Yesterday’s annual drubbing of the NL by the AL marked the unofficial halfway point of the season. Remarkably, Seattle Reign sits atop the league with a 4-point lead and holds a substantial lead in the runs and RBIs categories. Still, it’s early.

Here’s how my draft picks have turned out to date (by position):

Catcher | Rnd 4 – Geovany Soto; Rnd 13 – Chris Iannetta

Neither of these guys has been spectacular. Iannetta got off to a worse start than Soto and in late April I managed to trade him for Johnny Damon to a team that was about to lose Brian McCann to a scary-sounding eye surgery. McCann turned out to be fine post-surgery and Damon has more than made up for Soto’s disappointing contribution, posting a .282/12/34 line with 4 steals on the days I’ve started him.

First Base | Rnd 1 – Albert Pujols; Rnd 6 – Chris Davis

I haven’t benched Albert yet; can’t imagine I will this season. His 10 SBs have been a surprising and welcome bonus. Davis turned out to be a total bust and serious overdraft. I had hoped he’d be Adam Dunn with an average north of .250. Instead he’s ended up somewhere between Rob Deer and Pete Incaviglia and has been reassigned to AAA Oklahoma City.

Second Base | Rnd 2 – Dustin Pedroia; Rnd 19 – Kelly Johnson

Pedroia is putting together another great campaign, justifying his high draft rank. Johnson was ok as an off-day sub for Pedroia. In late April I dropped him and picked up Brandon Phillips who was dropped by an impatient manager after a he got out to a slow start.

Shortstop | Rnd 5 – Stephen Drew; Rnd 20 – Ryan Theriot

Drew was another slow (and injured) starter this year, but Theriot more than filled the void, doubling his career HR total by blasting 7 in the first half while also stealing 8 and batting .302 (when I started him). Drew has come around lately and seems to be healthy so I’ll probably go with him as my starter the rest of the way, but Theriot is a good insurance policy.

Third Base | Rnd 6 – Chris Davis; Rnd 16 – Adrian Beltre

As noted above, Davis was a bust. Beltre, too, was unimpressive before heading to the DL. I brought in Mike Lowell for a while before his health deteriorated. Now Casey Blake is filling the roster spot. I’m hoping he’ll be slightly better than projected if he continues to hit behind Manny.

Outfield | Rnd 3 – Nick Markakis; Rnd 8 – Jermaine Dye; Rnd 10 – Raul Ibanez; Rnd 12 – Vernon Wells

Markakis was a good choice, but I’d hoped for more HRs. Historically he’s had strong 2nd halves, so here’s to hoping that trend continues. Dye has met every expectation, I just hope his legs hold up for the rest of the season. Raul was an absolute steal at 100th overall. He was challenging Albert with Triple-Crown numbers until he went down with an injury. He seems to be back and healthy, so I’m not too concerned. Vernon Wells has been somewhat disappointing in the R/HR/RBI departments and hasn’t figured out how to hit while playing at home. He’s been a bit better (on the road) lately, but I’m not starting him unless the matchup is seriously tilted in his favor.

Starting Pitching

I drafted Dice-K in the 6th round. Oops. He’s long since been dropped. King Felix seems to finally be pitching to his fullest potential. Oswalt has put up respectable WHIP and ERA numbers but has been unlucky in the wins category. Ted Lilly and Adam Wainwright are doing fine and striking out more than their fair share.

Relief Pitching

I picked up Chad Qualls in the 14th round. He’s been ok, great when he’s on, and horrific when he’s not. Over the course of the season I also managed to pick up Ryan Franklin and David Aardsma, both of whom have matched Qualls’ save numbers since joining my squad.

——-

I already noted my lopsided Iannetta-for-Damon trade that has paid dividends, and my stroke of luck in picking up Brandon Phillips. Other helpful post-draft pick-ups have included Mark Buehrle (6 wins, low WHIP and ERA), and Manny Ramirez just a couple weeks before he returned from suspension (.379/3/9 for me so far). With Soto heading to the DL for at least a month, I’ve picked up Ryan Doumit, who recently returned from injury. Doumit did well for me last year, so I’m hoping he has a productive and healthy 2nd half.

