with Ndamukong Suh, and here's why. First, he's probably the safest bet for long-term production, with the potential to in fact be one of those amazing players who can put a team on their backs. More importantly, I don't know that Sam Bradford is the best quarterback in the draft, and I'd be loathe to take Bradford and have Jimmy Clausen blossom into a top-tier signal-caller. Suh saves me from that possibility."
-Rockville, MD

We're minutes away now. Best of luck to all the draftees...except anybody drafted by the Giants, Bears, Steelers, Cowboys, Eagles, Patriots, and, we'll say, the Chiefs.

Wins Update - 4/22

As you may remember, I had employed a few strategies this year in trying to improve my position in the Wins category in our main fantasy baseball league. A few weeks in, let's take a look at how things are panning out.

I currently have five wins, tied for second-to-last place. The top two teams have 13 and 12 wins, respectively. The top team, Mercer AutoWreckers, acquired 4-win Roy Halladay from me prior to this year's keeper submissions. In retrospect, perhaps trading him and working to acquire Jon Lester (0-2, 8.44/1.88) was not the best idea.

But there are reasons to be hopeful. Phil Hughes is coming off of a fantastic start last night against the Athletics, and despite still being winless, Zack Greinke looked like his old self yesterday, allowing just three baserunners in a hard luck no-decision. I feel like I've got a pretty good pitching staff, and if Lester can get his act together, maybe the best top-to-bottom in our league. I'll give you another update on chasing wins as the league starts to take shape.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Twenty for Thirty Update - 4/20

So it's been another two months since my last update, and unfortunately, I haven't completed any additional goals. I've made minimal progress on a couple, but it's not about "moving towards goals;" it's about accomplishing them.

In thinking about some of these goals, though, I realize now that they weren't really my goals. They were goals that seemed considerable and reasonable, but weren't really things that I was going to set out to do, because they're not that important to me. They are:

1) Buy a car.
11) Bench press 200 pounds.
12) Go an entire week without drinking any caffeinated beverage.
20) Have a 60+ second conversation with a celebrity.

I'm debating whether or not I want to replace those four, or just roll with them and see how it goes. I'd be pretty surprised if I were to accomplish any of them, given that they're not actual personal goals. I don't really want to change them, though, since the year is already four months old, and it might marginalize the whole list. I'm thinking what I'll do, actually, is create a new list of twenty every year, removing goals accomplished and those that don't really qualify, and keeping goals that I hold dear but have not yet accomplished. Yes, that's what I'll do.

But for now, I'm going to get to work writing a song.

2010 NFL Draft Preview

This year's NFL Draft will start on Thursday night. I'm not sure what I think of that, and probably won't be sure until it actually happens. I know that the Washington Capitals are scheduled to play Wednesday and Friday, so we'll see if I'm up for spending three straight nights on my couch watching sports.

I do know that I'll at least watch through pick #4, as I'm very interested to see what the Redskins do with their first round pick. I'd be pretty surprised if they did anything other than draft offensive tackle Russell Okung, but you never know. That's why you tune in.

But of course, the Redskins aren't the only team whose fate will be affected on Thursday night. And so, we look forward to the 2010 NFL Draft. Like last year, we'll predict the top fifteen picks and give some analysis on each.

