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Black Betsy

Minnesota Twins Delenda Est

Updated: 2015-09-17T02:12:12.224-04:00




Absurd Stat Line of the Month

I was checking up the status of some of the White Sox's pitching prospects in Birmingham when I came across this stat line for Dewon Day. Now, Day, at 27 in Double-A, isn't much of a prospect. But I think you have to wake up and take notice when you see that a guy has 16 strikeouts against only 1 5 and 2/3rds innings!! (And I'm not someone prone to use two consecutive exclamation points). That means that of the 17 outs Day has recorded, 16 of them have come by the strikeout, and at least his last 11 outs have come by the strikeout. Amazingly enough, he's also given up 5 hits in those innings, meaning that when players do put the ball into play on him, they are hitting .833. Maybe the most amazing combination of stats I've ever seen.

Meanwhile, Gio Gonzalez has 15 strikeouts against 3 walks in 10 1/3 innings, and some guy named Jack Egbert (of the flying under the radar Egberts) has 17 punchouts against 2 walks (and just 6 hits) in 12 innings. Spring phenom Adam Russell is the trailer of the pack with only 11 K's in 11 innings. I guess you will just have to try harder, Mr. Russell.



Sox 3, Minnesota 0?

Jim on the Sox list may have phrased it best: Who was that on the mound for the White Sox Saturday, and what has he done with Javier Vazquez? Some of my reactions to Javier Vazquez over the years:


Vazquez just sucks. He pitches to lose. He is more afraid of hitters than
any starter I've ever seen. He is simply petrified of throwing the ball
over the plate or inside. And every mistake he makes is hit hard because
hitters are so comfortable against him.


Don Cooper doesn't look so amazing right now. Buehrle is leaving his
pitches in hittable places, Vazquez looks terrified of hitters, Garland
looks like Judy again, and only Contreras is doing well on the bump. And
never mind the bullpen.


I don't know what it is, [Vazquez] is just a loser. He loses. That's what he

It's amazing that the Sox are so good they've bailed him out so many times.

Let's ride him out of town on a rail.


No one will take that guldarn loser Vazquez, and that's while they'll move

[Hey, I was right on that one!]


[Freddy Garcia] may be a lump sometimes, but he pitches well enough to win, unlike that
POS Vazquez who seems to pitch well enough to lose.


Dunno, Ward. Vazquez is such a [expletive] loser - and I'm not one prone to
profanity - that I just can't stand his self-pitying performances. Anything
goes wrong - a borderline pitch is called a ball, and he implodes. He goes
on tilt at a moment's notice and only seems to pitch well when the
pressure's off.

* * *

In other news, John Danks is not nervous about his major league debut today against the Twins and Johan Santana. Two thoughts: (1) you should be very nervous; or (2) you are not nervous because you've accepted the fact that you are going to lose your very first career start against a likely Hall of Famer. Not really much of an option for young John Danks.


Finally, has Scott Podsednik generated enough trade value yet?



I Take It All Back

90-72? More like 72-90 based on Day 1. But maybe it is good rain on your wedding day.

Kidding aside, I did take two good things away from this game, which were more or less hidden in the blowout result. (1) Bobby Jenks had a solid 9th inning with no walks and a strikeout to start the year. I think the game is 90% half-mental for Bobby, so getting off on the right foot is good for him. (2) The Sox touched up Borowski for two runs in the 9th. So Borowski gets off on the wrong foot. With Cleveland's bullpen problems of 2006, I think getting in the head of their relievers might be key.

So you sit Scott Podsednik...but you play Darrin Erstad? Worked, I guess....



Opening DayCertainly not blogging a single post since September 2006 does not bode well for Black Betsy as a blog. I mean, after all, I've missed the Freddy Garcia trade (I thought it was bad but now it looks good) and the Brandon McCarthy trade (I think it stunk, as I voiced pretty vociferously on the White Sox e-mail list). But Opening Day is time for a fresh start for everything, right?In thinking over this team, I think the Sox have tread water since the end of '06. I see them at about 90 wins again, which could be good enough for 1st place in the AL Central, or it could be good enough for 3rd (again). Here are the areas I see improving and declining:I think Mark Buehrle will be 20-30 runs better as a pitcher in '07. He had one minor bounce-back before, from '03 to '04 (4.14 ERA to 3.89 ERA - not really meaningful), and I cannot think of a reason why he would not improve. He is in his prime, he has had a good track record and, absent some unseen injury, he is about the same pitcher that posted a 3.12 ERA in '05. He may have pitched a ton of innings in his career, but we all know he is efficient with his pitches.I think Jose Contreras will be 10-20 runs better as a pitcher in '07. To me, he was pitching hurt almost all of last season. The Sox would have been better giving him a longer DL stint earlier in the year.Javier Vazquez and Jon Garland will be about the same, with Vazquez maybe being a touch better. I still think the guy is a loser, though. Call them a wash.John Danks is probably not going to cut it as a replacement for Freddy Garcia. I think he gives back 20-30 runs. Overall, that means the starters are probably 1-2 wins better this year than last.The bullpen is a bit stronger, but not by as much as people are talking about. I'd give them another 10-15 runs, for 1-2 wins as well.The offense is not going to be as good. Jermaine Dye will not repeat his stupendously good career year last year, and that will cost the Sox 20-25 runs. I think Konerko will probably do about the same, but Thome will be 20 runs worse, likely because of injury and natural decline. If the Sox get another 40 homer season from Thome, that will be a huge lift for the team.Joe Crede will probably be about the same Joe Crede we saw last year. Ditto for Pierzynski and Iguchi.That leaves three guys offensively: Podsednik, Erstad/Anderson, and Uribe. Podsednik I see as being about the same to maybe 5-10 runs better; for simplicity I'll call him a wash. As much as Erstad is a step in the wrong direction for the White Sox, I don't think that Erstad/Anderson is any worse than Anderson/Mackowiak in 2007. The problem is that I think Anderson would be 10-20 runs better than Erstad/Anderson on his own. I have the feeling, however, that Anderson will have the job full time by July.Uribe will be better this year. After an awful 2006 - the worst of his career - he'll bounce back to something like a .265/.300/.480 line. That will be, what, 10-15 runs better than '06.Putting this all together, I guess I see the offense being down 30-40 runs this year, while the pitching staff will allow 30-40 fewer runs this year. That comes out pretty even in the wash. One other thought -I see a midseason run on Andruw Jones to solve the White Sox's centerfield problems. I could see the Sox shipping Gio Gonzalez and Josh Fields for a half season of Andruw. That could really change the outlook for the '07 White Sox. Pray for a bad first half by the Braves.On the blogging front, I hope to go to biweekly posts. I'm trying to calendar them for regular updates on things I like to know - who is walking in the minors, trade prospects, hidden performances, etc. If it doesn't work, and I don't post, I apologize in advance. I'll even give you a refund of whatever you paid to read this....[...]



