MLB Predictions: Reviewed

I’m going to do something that few other sportswriters do, which is analyze my pre-season predictions. There is one week remaining in the MLB season as of this publication, as these screenshots and analysis cover everything through September 21. This can be done because all the serious races have been decided. This piece will take a close look at Pythagorean record (X-W/L) using runs scored & allowed to determine if a team was “lucky” or “unlucky” in 2018. Any team that veers more than +/- two wins from their actual record can be considered either lucky or unlucky. That can tell you a lot about their expectations in this post-season & 2019.

AL East Prediction:
Contenders: Yankees, Red Sox (WC)
Pretenders: Blue Jays, Rays, Orioles

What happened: The Red Sox had the highest payroll in MLB, and are currently 105-49, but their X-W/L says they should be 98-56. That’s still good enough to win the division, but they’ve also been extremely lucky. The Red Sox are the best team in baseball, but not by as wide a margin as some would have you believe. I predicted the Yankees would win this division, so I was wrong there. But I also said that whoever is the Wild Card in the AL East, will win the play-in game, which is the most significant advantage to winning the division. Once you’re past that, then everything is equalized in the divisional round. What I’m saying is that if the Yankees overpower the Oakland A’s in the Wild Card play-in game, which is what I (and most) expect to happen, then it doesn’t matter who finished 1st & 2nd in the AL East. If the A’s win, then I was really wrong; otherwise I’m correct about everything in the AL that counts, except the second Wild Card. I also predicted the Orioles would be a complete joke, and they are. See: Chris “Crash” Davis, and this offensively bad pitching staff.

AL Central Prediction:
Contenders: Indians, Twins (WC)
Pretenders: Royals, White Sox, Tigers

What happened: No brainer picking the Indians, as they are they only good team in this division. They won despite being extremely unlucky, with a record that is 7 wins below their Pythagorean. That means this team is a bit of a sleeper, and with the acquisition of relievers Brad Hand & Adam Cimber from the Padres at the deadline, they are stacked in the pen. The AL pennant is a heavyweight battle royale, and it’s easy to overlook Cleveland. That would be a mistake, as this is one of the best-run franchises in MLB today. The Twins were the second Wild Card in 2017, and looked like strong contenders to repeat to that plateau with their off-season additions, but it never happened in 2018. This division may be the worst in MLB, and it’s why I picked the Twins for the Wild Card. The Rays are better than any non-Cleveland team in this division, and probably would have won the second AL Wild Card had they played in this division or the AL West.

AL West Predictions:
Contender: Astros
Pretenders: Angels, Mariners, A’s, Rangers

What happened: The Houston Astros are like Cleveland, in that they have been extremely unlucky, yet they both won their divisions easily– as expected. The Angels acquired this past winter’s most coveted prize Shohei Ohtani, and have proceeded to wreck him. Ohtani needs TJ surgery on his pitching elbow, yet he is still in the lineup DH-ing, even though the season has long been lost. I thought the Halos could finish as high as second, but they fell to fourth. The Mariners hung around for awhile because they were the luckiest team in MLB this year. Seattle is currently 84-69, with a negative run differential [!], which means they really are a 72-81 team. This is an old team full of holes and payroll bloat, so look for a major correction in 2019 for the Mariners. A big reason Oakland gets the second AL Wild Card is because this is a mediocre-to-weak division. Texas is awful, and will be for a long time now.

NL East Predictions:
Contender: Nationals
Pretenders: Braves, Phillies, Mets, Marlins

What happened: Everyone got this one wrong, as no one predicted a collapse from the Nationals. One warning sign I noted early was the hiring of Dave “Vodka” Martinez to replace Dusty Baker a manager. Baker had to go and everyone knew it, but this is a veteran team with a championship roster. The Gnats needed a manger with experience, and instead they went cheap and hired a rookie with no managing experience– anywhere. I haven’t been a fan of this franchise since they moved from Montreal, because they became just the opposite of what they were. In Canada, the Expos were a savvy small-market franchise that developed players from within, and kept payroll low. In Washington they’ve been a payroll behemoth personified by a front office & ownership that has little brains. I do feel for Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg and all the rest, because they deserved better and were ultimately let down by this lack of leadership.

With this collapse in DC, someone else had to step in and win this division, and certainly the Marlins & Mets weren’t capable. A few remaining Marlins fans wondered what might have been, if Derek Jeter & co. hadn’t blown everything up upon arrival. That left it to the Phillies & Braves, with Atlanta having the best roster mix of veterans & young talent. I think the Braves are second-rate to the Cubs & Dodgers as far as NL division winners go, but they deserve credit for stepping up when an opportunity presented itself in 2018. I’ll only change my mind on these Braves when they prove it in the post-season. They’re young & talented, so who knows…?

NL Central Predictions:
Contender: Cubs, Cardinals (WC)
Pretenders: Brewers, Reds, Pirates

What happened: The Cubs won the division, but are starting to look more & more beatable. Their Hu Darvish signing was the worst free-agent deal of this past winter, and will financially cripple them down the road. With that said, they’re still capable of winning it all in 2018. As I mentioned in my pre-season notes, the Brewers made the two best acquisitions of the off-season in free-agent CF Lorenzo Cain & LF Christian Yelich. The prospects the Brewers gave up in the Yelich trade were garbage, as this was the biggest steal of the past winter. That, and obtaining just enough pitching is what got the Brewers an NL Wild Card. The Cardinals managed to hang around until the end, as they always do. This is the kind of franchise they are, in that even when they aren’t particularly good, they can still get by, and they are going to get the second NL Wild Card. Overall this division is mediocre by NL standards, even though it has both Wild Cards.

* Since the Padres are out, I’m rooting for the Brewers this fall.

NL West
Contenders: Dodgers, Diamondbacks (WC)
Pretenders: Padres, Rockies, Giants

What happened: The high-payroll Dodgers weathered a barrage of injuries, and outlasted everyone in the competitive NL West. The Rockies surprised me some, as I thought the Diamondbacks were better positioned to repeat themselves for a Wild Card run. If you look at their Pythagorean records (ARZ & COL) you’ll see their places in the standing should be reversed, an example of luck factor which you can’t prognosticate in baseball. The Giants doubled down on veterans over the winter in a vain attempt to make another miracle. Look for wholesale roster changes in SF this winter, as they finished fourth. This is still the toughest division in the NL from top-to-bottom.

I’m a Padres fan, so I optimistically picked the Friars to rise to third place out West, but quickly realized this was a last-place team. In 2017 the Padres were 71-91 and finished fourth, but their Pythagorean record was 59-103. I overlooked that Pythagorean, and that’s why I’m emphasizing it here. The reason the Padres overplayed their record by 12 games in 2017 was 1) Andy Green is an elite manager, and 2) LHP Brad Hand had a season for the ages. Andy Green used Hand often & precisely, and he delivered time & time again. In 2017, there were so many situations where Brad Hand came in a serious jam, and he got the strikeout and/or double play ground ball to end the threat. Hand saved his bullpen mates a ton of runs, and made them look a lot better (ERA wise) than they actually were.

It would be an impossible to expect him to repeat that performance in 2018, and Hand wasn’t quite as good this season, although he’s still an All-Star. The Padres dealt him before the trade deadline to Cleveland for Francisco Mejia, the top catching prospect in MLB. The Padres have played Mejia extensively already and are impressed. This looks like a win-win trade, which is what you like to see when this kind of talent is involved.

Final analysis & Padres notes: As we can see, I got some stuff right and other stuff wrong. Most of the right stuff was easy to predict, as not much has changed in MLB. I’ve admitted my errors and shown you that I don’t know everything about baseball. Don’t you wish more sports-media types would do this? It will probably be another year or two before we see significant turnover in the top teams, as the best-run franchises are pretty well established now, and the second-division teams have a long way to go. The fate & direction of the Nationals will be a big story this winter.

The best bet for a surprise NL contender in 2019 will be the San Diego Padres who have the top farm system in MLB, with a few pieces in already place. Wil Myers moving to 3B will be a big help to the Padres, if he can stay healthy and hold down the position. They have top prospect SS Fernando Tatis Jr. and hitting machine 2B Luis Urias ready to fill in their infield. Age-23 RF Franmil Reyes has been a huge surprise for the Padres in this developmental campaign. He fits with CF Manny Margot and LF Hunter Renfroe who has also shown progress in 2018. Same for Austin Hedges, who is now a legit MLB catcher. They’re still probably another year or two away, but you can see it coming if you’re paying attention.

