Monday, October 30, 2006

Election 2006 -- Local Races

It's election time again. The election is just over a week away, and I have a lot of candidates and propositions to read up on and make some decisions. I've been using SmartVoter to start my research on some of the lesser known candidates and issues. Here's my take on a few of the things I've read so far...

State Board of Equalization, District 1

Reading through the list of candidates, first I came to the incumbent, Betty Yee, Democrat. She sounded OK. She is endorsed by teachers. That's a red flag to me. After all, teachers have a huge vested interest in a regulatory position such as this one. Next was David Neighbors, Republican. He looked interesting. He's from San Jose and is very much in favor of tax and government reduction. Finally, I came to Kennita Watson, Libertarian. Now here's somebody to get excited over. She's went to MIT. I liked her position on some of the propositions that are being voted on. She wants to use technology to make paying taxes/regulations easier and the tax-collecting bureaucracies more transparent. She does seem a little naive, but what the heck, she's getting my vote.

State Assembly, District 24

Jim Beall, Democrat is the incumbent. He's big on funding education, a big negative in my book. His ideas for universal health care don't sound nearly as terrible as most such proposals. Kind of a wash overall. His website has issues, and that makes me think he's a little sure he's going to get re-elected. If there's one place where a candidate's website matters, it's Silicon Valley. Lionel Silva, is the Libertarian candidate. Unlike Ms. Watson, he doesn't seem like a libertarian I can agree with as much. He's against the Kelo eminent domain abuse, which is good. He's also in favor of "neutral" redistricting. That's one of those classic red herrings to me. Finally, there's Lawrence Hileman, Republican. He's a programmer, and wants to lower taxes. Those are good. But he's too caught up in immigration reform for me to vote for him. I think I will go with Beall, mostly for lack of a better alternative.

Mayor of San Jose

Ah yes, Chuck Reed vs. Cindy Chavez. This has been a pretty nasty campaign here in San Jose. Basically Reed played the "you're a buddy of Ron Gonzales" with great effectiveness, until Chavez found records of Reed making very questionable expenses as a city councilman. Reed re-paid the questionable expenses, but he had lost the moral high ground. So it comes down to issues. Reed is pro-business and development to combat housing prices. Chavez is big on law-enforcement and education. Not all of her education ideas are terrible (corporate sponsored scholarships sounds ok), but they are not great. Reed definitely seems like the smarter candidate as well, so he gets my vote.

Measure A

This is a local measure to place extra restrictions on "rural" lands. Reading the for/against arguments still leave this as a confusing issue. For me, extra regulation on land use is generally bad. Plus, it tries to make a county regulation to override municipal ones. I'd rather leave things up to the municipalities. So I will vote against Measure A.

Next I will look at some of the state races.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

More on Firefox 2.0

I upgraded my home computer with Firefox 2.0 when it became GA this week. The other critical factory in the upgrade was that the extension was upgraded to work with FF2. My wife and I both use this extension, so this was necessary if I was going to upgrade our home computer. That's when the trouble started.

The extension does indeed work with FF2. However, I immediately began having issues with it in combination with the Google Toolbar. My wife also uses the Google Toolbar, and she had the same problem. Disabling either one of the extensions seemed to solve the problem. We both chose to disable, as we both found the Google Toolbar more useful. She likes it's autofill for forms (I like this too) and I use its site search a lot. That's an invaluable tool for searching for things on open source forums. Those forums often provide their own search, but just using Google to search their site is almost always more effective.

Anyways, things didn't stop there. I was buying some stuff from Amazon, and FF2 froze up. This really annoyed me, especially since I had already entered in a credit card number in the order process. Of course Amazon is good at dealing with this kind of problem. I killed FF2, launched Flock (it's still FF 1.5 thankfully) and went back to Amazon. All was well, as my order was in my cart, and all I could pick up the checkout process right where I had left off.

So at this point I went ahead and disabled all my other extensions: Google Toolbar, Google Browser Sync, FireBug, and FireFTP. Maybe I'll try re-enabling them one at a time, to try and determine what was causing the instability. Hopefully the answer won't be "don't blame the extensions, blame FF2."

Friday, October 20, 2006

Hibernate Tools for Eclipse

There are a lot of Hibernate/Eclipse plugins out there. One that I used recently was the Hibernate Tools plugin that is part of the JBoss IDE. I'm paranoid about installing plugins in Eclipse, since I've used some that caused a lot of instability (XMLSpy comes to mind,) so I only installed the Hibernate Tools plugin, not all of the JBoss IDE plugins.