I Don't Get It Either

That's what I wrote to someone on the Sox e-mail list about this Sox team. Despite terrific offseason acquisitions like Jim Thome and (as it looked at the time) Javier Vazquez, this team is struggling down the stretch. It has been losing to Kansas City. It could not close the deal against the Devil Rays. And they have lost consistently to Minnesota - 4 out of the 6 games they played.

Let's place the blame squarely where it lies: the starting staff. Of course, that's been said before by every sports writer in Chicago as well as Ozzie Guillen time after time. But it's not that the starting staff has failed, but it's how surprising it is that the starting staff has failed:

  • Contreras really and truly looked like he turned the corner last year. In fact, he looked effortless - like Don Cooper had turned a switch. We didn't necessarily expect a Cy Young season, but a low 3 ERA and consistent performance looked like it was in the cards.
  • Buehrle was as consistent a pitcher as there is in the league. You can generally mark him down for a 3.2-4.1 ERA and a .600 winning percentage. In only 1 year out of the last 5 - 2002 - has he even been above 4.0 and not been 6 games over .500
  • Garcia has been a consistently good to very good pitcher - he's never had an ERA above 4.52, and he's in his prime (he turned 30 during this season).
  • Garland had a great year in 2005 and is coming into his prime. In the second half, he is the one guy holding the rotation together. Yet his poor performances early stuck him with an ERA above 4.40.
  • Vazquez has great stuff, and pitched well in the past, and had the luxury of being a 5th starter. But he is a loser. I mean, this guy just seems to pitch well enough to lose every game. Like there is some loser aura around him. He's been given the lead in 23 of the 26 games he has started! To only come out with an 11-8 ERA is, well, startling. He's lost the lead more often than he's protected a lead. Inexcusable.

This team, in this division, with the offense being produced this year, should have won 105-110 games. Seriously. To have 4 of your 5 starting pitchers perform well below their career performance (with a footnote on Contreras) is very poor luck, or even poor coaching.

It seems very likely that the pitching will rebound next year - perhaps with some changes to the rotation (I'm hoping that McCarthy is IN and Vazquez is OUT). Of course, it's unlikely that Dye or Thome, as they age, will be able to reproduce their production this year, and even Crede and Konerko are near the top of their performance charts.

Of course, the 2005 White Sox seemed to get by with an average offense....



Not Blogging Doesn't WorkTwo months since the last post on Black Betsy. Blogger fatigue, exhibit A. Lots of things have gone on since, new house, selling old house, trying to do some business, saving kids from burning abandoned amusement park, solving crimes and creating a new hip Sudoku / crossword puzzle game called "Put The Letters There! No, There!" (title to be finalized - needless to say, you will be playing it three times a day the rest of your life and will gladly hand over thousands of dollars to me each year for solution books).It's clear that me not blogging about the White Sox doesn't help the White Sox. Since my last post, they've gone 28-25. That's bad baseball, and the proprietors of this Blog apologize for any poor play this blog has caused.In that time, the team has gone to pieces. Especially the pitching:Mark Buehrle: .318 / .356 / .533 AVG/OBP/SLG againstFreddy Garcia: .304 / .346 / .556 againstJavier Vazquez: .304 / .359 / .477 againstJose Contreras: .273 / .335 / .411 againstJon Garland: .253 / .299 / .387 againstOne of these things is not like the other. Only Jon Garland has been a good pitcher in the last two months, while Contreras has been about average, and Buehrle, Garcia and Vazquez have all been bad pitchers. No one should therefore be surprised that the Sox have played 28-25 ball during that period.That does not fully answer the question as to why the Sox are 3-11 in their last 14 games (before that, they had been 25-14 since my last post). That answer is simple: the hitting has caught up with the pitching in collapsing. And it's not due to a real lack of getting men on base or hitting for power; instead, the Sox have consistently failed to hit with men in scoring position and have consistently failed to get runners in from third with less thant two outs. Someone called it corpseball a while ago, and that's about right.The upside is that the Sox are a much better team than they have been playing. They weren't over their heads at 31-15 on May 25, and could pick it up any time. But "turning it on when they need to" has never been a strength of the White Sox.But, the turn around can start today. No time like the present.[...]



