Taking Infield

=== Adam LaRoche ===

As we discussed here, LaRoche is a pretty good comp for Raul Ibanez -- a certified #5 hitter now, who probably has a career 130-140 OPS+ year or two ahead of him.  He's getting a ONE year deal?  No wonder Branyan felt like "98%" of the players out there were getting one-year deals.

Charles O. Finley, who in the 1970's was sort of MLB's cross between Mark Cuban and Al Davis, used to growl "make 'em all free agents every year."  Apparently, that's what the owners have decided to do. 

Wisely, they are driving a wedge between union players by offering wonderful contracts to a few high-visibility targets such as Matt Holliday and John Lackey.  Does the union management stick with its big-name reps, or look out for the little guy?  We know what it's always done before...

In my humble opinion, the collusion this winter looks worse than the ones that the owners lost lawsuits on.  Don't get me wrong; I'm all for reining in the kind of greed and entitlement that ruined the NBA.  But the system shock is jarring.


That said, the word is that LaRoche turned down 2 x $9MM from the Giants, taking 1 x $5MM to put up a big year in Arizona.  Now that is dyed-in-the-wool confidence in your ability.  Wow.

It’s easy to say, “go put up a big year in Boston and then cash in,” but players know that a lot of luck goes into a good (or bad) season.  It’s got to be VERY tough for them to feel like the pitchers can’t stop them.

Chalk up Adam LaRoche for self-belief.  If he thinks he can hit like a #3, we do too…


Obviously Seattle didn't have a good crack at him.  Not when his priority is the 2010 statline.


=== The Baseball Analysts ===

Studied the issue carefully and realized – wait for it – that you can’t beat Las Vegas.

Super-smart saberdweebs figure, hey, Vegas is just splitting the crowd.  A smart guy ought to be able to figure out where the crowd is prejudiced, and exploit that.

Nope, say the baseball analysts.  The reality is that Vegas bookies are just crazy good, end of story.  The killer conclusion:  “If Vegas were perfect, they still would have had a 75% chance of making a worse set of predictions than they did in 2008. So somehow, by hook or by crook, they made some ridiculously accurate predictions in 2008.”

Dr. D has been hip to this for a loooonnnnnnnng time.  Mutual fund analysts, Vegas bookies and chess grandmasters give nothing away to Albert Einstein.  These guys are the homo superiorus elements of our society.



=== Haiti ===

MLB is giving $1MM to the needy in Haiti.

D’Souza pointed out that his friends in India want to visit America just so that they “can see fat poor people.”  :- )  The underclass in America have microwave ovens and drive-through hamburgers. 

Also read a stat that only 5% of the world has wall-to-wall carpeting, a stat that was confirmed by my mother-in-law when she visited all 7 continents.  In any rural area in the Southern Hemisphere, you are liable to see farm animals living in the same structure as the family does.

No harm sending a sawbuck or two over to Haiti.  Cheers to MLB for doing so.


Dr D


OBF's picture

the 1 million dollar gift kind of insulting.  Or at least ingratiating.  Here is an industry that can find a QUARTER OF BILLION dollars to pay ONE GUY, and yet it can only scrounge up a single million dollars for an ENTIRE COUNTRY during a disaster.  Hey I am a poor working stiff with four hungry mouths to feed and I found a way to dig way deeper than baseball did.
This is like going to a resturant and leaving a 1 penny tip... on a credit card purchase... after spend 2500 bucks to treat your 15 best friends to bourbon and steaks (it is a NICE restaurant)... and oh yeah the waitress that served you is about to loses her kids to CPS and is living in a box under the first street bridge and is one missed meal away from starving to death.
Or I could just be being melodramatic and overly sensitive (although this one hits close to home, I have some good friends who nearly lost their lives in the quake, God miraculously spared them, literally, it is a miracle they are alive.) 
On the other hand what other leagues have donated so far?

Taro's picture

I kind of agree. A lot of times when rich people donate they are just avoiding taxes.  
It seems like baseball could have bleeded a heck of lot more than $1mil.

glmuskie's picture

Amazing to me how blithe some people are with other (especially wealthy) people's money.  MLB is not, IMO, morally obligated to pay anything.
$1MM will help.  Who knows, maybe they'll commit more later to the rebuilding effort. Kudos to MLB for helping out.

