Friday, January 31, 2014

The Super Bowl: Some Thoughts, My Two Cents and Even a Prediction

The Super Bowl is coming up in a few days and I figured i'd put in my two cents.

Cold Weather:

The fact that the Super Bowl is being played in the elements and in cold weather is probably one of the bigger non-controversies out there. People seem to be treating it like a football game has never been played in cold weather before even though it happens all the time (even if Peyton Manning historically struggles in cold weather).


Even if a lot of people watching don't know much about football, they know Peyton Manning from all the commercials that he's done. The reason people seem to be rooting for the Broncos seems tied to the fact that they happen to be the one team Richard Sherman plays for. The reason's for rooting against the Broncos is maybe people have gotten pre-Peyton Manning burnout in anticipation for the mediocre sitcom/movies he'd inevitably be in after he decides to retire.


Personally, i'm rooting for the Seahawks in the Super Bowl. First of all, they beat the 49ers in the playoffs (something the Packers are apparently incapable of). Also, while a lot of people are upset about Richard Sherman's post-game interview, i'm not one of them. The worst thing that could be said about it was that it was a bit bizarre. On the scale of bad things that pro athletes do, the interview ranks pretty low.

The one thing that I like about Sherman (other than the fact that he called out Skip Bayless on national television which gives him a pass for a lot of things in my book) is that he's honest, he's going to speak his mind and he doesn't reach for the book of cliches when the cameras are rolling. It's definitely a refreshing dose of honesty (it also helps that he's able to back everything up with his play on the field)


I think this game will be a defensive struggle with the Seahawks coming out on top 17-10 and Richard Sherman earning himself the Super Bowl MVP.

As i've done with the rest of the playoffs, I did a simulation on which gave me the following result:

The simulation strongly disagrees with me and predicts a 31-6 Broncos win with Peyton Manning earning himself a Super Bowl MVP (along with like a million endorsements).

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Meet the Unsigned Free Agents: Mitchell Boggs, Roy Oswalt, Mike Gonzalez, Rich Hill

Mitchell Boggs:

Where He's Been:

He had a few good seasons in St. Louis but 2013 was an utter disaster. After getting off to a start that was beyond terrible in St. Louis he ended up with the Rockies where he had a decent ERA+ in nine appearances but still had some underlying red flags such as a 1 SO/BB Ratio.

What 2014 Has In Store:

 Probably going to be signed to a minor-league deal. The positive is that he's still relatively young (he turns 30 in February) and he's not that far off from a very strong 2012 season (173 ERA+). Could provide a good return as his value has pretty much bottomed out.

Comparison Analysis:

His closest comparison through age 29 was Burke Badenhop. He's coming off his age 30 season which he spent with the Brewers. While the Brewers were very reluctant to put him in the game when it was close, he did put up decent numbers when he played. Boggs probably gets different results as the two players are on different trajectories. While Boggs had one great season and 2013 results bottomed out, Badenhop has been consistently about an average pitcher without the extreme peaks and valleys that Boggs has gone through the last couple years.

Roy Oswalt:

Where He's Been:

Oswalt's free agency status would have been a much bigger deal if it was 10 years ago or even five. However, his on the field production has taken a very sharp nosedive over the last couple seasons.

What 2014 Has In Store:

Somebody may take a chance on him but primarily because of the brand name and his performance from seemingly years ago. Maybe he can recapture some of his past greatness but it seems doubtful at this point.

Comparison Analysis:

His most similar pitcher through age 35 is Bret Saberhagen. After his age 35 season he made three underwhelming starts for the 2001 Red Sox. I think the rest of Oswalt's career has a similar outcome. Someone will give him some starts hoping he has something left in the tank but getting very little in return.

Mike Gonzalez:

Where He's Been:

Whatever team he ends up with, it will be the seventh of his career. When he pitched for other teams, I would always be distracted by the motion he used when he threw the ball. When he pitched for the Brewers last year, I would get distracted by how mediocre the results were more often than not.

What 2014 Has In Store:

Despite staggering to a 85 ERA+ last year, he should still get bullpen spot somewhere. There would be concern in that  he has been less effective as he's gotten older than early in his career (he still sports a 134 career ERA+) and his SO/BB ratio is still within career ranges, but it doesn't help that he's on the wrong side of 35.

Comparison Analysis:

His most similar player through age 35 is Steve Mingori. He also under-acheived during his age 35 season pulling in a 74 ERA+ and never pitc
hed in bigs again after that season. I think Gonzalez probably gets himself a couple more years in the league but anything beyond that would be surprising.

Rich Hill:

Where He's Been:

He had some success with the Cubs in '06 & '07 but has drifted around from team to team.

What 2014 Has In Store:

Somehow, he got 63 appearances with a pretty good Indians team despite not coming close to pitching well (60 ERA+). That combined with age (33) could make it pretty difficult to find regular work for 2014.

Comparison Analysis:

His most similar player through age 33 is Brian Tallet. Like Hill, Tallet had a terrible age 33 season and hasn't pitched in the bigs since. I wouldn't be surprised if the same thing happens for Hill's career.

All numbers, comparisons, etc. found on

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Meet the Unsigned Free Agents: Brandon Lyon, Eric Bedard, Matt Guerrier, Jon Garland

Brandon Lyon:

Where He's Been:

In his career, he's been with 7 different teams going on team number 8. His career rhythm has him having one or two good seasons followed by a terrible season, something that can't repeat forever.

What 2014 Has In Store:

He's coming off one of those terrible seasons with the Mets (72 ERA+), and he's 34 years old. In other words, his value is at an all-time low as he was released twice within a month last year. I'm not sure if he'll get even a minor-league invite to spring training and have the chance to prove that his 1.63 WHIP was a fluke.

Comparative Analysis:

His closest comparison through age 33 is Stan Belinda. Belinda's best years were literally behind him at this point as he had a 72 ERA+ with the 2000 Rockies & Braves and he never pitched in the MLB again. For Lyon, there is a reasonable chance we have seen the last of him and probably has an uphill battle to climb to having a bounce back season in 2014.

Eric Bedard:

Where He's Been:

Several different places but primarily the disabled list. He had a promising start to his career in Baltimore but much of that promise has been derailed by injuries. The last three seasons he has pitched 125+ innings but his effectiveness has been decreasing.

What 2014 Has In Store:

He'll probably be lucky to start the season in the bigs. He's coming off his worst two seasons in his career and he's not getting any younger (34). Last year, he was struggling to stay in the Astros rotation and that team is beyond bad. It's likely a minor-league deal for him.

Comparative Analysis:

His most similar player through age 34 is Chris Capuano who is in fact coming off his age 34 season and is also currently a free agent after pitching the last couple seasons for the Dodgers. The end of Bedard's career is likely to come sooner rather than later.

Matt Guerrier:

Where He's Been:

He's had a nice run as an effective reliever, primarily with the Twins. Though he has been closer to an average pitcher as he's moved into his early-30s.

What 2014 Has In Store:

I think he's got a good shot to still pitch productively out of the bullpen. He got moved from the Dodgers to the Cubs for Carlos Marmol last year. While he did struggle with the Dodgers, he pitched very strongly in 15 appearances for the Cubs. Unlike, Marmol there are things in the numbers such as a WHIP close to his career average and no fluctuations in control that indicate he could be a low-risk/medium-reward signing.

Comparative Analysis:

His most similar player through age 34 is Jason Frasor. His story is still continuing as his age 35 season (2013) with Texas was a very strong one (161 ERA+) which was his second best season in his career. I think Guerrier sticks around for at least a few more years of close to league average production.

Jon Garland:

Where He's Been:

After a decent stretch of production with the White Sox, he's been bouncing from team to team since 2008 and his 2013 season ended in early June when he got released by the Rockies.

What 2014 Has In Store:

 Probably not on a major league roster. He may get a minor-league deal from someone if they have enough injury/effectiveness issues from their starters but nothing seems like a guarantee.

Comparative Analysis:

His most similar pitcher through age 33 was Scott Erickson who missed his age 33 season due to injury.
While he did get in 58 games over four seasons after this point, he wasn't particularly good and the numbers indicate he was a shell of his former self. If Garland gets similar opportunity this year, my guess is that he would have similar results.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Meet the Unsigned Free Agents: Kyle Farnsworth, Carlos Marmol, Octavio Dotel, Ryan Madson

After missing Monday, back to the routine and with that back to discussing free agents. Speaking of backs, I threw mine out on Friday and have been mostly out of commission the last few days. Thankfully, Heather was there to help make things better and take care of me and that Zeplen was there with some moral support and the smile that he always has on his face :). I'm still not 100% but at least things are improving, now to talk about some free agents:

Kyle Farnsworth:

Where He's Been:

Pretty much everywhere. Since leaving the Cubs after 2004, he's gone from team to team and for the most part helped with their bullpen effortsHis 2013 started rough as he struggled during his time with the Rays but he did pitch very well in some late-season appearances for the Pirates.