2010 NFL Mock Draft
  1. The St. Louis Rams select Sam Bradford, quarterback, Oklahoma. Not much surprise here at this point, with how much discussion there has been about Bradford's rise up everyone's draft board, but remember right after the NCAA football season ended? Ndamukong Suh was everyone's #1 pick. I guess we shouldn't be surprised when a quarterback ends up going #1 overall, though. Seven of the past ten first overall selections have been quarterbacks.
  2. The Detroit Lions select Ndamukong Suh, defensive tackle, Nebraska. I don't generally get into college football, but I rooted like crazy for Nebraska when they played Texas in the Big 12 title game. A loss by Texas could have forced Cincinnati, Boise State, or TCU into the BCS title game, which is all I've ever wanted out of college football. Anyways, Suh is an elite defensive line talent, and the Lions are still the kind of team that just needs players.
  3. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Gerald McCoy, defensive tackle, Oklahoma. There's been some debate over which elite defensive tackle is the better player, but in the end, both guys will probably be long-time successful pros. There aren't a lot of ways to go wrong in this draft, especially early on. Tampa, like Detroit, should just be looking for talent, and McCoy has it in spades.
  4. The Washington Redskins select Russell Okung, offensive tackle, Oklahoma State. The more I read about Okung and the other tackles in this draft, the more I want the Redskins to find a way to reasonably trade down. None of these OTs is an elite, Jonathan Ogden/Orlando Pace caliber player, and there look to be four or five potentially very good tackles. If the Redskins hold onto the pick, Okung is the closest to a sure thing, so he's the pick.
  5. The Kansas City Chiefs select Eric Berry, safety, Tennessee. A lot of the talk has been that Berry would be the best player available, but that Kansas City would be concerned about giving "top 5 money" to a safety. Hogwash, I say. It would be much more costly to pass on a premier player and watch him return interceptions for touchdowns for the Browns. The first non-Big 12 player will be Berry, here at #5.
  6. The Seattle Seahawks select C.J. Spiller, running back, Clemson. I do think that the Seahawks will look long and hard at the various offensive linemen available, but with a new coach, especially a coach from college like Pete Carroll, I just expect him to want to go out and get a new toy for his offense. Spiller is highly rated, and I think he's their main target. With another pick later in the round, I imagine they'll be hoping that one of the top offensive tackles falls to them, which is a fair guess.
  7. The Cleveland Browns select Dez Bryant, wide receiver, Oklahoma State. This doesn't feel like the pick that the Browns will make, but every time I run through the logic in my head, it makes the most sense. Their offensive line is actually pretty good, so I don't see them going after one of the remaining tackles. Mike Holmgren apparently doesn't think much of Jimmy Clausen, or so people tell me. And the intriguing defensive options don't seem to have enough value to take here. Bryant could help a lethargic Browns offense to actually scare some folks, and after signing Jake Delhomme, you'd better get him a weapon.
  8. The Oakland Raiders select Jimmy Clausen, quarterback, Notre Dame. After last year's selection of Darrius Heyward-Bey, and the selection of Sebastian Janikowski in the first round of the 2000 draft, the Raiders have this aura of unpredictability around them. But as you look deeper, that's just not the case. While Darren McFadden, JaMarcus Russell, and Robert Gallery may not have turned out, they were all very reasonable picks, even "safe" picks. You can't blame Al Davis for trying to think outside the box. I think this year he stays reasonable, and sees Clausen as a guy who put up great numbers against top competition in college. He's a completely fair pick.
  9. The Buffalo Bills select Brian Bulaga, offensive tackle, Iowa. A pretty boring pick for a team that's been pretty boring the past few years. New head coach Chan Gailey has been coordinating offenses for long enough to know the value of a strong offensive line, and if Brian Bulaga falls to their pick at #9, I'd be pretty shocked if the Bills didn't snag him.
  10. The Jacksonville Jaguars select Jason Pierre-Paul, defensive end, South Florida. The Jags registered a measly 14 sacks in 2009, so obviously getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks is a desperate need. I've seen Pierre-Paul, Derrick Morgan, and Jerry Hughes all mentioned as the top DE in this draft, so any of them could go here. I mostly picked Pierre-Paul because he went to USF, and so he could maybe generate a little more buzz by staying in-state. Unlike some pundits, I don't see Tim Tebow as an option here.
  11. The Denver Broncos select Rolando McClain, linebacker, Alabama. Every "big board" I've seen has McClain lower than this, but every mock draft I've seen has the Broncos taking him here. I'm not going to pretend I know something that the experts don't. McClain was the anchor for a sensational Crimson Tide defense last year, and everything points to him being a high character guy as well. Denver recently acquitted themselves of Brandon Marshall, so you have to think character is a factor for them.
  12. The Miami Dolphins select Dan Williams, defensive tackle, Tennessee. The Dolphins run a 3-4 defense and don't have an elite nose tackle, so Williams is a nice fit. There was some thought that Dez Bryant was a perfect fit at this pick, but A) I've already got him well off the board, and B) the Dolphins just acquired Brandon Marshall, so wide receiver is suddenly not a need.
  13. The San Francisco 49ers select Trent Williams, offensive tackle, Oklahoma. Just a couple years ago, the 49ers took another workout warrior, tight end Vernon Davis. Williams was impressive at the combine, as well as already being a highly touted tackle. Honestly, after seeing Williams fall this far, I went back over my draft board to make sure I didn't miss something, but this is how I see things playing out, which would be a coup for San Francisco.
  14. The Seattle Seahawks select Anthony Davis, offensive tackle, Rutgers. Remember when the Seahawks reached for C.J. Spiller in the hopes that one of the top tier offensive tackles would fall to them? Well, hello Seattle, Anthony Davis just so happens to fall into that category. He's actually got the upside to be the best tackle from this class if he can overcome maturity concerns. Davis or Trent Williams would be a great result here if the Seahawks go for Spiller with the #6 pick.
  15. The New York Giants select Derrick Morgan, defensive end, Georgia Tech. The sports talk radio interviews I hear suggest that Osi Umenyiora may be dealt, possibly on draft day, which would create a distinct need for a defensive end. Morgan and TCU's Jerry Hughes are both on the board here, but Morgan's quality has been better publicized, so I'll go with him. Hey, the Giants are still a New York team. They still react to public opinion on some level.
I'm holding out hope that the Redskins are able to find a way to trade down a few picks and get back into the second and/or third rounds. Everyone says this is one of the deepest drafts in years, and given the fact that the Redskins seem likely to select merely the best of several offensive tackles, the opportunity for creating some value by trading down seems distinct.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Twi-Night Doubleheader - Week 2

