Will the AL Wild Card come from the Central?

(This post is partially in response to a challenge from my good friend Jake that I would not be able to write about anything substantive in less than 1,000 words. Let’s see if I succeed. The word count starts after this parenthetical. Follow me on Twitter or friend me on Facebook if you like – I’m always open to comments and critique!)

Will the AL Wild Card come from the Central?

No.

Oh, fine, I’ll get into it a little bit more, but I’ll still beat that 1,000 word challenge. I was listening to ESPN Radio about a half an hour ago here in the DC ‘burbs, and they asked a commentator (whose name I cannot recall, despite trying) what their pick for the wild card will be. To be clear, the question was almost certainly a roundabout way to get the guest to give an opinion on who would win the AL East (as it has been long-opined that the Yankees and Rays will, in some form, share the AL East title and the Wild Card). However, to my mild (okay, more than mild) surprise, the guest responded: “The Chicago White Sox.”*

*The sound you just heard? My head exploding.

So, here I am for a little bit of reality therapy. The Twins are not going to be the AL Wild Card. The White Sox are not going to be the AL Wild Card. The AL Wild Card is going to be either the Yankees or the Rays (sorry, Red Sox, but I’m sticking a fork in you now). Because my stock in trade is not in making bold statements without backing them up, at least a little bit, my reasoning follows.

First, let’s look at what the brilliant minds over at Baseball Prospectus have to say about this (note, the report I worked from was generated on Sun., Aug. 8, at 7:15pm. This means the result of the Yankees-Red Sox game was at least four hours too late to be included. Wait, who am I kidding? It would have been five hours. The Yankees and Red Sox play that slowly.). I put together the following spreadsheet, which simply states the percent chance that a team would reach the post-season as the Wild Card, based on 1 million simulations of the rest of the season. The first model is based solely on the results of the season so far, the second is adjusted by PECOTA, the model developed by stats genius Nate Silver, and finally, the third is adjusted based on an ELO ratings system (if you don’t know what an ELO ratings system is, Silver explains in this old post). So, what do the Baseball Prospectus people, all of whom are smarter than me, posit? The results are striking:

All Numbers © 2010 Prospectus Entertainment Ventures

Wow. Even I can tell you the Wild Card winner is going to come from the AL East. In all three models, there is a greater than 90% chance it will (91.72612% under the first model, 97.36387% under PECOTA, and 92.64992% under ELO), with an average of a 93.91330% chance. Wow. That seems pretty conclusive to me, right? Well, let’s play that game for a second. Based on that, I calculated* the odds of a non-AL East team getting the Wild card:

*My 10th-grade Accelerated Algebra teacher taught me to always show my work. So there it is.

So, odds are just over 16.5 to 1  that a non-AL East team will take the Wild Card. By doing some brutally simple (and inaccurate) math, I can posit that the Twins have something like 35 to 1 odds, and the White Sox approximately 60 to 1 odds.

Now, 35 to 1 doesn’t sound so bad, when you look at the above numbers, but it is a similar number to what Australian Steven Bradbury (40 to 1) was facing in his attempt to become the first gold medalist from the Southern Hemisphere to win a gold medal in the 2002 Olympic short track speed skating, and the first Aussie to win a Winter Olympic Gold. He won, so that should give the Central’s second-place finisher hope, right? Not really; it took the following events to occur:

  • The disqualification of the second-place skater in his qualifying heat, which allowed him to move into the semi-finals.
  • In his semifinal, he was in last place on the last lap when three of the four other skaters crashed, allowing him to finish a distant second place.
  • In the final, he was far behind the field when this happened:

I can’t really think of a more unlikely event. It took an act of the judges, an act of God, and the deliberate trip of Apolo Ohno by the Chinese skater for Bradbury to take the Gold.

Based on the numbers, the odds of the Twins (or White Sox, or any other team) taking advantage of the Wild Card playoff berth are extremely low.