OBF's picture

This just reeks of an extremely low cost PR move to me, but I would bet the Haitians won't send it back.  Certainly my first reaction was more emotional that rational, still sits wrong with me though.

glmuskie's picture

Being a Vegas oddsmaker to me seems like one of the easiest jobs in the world.  Einsteins, savants, geniuses...  they most certainly are not.
Firstly.  The outcomes of sporting events are highly predictable.  It's pretty apparent which is the better team, most of the time.  If Tiger Woods enters a golf event, who becomes the favorite?  If the Colts play the Lions, who's the favorite?  Will it be close?  It's pretty easy to determine a likely outcome from a given contest.
Secondly.  The oddsmakers are not setting the odds on the outcome, so much as setting the odds on what the outcome is generally expected to be by the majority of the population.  You want to know where the money will be going.  This is pretty easy to get a guage on, just from watching the media.
Thirdly, what happens when an oddsmaker is off?  The line moves.  It's a self-correcting system. 
I'd guess you can take any reasonably intelligent, analytical sports fan, and they could be a pretty successful oddsmaker.


But the question is whether a country full of 300 million people could find one person better than you.  :- )
Publish your picks on the internet, put your life savings on the line and ask whether there's anybody out there who can find games you cast incorrectly.  THAT is the context under which Vegas works.
The question isn't whether you can pick some games.  The question is whether you can protect your bankroll against every math major in the country.  :- )
One person better than Vegas can pick their pockets.  There aren't any.
BTW, I know these guys, the grandmasters, fund analysts and odds analysts.  Their expertise is simply beyond belief.


Here is the website for MLB Charities, Inc.  You can review their relief strategies there -- RBI inner-city relief, Stand Up 2 Cancer, Boys & Girls Clubs, etc.   Haiti was not in their budget, but they ear-marked a million anyway.
Don't forget that the American dollar goes a long, long way in a lower-class 3rd-world country.  A lot of good people abroad have annual incomes of less than $100.  It's nothing unusual for my friends to support several South American families apiece, each of which makes about $5 U.S. per month.
I'm not saying that American corporations are altruistic, of course.  :- ) But there's a fair amount of generosity out there.
They don't give till it hurts in the sense that you do, OBF.  Sincere kudos.  Charity works best on a grassroots level.

Taro's picture

I've made pretty decent money off of these dudes. Granted most of the money I bet is MMA-related, but there were some really great over/unders in baseball (season) until last year when the bargains started to become fewer.


If anybody could whup them Taro, I'm sure it's you...
You haven't addressed the findings of the linked article, a systematic study of whether the best methods available could reliably beat Vegas.
Remember, the study found that if Vegas were perfect -- omniscient -- then they should have had a 75% chance of doing worse than they actually did.  Let's not sell that short, eh?

Taro's picture

The question is whether its really coming out of their pocket books or whether they're just paying it to charity instead of paying to the goverment. I mean, if you're going to pay taxes anyways you may as well give it to charity for the tax benefits (helps your image too) right?
I think they could have afforded to give a lot more.