What 2014 Has in Store:

Likely ending up in someone else's bullpen. His last really strong season was in 2011 when he filled in as closer for the Rays. He's been below average the last couple seasons and if that trend continues his career could be pretty close to being done (it doesn't help hat he's already 37).

Comparison Analysis:

His most comparable player through age 37 is Tim Worrell. After age 37, Worrell pitched 23 games and had very poor results doing so (1.72 WHIP, 61 ERA+). My gut feeling is that Farnsworth gets himself into some big league action this year but there's a high possibility he struggles and that 2014 could be his last season.

Carlos Marmol:

Where He's Been:

Mostly with the Cubs. He had a few really good seasons to start his career but those days had apparently passed him by in 2012 when I had him on my Fantasy Baseball team and he went on to blow a bunch of saves. After the Cubs had seen enough, he ended up on the Dodgers in a move that was mocked by many. While some of the surface stats were okay (143 ERA+), red flags were still abound as his WHIP was north of 1.5 and he had a BB/9 of 8.

What 2014 Has in Store:

More likely than not, Marmol will be given a chance somewhere. He's still relatively young (31) and he still has the ability to strike out batters (10.8 SO/9) in 2013. Likely, where ever he ends up, he's not going to pitch very well, he may get some strike outs but nothing indicates that the control issues that have plagued him have been resolved.

Comparison Analysis:

Through age 30, the most similar pitcher to him is Braden Looper. After age 30, he had one more solid season of relief pitching before being a starting pitcher for the last three seasons (including one bad season with the Brewers that was a compelling argument against using win-loss records to evaluate pitchers). Either way not a likely scenario for Marmol as I don't see him ever being converted to a starting pitcher or being in the MLB for more than a year or two if the control issues do not get resolved.

Octavio Dotel:

Where He's Been:

Pretty much everywhere. It would almost be easier to list the teams he hasn't played for. During his career, he has been successful as a reliever after some initial struggles as a starter. He had continued to perform well as he got into his late 30s but the 2013 season was a wash as that season was lost due to elbow inflammation.

What 2014 Has in Store:

At this point, Dotel's career may be coming close to being finished. Even in the 6 games he pitched last year, he struggled and he's going to be 40. He may get a spring-training invite but the odds are likely stacked against him.

Comparison Analysis:

His most similar player through age 39 is Doug Bair. During his age 40 season he pitched 22 games for the 1990 Pirates but struggled (1.685 WHIP). If Dotel makes a major league roster, I could see him getting into some games but its uncertain how much more effectiveness would be left in his arm.

Ryan Madson:

Where He's Been:

For a few years, he was a very effective reliever in the Phillies bullpen. However, he has lost the last two seasons due to injuries.

What 2014 Has in Store:

This all depends on whether or not  Madson can get past the right elbow issues that required him to have Tommy John surgery. He's not young (33) but there is enough time for him to continue what had been a successful career if he can get healthy enough to play again.

Comparison Analysis:

His most similar pitcher through age 30 was Doug Bird. He had a few years of starting pitching (not necessarily effective) before finishing his career in 1983. I don't think this particularly applies to Madson as he was exclusively in relief for the last five years he was active and it's unclear whether he will be as effective or close to it if/when he returns.

All numbers, comparisons found on

Friday, January 24, 2014

Meet the Unsigned Free Agents: Bruce Chen, Joel Hanrahan, Scott Baker, Darren Oliver

Bruce Chen:

What He's Done:

Chen is pretty much been anywhere and everywhere in his major league career (including 4/5th of the National League East). While he jumped from team to team frequently early in his career, he's surprisingly spent the last five of those in Kansas City.

He's actually coming off his best season since 2000 with an ERA+ of 126 but since its pretty rare for pitchers to hit their peak at age 36, this is likely more of a career year than a change in trends going forward.

What's In Store for 2014:

Likely to have to compete his way into a #4 or #5 starter slot for a team that thinks he can repeat 2013 performance or at the very least give them 1 or 2 productive seasons. My estimate is that he gets somewhere in the range of $2 million/1 year contract to pitch.

Comparative Analysis:

His most similar player through age 36 is Mark Gardner. After turning 36, he pitched three more seasons struggling in two of them and pitching slightly above average in one of them. My guess is that Chen has a pretty average season (close to his 2010/2011 totals) for the coming year but anything beyond that would be a lot to ask.

Joel Hanrahan:

What He's Done:

He's had some success closing out games in the 2011/2012 seasons but had a disastrous 2013 season where he did nothing tho contribute to the Red Sox winning the World Series as he needed to get Tommy John surgery.

What's In Store for 2014:

His career is at a crossroads. Is his 2013 just a minor bump in the road or is it an indication that his career peak has come and gone. He may be more of a play to contribute in 2015 than 2014 and it depends on how his arm recovers from surgery.

Comparative Analysis:

His most similar pitcher through age 31 is Heathcliff Slocumb. After turning 31, he had three seaons left in the tank with one of the those (1999) being better than average. My feeling is that Hanrahan will come back strong from surgery (even if it isn't this year) and get back to being a productive reliever.

Scott Baker:

What He's Done:

Had a nice stretch in the Minnesota Twins rotation from 2006 to 2011 before being sidelined with injuries. Came back and had a few decent starts with the Cubs last year but too small of a sample size to indicate whether he can be relied upon to pitch through a full season.

What's In Store for 2014:

Baker looks like a low-risk decent-size reward candidate. He'll likely get signed to a minor league deal but should get into a starting rotation somewhere.

Comparative Analysis:

His most similar pitcher through age is Shaun Marcum who is also coming off his age 31 season and injury problems the last couple years (though with Marcum he missed parts of seasons but didn't have entire seasons wiped out).

I think that Baker manages to pitch 100-150 innings at some point this season but i'm not sure if he'll necessarily be effective.

Darren Oliver:

What He's Done:

He's pretty much been everywhere in a career that started way back in 1993! Early in his career he was a marginally effective starting pitcher. After not pitching in the MLB in 2005, he came back and started his more effective second phase of his career as a reliever (with the Mets, Angels, Rangers & Blue Jays).

What's In Store for 2014:

 He's one of those lefty relievers that still manages to get batters out and the best current hope of an active player still being in the bigs after they turn 50. I don't think he gets signed until around March but he'll have a lefty specialist role somewhere.

Comparative Analysis:

With Oliver still playing at an age where the vast majority of players have retired, I was curious to see who his closest comparison is. Through age 42, the top comparison is Jeff Fassero. While Fassero had more success as a starter, he had less momentum as his time as a reliever than Oliver did. After age 42, he made 10 sub-par appearances for the 2006 Giants. I think Oliver avoids that fate for at least a couple years as he is still putting up consistent performance numbers as he gets older.

All Numbers, Comparisons, etc found on

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Meet the Unsigned Free Agents: Frank Francisco, Sandy Rosario, Daisuke Matsuzaka

Frank Francisco:

What He's Done: Francisco had a nice five year stretch with an ERA+ over 100 in each of those years. He's pitched exclusively in relief  with a few separate stretches getting closing duties. The last two years haven't been as kind to him as his effectiveness has taken a sharp drop

What 2014 Has In Store: Likely to get a minor-league invite somewhere but far from guaranteed that he'll be in the MLB. The sharp drop off in performance at age 32-33 indicates his career may be coming to an end sooner rather than later.

Comparison Analysis: His closest comparable through age 33 is Doug Henry. He pitched in four additional seasons after turning 33 with an above average ERA+ in two of those seasons. This still doesn't make me too optimistic about his future. While Henry struggles in his 32/33 seasons, the drop off in performance was not as dramatic as it has been for Francisco the last couple seasons.

Sandy Rosario:

What He's Done:

2013 was the first year where he got a chance to pitch on a regular basis (43 games for the Giants) and had decent results (111 ERA+) though there are a couple red flags that indicate future struggles (1.2 SO/BB ratio and 1.39 WHIP.

What 2014 Has In Store:

Likely getting a minor league contract from somewhere and fighting and clawing to get another bullpen job. Since his results were okay last year, more likely than not he starts the season on a big league roster.

Comparison Analysis:

Not applicable as this data isn't available due to limited amount of career innings pitched (49 1/3). A lot of it boils down to control, if he can cut down on walks and/or increase strikeouts he could have a nice career as a middle reliever but if not his career could be very short.