The Value of 8 Good Starts

I just noticed that we are coming up on the one-year anniversary of the end of Jon Garland's hot start to the 2005 season, in which he won his first eight starts. Those were heady days. Garland cooled off considerably from that point, going 10-10 the rest of the way with a 3.90 ERA to finish with an 18-10 record and an overall 3.50 ERA.

During the offseason, Garland signed a 3 year, $29 million contract extension based on his very good 2005 season.

Last year, I mused that Sox fans have been fooled by hot starts by mediocre pitchers before. And I compared - perhaps flippantly - Jon Garland's hot start to that of Jon Snyder in 1999. Snyder collapsed to the tune of a 6+ ERA and was basically never heard from again.

But there is a lesson to be learned from Snyder's collapse, and it is shown in Garland's performance since his perfecto start last year. Since May 23rd last year, Garland's line has been this:

13-12 W-L, 212 1/3 IP, 231 Hits, 105 ER, 33 HR, 47 BB, 112 K, 4.45 ERA

Does that remind you of anyone? Like the Jon Garland of 2002-2004? With the exception of the walk column, the Jon Garland since 5/23/05 has been the Jon Garland of 2002-2004. Almost exactly what you would expect.

It's not that Garland is incapable of being a good pitcher. But it's also true that if Garland is really nothing more than he was in 2002-2004 and 5/23/2005 through today, it's also entirely possible that he could have a good, 8-start run like he did in early 2005 and have it be no more than a fluke. Indeed, given a long career, every pitcher has bouts of respectability, even quality.

But it's another thing to turn that bout of respectability into $29 million over three years. I think Sox fans should have been more critical of the Garland contract, and I guess I regret not being more critical myself. I have a feeling it is going to wind up being a bad deal. $11 million per year in 2007-2008 for a league-average pitcher.



Blowing Leads, and the Bullpen

I wrote a detailed response to someone's point on the Sox e-mail list, so I thought I'd cross-post here:

From: Big Unit
To: Sox e-Mail Listserv

What bothers me is the Sox have blown enough games already to have opened up
a pretty good lead, despite Detroit's hot start.

From: Comic Book Guy
To: Sox e-Mail Listserv

Blown enough games?

Aren't they 20-9?

From: SuperNoVa
To: Sox e-Mail Listserv

Well, the odd thing is that they've blown big or late leads in a bunch of
their 9 losses:

Game 2 vs. Cleveland (up 1 in the 8th, Logan serves up tying dinger to
Game 3 vs. Royals (up 6-0 in the 5th inning, Garland blows big lead)
Game 4 vs. Royals (up 1 in the 8th, Politte serves up 2-run homer to
Game 10 vs. Blue Jays (up 5-2 in the 4th, Vazquez gets hammered)
Game 29 vs. Kansas City (up 1 in the 9th, Jenks blows save)

So of the 9 losses, the Sox blew big leads (3 or more runs) or late leads 5
of those 9 games. This team is 20-9, but it could easily be 25-4.

I take this as a good thing and a bad thing. The Sox are so good that they
have a chance to win almost every game they are in. If you are "in" 25 out
of 29 games, losing 5 of those 25 isn't bad at all. Seems about par to me.
Great teams are "in" almost every game.

It's a bad thing inasmuch as the bullpen looks like the Achilles' heel of this team. They need bullpen help relatively soon. Right now, only Jenks and Cotts look anything like reliable relievers. Shoot, I'd settle for someone like Luis Vizcaino right now.

The Sox have some assets in AAA - think Chuck Haeger (<0.70>

I Told You Not To Worry About Podsednik


In an earlier post, I said that I wasn't worried about Scott Podsednik's slow start - a 2-for-34 stretch - than most Sox fans. Mostly, I wasn't worried because he was making contact.

Well, sometimes you say things and they turn out right. Since that low point, Scott Podsednik has gone
26 for 72, which pencils out at .361. He's also drawn 6 walks, and his OBP is right at .410. That's the Podsednik the Sox need.

I've done the ERV boxscores for May 1-4, and will post some time today. I had a real tough time figuring out why the numbers didn't add up for the May 1 box score, and finally figured it out Thursday.



April ERVThe Sox wrapped up the month of April 17-7. They did so with nearly equal contributions from their pitching and hitting: the hitters were 20.66 runs better than average, while their pitchers were 17.47 runs better than average. As a team, that is +38.13, or about 1.6 ERV per game.ERV Player of the Month goes to Jim Thome, who was +17.19 ERV on his own.ERV Pitcher of the Month goes to Jose Contreras, who put up a +13.08 ERV.BattingPlayer Total April Home Road Pods -7.77 -7.77 -3.32 -4.46 Mackowiak -3.81 -3.81 -2.25 -1.57 Iguchi 1.94 1.94 0.03 1.91 Thome 17.19 17.19 8.62 8.58 Cintron -4.26 -4.26 -4.23 -0.03 Konerko 12.51 12.51 2.65 9.87 Dye 11.96 11.96 9.34 2.62 Gload -0.31 -0.31 -0.10 -0.21 AJ -3.77 -3.77 -2.21 -1.56 Crede 4.47 4.47 4.33 0.14 Uribe -4.14 -4.14 2.58 -6.72 Anderson -6.50 -6.50 -3.06 -3.43 Ozuna 3.87 3.87 2.67 1.19 Widger -0.71 -0.71 -1.12 0.41 Team 20.66 20.66 13.93 6.74 Pitching Player Total April Home Road Buehrle 8.52 8.52 4.33 4.19 McCarthy 2.88 2.88 4.09 -1.21 Politte -4.08 -4.08 -3.16 -0.92 Thornton 0.62 0.62 0.75 -0.13 Garcia -2.49 -2.49 -2.80 0.31 Logan 0.15 0.15 0.29 -0.14 Cotts 0.54 0.54 -1.19 1.73 Jenks 2.31 2.31 3.69 -1.38 Contreras 13.08 13.08 6.85 6.23 Garland -7.35 -7.35 2.30 -9.66 Vazquez 3.28 3.28 -0.13 3.41 Team 17.47 17.47 15.04 2.43 Fielding:Player ERV Crede -0.92 AJ -0.11 Thornton -0.29 Iguchi -1.46 Podsednik -0.23 Garland -0.61 Total -3.62 Player of the Game tracking:Dye - 6Konerko - 6Thome - 4Iguchi - 4Crede - 2Anderson 1Uribe 1Pitcher of the Game tracking:Contreras - 5Buehrle - 3Vazquez - 3Garland - 2McCarthy - 2Cotts - 2Logan - 2Garcia - 1Thornton - 1[...]