Second, other than the Yankees and possibly the Rangers, no other team in the majors looks quite as good as the Rays right now. The Twins had a terrible June, and since the break they have dominated the cellar-dwellers, while only barely managing a split with the Rays. The Rays, on the other hand, have looked pretty darn good all year. I say that with some trepidation, because right now the Rays have two of their starters going to see the doctor for shoulder ailments, but they are also almost uniquely able to fill the holes, with stellar minor leaguers, including Jeremy Hellickson, who was most recently seen shutting down the Twins last Monday. Their outfield and infield defense are better, their starters are better, and their bench and system are deeper. The Twins have the edge in lineup strength and the bullpen (with the possible exception of Matty “Two-Face” Guerrier and the minor-leaguer-of-the-week), but their starting pitching can be very suspect, especially with a potential Kevin Slowey elbow problem.

The Twins’ best shot to make the playoffs is to

overtake the White Sox. In theory, that shouldn’t be too hard to do. The White Sox lineup still makes me cringe, but not with fear. Gordon Beckham just hit the DL. The Twins should easily win the AL Central.

And that, including this postscript, is 999 words. I win.

Please Help if You Can

I tweeted about this a minute ago, but I wanted to make a post here too.

Over the 4th of July weekend, a medical research clinic in New York closed its doors and left over 120 beagles and 55 primates that had been used for experiments behind the locked doors, to starve and dehydrate. Beagles are used for medical research because they are patient, docile, and won’t protest when people do all nature of terrible things to them.

Fortunately, a few former employees of the company rescued the pups from the facility, and several rescue groups got together to take care of the animals. These poor things had never been outside, seen the sky, felt the grass, or even interacted with another dog or person (other than the scientists experimenting on them). Here’s the heart-warming and -wrenching video from that day:

I’m a sarcastic, cynical son-of-a-gun 99 times out of 100, but this is one thing that really gets me. I have a beagle, my brother has a beagle, and my sister has two beagles. Every time I watch the video, it kills me; hits me in that small unprotected spot. If you have a few dollars to spare to help save these or any other pet in a shelter, please consider it. These places do wonderful work, and they can’t get by without help from people like us. Here’s a couple places that I know could really benefit from your loose change.

The place that rescued these beagles: Pets Alive

The shelter where my wife and I found our Kasey: Lost Dog and Cat Rescue

If you have a local shelter that you’d like to add to this list, leave it in the comments and I’ll add it to this list.

And for the scientists and corporate big shots who decided the best way to wrap up their business was to  just leave the beagles to starve and dehydrate to death? There’s a special place in hell.

UPDATE: I decided to add a picture of my beagle, just because she’s the best.

On Blog Plagiarism and Your Rights

Note: This particular entry contains rambly talk about law-ish stuff. I am not a member of a bar yet, and do not warrant that I am a lawyer in any professional sense. Do not construe any of the below as legal advice, ever. Go talk to a real lawyer if you are interested. All that said, I am a law school graduate and have strong opinions about the law, so buyer beware and all that nonsense.

This is where I briefly surface from thinking about the law and passing the bar exam to write you all a love letter about… law. This is VERY important for those of us that are bloggers, and for anyone else that publishes anything that is meaningful to them on the internet (or anywhere else, for that matter).

As someone who just completed a very difficult course of study, I am pretty proud of myself, and have very little sympathy for those who cheat, lie, or plagiarize to get through their schooling or everyday lives. That said, I’m also very interested in the legal implications for those people that plagiarize and get caught. If you’re in college, you get an F on the paper and probably the class. If you’re in Law School, your degree is in severe jeopardy – I know, I was plagiarized early in law school by someone in my class, and we were both treated as plagiarists until I could produce evidence that I was the plagiarizee and he was the plagiarizor – and you will likely get a letter forwarded from your school to any bar that you plan to sit for. I’ve heard of master’s degrees being wholly revoked, as late as 20 years after the fact, and supervising faculty being recommended for termination. In the workplace, journalists are regularly fired for plagiarism, and newspapers and other bodies often sue for copyright violations.

