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(Note: Above image is not an actual cover of Wired.)

04/04/2007 07:59 AM  |  Comment (8)

New Column -- "Throw the Bums Out! Enjoying the national pastime of watching politicians make fools of themselves over baseball": Also, I'm pretty sure I forgot to mention this one, about the perils of enacting social policy through city contracting rules, from that Week From Hell....

04/04/2007 07:51 AM  |  Comment (4)

Get Your 2007 Predictions in Before the Wire!: Mine are as follows:

NL West: 1) Padres, 2) D-Backs, 3) Dodgers, 4) Giants, 5) Rockies
NL Central: 1) Brewers, 2) Astros, 3) Cardinals, 4) Cubs, 5) Reds, 6) Pirates
NL East: 1) Phillies, 2) Mets, 3) Braves, 4) Marlins, 5) Nats
NL Wild Card: Mets
NL Pennant: Padres

AL West: 1) Angels, 2) Rangers, 3) Mariners, 4) A's
AL Central: 1) Indians, 2) White Sox, 3) Twins, 4) Tigers, 5) Royals
AL East: 1) Blue Jays, 2) Red Sox, 3) Yankees, 4) Devil Rays, 5) Orioles
AL Wild Card: White Sox
AL Pennant: Angels

World Series: Seriously, you people have to ask?

Comments: Obviously, I'm just pulling a reverse Joe Sheehan with that A's pick (and trying to awake the Sleeping Bennett, whom I still owe some quality hooch after last year's near-miss). The Dodgers have the most overrated starting rotation in the majors & cannot possibly continue to survive Coletti's near-historic squandering of young talent; the Brewers better stop making me look foolish; the Phillies have a bunch of young guys who can mash; the Tigers have too many old defenders and young arms; the Yanks have no rotation & the Red Sox have question marks everywhere; and if the Cubs improve their record by 20 games I'll eat my hat.

04/01/2007 03:18 PM  |  Comment (9)

My 2007 Baseball Longshot Picks: Last year, the best any of my three picks did was 76 wins and 8.5 games out. Year before it was two .500 clubs and an 80-82. 2004 was two last-place stinkers and a good 87-75 third-place Padres club; and my inaugural effort of 2003 remains the high-water mark, since it included the eventual World Champion Florida Marlins.

This year? There are only 10 teams that meet my "longshot" criteria of at least 40-1 (at least according to the site I'm using, so I'm going to wager against my interests by targeting the weakest divisions with the fewest teams.

3) 90-1: Seattle Mariners. Those are awfully long odds for any team in a weak, four-team division, let alone one that won 78 games the year before and added such non-ancient, recently high quality talents as Joses Vidro and Guillen. Adrian Beltre -- still only 28! -- might have rediscovered his power stroke in the second half of last year; Ichiro's got a point to prove, Jose Lopez was an All-Star 2Bman last year at 22, and they've got this young pitcher you may have heard about (and who still hasn't quite clicked). I certainly don't expect them to finish any higher than 3rd place, but it's easy to see how a few breaks might go their way, putting them into a good position should Vladimir Guerrero throw out his back on Opening Day.

2) 45-1: Houston Astros. When are people going to realize that this is one of the most successful franchises in baseball, and stop picking them third or fourth every year? They've finished first or second in the AL Central the last six years running. The furthest they've been away from the playoffs the last four seasons is 1.5 games. They've got one of baseball's best hitters, its winningest starting pitcher of the past few years, a healthy Morgan Ensberg, and very little chance that another 1500 ABs will be wasted this year on the punchless trio of Adam Everett, Brad Ausmus and Craig Biggio (the latter of whom will provide an emotional lift with his 3,000th hit and retirement party, even while ceding at bats to Mark Loretta). Also, if they stay close enough, that old fella might come back for the stretch run.

1) 45-1: Texas Rangers. What an odd bit of odds-making. You've got a monster-hitting infield that averages 27 years old (usually the age where you hit the best); they've shored up their always-lousy rotation with the promising Brandon McCarthy and Robinson Tejeda; and (most persuasive of all) they've got a new player-centric manager after firing their longtime intense manager Buck Showalter. Yes, they'll need all the help they can get plugging holes in the outfield (as usual), but it's a small weak division, and they've got a few legitimate MVP candidates in that lineup.

Put your longshots in the comments, etc.

04/01/2007 02:55 PM  |  Comment (2)

Five Predictions for the 2007 Angels: Remember how I talked about no more long Angel posts here? I lied. The intentions were good, and much progress has been made on my secret new site & project, but this has been a crazy month.

So! A quick five predictions about the 2007 Angels, to hopefully be followed by my usual preseason predix. Here goes:

1) If Vladimir Guerrero plays 140 games, the Angels will win the division by at least 5. The good news is that Vladi has reached that total in 8 of his 9 full seasons. The bad news is that he's on the wrong side of 30, with a back-and-legs situation that looks worse by the minute; the team is relying on him like the mid-'80s Cardinals relied on Jack Clark, and until a healthy Juan Rivera returns, there are no corner OF alternatives who can hit (and an arthritic 35-year-old in left). The Angels are remarkably deep all over the diamond, except at the two spots where they're particularly desperate for offense. But the AL West, after having been the toughest division for most of the 21st century, looks to be weak this year, so if Vladi is able to hit, the team will acquit.

2) There will be at least 40 late-inning defensive replacements at the corner OF spots. With speedy center fielders Reggie Willits and Tommy Murphy both making the team, and with the aforementioned thirty-something starters needing to get off their feet (while not having a logical replacement for when they DH), look for them to get their rest in the late innings of games where the Angels are leading.

3) Not only will the team lead the majors in stolen bases for the fourth season in a row, it will post the highest SB total of any team in more than a decade. Number to beat? Toronto's 184 in 1998. Why will the Angels increase from their totals of 148/161/143 the past three years, given the fact that SB champ Chone Figgins is likely to miss the first month? The lineup has base-stealing ability at six positions (all except Mike Napoli, Casey Kotchman and Shea Hillenbrand); the bench is the fastest this team has seen since maybe the mid-1970s (Reggie Willits and Erick Aybar have averaged 40 SBs a year in the minors; Tommy Murphy 25, and Maicer Izturis will ride pine once Figgins returns), so there will be endless pinch-running opportunities. Plus, Scioscia went hog-wild this spring, stealing 56 bases in just 33 games, getting caught only 12 times.

4) Orders 6-7-8 in the lineup will hit better than 2-4-5. Basically, it's Howie Kendrick (averaged .361/.405/.570 in the minors), Kotchman (.325/.407/.493) and Napoli (114 OPS+ in the bigs last year) vs. Orlando Cabrera (.269/.317/.403 lifetime), Garret Anderson (only two full seasons with OPS+s higher than 105) and Hillenbrand (lifetime OBP .325). The team's biggest lineup construction issue is that if Gary Matthews reverts to pre-2006 form, Guerrero will be surrounded by two hitters on each side of him with sub-par OBPs, thus minimizing his impact.

5) Howie Kendrick will have 60 extra-base hits. Last Angel 2Bman to accomplish that feat? Bobby Grich in 1979.

04/01/2007 01:09 PM  |  Comment (2)

Hi! What are you doing down here?

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