Fantasy Players of the Week
  • AL Hitter: Shin-Soo Choo, OF, Indians (.579, 5 R, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 1 SB) - Here's another tidbit: Choo struck out only once in 29 plate appearances last week.
  • NL Hitter: Chase Utley, 2B, Phillies (.333, 8 R, 5 HR, 8 RBI) - He and Matt Kemp had almost identical lines, but Utley gets the nod for doing it while playing second base for you.
  • AL Pitcher: Ricky Romero, SP, Blue Jays (1-1, 18 Ks, 1.69/0.63) - You all know about his near no-hitter, but he actually lowered his ERA in his following start, a tough loss to the Angels in which he gave up just one run.
  • NL Pitcher: Adam Wainwright, SP, Cardinals (2-0, 16 Ks, 1.06/0/76) - Apparently Wainwright is taking out his frustration at losing last year's Cy Young race on every hitter he faces.

Go Pick Up...
  • AL Hitter: Alberto Callaspo, 2B/3B, Royals (26% owned) - The concerns coming into this season were playing time and consistency. Callaspo's played in 11 of Kansas City's 12 games, and only failed to pick up a hit in two of them. Homers and steals will be limited, but he's a great filler, and his position flexibility helps even more in deeper leagues.
  • NL Hitter: Ivan Rodriguez, C, Nationals (39% owned) - Pudge just isn't going away. He's now got six multi-hit games, and leads all NL starting catchers in runs (9) and batting average (.444). The job is all his until Jesus Flores recovers from his current injury, and it will be his again when Flores suffers his next injury.
  • AL Pitcher: Fernando Rodney, RP, Angels (48% owned) - Inexplicably, he's available in more than half of Yahoo leagues. He hasn't given up a run since taking over the closer job for the injured Brian Fuentes. If he holds up, don't be surprised if he holds the job when Fuentes comes back.
  • NL Pitcher: Matt Lindstrom, RP, Astros (37% owned???) - He's not amazing, and Houston may only win 50 games, but chances are they'll all be pretty close. He's a closer, and he's got electric stuff..sometimes.

Lamentations From My Main Fantasy Team
  • Prince Fielder, Chris Davis, and Carlos Lee have zero home runs thus far. They combined for 93 HRs last year.
  • In terms of runs scored last season, Jon Lester has faced the #1 (Yankees), #5 (Twins), and #7 (Rays) offenses in baseball so far this season. Starting him against two of them was my fault, not his.
  • Trevor Hoffman has given up at least one run in four of his five appearances this year, yet he's 1-1 with 3 saves. Of even greater concern are the nine hits he's given up in five innings. He's been utterly hittable.
  • Matt Kemp and Miguel Cabrera are awesome. Those aren't lamentations, just facts.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Is OPS a Useful Statistic?

What makes a statistic useful? I'd say two factors go into it.
  1. How well does the statistic reflect the characteristics it's trying to portray? On-base percentage is a pretty good example; it does a great job of representing how frequently a player reaches base.
  2. How easy is it to derive that information? Again, let's look at on-base percentage. If a player has a career OBP of exactly .400 (like Brian Giles), then you can say that, ignoring anomalies, he was able to reach first base and avoid generating an out in 40% of his plate appearances. Simple, straight to the point.
The statistic we're talking about, OPS, is the result of adding two other statistics together: on-base percentage and slugging percentage. The idea is that, by combining those two numbers, you can determine a player's value as far as avoiding outs (OBP) and hitting for power (SLG). In theory, this kind of action makes some sense. If you're able to find a player who doesn't cause outs and gets extra-base hits with regularity, he's clearly a hitter who's going to benefit your lineup.

Which brings us to our question. Is OPS a useful statistic? The answer, for the most part, is no.

I have no qualms with the theoretical side of OPS, and I have no problem with an attempt to generate a new statistic that helps people (both insiders and outside observers) know more about players. My problem is that adding those two statistics together is the most simple and illogical thing you can do.

I offer this illustration of my point. I have two quarters and four pennies in my pocket. How useful is it for me to say I have six "moneys" in my pocket? Or should I maybe try to think of some other way to convey what I've got in my pocket (like 54 cents)? OPS just seems like a lazy stat.

Furthermore, we all learned in elementary school that you can't add fractions that have different denominators. In order to add 1/3 to 1/4, you have to convert them. The maximum possible OBP is 1.000, if you reach base in every plate appearance. The maximum possible SLG is 4.000, if you were to hit a home run in every plate appearance. OPS basically says that .4/1 + .6/4 = 1. The math itself tells you that the statistic is flawed.