My league lead is far from secure. I streamed pitchers during April and May and as a result I’ve already eaten up 950 of my 1250 innings for the season. Unfortunately, my Wins, Saves, and Strikeouts aren’t disproportionately high, so I’ve got to focus on productive outings (earning a W or a Save) with low WHIP and ERA (3.80/1.27 team WHIP and ERA so far) if I’m going to avoid bottoming out on the bullpen side of things. Offensively, I’ve got a good shot of running away with Runs, HRs, and RBIs if Albert, Raul, and Manny stay healthy. I should also be able to boost my .281 team batting average, so hopefully those gains will counteract my inevitable decline in pitching.

Looking forward to October!

Intertrons:

Thanks to The Facebook, you can now know which minor TV celebrity, flower, or pop star you most closely resemble. In order to help you better know yourself, The Facebook will be unleashing the following 25 quizzes in the coming months:

  1. Which former Soviet republic are you?
  2. Which infomercial are you?
  3. Which major pharmaceutical company are you?
  4. Which Gary Busey character are you?
  5. Which John Tesh album are you?
  6. Which contagious disease are you?
  7. Which former Enron executive are you?
  8. Which Somali pirate gang are you?
  9. Which former eccentric aviator billionaire who was once portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio are you?
  10. Which failed car company are you?
  11. Which of Elizabeth Taylor’s husbands are you?
  12. Which synthetic sugar substitute are you?
  13. Which former UN Secretary General are you?
  14. Which Hanson brother are you?
  15. Which Clif bar flavor are you?
  16. Which well liquor are you?
  17. Which Osmond are you?
  18. Which horseman of the apocalypse are you?
  19. Which third-world dictator are you?
  20. Which member of your family are you?
  21. Which of Henry VIII’s wives are you?
  22. Which member of the 1919 Chicago White Sox are you?
  23. Which pope are you?
  24. Which presidential cabinet member are you?
  25. Which person’s blog are you?

Now you have something to look forward to! Write on your friends’ walls! Oh! Em! Geeeee!

Hello, dear reader. In case you’ve been safely shuttered in your root cellar or actively avoiding major news outlets (good for you!) for the last week, I must make you aware of the latest Threat to Humanity™. No, it’s not related to freedom haters or Alaskan governors; it’s something far more frightening for the simple fact that most people don’t understand communicable diseases (including yours truly).

Swine flu, ladies and gentlemen, has penetrated our borders and to this nasty virus every last one of us looks like a tasty truffle. With roughly 20 known cases in our nation of more than 300 million, you are cordially invited to freak the frak out. Our days are numbered and Anderson Cooper’s steely blue eyes will haunt us all from the other side of the camera if we all don’t overreact and form opinions on this matter of national security right this very instant.

Here’s all you need to know:

  • If you’re elderly, infantile, or infirm and you contract this disease, you’s gonna die
  • If you’re insured and can afford to pay for anti-viral medication, you’ll be sick for a few days and then recover
  • If you’re uninsured but in good health, life will suck for about a week, but push the fluids and you’ll be fine
  • If you have small children and they come home from school with runny noses, they have spring allergies, not swine flu

In order to help the media make us more concerned about this than we need to be (“go hog wild,” if you will), I offer the following swine flu pseudonyms* for use in headlines, crawling news tickers, and on-screen interviews with experts:

  • Porcine pestilence
  • Hog hell
  • Barnyard blight
  • Piggy plague
  • Oink-a-palooza 2009
  • Another reason to build a wall along the Mexican border
  • Ham-demonium
  • Honey glazed death
  • Smoked barbecue death
  • Pig in a casket
  • Deathwurst
  • Porky’s revenge
  • Bacon devastation
  • Pig Gehrig’s disease
  • Jimmy Dean’s sausage patties

*each utterance or use of any of these pseudonyms will cost the user or his/her organization $5.00 (US)

Last year I purchased tickets to a Washington Nationals game while I was back east visiting family. As a result, I now get e-mails from the Nationals advertising ticket and merchandise promotions.

Just last week I received an e-mail urging me to buy tickets for the Nats’ home opener. This is the image that accompanied the sales pitch:

Adam Dunn

Call me crazy, but I don’t think the best way of enticing fans to the ballpark is by showing the only player on your team likely to hit more than 30 HRs bunting.

Good luck, Nats.

Today is a holy day: Opening Day. Most teams have a game under their belt (sorry, White and Red Sox, Royals, and Rays) so your regular roll call of columnists are busily churning out their articles about which teams made the right off-season moves, who the sleeper teams will be, who’s likely to have a breakout season, and who the likely Rookies of the Year will be.

