Thursday, April 21, 2016

Way Too Early Blue Jays Observations

It's been 16 games so let's have some fun overreacting to small sample sizes!

1. Marcus Stroman is not an ace

I've felt this way since he came back last season and just wasn't really striking guys out the way he used to despite pitching pretty effectively. His ground ball % remains elite, north of 60%, which is certainly impressive, but ultimately the bar to qualify as a true ace is set awfully high (which is a problem in particular for Mr. HDMH). It's very hard to be a truly dominant pitcher without a healthy dose of Ks, and Marcus currently sits at a paltry 4.76K/9IP on the season. He wasn't much better between the end of last season and the playoffs, where he still averaged fewer than 6K/9IP. He's a really good pitcher, and I certainly expect his numbers to improve as the season goes on. His ERA, FIP, and xFIP are all currently above 4.00, which is not indicative of his true ability. But he's not an ace, and it's becoming harder to imagine him ever truly being one. And that is totally fine because...

2. The Jays rotation is still a lot better than you thought it was

Admittedly the small sample size caveats apply a lot more here than to my analysis of Stroman, but the starting pitching has really carried this team while the offence has struggled to score the way they did last season. Much maligned for not being named David Price when they were signed in the offseason, Marco Estrada and JA Happ continue to offer more than merely serviceable production. It's still much too early to assume this will continue all season long, but at the very least it seems like they will be able to give this offence a chance to win most nights they take the mound, which is all the team should really need. RA Dickey has been shaky to start the season but his peripherals suggest that should improve, as does his history of pitching 200 pretty good innings every season. He's actually striking out almost a batter per inning so far this season, which is a stat worth keeping an eye on.

Finally, Aaron Sanchez has been amazing. It's incredibly unlikely he can keep this up all season, but on the other hand: he was even more dominant as a reliever, he has elite stuff that has always given him a truly high ceiling, and he trained with Stroman and put on 20 pounds of muscle in the offseason, which he claims is helping him repeat his delivery more easily and pitch deeper into games. It sure is the kind of narrative that you feel you can buy into, isn't it? It's exciting to realize there are legitimately good reasons to think the rotation can keep this up, and even if they regress they should still be more than good enough for this team to win a lot of games. In addition, both Gavin Floyd and Jesse Chavez have pitched well out of the pen, poorly-timed grand slam aside, so the team should be able to overcome an injury in the rotation, possibly even two.

3. I'm legitimately worried about Tulo's offence

Not just because he has been bad for 15 games, that would be highly irrational. Tulo had a down season last year at the plate and each game he struggles to start the season makes it a bit more likely that was not an aberration he will bounce back from, but legitimate decline due to age and all the injuries he has suffered over his career. He won't be as bad as he has been so far, and he continues to be excellent in the field, but it's time to be at least a little concerned that he might not even match the league average production he put up last season. It'd be nice if Russell Martin started hitting again soon too.

4. Gregg Zaun knows which relief pitchers are feeling good enough to pitch on a given night better than the coaching staff

Just fuck off with this bit, seriously. The coaches talk to these guys every day. They know how their arms are feeling better than anyone besides the pitchers themselves. It's their job. You simply have to give Gibby and the pitchers the benefit of the doubt here.  Am I supposed to believe Drew Storen comes to Zaun before the game and says "man, I feel great but Gibby isn't gonna let me pitch in a close game tonight! It's like he doesn't even want to win!"? Or is it that Drew Storen shows up to the park and decides he doesn't feel like pitching that night even though he's perfectly healthy and tells the coaches he feels sore? But Zaun somehow knows the truth!

