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sim as it ever was

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cards vs twins today; you can get the live audio via mlb.com, or track the action on gameday. kip wells, troy cate, randy keisler, ricardo rincon, kelvin jimenez, and brian falkenborg are slated to throw (hat tip, Birdland).

VEBber bdief was at yesterday's ballgame in dodgertown and liked what he saw. he promises another report from jupiter next monday, after the cards play the braves.

memphis redbirds broadcaster david kelly dropped in for a chat at the cards' FanHome chat room; transcript is up here.

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the post-dispatch surveys the cardinal payroll this morning. there's very little difference between it and the most recent roster matrix posted here, back on january 12. our matrix had the payroll at $95m, and the p-d puts it at $96m, with the $1m difference mostly explained by preston wilson (who hadn't signed as of jan 12). there are a few other differences; most of the 2d-year players are getting slightly more than the minimum (whereas i have them all at $380K), and the post's ledger includes skip schumaker (mine has him on the minor-league payroll). they're negligible discrepancies --- only a few hundred K, or less than 1 pct of the total payroll.

in both accountings, $8m in deferred money (owed to pujols, edmonds, and rolen) is counted as present-year payroll, even though the checks won't be cut until next decade or beyond. mr dewitt reckons that in-season acquisitions could push the payroll as high as $105m, which means that a) walter has $9m left to play with, and b) if they'd signed jeff weaver, there wouldn't be any slack left in the budget; any midseason acquisition would have to be balanced out by a salary dump of some kind.

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a little over a week ago, Replacement Level Yankees Weblog put out another preliminary set of simulations using the Diamond Mind (hereinafter DM) computer game, this time driven by ZIPS player projections. you might recall that the CHONE-based sims, which were posted in late december, forecast a successful 2007 for our boys: another division crown and an nl-best 90-72 record. but some significant roster changes have happened since then; the cards added mulder and preston wilson and ryan franklin, and other important transactions (cliff floyd signed with the cubs; adam laroche got traded for mike gonzalez; etc) took place elsewhere in the national league. so how'd the new, improved simulations turn out? pretty much the same as the earlier ones:
w l runs runs
agnst
pct
won div
pct
playoff
stl 90 72 772 679 55 68
chi 88 74 790 727 35 54
mil 78 84 748 779 8 10
hou 74 88 747 811 1 3
pit 73 89 712 791 1 1
cin 73 89 739 814 1 0

this exercise correctly predicted 6 of last year's 8 playoff teams, and back in 2004 a similar DM test was virtually alone in forecasting the cardinals' division title. so it's not completely meaningless that the cardinals keep coming out on top in the 2007 simulations. not that meaningful, either; they're only make-believe seasons, so the playoff tickets aren't being printed just yet. just the same, i'd rather see 'em do well in the sims than not.

st louis qualified for the playoffs 2/3 of the time in both the ZIPS-based and CHONE-based sims --- in both instances, they're the nl team most likely to make the postseason.

also in both instances, the sim-cards' pitchers allowed the fewest runs in baseball by a wide margin. PECOTA, you may recall, likes the cards' pitching staff, too, but isn't so crazy about the offense. DM/ZIPS doesn't think so much of the bats, either: st louis ranks just 9th in the nl in sim-scoring. (they were tied for 8th in DM/CHONE.) since pitching wins, i guess it's nice that the computers like our pitching; but then, the computers forecast pitching far less accurately than they forecast hitting. . . . . last year's preseason DM sims had the cards at 771 runs scored (off by 10) and 649 runs allowed (off by 113).

like i said, they're not printing playoff tickets just yet.