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Daily blurbs from the Guru
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6/30 - Check out these stats lines for two current season closers:
Here’s the answer. I knew he was having a decent year, but hadn’t realized that he was putting up Papelbon-like numbers. Somehow, I’ve got both on my RIBC team, and that probably helps to explain my top rankings in saves, WHIP, and ERA.
I’m not suggesting the Closer B has gone so unnoticed that he’s available in your roto league. He was certainly one of the top closers taken in any draft, even though his history as a closer was limited. But if Papelbon hadn’t come out of nowhere to post his stellar numbers, and/or if Closer B played in a larger media market south of the border, he might be the dominant closing story of the first half of the season.
6/29 - The Boston fans made have given Pedro the “respect he deserved”, but the Red Sox players showed no respect whatsoever, roughing up their former teammate for 8 runs in 3 IP. And so it went again for the AL over the NL, winning 10 of 15 games.
There are 11 game days until the All Star break, and some of today’s pitchers will get three starts over that span. After tonight, no one will get more than two. I wouldn’t disrupt my TSN pitching staff to take advantage of that, but if you have a pitcher to move anyway, getting one of those 3-starters seems efficient. Of course, if they pitch like Pedro, then efficiency won’t do you any good.
As measured by TSNP, the top five hitters yesterday were all Baltimore Orioles, who beat up the Phillies twice. The #6 and #8 ranked hitters were Phillies, so judiciously picking players from that doubleheader could have paid big dividends.
The Buick Championship is underway in Connecticut, and the weather is cooperating so far. Actually, the weather forecast for the weekend is improving, so delays might not be as prevalent as once feared. Trevor Immelman and Kenny Perry are the popular favorites on GuruGolf rosters, although each appears on only about 25% of active rosters, so no one dominates. Last year, a score of even par was needed to survive the cut.
6/28 - Déjà vu all over again. Roger Clemens has pitched twice for the Astros this season, and they have scored a combined total of 2 runs in those games, including none last night. In between those two starts, they scored 23 runs, an average of just under 6, so it’s not as if the bats have been silent throughout. Clemens is off to a tough 0-2 start, with an ERA of 2.38 and a WHIP of 1.15. I suppose he’s used to it.
In the déjà vu2 department, American League dominance continued apace last night, with 8 wins in 13 interleague games. One of those wins was another masterful pitching job by Francisco Liriano. The Twins are mired 9 games behind the White Sox (who themselves are still 2 games back of Detroit), so the tandem of Santana and Liriano has a lot of ground to make up. It may be too much for the Twins, but if you have both of them on your roto team, you must feel pretty good about your prognosis, at least in the pitching categories.
Liriano didn’t have the top outing last night, though. That would be the complete game shutout by A.J. Burnett. If you had the patience to hold him through his recent downtime, you have to be happy with that decision now.
The Buick Championship tees off at 7am tomorrow morning, barring rain. And that’s a fairly low bar, as the latest forecast calls for a 70% chance tomorrow.
6/27 - The Booz Allen Classic finally finished this morning, after multiple rain delays on Sunday and Monday. Now the tour moves up to my neck of the woods, along with the rain. The long range forecast (which we all know is unreliable) shows rain every day from Wednesday through Sunday. We certainly don’t need it. Neither does the PGA Tour.
The Red Sox managed to squeeze in a 12-inning cliffhanger between raindrops. Jonathan Papelbon gave up his second earned run of the season, blowing his second save chance of the season, but Boston won anyways, once again drawing upon the Ortiz-ian waters to bail them out.
With a week remaining of interleague play, the American League has certainly been showing off. So far, the junior circuit sports a record of 109-65, 44 games over .500, a winning percentage of .626. Only three teams in major league baseball have a winning percentage that high. Only three A.L. teams have a losing record in interleague play, and only three N.L. teams have a winning record, with Colorado being the outlier at 7-3. Perhaps every struggling A.L. pitcher should angle to get traded to the National League.
6/26 - The weekend golf tournament is currently in stasis, with most of the field still on the course in the fourth round when play was suspended due to inclement weather. For GuruGolf, this means that you can’t yet set your roster for the next event, since player repricing depends on the outcome of the tournament. Hopefully, play will resume this morning, and everything can be wrapped up this afternoon. The start time has been pushed back to 11am, though, so it sounds like the weather is still not cooperating.
The weather claimed a few baseball games over the weekend as well. The Florida-Yankees rainout on Saturday was replayed Sunday night in front of a Montreal Expos size crowd. The Phillies-Red Sox rainout will be played this afternoon.
