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monday roundup

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a few programming notes before i get started. first, i'm a bit behind on the tournament updates; got one up late last night, will try to have another up this evening. (we're on track --- i think --- to wrap this thing up just before opening day.) second, i still don't have a firm date for the SBN 2.0 migration date. i'll lodge an inquiry today and report back ASAP.

finally, a reader inquired via e-mail recently about the VEB t-shirt design contest. you might recall this idea was floated back in january; i ran a poll, and there was overwhelming support for it. since then, alas, it has slipped down the priority ladder and is now buried on the grab-bag portion of my to-do list --- aka the "will never happen" portion. i should have asked if anybody wanted to volunteer to ride herd on this project. so, belatedly, i'll ask now: if you want to be the t-shirt design contest czar, send me an e-mail and we'll figure out how to get that initiative off the ground.

that takes care of the preliminary bits. onward, then, to the main-course bits.

  • i begin with the Hardball Times Season Preview book, my copy of which arrived late last week. THT ran its own set of projections, the second consecutive year they have done this; by and large their numbers agree with the ones coughed up by CHONE, ZIPS, PECOTA, etc etc. THT did something new with the projections this year --- they ran the data through a simulation program and played the season 100 times. that experiment yielded the following finish in nl central:
    W L RS RA DIV WC
    brewers 88 74 826 752 43.0 11.8
    cubs 87 75 852 785 35.0 7.0
    reds 82 80 833 724 12.5 6.5
    cards 78 84 790 830 5.5 0.0
    astros 73 89 762 858 4.0 2.0
    bucs 70 92 720 837 0.0 0.0

    those results are in general agreement with BP's PECOTA-derived team projections (just to clarify, BP's results are generated via a completely different method --- there's no simulation program involved). THT has the cardinals finishing 8th among nl teams in runs scored and 12th in runs allowed (vs 14th- and 9th-place finishes, respectively, in BP's telling). i don't know what simulator THT used, nor how they allocated the cardinals' playing time. because it's a maiden voyage, i trust this exercise less than i will the annual Diamond Mind Blowout, which ought to appear at Replacement Level Yankees Weblog within the next couple of weeks. the bottom-line estimate --- ie, the cards are about 18:1 longshots to make the postseason --- strikes me as a pretty reasonable. in this telling the reds have a 1 in 8 shot to win the central and a 1 in 5 shot to play in october --- if anything, those seem like underestimates to me. i'd give them slightly better odds.

  • 'nother Hardball Times item: i'll be writing the annual "5 Questions" article for the website again. i ask of the community: which 5 questions should i ask / answer for that article? take a look at last year's iteration, if'n you're not familiar w/ the trope. it strikes me that 5 questions aren't nearly enough for this year's cardinal team. just off the type o' me head: was ankiel a fluke? is rasmus ready? how much / how well will the injury reclamations be able to pitch this year? will they miss rolen's glove? how bad will the middle infield suck? who leads off? will youngsters trump scrap-heap veterans, or is that just lip service? i could add another 7 questions if i gave it some thought. list your top 5 questions below --- you don't have to answer them, i just want the Qs.
  • ted simmons and rick hummel, together again --- just like old times.
  • did anybody see dave pinto's article last week about batting the pitcher 8th? i've long been an advocate; wrote about the subject at length 3 years ago at the old site. pinto's article (with input from tom ruane) gibes with mine (with input from james click) and others too numerous to cite; it's fairly certain by now that batting the pitcher 8th adds a few runs over the course of a year, perhaps as much as a full win. i'm glad the idea has got its first copycat; i wouldn't have expected ned yost to be that guy, but i commend him for being willing even to contemplate the idea publicly. it'll be an important crack in the orthodoxy if yost follows through and writes the pitcher 8th on a lineup card--- the idea will be less easily dismissed as an attention-getting ploy by one smarter-than-thou manager, and a little more akin to a trend. c'mon ned --- be brave.
  • finally, am i the only one who took note of the last line of derrick goold's postgame entry at Birdland yesterday? after assuring us that st louis has no serious interest in sidney ponson (even though a team scout will watch ponson throw in the near soon), he concludes: "The Cardinals' stance on Ponson and other free agents -- David Wells or Jeff Weaver or Sidd Finch, for that matter -- has not altered. Though the time when they will reconsider their patience is approaching." i wonder what that last sentence means? is goold suggesting there's already a drift toward signing somebody, or merely that an evaluation will occur once clement faces hitters (probably live BP) later this week? my guess is the latter. pineiro's shoulder might factor in here as well; he's due to make his first start friday after missing yesterday's outing with a stiff shoulder. once those returns are in, we may know whether or not to expect a move.