Why do I bring this up? Well, this site right here was “scraped” at some point over the last four months, by a blog I had never heard of (and I imagine most of you will not have heard of), and I discovered it a few days ago. It was not a Twins blog. It wasn’t even really a baseball blog. However, it lifted effectively my entire previews of the season for the Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox (among other posts) and re-posted them without attribution or permission. This is by definition “scraping,” which is web-speak for wholesale reproduction of copyrighted/original work.

So, let me proceed to tell you my story in the manner of a law school class. Just imagine the bolded questions being asked by an old, bearded, scary-as-hell professor who’s standing in front of a class that is just you… and your 129 closest friends. Then imagine he calls your name to answer the questions. All of them. Without looking at your notes or textbook.

Welcome to Georgetown Law. Hope you enjoy your stay.

Without further ado: my quick-and-dirty primer on plagiarism for the bloggers among us.

Okay, you’ve been plagiarized. Big freaking whoop. Shouldn’t you be grateful that people are reading your work and liking it enough to reproduce it?

Not hardly. There is a time and a place for feeling flattered, and it certainly isn’t at a time when your work is being appropriated by someone else. I hate to break it to you, but they couldn’t care less about you or what you wrote. They just think they can make a few extra pennies from ads or a few extra page-views out of your work. No thought at all is given to you.

But wait, Mr. Olson, you’re just a blogger. No one cares if your work is ripped off. Why do you?

First, not true. Bloggers are authors, and while very few of us have transformed our bloggy ways into a career path, many of us make a few dollars a month with text links or beer money from Google AdSense. We’re not traditional journalists in the traditional sense of the word, but what we write is still copyrighted, whether we register it or not.

That, and all bloggers feel an incredible sense of ownership of what they have written. I put about four-six hours into each of the season previews that was scraped, and I didn’t even have to do any fancy numbers work on them, like many bloggers do. Also, while I don’t plan to ever attempt to try to make money on this blog (tried that once, and it turned into a pain in the butt), I sure don’t want anyone else to make money off my work if I can’t.

All selfishness aside, though, I don’t have a big corporate logo at the top of this page. I don’t have the backing of an august organization with the reputation of the Boston Globe, or Slate, or Fox News (hah – I just implied Fox News had a reputation for something other than doody) behind me when I write, and if I did, that little poop joke might just have gotten me fired. But seriously, all bloggers like myself and many of the others in the Twins blogosphere, particularly the successful ones, have to offer is our integrity and our personal reputation on the subjects we write about. I don’t want my work to be re-posted on a page where it will appear beside huge “Get Free Viagra” and “Find a Sexxx Friend” ads. I may make poop jokes, but at least I’ll stand behind them. That’s the reason I don’t run ads anymore – I don’t want anyone to think I’m standing behind anything other than my own writing.

Okay, getting off topic here. In a real law school class, by now the professor would have interr-

But what about Fair Use, Mr. Olson? Doesn’t that sort of foul your argument?

Actually, no, it doesn’t. The idea behind fair use is that in order to properly comment on something first appearing somewhere else or to provide background for your work, sometimes you need to republish brief excerpts of those earlier works. Not whole articles, mind you, but reasonably short excerpts, always with credit. I follow the three paragraph rule: three paragraphs is presumptively Fair Use, so long as there are more than three paragraphs in the article (if not, use just a sentence or two, or just link).

Wholesale reproduction of articles or passages (especially without providing analysis or comment) is never acceptable without permission and credit. Don’t do it. You’ll get in trouble real fast.

Quick breakdown – to properly use the fair use exception to copyright law, here’s what you’ve gotta do: first, identify the source, including both the author (if listed) and the website, book, etc. that the quote came from; second, make sure that there is no outright prohibition on doing so (hint: never never never never quote the AP – quote the NY Times’ or WaPo’s republication of their stories. AP will send you a bill for $10-30 for use of the quote, along with a cease-and-desist letter); third, if it’s an online source, it’s common courtesy to provide a link, though it’s not required by Fair Use terms; fourth and finally, make sure that from reading your work you can tell what the quote is and what is your own work. That’s it! It’s easy, so you have no excuse for messing it up, ever again.

Alright, Mr. Olson, smartypants*, what do you do if your website gets scraped or plagiarized? *I make no representations that a law professor has ever uttered the word “smartypants.”