Sox 6, Los Angeles of Anaheim 5I'm almost ready to declare the West Coast Malaise of the Sox dead. I'm not there yet, but I am close after the Sox's sweep of the Angels in Orange County, something not seen since the powerhouse 1994 White Sox. Thank you, Scot Shields!Here is your ERV boxscore / scoresheet:Batter 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th B/R Total Pods -0.24 0.27 -0.47 -0.11 -0.16 -0.71 Cintron -0.17 0.37 -0.44 -0.24 -0.17 -0.66 Thome -0.11 1.27 -0.24 -0.17 -0.11 0.64 Konerko -0.24 0.05 -0.17 -0.11 -0.46 Dye 0.27 -0.24 -0.11 -0.08 Anderson -0.24 -0.24 Crede 0.37 0.62 0.62 0.27 1.88 Mackowiak -0.42 0.33 1.00 -0.31 0.60 Uribe -0.49 -0.56 -0.16 -0.24 -1.44 Widger -0.24 1.00 0.13 0.38 1.27 Ozuna 0.24 0.24 Total 1.05 Pitcher ERV Garland -1.38 Thornton 0.24 Politte 0.28 Cotts 0.52 Total -0.35 Team ERV: 0.30 (Shields wild pitch).Player of the Game: Joe CredePitcher of the Game: Neal Cotts[...]



Sox 2, Los Angeles of Anaheim 1Saturday's ERV boxscore / scoresheet for a masterful performance by Jose Contreras:Batter 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th B/R Total Pods -0.24 0.13 -0.11 -0.79 -0.24 -1.24 Iguchi -0.17 0.38 -0.24 -0.11 -0.14 Thome -0.11 -0.35 1.00 -0.24 0.31 Konerko -0.24 0.37 -0.17 -0.17 -0.22 Dye -0.17 1.00 -0.11 -0.11 0.61 AJ 0.13 -0.47 -0.24 -0.58 Crede -0.24 -0.44 -0.17 -0.85 Uribe -0.24 -0.24 -0.11 -0.58 Anderson -0.17 -0.17 0.38 0.04 Total -2.65 Pitcher ERV Contreras 3.10 Thornton 0.11 Jenks 0.44 Total 3.65 Player of the Game: Jermaine DyePitcher of the Game: Jose Contreras[...]



Public Service Announcement

Read Johnny Mostil's Razor.

Sometimes I fear that I'm one of Doug's only readers, and that is a crying shame. He's the best analyst of Sox baseball there is, period. If you are a Sox fan, you should like Doug's writing. He's a reformed stat-head, who looks much deeper that AVG/OBP/SLG lines indicate. He looks for the context that makes the statistics meaningful.

Here's an example. You might think
Jhonny Peralta is a great hitting shortstop. And he is a very good hitter - he banged out 24 home runs last year. Doug wasn't satisfied with Peralta's stat line based on his own observations, so he went inside Peralta's game log to discover that, for the most part, Peralta didn't hit good pitching. The overwhelming portion of his home runs were off bottom of the rotation starters or bottom-of-the-bullpen arms.

Similarly, while Cleveland put up the league's best run differential last year, Doug went behind those numbers to determine that Eric Wedge was, for the most part, leaving in his starters in garbage time situations, who then were running up scores or making blowouts closer. Wedge was managing to his player's stats, thereby making the team's performance look better.

While not every one of Doug's posts is going to be a winner, I really enjoyed
his post yesterday about the team's performance thus far. Doug put into words what a lot of Sox fans are feeling - we've got a great record thus far, but we are uneasy because the Sox aren't winning in the same way they won last year. That's been inchoate in my mind for a while, and I almost got there with this post.



AJ's Hot Lukewarm Start

As I was looking at the American League hitting leaders marveling at Paul Konerko's lofty .386 average, I was a little surprised to see AJ Pierzynski rolling in at #9 with a .359 average. I was vaguely aware that AJ was hitting in the mid-.300's, but didn't know he was putting up a .359/.395/.408 line.

The reason I was not as aware is that I track ERV, not average. And on the ERV front, AJ has been below average. He simply isn't producing runs offensively at the pace suggested by his AVG and OBP. As of last night's game, he is -3.19 ERV, meaning that an average hitter would have produced 3 more runs than AJ given the runners on base and outs presented to AJ. And, indeed, if you look back game by game over the season, AJ has failed to get a clutch hit with runners on base a number of times. Sure enough, AJ is hitting .250/.318/.300 with runners on base, while putting up a gaudy .484/.500/.548 line with the bases empty. This is how AJ can hit .359 and only have 5 RBI.