Then there’s Bert Blyleven. Not content to merely project division and wild card winners, Rik Aalbert Blyleven got all clever and projected each team’s win total (and, by association, their losses). Some of Mr. Blyleven’s divisions seemed absurdly strong or weak, so I suspected something was up.  According to Bert, this is how things will shake out:

AL EAST: NYY  97-65; BOS  95-67; TB  87-75; TOR 85-77; BAL  70-92

AL CENTRAL: CLE  90-72; MIN  85-77; CHW  85-77; KC  81-81; DET  81-81

AL WEST: LAA  91-71; SEA  78-84; TEX  75-87; OAK  75-87

NL EAST: NYM  95-67; PHI  92-70; ATL  88-74; FLA  78-84; WAS  65-97

NL CENTRAL: STL  90-72; CHC  90-72; MIL  81-81; HOU  81-81; CIN  78-84; PIT  65-97

NL WEST: LAD  87-75; ARI  85-77; SF  78-84; COL  70-92; SD  60-102

On the surface, there are some pretty clear WTFs. For example, Toronto winning 85, Seattle winning 78, Washington winning 65. In my estimation those are all over-estimations.

But what happens when we do math to it? Before we get into the gory details, allow me to educate you, dear reader, and anyone else who may be unfamiliar with the great game of baseball. Each team plays 162 games in a season. There are 30 teams (14 AL and 16 NL). Go ahead, count them, I’ll wait.

Now, because the NL has more teams, it’s likely that the NL will have more total wins than the AL. According to Bert, the NL will win 1283 games, and the AL will win 1176. Ok, that’s plausible. Keep in mind that ol’ Bert only bothered to predict wins.

So, knowing that each of the 30 teams will play 162 games, we can accurately calculate the total number of games played in an MLB season. Watch this:

(162 games x 30 teams) / 2 [there's always a winner and a loser] = 2430 games

Thus we can say with certainty that the total W-L record of all of MLB will always be 2430-2430. If a game between the Nationals and Pirates gets rained out and they never make it up, then it might be 2429-2429, but the total number of games won (or lost) in the regular season cannot exceed 2430.

Now let’s add Bert’s projections:

1176 AL wins + 1283 NL wins = 2459 MLB wins
1092 AL losses + 1309 NL losses = 2401 MLB losses

I will not abide Mr. Blyleven’s 58-game oversight. I’ll concede that he, being a former player, may be more familiar with the nuances and rules of the game than a lowly fan like me. But I know how numbers work, and this is just lazy.

Watch this space for more fact-checking in an effort to out Bert Blyleven as lui and a purveyor of falsehoods…

Hello, Intertrons. Baseball is nearly here! This rite of spring is cause for celebration, fresh starts, and fantasy baseball drafts. Last season, Disco Demolition lived up to its name and finished 8th, the basement of my league. Still, my team managed to lead the league in HRs (220) while also managing to score the fewest runs (758), post the lowest team batting average (.270; only one player on my final roster managed to break .300), and strike out the most times at the plate (1123!). Looking at last year’s draft results, picking Chone Figgins in the 3rd round (24th overall) was just the beginning of my undoing.

This year, (I’d like to think) I was better prepared and I hope my picks will bear that out and get me out of the cellar. With the league expanding from eight to ten teams, talent was harder to come by, which should hopefully help even the playing field.

So, here goes, new season, new team, new team name; I give you Seattle Reign:

Round 1 (1st overall): Albert Pujols (STL, 1B) – Best player in the game. Sure Hanley Ramirez is practically a lock for a 30/30 season, but Albert’s BA will be 30-50 points higher and he’ll hit 10-15 more HRs.

Round 2 (20th overall): Dustin Pedroia (BOS, 2B) – Second base is a shallow position this year, and with Ian Kinsler, Chase Utley, and Brandon Phillips already off the board, I had to act before Dan Uggla was the best option out there (he went in round 5). Pedroia will hit .320 or better and if I’m lucky he could be a 20/20 threat.

Round 3 (21st overall): Nick Markakis (BAL, OF) – Outfield, too, is shallower than normal this year and Markakis has legit potential to turn in a .300/30/100 season. And to be honest, if he weren’t an Oriole I probably would’ve waited to see if he was still around in the 4th round.

Round 4 (40th overall): Geovany Soto (CHC, C) – 2008 All Star and near-unanimous RoY. What’s not to like?

Round 5 (41st overall): Stephen Drew (ARI, SS) – A solid shortstop with 20+ HR potential, and he’s not as injury-prone as his older brother

Round 6 (60th overall): Chris Davis (TEX, 1B/3B) – Young guy with a monster bat playing 81 games in a ridiculously hitter-friendly park. He’s Adam Dunn with a BA that’s 40 points higher.