If the coaches say a guy can't go a given night then he can't go. Even if they do coddle some of these guys a little early in the season who is Gregg Zaun to decide that's not in the pitcher's best interest long term? It's complete nonsense and it needs to stop. Sometimes your baseball team loses a close game in the late innings. It's painful enough without having to listen to this horseshit.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Raptors 2015-16 Trade Deadline

I've spent entirely too much time thinking about this subject so I'm going to go ahead and actually write something about it! If the Raptors think they have a chance to beat the Cavs in the Eastern Conference finals they probably will need an upgrade at the 3/4 to do so. This trade would also help them avoid yet another embarrassing first round playoff loss at the very least. With Kyrie seemingly playing better heading into the All-Star break perhaps our chances in an eventual series against the Cavs would not be as good as they appeared when he was really struggling in his return from his knee injury, but a healthy Demarre Carroll could really take this team to another level, and another similar player to help him guard the Lebron/Love pick and roll could perhaps be enough to make it a fair fight. I think that's the player the Raps want, so I will be focusing more on 3-and-D forwards who can guard both the 3 and 4. A true PF with less versatility defensively is still possible, as are certain offense-first wing players, and I'll try to consider all the potential options.

Ideal World But (Probably) Not Gonna Happen:

Al Horford (Hawks): Horford is a stud on both ends of the floor and would give the Raps everything they desire in a power forward, aside from elite 3-point shooting. I don't really think the Hawks are as eager to move him as the rumour mill wants you to believe though. His contract is expiring sure, but Atlanta will likely want to keep him and hold the trump card in resigning him unless a team is willing to drastically overpay, which Masai is too smart to do.

Danilo Gallinari (Nuggets): Perhaps not quite the defensive stopper they desire but the substantial upgrade on offense and having him for at least one extra year would be fantastic. This is also why he's going to cost too much since teams still overpay for offense, and I don't think Denver especially wants to move him. The player option in his contract for a 3rd year could really hurt if he gets injured again.

You Could Get Him, But Do You Really Want Him?:

Thaddeus Young (Nets): Thad is a pretty good basketball player but I don't see him as the fit the Raps want. He's not good enough defensively and while he'd be a nice boost to the offense his mediocre 3-point shooting doesn't really fit what the Raps seem to prefer doing on offense. Maybe if the price gets low enough.

Ryan Anderson (Pelicans): An elite offensive option but liability on defense, and on an expiring contract. I don't think the price is going to be right here, and I'm not sure he's as big an upgrade as people want to believe. If the price came down I'd take him over Thad.

Probably Not Available:

Jared Dudley (Wizards): It seems that Washington are set on trying to make a run at the playoffs to help their case in the Kevin Durant sweepstakes. If they are willing to move Dudley and his expiring deal he is exactly the type of under appreciated player the Raps might be able to get on the cheap to provide decent defense and elite 3 point shooting. He has already spent much of the season playing the stretch 4 for the injury plagued Wiz.

Omri Casspi (Kings): Who knows what the Kings are liable to do, his 3 point shooting could help and while the Kings are a train wreck on D it doesn't seem to be his fault. Could be a solid cheap addition.

Interesting But They Don't Help Right Now:

Terrence Jones (Rockets)/Markieff Morris (Suns): Both young PFs who show potential and are interesting buy low candidates. Neither is ready to step in and help a serious playoff team right now though and both have the issue of being inconsistent at best defensively. I'd probably rather gamble on Pat Pat going forward and he's the better fit right now too.

The Obvious Fit:

PJ Tucker (Suns): There have been plenty of rumours about the Raps being interested in Tucker and for good reason; he ticks a lot of boxes. A plus defender who could switch onto stretch 4s, he and Demarre Carroll would be an ideal combination to defend Lebron and Love. He's on a cheap contract that appears to have a team option for one more year, which would bring him back for the final year of Lowry's current contract next year as well. Compared to the current option for that role in James Johnson, Tucker gives you serviceable 3-point shooting: good enough that he must be guarded on the perimeter, which prevents him from being a negative on offense. As a defense first type we can perhaps be more optimistic that the price for Tucker would be right, but one wonders if the Suns would insist on moving Markieff Morris in a trade with Tucker, which could make things more difficult. Ultimately, I still think Tucker is the most likely of these players to be a Raptor by tomorrow evening.