Daisuke Matsuzaka:

What He's Done:

His time in the states got off to a very strong start as he pitched very well in 2007 & 2008. However, injuries and ineffectiveness have marred the last five years. The bottom fell out in 2012 but he did show some improvement in a few starts with the Mets.

What 2014 Has In Store:

His career is at a crossroads. It's unlikely that 2008 is going to repeat itself and he's not getting any younger (33) so time is definitely not on his side. Still, some team is going to be lured by the name and give him a flier with a minor-league contract and see if he could contribute some innings at the back of their rotation (best case scenario)

Comparison Analysis:

His most similar pitcher through age 32 was Robert Person. After age 32, he pitched seven ineffective games for the 2003 Red Sox. While I don't think Matsuzaka is going to be a star again, I think his future has somewhat brighter prospects and that he could hang around as a low-end starting pitcher for at least a couple of years.

Kevin Gregg:

What He's Done:

He's been pitching in relief since 2003 and had a job as designated ninth inning guy for six of the last seven years. He's been a decent relief pitcher in his career (106 ERA+) but  hasn't been particular dominant.

What 2014 Has In Store:

He's coming off a decent 2013 with the Cubs so I think he gets a 1 year deal for a moderate amount ($4-$5 million). My guess is that he probably doesn't get a closing gig and he'll likely end up in a middle relief/set up role.

Comparison Analysis:

His closest comparable through age 35 is Todd Jones. After that point, he pitched for five more years and had an above average ERA+ in four of them. I'm not sure if Gregg sticks around that long (my guess is two or three more productive seasons) but he still has enough left to be a solid contributor.

All numbers, comparisons, etc. found on

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Meet the Unsigned Free Agents: Aaron Harang, Jason Marquis, Oliver Perez, Andrew Bailey

Aaron Harang:

Harang is on the short list of pitchers that have started games that i've attended. The one thing I remember about the game was that even though Cincinnati isn't very far from Chicago, I saw literally two Reds jerseys and that the Cubs lost putting them into a tie for first with the Brewers as both teams were playing not to win the 2007 NL Central and the Brewers were putting the final touches of blowing a 8 1/2 game division lead.

Either way, 2007 was the culmination of the peak of Harang's career as he tied for his career best ERA+ of 124. For the last handful of years he's been a fairly average pitcher until 2013 when he was one of the worst starters in the league (although he had a decent finish with the Mets).

Harang's career is getting close to being finished and a minor-league deal is probably best case scenario. His most similar player through age 35 is fellow free agent Bronson Arroyo. While Arroyo pitched okay in his age 36 season (2013), I would be surprised to see the same out of Harang considering how far his numbers regressed during his time with the Mariners.

Jason Marquis:

Marquis did have a decent stretch where he was at least an average pitcher but even those days have come and gone (last time with an ERA+ above 100 was 2009). The last few years he's been going from job to job. I'd imagine the same to happen this year but even that can only last for so long if he keeps on putting WHIPs in the 1.5 range up. His most similar pitcher through age 34 was Pedro Astacio and he managed to stick around for about three years afterwards despite putting up below average numbers.

Oliver Perez:

Perez has had what one could call an unconventional career path (that makes it easily forgettable that he's still only 32). He's shown incredible promise at times as a starting pitcher to only be more than counter-balanced with issues of finding the strike zone and alienating some of the teams (Mets) that he's been on. After a disastrous 2009-2010 with the Mets his career looked pretty much done. The last couple years, he's been pitching out of the bullpen for Seattle and had a couple decent and drama free seasons.

He may be one of those players more suited to the bullpen than starting. He has shown the ability to still strike out batters (12.6 per 9 innings last year) so i'm sure he could be an asset to someone's bullpen and maybe one day be a designated ninth inning pitcher. His most similar player through age 31 is Pete Schourek who had a 102 ERA+ in 33 games for the 2001 Red Sox before his career came to an end. My guess is that Perez has more than one year (maybe closer to five years) as a reliable arm out of the bullpen.

Andrew Bailey:

Andrew Bailey came out very strong out of the gate with dominating seasons in 2009 & 2010. However, the last few years have been marred by injury and ineffectiveness. Bailey could be a good low-risk/high-reward. His most similar player through age 29 (John Axford) has basically gone through the similar trajectory and is coming off an up and down season with the Brewers & Cardinals. Based on his early career promise, Axford managed to get a 1 yr 4.5 million dollar deal. I still think Bailey could manage to get something along the lines of 1 yr and 2-3 million on the open market.

All numbers found on

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Meet the Unsigned Free Agents: Shaun Marcum, Jeff Karstens, Eric O'Flaherty, Roberto Hernandez

Shaun Marcum:

A player that I am familiar with due to his two year stint with the Brewers. Marcum came to the Brewers in a trade during the 2010 off season for Brett Lawrie as they were pushing to make the post-season (which eventually resulted in a NLCS trip).

While he did struggle in the post-season, I think he was trying to pitch his way through an injury as his pitches didn't have the same kick to them. Still, I do have positive memories of him pitching for the Brewers as he did pitch well in the 54 starts he had over the last two years.

His 2013 season with the Mets was a whole different story as he had further injury issues and had his worst season over the 14 games where he was healthy. I think he can get past his struggles and would be a good buy-low option for someone looking to fill out the back end of their starting rotation.

The most similar player to him through age 31 was Bob Walk. After turning 31, he had plenty of innings left in the tank (even if they weren't that great) as he pitched at least 115 innings in his age 32-36 seasons though Walk's career ending less than ceremoniously with him leading the league in earned runs allowed in 1993.

Jeff Karstens:

Another player that is coming off an injury shortened season. While Karstens had a better season than Marcum, overall career performance indicates that he doesn't have as much upside as Marcum. I think he'll find his way back in the bigs but he'll probably get a minor league deal and successfully compete for a #4 or #5 starter job during spring training. You could do better but you could also do worse.

Also, he is still young and maybe he is a late bloomer, it wouldn't be unprecedented. His most similar player through age 29 is Mike Scott. Coming out of his age 29 season he was just another below average pitcher that somehow kept getting work but little did anyone know he was two years away from leading the league in Strikeouts, ERA+, WHIP & Hits per Nine innings. While the odds are highly stacked against Karstens ever being in the Cy Young award discussion, he may be a good value for whoever signs him.

Eric O'Flaherty:

Even with the knowledge that the performance of relief pitchers can be very fickle and subject to small sample size, i'm pretty surprised that O'Flaherty hasn't been picked up. Before doing research on this posting, I didn't quite realize how consistently good he has been (even if 2013 was shortened by injury). He's had an ERA+ of at least 136 over the last five seasons and was virtually uninhabitable in 2011 & 2012. Depending on where he ends up, he could be one of those players that picks up a closing gig and help fantasy owners everywhere get an advantage in the saves category.

His most similar pitcher through age 28 was Craig Lefferts which seems a bit odd as while Lefferts had a nice start to his career, the numbers indicate he wasn't really as dominant as O'Flaherty was. Either way, he still had 8 years left in the tank after his age 28 season.

Roberto Hernandez:

The player formerly known as Fausto Carmona. If picked up anywhere, likely to be on a minor league deal. He had one really good season in 2007 and since then has been a very below average pitcher.

His career is very likely close to being done barring an out of nowhere strong season (he's been below replacement level the last three years and five out of the last six. His most similar player through age 32 is John Thomson who made two starts after age 32 (for the 2007 Royals) before his career came to an end.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Meet the Unsigned Free Agents: Francisco Rodriguez, Jerome Williams, Tommy Hanson, Luis Ayala

Francisco Rodriguez:

a.k.a. K-Rod/Frankie Rodriguez is a bit removed from his stretch as one of the more dominating relievers in the game but is definitely still useful in the bullpen and could fill in as a closer somewhere (like he did for the Brewers when Jim Henderson missed some time due to injury). During his time with the Brewers, he's been up and down (2011 & 2013 he pitched well while 2012 was primarily a season to forget and he could be in a Brewer uniform soon as they have been one (of quite a few teams) tied to speculation on where he may sign (though his days of making north of $10 million a year are likely done). He's one of those players that he's been in the bigs long enough that you forget that he's not that old (32).

Through his age 31 season, the most similar player to him was Armando Benitez. After that age (when he was coming off his best season, he pitched four more seasons with only one of them being above average). I think that whoever gets K-Rod should get some decent production and should be an okay deal as long as they don't overpay due to past status of being a star.