Among games that were played as scheduled, the Rockies hurled another shutout in Coors Field, solidifying that field’s stature as a pitcher’s park this year. It was the third Coors shutout in the past 6 games, and the 8th of the season, continuing to set a new full season Rocky Mountain High for shutouts. Byung-Hyun Kim started two of this week’s shutouts, lowering his home ERA to 3.26. Before you race to pick him up, his ERA on the road is still 5.88, so he hasn’t demonstrated much competence at sea level – although most of the statistical damage was done in Washington’s RFK Stadium, which is supposedly a pitcher friendly park. Evidently, Kim has it all backwards this year.
6/23 - From my morning perusal of the boxscores, I see two themes from last night: low scoring, and returns to action.
Aside from the Pittsburgh/KC 15-7 romp (by two offensive juggernauts, no less), all games were marked by low scoring. Even the Florida-Baltimore game, which ended 8-5 in 10 innings, was 1-0 through seven. (Oddity from that game – Kris Benson pitched 8 innings and gave up only one run, but struck out nobody.) And no game was lower-scoring than the St. Louis vs. White Sox game, which ended 1-0, as Jim Thome broke up a no-hitter by Anthony Reyes with a solo HR in the 7th inning. After losing two blowouts, St. Louis has to me muttering to themselves after this one.
They’re upbeat about one thing, though. Albert Pujols returned to action. And elsewhere, two pitchers worked for the first time this season. The return of Roger Clemens was highly chronicled and nationally televised, so that was hard to miss. But away from the limelight, A.J. Burnett worked six strong innings for Toronto, and even though the opponent was the struggling Braves, and even though he didn’t get credit for the Toronto win, the Blue Jays have to be happy to start getting some positive payback for their off-season signing. [Correction – Burnett actually pitched twice in April when I wasn’t looking. Oops.]
6/22 - It was generally a moderately low scoring night in baseball, unless the team is named “Sox” or is from Chicago. And if both of those descriptions apply, watch out. The Chicago White Sox have now lit up the Cardinals for 33 runs over two games, and they haven’t scored less than 8 runs in a game since a week ago Tuesday. Today, Anthony Reyes gets called up to face the buzz saw.
The Booz Allen Classic has teed off, and it’s already abundantly clear that this is not being played at Winged Foot. The popular favorite on GuruGolf rosters is Padraig Harrington, on about 40% of all active rosters. He’s also the highest priced GuruGolfer in a field that is missing many of golf’s marquis names.
6/21 - Don’t tell Oakland A’s that Coors Field is friendly to hitters. After 18 innings, the team still has bupkus to show for offense. Two games, no runs. They have only 8 hits over those 2 days – 7 singles and a double. The blankings mark the 6th and 7th shutouts of the season at Coors Field this year, which is one more than the ballpark record for a full season (1997) and tied for the most in the majors this season. And there have been only 34 games played there so far this year.
Ryan Howard had one of those “old-fashioned Coors Field” kind of nights, banging out 2 HRS, a triple, and 7 ribbies for 101 TSNP. It was the 6th time this season that a hitter has produced a 3-digit TSNP game, which makes it even rarer than, say, a shutout at Coors Field!
The Booz Allen Classic tees off at 7am ET tomorrow morning. From the looks of the field, a lot of GuruGolf roster shuffling is going to be required this week. This marks the start of the new “Open Faced Sandwich” contest, which covers the four weeks between the U.S. and British Opens. So, even if your season is pretty much trash by now, you get a fresh start for this contest. Youneverknow!
6/20 - I spent all of yesterday’s blurb on golf, and neglected to mention one of the developing pitching stories of the season. Do you know which player (OK, I already tipped you off that he’s a pitcher) now has the most TSNP for the season? None other than Jonathan Papelbon, who surged into the top spot with three weekend saves. He probably could have added another one last night, but manager Terry Francona decided to give him a night off. Papelbon is almost singlehandedly keeping my RIBC team respectable, after drafting him in round 21. I’ll confess that the pick was more of an anti-Foulke pick than pro-Papelbon, and I certainly never expected this type of performance. My other inspired pick seems to have been Kevin Youkilis in round 18. Sometimes, living near a team means you are more prone to get sucked in by unwarranted hype. But in these two instances, I suspect I wouldn’t have made either pick if I had been living in, say, Ohio.
