Monday, March 28, 2016

2016 MLB Predictions

Here we go again.

AL East  --  Blue Jays, Orioles, Yankees, Rays, Red Sox,

Blue Jays have had a taste of success and have seemed to come together as a team, so I look for them to repeat. My first draft had the Red Sox second, but then I did an analysis of my past seven years of predictions and saw that I consistently underrated the Yankees and Orioles, and consistently overrated the Sox, hence the Sox got dropped to last.  The Pablo Sandoval disaster illustrates the poor management that the Red Sox have demonstrated. After giving him a ridiculous $95M contract a year ago, he has now been benched because of his poor play. Analysis shows that he was perhaps the worst everyday player in baseball last year. His offense was bad, and his defense at third base was even worse.

AL Central  --  Royals, Indians, Tigers, Twins, White Sox

Two sabermetric systems predict the Royals to be sub-.500, but the Royals have proven that their approach defies the usual sabermetric analysis. The others were a toss-up for second, but the White Sox went off the rails with the Adam LaRoche controversy, which should have been handled quietly in-house but became a public spectacle, with many players unhappy about it. Hence I pick them last, as bad feelings like this will linger and have an effect, and it shows the ineptness of the Sox management. The Indians for second is a sentimental pick, they being my childhood team. The Tigers became buyers again after Verlander had a good second half (2.27 ERA in his last 14 starts), and they acquired Jordan Zimmerman, Mike Pelfrey, Francisco Rodriguez, Justin Upton, Mark Lowe, and Justin Wilson. So they go into 3rd, leaving the Twins at 4th.

AL West  --  Astros, Rangers, Mariners, Angels, A;s.

Astros should only be better, while the Angels have regressed. Mariners should be better under new management.

NL East  --  Mets, Nationals, Marlins, Braves, Phillies

Mets certainly should repeat, with their great young pitching. Nationals should be better with Dusty Baker replacing Matt Williams; however, Dusty is only an average manager, in my opinion.

NL Central  --  Cubs, Cardinals, Pirates, Brewers, Reds

Cubs are everybody's choice as the best team in baseball, and with good reason. Their offseason acquisitions were sparkling, and they will be fun to watch this year. The Cardinals seem to always find a way to do well, so they are 2nd. The other three fall into place after that.

NL West  --  Giants, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Rockies, Padres

Giants could repeat their even-numbered year success. D-Backs are better with the acquisition of Zach Greinke, while the Dodgers are worse without him.

Let the games begin!

10/5/16 update. Here are the results of the predictions I and others made befoe the start of the 2016 seaosn. The winner was SI, only 20 places off, 2nd was Grant Brisbee at 24, 3rd was USA Today at 26, and tied for 4th/5th was me and payroll, at 28. The only picks 4 off were me with the Red Sox, and payroll with the Indians. 3 off were payroll with the Yankees and the Angels, and Brisbee with the Yankees.

Interesting that the consensus picks for first place were right only in the case of the Cubs. The other 5 all finished 2nd or 3rd. 4 were last year's winners, and the 5th, the Giants, were picked over the Dodgers due to their every-other year pattern in recent years, and due to the Dodgers losing Zack Greinke to free agency.  Only Grant Brisbee had the foresight to point out that the Dodgers' pitching staff was just fine, even without Greinke.

By contrast, the consensus picks for last lace were right in 5 of the 6 divisions. Only thing off was the Braves taking last while the Phillies finished 4th.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Deflategate is Back in the News

Judge Richard Berman's decision of 9/3/15 in favor of Tom Brady was quite well-reasoned and seemed to have ended the matter of Deflategate. Judge Berman's main basis for his decision was that Brady had no notice that equipment violations could result in a suspension. Indeed, the rules refer only to a fine for a first offense violation of an equipment rule. Concerning the matter of destroying his cell phone, Judge Berman said Brady also had no notice that non-cooperation with a league investigation could result in a suspension; indeed, he quotes former commissioner Paul Tagliabue, the arbitrator in the Bountygate case, as saying that "There is no evidence of a record of past suspensions based purely on obstructing a league investigation. In my forty years of association with the NFL, I am aware of many instances of denials in disciplinary hearings that proved to be false, but I cannot recall any suspension for such fabrication." There were other procedural grounds for Judge Berman's decision, and other Brady defenses which he didn't deal with because he didn't need to.

Pretty conclusive, one would think. However, along comes the Court of Appeals, and a three-justice panel recently gave the attorney for Brady's side an extremely hard time in oral argument. It is apparent that the Court of Appeals is siding with the NFL, and a suspension still could be imposed on Tom Brady. Concerning the cell phone issue, one justice commented that "Anyone within 100 yards of this case would have known that the cell phone issue elevates this merely from deflated balls to a serious tone of obstruction." When the Brady attorney attempted to defend Brady's action, the justice replied, "With all due respect, Mr. Brady's explanation made no sense whatsoever."

This is really in line with my original assessment of the situation. The evidence is overwhelming against Brady, and the tepid way the Wells Report phrased it, that it was "more likely than not" that Brady was "generally aware" of the system of deflating game balls, has led to much of the confusion here. The trial judge repeatedly referred to this phrasing, ignoring the mountain of evidence presented during the arbitration process that Brady was as guilty as hell.