Jerome Williams:

Williams has had an interesting career. He started off somewhat promising for a few years before injury & ineffectiveness led him to the minors and even some independent league ball for a few years before coming back as an inning-eater (but not particularly effective starting pitcher). I think he'll end up somewhere having to compete for a #5 rotation spot and get some innings but not will likely have to get his ERA+ above 82/83 mark of the last couple seasons to keep whatever job he gets for the entire season.

His most similar player through age 31 is Bob Milacki who's career was finished after his age 31 season and 7 ineffective games for the 1996 Mariners. It seems as though Milacki's career does live on through as his 1988 season is one several teams for their Sim League Baseball.

Tommy Hanson:

 If you would have told me that Tommy Hanson's career was in danger of being washed out by age 27 when he was a rookie, I would have thought you were crazy as Hanson had a very strong rookie season in 2009 and followed that up with a couple above average seasons. However, his ERA+ has decreased every year since he was a rookie, cratering at 70 last year and falling out of favor even in a mediocre Angels rotation.

Still, he has had some success before and someone will take a chance that he can recapture some of his early career success something that seemed to not happen for his most similar player through age 27 (Wade Miller) who had a couple decent partial seasons and pitched his last game at age 30.

Luis Ayala:

One of the last remaining of ex-Montreal Expos players is still available. Ayala has drifted from team to team over the last few years and has pitched relatively well where ever he has gone. Signing him is not going to make major headlines but he looks to be a useful bullpen piece for teams hoping to contend (he's played in the post season the last three years, all with different teams, 2011 Yankees, 2012 Orioles, 2013 Braves).

History indicates he may have a few more years ahead of him. His top comparison through age 35 is Steve Reed who had four above average seasons going from bullpen to bullpen once he reached his late 30's.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Championship Game Look Ahead

We're two days away from Sunday and thus two days away from the NFC & AFC Championship games.

Patriots vs. Broncos

Starting up first is Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning in the AFC Championship game. The Patriots took care of business against the Colts and showed that they are capable of winning playoff games even if Tom Brady does not do the heavy lifting. The Broncos beat the Chargers on Sunday but didn't look that great doing it. One could argue that the CBS pregame show was more entertaining than parts of the Broncos-Chargers game.

I was watching the Panthers-49ers game with Heather and Zeplen. We switched over to CBS immediately after that game ended and we got treated to a couple of unintentional comedy moments. The first one was in studio where they were debating Peyton Manning's legacy due to his lack of playoff success. Shannon Sharpe eventually starts going on a rant about how quarterbacks need to win multiple Super Bowls to help their reputation. Meanwhile, Dan Marino is just sitting there getting angrier by the minute and appears to be holding back everything not to scream on national television.

Then, they go to Denver where Phil Simms is calling the game and they continue the discussion regarding Peyton Manning. About 15 seconds later, a gust of wind blows up and knocks what appears to be a toupee out of place. Before the game started, they were showing Phil Simms and Jim Nantz and Nantz talks about how the wind is "already a story" and Simms was sitting there looking very uncomfortable.

I'm picking the Patriots to win this one. Quite frankly, they look like more of a complete team and when in doubt in a playoff game, i've gotta go with Tom Brady over Peyton Manning. Like the last couple weeks, I did a one-off simulation of the remaining teams on The computers disagree with me heavily as they picked the Broncos to win in a landslide (37-12).

My Pick: Patriots
What If Pick: Broncos

49ers vs. Seahawks

The 49ers may not be blowing away their playoff opposition. However, they've won on the road twice which has got to count for something. In the Packers game, they made enough plays at the right time to win and the Panthers game they were helped immensely by several dumb penalties that extended 49ers drives and allowed them to put additional points on the board.

The Seahawks got the win as expected over the Saints but they didn't dominate them they way they did back in December. Still, they have one of the strongest (if not the strongest) home field advantage in the NFL. The 49ers have already gotten blown out once in Seattle but I don't think Jim Harbaugh lets them get completely embarrassed again. While I think this game will be closer & VERY hard fought, I still think the Seahawks make it to the Super Bowl.

With this pick, the what if simulation I did agrees with my prediction. We'll be talking about this game for a long time if this game is even half as good as what if sports is leading me to believe (and would immensely help Russel Wilson's legacy).

In the simulation, Boldin scores a 7 yd touchdown to give the 49ers a 24-20 lead with 6:54 left. Things are at a standstill until the Seahawks get the ball at their own 13 with 1:40 left. At that point, Wilson leads the Seahawks down the field and throws a game winning touchdown to Doug Baldwin as time expires.

My Pick: Seahawks
What If Pick: Seahawks

Super Bowl:

My Pick: Patriots over Seahawks
What If Pick: Broncos 26 Seahawks 10
Superbowl MVP: Knowshon Moreno

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Meet the Unsigned Free Agents: Paul Maholm, Grant Balfour, Jason Hammel, Fernando Rodney

Paul Maholm:

One player that was part of a not so friendly baseball memory. Back in June Maholm nailed Carlos Gomez with a pitch which seemed pretty pedestrian at the time. Until the last week of the season when Gomez hit a home run off of Maholm, had some words to say and unraveled a chain of events that ultimately led to Brian McCann obstructing Carlos Gomez from crossing home plate.

During the early part of the winter, I read in a couple places (I forget where) speculating along the lines of "Maholm may be someone the Brewers may look into signing"...after last year, there's about no way that happens, if it did it would be like "wow I wonder how awkward the first day of spring training and the 2014 season was".

What we got here is a former top 10 pick (8th overall in 2003) who has established himself as a decent starting pitcher but not someone that makes you easily remember he was a top 10 pick at one point. He is coming off his worst season since in his career (the first time in his career that he's been below replacement level even if it was only by 1/10 of a win).

But he's not that old (2013 was his age 31 season) and maybe he is a late bloomer who would eventually become a top line starting pitcher. However, history does not indicate that this is likely. his most similar player through age 31 is ex-Pirates pitcher Neal Heaton. After 31, he pitched a couple of pedestrian seasons in middle relief before his career came to an end.

Grant Balfour:

Another free agent with a cameo appearance in terms of Brewers history (he pitched 3 games for them before being traded for Seth McClung). Over the last couple years, he's established himself as one of the better relief pitchers in the game. In December, it appeared that he had gotten a 3 year deal from Baltimore (anything more than 1 year deal for revilers is probably not the best idea) but they backed off because of some issues from his physical and here he is still on the market in mid-January.

Both recent performance and precedent indicate there is still plenty of good years left in the tank. His most similar player through age 35 is fellow free agent Rafael Betancourt who has had two really strong seaons and one slightly above average season since turning 35. Assuming Balfour gets a shorter deal, this could be one of the better acquisitions in the off-season.

Jason Hammel:

Hammel has been a consistent (if not that great) back end starting pitcher for the last five years. He's not even close to being an ace (94 ERA+, 1.44 WHIP) but in terms of back end starting pitching goes, teams could do worse. Still, even those modest days could end sooner rather than later. Through age 30, his most similar player was Nate Robertson. After turning 30, he had two very uninspiring seasons (ERA+ of 84 & 70 respectively) before his career came to an end.

Fernando Rodney:

Which Fernando Rodney are teams going to get? The Fernando Rodney who has been an average to slightly above average for much of his career or the uber-relief ace from 2012 that channeled late 80s/early 90s Eckersley?

Considering that he's on the wrong side of 35 I think we're safely back to typically career Fernando Rodney. Best case scenario, he still has 2 or 3 decent seasons in front of him. His closest comparabile through age 36 was Mike Fetters. After turning 36, he had one okay season before his production fell off.

--numbers, comparability statements, etc found on

Meet the Unsigned Free Agents: Ervin Santana, Matt Garza, A.J. Burnett, Bronson Arroyo

Taking a look at the 2014 MLB Free Agent tracker on the website and it appears that a few of the players discussed are starting to catch on with minor league deals (Cesar Izturis in Houston & Delmon Young in Baltimore) the second tier of free agent signings seems to be picking up as we move past the holiday season.

Since we've moved pretty far down the list for hitters, i'm going to switch course and discuss some of the free agent pitchers (I may return to these lower-tier hitters later on). Since everyone with a budget is discussing Mashairo Tanaka a bit much and he's at the stage where people are bidding merely for the right to negotiate with him, i'm going to keep moving down the list to the other pitchers.

Ervin Santana:

Santana has been very up and down in his career so I guess its a matter of perception. Personally, I don't have the brightest perception of him. I had him on my fantasy baseball team in the beginning of 2012, which ended with him leading the league in home runs allowed. Over the last nine years, he's bounced around from being terrible to average to pretty good and back with no particular rhyme or reason. Gathering up the sample sizes of the last nine seasons he has been as average as they come (100 ERA+). That may not be the most glaring endorsement but even being average is good enough for him to get (over) paid somewhere.