Let's go back to the two criteria I cited.

First, does OPS reflect the characteristics it's trying to portray? Well, sort of. The guys with the highest OPSs are generally the best hitters, but I have a hard time saying that the order of players' ranks in OPS is indicative of how effective they were at the plate. I can't really get behind the idea that Joey Votto had a better 2009 than Mark Teixeira. And it seems impossible that J.D. Drew was a better hitter than Evan Longoria, Ryan Zimmerman, and Victor Martinez last year.

But I think it's the second question that puts OPS completely out to pasture. What exactly does OPS mean? Ryan Howard had .931...whatevers? Units of OPS? OPS percentage? I'm willing to yield a little bit on slugging percentage (which as I mentioned is out of 4.000, rather than 1.000), because it's been around forever, and because it's got a specific formula whose result makes sense (total bases/plate appearances). It should probably be called "slugging ratio" or "slugging rate," but the name won't be changed. Regardless, the actual rates are useful; they tell us who makes the most out of their PAs. Prince Fielder slugged .602 last year, which means that over ten plate appearances, he would generate six total bases (e.g. a home run and two singles, or three doubles, or a double, two walks and two singles).

I think there is a stat out there waiting to be created that can combine this information into a useful, effective number. Heck, it probably already exists as VORP or runs created, two stats I don't really appreciate because they're not on Yahoo's player pages. I just know one thing: the stat we're looking for is not OPS.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Should Ben Stay or Should He Go?

First, let's dispense with one thing. I don't like the Pittsburgh Steelers. Some might say that I hate the Pittsburgh Steelers, and they wouldn't be completely wrong. There's certainly something that feels like hate brewing inside of me when I talk about them.

That being said, I've generally been able to be pretty objective when it comes to talking about them in Joe and Joe context, or in any analytical context, so I'm going to take a crack at the current situation with Ben Roethlisberger.

Let's start with the facts. Roethlisberger faced criminal charges on sexual assault in two different circumstances. In both instances, the charges were eventually dropped, though there's still a civil suit outstanding in one case. Additionally, the Steelers have had a well-publicized and long-cultivated reputation for being intolerant of people with poor characters, parting ways with Bam Morris (marijuana), Plaxico Burress (attitude), and Cedrick Wilson (hit his girlfriend) for character issues. Additionally, just this week the Steelers traded Santonio Holmes to the New York Jets after finding out he'd be suspended the first four games of the 2010 season, for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.

But hang on. Right around the time Cedrick Wilson was cut for hitting his girlfriend, James Harrison broke down his girlfriend's door, snapped her cell phone in half, and slapped her across the face. Harrison faced no punishment from the Steelers' front office. Why? The company line was that each instance was viewed independently, and the two situations were not the same. To Pittsburgh apologists, the difference was a closed fist versus an open hand. To everyone else, the difference was that Wilson was a fourth string wide receiver, and Harrison was arguably their best linebacker. To fans in the rest of the league, it was a message saying that the Steelers are no different than any other team; on-field performance outweighs off-field transgressions.

It should then come as no surprise that Santonio Holmes was only traded once it was determined that he would miss four games in 2010 due to suspension. Pittsburgh likely felt they could make a statement and cut someone who was going to play at most 12 games anyways, so the decision was easier.

But now, with a large public outcry, specifically from the African-American community, the Steelers are faced with the decision on what to do with Ben Roethlisberger. The commissioner's office is expected to make a ruling soon on whether or not Roethlisberger will be punished through the NFL's personal conduct policy, and a 4+ game suspension by Roger Goodell could take the Rooneys off the hook. They'd be able to say, "We agree with the commissioner's decision, and consider the matter closed." Most teams have abided this general train of thought, and suspended players' teams have not been held accountable for discipline as a result (I cite Michael Vick on the Eagles, Adam Jones on the Titans/Cowboys, and Tank Johnson on the Bears/Cowboys). The commissioner has basically agreed to play bad cop for the whole league, allowing the teams to be the good cops.

And so now we come to the real question, and the title of this post. Should the Pittsburgh Steelers actively attempt to trade Ben Roethlisberger? I've heard and read that the rumors floating around about a trade to the Rams are untrue, and generally I believe that, since franchise quarterbacks rarely get traded. But we're not here to talk about "will it happen" or "won't it happen"; that's for the experts and the insiders. I'm an opinion-speaker, and so I will state my opinion.

If there were an offer from the Rams of this year's #1 overall pick and a first round pick next year, I think that the Steelers should think long and hard before turning it down. The reasons:
  1. The window on this team's potential short-term success may already be closed. The defense is getting older, Hines Ward probably will be gone in two to three years, you just traded Santonio Holmes, and Troy Polamalu, the team's most popular and most important player, has two years left on his deal, and will almost certainly command a $10 million/year contract. That means he'll likely be gone as well.

