Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Solo Home runs

Boston Red Sox beat Chicago White Sox 8-2 -- "'We have a powerful ballclub; it's all or nothing,' Guillen said after the Sox didn't hit a home run in consecutive games for the first time since June 25-26. They hit 96 homers during a 55-game span before this drought, but 114 of their 198 homers this season have been solo shots"

But 114 of their 198 homers are solo shots? That was from Mark Gonzalez in the Trib. When I first read that sentence, I immediately thought that it actually sounded like a good ratio. And from observation, it didn't seem that the Sox have had an overabundance of solo shots this year. So I checked Baseball Reference and the Sox basically have the same home run rate whether there are men on or the bases were empty.

In 3007 plate appearances with the bases empty the Sox have hit 113 home runs. That comes out to a rate of 3.758% home runes for every plate appearance.

In 2292 plate appearances with men on the Sox have hit 86 home runs. That comes out to a rate of 3.752% home runes for every plate appearance.

The AL as a whole is averaging a 2.633% home run rate with the bases empty and a 2.539% rate with runners on. Unlike the Sox, the AL does hit solo homers at a higher rate. And if you took out the Sox numbers the difference in the leage numbers would be even greater.

So it does not look like the Sox have a solo home run problem.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Crede to DL

Josh Fields get called up to replace Crede and gets the start at third tonight. The good news is probably can't do much worse than Crede when it ocmes to fielding percentage. The bad news is that he can't make many of the plays Crede makes look routine. Let's just hope he hits.

The line-up:

Cabrera ss
Pierzynski c
Quentin lf
Dye rf
Thome dh
Konerko 1b
Swisher cf
Fields 3b
Ramirez 2b

Floyd p

Granderson cf
Polanco 2b
Guillen 3b
Ordonez rf
Cabrera 1b
Joyce lf
Sheffield dh
Rodriguez c
Renteria ss

Robertson p

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Bold Predictions for the Second Half

I've been pretty confident at three out of the last five all-star breaks that the White Sox would make the playoffs: 2003, 2005 and 2006. But hey, they say 1 out of 3 is good in baseball so I;m not doing too bad.

Lately I've been trying to lower my own expectations so I can't say I expect the Sox to make the playoffs this year. But without a doubt a playoff spot is there for the taking. And it wouldn't take much for the Sox to take it.

Anyway, I won't predict the Sox winning the Central, but I will make some other predictions.

1. Jose Contreras will be out of the rotation by the end of the August. Jose looked great to start the season and it looked as if he got some velocity back on the fastball. But it's gone now and I have hard time believing it will come back. Unfortunately for Jose, he is no Freddy Garcia, who was to get by in his last year with the Sox by throwing a whole bunch of junk up to the plate. Not the case for Jose, who gets pounded like an incoming freshman at Lee High when he can't get a fast ball up to 93 mph.

I don't know who the Sox will replace Jose with, but the earlier they realize he needs replacing, the better the odds that they make the playoffs.

2. Carlos Quentin's second half will be much worse than his first half. Scary OPS trend for Quentin:

April 1.052
May .899
June .849
July .735

Not encouraging. I think he may settle into a 250/350/450 hitter which is still much better than the Sox got out of left field last year. But it certainly isn't good enough for the number 3 slot in the lineup.

I hope he doesn't continue to bat third because of a hot start to the season. Dye would be a better choice and I expect Swisher to also have a better second half.

3. Paul Konerko will continue sucking. I love Paulie (in a manly way). He hit three of the greatest home runs in White Sox history in the 2005 playoffs. I still watch the tapes. But Paulie has repeatedly shown the ability to stink for long periods of time. He might come back next year with a decent season but I don't hold out much hope for decent second half numbers.

I would be content so see Paulie share some DH duties with Thome and find a little extra bench time against righties. I won't even get into his awful defense.

So do I have any positive predictions? Yes.

4. Ozzie will not sit idly by and watch the above happen. He will make changes to the line-up and demand Kenny get him help for the rotation.