AJ's -3.19 ERV puts him well behind a number of Sox hitters. Obviously, he is behind Thome (16.24), Konerko (13.19), and Dye (11.42), but also Pablo Ozune (3.62), Joe Crede (3.44), Tadahito Iguchi (2.08), Ross Gload (-0.31), Chris Widger (-1.98), and Juan Uribe (-2.12).

The good news is that AJ's performance is not a character defect.
Last year, he hit .294/.361/.492 with runners on base.



Sox 8, Los Angeles of Anaheim 5Hooray for Jeff Weaver. After dominating the Sox early in his career (or so it seemed), he's really turned it around and become a reliable victory for the Sox. His control was non-existent, even if he had his strikeout pitch working, and he grooved a number of cookies for Sox hitters to munch on. Only Jermaine Dye homered for the Sox.The Angels helped out with a number of bad defensive plays. Adam Kennedy couldn't reach Podsednik's weak two-out grounder up the middle of the second, and then Garret Anderson gator-armed Iguchi's long fly (which I thought was an easy home run off the bat) to left. All in all, the five-run second inning was largely a set of Angel gifts.Oddly enough, the Sox have batted 9 men in an inning several times, but have not sent more than 9 to the plate. This is great for your scoresheet or spreadsheet, but it would be nice to put up a 7 spot or so. Jim Thome looks like he is heading for a slump to me. He didn't make contact with some juicy pitches last night.Here is your ERV scoresheet / boxscore:Batter 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th B/R Total Pods 0.38 1.69 -0.37 -0.24 0.31 -0.44 1.33 Iguchi -0.35 1.91 0.38 0.27 -0.75 1.46 Thome -0.11 -0.35 -0.35 -0.31 -0.24 -1.35 Konerko 0.38 0.38 0.63 0.21 0.27 1.87 Dye 0.57 1.62 -0.69 -0.44 -0.31 0.75 AJ -0.56 0.38 -0.49 0.38 -0.24 -0.52 Crede 0.61 -0.35 -0.24 -0.35 -0.24 -0.56 Uribe -0.78 1.43 -0.17 -0.31 0.27 -0.24 0.20 Anderson 1.00 -0.61 -0.11 0.21 -0.31 0.18 Total 3.35 Pitcher ERV Garcia 0.10 McCarthy -0.98 Cotts 0.42 Jenks 0.11 Total -0.35 Player of the Game: Paul KonerkoPitcher of the Game: Neal Cotts[...]



Seattle 5, Sox 1You know, I really believed - until the very end - that the Sox were going to come back and win this game. And with a number of fits and starts at rallies, it did look like they would stage a comeback several times. But Willie Bloomquist's nice play on Crede's line drive in the 7th put the kaibosh on that. Kudos to Konerko for recognizing that it would get caught and tagging all the way. He scored a run only because he did tag up on that play.Buehrle looked awful in one inning, and the Mariners scored three runs. That turned out to be more than enough, and Mark takes his first loss of the season. Thankfully, because he went 7 innings, the game ended in 2 hours and 20 minutes or so, and I got a bit more sleep last night than the nights before.Here is your ERV boxscore / scoresheet:Batter 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th B/R Total Pods -0.24 -0.24 -0.24 -0.17 -0.88 Iguchi -0.17 -0.24 -0.17 -0.11 -0.69 Thome -0.11 0.27 -0.11 0.38 0.43 Konerko -0.24 0.37 0.38 0.57 1.08 Dye -0.17 -0.47 0.57 -1.10 -1.17 Crede -0.11 -0.44 -0.29 0.12 -0.72 Uribe -0.24 -0.24 0.17 -0.49 -0.80 Widger 0.27 -0.17 -0.35 -0.25 Anderson -0.31 -0.11 -0.24 -0.66 Total -3.65 Pitcher ERV Buehrle -0.38 Jenks -0.48 Total -0.87 Player of the Game: Paul KonerkoPitcher of the Game: None awarded (no pitchers with positive ERV)[...]




Friend of Black Betsy Aaron S. wrote on the White Sox e-mail list:
Is it me, Or have we already been on the upside of more laughers this season than all of last season?
An interesting question. One that requires a definition - what is a laugher? I guess you could define it by win probability - one that you have a less than 5% chance losing if the eventual winning margin was held in the 7th inning. In other words, if you had a 4% chance of losing a game you were up by 5 runs in the 7th inning, that's a laugher.

As it turns out, a "laugher" as defined above on the road is any game where the visiting team is up by 5 or more runs in the beginning of the 7th inning. Visiting teams win 97% of the time when they are up 5 or more runs in the 7th. At home, a "laugher" as defined above would be any game where the home team is up by 4 runs or more at the beginning of the 7th. Home teams win 96.2% of the time with such a lead.

With that definition in mind, the Sox have won 7 "laughers" already this year (vs. Cleveland April 2 (10-4), vs. Kansas City April 17 (9-0), vs. Kansas City April 9 (4-0), vs. Minnesota April 21 (7-1), vs. Minnesota April 22 (9-2), vs. Minnesota April 23 (7-3), at Seattle, April 25 (13-3)). Note that 6 of the Sox's last 7 victories have been laughers, as such.

Last year, it took until June 8th against Colorado for the Sox to get their seventh "laugher" victory of the year. Note that the Sox did have a bunch last year - 13 before the All Star Break alone - but only had 4 laughers in their red-hot 28-12 start to the season.

Good teams get a lot of laughers in a season. They are both a demonstration of a good team and helpful to a good team at once. If you have a laugher, you can rest your starters, your key closers, and give guys like Boone Logan a shot a major league experience. That makes you more competitive in close games.