It seems to be very good for maintaining/upgrading Hibernate artifacts. It was very easy to configure a Hibernate console by using an existing Hibernate configuration file. This file specified annotated classes. I had made some changes to the database, but I was easily able to connect to the DB and generate new artifacts (new annotated classes, i.e. EJB3 Entity Beans.) This served my purposes perfectly.

I could also load a separate Hibernate configuration file, this one that specified classes mapped with good 'ol HBM XML files. I could easily generate Entity Beans for these classes as well (or new HBMs, etc.)

I also gave it a try at reverse engineering from an existing schema. This worked very well. I still like Middlegen's interface for this, since it allows you to easily customize data types (like specifying java.util.Date instead of java.sql.Timestamp) and relationships (removing inverses, etc.) Still, this seems to be a great all-around tool.

IE7 Released To The Masses

I got a "critical" Windows Update today to install: IE7. Yep, Microsoft has not only released it to the masses, but as expected, is pushing it as a critical update for all XP users. I had been using it on my work computer for awhile now, though I had kept IE6 on my home computer. I have been mostly pleased with IE7, so I will go ahead and upgrade it on my home computer as well.

Now that IE7 is out, I figured it was time to test its performance. I read this bit about how it performed a lot better than IE6 on sites heavy with JavaScript and DHTML. So I treid it against my favorite JS benchmark, BenchJS. I decided to pit it against the other "modern" browsers, Firefox 2.0 RC3 and Opera 9.0.

First I ran IE7. I stripped it down by disabling all add-ons and by stripping down all the XP chrome and effects. The last time I had ran IE6, it had taken around 19-20 seconds for BenchJS. IE7 did it in 9.3 seconds. This seemed similar to what the Zimbra blogger had said, that it was about twice as fast IE6.

Next I ran Firefox 2.0 RC3. Why FF 2.0, and not 1.5? Mostly because 2.0 is what I have installed on my work computer. Second, it seemed more fair to compare Mozilla's latest against Microsoft's latest. My old numbers on FF 1.5, had it clocking BenchJS at around 12-13 seconds. FF 2.0 did it in 6.4 seconds. It looks like Mozilla has also doubled up their speed.

Finally, I brought in the ringer: Opera 9. Opera always kills the compettition on BenchJS. This time it turned out BenchJS in 5.5 seconds. That was actually a little bit slower than last time I had ran Opera, but only by a couple of tenths of a second.

So Opera still holds the speed crown, but Firefox is suddenly only about 1 second behind. IE7 is a nice improvement over IE6, but FF 2.0 is also a nice improvement over FF 1.5! I'm sure the Mozilla devs were feeling a lot of pressure to stay ahead of IE and keep their momentum going. Looks like they've done just that. Microsoft will have to hope that IE's new UI is viewed as an improvement over Firefox. Otherwise, it is still behind the Fox.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Random Bits

A few random things I came across while eating my lunch today.

First, there's this hilarious video about a guy and his struggles with his Mac.

As a former Mac user, I knew exactly what this guy was talking about. I'd still say that OSX crashes less often than XP (though still more often than Linux,) but definitely hangs just as often if not more. I definitely did a "Force Quit" on my old G5 on a regular basis. It definitely seemed to have extended (greater than 5 seconds) hangs that it would recover from as well. I often mused that the reason Apple pushed multi-CPU machines was because it was easier than fixing pre-emptive scheduling in OSX.

Next, there's this little nugget from Cato. It's not surprising to me to see that public schools spend more per student than private ones. Government run businesses are notoriously inefficient. Can a government run business ever be efficient? The USSR never seemed to have any luck, and our school system seems to be striking out as well. Of course there's more to the story than Cato or the Goldwater Institute would like to admit. Public schools include lots of "special need" students that may not be as common in private schools (maybe even non-existent?) It seems likely that per-student spending on such kids is much higher than on other kids. In general, having to support diverse groups of children is going to cause a lot of inefficiencies. Of course you can argue that's just more proof that public schools should be discarded.

Finally, Monday night I watched the MNF game, Chicago at Arizona. A lot of people were blown away by how Arizona "found a way" to lose a game where they had a big lead. That wasn't the most memorable thing to me though. I came away from that game thinking "ESPN has to get rid of Tony Kornheiser."

