Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Poker And Baseball

When you think of the game of baseball, you think of 9 men on a field of play with a common goal. Major league players have dedicated their lives to this pursuit and, at least in most cases, are among the best athletes in the world. There is another game with similarities to baseball, and that is the game of poker. While you may not think that a card game is similar to America's national pastime, take a look at some of the reasons below.

First, contrary to the common sight of a poker player in many card rooms, poker players have to be in peak mental and even physical conditioning to handle the long hours at a poker table. Take a look at pokerlistings and other sites that report on players. Long gone are the days of out of shape players dominating the game. Now you have players that are not just focused in mine, but also take care of themselves physically. Of course, just like baseball, you do have a few players could use some extra work in the gym.

Also, just like baseball, you typically have nine men at the table all focused on a common goal. Granted that baseball is a team sport and the nine men are working together, but they all have a goal and that is to win. Poker players are no different in their goals, they are just going about it a bit differently as the game is an individual game with a few rare exceptions.

Poker also involves a great amount of strategy much like baseball. Each situation in poker is unique and requires that players be one their toes and alert as to the changing conditions. Poker players not only play the game, but at the same time act as their own manager. They scout out the players, watch for any weaknesses during the game, and then make moves and adjust their play to take advantage of the current situation.

It is obvious that poker will never overtake baseball as the national pastime, but the game is quickly rising to be a major hobby for many players. If you look at a list of online poker games and sites, you can see just how easy it is for a player to get involved. Also, once someone gets around 40, Jamie Moyer and Julio Franco being obvious exceptions, you can continue playing poker. So if you don't already play, check it out. You may just find your newest hobby.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Diamondbacks Get Worse

Good news for Dodgers and most other NL West fans. The defending 2011 NL West Champion Arizona Diamondbacks have signed a bad pitcher. Joe Saunders signed a one year deal worth $6M. Saunders is barely a replacement level pitcher. His strikeout totals underwhelm. And by underwhelm, I mean they are really really bad. Over the past two years, Saunders has a K/9 of 4.81. Well, maybe he has a really low walk rate to partially make up for it. Hmmmm... his BB/9 over that same period of time is 2.84 which is hardly anything to write home about. Well, maybe he is incredibly talented at forcing hitters to hit the ball on the ground. A quick look shows a GB/FB of 1.23 over that same time period, also nothing special. Those are some pretty bad peripherals. Perhaps not Scott Kazmir bad, but when your top peripheral comparisons are the likes of Brad Bergesen, Mike Pelfrey and Livan Hernandez you are in pretty low territory. This looks like a panic move, the Diamondbacks would've been better off letting their herd of minor league aces fight for the last spot with a couple of low cost NRIs. Don't block them with Joe Saunders who doesn't miss too many starts. Here is the rest of the list (Top 25) of Joe Saunders comparables based on the K/9, BB/9 and GB/FB stats for starters over the 2010 and 2011 seasons.

 Joe Saunders4.812.841.23
1Brad Bergesen4.562.791.2
2Mike Pelfrey4.9531.4
3Livan Hernandez4.952.561.07
4Dustin Moseley4.743.051.51
5Zach Duke5.232.661.5
6Rodrigo Lopez5.132.50.97
7Paul Maholm5.152.91.72
8Kyle Lohse5.32.471.13
9Bronson Arroyo4.972.260.99
10Jeremy Guthrie5.342.480.99
11Kyle Kendrick4.422.241.17
12Freddy Garcia5.472.650.98
13Brad Penny4.132.691.58
14Rick Porcello4.912.191.65
15Tim Wakefield5.492.750.82
16Joel Pineiro4.692.171.71
17Armando Galarraga4.953.540.8
18Fausto Carmona5.262.981.92
19Dave Bush5.43.360.94
20Mark Buehrle4.52.041.23
21Nick Blackburn4.172.761.8
22Tommy Hunter4.691.981.01
23Jeff Francis4.951.961.38
24Wade Davis5.573.20.87
25Ivan Nova5.453.171.82

Monday, January 16, 2012

Pick Your Poison, A Sad Fan's Guide To The Dodgers Off-Season

Many people have railed against the off-season signings Ned Colletti has made for the Dodgers. Colletti was quick to fill out most of his roster this off-season. And in doing so made a few questionable signings. None of the signings as a single entity really hurt the Dodgers chances, but in aggregate they have possibly kept the Dodgers from making the big splash they need to compete for a playoff chance in the next two years.

Instead of signing the likes of Mark Ellis, Juan Rivera, Aaron Harang, Chris Capuano, Adam Kennedy and Tony Gwynn Jr., the Dodgers could've used in house replacements making close to league minimum like Jerry Sands (LF), Justin Sellers (2B) and Nathan Eovaldi (P) plus probably few other replacement level players or NRIs. The savings many argued would allow the Dodgers to bid on such high profiled sluggers like 1B free agent Prince Fielder and maybe there'd be enough left over to sign Kuroda for a one year $13M deal (or along those lines).

Sure, the short-term money may come close to adding up - but all you are really doing is giving yourself a shot at making a bid for a player like Fielder. There is no gaurantee that you would win the bidding for him. And no gaurantee that he'd even want to come to play for the Dodgers. If he didn't there would be a mad scramble to put together the pieces of a team that would have some reasonable depth like the team currently assembled does. Depth is an important and often overlooked part of a team. The Dodgers as currently constructed have depth, perhaps not assembled in the most financially efficient way - but they have depth.

The Dodgers really have three possible big fish they can land. Two in-house and one in the free agent market. That being Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw and Prince Fielder. In my opinion there is NO WAY the Dodgers are signing all three to big long-term deals. And there is really no way you can plan for a Prince Fielder short-term deal. Thus if I had to take my choice of two out of three of these players signing long-term with us it has to be Kemp and Kershaw. Kemp has already signed and now Kershaw is headed to arbitration a few months after winning the 2011 Cy Young award. There is a possibility that the Dodgers and Kershaw will use this process to ink out a long-term contract with Kershaw buying out his remaining three years of arbitration and a few of his first free agency years.

Which scenario would you rather have?

Scenario A: Sellers starting 2B, Fielder signed to 8 year deal, Loney traded for scraps, Sands/Gwynn platoon in LF, Kuroda ($13M), Eovaldi 5th starter. With neither Kemp nor Kershaw signed to long term deals.

Scenario B: What has happened so far with Kershaw extended for 6 years at some fair but pretty high amount.

Yes, there are probably other scenarios but none much different than the two above in terms of landfall off-seasons for the Dodgers. And in the end I am not defending all of Colletti's moves, but there has been nothing done this off-season to harm the Dodgers long-term (2+ years) chances of competing. And lastly, one other thing to keep in mind is that the Dodgers are up for sale (finally!!!). McCourt wants to maximize the price he can get for the Dodgers. And in doing so he appears to be making an attempt to limit the risk of the Dodgers ability to compete in the win column in the long-term - thus all the short term non bargain contracts. In other words... be patient and cross your fingers that the new ownership puts people in place that more than half-way know what they are doing.