A big factor in the improvement of these young core players was the addition of free agent 1B Eric Hosmer, who sacrificed personal numbers to provide necessary leadership for this fragile team. This definitely took its toll, making him look bad in 2018, but his efforts weren’t lost on Andy Green & real Padres fans. For the first half of the season, Eric Hosmer was the only Padres position player to be healthy & above replacement level.

The reason this team hasn’t lost 100+ games in a season at any time during this painful building process is because of ownership support for A.J. Preller & Andy Green, who are geniuses at what they do. The Padres are currently one game below their X-W/L in 2018, and much of that is due to the bias in umpiring (on-the-field & replay) that has consistently gone against them. The Padres have been repeated victims of inexplicably bad calls, including the worst umpiring call in the history of baseball, which was barely mentioned in the media. It’s taken a few wins away for sure.

Of course, it’s all about pitching in terms of who wins in baseball, and the Padres dumped/demoted their remaining veterans a few months back, and have turned their rotation over to rookies & prospects to see what they have. Young LHP’s Eric Lauer, Joey Lucchesi and RHP Jacob Nix are the starters Green & Preller are watching the most closely. When the waves of top pitching talent start making an impact at Petco Park, the Padres will be a force in the NL. The priority for GM A.J. Preller this winter is to protect his prospects from the Rule 5 Draft in December, and then possibly make a deal for an ace pitcher– if one becomes available.

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The Ric Size Trio: Coming Soon!!

Early rehearsals have been promising. It’s so nice to work with true professionals.

We’re getting the band together. The Ric Size Trio is: Bill Pelick on bass & Tom Pearce on drums.

Above is the set list we’re working though, to figure out what works– and what doesn’t.

Look for us soon in Orlando & (hopefully) beyond!!

Update: Sunday September 23, 2018

Bass player Bill Pelick has left this project after two rehearsals. It turns out he prefers to play classic rock, and he’s also not up for touring. We are all still friends and wish him the best.

This has been the story of my music career. This trio was intended to be the “reunion tour,” where we played the fun songs and rocked everybody– for the money. One thing I’ve learned in my life is that I”m not allowed to be successful in business. Something always “happens” to prevent it, despite my best efforts & the demand I create. This “something” is establishment fear, which has been spread far, wide & deep by nefarious monied interests & the deep state. These entities do have the power to keep this band from happening, and they’ve done everything possible to see that it doesn’t.

I’ve been at this music career for over 20 years, and it gets to the point where you know you can’t win, or be happy, so the best option is to move on. If there was a bass player who was capable & willing to join us, they would have shown themselves by now. I don’t envision any more Ric Size performances in the future. I’ve had it with playing solo, which I was always forced into– due to lack of support. The truth is, my music & politics are so far “out there,” that most musicians can’t relate. Those who try are soon scared off. This is how it goes when you are a blacklisted artist.

The only true artist I worked with in my music career is Tom Pearce. Tom is a consummate professional, and an inventive drummer with perfect time. He’s also a sound specialist, producer, & webmaster. Tom Pearce is the only one who truly has what it takes to rock with me. For the rest who helped, then hopped off, I have mixed feelings. I’m grateful for any assistance, yet disappointed that fear & prejudice limited their willingness to collaborate. It’s a waste of talent, IMO.

Me, I have no regrets, as I gave it everything I had with no fear. When you’re spent, it’s time to do something else, and that appears to be the case here. We will do our best to finish re-mastering & releasing all the albums. Once again, it’s invisible barriers that have kept us from making these products available on CD, as censorship & blacklisting have cut this music off from a mainstream audience. It’s pointless to put time, money & energy into producing & manufacturing product, only to be choked off by Google, Fakebook, YouTube, PayPal and everyone else who controls the important levers of power. An artist needs promotion, publicity & distribution to succeed, and I’ve got none of that. It’s not from a lack of effort.

The upshot is that everything I’ve ever written on politics has had a direct (negative) impact of my music career– from a financial standpoint. I can no longer do this for free, as I’ve run out of money. I’m also unwilling to remain isolated, which is what the establishment does to artists it deems as dangerous. This is why I’m alone. Don’t believe the girl or woman who says she desires a man who is artistic. If that was the case, I would have been hooked-up & satisfied a long time ago. Women are taught to go for the money & security, which is the exact opposite of being a true artist.

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Sy Hersh: Crimefighter & Media Pariah

It’s funny, I’ve been watch Seymour (Sy) Hersh interviews incessantly, and then today there’s a World Socialist Web Site  review on his latest book, Reporter (2018). The review was good, so I left a comment. Here it is in full:

Excellent review of a thoughtful & courageous reporter with ethics! Sy Hersh clearly explains why he’s now so censored in this book, and in many interviews since. Barack Obama was obsessed with leaks, and wanted them stopped. Hersh was even more vilified after publishing the “Killing of Osama bin Laden” in 2013, which has been reviewed by the WSWS. This story debunked Obama’s narrative, reinforced by “Zero Dark Thirty” (2012), a Hollywood propaganda movie on bin Laden’s execution by Navy Seals.

Most recently, Sy Hersh has been unable to publish his biography of Dick Cheney, because of sourcing, as he would have to give his sources away (something he doesn’t do), and put them in jeopardy– perhaps of being killed. Therefore he wrote this memoir, “Reporter” instead.

Essential political books by Sy Hersh also include: The Price of Power: Kissinger in the Nixon White House (1983) and The Dark Side of Camelot (1997).

But as so often happens, I can’t leave it alone. As Peter Falk in Colombo would say, “Something’s still bothering me…,” and it was the second-to-last paragraph in the piece, which pointed out political disagreements the SEP/ICFI has with Hersh. This can be easily misunderstood & distorted by unprincipled agitators, therefore there is need to clarify a theoretical issue on polemics. Marxist WSWS writer Andre Damon correctly writes:

“We do not share many of Seymour Hersh’s views, including his appeals to what he calls the reasonable sections of the US military and intelligence apparatus for a change in US foreign policy. But, as the book’s title implies, he is a genuine reporter; he knows the difference between the truth and a lie and works to expose it before the world public.”

A demagogue would try to use those political differences to divide Hersh from Marxists, which would be a mistake. Sy Hersh is a real reporter, which means he isn’t allowed to be politically biased towards any party. That’s a requirement to do his job well. Identifying with Marxism would have ended his career. Also, if Hersh had ever become openly partisan, he would have lost the confidence of his sources, and then access. This is the hardest-hitting establishment reporter in American political history, and this “self-censorship” is the price he’s had to pay. I politically wish he would publish everything he knows, but I understand why he doesn’t.

Most “journalists” today are biased and/or embedded, which makes them flunkies & apologists. Sy Hersh is pretty much on an island at this point, in terms of his profession– which (like all others) has been destroyed by corporate corruption & greed. Since “The Killing of Osama bin Laden” was published in the London Book Review in 2013, Hersh’s articles have no longer been released or discussed much in American media. He’s so popular among readers, and so widely known that it doesn’t matter where he’s published, as the Internet broadcasts him to a global audience hungry for the truth.

Like Julian Assange & WikiLeaks, Sy Hersh is fighting for the truth, and being persecuted by the ruling establishment. This common experience is shared with Marxists, and it’s why Trotskyists consider them to be comrades-in-arms– in our common fight against tyranny & injustice. Marxists are armed with political theory, and dialectical materialism as philosophy. Marxism is a powerful tool for analysis of political economy and planning revolutionary action, but only if there is helpful & accurate data with which to work.

If we as a society don’t have journalists like Hersh & Assange publishing the truth in its rawest forms, then Marxists (and all others) are in the dark. It’s a symbiotic relationship between Trotskyists and the best reporters, whistle-blowers, activists, and other forms of truth tellers. Trotskyists analyze data and can quickly come to correct political conclusions, using Marxist science & dialectics. The correct message & political line can then be relayed to the disenfranchised youth & exploited workers of the world.