5. Javier Vazquez will shake off his mid-season slump and be the best pitcher on the staff in the second half.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

This Blog is Not Dead - Only in Hibernation

I didn't pick a great time to take a break. This year's White Sx are a fun club to watch. I think the biggest surprises this year have to be the contributions from Quentin, Ramirez, Linebrink, Danks and Floyd. Throw in Cabrera, Swisher and Dotel, and it's quite amazing the talent that Kenny has brought in over the last two years. Who needs a farm system?

I have been critical of Williams in the past but I need to give credit where credit is due. Kenny rebuilt this team on the fly and it looks like a legitimate playoff contender.

I probably won't be posting for another few weeks. We had out second baby back in February and blogging hasn't been high on the priority list. But I should be back in the swing of things by August.

Go Sox.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Obama is The Black Larry Bird

It's a bit eye opening to see some of my favorite bloggers take the side of Geraldine Ferraro in her awful comments about Barack Obama. I think the argument they make can be summed up as "hey Geraldine Ferraro is right. A big part Obama's appeal is the fact he is black". Kaus even links Andrew Sullivan, in what he thinks is some type of Gotcha!.

But of course, Ferraro said no such thing. She said the only reason Obama is where he is, is because of his skin color. To quote, "he would not be in this position if he were white". It was not meant as a compliment to Obama's appeal, but as an insult to diminish his accomplishments.

I think the success and appeal of Larry Bird is fitting analogy to the success and appeal of Barack Obama. Larry Bird excelled in a game that is generally dominated by players of another ethnicity. There have not been that many successful white American-born basketball players in the last 25 years. But not only did he excel, he was one of the two best players of his generation. There is no denying that fact given the numbers he put up and the championships the Celtics won.

Of course, being white made him a tremendously popular player, especially with white fans. Not only is there the straightforward appeal of seeing someone who shares your background become successful, but there is also the appeal of rooting for the underdog.

Now there is nothing wrong with arguing that a large part of Larry Bird's appeal was his race, as I have done here. It is an indisputable fact.

But you can't argue that Larry Bird would not have been a great basketball player if he was black. But some people certainly tried. That was an argument made by Isaiah Thomas in 1989 who said, "if Larry Bird was a black guy, he would just be another good guy". That is insulting, offensive, bitter and utterly false.

Barack Obama is excelling in a field that is generally dominated by politicians of another ethnicity. There have not been that many successful black politicians on the national stage. Not only is he excelling, he leading the race to become the Democratic nominee for President. There is no denying that fact given the votes he has received and the contests he has won.

So if you want to argue that part of Obama's appeal is his ethnicity, that's true. We just haven't seen a black politician this talented before on the national stage and I will admit it is exciting.

But that is not the point Ferraro made. If you listened to her multiple interviews, she argues that being black is the only reason Obama is winning. But if being black was so important to being president, we would have had a black one a long time ago.

Barack Obama is a intelligent, charismatic, and skilled politician. And he's black. That last fact is a wonderful aspect of his campaign. But it is not the reason he is winning.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Clinton Spin, Not Tactics, Is What Makes Campaign Pathetic

Many observers think the Clinton campaign has sunk to a new low with this ad:

But it's not the fear-mongering that bothers me. It's the relentless spinning that comes from the campaign that is completely divorced from reality.

From Ben Smith at

Clinton aide Howard Wolfson called the suggestion that her ad today constitutes fearmongering "ludicrous," and quoted Obama's words back at him to defend the spot.

"It is an absolute insult to the voters to suggest that a discussion of national security in this campaign constitutes fearmongering," he said.

He also noted that Obama had said "it's a legitimate question," as well as one of "the kind of [ads] that play upon people's fears."

"The Obama campaign should either decide: Is it fearmongering or is it a legitimate question," he said.

To answer Mr. Wolfson's question, asking who will have better judgment in a crisis is a legitimate. Showing children sleeping in the middle of the night when asking that question is fear-mongering.

And the increasingly ridiculous Mark Penn states that the ad is "a positive ad. Very soft images."

