Thursday, March 04, 2010

Listening to Vegas

I hate the overrated/underrated game. You know how it goes: "such-and-such team is overrated/underrated" or "such-and-such team exceeded expectations." What I hate is that the standard is so nebulous. Give me something I can evaluate, like wins and losses.

For my money, the best standard for measuring expectations is the degenerate gamblers. Show me guys who have laid serious money on both sides of a number, and I'll show you guys who have done some homework. Which is why I made a point of sifting through some gambling sites tonight to see what the over/under wins number was for American League teams. (BTW, these are found at

AL West
Angels - 84.5
Rangers - 84.5
Mariners - 83.5
A's - 79.5

Here's why I'm glad I did this - because I already fell into the overrated/underrated trap. I've heard so many people tout the Mariners this year that I hinted six weeks ago that I think they're overrated. But 83.5 wins doesn't seem excessive. That feels about right for the Mariners.

By the way, if you're a big Baseball Prospectus PECOTA guy, here's your chance to put your money where your mouth is. PECOTA states that the Angels should win about 76 games this year, or 8.5 games less than Vegas. It's the biggest spread between PECOTA and Vegas in the American League. Bet the "under" and double your money.

And for the record, I wouldn't touch that "under" bet with a 10 ft pole. The Angels won 97 games last year, and now we think they're going to win just 84? And PECOTA thinks they'll lose an extra 21 games this year?

AL East
Red Sox 94.5
Yankees 94.5
Rays 89.5
Orioles 73.5
Blue Jays 71.5

Here's a shocker - the wild card team is likely coming from the AL East. Vegas' money is ranking the Rays as the underdog, which isn't totally shocking considering all the money that pours in from the Northeast. For the record, PECOTA likes the Rays a couple games more than Vegas and the Yankees a couple of games less, making it a much closer race. I'd love that to be true. I'd love to see the Yankees miss the playoffs. I'm small and bitter that way.

Now let's get to the one you've all been waiting for...

AL Central
Twins 83.5
White Sox 82.5
Tigers 80.5
Indians 74.5
Royals 71.5

That's the order I would come up with too, with the Twins and White Sox a step or two ahead of the Tigers, and way ahead of the Indians and Royals. But I think Vegas is underestimating the spread between the top two teams and the rest of the division. Both of those teams feel like they're 90-win teams. It would truly be a sucker bet to parlay two "over" bets in the same division, but that would tempt me.

Instead, can I bet against PECOTA? It lists the Twins, White Sox AND Tigers as 80 win teams. If only BP would open a casino.

At That's What Everyone Says

I'm a little worried about the non-existent Mauer contract extension.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Bill Smith's Report Card

It's been a great offseason for the Twins, to be sure. But what was so great about it?

On Sunday Nick Nelson and I were Doogie Wolfson's guests on AM1500, and I found myself in the minority on the best offseason move. Here's how they grade out:

Re-signing Carl Pavano
(Grade: B)
Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good. Offering arbitration to Pavano was almost a no-brainer, because he was either going to result in a good draft pick or a one-year deal. The latter happened and that's fortunate for the Twins, because there weren't a lot of starting pitchers on the market that would have been a good fit. (And the one who was a decent fit was represented by Scott Boras.)

Signing Orlando Hudson (Grade: B+)
This is the move that is being universally praised, and I'm part of that universe. But just because we had to wait for it doesn't mean it was the most valuable move. Hudson is a great fit who fills gaps at both second base and the second lineup spot. But he was part of a slew of middle infielders who would be good fits, including Felipe Lopez who signed earlier this week at 1/4 of Hudson's salary. I'm adding the "+" grade because there are plenty of indications that the Twins stretched beyond their pre-planned budget to make this happen. That's gutsy, and a good sign for the future.

Signing Jim Thome (Grade: B+)
You have to love a bench signing the simultaneously:
1. boosts offense,
2. provides some veteran leadership and
3. reminds Delmon Young that playing the game for money is a privilege, not a right.
To be fair, this kind of guy also isn't exactly rare. Jermaine Dye is still out there. So is Garret Anderson. You can argue that either would be a better fit than the left-handed hitting Thome. But I'm adding a "+" because adding a bench bat like Thome was a stretch goal, and they achieved it.