If all the real journalists are persecuted & silenced, then there are no more publicly known facts. This makes achieving socialism impossible, because there will be no facts around which to base political arguments. It will be only variants of fake news, which is what we have now– mostly. That’s why Marxists always stand with and defend these journalists, who are actually socialists in deed, which is why they are being punished in the media & politically.

Whenever Sy Hersh is asked a stupid or bad question in an interview, his reflexive reply is to the effect that, “You have to understand these matters are complex, and that I’ve been doing this a long time…” Then, he takes a few minutes to clarify the issues, which usually means giving background & context.

I’ve labeled Sy Hersh as a crimefighter in the title, because he is. The greatest crimefighter in American fiction is Superman. What’s ironic here are Hersh’s resemblances to mild-mannered Clark Kent reporting for the Daily Planet, making him more powerful in real life than the “Man of Steel” ever was in fiction. What if the next Superman franchise featured an emphasis on Clark Kent’s writing & investigative reporting? I think it would be a helluva story. Anyways, in this age of the Internet, the pen is still mightier than the sword, despite what DC Comics, Hollywood, and the rest of the establishment try to tell you.

Hersh has had serious, high-level political contacts on every continent for decades. He grew up in Chicago, and understands the realities with the police & the mafia, etc. Most people don’t have anywhere near his understanding of how the world works, much less who controls it. One his best assets is his ability to be patient, clear-headed & appear friendly in the face of hostility. It is rare to have mastery of all these social skills, and Seymour Hersh is one of those geniuses. He needs to be more widely read, understood & defended.

* New Superman premise: Decades of being surrounded by a beltway of Kryptonite has robbed our Man of Steel of his super-human strength & immortality. In order to continue his fight against evil, Superman has mothballed his spandex & cape, and permanently assumed the role of mild-mannered reporter, who now must combat evil with his wits & keyboard. Instead of sensationally flying from scene-to-scene to valiantly save the day, our aging reporter has become the chummy drinking companion of many top political figures, allowing him untold access into this nefarious world of political criminality…

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The Truth About Fake News

Fake news has existed for a long, long time; for as long as mass media has existed. Newspapers, radio & television have always been propaganda tools of the ruling state, as government is nothing more than a committee of the ruling class. What’s new today is that fake news is discussed openly in the media. Donald Trump has popularized this terminology to call attention to Democrat-biased news outlets such as CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times & Washington Post. This is a primary reason why he’s hated so much in the liberal media.

Trump is correct in his assertions of bias against him, which gives him populist credibility among his fascist supporters. When he states that the mass media is the “enemy of the people,” and his White House Press Secretary reinforces that statement, his popularity among his hardcore supporters goes up, because he’s correct. The flipside is that his base of support is shrinking. That’s the dynamic at work here.

Republicans have always been viewed by the educated working class as the party of the rich, and the worst liars. But Donald Trump has become somewhat of a Democrat in his tactics, in that he mixes in tweets which are half-truths about the media. Trump rarely vilifies Fox News in his rants against fake news, and they are the most brazen & shameless liars of all. Ideologically speaking, Trump & his cohorts have moved the Republican party to the right, past it’s traditional platform, more in line with the Tea party & police state fascism.

An instructive case study in fake news and how it’s manipulated (and in whose interests), is the recent furor over American “pastor” Andrew Brunson, who is being held under house arrest in Turkey for his alleged involvement in the June 2016 coup attempt to overthrow president Recep Erdogan. Brunson has been in Turkish custody for nearly two years now, but suddenly it’s widely declared an issue of vital “national interest” that he be released. Let’s begin with a fundamental question: Who is Andrew Brunson?

A Google search of “pastor Andrew Brunson images,” won’t turn up a single picture [!] of him with a church congregation– in Turkey or North Carolina. Also, no members of his “congregation” in Turkey (said to number ~25) have called for his release, because they don’t exist. Brunson is clearly a CIA agent, as this is dirty politics between Erdogan & US imperialism. The working masses of Turkey are caught in this vice of economic sanctions & covert war. Only international revolutionary socialism can end this diplomatic intrigue & drive towards world war.

Currently the Trump administration’s foreign policy is focusing on starting a war with Iran, which has been a long-held objective of deep state hawks. Iran has the second-largest oil reserves in the world, behind Saudi Arabia– which is the motive. This American intrigue is about bringing the global oil supply chain under US government-corporate control, which is madness. Proxy armies in Syria & Turkey will be used for this operation.

The US-Syrian war is in it’s seventh year, and now reportedly has over 2,000 US troops on the ground in that country– who weren’t invited. Their purpose is to aid terrorist proxy armies (Free Syria Army, White Helmets, ISIS, etc) in overthrowing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Russia has intervened military to prop up Assad, and help contain these Islamic terrorists, who are trained & directed by Washington & the CIA. They have been largely successful, provoking the wrath of the deep state, which metastasizes itself into the media through the Trump-as-an-agent-of-Putin & #MeToo campaigns.

Notice that you never hear these facts, or this type of rational analysis in any mainstream media outlet. That’s why fake news exists, to distract the masses from the truth, with a tsunami of lies & distortions. This is too dirty is be explained honestly. But how long can this go on? By all appearances, not much longer, as the Internet has connected the masses to alternative outlets for news & analysis, and social media allows instant sharing of content, globally.

The Internet is being ruthlessly censored by the CEO’s of Google, Fakebook, YouTube and all the rest of the tech giants; but it’s not going to stop this information revolution. People crave answers. They want the truth, and mass media has finally discredited itself, to the point of no return. The youth of America (and the world), no longer watch the evening news or read newspapers, as these corrupt institutions are now understood to be nothing more than a propaganda arm of the capitalist system.

Increasingly, the ruling classes of every nation (particularly the US), will resort to violence to maintain their grip on power. Information is power, and once people know the truth, they become energized. For decades, strikes and other workers struggles have been suppressed by the media, identity politics, and union bureaucracies. What is coming in the near future, will be mass-organized wildcat worker action that can’t be ignored.

When every teacher in the US goes out on strike, that (and the issues underneath) can’t be swept under the rug. When the US post office, UPS & Fed-Ex stop delivering packages & the mail, people will notice. This is what’s on the horizon, and the battle lines are already being drawn up– on both sides. That’s some real news worth knowing & considering, don’t you think?

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So you wanna be a punk rocker?

More than any other artist on this planet, I am well-known in elite circles, yet relatively unknown to the general public. Blacklisting is a political act, taken by the ruling class, when they can’t refute the message. Instead they censor it. The US Executive branch and the Intelligence Committee’s of both houses of Congress, have known who I am for awhile. Of course, nothing can be stated on the record. National (in)security.

Many big celebrities also know who I am, particularly in sports, music & TV/film. but it’s the same there too. When you’re tied into the corporate machinery, you give up your right to free speech. Obey the #MeToo campaign, and everything else you’re told: That’s the Faustian deal.

The NFL players are only the latest (and most-highlighted) example of this censorship, as players can’t even protest police killings before a game, without becoming the target of media attacks and league blacklisting. Colin Kaepernick never got a job offer, even though he was a top-10 NFL QB. That sends a clear message from ownership to the players. More players need to step up for this to change.

That’s mainstream, which I’m not allowed to be part of. I’m pushed underground by the government-corporate elite machinery– Google, Fakebook, YouTube and the rest; in order that I never be allowed to influence any of this. If you are making any kind of art these days, then you know what I mean. Revolutionary politics is the same. I’m both. These are the sacrifices you make to be in the right. Selling your soul is never good business, because once you start down that road, forever will it dominate your destiny.

The true path often means doing what’s unpopular. It hurts personally & economically. But it is the only way to artistic freedom & true happiness. If you are an atheist like me, then you have only one life to live, so don’t waste it in cowardice. It’s your words & actions that people remember.

To be punk means to get into sick people’s faces for a good reason. The methods vary in music, film & whatever, but that spirit is what endures & defines it. Punk means working class ethics, DIY, and move everything forward starting with the kids. Punk doesn’t make appeals to anyone over age 30, because they don’t know what’s cool anymore, if they ever did in the first place. Politically educated workers can join too, but they aren’t the target audience, as there are too few of them.