This never-ending bullshit makes me giddy of the prospect of the whole lot of them walk off the stage.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Cramer Wrong, ChiSox Daily Right on WDC

Back in mid-January, I wrote that Western Digital (WDC) was a bargain at 25.27 and stated that there was no way that this stock was staying below $30/share. Then the very next day, a caller on Mad Money asks Jim Cramer if it was a good time to buy the stock and I started to get excited. Cramer would give a plug and I would see a nice bounce in the stock. But he said "don't buy!" and called hard drives a commodity and stated that WDC has no control of the market.

I'll leave it to the tech experts to decide if the hard drive industry is a commodity business. But a company earning $4/share, expanding market their share, and trading at $25 is a buy regardless of what type of industry they operate in.

Yesterday, WDC hit a 52 week high of $34.80, a 37.7% gain from when I called it a bargain on 1/15. Today, after two downgrades, it was down to $32.26, 28% higher than the price on 1/15. I can't fault the analysts too much from dropping the stock to neutral from buy (although they certainly are wrong), as this quick of a price increase invites profit taking.

But WDC just revised 4th quarter earnings upward and I still this stock moving higher throughout the year and $40/share isn't out of the question.

As for Cramer, I'm a big fan of the show. But you need to remember that while he may have an opinion on every stock, he only has superficial knowledge of most of them. If you own a stock, there is a good chance you will have a better idea of where it's going than Cramer does.

Not A Good Sign for the Clinton Campaign

Yesterday, Clinton's chief strategist, Mark Penn, gave an interview basically stating that he wasn't responsible for the campaign's implosion. Today, Harold Ickes, one of Clinton's top advisers, gave a scorching interview in response. Among the many juicy quotes he states, "Besides Hillary Clinton, he is the single most responsible person for this campaign."

First, the fact that these guys are already trying to frame the blame tells you all you need to know about Hillary's chances of winning the Democratic nomination. Second, what kind of operation has top advisers battling each other in the media days before what will most likely be the deciding primaries of the campaign?

If this is a sign of how her presidency would function, we can all be glad Hillary's candidacy will be over on Tuesday.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Taking Stock of 2007

I did better in my stock picks than my baseball picks last year. I hit a couple homers with Helmerich & Payne (HP, 64% gain) and Western Digital (WDC, 79% gain) and a few doubles with Coca Cola (KO, 27%) and Ternium (TX, 41%). Surprisingly, all these gains were from value and not growth stocks.

I did have a couple stinkers but really don't want to rehash them, although I'm still bullish on Marvel (MVL). You can check all my winners and losers below (or here).

2008 is looking like it will be a much tougher environment for investors. At the start of the year I scaled back my investment in Helmerich & Payne (HP). While I probably should have sat on the money I wanted to get it back in the market. My bright idea was to invest in two value stocks with attractive dividend yields. I would lock in the yields now and have some price appreciation upside if and when the markets return to normal.

So I bought Leggett & Platt (LEG) at 16.31 (6.13% yield) and General Electric (GE) at 35.40 (3.5% yield). Of course both stocks are down since I bought them, 2.8% and 2.5% respectively.

I'm not worried about GE, their dividend is solid, and they should whether a possible recession better than most companies. But I have a tinge of buyers remorse with Leggett. I've read that they've raised their dividend annually for something like the past 34 years (yay!). But they get nearly half their revenues by making home furnishing components (boo!). They should have a big enough cash flow cushion to keep their dividend in place, even with the housing mess, but at this point it seems like an unnecessary risk to take. Anyway, we'll see how my theory works out by the end of the 2008.

My big winner of 2007, Western Digital (WDC), started off 2007 with a nosedive. It lost 20% before recovering a bit the past couple of days. It's still down over $5 a share (16%) and closed at 25.27 today. That price is a bargain! They have already announced that earnings for the fourth quarter should come in around a $1 share, meaning that is has a PE of 25 for this just the past quarter alone. They are also bullish for 2008 so I I don't see how they stay below $30/share for long. The stock simply got caught in a market route and should bounce back.