An Interview with Larry Borowsky

An Interview with Larry Borowsky

An Interview with Larry Borowsky

“So I decided to start a blog. I thought, ‘What’s a subject I can write about without having to think too hard?’”

“I like to think I’m providing high-quality analysis of the Cards and that’s why I’m attracting a large audience. It means something about the site is desirable for other people to participate. Maybe you can’t put your finger on it – but it means the blog is doing something right.”

“Lots of bloggers are hostile to mainstream media – mostly young bloggers – and mostly bloggers who haven’t worked in media. It’s very popular and easy to take potshots and to have a lot of attitude that comes across as being smug and know-it-all…Snark is in – it’s the decade of snark.”

“I would probably say that even though I’ve written for large publications before, this is as rewarding as anything…In terms of emotional payoff this is the best.”

Larry Borowsky: Interviewed on January 10, 2007

Position: Blogger, Viva El Birdos

Born: 1963, St. Louis

Education: University of California-Berkeley, 1988, History

Career: software technical/promotional writer; travel writer; history journal editor; free-lance writer/editor; Viva El Birdos 2004 –

Personal: married, two children

Favorite restaurant (home): Taqueria Patzcuaro, Denver “neighborhood Mexican place, family owned”

Favorite restaurant (away): Roberto’s, Taos NM “we go every year –the best Mexican place in the country”

Larry Borowsky excerpted from Viva El Birdos, January 4, 2007:

By lboros

Posted on Thu Jan 04, 2007 at 04:45:27 AM EST

“insomnia sucks. i’m awake; might as well blog.”

Q. Do you often write in the middle of the night?

A. I couldn’t sleep so I figured I might as well write about the Cardinals. No, I don’t usually write in the middle of the night. My posts are time-stamped – somebody was going to notice so I might as well mention it.

Q. How much traffic does Viva El Birdos generate?

A. Now, about 5,000 visits daily, but during the season closer to 10,000. It spikes during a big event. During the World Series I was getting 20,000 visits. When the Cards make an acquisition it goes up to 10 to 15,000. I have between 2000 and 2500 registered users.

Q. Does cream rise in the blogosphere?

A. I think so. I think that people who know how to write stand out. So many people who just want an outlet to express themselves but don’t necessarily have great writing skills – in most cases they don’t gain much readership. Any blogger with an audience has a writing background or writing skills – in that sense cream rises to the top.

Beyond that a certain market function goes on. If you’re writing on a subject that has a natural constituency – which is the case with me – you can draw an audience. I have a friend who blogs about knitting – the natural constituency for that is not as large or well-defined but it’s still a very good blog. She’s a writer and journalist and within that niche she’s got the best knitting blog out there.

Q. How would you know?

A. Fair question. I can say I have not read any other knitting blogs than hers. Why do I think it’s the best? It’s widely read.

With sports blogs there are two types of success. You can have a large audience with a high degree of interactivity. If you have an audience you have people talking back and forth – having comments adds value – you’re getting everybody else’s opinions as well. Having a large audience enhances that feature and helps make the blog better.

Some don’t have a high degree of interactivity but the blogger is so good it’s good anyway. Rich Lederer (Baseball Analysts) rarely has more than 10 or 20 comments to a post, whereas Jon Weisman at Dodger Thoughts might get 300 or 400. My blog at the World Series got over 1000 comments to some game threads – people were typing comments while watching the game. Rich’s writing is so good and interesting it’s still a daily read for me. Rich also has another writer for variety – it was Bryan Smith until he moved on – and now it’s going to be Patrick Sullivan, who used to write a Red Sox blog.

That’s the second form of quality – how good is the blogger? Is he compelling enough to read – it’s the same as picking up the paper and going to a particular reporter or columnist.

When you evaluate success on some large-traffic blogs the comments can be more interesting to read than the main post. You want to participate in the community aspect of it – to talk to other readers.