There are several things you should do. You have a choice, however, as to how to respond. First, you can send a measured, reasoned response, asking them to take it down or give you credit for your work. This can be accomplished by email, phone, comment on their blog, anything. Second, you can send a pissy and ranty email to their listed email address, and find out that it is owned by someone else entirely.*

*Sorry again, Mr. Richards, and thanks for understanding.

If you either don’t get a response or if you do get a response that refuses to comply with your requests, then it gets fun. If you do make a significant amount of money off your page, talk to a lawyer. They’ll usually give free consultations, if they think there’s money to be had. If not, then you can proceed with some stealth warfare.

First, determine whether they use an ad-placing service, like Google AdSense. If you can provide definitive proof (like a copy of the work in question, published on an earlier date) that your site was plagiarized or scraped by the holder of the AdSense account, Google will usually suspend or cancel the account. I recommend it, it worked in my case.

Second, try to determine who actually hosts their page. In the case of a non-blogger/wordpress site, plug their URL into this site, and it will tell you who their host is. Because they are violating copyright law, and doing it on the host’s servers, the host is usually pretty receptive to copyright complaints. If they do have a WordPress site, like the one in my case, life is easy: WordPress has a suspension/cancellation policy for violation of the terms of use, which prohibit copyright violations. The website that scraped me no longer exists as a result. I’m not clear on Blogger/Blogspot/tumblr’s rule’s on this point, but I imagine they do something similar.

Finally, if none of these works or you are feeling particularly vindictive, especially if you make your living from your page, contact a lawyer, who would be more than pleased to accept a small fee from you in exchange for sending a cease-and-desist letter, and possibly suing in the right case.

Do whatever makes you feel good. However, a few “do nots”:

  • Do not swear or threaten them. Not only is it counterproductive, it looks really bad if you do decide to go to court at a later date.
  • Do not threaten them. It’s important enough to mention twice.
  • Do not threaten them. And a third time.
  • Don’t overreact. If you send them a polite-yet-curt email asking them to knock it off, and they do, don’t go on and do the other stuff I listed above, or you may get yourself in some hot water.
  • Most of all, don’t write an 1900-word post on your blog about it. People might think that you’re a little self-centered. ;)

Okay, class is over. A few concluding non-law-related remarks -

  • My heartfelt thanks for the Facebook birthday wishes and congratulations on graduation. I really appreciate the camaraderie and friendship that so many of us
  • I am growing increasingly disenchanted with Twitter. I can’t even stomach being on during a game anymore. If you’re one of the people that is making my time less happy, knock it off, please. Criticism is helpful and good and all, but negativity for the sake of negativity and personal attacks get old. Really fast. I refer you to this for a better explanation of why.
  • Finally, if you’ve messaged me on facebook or twitter or sent me an email, I’m sorry for not getting back to you in a timely fashion. I’ll try to catch up this week, but studying for the bar is not conducive at all to keeping up with obligations.
  • New posts will hopefully return soon!

Into the Off Day…

So, it’s been a while. I’m under a fair amount of stress right now, so let’s use some soothing bullet points to put me at ease…

  • Let me tell you, finishing off a law school career is pretty hard work. I only have about 40 more pages to write before next Monday (May 3rd) so that I can graduate, so I can almost guarantee that this will be the final post of a decent length until then. I’m working on three papers: one is a really simple and easy reflection memo on my internship in DC Superior Court; the second involves suggestions on how to implement the Omnibus DC Voting Bill for the 2010 elections; and the third is the beast, a 20-page paper on standing requirements, which are what must be met before one can sue. Overall, not too bad (considering I ended up writing a somewhat controversial 68-pager on the teaching of evolution over creationism in schools last year), but the time frame will make it very difficult. Wish me luck! If I succeed, I’ll graduate. If not, well, I’ll hope for an extension!
  • Friday’s game was an interesting one for me. I had missed the two prior days’ games due to work and going to the Nationals games. Both, by the way were terrible to watch. Livan Hernandez was pretty impressive Thursday, but still pulled off the loss against Cy Jimenez. He was exactly the guy he was in 2008, which still makes me cringe, but I’m happy he’s still finding success. However, Friday’s game got nasty on Twitter. When David DeJesus (I think) hit a home run that just barely went over the fence (as was apparent on replay but not on first viewing), Michael Cuddyer did not seem to hustle at all to return the ball to the infield. The problem? The ump called the ball in play, which led to DeJesus getting an inside-the-park home run as Cuddyer meandered back to the ball, which was resting at the base of the fence. Now, I know Cuddyer likely saw the ball go over his head, and the ump’s call would have been overturned on instant replay, but the slow walk Cuddyer took incensed many of those on Twitter that day. Our reward for being critical of Cuddyer for (apparently) not hustling (as is the Minnesota Twins way, of course)? This Tweet, by a respected and widely-followed Twins blogger (name removed because I have not spoken with him directly):