Sox 13, Seattle 3There's that 13 run pool again. Another laugher for the Sox this year - good for the Baseball Prospectus adjusted standings - and the meat of the order continues to crush the ball. Thome, Konerko and Dye have all blown past +10 ERV on the year (Thome +17.2, Dye +11.8, Konerko +10.2).There's almost never much to write about in this kind of blowout. It's fun to watch the ball fly out of the park, and to see Brian Anderson take a couple of walks and look much better at the plate. Boone Logan looked shaky again when called in the 7th, looked marginally better in the 8th, and fine in the 9th. He will, through the absurdity of the Save Rule, be credited with his first major league save. But Logan is far, far away from being ready for a high-leverage situation. He is only fit for mop up duty right now.On an unrelated note, the Mariners usually have the best promo commercials. There is a lame one with people crashing into objects around the office to imitate Ichiro, but they do have a couple of good ones. One makes fun of Moyer, suggesting he was there for various firsts in major league history (first night game, 1938, etc.). Another has people striking an Ichiro-pose in various daily activities. Still not as good as the one where Moyer gets excited about seeing his pitches in kph, but good.Here's your ERV boxscore / spreadsheet:Batter 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th B/R Total Pods -0.24 0.57 0.13 -0.20 0.13 -0.17 0.21 0.44 Iguchi -0.17 1.10 -0.24 0.09 1.87 -0.11 2.55 Thome 0.13 -0.16 -0.24 1.05 0.78 Widger -0.11 -0.11 Konerko 0.21 1.30 -0.17 1.11 2.45 Gload 1.00 1.00 Dye -0.44 -0.17 1.00 0.14 1.00 1.53 AJ -0.24 -0.11 0.13 1.00 -0.24 0.55 Crede -0.17 1.00 -0.24 -0.75 -0.17 -0.33 Uribe -0.11 -0.24 -0.24 -0.24 -0.11 -0.93 Anderson 0.38 -0.17 0.27 -0.17 -0.24 0.35 0.42 Total 8.35 Pitcher ERV Vazquez 1.79 Logan -0.14 Total 1.65 Player of the Game: Tadahito IguchiPitcher of the Game: Javier Vazquez[...]



Seattle 4, Sox 3The Sox are now 1-3 in one run games. The Sox have an interesting relationship with Jamie Moyer. They either kill him (i.e., score 6+ runs off of him), or he holds them down to 2 runs or less. At Safeco, he usually beats the Sox. Still, Brian Anderson made it exciting.It was little ball that beat the Sox tonight - a bunt getting a runner into scoring position, and a stolen base in the 11th inning. It was not a lack of execution on the Sox's part so much as it was execution by the Mariners. McCarthy's 0-2 pitch to Betancourt was a pretty good one - it looked off the outside corner to me - but Betancourt did a nice job of slapping it into left field. It happens. Of course, since the Sox started the B team tonight (Ozuna LF, Cintron 3B, Mackowiak RF), it was going to be a bit harder than normal.Batter 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th 11th B/R Total Ozuna 0.62 0.12 -0.11 -0.17 0.13 -0.24 0.36 Iguchi -0.45 -0.35 -0.24 -0.11 -0.24 -1.38 Thome 0.86 0.38 -0.17 -0.24 -0.17 0.66 Konerko -0.31 -0.35 0.13 -0.17 0.13 -0.57 AJ 0.37 0.37 -0.24 0.13 -0.24 0.39 Uribe -0.61 -0.31 -0.24 -0.24 -0.24 -1.63 Cintron -0.24 -0.61 -0.17 -1.02 Crede -0.24 -0.17 -0.41 Mackowiak -0.17 -0.24 -0.11 -0.52 Dye -0.17 -0.11 -0.28 Anderson -0.32 -0.17 -0.24 1.00 0.27 Total -4.12 Pitcher ERV Garland 1.74 Politte 0.52 Cotts 0.52 McCarthy -0.93 Total 1.84 Fielding: -0.61 (Garland errors (-0.11, -0.49)) (rounding).Team ERV: 1.44 (Beltre error (0.44), Moyer wild pitches (0.14, 0.74), Rivera error (0.11)Player of the Game: Jim ThomePitcher of the Game: Jon Garland[...]



Sox 7, Minnesota 3Well, it was a pleasant weekend, wasn't it? Not much to say about today's shellacking of the Twins, but I will leave you with the lamentations of their women.Batter 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th B/R Total Pods -0.24 0.62 -0.24 -0.17 -0.24 -0.26 Iguchi 0.27 0.68 -0.24 0.13 -0.24 0.61 Thome -0.31 -0.27 -0.17 -0.24 -0.99 Konerko -0.24 -0.31 -0.11 -0.24 -0.89 Dye 0.38 -0.24 -0.24 -0.17 -0.27 AJ -0.35 -0.17 0.27 -0.11 -0.36 Crede -0.31 1.00 0.37 0.38 1.43 Uribe 0.21 1.00 2.37 -0.35 3.22 Anderson -0.44 0.13 1.00 -0.31 0.37 Total 2.87 Pitcher ERV Contreras 2.13 Politte -0.48 Total 1.65 Player of the Game: Juan UribePitcher of the Game: Jose Contreras[...]