Now a lot of people have really liked him on MNF. This was easily the mos interesting game of the year so far on MNF, and it showed the problems with a guy like Kornheiser. He is obvious and unoriginal. He does not have insights, and simply looks to contradict the other commentators.

For example, there were a couple of times late in the second quarter where Chicago made bad turnovers. Arizona had chances to really build their lead. It could have been 35-0, but instead it was 20-0. That's a big difference. Theismann and the visiting Charles Barkley tried to raise the possibility of this being a potential turning point in the game. Arizona did not have the killer instinct to put away Chicago, and this was going to lead to a Chicago comeback. You can argue if that was insightful of them or not, but all Kornheiser could say was "Hey look at the scoreboard! Arizona is up by 20! There is no turning point!"

Later, Theismann first wanted Arizona to let Matt Leinart throw the ball more, since that was the only way they had success. Then after some incomplete passes, Theismann warned about how incomplete passes were stopping the clock and leaving Chicago with time to make a comeback. Of course Kornheiser had to point out the contradiction by Theismann, but that's all he did. He had nothing more insightful like "Just run the ball, even if you get 0 yards and go three-and-out" or "Don't worry about stopping the clock just stay aggressive, and have confidence in your defense." Theismann wanting to have it both ways is annoying, but Kornheiser just being "hey you screwed up, nyah nyah" is much worse.

Kornheiser is like the guy you watch an action movie with who is always pointing out how such and such stunt is impossible. Eventually you stop inviting that guy to watch movies with you. ESPN probably can't make that call, yet, but they will have to. He's OK in games that are blow-outs, where ragging on the team being blown out is one of the only wayts to keep it interesting. He just doesn't work in a game where the game itself is interesting. His negativity is just annoying.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


The big news in the Valley is Google's acquisition of YouTube for $1.65B. I gotta say that I was pretty surprised, like most people.  YouTube certainly has its share of naysayers. Mark Cuban thought only a moron would buy YouTube because of the possible copyright lawsuits that could erupt. Actually he has a lot of negative blogs on YouTube. Many other people point YouTube's lack of a business model.

So are they all wrong and Google right? Maybe. One would guess that Google has some ideas on how to monetize YouTube while maintaining its huge user base. Google is the king of non-invasive but effective online ads. So the question becomes, will Google get sued like crazy for all the copyright material on YouTube? Is YouTube really just the new Napster?

That's the million dollar question, or I should say the $1.65B question. What's interesting is that Napster got slammed by lawsuits before they had made much (any?) money. The music industry was more concerned that they were losing money because of Napster than they were with making money from Napster.

Thus can we say that YouTube is not viewed as having a negative effect on the TV and movie industries? Those mediums have certainly suffered in recent years. So one would think that if they thought that YouTube was hurting them, they would have sued already and shut them down. Of course, it may be a question of timing. Maybe YouTube just hasn't been around long enough. Maybe those kind of lawsuits would have happened next year.

Or maybe not. Maybe YouTube has little effect on movies. Most of its effect is probably on TV. I would guess that any effect it has on TV is insignificant compared to the effects of DVRs and audience fragmentation caused by the proliferation of cable content. Killing YouTube would not have helped the major networks.

That doesn't mean they won't go after Google/YouTube, given Google's deep pockets. But it would hardly be an easy fight. You must assume that Google would not have made the YouTube purchase if it was not prepared to fight. It would be a costly fight for the TV networks, and time is on Google's side.

No, even as Mark Cuban admits, Google would have more to fear from small content creators than from the major networks. He even thinks lawyers would upload content to YouTube just to build a case against them. Maybe he is right. The RIAA has shown that a big company taking on lots of people is not effective, even if they win most of the lawsuits.

Still, it seems like Google could prepare for this and try to make it as difficult as possible for these people. Setup some kind of system for taking down the content, thus forcing plaintiffs to jump through all kinds of hoops. As most customer service departments know, if you make it difficult enough, most people will give up.

On another note, Terry points out that Google's acquisition seems like an admission of failure for Google Video. I think that's right on. Google Video was a pain for personal content, unlike YouTube. Of course it also tried to double as a paid video service, competing with iTunes Video. I think that's the real story here. Google couldn't do amateur video as good as YouTube, and they couldn't do "professional"(paid) video as good as iTunes. Apple is winning the video download market, just as they've won the audio download market.