  2. The #1 overall pick is a great pick to have. If the team and Mike Tomlin both like Sam Bradford or Jimmy Clausen, you have the chance to draft a guy you believe will be your next franchise quarterback. If you're not wild about either of them, you can take Ndamukong Suh or Gerald McCoy and have an elite defensive tackle for the next ten years. Furthermore, the opportunity to trade down always exists, and the Steelers have been fantastic at finding good talent between picks 10 and 75.

  3. The resulting PR would be a boon. Right now, the Steelers are in a no-man's land between "character counts" and "anything to win." Among sports analysts or more passive sports fans, these minor hypocrisies are irrelevant. To the average sports fan, though, they're unacceptable. Most Steelers fans I've met take pride in their team's "no nonsense" stance when it comes to character issues, and are either emotionally torn or uninformed regarding James Harrison's infractions. Not that Pittsburgh needs much of a boost when it comes to fanship, but you can never have too many fans.
That's my theoretical analysis of the trade. My personal opinion? No way you trade him.

See, I fall into the "anything to win" camp much more distinctly than most. I think it's silly that no team has signed Barry Bonds. I thought it was ridiculous that Terrell Owens got deactivated for the second half of the season for saying he'd rather have Brett Favre as his quarterback than Donovan McNabb. Does that mean that I buy into guys like Albert Haynesworth, who seem to care very little about their team and winning? Sometimes, yes. But it's not like Roethlisberger hasn't shown that he wants to win. He leaves it all out on the field, and his track record is impressive, even if you're accounting for him being backed up by one of the best defenses in the world.

Of course, I also say you pay Troy Polamalu whatever he asks for.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

NHL 2010 Playoff Picks - First Round

I don't claim to be a hockey expert, but I am enjoying hockey more and more these days, and I'm paying more and more attention to it. Also, this is a sports blog, so it's my responsibility to talk about most sports. Not golf, of course, because golf is absurd and pointless. But most other sports.

Eastern Conference

#1 Washington Capitals vs. #8 Montreal Canadiens
I'm hearing all over town that Montreal was the one matchup we didn't want to see in the first round. I still feel fine about the Caps' ability to overwhelm opponents, even Canadian opponents.
Washington in 5

#2 New Jersey Devils vs. #7 Philadelphia Flyers
All I know for sure is that the Devils are really damn good. Martin Brodeur is still elite, and I don't care how physical the Flyers play, Zach Parise is going to find a way to put goals in nets.
New Jersey in 5

#3 Buffalo Sabres vs. #6 Boston Bruins
This seems to be one of the sexier picks for an upset, and I do think the Bruins have got a good squad, but I just can't see Ryan Miller letting the Sabres come up short in the first round.
Buffalo in 6

#4 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. #5 Ottawa Senators
Neither team is particularly good defensively, but the Penguins have the offensive firepower and a potentially dominant goaltender. It could be explosive, but it could also just not be close.
Pittsburgh in 5


Western Conference

#1 San Jose Sharks vs. #8 Colorado Avalanche
I wish I could predict good things for Colorado, but there's really no chance they come out of this series with a win. I mean, like a win in any game. San Jose is stacked.
San Jose in 4

#2 Chicago Blackhawks vs. #7 Nashville Predators
The Blackhawks are basically Capitals West: they've got a ton of firepower, but their defense can be problematic. Nashville is the opposite, which could make the series interesting, but I wouldn't bank on it.
Chicago in 5

#3 Vancouver Canucks vs. #6 Los Angeles Kings
The Kings? The Kings are in the playoffs? Is nothing sacred? Seriously, though, they're actually pretty decent, and the Canucks aren't unstoppable. In the end, though, I'll take the veterans.
Vancouver in 6

#4 Phoenix Coyotes vs. #5 Detroit Red Wings
Unstoppable force (Red Wings' puck movement) vs. immovable object (Phoenix's Ilya Bryzgalov). Today, I'll take Detroit, but if Bryzgalov gets hot, forget about it.
Detroit in 7

Monday, April 12, 2010

Twi-Night Doubleheader - Week 1

We're going to try something new this year. I'm going to give you a fantasy baseball update on a weekly basis, with various tidbits of information. And I'm naming it "Twi-Night Doubleheader" because it's a sweet baseball term. Here goes.

(Ownage numbers retrieved from Yahoo)

Fantasy Players of the Week

AL Hitter: Curtis Granderson (.348, 4 runs, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 3 SB) - A couple other guys had better run production, but getting two homers and three steals in one week is truly a fantasy.
NL Hitter: Albert Pujols (.375, 7 runs, 4 HR, 10 RBI) - You have to think Pujols will find his way onto this list more often than anyone else. Pujols 1, Rest of NL 0.

