Friday, August 27, 2010
The assholes who run the Florida Marlins were exposed this week. No better than any lobbyist or swindler on Wall Street, the Marlins stuck Florida taxpayers with a billion-dollar check.
If you haven't yet seen the financial reports that were leaked to Deadspin.com, HERE THEY ARE. The balance sheet solidified the rumors that the franchise pockets a healthy piece of the revenue sharing pie allocated to them by MLB. Both Marlins Owner Jeffrey Loria and team president David Samson (who, ironically, was my favorite speaker at last year's Sloan Conference for Sports Analytics at MIT) have maintained that the Marlins break even financially. The lack of economic prosperity that the Marlins laid claim to became the centerpiece of an argument that resulted in enough pity that the local governments is giving them a new stadium that will cost generations of taxpayers an estimated $2.4 billion. They said they had no money to do it alone and threatened to move the team if they did not receive public assistance.
The truth is that these documents leaked to Deadspin show us that the Fish could have footed a significant portion of the construction bill themselves. In fact, they could have paid for a lot of the stadium and still made some money, but they cried poor and conned politicians into selling out their voters. But a team that listed its operating income as a stellar $37.8 million in 2008 alone swung a deal in which it would pay only $155 million of the $634 million required to build the stadium. Miami-Dade County agreed – without the consent of taxpayers – to take $409 million in loans. By 2049 (will I even be alive?), when the debt is due, the county will have paid billions.
The team fought to conceal the nearly $50 million in profits they have accrued over the last two seasons because the information would have prompted local gov't officials to ask for more money from the teams. Jeff Loria (an art dealer, net worth of hundreds of millions) couldn’t possibly stand for that shit. He wanted as many public dollars as he could get his hands on, money that could’ve purchased instruments for public school music programs or save some of the 1,000+ jobs the county is cutting this year.
Team President Dave Samson had the nerve to call the leak of the Marlins documents“a crime.” No, sir, the real crime occurred when a profitable professional sports franchise knowingly misled the public in order to secure cash that wasn’t theirs.
In 2007 Forbes reported the Marlins had the highest operating income in baseball. Samson denied the team profited, saying: “Very often the mistake that’s made is they look at revenue sharing numbers and the team’s payroll and take the difference and see profit without looking at our expenses.”
Well, now I've have had a look and I am pissed.
The Marlins procured $5.3 million in funding from the county’s Art in Public Places department and gave $2.5 million of it to pop artist Red Grooms, who will design a piece inside the stadium with pelicans and seagulls and bright colors and abstract shapes and, best of all, animatronic marlins that celebrate home runs. Yay!
Behind the catcher will be 58 feet worth of reef-fish-stuffed aquariums built into the backstop. (I actually think this is really cool, but still frivolous)
It is enough to stink. In the Hall of Fame of bad stadium deals this sits right alongside the Nationals’ $611 million teat sucking from the D.C. city council that got Nationals Park built, and it surely won't be the last time something like this happens (Get ready for the Tampa Bay Rays to start crying poor).
Saturday, August 21, 2010
Friday, August 20, 2010
A complete charting of Bears' QB Jay Cutler during training camp. Includes how often each RB/WR/TE was targetted, how often the pass was complete to that receiver, and how far downfield the receiver was targetted. Link is here: http://www.chicagobreakingsports.com/2010/08/cutler-watch-qb-completes-68-of-camp-passes.html
Thursday, August 19, 2010
It's strange to realize the Derek Lee made his major league debut with the Padres in 1997 when I was in 2nd grade. Now in his mid-thirties, Lee will aid in the Braves' quest to reclaim NL East supremacy albeit at a premium cost.
What Did the Braves Get?
Lee was really good last season, posting .306 AVG/.393 OBP/ .579 SLG with 35 HRs. It was a rebirth of epic proportions (he only had 20 HRs the year before with a .361 OnBase%) that went largely unnoticed (because the Cubs sucked). This year he has again shown signs of aging (.251/.335/.416 with just 16 HRs). His swing is now long and slow, sapping not only his power but his OnBase ability, as he now must decide to swing at pitches earlier in flight before he can determine whether or not they are strikes. However, Lee has been better in the second half, sporting a .949 OPS since the All Star Break.
That's much more than can be said for the man he is replacing at first base, Troy Glaus. Since the Midsummer Classic, Glaus has been a disaster: .196 AVG/ .291 OB%/ .304 SLG% with just 6 extra base hits in 117 plate appearances. Combine Glaus' futility with the clear upgrade Lee represents defensively and the Braves have certainly gotten better in the short term.