Kids define the times in music, television, film and everything else in popular (human) culture– with their approval. It’s what turns the kids on that counts, and everything else is corporate hype. When artists like myself are blacklisted, it signals the ruling class is trembling in fear. They fear the music because they know its power & influence. Kids embrace the music for the same reason.

It’s close-minded fools vs. open-minded kids when it comes to cultural criticism.  That’s the war, and punk rock leads this fight in the name of the kids. Please share this message!!

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Padres & the MLB Trade Deadline Breakdown

If you’ve been through a few MLB Trade deadlines (and I have), then you know this is a feeding frenzy. You have two sub-sets of teams; those trading away MLB assets for prospects & young talent, and those competitive teams acquiring winning MLB talent. Everyone is trying to improve themselves, whether the focus is on this October, or the future. The most-coveted MLB asset for championship contenders is top-tier relief pitching, as that’s what October baseball comes down to. Who can get those crucial final outs from their bullpen?

The most coveted return for sellers are top prospects: top-100 MLB prospects, top organizational prospects, top pitching prospects, top left-handed pitching prospects, etc. Position players are added for depth, and to plug holes, but they don’t move the needle towards winning like relief pitching or front-line starters.

The fascinating (and mostly unmentioned) thing about this trade deadline is that Padres GM AJ Preller held aces on both ends of this spectrum, and once again exerted influence & control over the trade market. He dealt coveted lefty closer Brad Hand (and righty set-up guy Adam Cimber) on July 19, 2018 to Cleveland, in return for C Francisco Mejia, their top prospect– ~15th overall in MLB. The Padres needed a catcher, as Austin Hedges is elite defensively, but isn’t the everyday answer. Hedges is an elite caddy in a catching tandem. Padres won’t be dealing Mejia, you can be sure.

As the above screenshot indicates, Francisco Mejia currently ranks 3rd in the Padres stacked farm system– behind SS Fernando Tatis, Jr. and LHP Mackenzie Gore. The list of talent in this top-12 is the envy of MLB. There are more-than-a-few teams in MLB who don’t have a single player in their farm system that is better than any of the Padres top-12 prospects. This represents championship level talent at bargain basement salary, which means you can keep it together. Every savvy GM & organized front office understands that.

This is what put the San Diego Padres in the RHP Chris Archer trade conversation. Any GM of a last-place team needs to look at ways to improve their starting pitching. AJ Preller did this, but what the Rays wanted in return was too high a price. Besides, Chris Archer isn’t an ace. He’s a valuable #2 starter on championship NL roster, and a #3 in the AL.

AJ Preller knows you don’t give up the farm for that, especially at this point in their competitive cycle. Padres don’t need to pay Archer’s (affordable) salary either. So what was Preller doing? He was doing what any good GM in his advantageous position should do, test the market and get an idea of how other organizations value your prospects. It turns out that rival GM’s value Padres prospects very highly. More reason to hold onto them.

There was non-stop speculation from the MLB/ESPN driven media, that the Mets were going to deal their “aces.” Let’s back up for a moment here. First, the only ace the Mets currently have is RHP Jacob deGrom, and the Mets have said repeatedly they don’t want to trade him, unless it’s an offer that’s over-the-top and they can’t refuse. Nothing of the sort was ever presented.

Somehow by mentioning a deGrom trade possibility through the media, the Mets front office reasoned that would make RHP’s Noah Syndergaard (above pic) & Zack Wheeler appear more valuable. It doesn’t work that way with astute GM’s. Let’s examine the true trade value here.

The best pitcher the Mets actually had available was Syndergaard. The problem is he never stays healthy, and he just went on the DL again, this time with hand, foot & mouth (HF&M) disease. HF&M disease is a viral infection, that wipes you out– similar to mononucleosis or hepatitis. No team wants to bring a carrier of a contagious disease into their clubhouse. Yet the MLB/ESPN sports media kept trying to push a trade possibility, and it (curiously) was often linked to the Padres, as they have the prospects to make it happen.

The media also underplayed the causes of HF&M disease, which is poor hygiene, not washing your hands, etc. A responsible MLB GM can’t blow that off as incidental. It says something about who that person is, and their intellect. Unlike a bone fracture or muscle/ligament tear; this could wipe out an entire clubhouse– for a month or more!

The kid may have talent, but his head is a huge question mark, along with the Mets medical staff. Therefore Noah Syndergaard is definitely not worth the gamble of trading away the farm system to obtain. The Padres would rather keep top LHP prospect Mackenzie Gore, and that’s what AJ Preller did.

Zack Wheeler was endlessly floated over the past few weeks as a starter that could help a contender. He’s viewed by GM’s as a #4/5 guy- so that was a non-starter. Wheeler was the beneficiary of possibly the worst umpiring decision in the history of MLB, in a recent start against the Padres at Citi Field.

This trade deadline was most cruel to the New York Mets, who are currently 44-59, sitting 4th in the NL East with a bad farm system, and unable to trade any of their best starters for the prospects they so desperately needed. The Mets team owner is bankrupt, so winter free-agent splashes are probably not an option. That’s an Amazing Mess.

As mentioned, all the serious focus up to the deadline (outside of Chris Archer) was on top-tier relievers. AJ Preller still held the best cards in this market, even after dealing Brad Hand. Reliever Kirby Yates (1.60 ERA and a 0.89 WHIP) is controllable through 2020, and Craig Stammen has a 2.63 ERA, with a 1.11 WHIP. They both have been used frequently, and in high-leverage situations.

Those were (by far) the best available reliever options, as the trade deadline passed. An actual problem at this point for AJ Preller is that no GM wants to trade him any more prospects. They see the Padres future, and they don’t want one of their own to be part of it. This slightly suppressed the value for everyone else, since Yates & Stammen were the top of the bar. After the deadline both are still Padres, despite all the media talk that they would be dealt to contenders.

The best starter available, Chris Archer was eventually dealt by the Rays to the Pirates at the deadline for two young MLB players: outfielder Austin Meadows and right-hander Tyler Glasnow. That’s probably less that what Archer is worth, but the Rays were determined to sell. That’s how you control a trade market, and this isn’t the first time AJ Preller has done it. More importantly, Preller held onto all of his prospects. Below is a screenshot of all the last-minute deals made at the 4:00 PM ET MLB trade deadline, posted at mlb.com. As you can see, beyond Chris Archer it was all low-level stuff:

Wrap-up: The fact is that in another year or two, all of the names on the Padres top-30 prospects list are going to be either: 1) producing in the majors, 2) knocking on the door, or 3) washed out. Not every top prospect makes it, but the level of talent and unbelievable depth in the Padres system makes them the odds-on favorite to become the next Houston Astros. The Padres will be doing it in the easier league, with an AL-type roster and organizational depth built around power pitching & hitting. They are in this position because of their general manager, who is a baseball & organizational genius.

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Revolutionary Flashpoint: Julian Assange to be Expelled from Embassy

This piece is now a serial, until there is resolution. Check for updates at the bottom.

On Friday July 20, 2018 Russia Today published a story titled: “Ecuador to hand over Assange to UK ‘in coming weeks or days,’ own sources tell RT’s editor-in chief.”

On Saturday (yesterday), the Intercept published “Ecuador Will Imminently Withdraw Asylum for Julian Assange and Hand Him Over to the UK. What Comes Next?” by Glenn Greenwald.

WikiLeaks’ “crime” is releasing DNC emails which revealed how top Democrats fixed the 2016 primary for Hillary Clinton. Seth Rich and other DNC staffers were the source of the leaks, not the Russians. This persecution of Julian Assange has been a US-led frame-up from the start. It goes hand-in-glove with the “fake news” media blitz, Internet censorship, right-wing feminism & identity politics.

U.K. foreign minister, Jeremy Hunt (above) has threatened WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, daring him to leave the Ecuadorean embassy, “At any time he wants to he is free to walk out onto the street, and the British police will have a warm welcome for him.” Those are the words of a fascist, who employs others to do his dirty work.

Newly-elected Ecuadorian president Lenin Moreno (above, in wheelchair) has been under heavy US pressure to expel Assange, as this fascist persecution campaign against WikiLeaks crosses both aisles in official American politics. Moreno has called Julian Assange “a stone in his shoe,” evoking mafia methods for his removal. The Democrats want Assange silenced because he exposed their electoral manipulations of 2016. The Republicans want Assange imprisoned because they are fascists. That’s called an elite consensus in bourgeois politics.