Here is a website that gives a feel for what the individual clubs are doing...
Here is one that details the Mariners' involvement via Mariners Care.  In 2008, besides raising $200k for Cystic Fibrosis, individual efforts included:
Other Mariners Care Highlights in 2008: • Through the Mariners Care Community Section and the Commissioner's Initiative for Children, thousands of children had the chance to attend a Mariners home game. This year's contribution totaled $150,000.
• Since 1985, a partnership between The Boeing Company and the Mariners provides a grant of $100,000 to improve youth baseball fields in the community.  This year's recipient was the City of Des Moines, with funds going towards the Des Moines Field House Park Renovation Project.
• For every Mariners RBI during the 2008 season, PACCAR donated $100 to the Page Ahead Children's Literacy Program. This second-year program raised $75,000.
• A silent auction of autographed memorabilia held during every Saturday game at Safeco Field raised $74,595 for Mariners Care.
• More than $72,000 was raised for Pacific Northwest charities through the "Groundskeeper for a Day" donations offered at various auctions during the season.
• The annual Spring Training Charity Game between the Mariners and Padres at Peoria Stadium raised $58,128.  Beneficiaries included youth-based organizations such as the Girl Scouts, Hope Kids, Homeward Bound, Boys & Girls Clubs and Foundation for Blind Children, as well as local schools, summer camps, food banks and the American Cancer Society.
• Thanks to donations, a generous match by Wizards of the Coast and coins collected in the Wishing Well on the Main Concourse in center field at Safeco Field, $26,000 was donated to Seattle Children's Hospital to benefit Pacific Northwest patients and families.
• The Mariners joined together with Major League Baseball and the Boys & Girls Clubs of King County to support the 14th season of the Seattle RBI League for inner-city boys and girls. The 2008 contribution totaled $25,000.
• The Mariners held their 11th Annual Mariners Education Day on May 7. Mariners players, coaches and broadcasters visited six local elementary schools to deliver the D.R.E.A.M. Team message -- stressing the importance of education and positive thinking.
• In December, broadcaster Rick Rizzs and former Mariners outfielder Dave Henderson will preside over the annual "Toys for Kids" drive that purchases and distributes toys to kids in the Seattle area.
That being on the level of individual clubs, not on the level of MLB Charities, Inc.
A lot of the time, we see corporations write a big check to Charity X and figure, wow, is that all they're doing?  And the fair answer is, no, that's one of many things they're doing.  
Again, we're not saying Howard Lincoln doesn't get to wear Hickey-Freeman suits.  :- )   But these rich guys do allocate time and money to the needy.

Taro's picture

I only started 3-4 years ago and its not my main income or anything... My account is about 1800% of what I started with though. :-)
Who knows, maybe I eventually blow it all though with my betting style. I tend to not spread out my money on value lines like the pros and instead bet big on fights I feel are huge values. I made a killing on Takimoto vs Galesic, Rampage vs Liddell, Lyoto Machida before he got famous, etc. I've even dropped a ton of money on minus lines that I felt were great values as well like the over on Tampa Bay in '08, BJ Penn in his last 3 lightweight fights, Mousasi's first fight in Strikeforce (was amazingly the underdog in the opening line), Faber vs Brown II, etc. I threw nearly my entire account on Floyd Mayweather before the Pacman fight was canceled.
The biggest mistake I made was betting on the Ms pre-season last year. I went for the division when I should have just played it safe and did the over. I dropped a grand there. Probably a "homer" mistake. :-)

glmuskie's picture

Great post, doc.

glmuskie's picture

If Vegas were perfect, they would have a 75% chance of doing worse than they did? 
Is this proof of fixing?

Taro's picture

That seems to be well within the range of tax relief though. Just saying.
Its a good thing they give it to charity as opposed to giving it to the goverment, but I'm not going to go out of my way to praise them for it until they start eating into their bottom line to donate (like OBF).

OBF's picture

one of the geniuses of Matthew 6:1-4.  If the MLB's donation had been anonymous, then the Haitians would be helped, and no one would be able to complain.  When and if questions were asked the MLB could have said something innocuous like, "Yes we are donating, but we would like to keep any amounts private as this is not for public relations, but for the Haitians."
Or they can break out the Trumpets, whatever, at least the Haitians are helped, I guess.  I am pretty sure the millions of paniced people down there don't care one iota what I think of the MLB anyway.  
In fact, now that I re-read Matthew 6:1-4 again I wish I had never said anything about my own giving.
Of course while the MLB should be reading Matthew 6, I should probably be reading Matthew 7 ;)

OBF's picture

Dr. D and Taro, guess I just spent my Matthew 6 good will, huh.
Shoulda just kept my big trap shut ;)


That's a good point.  There is basically no way for MLB to call attention to its own giving and have it turn out well.  That's the nature of the ballgame.


Move to the head of the class, bro'.
In fairness, the HBT study referred to baseball specifically.  I don't doubt that more peripheral sports (no offense meant) would offer better opportunities.   Question is whether you could beat the house at MLB...
18x, wowza.

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