Q. That’s a sign of cream rising?

A. I think so. It means that blog has attracted an audience that attracts a crowd other people want to be a part of. That’s why I say it’s a marketplace type of success. It doesn’t mean that objectively its analysis is the best – though it might be. I like to think I’m providing high-quality analysis of the Cards and that’s why I’m attracting a large audience. It means something about the site is desirable for other people to participate. Maybe you can’t put your finger on it – but it means the blog is doing something right.

Q. Do you get credentials for events?

A. I never have applied. I don’t have a huge amount of interest – some bloggers feel differently. I don’t really have a feeling one way or another about whether bloggers “should” get credentialed. I don’t idolize or worship the players themselves. I don’t have a desire to interact with them.

Q. You don’t want the same access as newspaper reporters?

A. No. They perform a different function and it’s already well-covered. They provide a medium for the participants to describe events directly to the public and to get that inside thing. I don’t need to join hordes of reporters talking to players on a daily basis. We already have a good sense of who these guys are and what’s on their mind. I don’t know that I could add insight or information that’s not already there.

Some bloggers get credentials because they do worship the players. They start as fans and build an audience and then get the option to get access and interact on a one-on-one basis. But I don’t feel the need to do that. I don’t feel the need to add to the flow of information being produced by mainstream beat and broadcast reporters.

It would be nice to convince the front office to give me access to do a Q&A. I have made overtures that were not well received. The Cardinals organization is not one to adopt that kind of approach to p.r. and reaching out to its fan base. The Atlanta Braves general manager has granted interviews to bloggers. Billy Beane has granted lengthy interviews to Athletics Nation.

Another thing I will try to do is provide good access where there is not good coverage. I did a Q&A with Rick Hummel (St. Louis Post-Dispatch) – people were grateful to have information about Rick that wasn’t available elsewhere.

I did that with Cardinals prospects during the season – the minor league guys. I didn’t go through the Cardinals front office – I went through the minor league teams. Access was much easier – I would call up a 25-year-old media director who didn’t have a big league attitude. He was grateful anyone was interested at all. I talked to the No. 1 draft pick, Adam Ottavino.

Q. What about the Bill Simmons theory that a team can be covered better, or just as well, from a distance, without lockerroom access?

A. I disagree with that. I’m not trying to cover the team in the same way the beat writers are. They provide a function that is needed and that I rely on. My main source of information is the Post-Dispatch. I read all the articles I can online, and one of the beat writers, Derrick Goold, writes a good blog. He puts in things that don’t get into the paper – sometimes he takes up issues that were in the paper and that he wants to add depth to. Occasionally he can drop things in there that he can’t put in the paper yet. Bernie Miklasz is on a chat board that is nominally his – called Bernie’s Pressbox – where he goes to interact with readers. Quite often he will post tidbits or rumors he thinks are credible or whispers coming out of the organizations – for all the St. Louis teams. Those are daily visits for me to see what’s going on.

I disagree with Bill Simmons. I couldn’t do what I do if I didn’t have the information the beat guys are putting out. But I have the luxury the beat guys often don’t have – I can take that information and think it over and put it into context of things I’ve read while surfing for 45 minutes. I’ll put it into a context that synthesizes their information with information from other sources.

Essentially the service I’m providing is to distill a lot of information and provide a one-stop shop for people to get what they need to know about the Cardinals without having to surf around. I might spend 90 minutes surfing to get that information, and then I put it into my post and they can get it in five minutes. A lot of guys spend more time surfing than I do and they bring even more information.

My opinion is that the beat guys are drawing out information. Just their mere presence forces things to surface that might be kept under raps in they weren’t there. That way of doing business assumes a certain give and take with the beat guys. Players and managers know there are certain secrets they must share unless they want to be portrayed in certain ways. If you want to come across as credible you have to address certain things because guys in the lockerroom will call you on it if you give a pat b.s. answer to a question. There needs to be somebody who says, “Hold on a second coach, or Barry Bonds, let me follow up on what you said”. My opinion is that the beat writer model is essential and we bloggers benefit from it.