Round 7 (61st overall): Daisuke Matsuzaka (BOS, SP) – Probably won’t win 18 again, but I’ll take an ERA under 4.00, a WHIP around 1.30, and 180+ strikeouts.

Round 8 (80th overall): Jermaine Dye (CHW, OF) – Surprised to find him on the board this late in the draft. It’s hard to turn down 35 HR potential.

Round 9 (81st overall): Felix Hernandez (SEA, SP) – His ability to get wins is going to depend heavily on Seattle’s infield defense (I’m not optimistic), but he could strike out 200 and will certainly finish with a sub-4.00 ERA (maybe < 3.50 if I’m lucky).

Round 10 (100th overall): Raul Ibanez (PHI, OF) – He’s a defensive liability, but in the OF he’s (hopefully) less likely to make errors and more likely to just not catch up to fly balls—that’s the Phillies’ problem, not mine. At the plate he’s good for 20-25 HRs and could eke out 100 RBIs depending on how the lineup in front of him does.

Round 11 (101st overall): Roy Oswalt (HOU, SP) – Another bargain this late in the draft. If he played for a higher-profile team, he would’ve been gone somewhere in rounds 6 through 8.

Round 12 (120th overall): Vernon Wells (TOR, OF) – Mr. Wells has not been the model of a healthy athlete these past two seasons, so this is a gamble that he’ll have something of a resurgence. Still, if he doesn’t pan out I have my eye on a few under-the-radar guys who could step in if needed (looking at you, Adam Jones, Franklin Gutierrez, Felix Pie, and Jordan Schafer).

Round 13 (121st overall): Chris Iannetta (COL, C) – A solid fill-in for Soto’s off days, and equally sweet that drafting him made it that much harder for Giant Asian Man to add a catcher to his roster.

Round 14 (140th overall): Chad Qualls (ARI, RP) – The presumptive closer for the Diamondbacks this year. I made saves my lowest priority, figuring there will be at least a dozen teams that do closer by committee before the All-Star break. A solid ERA and WHIP are more helpful in bending the stats of the overall staff and Qualls fits the bill nicely.

Round 15 (141st overall): Adam Wainwright (STL, SP) – Solid groundball pitcher, if a little injury-prone. But he went 11-3 in 132 IP last season with a 3.20 ERA and 1.18 WHIP. I think it’s a good gamble.

Round 16 (160th overall): Adrian Beltre (SEA, 3B) – A lock for.270/20/85, a good stand-in if something happens to Davis, or to fill in the utility spot.

Round 17 (161st overall): Ted Lilly (CHC, SP) – Prone to giving up the long ball, but also prone to striking out a fair number while posting a respectable WHIP.

Round 18 (180th overall): Dan Wheeler (TB, RP) – The only other reliever I drafted. Gambling that Percival won’t be a solid option for the Rays (assuming they want to contend again) and Wheeler will have to step in to the closer role after starting the season as the set-up man with a low ERA and WHIP.

Round 19 (181st overall): Kelly Johnson (ATL, 2B) – Nothing astounding here, but has decent pop for a second baseman and could be a good sub on Pedroia’s off days or a utility filler.

Round 20 (200th overall): Ryan Theriot (CHC, SS) – Zero power, but will hit for a decent BA and could steal 25.

Round 21 (201st overall): Gil Meche (KC, SP) – He’s coming off of two solid seasons with over 200IP in each; if KC can give him some offense he just might win 15+.

Round 22 (220th overall): Kenshin Kawakami (ATL, SP) – Betweem Kawakami and Koji Uehara, Kawakami seemed to have the most upside. So there you have it.

Draft fun facts:

  • A-Rod was drafted in the 4th round, 34th overall
  • Johan Santana was the first pitcher to be drafted: 2nd round, 19th overall
  • Four of the first ten picks were infielders from the NL East (Ramirez, Reyes, Rollins, and Wright)

If your job involves sending and receiving e-mail with co-workers and customers, chances are good that you’ve received (or sent) some confusing or completely unintelligible messages. Unfortunately, a person’s ability to carry on a conversation isn’t always a good indication of their ability to communicate in writing. Loquacious and garrulous people may send e-mails with misspellings, omitted words, and poor punctuation; and the more reserved and shy ones may write with clarity and precision. Most of us are probably somewhere in between.

(More after the jump)

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