So basically Julian Assange (an Australian citizen) is a man without a country, being persecuted by the governments of the world and their corporate paymasters. The mass media acts as attack dog & purveyor of state propaganda. If these forces are allowed to have their way, then Assange will be forever silenced. The question then becomes: Who’s next?

Julian Assange & Wikileaks reported the truth about what’s going on. Since when has telling the truth been outlawed? The prosecution of Julian Assange represents the most reactionary & violent ideological contortions of the global ruling class. Every pretense of democracy is being threatened in a tyrannical campaign of lies & distortions against this whistle-blower journalist.

Assange’s courage, intelligence & willpower to sustain this fight against global capitalism has won him millions of supporters world-wide. It is now time for these supporters to stand up & speak out in his behalf. It can only be through direct challenge to this elitist apparatus, that Julian Assange’s freedom will be won. It is the working people & youth of the world, who value freedom of information & expression. They must unite and collectively fight for these rights, which are under siege.

Do it now!!

Update July 23, 2018 ~ 4:30 PM ET

Vladimir Putin is the shadowy figure in this conspiracy to evict Julian Assange. Russia could offer him asylum, as they did for Edward Snowden, the man who supplied the leaks on ubiquitous NSA spying. Reporting from Russia Today since their announcement on Friday has been muted.

My sixth sense tells me that Trump & Putin have an arrangement here. Putin fears Assange as much as the rest of the global ruling establishment. His interests are complex. If the US wins this campaign, then Assange is silenced, which he approves. If Assange is freed, then Donald Trump, his fascist cabal, and the US government-intelligence complex all suffer a humiliating set-back– which would be a diplomatic victory for Russia.

The only way to get above this international intrigue is for the youth & working masses of the world to free Assange themselves through collective solidarity & revolutionary action.

Here’s an interesting political theory question. Whom does Julian Assange most resemble in history, right now?  Leon Trotsky’s life ended in August 1940, at the outbreak of the second world war; with him in permanent exile, endlessly persecuted by the capitalist & Stalinist bureaucracies– meaning all the governments of the world. The working masses didn’t organize & arm themselves in time to save Trotsky from his horrible death, which he foresaw. Julian Assange doesn’t claim to be a socialist, but his actions and circumstances make him an internationalist of the same quality.

What will be needed, when Assange is inevitably hauled out of the Ecuadorian embassy in London are: 1) large numbers of militant masses, 2) a small army of courageous lawyers, and 3) anyone with media credentials (& clout) broadcasting the events honestly in real time.

It’s going to be a heated, potentially violent situation when it happens. The UK police state will be out in full force, as will be their masked cronies as fascist hooligans.  This is an international US/UK provocation on the human rights of an Australian citizen. The masses need to be organized & disciplined, yet ready to defend themselves– and Julian Assange. Anything can happen, and it probably will, soon enough.

Stay tuned!!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018 ~ 1:10 PM ET

We’re currently at the point where fascism is gathering its forces, as quietly as possible– it appears. The news that Julian Assange is about to be expelled has been widely reported, even in America, as USA Today ran a story on it on Saturday, July 21. But the newspaper of record, the New York Times has been remarkably silent. The last story the NYT published on Julian Assange was on March 28, when his Internet was cut off.

The Washington Post doesn’t see these events as newsworthy either, with nothing on Assange’s imminent eviction in a search of their online archives.

The Wall Street Journal won’t let you search their site without a subscription, but I would expect the same results there too. This proves these institutions are not journalists reporting facts in the interest of the public, but instead a corporate propaganda arm of the government-military-intelligence complex. Their job is to hide the truth and confuse the issues as much as possible.

July 27, 2018  ~10:30 AM ET

Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno is in London, ostensibly to attend a disability summit, but really to secretly negotiate the hand-over of Julian Assange to British and (eventually) US authorities. The more this situation is exposed and the facts are reported, the more problematic this covert hand-over will be. Julian Assange needs a massive show of support from youth & working people everywhere, in order to protect the democratic rights of all.

July 28, 2018 ~ 10:00 AM ET

Former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, who granted Julian Assange asylum back in 2012, has weighed in with Russia Today on this matter.

“You can be sure that he [Lenin Moreno] is a hypocrite. He already has an agreement with the US about what will happen to Assange. And now he’s just trying to sweeten the pill by saying he’s going to have a dialogue” about conditions of the transfer, Correa told RT Spanish. “I’m afraid … that Assange’s days in our embassy are numbered. [Moreno] talks about a dialogue, but everything has already been agreed with the UK government, especially after Vice President Pence’s visit to Ecuador a few weeks ago.”

Friday August 3, 2018 ~ 3:30 PM ET*

* I keep wondering to myself if I should mark the time as Daylight or Standard. I hate Daylight savings, and believe it is yet another capitalist soft power set piece. The further hypocrisy now is that Daylight savings lasts longer than Standard time in the US. We all have biological clocks that tune into daylight, and this messes with that for no good reason. It hurts working people the most.

Mostly quiet on the Julian Assange front. The latest media rumblings were Ecuadorian President Moreno’s “concern for Julian Assange’s health,” as he has no access to daylight. That makes me wonder what Julian Assange thinks about Daylight savings in America, if he knows/cares?

Right now you can feel both sides working behind- the-scenes, for what promises to be a pitched battle. Moreno has made it clear that he want s  Assange’s Ecuadorian citizenship to be revoked, insisting he can’t stay in the embassy “indefinitely.” US Vice President Mike Pence and other high-ranking cabinet members have put heavy pressure on Moreno to deliver Assange to the UK police.

What’s at stake here is a question personified: Are people allowed to tell and know the truth? Neither side is flinching, as the waters are being gently tested through the bourgeois media. When it’s time for the police state to move in and forceably remove Julian Assange, the working masses of the world will immediately spring into action through social media & the Internet. There will be massive political protests, followed by wildcat strikes. This is political economy and revolutionary theory vortexing around the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

Sunday August 5, 2018  ~10:00 AM ET

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was apparently the target of a drone attack using explosives during his Saturday public address. Describing the incident, Maduro said a flying object exploded in front of him. “I thought it was a pyrotechnic fire, in a matter of micro seconds there was a second explosion to my right. You could see people running because they felt the shockwave,” he said.

The Venezuelan president accused the far-right opposition and external forces. “I have no doubt that everything points to the Venezuelan ultra-right in alliance with the Colombian extreme right, and the name of [Colombian President] Juan Manuel Santos is behind this attack,” he said. Maduro also claimed that initial results of the investigation show that several of those who paid for the attack reside in Florida. Colombia is annually the third largest recipient of US military aid, behind Israel & Egypt.

This incident (once again) has many red flags that suggest a CIA covert operation. Venezuela’s economy is in ruins, with hyperinflation heading towards 1,000,000% by end of year. The US has crippled the country with sanctions, claiming Maduro (like his elected predecessor Hugo Chavez) is a dictator who came to power illegitimately and is starving his people. US President Donald Trump has openly considered a military option against Venezuela, and calls for a coup have made it to the headlines of US mainstream media.

This ongoing violence must be seen in the light of the pressure being put on Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno to hand Julian Assange over the the UK police, so he can be extradited to the US to face a sealed indictment. The more this South American region is destabilized, the easier it is for US imperialism to hold sway. The message is clear, if Moreno doesn’t do Washington’s bidding, then he can expect to be put in the cross-hairs too.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018  ~ 10:30 AM ET

Breaking news (at least on Russia Today), that Julian Assange has been summoned by the US Senate Intelligence Committee to testify behind closed doors. This Committee is headed by leading CIA Democrat Mark Warner (Va), and also includes prominent US senators: Marco Rubio (R-Fl), Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca), Ron Wyden (D-Or), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky), John McCain (R-Az), and Charles Schumer (D-NY).

As we can see there is bi-partisan consensus among the elites to silence Julian Assange behind closed doors, and censor the Internet. WikiLeaks is preparing it’s response as of this writing.