AL Pitcher: Dallas Braden (1-0, 12 Ks, 2.77/0.85) - The AL didn't have the elite performances that the NL did, but Braden had one great start with a no-decision, and a good start with a win. Honorable mention goes to Jon Rauch, who picked up 4 saves in his first week as the Twins' closer.
NL Pitcher: Roy Halladay (2-0, 17 Ks, 0.56/0.94) - It was neck and neck between Halladay and Tim Lincecum, but I'll give the nod to Halladay for having a better ERA over more innings. You have to think that any week either of these guys pitches twice, though, they'll be the favorites.

Go Pick Up...

AL Hitter: J.J. Hardy, SS, Twins (.286, 3 runs, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 37% owned) - My guess is that 2009 was the anomaly. A .280 batting average with around 25 home runs seems pretty reasonable.
NL Hitter: Kelly Johnson, 2B, Diamondbacks (.368, 6 runs, 3 HR, 4 RBI, 25% owned) - It was just last year that pundits projected a 15-15 or better season for Johnson. And Arizona is a fine place to hit, even if you're batting eighth.
AL Pitcher: Kevin Gregg, RP, Blue Jays (2 saves, 4 Ks, 0.00 ERA, 22% owned) - It's obvious that the Jays' pen is still open to interpretation, but Gregg has been their best reliever so far. If that endures more than another week or two, I can't see him not being handed the closer job for good.
NL Pitcher: Franklin Morales, RP, Rockies (2 saves, 3.00 ERA, 38% owned) - He may not be completely lights out, but Morales has elite stuff, and with Huston Street's injury history, he could be good for 15-20 saves when all is said and done.

Thought You Ought To Know...
  • ...Brad Lidge still can't get anyone out, but now it's A ball hitters who are knocking him around. If you've got Ryan Madson, keep him.
  • ...Barry Bonds hasn't retired...yet.
  • ...Brian Roberts just got sent to the DL; fantasy owners who have been starting him through this .143 early period are not unhappy.
  • ...Mike Gonzalez is in trouble.

Friday, April 9, 2010

An Admission

I think I'm probably in the minority among Capitals fans when I say this, but I can't help it. My fanship of any team has always been deeply rooted in terror, so here goes:

I hope Washington doesn't have to play the Pittsburgh Penguins in the playoffs.

Despite sweeping the Penguins in the regular season, I still feel like the Capitals would face an unfavorable matchup if pitted against the Penguins. Sidney Crosby is obviously an elite talent, and he seems to play big in big games. Additionally, while Pittsburgh was hotter going into the playoffs in 2009 than they are this year, they've got much of the same personnel, including, most importantly, Marc-Andre Fleury, who was absolutely fantastic in the playoffs last season.

Do I think the Caps can beat the Penguins? Of course I do. They've already taken four out of four games thus far this season. And I know that the Caps will have to face off against at least one other opponent before a possible matchup against Pittsburgh. And, while I'm no hockey expert, I know the Capitals this year are arguably the best team in hockey. I'm just saying that, as a fan, I'm generally panicked about my favorite team's ability to succeed. And with Pittsburgh being last year's villain, I'm going to be worried about them until they're gone.

I'm looking at you, Ottawa.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Declawed

Who is this person people are calling Tiger Woods? This is not the Tiger I enjoyed watching strike fear into the hearts of every golfer with the misfortune of being paired with him. I understand this is a different time in Tiger's life. He is trying to rebuild his image, if only for the sponsors.

But I find myself growing tiresome of his, "I didn't like the person I had become" attitude. Grow some balls. Learn from Sir Charles Barkley. He doesn't apologize for his compulsive gambling habit, his multiple DUIs, or his outspoken nature. This is who he is. He came out and said, "I don't believe professional athletes should be role models, parents should be." So why such an outcry for an apology from Tiger Woods? He hasn't broken any laws; in fact, you might argue he was a victim of domestic violence.

With each public apology, my opinion of him erodes. I understand the need for the first public explanation of the events. I can even understand the interviews he had with selected members of the media, but was his press conference at the Masters this past Monday really necessary? If this were the old Tiger he would have answered every question about his personal life with "I have already addressed that" and would have moved on. But this "new and improved," in-treatment Tiger still feels the need to ingratiate himself with the public. He reeks of weakness. It makes me have less respect for him as a golfer.

I'm not a Tiger fan because of what he does with his private life. I am a fan because he is a magician on the golf course. I find that magic fading with every sad, pathetic look he gives to the camera. I can only hope this is temporary, and he'll soon get back to making his opponents shake like a junkie needing a fix.

Lords of the Realm 2 / Summer Reading

First and foremost, any of you who played Lords of the Realm 2 need to listen to this song:



(You can download the track for yourself here)

Now that that's out of the way, let's talk about the other topic: summer reading. Remember when we were in school and we were expected to read on our own over the summer? I say "supposed to" because I know I never actually did, unless I could get away with something I was going to read anyways (Michael Crichton's Sphere comes to mind). But now, as an adult, I've come to appreciate the occasional foray into literature. I've even purchased more than one book in the past twelve months. I've got at least one extremely long road trip, and I'll likely have many other opportunities to get some serious reading done.