The Raptors have the assets to land any of these players. However, in a year where even if you happen to sneak past the Cavs you will have to face an all-time great team in the finals, it doesn't make sense to pay too high a price. Here's hoping Masai finds the right move for now, while keeping the future bright.


Thursday, January 03, 2013

On to 2013!

First of all, happy new year to all my loyal readers! 2012 was a great year for me, and it's going to be hard to top, at least in terms of poker results, in 2013. But I'll for damn sure be trying my hardest anyways! The year ended more quietly for me results-wise, as trips to Macau, Montreal, and Prague resulted in some big stacks and deep runs but no final tables. Two 12th place finishes and a 14th make me feel good that I was giving myself chances, and if I hadn't run into aces so much deep in these events I may well have added another nice score or two to cap the year. I was lucky to have some swaps come through so I probably still made some money overall, and of course those three cities are an awful lot of fun.

After so much travel for live events in the latter part of 2012 I was planning to cut back a little in 2013, but the schedule is just too good and winter in Toronto so bad that I just feel compelled to play everything for the next month. I'll be flying to Bahamas for the PCA on Friday for the $100k super high-roller event and the rest of the schedule there that follows. I've never been a huge fan of PCA, but I can't find an excuse to skip it this year as Fallsview has finally done the obvious thing and moved their series back a week so as not to compete. After PCA it's back to Canada for Fallsview and then I make my annual trek to Melbourne, Australia for Aussie Millions. It's going to be a crazy month whatever happens, and hopefully lucrative as well!


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

€50K Specialist

The WSOP happened again this summer, and while my HendonMob page wouldn't indicate I was there I can assure you I was. My plan to play less events didn't really happen either. What that means in real words is that I played a whole lot of poker tournaments in Las Vegas this summer and lost 100% of the money I invested into them. I took a month off before heading to Barcelona for the first event of this year's EPT schedule. Barcelona is an amazing city but this trip was mostly business. The one amazing thing I got to experience was watching the first leg of El Clasico, the huge soccer match between Barca and Real Madrid. The first event I played was the €50k high roller, and as the title would indicate, it went well.

After building a big stack on Day 1 I fought my way to the final table on the 2nd day as one of the short stacks. It was all I could do to sit back and watch my roommate Dan Smith decimate player after player. Coming into the final table, three of my friends had the vast majority of the chips: Dan, timex, and JC Alvarado. The other five players including myself were relatively close in chip count, but all the money was in the top three places so it didn't make much sense to just sit around and try to wait people out. Unfortunately, my cards dictated that was my only choice for the first few hours of play, and no one was busting. As I was so short nothing interesting happened at the final table, I just managed to win a few preflop all-ins in a row. I was briefly in contention to make a run at the title but I lost my next all-in and was eliminated by JC in 3rd place for €400k. Dan went on to win again (obviously)! I also ended up finishing 10th in the 2k side event, which didn't pay much but at least broke my streak of three consecutive live cashes where Dan had finished higher than me.

I went home after Barca and grinded WCOOP online, and while I managed to win a 2nd chance event for around $35k it was still easily a net-negative series for me. It was immediately back on the road after WCOOP as I took my talents to the southern beach town of Cannes, France for WSOP Europe. My more loyal fans (hi mom and dad) would recall that I very nearly won a bracelet there last year, and then followed that up with a win in the turbo side event, cashing around a quarter million euros combined. It was the beginning of the great run I've been on in European tournaments, so I was feeling confident. This confidence showed as I screwed up my French less often in my brief interactions with taxi drivers and at restaurants.

I also played fine on the felt and I min-cashed the €10k mix-max event, but had no luck in any of the other bracelet events. I was planning to leave early and go to Sanremo for the €5k IPT high-roller event, but then I heard that the €50k side event in Cannes was actually going to attract a lot of more casual players than I would have expected. I was able to get the money together to play, and you should have a pretty good idea how this turns out. I doubled up with aces the first hand I played and it was smooth sailing from there. Actually the first half of that sentence is true but the rest is anything but. I struggled to get anything going again on day 2, and by the time we reached the final table of 9 players with 8 spots paying I was the short stack. Much to my dismay we ended play for the night still on the bubble and I got to stew all night on the fact that I was probably going to be the bubble boy.