    This Tweet was quickly followed up by:

    Really?

    Now, as everyone who reads my writing or tweets knows, I am all about the snark and the sarcasm, but there is a line that stops short of accusing someone of “not being a fan” or “not being a true fan.” The first tweet crossed that line, and the second Tweet was just a reminder. As of now, I find myself an “alleged” Twins fan in the eyes of at least one (for those not familiar with the legal term of art “alleged,” it means roughly “something that has been declared true, but that certainly hasn’t been proven.”) influential blogger. Frankly, it pissed me off, and I sure hope it pissed off others. I really have one sports rule, and that rule is to NEVER accuse someone of not being a fan. Here’s where I shout out to my fellow blogger Fanatic Jack, who tends to have a negative outlook on the team, and frequently gets accused of all sorts of nasty things because of it. Jack, we rarely agree, but I know you are a true fan, and I urge everyone else to read his work at Fanatic Jack Talks Twins, as he does have a lot of good analysis to go along with is (often merited) pessimism.

  • So, that dour note behind us, it appears that Joe Mauer hasn’t shaved in a while, which is leading to a resurgent case of Joe Mauer’s Beard! I unfortunately don’t have a very good capture of it, but here is what I got. It is still a long way from the luscious specimen that we had at the beginning of ST, but it’s a start. Now if only Denard Span would follow Joe’s lead and grow back HIS Man-Beard. I promise he’ll stop it with the suckage as soon as he does.
  • The Twins have now won six straight series without managing to sweep a single one. Color me unconcerned. So long as the Twins are winning 2/3+ of their games, I won’t start to fret. Eventually, the Twins will discover their missing clutchiness and they’ll start scoring about three more runs per game than they are now.
  • I want to marry the Twins offense, but A) my wife would not approve, and B) it’s not legal to marry groups of sports players in Virginia (or Minnesota). So, I guess I’ll just have to deal with pining from a distance.
  • Topper Anton was nice enough to offer me a place in his “Twins Bloggers: Get to Know ‘Em” series, and commences to say nice things about me that I really don’t deserve, as I recently discovered that I have a horrible pottymouth while watching baseball: at the Thursday Nats game, there was a whole family, including little kids sitting right in front of me. The Nats are a horrible team, and I really don’t love them that much, but I found myself biting my lip far too much. Sorry, Mom! :S Anyway, go check out my Get-to-Know-‘Em if you want to know more about me (or if you are looking for good blackmail fodder).
  • Because of the back-up of games, I’ll give a Stud/Dud for today’s game only.
  • The Stud: Justin Morneau. Justin absolutely destroyed a pitch in the second inning for a two-run homer, and he has really been flashing the leather recently at second base. Mark Texeira he is not, but he’s still impressive.
  • The Dud: clearly, today’s dud was Kevin Slowey. This is not to say that he pitched poorly (which he did: he couldn’t locate around the corners of the plate, and when that goes, so goes Slowey’s whole game), but the main reason is that he couldn’t make it far into the Sixth Inning on the day after every pitcher but Alex Burnett was used. It turned out not to matter, as Ron Mahay and Burny (starting to like that kid a lot) easily cleaned up the final 2 2/3 innings, but it was something the Twins really needed that Slowey failed to provide.
  • Courtesy Wikipedia (click to visit page). The Hip Flexors.