Lots of bloggers are hostile to mainstream media – mostly young bloggers – and mostly bloggers who haven’t worked in media. It’s very popular and easy to take potshots and to have a lot of attitude that comes across as being smug and know-it-all.

Q. You mean a snarky attitude?

A. Yes. Snark is in – it’s the decade of snark. A lot of people want to read that, but I think it’s pretty self-serving, frankly. I don’t read Bill Simmons on a regular basis. I do read Deadspin. Will Leitch is a fan of Bill Simmons. I actually have a good relationship with Will, although he is a snarkist, if you will, but he also has journalistic instincts as well. He has broken stories. I don’t get the sense he’s hostile to mainstream media – he worked at the Post-Dispatch. I don’t know that he would share Simmons’ opinions. Will has been a friend to my blog – he has linked to it a number of times. Last year he did a guest post for me when I went on vacation. I read his blog often – his snark is not always directed at mainstream media. It’s often directed at sports figures themselves.

Q. How many Cardinals blogs are there?

A. If I include mainstream media blogs – not including chat boards where there isn’t really a blog format – that’s a separate animal – I would say about 30 I know of. There’s probably some I’m not aware of. There’s another half dozen or possibly ten chat boards.

Q. Do you monitor all of those?

A. I have ones I like and are worth reading – other ones I don’t read as often. The ones I try to read are Get Up Baby – named after Mike Shannon, the Cards broadcaster, who says “Get up baby” when someone hits a fly ball. Dan Moore, a journalism student, writes it. I also read Cardinals Diaspora – I’ve got all the links on my sidebar and will periodically link to them.

Q. What about links? Who gets them and who doesn’t and are there hard feelings?

A. Sometimes there are. I’ve never taken it that seriously or had enough ego invested to get my feelings hurt. I’ll link almost anybody who asks me. In a couple of cases I had requests but the blog was so inept I didn’t feel I would be doing readers a favor by listing it – anyone who went there would curse me for wasting their time. If it’s so-so I’ll put it up. I don’t require them to link me back but usually they’ll do it. But as far as linking in the text of my post – only if somebody wrote something really good or interesting or funny. Putting it on the sidebar – no sweat. I’m happy that most people feel that way. I guess there are bloggers who have a more restricted sense and only link somebody they personally endorse – you have to make the cut with them.

Q. What’s the difference between what you do and what Will Leitch does at Deadspin?

A. He’s a professional blogger getting paid a salary. I’m part of a blog network – SB Nation is the corporate entity – but I’m not paid, though I have equity in the site. I sell some advertising myself – it provides a trickle of income, certainly not enough to support me full-time. A few bloggers are trying to do this full-time – like David Pinto. Geoff Young at Duck Snorts quit his job and is trying to make a go of it. I do it for the exposure and creative outlet.

Q. Would you call yourself a corporate blogger because of your SB Nation network?

A. You could say I’m more corporate than Get Up Baby – Dan Moore’s not affiliated with anybody. I’m affiliated with a network that’s not a public company but is a money-making enterprise – the people who own it are trying to make money.

Q. Why belong to SB Nation?

A. I benefit in a couple of ways. Exposure. My traffic has been increased because their network links to me. Credibility – when I ask somebody for an interview it helps to be part of a network. Having a brand affiliation increases readership. If it ever becomes profitable it could trickle down to me in the form of equity. But none of this is to get rich – for most of us it’s to scratch an itch or showcase what we can do.

Q. What would be your ideal job? How about newspaper columnist?

A. No – that wouldn’t be it. I think I have the ideal job in the sense of being a free lancer and working for myself and having a number of different projects I can work on – each of which serves a different need I have professionally. Having this forum is definitely a blast – it’s fun for me to have an audience – every writer wants an audience. I would probably say that even though I’ve written for large publications before, this is as rewarding as anything – I know readers are coming because of what I’ve created. I’ve contributed to Slate and Wall Street Journal – both national publications with large audiences but I was just in there. In this case I know people are coming to read because of what I created and by now a lot are coming to read each other, which is also rewarding. In terms of emotional payoff this is the best. It’s really nice to have that – it’s akin to having written a play and attracting an audience for that one thing.