My email has been a little unreliable over the past week. I think I have it solved now, but I suspect that I may have only received only 95-98% of the mail sent to me in the past 8 days. If you were expecting a response from me and didn’t get it, you might have been one of the lost souls. I think I have things cured now, but it’s annoying when overactive spam filters start rejecting valid emails without any notice of a change in process.
6/19 - After brutal first round, the U.S. Open yielded progressively “gentler” scores in each successive round. As noted on Friday, the ratio of above-par to below par scores in round #1 was 3.6. That ratio successively moved to 3.2, 2.6, and 2.4, producing an overall tournament ratio of approximately 3.1. That’s still quite a bit higher than the previous two years, for which the corresponding ratios were 2.7 (2005) and 2.5 (2004).
As expected, having your golfers make the cut was extremely critical this weekend. For the final two rounds, here are the average GuruGolf scores broken down by the number of golfers making the cut:
Interesting, the two most valuable golfers (for best ball team play) this weekend were not Oglivy, or Mickelson, or Montgomery, or Furyk, of Harrington. The top golfers were Steve Stricker and David Howell. Howell had 16 birdies, while Stricker contributed 13 birdies and an eagle. No other golfer had more than 12 birdies, and Oglivy had only 9. Looking at the top teams for the tournament tends to confirm this assessment; of the five teams tied with a best ball score of -33, four had Stricker, two had Howell, and each of the five had at least one of the two. None of those five teams had Ogilvy.
The GuruGolf leaderboard was just as tight for the U.S. Open as the underlying tournament. Five teams tied for the best 4-round score of -33. The prize goes to the winner of the tiebreaker, which is based on total price change for the tournament. Here are the GuruGolf prize winners for the U.S. Open:
There are four tournaments between the U.S. Open and British Open. The next prize contest will cover those four weeks – the “Open Faced Sandwich” contest.
6/16 - Even for a U.S Open, yesterday’s round was brutal. Two years ago, the first round of the Open produced 2.25 above-par scores for every below par-score. Last year, the first round ratio was 2.97. Yesterday, it was 3.63. (Note: those numbers include only golfers listed in the GuruGolf game.) In each of the past two years, second and third round scoring has been moderately more favorable than the opening round, so maybe today won’t be quite as bad. But the final round has typically produced a worse ratio, so if you don’t have at least three golfers make the cut this week, you might be better off with none – unless, of course, you’re more interested in worst ball scoring.
So far, David Howell has been the most valuable (best ball) golfer, with six birdies. Steve Stricker was next with five, and ten golfers had four birds. Only three eagles were posted (Els, Jimenez, and Sabbatini), and two of those were on par 4s.
Today’s cut is the top 60 plus ties, plus anyone within 10 strokes of the leader. With the opening round leader at -1, that latter factor might come into play.
6/15 - The U.S. Open is underway, and early indications are that the course will perform as advertised. 78 golfers are currently on the course, and only 5 of them are in red numbers – three at -1, and two at -2. Meanwhile, David Toms just birdied to get to +7. Quoting a British commentator’s observation from a few years back (probably Peter Alliss or Ben Wright), we’re going to see a lot of golfers “up to their fetlocks in the spinach” this weekend.
In baseball, the Mets are “hotter than a Times Square Rolex.” In 5 of the past 7 games, they’ve pinned a negative TSNP total on the opposing starter, and the two positives were a +6 and a +82, the latter by Brandon Webb (serving as further testament to the masterful season he’s having). I’ve got Kris Benson on one roto team this year, and I’m giving thought to leaving him on the bench for this Saturday’s return to the mound at Shea Stadium.
6/14 - Quite a night for pitchers! Only two losing teams scored more than 2 runs last night, and four winners scored 2 runs or less. Consequently, some of the best pitchers didn’t even earn wins. The only game for hitters was the Mets at Philly, with a 9-7 final. If you had starters going last night, hopefully they weren’t named Glavine or Madson.
The U.S. Open tees off at 7am tomorrow morning. So far, of the 128 golfers listed in GuruGolf for this tournament, 107 appear on at least one roster, so variety will again be evident this week.
I wonder who the first golfer will be to lose a ball in the rough.
6/13 - Alex Rios had one of those “in your face” games that drives TSN salary cap managers nuts. He was the biggest price loser among hitters in the Ultimate game, and up there in the Basic game, and responded by going deep twice and amassing 81 TSNP. Every year, this happens a few times. Lately, it seems to be a weekly type of occurrence.