Obviously, that didn't happen. Once again I went on an incredible heater after folding all the way down to starting stack for the tournament! I won a series of coin flips, doubled when I flopped top pair with a weak hand out of the big blind, and then decided coin flips were too easy and won AJ vs AK all-in preflop twice in a row to take the majority of Richard Yong and John Juanda's chips 3-handed. The win was good for €1 million, my second ever 7-figure score and first in over four years!

After Cannes was Sanremo where I tried to go back-to-back with a deepish run in the main event but ended up 59th. I also cashed another €5k turbo event, just to make sure people know those are still my domain too. Next up is ACOP Macau, followed by WPT Montreal and EPT Prague most likely. I'm really enjoying traveling and playing live right now so for the time being I'm going to keep playing the rush!


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Europe, SCOOP, meh WSOP

Poker has continued to go well lately. My most recent trip began in Dublin where I min-cashed the Irish Open. I also went to the Guinness brewery and maybe a pub or two. Next up was Vienna. Vienna is a really nice city, but after Dublin the night life mostly disappointed. I had no luck in the tournaments there, but my boy Scott Seiver won the premiere league for half a million so we made some party after that. My last night there I had a great night out with my Aussie mates at an Australian backpacker type of pub that had a great laid back vibe and was a ton of fun. Next up was Berlin. Berlin seemed awesome and while I again didn't do as much of the touristy stuff as I probably should have I did go to two excellent restaurants, a steakhouse I forget the name of and Hartmann's, which was more of the typical Michelin star French fare. My biggest complaint about Berlin was that there was none of the great German beer I'm used to drinking! Everywhere they drank Pilsner Urquell and Radeberger - Czech pilsners, and not much in the way of the amazing Oktoberfest style lagers and Weissbier German beer is typically more famous for. I guess that's more Munich style but I found it strange. I won the 5k turbo, my last event there, for 70k euro, which covered most of the buyins for the trip!

 The final leg was Monte Carlo. I've been there several times before for the grand final and it has to be one of the most overrated destinations on the poker circuit. Don't get me wrong, it's unbelievably beautiful there and definitely worth seeing. But don't spend any time there. Everything is way too expensive, and while the food is of course excellent there's nothing great in terms of night life. Fortunately, I was pretty much just there to play poker so that wasn't of great concern. The problem was that so too was my roommate "Truck" Dan Smith. I finished 11th and 8th or something in the 5k full ring and 6-max side events respectively after having a lot of chips deep in both. Dan just decided to win both of them as well as the 5k turbo though, so I never really had a chance. Easily one of the most insane weeks ever. I cashed for enough that I booked a decent win on my own play, and while I didn't swap with Dan in any of his wins I did have another swap come through to make it a very profitable trip. The trip ended with the Pokerstars party and me making some quality 4am decisions and not getting home til 8am. Believe me, I wish that was actually what it sounds like.

Upon returning to Toronto SCOOP started almost immediately and I decided to go get that internet money. In the first week I ended up finishing second in the 1k +1k bounty event for $81k plus a handful of bounties. Once again I wasn't satisfied just to cover my buy-ins, and I final tabled the 1k triple draw for $8k and finally I had my first truly huge Sunday score! Technically it was a Monday score I guess since it was a 2-day event, but regardless, finishing 2nd in the $2k 6-max SCOOP for $221k was a great feeling!

 So now I'm rich again and I'm off to Vegas to dump it all back at the World Series. If I can have a winning SCOOP though anything seems possible. Maybe even a winning World Series! If only Tony wasn't still drawing stone dead. I'm planning to play a lot less events this summer for several reasons and hopefully a little more cash, a lot more golf and basketball, and maybe a little more party. Also, more 51s games to watch the Jays top prospects hit moonshots in the desert air while pounding dollar beers. Alright that should get you about caught up. As always, updates on @SirWatts, and drunken profanity-laced rants and witty/brilliant observations on my other secret Twitter account so I can keep my respectable nice guy public image because I want my mom to keep loving me.


Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Alright I'll skip the apologies and get to writing there's obviously a lot to catch up on. Prague went pretty well except for the part where I was grinding everyday and didn't see any of the city. I played a lot of poker to end up 9th in the WPT, so close to that big score I haven't had in so long! In the EPT I made it into the money and lost a decent sized pot with the best hand for a min-cash. Prague seemed like an amazing city, hopefully the next time I'm there I'll bust everything on day 1.

My string of winning poker trips continued at Epic as I shipped the $2k turbo side event for $40k. I also got 2nd in the charity event. Good thing I played that one so I could keep my card for the second season which is totally going to happen. I said it'd be 50/50 before Epic started that there was ever a second season but I figured they probably at least have the funding in place for the entire first season. Oh well.

After the holidays I took off to Australia for a week of golfing and Portsea pubbing before Aussie Millions. I had no luck down under this year but as always I very much enjoyed myself. I played the $100k event for the first time and lost a lot of my and my friends money. Honestly I could have won but I just decided to let Dan have one.

I skipped LAPC this year and went back to Fallsview to defend my 2nd place from last year. I failed, and then have mostly been in Toronto since then. Online has not been going terribly well this year either when I've played. My PLO results have been mediocre and tournaments have been going very poorly as of late. I had my first chance of the year for a big score three days ago in the Ongame Grand Slam $5k event however. Unfortunately I could only manage another 9th as luck again was not on my side at the final table. I'm very happy with the amount of chances I've been giving myself lately though and eventually I'll convert a big one. I definitely think I'm playing better than ever, even if the learning curve has resulted in me making some big mistakes I would never have made before.

Next up is another big Europe trip! I will be touring around the continent again in April to play the Irish Open in Dublin, WPT Vienna, EPT Berlin, and finally the EPT Grand Final which has returned to Monte Carlo. There are almost no breaks in the schedule so I will be grinding like crazy again. Honestly, I'm a shitty tourist anyways so it's probably for the best.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Vancouver and Onwards: Prague, Epic #3, etc

Two blogs in a week?! Crazy, I know. Really it's just because I was tired and got carried away making fun of my friends and forgot to write about some stuff, but I'm going to say it counts. Between rolling around in my purple euros and grinding online I also went to Vancouver for a week after my Eurotrip to visit friends and play the BC Poker Classic. I busted the main very quickly but final tabled the $5k high roller event. I ended up placing 7th when I got AQ in vs KK, but given I won 99 vs KK all-in on the exact bubble I can't complain.

Tonight I leave for Prague where I'll be playing the WPT as well as the EPT and side events. Unfortunately I connect in Heathrow tomorrow morning where apparently there is a 24 hour border control strike. Heathrow is brutal at the best of times and with amateurs working the passport control it's likely to be a shit show. I only have an hour-forty to make my connection to Prague and I'm pretty concerned this going to turn into one of those travel horror stories. If you awake to find a ranting series of rage tweets from me you'll know why. I'm very excited for the trip though as I've heard so many amazing things about Prague and of course the tournaments should be great value.

After Prague I fly straight to Vegas for the 3rd Epic main event as well as the charity event. Not a lot to say here other than if timex can win one I like my chances. After that I'm home to Newfoundland for Xmas, and while I haven't quite finalized my plans for the new year yet I'm probably going to go straight to Australia for a month skipping PCA then come back for the events at Fallsview which are now in February. This is subject to change if I do well in Epic and qualify for the freeroll which is at the same time. The first 10 days or so in Australia a bunch of us are renting a house down the Mornington Peninsula and spending our days golfing the various courses in the area and then hitting the Portsea pub for a couple jugs of beer and some fresh seafood. It is unlikely to suck.