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cubs splatter hatI’m headed off to a family reunion today and tomorrow, so I won’t be around too much. You should see normal weekend-level posting, though, because I care about your needs.

  • Not to start a payroll versus competitiveness debate, but there’s a great piece at FiveThirtyEight that I missed during deadline week (thanks to Peter for the heads up) about how well the A’s have done for a long time despite a small payroll. There a number of ways the author quantifies this fact, but one way is to lay out, based on historical data, how you would expect a team to perform given its payroll (because, fight it all you want, there is a heavy correlation between payroll and winning percentage in the regular season). Since 2000, the absolute worst team in all of baseball, in terms of how you would expect them to perform given how much they’ve spent in payroll … the Cubs (or second worst, behind the Royals, if you use a different regression method). If you were looking for a bigger indictment of how the team was run previously, I don’t think you’ll find one. It isn’t just that they didn’t spend. It isn’t just that they didn’t win. It’s that they didn’t win DESPITE spending some money, and did so at a relative rate worse than any team in baseball. (You should note: the vast majority of the dollars spent on payroll in the Epstein/Hoyer era were on contracts inked before their time. So the payroll versus performance skews quite a bit in their era, but it’s not really their fault.)
  • The Hat has nothing to do with this post, per se, but it seems to fit that first Bullet.
  • Based on Theo Epstein’s comments to Patrick Mooney, it sounds like we won’t see Javier Baez promoted to the Cubs – if at all – until late August at the earliest. That sounds about right to me, as does the way each of Mooney and Epstein frame the discussion: it’s a matter of balancing the developmental value of a month in the big leagues, which could help Baez in the offseason and in 2015; versus the value of that 40-man roster spot that would be gobbled up all offseason by Baez (and, unstated, but the value of trying to gain the extra year of control by keeping Baez down until late April … which would shift to late May if he came up in September).
  • The Cubs were Jon Heyman’s 4th ranked “winner” at the Trade Deadline, based on the strength of both their deadline deal and the earlier Samardzija/Hammel deal. This kinds of lists don’t really mean a whole lot, but, hey, he ranked the Cubs highly so that must mean he’s smart.
  • All of MLB’s logos as Star Wars logos? Yes, please! The Cubs is sad, and exceptionally appropriate. Freaking Ewoks.
  • Awesome read from BP on the playoff odds projections after the trades made on Thursday. FanGraphs did the same thing, also interesting. The extent to which we exaggerate the odds swings because of these trades is probably more than you thought. I find the differences in the two analyses interesting, though, with, for example, FanGraphs saying the Pirates took a 5.9% hit in their chances to win the NL Central, while BP saw no meaningful change in the Pirates’ World Series odds (obviously that’s not quite apples to apples).
  • From the extremely disappointing department: a few hours before the Trade Deadline, ESPN’s Jim Bowden’s Twitter account sent out a message that the Yankees had acquired Marlon Byrd. The tweet came moments after a fake Yanks-get-Byrd report started circulating on Twitter via a fake Joel Sherman account. As you know, Byrd was not traded (silly Phillies), and by all appearances, Bowden had not only fallen for a fake report, and had not only put that information out there as accurate, but he did it without any attribution or credit (which could have saved him) – it looked like he was trying to steal a scoop. A fake one, at that. Then the real crazy stuff happened, and we watched it in real time. Bowden’s account was deleted. Then it was transferred over to a new handle, which, itself, looked vaguely fake. Then someone grabbed up Bowden’s vacated account and tweeted some things. Then Bowden’s new account was changed to the name “Ralph,” and then vacated. And now Bowden is back at his original account, and he has claimed that he was hacked. Of course, no one believes Bowden, but I will do my usual annoying thing and temporarily give him the benefit of the doubt. I’d like to hear Bowden actually verbally address this issue, and convince us that he was the victim of the strangest hack ever (where the hacker sends out only one tweet, including plausible information, taken immediately after a fake report circulates with the same info, and then the hacker starts doing things that make it look like Bowden was laying the groundwork for claiming he was hacked – the hacker, in effect, then, was outing himself). It’s very hard to believe, and, on the chance that Bowden did send that tweet, and then did do the covering up, I really don’t think this is the kind of thing we should let slide. I’m always open to giving people a chance to explain, but I’m going to need a lot more explanation if I’m ever going to take seriously anything Bowden does or says ever again.

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