I didn’t get bit by the Rios bug, but I did have my own cross to bear last night, picking up Casey Janssen on a few teams, just in time for his -46 TSNP gift. On those teams. I moved out of Akinori Otsuka. I had actually planned to move Otsuka to Cole Hamels the day before, but when the Boston-Texas double header was shifted to Sunday, I figured I’d hang on to Otsuka for the twin bill. Hamels managed only 8 TSNP on Sunday, but when compared to the -96 that the Otsuka/Janssen combo produced, that 8 looks pretty appealing.
I have had some success in TSN baseball in the past. But this season is evidently going to be a “rebuilding” year.
6/12 - From the perspective of TSN baseball scoring, Akinori Otsuka had one of those excruciating pitches that was worth -80 TSNP. When David Ortiz took him deep with 2 on and 2 out in the bottom of the ninth, a 2-run save was immediately converted into a one-run loss. Sometimes it’s better not to know…
In GuruGolf, the 9-week “Spring to the Open” Contest was wrapped up. In the best ball competition, the winner was SANFORDORS1, who led pretty much wire-to-wire during the contest. On the worst ball side, the scoring leader was yours truly, but since I’m prize ineligible, the worst ball prize goes to louky4, who also leads the full season worst ball race. And we had one more prize winning feat this weekend. A rare “perfect high” score was posted in the third round of the Barclays Classic by fear the monkey. A “perfect high” is a round in which every single hole earns a score of bogey or worse, and also qualifies for a prize. Congrats to all prize winners, who will receive email notifications this week regarding their prizes.
This week, as a major tournament, prizes are offered for the top best and worst ball scores for the U.S. Open standalone. Also, remember that this tournament cannot be used as a mulligan week for full season scoring. If you post a stinker this week, you’re stuck with it.
6/9 - Maybe Bronson Arroyo will never return to normal this year. Or maybe this IS normal. Maybe this is a clear indication that it’s a lot easier to excel in the NL Central than it is in the AL East. Whatever, Arroyo is now 8-2 with a 2.31 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP. If you drafted him in your roto league, you certainly got good value for your pick, regardless of which round you took him. And I’ll bet that in many leagues, he wasn’t drafted at all.
After yesterday’s first round of the Barclays Classic, the cut was at +1, and I suspected it would move to +2 today. But so far, the course seems to be playing easier, and the current line is at even par (as of 10:30am).
Thanks to Gurupie Challenger for suggesting today’s quote.
6/8 - The NBA Finals start tonight, and continue each Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday until decided. If the series goes 7 games, the final game will be Thursday, June 22 – one day after the summer solstice. It seems fitting that the longest season will end right around the longest day of the year.
The Barclays Classic teed off early this morning, and 124 different active golfers appear on GuruGolf rosters this week. Bo Van Pelt is again the popular favorite, but he’s on slightly less than 25% of all rosters, so diversity is again the theme. I guess Bo (I keep wanting to call him “Brad”) is going to remain a GuruGolf favorite until he misses a cut. Last year at this tournament, the cut was a +3 or better, although lately, the prior year cut line hasn’t been a particularly accurate predictor of this year’s threshold.
We have a rare Dontrelle Willis sighting at the top of the daily TSNP list this morning. His 122 TSNP outing brings his YTD total to 429. Contrast that to last year, when he had amassed 1103 TSNP through June 8.
Thanks to Gurupie Ole for suggesting today’s quote.
6/7 - Some have described the head-to-head meetings of the Yankees and Red Sox as only relevant in determining which wins the AL East and which is the Wild Card team. Maybe so. But as of today, the wild card team would not come from the AL East. The White Sox and Tigers are locked in that battle. Now, come September, the world may very well revert to the normal order of things. But if not, the rivalry may take on increasing intensity, if that’s possible. And after tomorrow, the two teams face each other only seven more times – 4 games in mid-August, and three in mid-September.
Maybe I put the kabash on Pedro in yesterday’s blurb. Instead of climbing to the top of the TSNP rankings, he took a step backwards with a -28 TSNP outing, giving up 6 earned runs in 5 IP, including a 1st inning HR to former teammate Nomar Garciaparra (who is having a surprisingly good season himself).
Now that we’ve logged a little over two months, I like to look back and see which pitchers have avoided any negative TSNP outings so far. This year, among starters who have been active since the start of the season, there are only three on the list: Mussina, Schmidt, and Brett Myers. Brandon Webb barely missed the list, since he had a -1 on May 15, although Webb is tied for the lead in 3-digit outings (6, with Schmidt and Bronson Arroyo). Mussina’s worst was a +34 at Minn. on April 14, Schmidt had two games in the teens in April, and Myers’ worst was a +11 in his inaugural start on April 5, although he’s had only two games north of +100. Among closers, B.J. Ryan and Brian Fuentes are the only two who have remained unscathed.