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Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Yankees and A-Rod

I was surprised as anyone to see the Yankees go down in four games to Detroit. I knew that New York's pitching was very suspect, but I thought that Detroit's pitching was hurting a little and that the best offense in baseball would get to it. Boy, was I wrong. Sure the Yanks got to them in game 1, but that was because Detroit's rotation was not setup for the playoffs. Detroit had battled Minnesota for the AL Central crown and had gone to extra-innings on the last day of the season trying to hold off the Twins. Once their big three starters got into the series in game 2, things changed.

Detroit was lead all year by Justin Verlander, Kenny Rogers, and Jeremy Bonderman. Verlander and Bonderman looked tired at the end of the season, Verlander sported a 5.82 ERA in August and September, while Bonderman had a 4.98 ERA. Meanwhile Rogers had struggled against the Yankees in the past. It didn't look good for the Tigers.

But you know the saying, that's why they play the game. The big three were 2-0 with a 2.10 ERA, 1.125 WHIP, and 17K in 21.1 IP in the ALDS. That's dominant. That was the story of the ALDS. The Yankees offense was silenced by the Tigers pitching.

So now things get interesting. Not just because we get a very interesting ALCS between Oakland and Detroit (though I'm guessing Fox is wishing New York was still in there,) but because we get the ultimate soap opera. Once the Yankees have fallen short and we get the soap opera of Steinbrenner trying to fix his team. Already we're hearing that Joe Torre is out, which is pretty shocking. But the big drama is around Alex Rodriguez.

A-Rod's 1-14 ALDS punctuated a season where Yankee fans have been furious with A-Rod. That despite A-Rod putting up huge numbers once again, and just a year after he won the AL MVP. All A-Rod has heard has been boos because "he doesn't come through in the clutch." This is only going to get an order of magnitude worse with A-Rod's 1-14 in the Yankees' ALDS loss.

So what should the Yankees do about A-Rod? Of course the whole thing is ridiculous. A-Rod is one the best offensive players in the game. He's going to challenge many career records for home runs, RBIs, etc. However, it is quite possible that because of all the negative feelings towards him, he may have an even harder time playing to his ability in New York. This is the fault of the Yankee fans and of Joe Torre. Torre should have left A-Rod in the cleanup spot no matter what this year. Playing him the 8th spot against Detroit is unacceptable.

Thus the Yankees may have to trade A-Rod, even though it is a stupid thing to do. Obvously they need pitching. Any team with a promising young pitcher would be fools NOT to trade for A-Rod -- if they can afford him. That's the rub. There aren't many teams that can take on 25M/year salary. So the Yankees will probably have to take on part of A-Rod's salary in order to trade him. I think a Matt Cain for A-Rod trade would be interesting. Maybe the Cubs can convince them to take Mark Prior for him.

A Roy Oswalt for A-Rod trade would be pretty interesting too. A-Rod's stats have suffered in Yankee Stadium (as was predicted by many when he was traded there) because it is a tough place for a right-handed power hitter. His numbers would explode at Minute Maid Park in Houston. Lance Berkman and A-Rod would make for the most lethal 3-4 combo in baseball. Oswalt would not only be the ace of the staff for the Yankees, he would put up huge numbers because he would suddenly have run support. Plus, he's thought of as a "clutch" pitcher who has performed well in the postseason. Again, the Yankees would have to pay part of A-Rod's salary, since there's no way Houston could afford to pay him.

That's only part of the story for the Yankees. They need to figure out if Jason Giambi can play 1st base or not. If not, they need a 1st basemen and they need to trade either Gary Sheffiled or Hideki Matsui (or Bobby Abreu, but I doubt that one.) Sheffield looked terrible at 1st base. That's another strike against Joe Torre.

They also need to move Randy Johnson out of the starting rotation. He cannot hold up for a full season at his age. He could be a terrific relief pitcher, though obviously Mariano Rivera is going to close games as long as his health allows. Mussina and Wang are the only two pitchers that should be in the rotation next year. They should throw some money at Jason Schmidt. That could be a nice rotatoion: Oswalt-Schmidt-Mussina-Wang-whatever.

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Thursday, October 05, 2006

My Experience with Vonage (and Comcast)

I saw this article recently on Slashdot. A similar thing happened to my wife, too. We are Vonage and Comast customers. Comcast called our house trying to get us to switch to Comcast VOIP. She made the same retort mentioned in the /. article, saying Vonage is cheaper. They tried to throw the same FUD at her. It didn't work.