The US Senate Intelligence Committee is so-named because supposedly it provides Congressional oversite on the Intelligence apparatus. This is a misnomer for two reasons: 1) because there is no real oversite, as the deep state does as it pleases, and 2) there are very little brains on this committee of fascists pretending to be legitimate representatives of the American people.

Thursday August 9, 2018 ~ 10:40 AM ET

I live in Florida, so I caught this headline from yesterday’s Tampa Bay Times in my newsfeed this morning:

Bill Nelson: The Russians have penetrated some Florida voter registration systems

But no evidence of this is presented– classified national (in)security. Marco Rubio and the rest of the fascists on Senate Intelligence Committee are also in on this.

Senator Bill Nelson is locked in a tight race with outgoing Governor Rick Scott for his seat. This puts a criminal corporate raider (Columbia/HCA)) to the left [!] of his Democrat incumbent opponent– until he acquiesces. This is another ruse to create the pretext for mass repression of political dissent & Internet censorship. The “Russians” are dissidents like you & me, and we are not the enemy. This is the Big Lie technique being used for mind control– as another propaganda offensive,

Speaking of newsfeeds, have you noticed how much harder it is to find relevant stories now? It’s like the Internet has been scrubbed, and your searches don’t yield the fertile results it used to. That’s Google, Amazon, Fakebook and the rest of the tech giants working with the deep state to control the free flow of information. Do you agree with that policy?  Who decided on this? How can we hold these people accountable? How can we change things? These are the questions that run through my mind daily.

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Problems & Answers

What am I doing, really? That’s a question I ask myself, from time-to-time. I’ve noticed the answer is always changing. Situations change and scenarios become played out, and that’s when changes become part of the equation. Seeing & knowing the changes is called dialectics, which I’ve stressed the importance of– over & over.

It’s when everything is moving at once (falling apart & coming together), that a dialectician can lead by action & example. This mastery seems mystical, but really it’s scientific. Marxism is the science of political economy under capitalism. It’s philosophy is dialectical materialism. The aim of Marxism is to find the truth in all things. All the classical Marxist masters from Engels, Plekhanov, Luxemburg, Lenin & Trotsky were dialecticians. This allowed them to see further (and more clearly) into the future than their contemporaries, even up to the present.

Marxists as dialecticians are problem solvers. Today the world is in crisis, as fascists have captured the US government, while the military-intelligence apparatus is hurtling all of us towards another World War. World War III ends in mutually assured destruction for the planet. Plus, we’ve got global warming on top of all this. These problems are going to take serious brains and real courage to solve.

It’s a political problem, not a technological issue, as mankind could easily socialize today if it had the political awareness. It’s still an issue of educating & organizing the masses for an overwhelming takeover of power. The coming global socialist revolution is going to be a numerically overpowering hostile takeover of the Wall Street banks, Washington’s ruling apparatus, social & mass media, and the stolen wealth of global billionaires who have trashed our planet, while enslaving most of its population in the selfish interest of enriching themselves. That aggression will not stand. The people of the world will not allow themselves to be enslaved & consumed in perpetuity.

The mass media, Internet and social media are key tools in fighting fascism. It must be clearly understood by all in the US, that the most dangerous enemy of the working class is the Democratic party and all that orbits it. Pseudo-intelligent leftists and those preaching identity politics are hypocrites with deep personal & financial interests at stake. They can never be swayed, as they sold their souls to capitalism long ago. They are only to be considered an enemy to be defeated.

The allies of revolutionary socialists are the exploited youth & working masses of the world. The way forward requires “pressing in” in all fronts. Authority needs to be freely questioned, discussed and challenged– everywhere. Abuse-of-power is become standardized by fascism. Fight this by taking the power back.

Fascists don’t listen to reason, they only understand hate & violence. This needs to be met (EVERYWHERE) with fierce resistance, and any necessary back-up. The Second Amendment means regular people have guns too, and the explicit reason is to protect their freedoms from any unconstitutional government intrusion.

We no longer are a nation of laws. This has been evidentially true since Bush v Gore in 2000, and really true since 9/11. In 2013, Edward Snowden revealed to the world (through WikiLeaks) the massive NSA global spying operation. Everything we do on an Internet-connected device is recorded into their database. Video & audio recording is also always happening in real time (24/7/365) from your camera app. Americans live in a modern-day police state.

Who monitors the NSA? This institution (like all the rest–really), has no public accountability, and merely serves as a spy & military police tool for the ruling elite. Top Democrats including Mark Warner & Nancy Pelosi are intimately tied into this deep state apparatus. These are today’s leading voices for more domestic spying & foreign drone wars, both policies which were expanded under Obama/Biden. The Democrats live on half-truths, making them the most despicable form of liars.

The secret to conquest of power by the working masses is realizing its own power. The lowliest janitors and first-class privates have keys & access to the most sophisticated military/intelligence centers. The elites don’t keep these places clean & operational, it’s working people who do this. They are already inside, but lack of political awareness incapacitates them.

The most deluded elitists have now turned to artificial intelligence technology as they savior, because 1) paranoia; and 2) they have run out of brains themselves. Elite “leaders” with every resource in the world available to them, can’t even find answers to simple problems anymore, because their “thinking” is so warped.

Thus these elitist scum have someone program a computer to think for them. No more need to think & problem-solve! Convenient, huh? This degenerated ruling bureaucracy is completely enabled by workers, who still don’t quite realize what’s going on; and how bad thing actually are. They need to speed up their learning curve, because things have already gone dangerously too far. What’s required is an attitude that is 100% defiant to the irrationality that surrounds us.

It’s my job to teach & explain this, so that’s what I’m doing. We can win, if we realize our combined strength– and always act in everyone’s best interest. When we forget to help others, eventually they disappear, and then there are less people to help when Big Brother turns on us. That’s why protecting the rights of others (who are less fortunate) is paramount. Only by realizing the true value of solidarity can the evils of capitalism be overthrown in permanence.

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The World Cup & Sports Propaganda

Sports are used to distract the masses. As of this publication, there are two major international sporting events competing for our attention: Wimbledon, and the World Cup being held in Russia. At the All England Club, the story has been the manipulation of seedings on the women’s side.

Serena Williams is currently WTA-ranked #181, but insisted on being seeded for Wimbledon. It was an unprecedented move for the oldest tennis tournament and the professional tour, but Serena was seeded #25. Even that generous seeding now appears to be an understatement of the bias in her favor.

Serena Williams has cruised into the 4th round, without facing any opponent who ranks higher than #62 in the WTA. She faced #105 Arantxa Rus in the 1st Round, and #135 Viktoriya Tomova in the 2nd. Her opponent in the Round-of-16 is Evgeniya Rodina– WTA Rank #120.

Meanwhile stacked brackets everywhere else have resulted in numerous upsets among the top-seeded women. Major bitch factor is now on-the-scene, as the women’s draw feels like a manipulation scheme by ESPN to glorify Serena Williams– new mother, black female role model, blah, blah, blah…. The women know, and aren’t happy about it– you can tell.

Serena Williams is being used as American propaganda to distract people from the success of the World Cup in Russia. The problem is: England is in the semis, and the whole world is watching. The US didn’t qualify for WC 2018, so they’re out in the cold. Old partnerships are fracturing at the seams– it seems. These are high-level, multi-pronged political maneuverings– for sure; so the truth will be hidden and covered-up with lies by a compliant mass media.

Make no mistake, sports are used as propaganda, and nothing is bigger than the World Cup. Every country gets a chance to qualify, and every government wants its national team to show well. Winning is perceived as national glory for all, and a safely-valve for mass discontent. Brazil is perhaps the best example of fùtbol’s dangerous contradictions.

The last four teams remaining in WC 2018 are France v Belgium and Croatia v England. World Cup 2022 is to be held in Qatar, where the average summer temperature is ~110 degrees Fahrenheit, but global warming will surely make it even hotter by then. Qatar is still in the process of constructing the necessary facilities, all-the-while war & starvation are ravishing the Arabian Peninsula. World Cup 2026 is to be held in the US.

Note that the host county automatically gets in, per FIFA. Russia’s national team had a great run, losing to Croatia in the quarterfinals on penalty kicks. Our world (rich & poor) is addicted to sports, so the propaganda value attached to these nationalist matches is immense. This phenomena needs to be more broadly understood to be overcome.