So I turn to you, my loyal readers...or reader. Offer me suggestions of books I should perhaps attempt to read this summer. Particular attention should be paid to books in two categories:
  1. Books that you yourself own and could let me borrow.
  2. Books by Nick Hornby.
I look forward to your suggestions/offerings.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The #4 Pick

The Redskins have the #4 pick in this year's draft. Because of that, they only really need to determine a "Top 4" prospects for that pick. And after having traded their second round pick to acquire Donovan McNabb, the #4 guy is probably the last guy they'll draft for a while. Obviously, they'll develop an entire draft board, but with regards to that first pick, barring a trade, they need four guys on their big board.

And so, I will now tell them who they should take, in order, at that #4 pick. Right now, it seems like any of three players could go first, and any of six or seven players could be a reasonable selection at #4. A lot of it depends on how things go in those first three picks, and from what I hear, those picks are a little bit wide open.

Initially, it seemed like the Rams would take Ndamukong Suh as a no-brainer first pick, but after Sam Bradford had a productive workout and proved his health, he's gotten himself back into the top pick discussion, and it's thrown the whole top ten of the draft into question. So, for the Redskins' benefit, I will come up with a top 4 list, a list of the only four guys that Washington should consider with their #1 pick. And here it is.

The Washington Redskins Top Four
  1. Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska
    The reality, I believe, is that Suh is the one surefire transcendent talent in this year's draft. While defensive tackle might not be a glaring need for the Redskins, they did part ways with Cornelius Griffin, creating a potential opening. I know that the defense is expected to run as a 3-4, but I feel like you work with elite talent if you can get it, and Suh would be elite talent. He's also the one guy that you know, without a doubt, will not be available at the fourth pick.
  2. Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma
    I truly believe that Suh and McCoy are the kind of players who trump the Redskins' potential needs and demand being taken if at all available. I don't expect either to be on the board when Washington picks at #4, so it's probably not worth arguing about, but you've got to come up with a top four going into this draft day. Suh and McCoy belong at the top.
  3. Russell Okung, Oklahoma State
    I had Sam Bradford at #3, but when Washington went and traded for Donovan McNabb, everything changed. Suddenly, the 'Skins needed to fill holes, because they've got a veteran QB and an opportunity to be successful in the short term. "Best available" became less reasonable, and "best fit" replaced it. Okung is the consensus best offensive lineman in the draft, and seems to also be the closest to a sure thing as a plug-and-play left tackle. With limited draft picks and a dearth of options in free agency, you almost have to take a tackle here.
  4. Anthony Davis, Rutgers
    I would have liked to have found a way to recommend Eric Berry, who I think will be a superstar, but after the McNabb trade, this first round pick became a pick that you absolutely have to use to make your team better right now. Berry will be great, but a game-changer he may not be. Davis could be the most talented offensive lineman in the draft, though he's got some character questions. Still, with him, the risk/reward is star OL versus problem child OL, where taking Berry will leave offensive line as a glaringly empty position. If Okung and the two elite DTs are off the board, you might as well take a potential big time player.
Just to give you a little bit extra, here's what I had written about Bradford when I had him at #3, pre-McNabb.

Sam Bradford, Oklahoma

I've always liked Bradford. As you might remember, he was looked at as a potential #1 overall pick last year, before he decided that he was coming back for another year of college ball. The talent seems there, but perhaps more importantly, every interview I've heard and every report on him has given him really exceptional marks on character and leadership. As we've learned from guys like Jeff George and Ryan Leaf, a big arm isn't all you need to succeed in the NFL. All indications are that Bradford has the head for the job.

Perhaps the most important piece of this sequence is that the acquisition of McNabb should completely remove Jimmy Clausen from consideration for the #4 pick. He's not the best quarterback prospect in the draft, and something about him just doesn't strike me as a potential franchise quarterback. I'm hoping the Redskins were unsatisfied with him as well, and that's why they made this trade.

I still do like Bradford, and if Shanahan likes Bradford too, and he's available at the #4 pick, I won't be mad at the Skins for taking him. But I would wonder where exactly they'd expect to get the kind of players you need to fill out a professional offensive line that won't leave McNabb running for the hills.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Donovan Comes To Town

He's not exactly Santa Claus, but the addition of Donovan McNabb to the Redskins could be a nice gift for the people of Washington.

I'll state first, for the record, that I have always hated McNabb. I know some of it is due to a divisional bias I have against all other NFC East teams and players, but I've come around to Tony Romo a little bit, so it can't all be attributed to his team affiliation.