In GuruGolf, the Barclays Classic tees off early tomorrow, 7:00am ET. This is the final event in the 9-week “Spring to the Open” Contest, with prizes in play for both best and worst ball scoring. Don’t forget to set your lineup(s)!
6/6 - Josh Beckett handled the Yankees pretty well in the 2003 World Series, and was the beneficiary of a 14-3 slaughter in his first Yankee Stadium appearance this season. But in spite of facing an injury-ravaged lineup last night, the law of averages evidently caught up to him, as he couldn’t get out of the 2nd inning. As a result, the Yankees stand atop the AL East standings this morning. And both NY teams now sport a 34-22 record.
While the New York teams have no trouble getting attention, Arizona has quietly put together a comparable record of 34-23. Brandon Webb was staked to a 3-0 lead against the Phillies last night, but couldn’t quite make it hold up. Even so, he pitched well enough to remain the top ranked pitcher in YTD TSNP, and will probably overtake Albert Pujols for the top spot overall in his next outing, as he’s now only 10 TSNP behind. Mussina and Pedro are also within striking distance, and if Pedro has a strong outing tonight in L.A., he could immediately move to the top of the heap, as he’s only 111 TSNP behind Webb (and therefore, 121 behind Pujols). And if you don’t think TSNP is a valid measuring rod outside of the TSN game, the ESPN Player Rater also ranks Mussina, Pedro, and Webb as the top three pitchers in a 5x5 roto format.
After a shaky early-April, Jason Isringhausen had quietly been steady as a rock for the past six weeks, and his 18 saves are only 2 behind Papelbon for the MLB lead. But that unraveled last night, as he entered the 9th with a two run cushion, only to surrender a 3-run to Ken Griffey, his second bomb of the night. Griffey seems to be heating up again, which means that next injury is just around the corner, no doubt.
6/5 - If Albert Pujols misses only 2 weeks, it may be just a blip on the radar. If he’s out for 4-6 weeks,… well, this was the start of hurricane season.
In golf, I mentioned last Monday that birdies should outnumber over-par scores in this week’s tournament. Oops. Probably due to a combination of unintentionally bad weather and intentionally bad sand raking, above-par scores outnumbered below-par scores by a ratio of 1.11. Even so, many GuruGolf teams posted decent results, especially With a little draw, whose -51 was three strokes better than the next best team (and moved that team into striking range with one week remaining in the “Spring to the Open” best ball contest). Still, worst ball scoring was more impressive, with 81 rosters posting +50 or higher, headed by a +61 from Liters.
6/2 - I was watching the National Spelling Bee last night, so I missed seeing Justin Verlander get blistered by the Yankees. (It’s the “inner geek” in me.) I’ve always been a good speller – even won the city title in the 8th grade, although I then proceeded to crash and burn in the state contest – but last night I couldn’t even spell about half of these kids’ names.
If first round scores are any indication, the Muirfield Village course is playing tougher this year than last. Here is the comparison of first round scoring:
Not a dramatic difference, but last year, the cut was +2 and better, and a repeat of yesterday’s scoring will produce a more forgiving threshold. Weather may be part of the problem; getting in today’s round looks iffy at best.
6/1 - It was one of those rare marquis pitching matchups that plays out on the field just like it looked on paper. Brandon Webb and Pedro Martinez combined for 15 scoreless innings, allowing only 9 hits, one walk, and fanning 13. Neither got the win, however, as the only run scored was in the 13th inning, well after the starters had showered.
Baseball’s schedule is light today, with only seven games on tap. One starts in the early afternoon – Milwaukee at Pittsburgh – so if you want to pick up this week’s hottest hitter, you’ll have to act early. And no, it’s not Jason Bay (although that would have been the correct answer a few days ago). Believe it or not, it’s teammate Jose Castillo, who in the last 7 days (5 games) has 6 HRs, 14 RBIs, and hit .455 while slugging 1.318.
The Memorial Tournament is underway, and of the 106 golfers in the field, 99 are represented on GuruGolf rosters. There really isn’t much consensus this week; Camillo Villegas is the most widely owned golfer, but he’s on only 24% of all rosters. Finding a couple of hot golfers this week could make a big difference. On the other hand, with only 106 on the field, making the cut won’t be as difficult – which may neutralize scoring differentiation.
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