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Some thoughts

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I'm going to be going into hiding as of tomorrow morning, in preparation of taking my board certification exam on Monday, so this will be my last post until the 16th, with zywica holding down the fort the next few days...

Some things I wanted to mention/comment on/whatever before I disappeared...

The BoSox are benching J.D. Drew for game 1 of the ALCS, going with Bobby Kielty against the lefty, C.C. Sabathia. Ballsy move there by Terry Francona...

Bill Simmons points out a problem with the TBS coverage of the baseball playoffs:

Red Sox fans, did you enjoy getting stuck with two National League announcers who seemingly hadn't seen an American League game in eons (I knew we were in trouble in Game 1, when Ted Robinson sounded legitimately excited that there were seats on the Green Monster),

That's a good point, and part of why I think Chip Carey seemed so clueless about the teams he was talking about, and why Tony Gwynn and Bob Brenly (career N.L. guys) were doing things like urging Derek Jeter to bunt with two on and no outs, and obsessing about small ball...

This, however, is the highlight of Simmons' column:

It's the Dane Cooks of the world that need to be addressed. I know for a fact that Cook (A) wore a Yankees cap while taping an entire day of "Crank Yankers" phone calls, and (B) wore a Yankees cap and a Red Sox T-shirt to a "Man Show" season wrap party. Again, this isn't a third-hand story -- I have friends who would swear on the lives of their children that they witnessed those two "incidents" (for lack of a better word). Well, no true Sox fan would wear a Yankees hat under any circumstances, unless they were being tortured or engaging in some sort of twisted sexual role play with a hooker. So when he's doing the whole "I'm a huge Sox fan!" thing in his baseball commercials, or claiming that Derek Jeter told him he was a big fan and Cook responded, "I'm not" (an actual "story" that Cook told on the "Mike and Mike" show last month) ... I mean, he HAS to be called out on this stuff, right? I think it's time for him to write another letter to himself.

How awesome would it be for Simmons and Dane Cook to get into a public feud? The Battle of the Snarky, Post-Modernist 30-Something Frat Boy Humorist/Commentator Types, both of whom rode the Internet to prominence. If they tried to settle it face to face, I'm trying to figure out if it would be more Joe Rogan v. Carlos Mencia, or more Jon Lovitz v. Andy Dick...

I also think it is interesting Simmons avoided the Adam Carolla namedrop that seemed inevitable in that paragraph, even foregoing the "my friend Adam" non-namedrop-namedrop that he did re: Jimmy Kimmel a couple of weeks ago...

David Gassko at THT has his MVP selections for each league, and also has a link to a downloadable Excel file that shows the plus/minus for every major leaguer based on...well, based on this:

To evaluate hitting, I calculated each player's runs above average using BaseRuns and adjusting for park and position. To evaluate fielding, I used The Hardball Times zone rating statistics and converted them first into plays and then runs above average using a method similar to the one described here. For catchers, I looked at the number of stolen bases and caught stealing allowed, adjusted for the handedness of the pitching staff (since left-handed pitchers tend to be better at holding runners on base). And to evaluate pitching, I simply calculated how many runs each pitcher allowed above or below what an average player would do, again, adjusted for park.

He also links to this piece by Mitchel Lichtman, which gives the top 3 and bottom 3 fielders at each position, in each league. And the UZR rankings, when you compare them to the THT numbers, highlight the problems still inherent in trying to evaluate fielding, even when comparing between different systems that use PBP data.

For example...Ian Kinsler is ranked as the worst defensive second baseman in the A.L. by UZR, at -9 runs per 150 games (although it is worth noting that UZR had Kinsler at -21 runs per 150 games at the ASB, which indicates how much Kinsler improved in the second half). THT, though, has Kinsler at +11 on the season, making him a well above average defensive second baseman.

THT has Ichiro as one of the league's best defensive centerfielders, at +38 on the season. UZR has Ichiro as the worst centerfielder in the A.L., at -14 on the year. And the situation is flipped for Grady Sizemore, who is (by far) the best defensive centerfielder by UZR, at +26, and near the bottom by THT, at -14.

What's particularly troubling about the split is the fact that you have two centerfielders, both very well regarded defensively, and these systems not only differ by an enormous margin -- 52 and 40 runs, respectively -- but differ on them in opposite directions.

To put this in perspective...Albert Pujols and Dan Johnson were about 52 runs apart this season, offensively. David Wright and Ty Wigginton were about 52 runs apart this season, offensively.

For what it is worth, centerfield appears to be where you see the biggest difference...when you compare shortstops, for example, THT, UZR, and John Dewan all seem to come to roughly the same conclusions. Jeter, Ramirez and Young are around the bottom, Tulowitzki and Vizquel are near the top.

Anyway, it is a problem, and I'll probably post more thoughts about defensive stats later on this offseason...

Richard Durrett advocates signing Torii Hunter, and reiterates the "he can move to a COF spot in a couple of years" line that we've been hearing...

Here's the problem, though...he doesn't hit well enough to be a quality offensive COF now. You want to pay him $15 million per year for a guy with a career .271/.324/.469 line, and hope that his offense stays at that level into his mid- to late-30s so he's just pretty overpaid and an average player at his position, rather than vastly overpaid and a liability at his position?

The chances of Torii Hunter hitting well enough to be a good COF in 2011-12 are slim, and signing him with the thought he can play right field and be even average at that point is a mistake.

Mike Lupica thinks Derek Jeter should be getting more criticism for his lousy performance in the playoffs. I thought so, too, until I read Jeter Fanboy #1 (aka Petey Gammons) and his explanation:

And if Jeter hadn't hobbled around like Walter Brennan with his bad knee and Wang had been good instead of terrible, the Yankees might have won the series.

See, it wasn't Jeter's fault he wasn't clutch...his knee hurt!!! So back off, hatas...

Jay Mohr still is terrible.

So is Stuart Scott.

Jeff Sullivan has a neat item up, although the end upsets me:

When I was a kid, every so often I'd have nightmares about Predator.

Yeah, I had my driver's license already when Predator came out...but thanks for making me feel like a fossil, Jeff...