    Nick Punto‘s groin is apparently just fine (which is more info than I needed to know today), but because he is still experiencing pain in that oh-so-sensitive area, the docs are looking into a possible hip flexor injury. If you didn’t know, and I didn’t, the hip flexors are any of about ten moving parts that make your hip joint work properly. I put the Wikipedia diagram on the right (credit goes to Wiki user Beth Ohara). Click on the image to go to the Wikipedia page for more info. If, as LaVelle seemed to fear in his tweet, hip flexor surgery is required, Punto could be done for the year, as Royals utility player Josh “Booger” Fields (nickname bestowed by WhiteSoxBlog) decided to do today. Ironically, as I tweeted earlier, if Punto has surgery and misses the rest of the season, the odds of him being with the Twins next year go up significantly: the hip injury will reduce his defensive value, which means all his value. The Twins were going to decline his $5 million option for next year (or so I certainly hope), and this makes it much more likely he’d accept a cheap “make-g00d” deal back with the Twins as a utility infielder. Luke Hughes got his roster spot, and I would really like to see him get a couple starts.

  • In other injury news, Clay Condrey had a setback, and there is no timetable for when he resumes throwing.
  • Tomorrow is an off day. Hallelujah.
  • Tuesday, the Twins will pitch the rearmed F-Bomb against Justin Verlander. In terms of my hopes for the Twins, I certainly hope Francisco Liriano is as good as he’s been. In the interest of my fantasy team, however, I want Verlander to strike out 10 Twins through five innings and leave a game tied 0-0, so the Twins can come back and destroy the Tiger bullpen. Life is much more complicated when my fantasy players face the Twins.

I feel better after all those bullets. Cheers!

2010 Twins Projections

The 2010 season starts for the Minnesota Twins starts in just three or four days, depending on when I actually get this stupid thing finished and published (internet connection being funky tonight). Josh Johnson, last week, challenged Twins Bloggers to make a series of predictions about the season. He also provided a suggested list of predictions. However, because I am contrary, I will do his, and also some of my own. So… (drumroll, please), your 2010 Minnesota Twins Season Predictions!


Twins MVP:

My first, gut instinct was to say that the Twins MVP will be the obvious answer: The 23-million-dollar man. However, on further thought (and further beverages), I’m tempted to say the MVP will be Drew Butera, just to be horribly contrary. This is a tougher decision than I originally thought. I think that it will be a close battle, but I think that in the end ORLANDO HUDSON‘s ability to make us forget about the sinkhole that had been second base and the 2-hole in the lineup will make him the most valuable player of the year, especially given that we pretty much expect great seasons from Mauer, Morneau, Span, Cuddyer, etc. If I had to pic a runner-up, it would be Denard Span.
Twins’ Top Pitcher:

Again, I was sorely tempted to pick the contrarian pick: Clay Condrey. However, that isn’t my ‘onest answer, and my bangers and mash wouldn’t sit quite right having left a whopper like that standing. I think it will be close indeed, but SCOTT BAKER will emerge from the pack as the most valuable Twins pitcher.
Twins’ Best Rookie:

Interestingly enough, the only true rookie breaking camp with the Twins this season is Drew Butera, and he won’t be with the Twins for more than a month or two. Therefore, it’ll be a midseason call-up. I think the Twins rookie of the year will be ANTHONY SLAMA, who will break into the majors after one of the current bullpen members forgets how to throw strikes. That said, he won’t have much competition, as Danny Valencia won’t arrive until August or September, and we won’t see any other rookies without a rash of injuries.
Twins’ Most improved Player:

As much as I dump on him from day to day, DELMON YOUNG is the clear choice for most improved. I think this is the year that Delmon finds his swing and his power, and though he won’t get any more selective, more of those first-pitch fouls will end up in play, and more will land in the left-field stands than in any of his past seasons. Runner up: Francisco Liriano.
Bold Twins Predictions:

  1. Pat Neshek either ends the season with the most saves or gets injured by June and never really comes back.
  2. Delmon Young receives more than 50 walks and hits more than 20 home runs.
  3. Clay Condrey finds a steady role in the middle innings and excels, while Guerrier struggles after being initially forced into a closer role he isn’t suited for, until he returns to being a very good set-up man.
  4. We learn that Chris Cates, pocket-sized second baseman, was abducted and eaten by Jose Mijares; his leprechaun nature caused Mijares’ blurry vision.
  5. At least three Twins players adopt the Great Gazoo helmet:

AP Photo/David Zalubowski

Twins Keys to Success:

1. Liriano and Slowey need to have strong, bounce-back years from their injury/ineffectiveness-shortened years last year. If these two can’t make it happen, there’s trouble ahead.

2. The starters need to go deep into the games. This is a pretty good ‘Pen on paper (like what I did there?), but remember that Jose Mijares has battled ineffectiveness, Pat Neshek and Jesse Crain are just one or fewer seasons removed from surgery, and Jon Rauch has more intimidation factor than raw stuff. The ‘Pen will be solid, but it WILL break down if it averages more than 16 or so innings a week.

3. Mauer and Morneau need to chill the …. out. Mauer has shown that he is injury prone, and Morneau is just one more end-of-season injury/collapse from me wanting considerably less ‘neau.

Predicted Standings and Playoff Berths:

A.L. East

  1. Boston Red Sox (division winner)
  2. New York Yankees (WC)
  3. Tampa Bay Rays
  4. Baltimore Orioles
  5. Toronto Blue Jays

A.L. Central

  1. Minnesota Twins (division winner)
  2. Chicago White Sox
  3. Detroit Tigers
  4. Kansas City Royals
  5. Cleveland Indians

A.L. West

  1. California Angels (division winner) (I refuse to call them Anaheim or Los Angeles)
  2. Texas Rangers
  3. Seattle Mariners
  4. Oakland Athletics

Division Series:

  • Twins def. Yankees, 3-2
  • Red Sox def. Angels, 3-0

LCS:

  • Red Sox Def. Twins 4-3

N.L. East (I won’t give numbers for the National League)

  1. Atlanta Braves (division winner)
  2. Philadelphia Phillies
  3. Florida/Miami Marlins
  4. Washington Nationals
  5. New York Mets

N.L. Central

  1. St. Louis Cardinals (Division Winner)
  2. Milwaukee Brewers (Wild Card)
  3. Cincinnati Reds
  4. Pittsburgh Pirates
  5. Chicago Cubs
  6. Houston Astros

N.L. West

  1. Colorado Rockies (division winner)
  2. San Francisco Giants
  3. Arizona Diamondbacks
  4. Los Angeles Dodgers
  5. San Diego Padres

Division Series:

  • Colorado def. St. Louis (3-1)
  • Atlanta def. Milwaukee (3-2)

LCS:

  • Atlanta def. Colorado (4-2)

World Series:

  • Atlanta def. Red Sox (4-2)

Other MLB Predictions:

  • AL MVP: Joe Mauer – the voters just can’t quit him.
  • NL MVP: Hanley Ramirez – If not for Pujols’ unfortunate injury…
  • AL Cy Young: Felix Hernandez – The King has returned.
  • NL Cy Young: Doc Halladay – The NL worked out better for him than the AL did for Peavy.
  • A.L. Rookie of the Year: Brian Matusz – this will be popular, but people still won’t say his name right.
  • NL Rookie of the Year: Jason Heyward – Almost too easy.
  • AL Comeback Player of the Year: Pat Neshek
  • NL Comeback Player of the Year: David Wright

Will Carroll is Smarter than Me

Sure, it wasn’t in the best light, but I take what I can get. Anyway, in the early morning hours of March 31, I had a long discussion with Will Carroll, aka @injuryexpert, on Twitter. The subject was on the recovery time for Jose Morales, with differing levels of performance. The conclusion? I’ll let you read it for yourself. He made a mention of our conversation in his “Under the Knife” Column for Baseball Prospectus (subscription only, unfortunately). I’ll let you read the two sentences or so for yourself:

I had a nice chat with @calltothepen on Twitter about Jose Morales. He’s a replaceable backup catcher, so his starting the year on the DL is never going to be that big a deal. Sure the wrist injury will sap his power and might have some effect on his throws, but the Twins have other options at the position and Joe Mauer gets most of the time there anyway. Sometimes a team’s fan base will obsess over little things and while I don’t mean to demean fandom or Morales, it’s barely worth the pixels to discuss it.