His most similar player through age 30 is Brett Myers. After age 30, he had a good season out of the bullpen in 2012 and 4 mostly terrible games for the Indians last year. I don't know if anyone reaches financially to give him the $10 million plus he's been paid the last couple years but stranger things have happened.

Matt Garza:

Even though Garza spent some time with the rival Cubs team, I can't really root against him too much as he also is a former member of the SLO Blues. 

Garza has pitched relatively well in his career (108 ERA+) but has never really been a star. He most recently was traded to Texas for three minor leaguers, one of which (Mike Olt) could make this a trade the Rangers may regret making in the long term. He does have some post-season experience and has pitched well in five post season starts so he may be a good fit as a #3 or #4 starter on a contender. One thing that is quickly forgotten is that he is still relatively young (he just turned 30 during the off-season).

His most similar pitcher through age 29 is Jim Lonborg. Lonborg had a three above average pitching seasons after turning 30. Between Santana & Garza, I think Garza would be the better of the top two non-Tanaka pitching free agent options left out there. While Santana is probably going to have to settle for less than what he was hoping, I think someteam out there gives Garza something near a 3 year 35 million dollar deal.

A.J. Burnett:

In his career, Burnett has pitched relatively well except for his time with the Yankees (even then he had one above average season). He may have issues with control as he walks a lot of people and throws a substantial amount of wild pitches but he is another available slightly above average pitcher on the market. While he has postseason experience, i'm not sure this works in his favor as he has struggled in eight post-season starts (6.37 ERA). His most similar player through age 36 is baseball announcer Rick Sutcliffe. After age 36, he had two very sub-par seasons.

Bronson Arroyo:

Like Arroyo, Burnett has been an overall decent pitcher with a specific problem area (giving up home runs) that prevents him from being a top-level pitcher. With that said, I think he's still good enough to help a contending team as a mid-rotation starter, especially if he ends up on a team that plays its home games in a more pitching friendly ballpark. Through age 36, his most similar player is John Burkett who pitched a couple more fairly average seasons before retiring.

Out of these quadrant of pitchers, I would rank them in the following order in terms of how much value they will be over their future contracts:


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Meet the Unsigned Free Agents: Chris Nelson, Luke Scott, Alex Gonzales, Travis Hafner

Chris Nelson:

Someone's gonna need an extra third baseman and he is still in his late 20s so he's bound to catch on somewhere. He is only a couple years off of a decent season in Colorado (.810 OPS/105 OPS+) and he was a top-10 draft pick so there is a chance he could be a late bloomer. That being said, 2013 wasn't that great of a year as a bounced around to three different teams and the numbers indicate that he's struggled defensively. His most similar player through age 27 was Hector Luna. After 27, he had 97 plate appearances spread out over three different seasons. For Nelson, this year is likely the turning point between whether any of that promise that got him drafted early turns out or if he has lots of minor league games in his near future.

Luke Scott:

Scott may not be getting older and he may not be that durable and he may not be that good with the glove but he still has enough pop in his bat to help somewhere as either a part-time DH/pinch-hitter. His batting average/obp may indicate that he would be a bad option but he's hit for enough power to make an pretty much a league average hitter. His most similar player through age 35 is Dale Long had one decent season left in him. Scott could be a sneaky good one-year contract signing if he ends up on a team that utilizes him correctly.

Alex Gonzales:

For much of his career, Gonzales was a good fielding, poor hitting shortstop. He's played 65 games over the last couple years for the Brewers. In 2012, he was actually off to a decent start before hurting himself stealing a base. In 2013, he was part of an ill-advised first baseman by committee that was an utter and complete disaster (18 OPS+ while somehow getting 16 starts at first). So basically, he's washed up. His most similar batter through age 36 (Damian Easley) had a couple decent seasons as a part time player afterwords. This may be one of the friendlier projections based on current free agents and similar players but from what I saw from him last year, I would be very surprised if whoever signs him got similar results.

Travis Hafner:

Hafner is one of the career what ifs. What if his career hadn't been marred by injury. If that was the case, he likely wouldn't be in a posting about free agents. We would be more likely to be debating his merits as a potential hall of famer (I forgot how good he was in his 2004 to 2006 peak). He hasn't had more than 462 plate appearance in the last six years but has hit pretty respectably in the limited samples. He brings nothing to the table defensively so he's likely to be constrained to the American Legaue and hope to get a DH gig somewhere. His most similar player through age 36 (Dick Stuart) was done after that season. I think Hafner has a bit more of an optimstic projection for at least the next year or two and I could see him being a good acquisition for an American League team.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Meet the Unsigned Free Agents: Yorvit Torrealba, Placido Polanco, Ramon Santiago & Juan Pierre

Yorvit Torrealba:

Another one of those veteran back up catchers that catches on with a team and gets some at bats (last year with Colorado....he even had 6 plate appearances for the Brewers in 2012). Tough to see what he brings to the table at this point. His offense is sub replacement level and his defense is starting to catch up with the offense in a bad way. While his career hitting stats have historically been under-whelming, he does have a couple of good hitting post-seasons to his credit (2007 & 2009 & 2011) but even those days seem behind us. The most similar player to him through age 34 is 1992 World Series MVP Pat Borders. While he never got more than 175 plate appearances in a season after turning 34 he managed to stick around for 8 more years and logging time with four different teams (while getting plenty of playing time in the minor leagues). Torrealba could be one of those catchers who's in and out of the majors for the next several years.

Placido Polanco:

Polanco had a few years as a decent hitter and a player who surprisingly has played in a couple of all-star games but he's definitely over the hill and would struggle to get another 400+ plate appearances unless he ended up on a team who's offense was historically bad like last year's Marlins squad. If/where he catches on its likely to be on the strength of his glove. Even though his numbers have decreased over the years, he's still above replacement level with the glove. His most similar player through age 37 was Al Dark who had one more season of below average but not horrible hitting. The end of Polanco's career is likely soon but he could help a team coming off the bench.

Ramon Santiago:

Up until doing research for this posting, I didn't know that there was a Ramon Santiago fan club. For the last several years, he's been a solid glove off the bench but not much contribution with the bat. Despite a 60 OPS+ and playing 80 games, he still almost came in with a WAR above 1 (0.9). At this point, he'd more likely to be signed to be a good clubhouse influence over on-field contributions. His most similar player through age 33 is Rocky Bridges who retired after he turned 33.

Juan Pierre:

A player who could demand a higher contract.....if they changed the rules of the game and allowed people to steal first base. Pierre has almost zero power but continues to steal 20+ bases a year even as he moves into his mid-30's. The speed is bound to betray him sooner rather than later and his hitting numbers from 2013 indicate that the same is going on to his already modest hitting abilities. His most similar hitter through age 35 was Clyde Milan who finished after an age 35 season where is hitting production quickly dropped off.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Meet the Unsigned Free Agents: Carlos Pena, Clint Barmes, Kelly Shoppach, Cezar Isturis

Carlos Pena:

Pena was more of a late bloomer but still has 285 home runs to his credit. However, overall production has slowed down over the last few years and he's coming off his second consecutive season with a below average OPS+. As he gets older, he can't exactly rely on his defense to save his career as he's historically been a defensive liability. Through age-35, his most similar player is Andre Thornton. He had one average season left in him before his career crashed out the next season. It appears he may be able to squeeze one more decent season out of him but even that is less than guaranteed.

Clint Barmes:

If you looked solely at offense, one would be befuddled on how Barmes continues to find work as he's combined lack of selection at the plate with a lack of power (he's never posted an OPS+ above 98 in his career). However, he is very strong on the defensive side of the game (where he passes both the eye & numbers test) which is his meal ticket and has prevented him from embarrassing himself (he's still managed to be at least 1 win above replacement the last couple years despite OPS+ totals of 64 and 58 respectively).

Through age 34, his most similar player is Eddie Bressoud. He had 76 plate appearances after that point at which point he retired. Barmes may have had his career survive on defense alone to this point but he's not getting any younger and even this skill may betray him sooner rather than later.

Kelly Shoppach:

Shoppach has a little pop in his bat but hasn't been a good enough player overall to be a full-time starter. While he is slightly above replacement defensively, he's not going to win any gold gloves (30% caught stealing rate in his career). The most similar player through 33 is Chris Widger. After this point, he had 261 career plate appearances of sub-replacement level play. Either way, Shoppach probably gets another chance as back up catcher careers seem to extend into the late 30s sometime early 40s.