We've been very happy with Vonage. Our call quality is excellent. It helps to have a high bandwidth connection (4 megabit.) We have our VOIP box configured to get max quality, even if that means slower connection speed on the computers in our home network. It's never been an issue. Voice quality is always good, and our internet connection is always fast.

VOIP is sometimes looked as a disruptive technology, but it doesn't even qualify I think. Usually disruptive techs are not as good as the techs they are disrupting. They're "almost" as good, and a lot cheaper. In a lot of ways, VOIP is better. It's nice being able to get email notifications that you got voicemail, and then be able to listen to the voicemail online. It's nice being able to re-direct calls automatically to a cell phone when we are away from home (particularly on vacation.)

We switched to Vonage a couple of years ago, when we lived in Concord. We moved to San Jose at the beginning of last year, but because of VOIP, we were able to keep the same number (a 925 area code, even though 408 is the area code in San Jose.)

There are a few things I'd like to see from Vonage. I would like them to setup service in Bakersfield and Panama City, FL -- where our families are. Then we could have virutal numbers in each of those cities, allowing our families to make local calls to us. Again this is something that convential telephone services can't provide. The only thing stopping it from happening is that Vonage doesn't have service in those two cities. I'd also like call blocking on blocked caller IDs, but that's a minor thing.

Oh the big thing that Comcast tried to claim over Vonage was all about 911 service. As long as you make sure that your home address is accurate in Vonage, then you can dial 911 and the police/fire/ambulance/whatever will show up at your door.

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Ruby Time

I started a small project using Ruby recently. It is indeed a Rails project, though the code I am writing for it has little to do with Rails. I like Ruby, but I think that's because I like Java and Perl. I think of Ruby as Perl for Java. Of course there's Groovy now (which I am also a fan of) which is kind of like Ruby for Java (oh wait, isn't that JRuby?)

Anyways, since I think of Ruby in much the way I think of Perl, I figured I would write my code in a simple text editor (notepad2 to be exact) and do everything comman line with Rake. Then I realized there are some great tools out there for doing Ruby development. Ruby on Windows ships with FreeRIDE, a nice little IDE for Ruby. Well actually, the developers are quick to say that it "cannot yet be called a real IDE" but it's pretty close.

But wait, there's more. There are a couple of nice Ruby plugins for Eclipse. Yes, Eclipse. It is my theory that many Ruby developers come from Java, as opposed to other dynamic web languages like PHP and Python. Thus it's not surprising there would be Ruby plugins for Eclipse. All those Java devs wanting to experiment with Ruby can't live without Eclipse!

First there is the Ruby Development Tool or RDT. This is very similar to FreeRIDE, but with some extra features that Eclipse using Java devs have come to expect. Its debugger is just like the Java debugger that is one of the strengths of Eclipse. It also has built-in support for JUnit-like unit testing (Test::Unit.) For Java devs, they will find some limitations. Code completion and error catching are not as good, but that is simply because Ruby is dynamic.

RDT is a lot like the standard Java tooling that is core to Eclipse. For Java web development, there's the Eclipse sister project, Web Tools Platform (WTP.) Similarly RDT has a web development platform called RadRails. This is for Rails, of course, since that seems to be the only web development option for Ruby developers.

As I mentioned, I'm not doing a whole lot of Rails development on this project (yet.) So I haven't played around with RadRails too much. It looks very straightforward, with wizards for creating new Rails projects, target web servers, and databases, etc.

One of the big strengths of Ruby is that it is a fun language to program in. RDT (and presumably RadRails) make this even more enjoyable.

Finally, one last Ruby note. Spring 2.0 was finally released this week. One of the cool features it has is support for Groovy, BeanShell, and Ruby (via JRuby.) It seems a little odd to write a Java interface and then implement it in Ruby, but I can already think of scenarios where it could be useful.

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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Apple Software Update and iTunes 7.0.1 (Rant)

Recently I installed iTunes 7.0. One of the options it included was to install Apple Software Update. At first I thought, great just what I need, more garbage on my hard drive and eating up memory. Then I thought about how annoying it was to do updates of iTunes. Sure iTunes tells you there is an update available, but all it does is direct you to a web page on Apple's site. From there you have to download the file and run it manually, making sure to shut down iTunes (which is probably running since it was what prompted you to do the update) so that the installer can proceed. Then afterwards I always have to delete QuickTime links it puts all over the place (no option in the installer to not drop these links) and remove QuickTime from my system tray (the installer does not look at the preferences from the old version of QT, or just chooses to reset them.) It's definitely the worst user experience from an Apple product, and it's the most popular Apple product by far (since every iPod owner has iTunes.)