Q. You have a background in traditional media?

A. Yes – like many bloggers. My first job in journalism was as a copy editor for Denver Westword – I worked up to associate editor. Then I left and became a free lancer – mostly for regional publications and magazines like In Flight and Aspen – also a Denver city magazine called 5280. I wrote a lot of features and a back page column for a couple of years. When I started a family I needed to shift my emphasis away from activities of greatest interest to me to ones that were more income oriented. That meant taking more corporate work and public relations. I also started editing a journal for the state of Colorado – I have a background in history. That led to some museum-related work. All of which was good but I missed the journalism outlet. So I decided to start a blog. I thought, “What’s a subject I can write about without having to think too hard?”

Q. (lol)

A. Another way to put it is I think about this stuff anyway – it’s how I amuse myself during the course of the day. I’m constantly thinking about baseball – having grown up in St. Louis it gets in our blood and synapses. In idle moments I find myself thinking about the No. 2 left-handed reliever in the bullpen or which free agent pitchers are available. I’m already thinking about it so why not write it down and put up a blog. That’s how it started – it flowed from my desire to have a journalistic outlet of some kind.

It started after the 2004 season. That season played a part in it, too – 105 wins by far was the most in my lifetime, and I can remember back to the 69-70 seasons – I came along too late to remember the great teams of the 60s with Gibson and Brock – which were nicknamed El Birdos. The 2004 team was the first great team I could root for – it was a great season followed by a pratfall. I was thinking about them even more than usual and all these things came together.

Q. Who are the main writers for Viva El Birdos?

A. There are three. Me, and I added a couple of guys who were longtime posters. One was one of the first registered posters – his screen name is Valatan. He’s Jerry Schirmer, a grad student at University of Texas. The other is Erik Manning. He lives in Iowa – I’m not sure what he does for a living. He used to write a blog called Reverend Redbird but closed it down because the demands of daily blog posting were becoming too time-consuming. I liked his blog, and liked the comments he occasionally posted at VEB, so I asked if he was interested in writing once a week at my site – less of a time demand. He said yes, and so it happens weekends are the most convenient time for him, so he writes on Sundays.

Both Erik and Val started writing on the front page last September or so – they wrote through the playoffs and have continues through the off-season. Having other voices and perspectives on the front page has made the site better without question.

Q. Why would a poster not want his name known?

A. I don’t know – maybe privacy issues. Maybe in certain cases if somebody is telling secrets about an organization the obvious reason is they might want to remain anonymous.

Q. You mean if they work in the organization?

A. Yes. There are cases of people who got fired from (non-sports) organizations because their identities got revealed. They were talking about office politics on (non-sports) blogs – a couple of well-known examples resulted in lawsuits over wrongful dismissal. One involved an airline person.

Q. You have no problem with anonymous posters?

A. I had an anonymous person come on purporting to have inside information – in that case I really wanted to know who that was and to check him out. He posted a diary in the last off-season – 14 months ago – saying he had talked to a Cardinals scout who said the Cards were interested in Javier Vasquez, who at the time was with Arizona and had demanded a trade. The Cards had missed on A.J. Burnett but were still looking to add a pitcher. This guy posts on my blog that they’re in serious discussion and speculated on the players who would be sent to Arizona. I posted a comment and said I would try to find out who this guy is before anybody takes this at face value – I tried to issue a caveat. I sent him an e-mail and he wrote me back – he convinced me it was good information and it turned out it was. The particular players he named were correct with one exception. The Post-Dispatch reported on this trade two days later possibly as a result of this post on my site. It was good information but I needed to know who this guy was – he had represented himself as someone inside the organization in his post.