Cezar Izturis:

Pretty similar to the career trajectory of Clint Barmes but as a part-time player instead of being in the starting lineup. His glove keeps him floating around from team to team but his bat is too weak to stick around in one place for too long.  He'll likely get a minor league deal and a spring training invite somewhere. His most similar player through 33 is Ivan de Jesus who had 31 plate appearances over two seasons after age 33. I wouldn't be surprised if Izturis is also pretty close to his career being finished.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Divisional Playoff Round Man vs. Machine

With the first weekend of playoff action behind us (and with it, the yearly playoff meltdowns of Marvin Lewis, Andy Dalton, Mike McCarthy, Dom Capers and Andy Reid). Like, last week, I will give my take and supplement it with a one-off simulation that I did on


Saints vs. Seahawks

When these two teams played on Monday night football during the season, it looked like it would be one of the more contested and interesting match ups of the season. Instead, the Saints no-showed and the Seahawks won the game in a blowout. The Saints did quell some of their road critics by gutting out a tough win over the Eagles. With that said, I think the Seahawks win this rematch.

My Pick: Seahawks
What If Pick: Saints 30 Seahawks 6

49ers vs. Panthers

The Packers spent all summer fixated on trying to stop Colin Kaepernick and 49ers and FAILED MISERABLY in their attempt to do so. Now they are off to play the Carolina Panthers who have not been in the playoffs since 2008 but are looking to make some noise with Cam Newton. I've gone back and forth on this game but sadly I think the Niners score themselves another playoff win.

Pick: 49ers
What If Pick: 49ers 21 Panthers 13 (Hunter w/go ahead 1 yd td with :54 left)


Chargers vs. Broncos

The Chargers defense gutted out a good playoff victory over the Bengals upping Mike McCoy's playoff record to 1-0. While the Chargers did score themselves a nice road playoff win, one concern I have with them was their conservative play calling in the 4th quarter that theoretically could have let the Bengals back into the game (which Ronnie Brown put a stop to). The Broncos have put up some gaudy offensive numbers but Peyton Manning doesn't exactly have the strongest playoff track record. I think the Chargers come in playing like they have nothing to lose and come away with a win.

Pick: Chargers
What If Pick: Chargers 23 Broncos 17

Colts vs. Patriots

Andrew Luck may have not been perfect but he led the Colts from 28 points down in the second half in the first every playoff game I watched with Zeplen. Tom Brady and the Patriots haven't looked dominating at times this year but still found a way to win games. I think the Patriots win this in a game that's an instant classic.

Pick: Patriots
What If Pick: Colts 30 Patriots 17

The What If Simulations I ran predicted the following for the rest of the playoffs:

49ers over Saints (In what would take over the slot for last game ever at Candlestick)
Chargers over Colts

49ers over Chargers

I think the Championship games would go as follows:

Seahawks over 49ers
Chargers over Patriots

Seahawks over Chargers

Meet the Unsigned Free Agents: Delmon Young, Andres Torres, Wilson Betemit & Grady Sizemore

Delmon Young:

Delmon Young, the player that fans love to hate. A lot of times, its pretty easy to see why. He had (or has) all the talent in the world and the perception is that he doesn't put in the appropriate effort. The guy will hack at any pitch (no more than 35 walks in a season) and whenever he catches on with a given team, it gives the fanbase of said team a sense of dread. When doing research on him, one of the articles on baseball-reference was one about the worst #1 draft picks over the last 20 years (from the website

Offensively, he had one pretty solid season (2010) and despite the absence of any batting discretion/selection his career OPS+ is pretty average (98). However, what marginal value he brings on the offense is more than countered by being a defensive liability. He's been below replacement level defensively in every year of his career (except for 2006 when he only played 30 games).

Despite all the criticism and jokes made at his expense, the teams he has been on have tended to win games (even if he hasn't contributed to this) as he's seen post-season action the last five years and hit relatively well in the small sample size of post-season play.

The one thing that is quickly forgotten is that he is still relatively young. His closest comparison through age-27 is Jeff Francoeur another playing who struggles with the concept of what a strike zone and what it is. After turning 27, Francoeur has turned in a couple of sub-replacement level years and is barely hanging on to his career despite being young.

Andres Torres:

He has a couple of out of nowhere good seasons in 2010 & 2011but that peak has come and gone (his OPS+ has been 85-ish over the last few years). He's not getting any younger (35) and the best case scenario is for him to catch on as a fourth or fifth outfielder. His most similar player through 35 is Kosuke Fukudome who has not played since his age 35 season in 2012.

Wilson Betemit:

For most of his career, he's been good enough to do a decent job against major league pitching (104 OPS+) but never good enough to be able to play full time or to get a DH gig where his sub-par defense can be hidden. While he has played at least 20 games at four different positions, he hasn't played any of these positions well defensively as he's played sub-replacement level defense for every team he's played for. He could be a good candidate as a pinch-hitter if there's anything left in his bat which there should be since he's still relatively young (31). His most similar batter, is Russ Davis. His last season was his age 31 season which saw him hit pretty well in limited duty.

Grady Sizemore:

For a few years, it looked like Sizemore had a chance to be one of the elite players of this era. However, as what has happened with many a promising career, his appears to be derailed by injuries. He hit for a good average, had good power, good speed and a good eye (drawing 101 walks in 2007). Basically, it comes down to can he come back from his injury issues and still be a productive player. After a couple of bad years, the Indians seem to think the answer to this question is no.

The one thing to keep in mind is that he's still only 28 years old. The most similar player through age-28 was Reggie Smith. Unlike many other players top similar who basically washed out after their analyzed age, Reggie Smith's career was far from over after 28. He played for 9 more years, found himself in a few all-star games and he had a WAR above 4 in four of those seasons. Bottom line, is that if another team is willing to take a risk on Sizemore for 2014, this could be one of those unheralded moves that looks like its a genius move by the end of this year.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Bracketology?!! Taken one Step Further w/Predictions

Many columnists do Bracketology columns from January to March to predict who will get in the tourney but not much is done for predicting how those matchups will go. Here's my prediction of how it would go based on  Jerry Palm's January 6th bracket).

Play in Games

(16) Northern Colorado over (16) UNC Asheville
(12) Kansas State over (12) Wake Forest
(12) Texas over (12) Minnesota
(16) Davidson over (16) Southern

West Regional

(1) Arizona over (16) Northern Colorado
(8) Xavier over (9) Connecticut
(5) Kansas over (12) Southern Missisipi
(4) Missouri over (13) New Mexico State
(11) Arkansas over (6) Duke
(3) Baylor over (14) Stephen F. Austin
(10) Notre Dame over (7) Illinois
(2) Villanova over (15) Boston U

(1) Arizona over (8) Xavier
(5) Kansas over (4) Missouri
(3) Baylor over (11) Arkansas
(2) Villanova over (10) Notre Dame

(5) Kansas over (1) Arizona
(3) Baylor over (2) Villanova

(5) Kansas over (3) Baylor

 East Regional

(1) Syracuse over (16) Albany
(8) Georgetown over (9) Memphis
(5) Massachusetts over (12) Texas
(4) Cincinnati over (13) Manhattan
(6) Pittsburgh over (11) Oklahoma
(3) Oregon over (14) UC Santa Barbara
(10) George Washington over (7) New Mexico
(2) Ohio State over (15) NCCU

 (1) Syracuse over (8) Georgetown
(5) Massachusetts over (4) Cincinnati
(3) Oregon over (6) Pittsburgh
(2) Ohio State over (10) George Washington

 (1) Syracuse over (5) Massachusetts
(3) Oregon over (2) Ohio State

(1) Syracuse over (3) Oregon

South Regional

(1) Michigan State over (16) Bryant
(8) Louisville over (9) Virginia
(12) Kansas State over (5) Dayton
(4) Florida over (13) North Dakota State
(11) Florida State over (6) Gonzaga
(3) San Diego State over (14) Drexel
(7) Creighton over (10) Tennessee
(2) Iowa State over (15) North Florida

(1) Michigan State over (8) Louisville
(12) Kansas State over (4) Florida
(3) San Diego State over (11) Florida State
(7) Creighton over (2) Iowa State

(1) Michigan State over (12) Kansas State)
(3) San Diego State over (7) Creighton

(1) Michigan State over (3) San Diego State

Midwest Regional

(1) Wisconsin over (16) Davidson
(9) UCLA over (8) VCU
(5) Kentucky over (12) Toledo
(4) Colorado over (13) UW Green Bay
(11) Harvard over (6) Iowa
(3) Oklahoma State over (14) Belmont
(7) North Carolina over (10) Michigan
(2) Wichita State over (15) UL Monroe

(1) Wisconsin over (9) UCLA
(5) Kentucky over (4) Colorado
(3) Oklahoma State over (11) Harvard
(2) Wichita State over (7) North Carolina

(5) Kentucky over (1) Wisconsin
(2) Wichita State over (3) Oklahoma State

(2) Wichita State over (5) Kentucky

Final Four:

(1) Syracuse over (5) Kansas
(2) Wichita State over (1) Michigan State

(1) Syracuse over (2) Wichita State

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Meet the Unsigned Free Agents: John Buck, Mark Reynolds, Michael Young & Jeff Baker

John Buck:

John Buck is definitely not a hall of famer but he is on one list. As a member of the 2011 Marlins, he did hit one of his 133 career home runs in a game that I watched against the Padres at Petco. From what I remember in that game was it was the first time in a few games that Stanton did not go yard and there were quite a few loud outs that would have been homers in many other ballparks. Also, I had the song "Blow me Away" by Breaking Benjamin in my head as that was the entrance music used by their closer at the time Heath Bell.