I don't know, between Rush Limbaugh and Terrell Owens, McNabb always seemed to be on the whiny, pitied side of things. Your wide receiver said he'd rather have another quarterback? Boo hoo. An historically racist political pundit talked about how the media had made you into a better quarterback than you actually are because you're black? I'm unsympathetic. Winning a Super Bowl, or at least treating the last two minutes of the Super Bowl like you want to win, cures all these issues.

Moreover, I've generally been unimpressed by his passing ability. As my Eagle fan colleagues will attest to, McNabb seems to short-arm or underthrow more passes than anyone in football. He's able to avoid interceptions this way, but it's frustrating to watch drives stall because your quarterback threw the ball into the ground. I do think he's one of the best quarterback runners I've ever seen, though; he's quick, he's elusive, and has great vision. If the Redskins' offensive line doesn't improve, that skill set will be uniquely useful.

Overall, though, McNabb has a far better track record of success than Jason Campbell or Rex Grossman, both individually and as a team leader. And with the salary cap being a non-factor, I have no problem with Washington taking on McNabb's salary, especially when Bruce Allen indicated that he had the authority to spend as much money as he saw fit this offseason. So I like the move. I think it makes the Redskins much better in 2010.

I do think it (rightly) changes how they will approach the NFL draft this April, and it's in that regard that I think this move might be the most valuable. I'll explain that in tomorrow's post, where I discuss the Redskins' first round pick in depth. Stay tuned.

The McNabb Trade

Over the weekend, I had crafted what I thought was a pretty interesting blog post regarding the Redskins' decision with the #4 overall pick in this April's NFL draft. I had marked Sam Bradford, Gerald McCoy, and Ndamukong Suh as the likely top three players selected, leaving Washington with a whole slew of comparably valued players to choose from.

And then, of course, the Redskins went out and traded for Donovan McNabb, and their whole team identity and potential draft strategy went out the window. So now I've got to craft a different blog post, and I'll do it, but you're not going to get it today. Today, you get my blog post telling you about the next blog post. Eat it.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Music Visualizations

So I was listening to some music today at the office (OC Remixes, of course), and I use Windows Media Player at work. I watched the visualization briefly, but it didn't seem to offer much of a matchup to the music. So my question to all of you is, do you guys know of any good visualizations out there? Obviously I'll put Google to work and see if I can't come up with something worthwhile, but I'd be appreciative if anyone has got a visualization they can recommend that really shines. Mostly, I'm just looking for something that does a good job of matching up with the music.

Anybody?

The Friday Before

First and foremost, yes, my colleague was correct when he called me out. Joe and Joe Sports isn't going anywhere; I will not be joining Yahoo's crack team of fantasy analysts...and Funston and Buser. I do have the utmost respect for Andy Behrens and his work, though, and I stand by my recommendation that you check out his stuff.

But today is more important than just the day after April Fool's day. It's the Friday before the beginning of the baseball (and fantasy baseball) season. I'm in three leagues this year (so far), one of which drafts on Saturday night (and I'm pushing for it to get changed to an auction draft; come on, Tony!).

The weekend before Opening Day is a great time. Every team has the ability to compete for a title, every team has the potential to win big or lose huge. All of your draft strategies and shrewd moves are still alive, could still pan out. In fact, April might be the most disappointing month of the fantasy baseball season, because that's when you start to realize that you overestimated this guy, or you were foolish to doubt that guy. Owners often over-emphasize happenings in April because that's when everyone is paying attention.

Is this where I tell you to stay the course? Have faith in your draft? Trust your instincts? No. Those instincts led me to ignore guys like Cliff Lee and Carlos Quentin. Make sure you're willing to adjust on the fly. Granted, you don't want to abandon all of your pre-season thought processes, but make sure that you don't allow yourself to be blinded by predisposition.

If you do, all those exciting "could be's" will turn into "might've been's."

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Joe and Joe Sports Farewell

After an exciting last two years (and a fairly unexciting first two years), it is with a heavy heart that I report that Joe and Joe Sports will be closing down. I have a great opportunity to join Yahoo's fantasy sports team as a part-time assistant for Andy Behrens (yes, the Andy Behrens) on his Roto Arcade feature. Unfortunately, in order to join the Yahoo team, I have to sign a contract that stipulates that I won't compete for customers (web traffic in this instance), so I can no longer be a part of Joe and Joe Sports.

The agreement allows previously published content to remain published, so I will keep the site up for at least the duration of my contract with Google's web-hosting. I'm sure you'd all be heartbroken if you couldn't go back and see that I was dead-on about Matt Ryan being the right guy, right away for the Falcons in 2008. Heartbroken.

It's been a great run, everyone, and my work for Yahoo doesn't start until May 1st, so stick around while we clean up shop. Maybe you can take home a seat cover!

Top 500 Songs - Dave Matthews Band

This was always going to be the hardest of my band lists, because I like so many of DMB's songs, and have liked them so differently over...