When the World Cup is held (men’s, & women’s since 1991), travel & visa requirements are temporarily suspended. Teams and their fans must be freely allowed in & out, for the good of the event. Consider this in the context of ongoing attacks on immigrants by the reactionary governments of the world. The World Cup (at its best) is an international celebration of peace through athletic competition. That’s a Marxist materialist perspective.

Final Update: Saturday July 14, 2018   ~1:30 PM ET

The propaganda wars continue after Angie Kerber decisively defeats Serena Williams: 6-3, 6-3 in the Wimbledon women’s finals. Shown below was Kerber’s Wikipedia page moments after her victory. It was changed minutes later, after I posted this screenshot on my Fakebook page.

“Angelique Kerber… is a German professional tennis player… A left-hander, known for her aggressive counter-punching all-court game, and loves the boaby, Kerber has won 11 singles titles across all surfaces on the WTA Tour, including three Major titles at the 2016 Australian Open, the 2016 US Open, and 2018 Wimbledon in which she took Serena Williams to CHUUUURCH. She has also won an Olympic silver medal while representing Germany at the 2016 Summer Olympics.”

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump is off to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland as the World Cup comes to it’s glorious conclusion with France v Croatia in the finals. Who knows what criminality these two hoodlums will be discussing in private, as the world cheers this match? The mass media will only continue to poison its airwaves & the Internet with yellow journalism and lies. Sports are big business– meant to distract the masses from this most-serious hidden business, and that’s why they can’t be ignored or underestimated.

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San Diego Padres: Bullpen Management & Draft Notes

The Padres have the most unique and effective bullpen in MLB, and it’s starting to turn heads. Padres manager Andy Green is as good as it gets in the dugout, and with the media. No one manages a bullpen or 25-man roster better. The Padres are currently 29th in OBP, 27th in SLG, 25th in runs scored, and 18th in total ERA. The only reason they are hanging around in the tough NL West (currently 34-38, 6.5 GB of ARZ) is because of Andy Green (below) and their unique bullpen. Let’s break it down.

On April 8, 2016 San Diego Padres GM AJ Preller claimed LHP Brad Hand off waivers from Miami Marlins (GM: Mike Hill). This happened just before Preller started trading his entire rotation, closer, and anything else he could dump. Brad Hand was available at the that trade deadline, and in 2017, but no fair offers came. Sometimes the best deals are the ones you don’t make, as Brad Hand (1.78 ERA, 35.1 IP, 21 saves) is now a relief ace and premium closer– under a team-friendly contract with a club option through 2021. Any MLB GM will tell you that is a championship-winning piece to the puzzle. His value may never be higher, but there’s no reason to trade him.

Right-handed set-up man Craig Stammen (above) was acquired on December 23, 2016 as a minor-league free agent, and invited to spring training. He performed and made the 25-man roster, and has been one of Andy Green’s most valuable bullpen pieces in complementing Brad Hand. He’s age 34 with a 2.23 ERA in 32.1 IP so far in 2018. Craig Stammen in 2017 had a 3.14 ERA in 80.1 IP for the Padres. He’s paid $2.25M/yr for 2018 & 2019. He’s a huge bargain in high-leverage situations– exactly where you need it.

On April 26, 2017 the San Diego Padres claimed RHP Kirby Yates (above) off waivers from Los Angeles Angels. Padres fans LOVE this guy! So far in 2018: 3-0, 1.00 ERA, 27.0 IP, with 2 saves. He’s pre-Arb2, with a salary of $1M in 2018. Andy Green sometimes uses Brad Hand in the 8th inning of a tight game, because that’s the match-up advantage or whatever.

Making the closer slot fluid, increases competitiveness in the bullpen. “Closer by committee” is an old-school baseball phrase, but this is something different. The Padres aren’t rotating their closer because they don’t have a reliable finisher, it’s because they have multiple guys capable of closing. This is very similar to the Cincinnati Reds “Nasty Boys” bullpen that won them a World Series in 1990. Kirby Yates is age 31, yet another Padres Arb2 player making $1M in 2018, and can’t be a free agent until 2021– at the earliest.

Righty side-armer (above) Adam Cimber (2018: 3-2, 2.52 ERA, 35.2 IP) is a guy the Padres actually drafted back in 2013, before AJ Preller became GM. But Padres fans know that the previous regime would have gotten rid of this guy long ago, and he’d be helping another team win games. Luckily for the Padres, new management understands the value of a good bullpen in high-leverage situations. It’s the difference between winning & losing a lot of games. Adam Cimber turns age 28 on August 15, and is Arb1, making the league-minimum salary of $545,000.

Rookie LHP José Castillo was acquired as part of the blockbuster Wil Myers deal with the Rays & the Nationals on December 19, 2014. This was AJ Preller’s signature deal as a rookie GM of the San Diego Padres. The key guy Preller gave up was SS Trea Turner to the Nationals. José Castillo is age 22 with electric stuff. He’s just been added to the bullpen, and so far in 2018 he’s 1-0, 0.00 ERA in 6.0 IP (4 games) with 12 K’s. San Diego Padres also sent C Rene Rivera, RHP Burch Smith and 1B Jake Bauers to Tampa in that deal.

As the trading deadline loomed last summer, on July 24, 2017 the Padres traded Brandon Maurer, Ryan Buchter and RHP Trevor Cahill to the Kansas City Royals for cash, 2B Esteury Ruiz, LHP’s Matt Strahm and Travis Wood.  Matt Strahm (above) and Ruiz were considered the booty in the deal for the Padres, as Travis Wood was released; then he got hurt in Spring Training with the Tigers and is probably finished in MLB. Cahill was a Padres rental, and Mauer & Buchter were fungible.

LHP Matt Strahm (2018 so far: 1-2, 2.55 ERA, 17.2 IP) was envisioned as a potential starter, but he’s still working his way back from a knee injury that he sustained with the Royals. The Padres have used him effectively as a long reliever and their “bullpen starter.” The bullpen start has gotten a lot of notice, especially in Tampa Bay, where the Rays have been forced to start a reliever repeatedly.

The plan for Andy Green is typically to have LHP Matt Strahm go through the line-up once, then bring in a right-handed long reliever to bridge to the “real” bullpen. An advantage of a bullpen start is that it prevents the opposition from stacking their lineup for the righty/lefty match-up advantage.

The Padres have had to use “bullpen starts” because they don’t have enough reliable starters. Teams are supposed to have five starters for a rotation. Most teams today don’t have even four reliable starters, and the Padres are among them. They actually have only two: RHP Tyson Ross & LHP Clayton Richard.

The rest of their “starters” include rookie LHP Eric Lauer who is 3-4, 6.20 ERA in 45 IP in 10 starts with a 1.98 WHIP. Eric Lauer was the Padres top pick in 2016 (#25 overall) out of Kent State, and just turned age 23. He has been rushed up to the majors due to injuries & poor performances, including: RHP Dinelson Lamet (TJ surgery), RHP Luis Perdomo (ineffective, optioned to minors), LHP Joey Lucchesi (DL- hip injury), and RHP Colin Rea (TJ surgery recovery from his one start while with the Marlins in 2016).

Taking a closer look at these numbers reveals a secret behind Andy Green’s success in managing this staff. Eric Lauer (below) has 10 starts with only 45 IP, for a 6.20 ERA. Eric Lauer typically only pitches 4-5 innings, and gives up 3 runs. That’s not good, but it’s not a disaster either. It would be a disaster if Andy Green tried to push Lauer another inning or two. Then those games would get out-of-Hand [!], giving him no chance to use his effective relievers in a situation that matters. By pulling his struggling starters early, or going to a bullpen start; Andy Green keeps the damage to a minimum which gives his team a chance to rally. In baseball, this is called being an outstanding manager, with an excellent “feel” for his team.

On August 1, 2017 RHP Jordan Lyles was released by the Colorado Rockies, and a week later AJ Preller grabbed him. The Padres had priority on NL waivers claims at the time, due to their poor record in 2016. This is just another example of how AJ Preller acquires talent outside-the-box. The Padres have used Lyles in 2018 as a their fill-in 4th starter; so far 2-3, 4.83 ERA in 20 games, seven of them starts. He’s pitched 59.2 innings, which averages 3 innings per appearance. This is the same situation as Eric Lauer, in that Jordan Lyles eats innings, but gets pulled early. This is because winning baseball theory says, “If you leave a 5.00+ ERA pitcher in too long, you lose.”