As to what hes done in the larger scope, he's a catcher that hits home runs but not much else. He doesn't draw very many walks and he's only thrown out 25% of base stealers in his career. Best case scenario would be him getting a one-year deal as a stop gap measure.

Through age-32, the most similar player to Buck is ex-Cubs & Braves catcher Jody Davis. After age-32 he played in 12 games and has a .233 OPS. It seems like we're continuing the theme of history indicating that many of these left over free agents may be very close to being done.

Mark Reynolds:

Reynolds has hit a whole lot of home runs in his day, he's also struck a lot (leading the league in four consecutive years) After starting his career in Arizona, he's bounced around from team to team depending on which teams need a flawed power bat the most and are willing to take the hit revolving around very sub par defensive play (or happen to be in the American League where they can put him at the DH position).

With him being a journeyman the last couple years and all of the home runs he's hit, its easy to forget that he's still relatively young (age 29). Even though teams aren't lining up around the door to sign him, he could be a very good pickup at the right price. Baseball-reference indicates the most similar player through age 29 is ex-Ranger, Royal & Tiger Dean Palmer. In addition to sharing a name with my son (Dean is Zeplen's middle name) he did have two very good years once he hit the wrong side of 30. If history teaches us anything, Reynolds may also have a couple very good seasons in the tank for whoever is willing to take a flier on him.

Michael Young:

Young has had a nice career and would be in much higher demand if he was in his early 30s (even if his defense was historically bad). But he is getting old and i'm not exactly excited about the fact that the Brewers appear to have high interest in signing him to play first base (gotta get more power from first base).

He isn't getting any younger (no pun intended). The two most similar players through age-36 (Ray Durham and Joe Torre) both retired at that age and #3 Alan Trammell  two very sub-par seasons.

Jeff Baker:

Whatever team he signs with will be his sixth. He's never really had a chance to play full time but he did hit very well in 175 plate appearances for the Rangers last year. I came into this thinking this was a product of the Rangers stadium but its not. He actually hit much better away from home (1.007 OPS vs. .779 OPS) at home. Through age-32 the most similar player was Herb Perry who didn't do much with the 177 plate appearances he got afterwards.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Meet the Unsigned Free Agents: Nelson Cruz, Stephen Drew, Kendrys Morales, Nate McLouth

It's the start of January and the peak insanity of hot stove season in baseball came through during the holiday season. That doesn't mean  the hot stove fun has to end. The new recurring feature is going to be discussing these unsigned players, what they have to offer and maybe some predictions on where they end up. The list i'm working through is the free agent tracker on

I'm going to start by going through the position players:

All numbers referenced found on

Nelson Cruz:

Nelson Cruz has always been a player with a lot of talent and the ability to hit the ball very hard. He also comes with a lot of red flags. He's already been suspended under MLB's steorid policy (though that didn't stop Jhonny Peralta from getting a lucrative deal). He's injured constantly and has only played in more than 130 games in a season once. He pretty much hacks at everything as as his career OBP is a pedestrian .327.

His high offensive numbers are primarily a product of a very offense friendly ballpark (.912 career OPS at home versus .734 on the road). If he signed with a team that plays in a pitcher friendly ballpark the value of whatever contract he signs plus his career could go south very quickly (arguably this may have already started as his WAR has been less than 2 each of the last three years) and he's a defensive liability. By the way, he's also 33 and trying to get a pretty massive contract.

Through the age of 32 his most similar player was Henry Rodriguez who happened to play 25 games after turning 33. I don't think Cruz' career crashes and burns that quickly but he's definitely on the wrong side of his career.

On the same b-r list, the active players with the most similar profiles are Josh Willingham, Jayson Werth & Cody Ross. While he is trying to get a Jason Werth type monster contract teams seem to be shying away from it. I think the value falls hard enough to where he has to latch on with an incentive laden one year deal.

Stephen Drew:

The former Red Sox player is one of the few shortstops still available in free agency. Like Cruz, he has a history of injuries (hasn't played 150+ games in season since 2010). He did just hit the wrong side of 30 but the last two seasons he ended up on a playoff team (2012 A's & 2013 Red Sox). Offensively hes been ok by overall standards (98 OPS+) but rates a bit better playing an offensively challenged position while playing respectable defense (only one season of 8 does he have a negative dWAR).

One red flag (for teams that play in pitcher friendly ballparks) is the difference in performance between home & away (.803 OPS vs .725) as much of his career has been played in Arizona where Chase Ballpark is offense friendly.

Through age-30, the most similar player is ex-Braves & Cubs player Jeff Blauser. He had his best season at age 31 before ending with a couple underwhelming seasons with the Cubs. From this, it could be indicated that he may have another good season in him but it would be unwise to give him a deal beyond a couple years. For those looking for exploding red flags, the second most similar player through age 30 is Yuniesky Betancourt. I guess there is a reason hes still on the market.

Kendrys Morales:

Available First Base talent (hint, hint Brewers). He may not be the crazy good player he was in 2009 before injuring himself and he may be a defensive liability but he is still good at hitting the baseball (even in a pitcher friendly environment like Safeco and most importantly his name is not Yuniesky Betancourt or Alex Gonzales. Like Cruz & Drew, history may indicate that the end may be coming sooner rather than later. Through age-30 the most similar player for Morales was 1960s reds player Gordy Coleman. After the age of 30 he had 254 sub-replacement level plate appearances.

Nate McLouth:

McLouth's career has gone up down and all around. While his career OPS+ 100 rates him as an average player, hes had an unconventional route getting there. He started off looking like one of the few starts for the 2007/2008 Pirates only for his career to crash and burn after getting traded to the Braves but somewhat reviving said career after being traded to Baltimore. He may give whatever team he signs with some offense but don't expect him to help with the glove.

The most similar player profile through age 31 is Eric Hinske. After age-31 Hinske had a couple solid seasons of primary pinch hitting duty for the Braves (2010 and 2011) before struggling the last couple years.
While this doesn't bode well for McLouth's prospects history indicates he may be useful for a couple years if put into the right situation (which still makes things look better for him than many of the other free agents).

Friday, January 3, 2014

College Basketball Weekend Look Ahead

Ahh, with the Hall of Fame Evaluations done, the College Football regular season done and Baseball still pretty far down the road, its time to find something else to write about which is leading to my first post about basketball and looking ahead to this weekend's action.

All, numbers, rankings, etc were found on


Savannah State vs. (8) Baylor

For Baylor this is basically a scrimmage before moving on to the Big 12 portion of their schedule (which starts Tuesday with Iowa State) for Savannah State its another opportunity to maybe improve their strength of schedule which may or may not improve their RPI ranking of 337 (out of 351 teams). Savannah State has two wins, none of which are against Division I teams.

Pick: Baylor


Washington vs. (1) Arizona

Arizona is one of the few undefeated teams left in the country but have only seriously been tested against Duke. Washington has a pedestrian 8-5 record but a 198 RPI indicating they are little threat to upset Arizona or end up in the NCAA tournament. They've lost both games they've played against Top 25 competition (San Diego State & UConn).

Pick: Arizona

Miami (FL) vs. (2) Syracuse

We've got ourselves another undefeated squad in Syracuse that has already passed a couple of tough tests (Baylor & Villanova). The Hurricanes already have a conference loss on their hands and struggled against a weak non-conference slate going 805 and with an RPI of 107  it looks like it could be a long winter for them.

Pick: Syracuse

Nebraska vs. (3) Ohio State

Ohio State had a pretty weak non-conference slate with their only strong win coming against Marquette. Nebraska hasn't played any elite players and are coming at 8-4 but have an RPI of 49 indicating they could be a tournament team if they can at least play .500 ball in the big ten. However, they're gonna start behind the 8-ball being 0-1 in league play.