What Did the Braves Give Up?
The Cubs made out nicely as well. In exchange for Lee the Cubs acquired 3 minor league pitchers, only one of which really matters.
Dominican righty Robinson Lopez is just 19 years of age and has made his way to low-A ball. At 6'2", 190lbs, Lopez has added some velocity to a once average fastball. He routinely sits around 92-94mph, touching as high as 97mph, when he once pitched in the low 90s. He also has an above average curveball and below average changeup. Lopez hasn't been as good this season as he was in 2009. His walk rate has doubled, his strikeout rate is down and he's battled blisters, but he's still 19 years old and so you never can tell.
Combine the prospect with the fact that Lee has plenty of money owed to him the rest of the season (somewhere around $4 million) and the Cubs likely had no leverage in negotiations (they're out of the race and how many teams other than ATL could've possibly wanted him?) and the Cubs made out here.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
A significant cross section of my readership is made up of Eagles fans. Because I want so desperately to please these people, most of what I write during the upcoming NFL season will involve Andy Reid's crew. With last night's first preseason game in the books, I feel it is time to take a look at some of the Eagles' strategic tendencies from last season and discuss how they might change in 2010-2011.
First, let's take a look at some basic percentages.
The Eagles ran the ball just 36% of the time last year. Only 4 teams ran the ball less. I wouldn't expect this to change. Andy Reid doesn't like to run the ball, and the way Shady McCoy holds the ball when he runs is so fundamentally unsound that the fumble issues he will almost certainly develop may curb Big Red''s enthusiasm for the ground game even more.
Much has been made about the way the offense will change with a more accurate/weaker armed Kevin Kolb under center. Pundits expect more short passes in the mold of a pure West Coast offense, as do I. The small sample of throws we saw from Kolb last year, however, play Devil's advocate in this regard. Here's a break down pass distance for both Kolb and Donovan McNabb:
Kolb: Short passes(less than 5 yards):49% Mid(6-15):37% Deep(16-25):7% Bombs(26+):7%
Mc5: Short Passes(less than 5 yards):49% Mid(6-15):32% Deep(16-25):11% Bombs(26+):8%
As you can see, little disparity exists between throw distance. Kolb only attempted about 100 passes, and the coaching staff has had an entire offseason to re-design the offense, so I still think we'll see more quick hitting routes.
The Eagles offensive formations featured 3 or more receivers 65% of the time and 4 or more WRs 13% of the time, good for 2nd and 3rd most in the league respectively. I expect to see plenty of 3 wide sets again this season.
The Eagles were 3rd in the NFL in screen passes to the RB, but only ran the play twice all season on third downs. This seems odd. Screen passes are designed to take advantage of blitzing, hyper-aggressive defenses who become fixated on the quarterback. In my opinion, this is most likely to occur on 3rd downs when teams are in a pass rush state of mind. I'm officially indicting the Eagles' use of the screen pass.
Yards per carry stats: With 1 RB in the backfield- 5.2 YPC With 2 RBs in the backfield- 3.1 YPC.
Jim Johnson lives. Only 1 team in the league sent 6 or more blitzers more than the Eagles did (21% of the time), an only 1 team executed more zone blitzes (13.7%). Despite the fact that at least 2 linebackers and/or defensive backs were rushing with such high frequency, they weren't finishing off the opposing QB. 10% of Philly's sacks came from LBs, and only 3% came from DBs, each qualifying as the 5th lowest rates in the league. Its possible the Eagles' goal is to force quick, inaccurate throws from QBS under duress rather than to sack them. However, its also possible the blitzes are poorly disguised and QBs can easily identify which WRs are hot and get the ball out quickly.
Teams exploited the absence of Brian Dawkins and viable coverage linebackers (as they will again this season, because Stewart Bradley is poor in coverage), and threw to the Tight End 30% of the time against the Eagles, most frequent in the league.
Mike Patterson and Broderick Bunkley are great together against the run, but poor when it comes to rushing the passer, accumulating 2.5 sacks and 9 hurries last year. As such, we have seen rookie DE Daniel Te'o-Neshiem working inside at defensive tackle in obvious passing situations and from what I've seen, he has excelled against the less athletic guards he's faced.
Clock Management: none
I'm sure the pre-season will give me plenty of chances to watch the Eagles iron out some of their kinks, and I will most likely comment on them again before the season starts. If you'd like me to do the same for your favorite team, feel free to comment and request a rundown of your squad.