Will eliminates the entire debate around Ramos vs. Morales vs. Butera in three sentences, while reminding us how dumb the argument was in the first place. And that’s why he’s so smart.

Ramos v. Butera: I have the Answer!

IT DOESN’T MATTER!

Whoever wins the backup catcher job until Jose Morales comes back, either Wilson Ramos or Drew Butera, will be in the majors for a max of two months, if we are really looking on the gloomiest possible side.

During that time, Joe Mauer will be the starting catcher probably 8-9 days of 10. Figuring on 3 at-bats per start, that means that whoever backs up Joe will get, well, 49-55 at bats per start. Lets add in another 20 at-bats to be really charitable, to include pinch-hitting. That gives us, say, 72 at-bats. Sound good?

This is an image. Amazing how simple they get.

Let’s also assume, just for the sake of argument, that Ramos would be worth the same amount per at-bat as Joe Mauer (which is a ridiculous assumption, but I’m being generous). Joe is projected to be 7.3 WAR this year by CHONE, in about 595 at-bats. So, let’s play those numbers a bit. By doing a simple comparison, Ramos’ bat would be worth .88 WAR in those 72 at-bats. Let’s round it up, again, being charitable and including defense, to 1 WAR. To be clear, this is making the assumption that Ramos will be a better catcher/hitter than JOE FRICKING MAUER. (For the record, CHONE puts Ramos at .6 WAR in 370 PAs. Where are they getting this number of PAs? No way the backup catcher appearance gets 250 at-bats all season.)

Chuck Norris doesn't even care.

So, lets assume the opposite for Butera, and assume that he’ll be worth the same as the WORST catcher in the league. Rod Barajas was the worst catcher that got 400 PAs last season (415), racking up a .6 WAR. So, lets do the math, and we get .1 WAR for Butera. Again, with Butera’s defensive skill, we’ll round it up a bit, to .2 WAR, the same adjustment I made for Ramos. (In fairness, CHONE has Butera at -.5 over 272 at-bats, God knowing how he’ll get those 272 at-bats. But when I scale it down to 72 at-bats, it works out to just about -.1. So, still, really close to where I got).

So, being as charitable as I think I can be, the difference is .8 wins. If the Twins end up having their season decided by .8 wins for 1/3 of a season of a backup catcher that is not Jose Morales, who, in fairness projects to be worth .9 WAR by CHONE this season in 353 PAs (where the hell are they getting these PA numbers?).

So, to recap. Joe = 7.3 WAR. Based on two months of backup, Ramos would be worth 1.0 WAR (which I think is more than generous). Over the same period, Butera would be worth .1 WAR by my metric (which is admittedly crude, and I’m sure people will jump all over me for it), but -1 WAR by CHONE. So let’s take CHONE’s number.

Assuming Wilson Ramos is a better hitter than Joe Mauer during his limited at-bats, he would be worth 1.1 WAR over Butera. If, with all the changes the Twins have made this season, that’s what the division comes down to, the Twins will have had much, much bigger problems.

Others have put together takes on this, including Seth, who puts forth a highly unlikely scenario that would make it worth it to bring Ramos up. Taylor urges that Ramos be brought up. A great message-board discussion of the issue can be found here. TwinsTerritory has a poll up.

My vote, as everyone can probably tell by now, is that it simply doesn’t matter, so we should bring up Butera, because it would be better not to hurt Ramos’ development in the majors when his presence wouldn’t make that enormous of a difference anyway.

EDIT: Okay, so I figured out that the PA numbers from CHONE are based on minor-league at-bats. Which just seems to reinforce my point…

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