So I decided to install Apple's Software Update, in hopes that it would make this process better. What should a software update program do? Well it would be nice if it could do incremental updates, particularly when the software package is pretty big (and iTunes clocks in as a 35+ MB download these days.) That's pretty hard, though, and few programs pull this off. Next it should be able to download/process the update in a transparent manner to the end user. If it needs to shutdown the program being updated, then it should allow you to do this from within the software update program. If it is going to require a restart after it is done, it should warn you this ahead of time.

So today I load up iTunes and get a warning telling me I need to update iTunes to 7.0.1. This is exactly the same kind of warning I got pre iTunes 7.0. So why did I install this Apple Software Update program? I actually decided to launch it, and it claimed my software was up-to-date.

So of course I had to go through the above painful process, one more time. But wait, it gets worse. When I ran the installer for 7.0.1, it tried to install iTunes in a different place than where it was currently installed. I didn't remember previous versions screwing that up. Next, it asked me if I wanted to install the Apple Software Update program! Of course that program is already installed... Finally, once I got done it told me I needed to reboot Windows. Great, thanks for warning me ahead of time.

All in all, a very disappointing experience. It seems that iTunes is taking steps backwards, not forwards. Maybe Apple should concentrate more on basic software functionality instead of re-designing their UI to compete with Vista... (I know Vista copied OSX, but does that mean you have to change things?)

MLB Playoff Picks

National League

It's a shame that the Mets and Dodgers meet in the NLDS. The Mets were clearly the class of the NL this year, but statistically the Dodgers are right behind them. Their offense scored only 14 less runs than the heralded Mets offense. That's especially impressive since Dodger Stadium is the usually one of the toughest ballparks for hitters. The Dodgers are the pick here. They were a hot team down the stretch. The Mets pitching is going to hurt without Pedro Martinez. The Mets are more of a long-ball team than the Dodgers. Such teams often struggle in the postseason. Dodgers in four games.

If only the Mets could play either San Diego or St. Louis. They would dominate either team. St. Louis limped into the postseason, but they sport arguably the league's best hitter (Albert Pujols) and best pitcher (Chris Carpenter.) They are a much better offensive team than the Padres, who relied on having the best pitching in the league. It's tempting to say "great pitchig beats great hitting." That's garbage though. The Padres will struggle to score against the Cardinals, and that will be their undoing. They will suffer if they pitch around Pujols too much (you just can't put one hitter on base 2-3 times a game, every game, and not give up some runs.) So St. Louis in four games.

So if I'm right so far, we'll have a Los Angeles vs. St. Louis NLCS. I won't go into too much analysis of such a speculative matchup, but I would pick Los Angeles in five games.

American League

What a great season it's been for Detroit. It's probably about to come to a crashing halt though, as they play the Yankees in the ALDS. Detroit struggled against teams with good hitting all year, and the Yankees have the most potent offense in baseball by far. They scored 60 more runs than anybody else.  It's tempting to look at Detroit and see shades of the world champion Florida Marlins from a couple of years ago. Y'know, the team that beat the Yankess in the World Series. The Tigers are coached by Jim Leyland, have the great Ivan Rodriguez catching, and have some great young pitching, all things in common with the Marlins. The Marlins had a better offense (Miguel Cabrera, Derek Lee, Mike Lowell, Juan Pierre, etc)  and Detroit's young pitching has struggled down the stretch (tired arms?) Their bullpen is probably better than Florida's, but it won't be enough. Yankess in four games.

Oakland and Minnesota always seem to lose to the Yankees in the ALDS. This year, they get each other. They are the two hottest teams in the AL. I was leaning towards picking Oakland, especially after seeing Rich Harden crush pitchers in two starts recently after coming off the DL all year. However, Harden struggled in the last game. Still, it's going to be a tough battle. The A's will not be able to touch Santana, and that will be the difference. Twins in five games.

In the theoretical Yankess vs. Twins... I'd like to say it's time for the Twins to kill the witch... but the Yankees were effective against Santana this year, just as they've always been. Without two wins from Santana, the Twins have little chance. So the Yankees in six games.

