Wednesday, July 29, 2009

No Doc in the House?

Rumours are swirling that Roy Halladay will soon be an ex-Jay. Rogers executives have made Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi's life a living hell by publicly stating that they want to control costs on the baseball operations budget, and as Philly-area blogger Riggs has mentioned, it looks as if his Phillies have gone in another direction (towards acquiring the Tribe's fine starter, Cliff Lee).

What does this mean? The unthinkable might happen: Roy Halladay might be traded to Boston.

I predict that if this happens, the Red Sox will become, by far, the favourite to win the World Series. And the Phillies will be left wondering what might have been because they wouldn't pay the freight for the best starting pitcher on the market.

Edit: Phillies did in fact trade for Lee. Notably they did not give up any of their three highest-rated prospects, but did give up four of their top ten. I do in fact think this was a good deal for both Philly & Cleveland. Only time will tell if the Phillies succeed in playoffs ... in their situation they absolutely had to trade for a veteran starter, and they got one.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Who needs agility?

Life keeps throwing curveballs; or

I took a duck to the face at two hundred and fifty knots.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Always something new

I saw something last week during a live 4/8 LHE session that I've never seen before. I'm curious if any of my vast readership has witnessed something similar ...

Two players were dealt pocket aces at my table. They get into a raising war preflop, obviously, and somewhat to my surprise they didn't pick up any hitchikers desperate to gamble it up to see a flop to crack a big pair. One of the live players then asked if the betting is capped at four bets now that everyone else has folded and the pot is now headsup. Dealer announces no, the betting is uncapped. The floor is consulted and verifies that the dealer is correct.

A few raises latter -- about 9 or 10 -- and one of the players involved tells the other that he's willing to go all-in (for about $400). The other player acquiesces, having about the same amount behind. They both push their chips over the line. So we now have your standard $830-ish pot at a 4/8 table with all the betting complete before the flop has been dealt. Each flips over AA.

Sadly, the flop was an anticlimax, featuring three different suits, which put the kibosh on what would have been a jaw-dropping four-flush scenario if someone got lucky.

I just sat back in amazement, laughing my guts out. I just wish we could have had a sweat for the turn and river.

Poker. Always something new under the sun.

Get Your Ace Here, redux

Today's gem pitched by Roy Halladay speaks for itself as proof why the Jays should either A) keep their ace starter; B) ask for a mint of young talent in return from any team with aspirations to win the World Series this year or next.

Just your standard complete game six-hitter in a 3-1 victory over the best team in the American League.

I had to nod my head in agreement when the Red Sox manager was quoted as saying he wanted to see Halladay traded a few days ago, and to the National League. If I were the Red Sox, I surely would want to see that happen (unless I was able to trade for him myself and build a juggernaut for the increased probability of winning the title).

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Oops, this wasn't the unbeatable jackace!

This hand caught my eye on Poker News as I followed the Main Event coverage yesterday. I didn't realize it was such a donkament at this stage, as 28 players were still playing at this stage of the tournament ...

Buchman Opens-Ships Three Million
Eric Buchman decided not to make one of his more normal raises, but instead open-shoved slightly over three million into the middle. Jonathan Tamayo asked for a count and when he found out, made the call.

Tamayo tabled JsJh and then the dealer turned over Buchman's hand -- AhTh. The crowd sprung to their feet to watch the action as Tamayo's rail cheered.

The flop was gin for Buchman when it came 9h7h2h. Buchman is rarely emotional, but again slapped his hands together and yelled, "Yes!"

The turn was the 6s which officially ended things. The river completed the board with the 6c and Tamayo sent the chips over.

Reasons why open-shoving a 30 big blind stack like this was a horrible play:

1) There were at least five players with fewer chips at this point;

2) When they lose one more player they will stop the tourney for the night;

3) There is a 100K pay jump once they lose one more player;

4) Making it to Day 8 of the ME will earn you more TV time and sponsorship dollars;

5) You are putting your tournament life at risk if someone wakes up with a better hand.

Can anyone come up with an argument for why this was a good play? Was this the wrong move at the right time, and was Tamayo a spiritual descendant of the Cincinnati Kid up against Buchman's Lancey Howard?

NB. Buchman is currently the chip leader with 14 players remaining.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Get Your Ace Here

And not just any ace: the consensus within major league baseball is that Roy Halladay is the best pitcher in the big leagues. Yes, Johan Santana has won more Cy Young awards. Yes, Tim Lincecum is a superb young starter. Yes, Zack Greinke is putting up a phenomenal season for the sad-sack Kansas City Royals.

That being said, "Doc" has an unmatched pedigree of effectiveness, stamina, and character. Not only that, he is signed through the end of the 2010 season at a below-market salary of 15.75MM. (Essentially, he's so good he's actually underpaid, which just goes to show you that the average ML player is overpaid.)

And this week, the general manager of the Blue Jays, J.P. Ricciardi, spoke to the media and said that he'd listen to trade offers if teams enquired about Halladay. (Halladay has a full no-trade clause in his contract that he'd have to waive before any deal could be finalized.) And this caused a predictable furor around baseball, even though this isn't anything new. Ricciardi didn't say he was looking to move his best player; he clearly stated that he'd have to be overwhelmed by any trade offer before he'd seriously consider approaching Halladay and asking him to waive his no-trade clause.

So, why should the Jays trade their most popular and irreplaceable player? There are a few reasons why it might be a good idea.

1) Halladay would fetch a mint in young blue-chip prospects. The brain trusts of would-be contenders are fully aware that Halladay is a sure thing; incremental improvements for would-be playoff teams are hard to come by and extremely valuable in financial terms (increased playoff revenue, etc.). As cited above, marginal wins are easily worth 5MM per win; Roy Halladay has an established performance level of 6-7 wins a year, highest in baseball amongst starting pitchers, so he's roughly worth 40-50 MM of prospects before the Jays would give him up. (An early rumour from a source within the St. Louis Cardinals: "Halladay? We'd give (Ricciardi) our minor league system and ask him to circle five names."

NB. If Roy Halladay didn't sign a contract extension with his new team, he would be a Type A free agent and the team that lost him would receive two first round compensation picks: a nice insurance policy softening the cost of trading for him, and they'd still get 1.5 seasons of superlative performance from him in the meantime.

2) The Jays have budget problems in the near future. They currently have two outfielders signed to albtross contracts, which severely hampers their ability to construct their team.

3) The Jays are in the toughest division in baseball. Essentially, unless they can construct one of the two or three best teams in the majors, they have no chance of making the playoffs. This is a huge challenge that cannot be overstated. The Yankees spend so much money on their roster that they are always in contention for the playoffs. The Red Sox are the same. The Rays have built a juggernaut after ten years of top-five draft picks, and even the Orioles have begun to field a very competitive team after many years of mediocrity. The strength of schedule in the AL East is ridiculously high. So, they might have to take a step back (they have been stuck in the 6-10 range recently, which has meant they've only been finishing third or fourth in the division) in order to take two steps forward.

4) The Jays' chief organizational strength is young pitching. If they can continue to churn out young pitchers who can do a credible job, transforming Halladay into some blue-chip hitting prospects (especially a shortstop, a huge organizational weakness), has its appeal. They can't replace Halladay, but they still might be better off from a team-building standpoint without him.

My head can come up with some logical reasons why the Jays should strongly consider trading Roy Halladay if the price is right.

But my heart doesn't care. I hope they can find other solutions to their problems and keep the best pitcher in franchise history right where he belongs.