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tourney time

one final piece of news regarding the rolen trade. at the end of my knee-jerk analysis when the news broke on saturday, i remarked off-handedly that while i liked the trade, i'd rather see the cards get back a young player like andy laroche. that prompted an e-mail from a knowledgeable source, who told me the cards did look into a rolen-for-laroche deal (as reported here two months ago by occasional VEB diarist pzonehitter). the dodgers, however, wouldn't offer laroche unless the cards would also agree to take juan pierre --- whose contract is one of the worst in baseball, many times worse than scott rolen's. the dodgers, not unreasonably, never budged off that position --- if they were gonna taken on our crappy contract, we'd have to take on theirs. the cards wisely declined.

dan szymbroski posted the ZIPS projections for rolen and glaus, indexed to their new ballparks:

rolen 380 58 93 24 1 10 57 38 .245 .319 .392 84
glaus 469 71 120 22 0 24 78 77 .256 .362 .456 112

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a friend of mine who's doing a research project about sabermetrics vaguely recalls reading a statement on the subject by tony la russa a few years ago. in answer to an interviewer's question, la russa said --- more or less --- that stats guys struck him as arrogant because they try to tell him something that he has seen with his own eyes isn't true. he said he'd rather have a video machine than a stats guy. this friend knows he read the interview online but now can't track it down; does it ring a bell for anyone? i already asked if the quote came from "3 Nights in August" --- it doesn't, my friend has already checked. if you recognize this quote and know where it can be found, please advise.

Update [2008-1-15 9:13:31 by lboros]: well, that was easy. a VEBber named john immediately e-mailed a link to the quote, which reads:

"I've been sat down and told they can give me a better way to do everything," Tony La Russa, manager of the St. Louis Cardinals and the hero of a new book celebrating the hunch, said last week, describing the statistics crowd. "They really are convinced that they can sit there and crunch out a formula that negates my power of observation.

"It's been a little irritating, because there's a certain arrogance with that whole group."

the quote's from 2005, in an interview promoting "3 Nights in August." many thanks, john. [/update]

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late last winter i launched an all-time cardinals simulation tournament. it was a good idea that generated a lot of interest, but it failed in the execution because i got a late start and was using an archaic simulation program; the thing never got out of the first round. last month Zubin wrote me with a different concept for a tournament. with a better simulation program and an earlier start, i think (fingers crossed) we can manage to get all the way through it.

this concept surfaced briefly last year --- a tournament of cardinal championship teams. in the modern era st louis has produced 17 pennant winners; that's a four-round tournament (with a play-in game tacked on at the beginning). Zubin, who is a student of 19th-century baseball, proposed expanding the field to include the championship teams of the 1880s, when the cardinals --- then known as the browns, and led by player-manager charlie comiskey (the future white sox owner) --- took four consecutive pennants in the american association. he also advocated the inclusion of the la russa era's division-winning teams --- the 1996, 2000, 2002, and 2005 clubs, each of which won a playoff series but fell short of a pennant.

the resulting field comprises 25 teams --- every club in franchise history that won a championship, pennant, or division title. here they are:

1886: 93-46, .669 1885: 79-33, .705 1996: 88-74, .543
1926: 89-65, .578 1887: 95-40, .704 2000: 95-67, .586
1931: 101-53, .656 1888: 95-40, .704 2002: 97-65, .599
1934: 95-58, .621 1928: 95-59, .617 2005: 100-62, .617
1942: 106-48, .688 1930: 92-62, .597
1944: 105-49, .682 1943: 105-49, .682
1946: 98-58, .628 1968: 92-62, .597
1964: 93-69, .574 1985: 101-61, .623
1967: 101-60, .627 1987: 95-67, .586
1982: 92-70, .568 2004: 105-57, .648
2006: 83-78, .516

the 2001 team was omitted because a) technically it finished 2d, b) it didn't win a playoff series, and c) enough already with the 00s teams; they're already amply represented.

how to cram these 25 teams into a 16-team bracket? it wasn't easy, but Zubin devised a solution that's fair and surprisingly elegant. take a look:

the 11 championship winners all merit privileged status and thus get automatic entry into the sweet 16. that leaves 5 spots in the bracket, and 14 teams competing for them. 6 of the 14 play-in teams get a first-round bye; the other 8 will play each other in round 1, and the 4 survivors will join the bye teams in round 2. the winners of the 5 round-2 series will join the 11 championship teams to create the final field of 16. at that point all the teams will be re-seeded based on regular-season winning percentage, and off we'll go.

the games will be simulated via WhatIf Sports' Sim Matchup program. each matchup will consist of a best-of-7 series. Zubin and i are dividing up the sims; our managerial decisions will be limited to a) setting the pitching pairings, and b) setting the lineups; the simulator will handle all the in-game maneuvers. we'll be referring to each team's actual postseason box scores to ensure realistic lineups, rotation decisions, etc etc.

we're gonna start posting the results on friday, and add new results each day. the four first-round series will be played concurrently --- think the nlds / alds, with four series going on simultaneously. friday's schedule will include Game 1 of two first-round series; on saturday we'll put up the Game 2 results from those series, along with the Game 1s from the other two first-round matchups. we'll go forward like that, game by game and round by round, with new results every afternoon; the championship series should take place about halfway through spring training.

if anybody's interested in lending a hand with the write-ups, send me an e-mail (vivaelbirdos AT yahoo DOT com). Cardinal70 has posted a tournament tracker; he's also accepting ballots from anybody who's interested in filling out a bracket and submitting picks before the tournament starts.