Trading for JJ Hardy (Grade A+)
If Hardy goes belly up - and he's certainly gone belly up a couple of times in his career - then I'm dead wrong. But the Hardy move was almost the perfect way to start the offseason. The free agent market was stacked with second basemen and third basemen, but there was almost nothing at shortstop. Acquiring Hardy didn't just boost the lineup. More importantly, it gave the Twins the ability to sit back and let free agent prices come down. They did, and that's what made the Hudson and Thome signings possible.

Perhaps it was because the Hardy trade happened so early, or because it cost Twins fans the lovable Gremlin Carlos Gomez. But it seems like it was almost overlooked. It easily the most difficult of the offseason moves and I'll argue that it provided a solid basis for everything else the Twins did.


If you're up early tomorrow morning, I hope you'll turn the dial over to the Powertrip Morning Show on KFAN. I'll be talking Twins with the Hawkey, Sludge and the Superstar at 7:20 and pimping the Twins Annual. If you can't listen locally on the radio, you can listen through their website.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Caddyshack Confession

So how bad is your baseball addiction?

It is said that the first step on the road to recovery is admitting that you have a problem, and that's what Sarah was trying to do over at Oh, It's THOSE Girls Baseball Blog on Friday. She asks for confessions:

It's time to confess the craziest and/or least socially-acceptable thing you've done for the love of baseball. Don't worry. This is a safe place. Unless you've out and out committed a felony or harmed a puppy, we won't judge.

And she gets them, including some doozies. It's well worth stopping by.

The thing is about being a Twins Geek is that there are no shortage of stories. I asked The Voice of Reason, and she came up with the same top two that I would've come up with, the second of which is the one I'll share today. Sarah, if you want to fire up a Nick Punto Day type blogging festival - #TrueBaseballConfessions or something like that - I'll fully support it and reveal the top one. It contains a quote that TVOR still pulls out on occasion to shame me.

But first, today's story...

It's 2002, and the Twins are making their first postseason appearance since 1991. I've been writing about them the whole year on the initial year of, though I didn't have more than two dozen people reading it before the end of July. But I wasn't going to be able to attend the first two home playoff games because I was in Pennsylvania at my wife's friend's wedding.

In fact, there was some question about how much of Game Four I would get to watch, because it was scheduled DURING the wedding and reception. Game Four was an elimination game for the Twins, and various wedding events conspired against me being able to watch it. I went a little nuts, searching high and low for a TV in some god-forsaken country club, and finally found one in the caddyshack.

I was trying to walk an impossible line, watching as much of the game as I could while also trying to make appearances at the reception with my wife and her friends. In retrospect, it's pretty clear I failed. The final straw was loaded after dinner, when the dancing started. As her friends launched themselves onto the dance floor, I asked "Would you like to go dance?"

"Well, yeah," she replied, shocked that I would even offer.

"Great," I replied. "You go dance with your friends, and when you're done, I'll be in the caddyshack."

Not my finest hour.

But it did make for a pretty good story, recounting the adventure while quoting Caddyshack multiple times. (I've recently posted some of those old archives online, and you can find it here.)

But yeah, I have a story, also starring TVOR, that puts that story to shame. It'll need to wait until the next confession.


Oh geez, I forgot to feature my favorite comment from Friday. It was an easy choice, from Beth:

August 25, 2005. (We decided we needed to know to celebrate the anniversary of Hor day.)

I am so glad I'm not the only person who remembers the day the recording skipped. A guy sitting with my group of friends said, "Those marketing people think of EVERYTHING. That'll get butts in the seats!"

I'm sure many people we tell think we made it up, but indeed, the recording skipped!

I love knowing this date. First because I feel validated. And second because my friends and I are now brainstorming how we're going to annually commemorate Hor day. I'm assuming (hoping? praying?) it's with hot dogs, and not, um...