LHP Robbie Erlin (above) is another organizational soldier who has recovered from Tommy John surgery. Erlin was originally acquired from the Texas Rangers back in 2011 for righty set-up man Mike Adams. Robbie Erlin bombed as a starter in his few opportunities he had earlier this year, but he has found a niche as a lefty longman out of Andy Green’s bullpen. Overall, Robbie Erlin in 2018 is 1-3, with a 4.05 ERA in 40.0 IP and a WHIP of 1.05. His 19 appearances include 2 disaster starts which ballooned his ERA. Robbie Erlin has been very valuable during the bullpen starts, and in long relief.

The only thing left on the current Padres pitching staff (above) are RHP’s Bryan Mitchell & Phil Hughes. On December 12, 2017 the New York Yankees traded 3B Chase Headley, RHP Bryan Mitchell and cash to San Diego Padres for RF Jabari Blash. Blash was quickly DFA’d by the Yankees. This deal was made because 1) the Yankees needed to get under the salary cap as they were about to acquire Giancarlo Stanton; and 2) Padres GM AJ Preller liked RHP Bryan Mitchell.

The Padres took an Chase Headley’s $13M contract for 2018, in the hopes they could squeeze a year out of him and gain a potential starter (Mitchell) in the process. Headley bombed and was DFA’d by the Padres after a slow start, and Bryan Mitchell appears to have serious mechanical issues that are limiting his effectiveness. So far in 2018 Bryan Mitchell is 0 -3, with a 7.08 ERA in 48.1 IP. If that isn’t corrected, then this deal will be a $13M bust for the Padres. This only proves that no one wins them all as a GM in MLB.

Phil Hughes was acquired from the Twins on May 27, 2018 for minor-league C Janigson Villalobos. Twins are paying all of Phil Hughes $13.2M salary in 2018. In 2019 Hughes earns $13,200,000, of which only $5.95M will be paid by San Diego Padres. This deal was made by AJ Preller so he could acquire the 74th pick in this year’s amateur draft, and extra pool money.

Compensation picks are now tradeable in MLB, which is new. Unsurprisingly, AJ Preller was the first to take advantage of this new development, and get an advantage for his franchise. The Padres used this pick from the Twins in the “Competitive Balance B” section of the draft to take OF Grant Little from Texas Tech, with the 74th overall selection. The Padres forfeited their 2nd Round pick to the Kansas City Royals for signing unrestricted free agent 1B Eric Hosmer, so this deal made up for that lost draft pick. Nothing is more valuable in MLB than young talent, and AJ Preller (below) knows it.  So far in 2018 with the Padres Phil Hughes is 0-0, 4.05 ERA in 6.2 IP.

DL Note: Phil Maton is a righty set-up guy the Padres drafted in 2015. His 2018 numbers are 0-0, 0.56 ERA in 16.0 IP, with 17 K’s. Maton is currently on the DL with a right lat strain, and pitching in AA (San Antonio) for rehabilitation. The Padres will get him back after the All Star break at the latest, probably sending Jose Castillo down, as Bryan Mitchell and Phil Hughes can’t be optioned.

And finally… Carter Capps was the Marlins wipe-out closer in 2015, until his elbow snapped, necessitating Tommy John surgery. He was dealt to the Padres during his recovery in the controversial “Cashout” deal. On July 29, 2016 the San Diego Padres traded RHP’s Andrew Cashner & Colin Rea, with RHP-prospect Tayron Guerrero and cash to Miami Marlins for RHP Jarred Cosart, RHP Carter Capps, RHP Luis Castillo and 1B Josh Naylor. This deal has been discussed & analyzed in detail here.

Anyways the prize of the deal for the Padres was Carter Capps, whom they expected to return to form in 2017 as an elite closer after rehabbing his reconstructed right elbow. The problem was (and now forever is) that his delivery to home was an illegal motion. He was hopping off the mound, then replanting his back foot before firing home. This made him unhittable, as his ERA in 2015 was 1.16 in 31.0 IP before he got hurt.

MLB (finally) ruled in Spring Training of 2017, that Carter Capps’ delivery was illegal. Much of this can be seen as extended punishment of AJ Preller by the Eastern Establishment. That aside, the Padres have tried everything to change Capps’ delivery while keeping him effective, but nothing has worked. He’s about to turn age 28, and he’s still getting rocked in the minors. He’s making ~ $1.3M this year, with one more year of arbitration before free agency.

The blame for all this lies with the Miami Marlins, who allowed this pitcher to come through their system with an illegal motion. The Atlanta Braves correctly challenged his delivery in a game, shortly before his was disabled, but were rebuked by the umpires. MLB never acted upon any of this nonsense, until the Padres acquired him. Then it was pronounced illegal. Talk about nullifying a deal by judicial fiat?!!

PADRES 2018 DRAFT SIGNEES (as of this publication)

3 | SS Owen Miller (Illinois St.)
4 | RHP Dylan Coleman (Missouri St.)
5 | OF Dwanya Williams-Sutton (East Carolina)
7 | OF Jawuan Harris (Rutgers)
8 | RHP Steven Wilson (Santa Clara)
9 | 2B Luke Becker (Kentucky)
11 | C Nick Gatewood (Georgia St.)
14 | RHP Erik Sabrowski (Cloud County CC)
16 | C Michael Curry (Georgia)
20 | RHP Reiss Kneher (Fordham)
21 | OF Mason Fox (Gardner-Webb)
22 | RHP Payton Smith (Strom Thurmond HS, S.C.)
25 | 2B Lee Solomon (Lipscomb)
26 | LHP Tyler Mortensen (Davis HS, Calif.)
27 | RHP Gabe Mosser (Shippensburg)
31 | RHP Jake Sims (Saint Leo)
32 | LHP Cody Tyler (Wichita St.)
33 | C Rainier Aguilar (Redlands)
39 | RHP Seth Mayberry (Dinwiddie County HS, Va.)

Draft Notes: Padres forfeited their 2nd Round pick in compensation for signing free agent Eric Hosmer. The Kansas City Royals used this 34th overall pick on Daniel Lynch, a LHP from the University of Virginia whose suggested slot value is $2,066,700.

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The worst free-agent signing of the off-season was Alex Cobb (4/$57M) to the Orioles, inked at the end of spring training (March 21, 2018). Alex Cobb was the last “big-name” starting pitcher on the market, and the O’s were desperate. So far for Cobb: 2-8, 7.23 ERA, 56.0 IP.

The Orioles also forfeited their 2nd-round pick to the Rays in this deal. The Rays then selected #31 overall, and took LHP Shane McClanahan out of South Florida, whose slot value is $2,224,400. In a free agent market that had completely collapsed for all but the very best players, this was about as bad a deal as a franchise could make. Unfortunately for Orioles fans, the owner can’t be fired. He needs to be forced to sell.

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The Padres have signed 19 of their 2018 draft picks, including six of their top 11 selections. They have until July 6 to sign these remaining selections:

1st Round: #7 overall Ryan Weathers LHP from Loretto (TN) HS, whose slot value is $5,226,500. Money isn’t a problem for this organization anymore, as this signing is imminent. Ryan is the son of former MLB pitcher David Weathers.

Competitive Balance A: #38 overall Xavier Edwards SS North Broward Prep (FL) HS

Competitive Balance B: #74 overall (acquired from Twins) Grant Little, OF from Texas Tech

6th Round: #171 overall Alexuan Vega, LHP, Leonides Morales Rodriguez HS, San German, Puerto Rico

10th Round: #291 overall Jose Quezada, RHP, Texas Tech; this selection was a gamble as he’s a fourth-year senior with a lot of tools. Padres are trying to be creative with their bonus money to sign him. He’s a teammate of the Padres Competitive B selection, Grant Little, discussed above.

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MLB Umpiring Notes: It’s difficult enough for a last-place, west coast team to go on a 10-games-in-10-days east coast road-trip, and beat a 1st-place team. It becomes nearly impossible, when the umpiring is fixed.

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