Pick: Ohio State

(5) Michigan State vs. Indiana

As expected, Michigan State has gotten off to a strong start with only one slip up against North Carolina. Indiana lost their Big 10 opener against Illinois and seems behind the pace compared to the last few years and with some work to do if they want to be back in the tourney.

Pick: Michigan State

(6) Oklahoma State vs Kansas State

Oklahoma State may be a bit under-rated at #6. They've scored themselves some nice wins against Memphis & Colorado and look primed to make a strong tourney run with Marcus Smart. Kansas State had a bad November but seem to have gotten things together in December and have a nice win over Gonzaga to their record but an RPI of 88 indicating they may struggle just to be a middle of the pack team.

Pick: Oklahoma State

(7) Duke vs. Notre Dame

Duke seems ranked this high more on historical success. Their best win was against Michigan and they've lost to the two other elite teams on their non-conference slate (Kansas & Arizona). Surprisingly, their RPI coming into conference play is at 35. Notre Dame is making their ACC debut, despite nearly handing Ohio State their first loss of the season. With a 74 RPI and the loss of Jerian Grant Notre Dame seems primed to struggle in their first ACC season.

Pick: Duke

Richmond vs. (12) Florida

This is Richmond's last game before moving on to this year's version of the Atlantic 10. They have a respectable 10-4 record but an RPI of 80 and a weaker Atlantic 10 conference. This seems very much like a NIT team. Florida may not come in with a perfect record (no shame in losing to Wisconsin & UConn) but they've also got nice wins over Kansas & Memphis. This looks to be a final tune up before Florida goes on to an SEC slate where they should be a top-3 team.

Pick: Florida

(13) Iowa State vs. Texas Tech

Iowa State is one of the last undefeated teams left. While they are bound to lose some games in a strong Big 12, they still look primed to be one of the better teams, if/when they lose I doubt its going to come at the hands of a Texas Tech team that already has a 141 RPI and tied w/West Virginia for the worst non-conference record in the Big 12.

Pick: Iowa State

(14) Louisville vs. Rutgers

Louisville won their first AAC game against UCF the other night (something that their football team could not do) and start their national championship defense in a weakened conference. Rutgers comes in with a 7-7 record and losses to several mid-major schools and a 225 RPI. This one's not even close.

Pick: Louisville

(17) UConn vs. SMU

While UConn did score a win over Florida in non-conference play, they started league play with a loss to Houston and a 36 RPI which could put them on the bubble come February. SMU is at 10-3 but with no marquee wins an a 58 RPI. The outcome of this game may increase in importance as the season progresses.

Pick: UConn

Cincinnati vs. (18) Memphis

Cincinnati may not be ranked but could be with a win here. Their 34 RPI indicates that they could very much be in the mix in the AAC. Memphis for the most part has taken care of business against teams they should beat but not quite sold on them dominating in the AAC. I think Cincinnati gets themselves a good win here.

Pick: Cincinnati

Miami (OH) vs. (23) UMass

 UMass has their final non-conference tune up against one of the bottom feeders in the MAC before commencing on their Atlantic 10 Schedule. While they are barely nationally ranked, the computers seem to think this team is pretty legit (#1 RPI, #7 BPI).

Pick: UMass

Pacific vs. (24) Gonzaga

Pacific has been one of the better Big West teams historically and  have moved to the West Coast Conference. Their first game was a loss to St. Mary's and this match up against Gonzaga won't be much easier. The computers seem to be okay with Pacific with a 61 RPI but they will need to get some good wins to be seriously in the tourney conversation. Gonzaga is one team where the humans and computers agree on ranking (#24) but they didn't get any major marquee wins in non-conference but look on their way to a dominating performance with a 2-0 conference start so far (though a #1 seeding again looks to be out of the question.

Pick: Gonzaga

Long Beach State vs. (25) Missouri

Long Beach State has had a very intense non conference schedule and did get themselves a win over USC for what its worth before they move on to a much less challenging Big West slate. Missouri is barely ranked despite one blemish (narrow loss to Illinois) but seem to be in good shape to compete in a fairly weak SEC.

Pick: Missouri


(22) Iowa vs. (4) Wisconsin

Both teams have exceeded expectations so far, Iowa comes in at #22 and the computer numbers indicate that they are legit, Wisconsin is still undefeated and are off to one of their best starts ever. I think Iowa can compete with them but the home field advantage in this game is likely a bit much to overcome.

Pick: Wisconsin

Northern Iowa vs. (8) Wichita State

Wichita State is undefeated and has high aspirations after last year's final four run. Every team is gonna give Wichita State a run for their money. I think this game may be close for awhile (they did take fellow undefeated team Iowa State to overtime) but there's no way they win on the road.

Pick: Wichita State

(10) Oregon vs. (20) Colorado

Oregon is undefeated but have needed to go to OT twice to maintain that claim and appear to be for real. Colorado has been strong overall and has a nice win over Kansas to their record. They seem to be legit competition to Oregon to determine who will finish second to Arizona in the Pac-12. I think Colorado pulls this one out.

Pick: Colorado

Providence vs. (11) Villanova

If nothing else, Providence has played some close games, already going to OT three times this year but as a threat to pull off the upset, not so much with an 84 RPI. Villanova also knows a thing or two about playin on the edge with two OT victories to their credit (Iowa & Butler). In a Big East league with very few strong teams, they look poised to be the strongest of the bunch.

Pick: Villanova

(21) San Diego St. vs (16) Kansas

Interesting non-conference battle. San Diego State's only blemish is a 9 point loss to Arizona and they have nice wins over Creighton & Marquette on the mantle.Kansas looks to be one of the stronger Big 12 teams despite a few early losses. I think Kansas will have the better year but I think San Diego St. pulls off the upset on Sunday.

Pick: San Diego State

(19) North Carolina vs Wake Forest

North Carolina is another team I think will get stronger as the season goes on but seem a bit vulnerable at this stage (with losses to Belmont & UAB) to their record. Wake Forest has shown that they may not be great but aren't a pushover either (they only lost to Kansas by 9), I think they get themselves their best win of the season on Sunday.

Pick: Wake Forest

Thursday, January 2, 2014

NFL Playoff Preview: Man vs. Machine

With the weekend slate of NFL wild care games ahead of us, I decided to see who is better at predicting these games Me (and my opinions) or Machine ( simulation.


Colts vs. Chiefs

For the Colts, its sort of hard to tell which team is going to show up, the good Colts that can go head to head with the elite teams in the league or the one that loses head scratching games to non-playoff teams. I think Andrew Luck may be in store for his first playoff win. Initially, I thought that the Chiefs were in line for the win but I think the players may be a bit rusty and having all the starters being rested may come back to haunt them.

My Pick: Chiefs
What If Pick: Chiefs 13 Colts 10 (OT)

Bengals vs. Chargers

The Bengals have become playoff regulars but i'm not sure I trust the combination of Andy Dalton & Marvin Lewis in a playoff game. The Chargers have made some strides in the first year with a head coach NOT named Norv Turner. However, the barely beat the Chiefs B-Squad and even then they needed some missed field goals and bad officiating work to do so.

My Pick: Bengals
What If Pick: Chargers 20 Bengals 10


Eagles vs. Saints

The Eagles are one of those teams that went through their struggles but made it into the playoffs and are playing at a high-level at the right time. The Saints seem to need the Superdome to work their magic.

My Pick: Eagles
What If Pick: Eagles 27 Saints 13

Packers vs. 49ers

The Packers (despite shoddy defense and 1/2 a season worth of mediocre to bad qb play) find themselves in the playoffs. With Aaron Rodgers anything is possible. They get a tough match up with their nemesis the 49ers who have beaten them the last three times and seem to dominate them and outsmart Dom Capers like clockwork. As fan as a ride it has been as a Packers fan, bottom line is that the 49ers are the better team.

My Pick: 49ers
What If Pick: 49ers 19 Packers 10

Here's how I think the other rounds would play off as of now:
Broncos over Chiefs
Patriots over Bengals

Patriots over Broncos

Seahawks over 49ers
Panthers over Eagles

Seahawks over Panthers

Patriots over Seahawks

Here's how the What If Sports simulations I did played out:

Broncos 31 Chargers 17
Patriots 27 Chiefs 15

Patriots 21 Broncos 16

49ers 17 Seahawks 12
Eagles 24 Panthers 21--Panthers tied this on 6 yd run by Cam Newton with 35 seconds left only for Alex Henery to nail game winning field goal as time expired

49ers 27 Eagles 17

Patriots 13 49ers 10 with the Super Bowl being decided on a 32 yd field goal from Gostowski w/6:30 left