I suppose the biggest news lately has been the Pirates signing a new 30-year lease with the City of Bradenton for use of the spring training facilities. It’s a good move for the Pirates because they only have to pay $300k per year in maintenance and the Pirates get to keep all the revenues from the games – about $100k. I assume that means you can expect prices to be jacked up in the next year or two like they have been at every other field in Florida.

Of course the caveat to this entire deal is that the State of Florida has yet to authorize the City of Bradenton the funding. That isn’t expected until the first week or two of January. The second caveat is that the City is now allowed to use the stadium facility for events despite the Pirates requirement to maintain the facility.

Lastly, the Pirates have hinted they planned to use the facility for their own events as well to offset their costs so maybe they will be drawing some more headline entertainment like the Gimme Gimme’s during spring training for everyone to enjoy.

While we’re on the subject of Florida, Orlando’s Mayor Buddy Dyer announced today that he is going to push a $1b sports package through the Commission next year that includes a very nice location for a new baseball stadium — right in the middle of Orlando’s biggest ghetto neighborhood, believe it or not. The area is so crime ridden they even have their own McDonald’s like sign on a pole that reads: "40 murders served in 2006".

I don’t know what Dyer was smoking when he thought of the site especially with all the wonderful open land surrounding the airport corridor that is right off three separate expressways that would be perfect for a stadium. Just think.. 40 minutes to the beach, 15 minutes to Disney, and 5 minutes to a flight.

Orlando is ready for baseball on a major league level easily. Every year thousands of folks litter Brighthouse Networks email boxes with requests they cover the Rays but they refuse to. It’s unbelievable. But a good minor league franchise could make a few bucks if they build an indoor stadium that can withstand hurricane force winds and double as a hurricane shelter. LoL

Hey Don Beaver – want to sell a team? Maybe Johnny Damon will join me in purchasing one from you to move down there. Email me – blog at bucco blog dot com.

A quick look at the new ZIPS projections sheds some light on some possible breakouts in 2007 as well as some downturns.

Bucco Blog has been mentioning that we think Nate McLouth is due to breakout this year but ZIPS doesn’t seem to see it. ZIPS doesn’t see breakouts very good anyway so that’s no surprise.

One quick thing to look at with Nate is that ZIPS has him as the best run producer per at bat on the team at .171 runs per AB. To give you an idea how obscene that estimate is, Bay is only at .166, Nady at .138, and Paulino at .104. Duffy is at .156 so there isn’t any advantage for Littlefield to play McLouth over Duffy with Duffy’s decent defensive cover ability. But how do you spell trade bait?

Another quick observation was that our current rotation that includes Chacon is projected to allow 1.36 HR/9. That’s very high considering the rotation has three southpaws and how large PNC’s left field is.

ZIPS also sees a 0.020 improvement on the five starters winning percentage over 144 starts which is very discouraging, to say the least. As I mentioned the other day, and as Bill James has said for years and years, it is impossible to project pitchers with any accuracy so take the projected 0.020 improvement with a grain of salt.

However, ZIPS does do a good job with hitters and unfortunately the Pirates come up pretty short in 2007 projections on offense according to ZIPS. The current eight starters including Nady, Paulino, Duffy, Castillo, Bay, Wilson, Bautista, and Sanchez project out to a .274 BA.. some ten points lower than their production in 2006. Realize that the ZIPS predictions are based on median guidelines and some players will regress and some will improve.

ZIPS also sees a tad fewer K’s and walks in 2007 which is also a bit disturbing since we were so rank in both categories in 2006.

ZIPS had a correlation r-value of .524, between actual 2006 performance and their 2006 ZIPS projections, for seven of our eight potential position starters for 2007 (not including Nady) so they weren’t off so much it makes you think their estimates are worthless. Just not highly accurate. Unfortunately with the buildup of nuclear waste in the NLCD this year, I suspect the downturn ZIPS is picking up is justified. Perhaps even more of a downturn is warranted.

I’ll let you play around with the projections to get your own gut feelings because my stomach is upset just looking at them, to be quite honest.


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