A Yankees-Dodgers World Series is every TV exec's dream. The Yankees are the better team on paper. If Randy Johnson is back and pitching effectively (two very big IFs) then they should definitely win. Otherwise, the bombers may find it very hard hitting homers in Dodger Stadium. S o I will go with the Dodgers in a six shocking games.

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Monday, October 02, 2006

MLB '06 -- Awards and Postseason Picks

Today was a sad day. No baseball. The regular season ended yesterday, and the postseason starts tomorrow. This postseason is bitter sweet, as it is the first time in more than a decade that my favorite team, Atlanta, is not taking part. So time to look back at the regular season. Here are my picks for the various regular season awards.


First off, the National League. It is a clear race between Albert Pujols and Ryan Howard. Pujols was spectacular all season. He was the best overall hitter in the NL, as measured by OPS . However, he missed several weeks early in the season. This helped Howard put up greater cumulative numbers with 58 home runs to 49 and 149 RBIs to 137. Pujols still managed 119 runs to Howard's 104, despite Howard having nearly the same OBP as Pujols (.425 for Howard vs. .431 for Pujols) and actually getting on base 21 more times than Pujols. This just shows that Howard had weaker hitters behind him than Pujols. Overall, Howard also racked up 155.5 runs created vs. 141 for Pujols, and even had a slightly better RC/27 outs of 10.19 vs. 9.94. In my opinion RC/27 is just as good as OPS for measuring production. So with a wash on the "average" categories, you have to give the MVP to Ryan Howard with his overall better numbers. He certainly carried his team back into contention, and only a tremendous finish by the Dodgers kept the Phillies out of the playoffs.

Honorable Mention: Lance Berkman. Clearly overshadowed by the other two first basemen, Berkman had a huge season (.315-45-136.) He was definitely behind the other two guys in every category, but he was also easily above everybody else.

Now for the American League. It's kind of a similar story over there. Travis Hafner and Manny Ramirez had great average numbers (OPS and RC27,) but David Ortiz put up much better cumulative numbers, particulary total runs created. Like Howard, he lead the league in home runs and RBIs. In addition, Ortiz was probably the most feaured hitter, especially late in the game. This lead to him leading the league in walks as well. Ortiz is a clear choice over Hafner and Ramirez. The White Sox's 1-2 punch of Jim Thome and Jermaine also had huge numbers, but clearly below Ortiz as well.

No, the only hitter who could challenge Ortiz for MVP is Derek Jeter. Jeter had a great season, finishing second in batting to Joe Mauer. He had a great OBP (.417) which lead to him scoring 118 runs. Obviously his power numbers are nowhere near Ortiz's. In addition, Ortiz's OBP (.413) and runs scored (115) were nearly equal to Jeter's. It's hard to make a statistical argument for Jeter. Really Jeter was only the third best hitter on his team, behind Jason Giambi and Alex Rodriguez. Still, I wouldn't be surprised if there is a Jeter over Ortiz pick, kind of like Terry Pendleton beating out Barry Bonds back in the early 90's.

Cy Young

Let's do the easy one first, the AL. Johan Santana put togther a triple crown season, leading the league in ERA, wins, and strikeouts. Actually, he lead all of the majors in all three categories. Nobody is even close to Santana in the AL. In fact, you can make a strong case for him as an MVP candidate.

Honorable Mention -- Roy Halladay. He put together a great season (16-8, 3.19 ERA) for Toronto. Just nowhere near as good as Santana.

Now for the more contentious NL. Nobody had more than 16 wins in the NL, which is really unusual. Still, three pitchers had significantly better ERAs thant he rest of the league: Roy Oswalt, Chris Carpenter, and Brandon Webb. Oswalt and Carpenter won 15 games, trailing Webb's 16 games. Overall, Carpenter was harder to hit than the other two (.643 Opp. OPS, leading the league) and had more strikeouts. He also played on a playoff team, though Oswalt helped Houston make a run for the NL Central title. Seems like enough of an edge to hand him another Cy Young.

There are two NL relievers worth mentioning. Trevor Hoffman lead the league with 46 saves and had a 2.14 ERA. Billy Wagner was just behind with 40 saves and a 2.24 ERA. Both of these guys helped their teams win their divisions. Both guys also had 5 blown saves. Those are good percentages, but not good enough to pick them over a starting pitcher.

So to summarize:

NL MVP -- Ryan Howard

NL Cy Young -- Chris Carpenter

AL MVP -- David Ortiz

AL Cy Young -- Johan Santana

Next time, I'll put together some playoff analysis and picks.

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