2006 On Its OwnVince Galloro has a thought-provoking post over at Exile in Wrigleyville asking Sox fans to stop comparing 2006 to 2005. Vince argues:I'm not suggesting that we should forget about the 2005 season. Far from it. Every time I see little clips of last season's magic moments, I luxuriate in the memories. We waited a long time for those moments. But my advice is to avoid using the 2005 season as a prism through which to view the 2006 season. Every baseball season should be appreciated on its own merits. Like today, for instance, a sublimely beautiful spring day that I will spend, in part, in the right-center field stands at the Cell. Enjoy the game.Vince is right. Every season should stand on its own, although teams should make efforts not to repeat the mistakes of previous years.And it is true, the 2006 team has a much different feel than the 2005 variety. I've slowly got this feeling over the first few weeks of the season.First, this team walks a lot more than the 2005 variety. I remarked on that fact several times in early 2005, and Baseball Prospectus even had an article about it. The 2006 team, led by Jim Thome, walks a ton. Even Jermaine Dye - not someone who has walked at a high rate in his career - has 11 walks. Juan Uribe and Joe Crede both have four walks!Second, the team is winning by large margins. The Sox, 12-5 overall, are 1-2 in one-run games. They are 5-2 in games decided by 2 runs or fewer - meaning that 10 of the 17 games they have played have been decided by 2 runs or more (Sox record - 7-3). It was the opposite last year - 10 of the 17 games have been decided by 2 runs or fewer (Sox record 9-1).Third, we have some sort of freaky new Joe Crede. Three strikeouts in 55 at bats? Wow. Joe has shown the ability before, but has had some serious breakdown months. Whether it was coming back from the injury, a new stance, or whatever, he's .342 / .383 / .624 since September 10, 2005.Finally, and most importantly, the Sox have a dominant presence in the lineup in the form of Jim Thome. Last year's team had a bunch of average - to - above - average hitters, led by Paul Konerko (136 OPS+). Jim Thome looks like he has the possibility of producing a Frank-Thomas like season. Remember those? He influences everyone around him - Konerko gets more at bats with men on base, as does Jermaine Dye. Tadahito Iguchi gets better pitches to hit, and he has really responded.More than anything, I get the impression that whereas the 2005 team needed a lot of things to go right for them to succeed, the 2006 team needs a lot of things to go wrong for them not to succeed. I hate to jinx, or to be overconfident, but that is my feeling at this point. The foundation seems very solid. Because Javier Vazquez is this team's fifth starter, the Sox have a favorable pitching matchup in almost every game this season. Indeed, the Santana vs. Buehrle matchup on Friday was probably the first time a clearly better hurler was on the mound for the other team. Other teams must feel this too - there is no rest for the wicked with this starting rotation.So Vince is right - let 2005 go. You'll enjoy 2006 more. This team is better.[...]



Sox 9, Minnesota 2Our cup overflows. The Sox beat Johan Santana and Brad Radke on consecutive nights, turning the 7-8 Twinkies into the 7-10 Twinkies. Thome continued his run-scoring streak and added a late-inning, victory-topping monster home run. Remember that Black Betsy's mantra is "Minnesota Twins delenda est," so all this is especially sweet. The Twins have very good pitching, but with the rise of the Tigers, they could be a fourth place team this year.Jermaine Dye had a monster game - he was in +4 ERV territory until his long line out in the 8th inning. He still sets a since-I've-been-tracking Sox ERV record with a +3.93 territory. (By comparison, Alfonso Soriano's 3-homer, 1 double game on Friday was only a +4.20 ERV game).After four starts this year, it seems pretty clear to me that Freddy Garcia's future is as a junkballer. His fastball never got past 90 mph on the WGN gun (at least that I saw), and he threw curveball after curveball. This is not the Freddy Garcia that the Sox gave a 3-year $27 million deal in 2004. Yet, the Herald stated that:Sox starter Freddy Garcia (3-1) cruised through the Minnesota lineup much as Mark Buehrle did the night before. Garcia's velocity, which had dipped in previous starts, making the Sox a bit nervous last year's workload and this spring's World Baseball Classic had wore on his arm, was back. He permitted two runs and seven hits over 6 2/3 innings, walking one and striking out three. Wha?? Was he watching the same Freddy Garcia as me? There was nothing about Garcia's "returned velocity" in the Trib or the Sun-Times.Alright, enough rambling. You are here for the ERV boxscore / scoresheet anyway (note the high negative ERV value of Cintron's 1-2-3 DP in the 7th):Batter 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th B/R Total Pods -0.24 -0.32 0.13 -0.16 -0.61 -0.24 -1.43 Iguchi 0.27 0.98 -0.24 -0.61 0.38 0.78 Thome -0.31 -0.35 0.27 0.12 1.62 1.35 Konerko 0.21 -0.24 0.37 -0.49 0.62 0.46 Dye 2.66 -0.17 1.50 0.38 -0.45 3.93 AJ 0.13 0.24 0.11 0.93 -0.32 1.09 Crede -0.24 -0.35 0.08 0.65 0.14 Gload -0.37 -0.37 Mackowiak 0.62 -0.24 -0.61 -0.22 Anderson 0.84 0.84 Cintron -0.45 -0.17 0.38 -1.70 0.24 -1.70 Total 4.87 Pitcher ERV Garcia 1.51 Logan -0.34 McCarthy 0.96 Jenks 0.52 Total 2.65 Player of the Game: Jermaine DyePitcher of the Game: Freddy Garcia[...]



Who's Worth More? The Yankees or the Yankees?I was noodling around today looking at salary information. I was idly trying to figure out who the top career salary earner was in MLB history. I was actually going page-by-page through the guys I thought would be in the mix, Bonds, A-Rod, Manny, etc. and noticed that they were mostly Yankees. Eventually, I stumbled across the actual list of most career earnings, and found out I was wasting about half of an hour of my time. But one question did pop into my head - who was worth more, the Yankees as a franchise, or the individual players themselves (using only baseball earnings). It was one of those questions that could only be answered by a blog.We "know" from the recent Forbes report that the Yankee franchise is worth $1.026 billion, up 8% from last year. also has the salaries of all Yankees players, with a few first-and-second-year player exceptions. So the answer is knowable.Based on the data, the Yankees franchise is at least currently worth more than the Yankee players combined. Here's the salary chart of career earnings through the end of 2005: PlayerSalary through 2005 Matt Smith$0Robinson Cano $300,000*Chien-Ming Wang $300,000* Andy Phillips $317,200 Scott Proctor $600,000* Bubba Crosby $624,350 Tanyon Sturtze $2,588,500 Miguel Cairo $3,975,000 Shawn Chacon $4,735,000Kyle Farnsworth $5,065,000 Kelly Stinnett $5,706,500 Mike Myers$8,413,166Ron Villone $8,934,000 Jaret Wright $16,331,667 Carl Pavano $17,562,500 Hideki Matsui $21,000,000 Jorge Posada $41,058,500 Johnny Damon $45,189,000 Jason Giambi $57,773,283 Mariano Rivera $63,530,125 Derek Jeter $97,430,000 Bernie Williams $101,600,001 Mike Mussina $103,392,167 Gary Sheffield $119,010,002 Alex Rodriguez $126,027,000 Randy Johnson $127,687,500 Total $979,150,461 * denotes estimated amount.So the Yankee players are still about $46.8 million behind the Yankees franchise.But that will change. The Yankees players are set to earn $198,662,180 in salary this year, meaning that they will pass the Yankees franchise during 2006. But when? I know you were curious, too. The easy answer would be $46.8 million divided by $198.7 million, or 23.56% of the way through the season. Precisely, that would occur before the first out is made in the bottom of the 4th inning of game 39 of the season, against Texas on May 17th at Yankee Stadium.But the simple calculation assumes that the Yankee franchise would not appreciate during 2006. If we assumed the same 8% appreciation from 2005 to 2006 during the 2006 season, the Yankees would actually be worth $1.045 billion by May 17th. So you have to adjust for the Yankee appreciation. Dusting off a little high school algebra, I get an equation of $979 million (career earnings) plus $198.6 million (2006 salary) times X equals $1.026 billion (Yankee worth) + $1.026 billion times 8% (franchise worth increase) times X, or $979 + $198.6x = $1.026 + $1.026(.08)x, or$116.5x = $46.8, or40.2% of the 2006 season, which is 65.101 games, which is 65 games and 5 outs, which is after two outs in the bottom of the first in the Yankees' game against the Toons on Thursday, June 15th at Yankee Stadium.Aren't you glad you knew this?[...]



Sox 7, Minnesota 1Damn, it feels good to beat Santana. Sure, it took a former Toon to do it, but the Sox beat him. Adding to the pleasure was knocking Juan Rincon, the cheater, out of the box.I was interested to note the value of Castro's error in the 8th was lower than what I had thought it would be. Castro's error scored two runs, but it also left the bases empty. Had he not made the error, the Sox would have had runners on second and third and nobody out - a 2.04 ERV situation. At the end of the day, it is a 2+.52-2.04 calculation, for a .48 run value.Batter 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th B/R Total Pods -0.24 -0.31 -0.24 0.09 1.00 0.31 Iguchi -0.17 -0.24 0.27 -0.44 -0.35 -0.93 Thome -0.11 -0.24 1.73 0.38 1.77 Konerko -0.24 -0.17 -0.17 0.57 -0.01 Dye 0.27 -0.11 0.13 1.57 1.86 Crede -0.31 0.38 -0.24 0.38 0.21 AJ -0.24 -0.21 0.38 0.57 0.51 Uribe -0.24 -0.34 -0.35 -0.29 -1.21 Anderson 0.27 -0.35 -0.34 0.17 -0.25 Total 2.25 Pitcher ERV Buehrle 3.13 Cotts 0.52 Total 3.65 Team ERV: 0.62 (Santana wild pitch (0.14), Castro error (0.48))Player of the Game: Jermaine DyePitcher of the Game: Mark Buehrle[...]



Sox 4, Kansas City 0Three games, Sox 17, Royals 1. That is how it is supposed to work. Note to Ozzie Guillen: rig the rotation so that Javier Vazquez faces the Royals as much as possible.A humdrum day at the plate; the Royals handed the Sox their runs with walks, hit batsmen, and wild pitches. Only Juan Uribe earned the Sox a run, but he couldn't compete with Jermaine Dye for ERV Player of the Game. By the way, I told you not to be worried about Scott Podsednik (2-3 today).Very quietly, Bobby Jenks is coming around. He's 6 for 6 in save opportunities, and he had a big positive ERV today because Cotts really made a mess of the 9th inning.Batter 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th B/R Total Pods 0.38 -0.24 0.62 0.13 -0.85 0.04 Cintron 0.27 -0.24 -0.45 -0.24 -0.65 Thome 0.37 -0.17 0.22 -0.17 0.24 Konerko -0.47 -0.11 0.61 -0.11 -0.07 Dye 0.31 -0.24 1.00 0.38 1.45 AJ -0.61 0.27 -0.81 -0.79 -1.93 Crede -0.24 -0.31 -0.61 -0.11 -1.26 Mackowiak 0.27 -0.24 -0.24 -0.20 Uribe -0.31 1.00 -0.17 0.52 Total -1.88 Pitcher ERV Vazquez 3.75 Cotts -0.29 Jenks 1.18 Total 4.65 Team ERV: 1.75 (Elarton wild pitch (0.86), Bako passed ball (0.89)Player of the Game: Jermaine DyePitcher of the Game: Javier Vazquez[...]