Whenever anyone puts up a post of that type they’re still entitled to remain anonymous. I almost function as an editor, in a sense, because I feel responsible for what’s going up there. If I can’t be convinced I put up a comment saying it’s a rumor and take it as such. I help readers evaluate it. Either it’s suspect or not, or it’s inconsistent or not, or I can’t verify it. Those situations don’t happen that often on my blog. Mostly it’s opinions and trying to back them up with arguments. Occasionally anonymity becomes an issue.

It’s the same as on talk radio when somebody says “I think the Cards blew it on this trade”, or “the manager has the wrong idea with this guy in the rotation”. Anonymity is okay on the radio – same thing on a blog. It’s only an issue when somebody is purporting to report anything – then I think it’s important to exercise the same kind of judgment I would at a newspaper. I check out the source and decide whether I want that to appear on my blog with my stamp of approval or to keep my distance from it.

Q. Is your blog unusually disciplined?

A. There are others. Athletics Nations, which is on my network, SB Nation blog. Jason Fry’s blog (Faith and Fear in Flushing) – for him it’s an outlet of opinion and passion – he’s got the same instincts – it certainly reads like it’s got journalistic sensibility. Dodger Thoughts by Jon Weisman. Bronx Banter by Alex Belth. Baseball Analyst by Rich Lederer. Rich’s dad was a journalist – he has that sensibility. Baseball Musings by David Pinto – he often evaluates rumors in the mainstream press and does a good job of helping readers put them in context. A lot of people who have journalistic experience are writing these sports blogs.

Q. Are you different than most bloggers in that you know how to go after a story?

A. Most, but not all. I’m not one of a kind. Quite a number of blogs do the same thing – go after a story.

Q. What did you write about Mark McGwire and the Hall of Fame vote?

A. I didn’t write about it this year because I wrote so much last year. My opinion is that the truth needs to come out and that McGwire’s stance hurt him because he has knowledge he isn’t sharing. The only way we will get past this as fans is for the entire thing to be aired – we need to know which players were taking stuff and which managers were winking at it. We know some of the names that might be involved, but we need to know what were the stances of the front offices and what was their degree of guilt. What did members of the media hear in clubhouses, whether in whispers or direct knowledge? We need to have the whole truth come out and all of us have to take responsibility, even the fans, for participating in that charade.

Mark McGwire is a symbol for that and to some degree a scapegoat. I don’t think he should be in the Hall until issues are resolved. What he could do to clear the air would be a heroic thing. What I wrote is that he should say, “Here’s what I did and here’s the context in which I did it. There was a certain culture at that time enabled and encouraged by the powers that be. I regret that it has now caused a taint on the game, but let’s all understand what happened and how it happened and just get it all out there and not insult the intelligence of the fans by pretending it didn’t happen.”

I’m critical about his saying, “I’m not here to talk about the past.” That’s the wrong way to go about it. There was a lot of discussion last year – people get very emotional. I deliberately stayed away this year although a lot of readers were talking about it. I didn’t want to put it on the main page because it’s an inflammatory thing and you end up with people discussing legal issues and first amendment issues and privacy issues and things they know nothing about. The discussion often degrades pretty rapidly. If he’d gone into the Hall I wouldn’t feel it’s a huge travesty nor do I think it’s a huge injustice he didn’t get in. A large part of the public thinks, “who cares?” I don’t agree – it’s incredibly relevant. We need to know the truth. Somewhere there will emerge another player who does what Canseco did but doesn’t have Canseco’s baggage.

Q. Did you ask Hummel what he knew in 98?

A. No. It was really sort of a puff piece – a congratulatory thing. I didn’t ask him why he wasn’t tougher or what did he know. I asked him what regrets he had about his career.

Q. The Daily Fix guys seem to like Viva El Birdos – what’s with that?

A. I did a piece for Jason (Fry) last June and we kept up correspondence – we were in touch during the playoffs. It was for WSJ Online – about the broadcast landscape – inspired by the Cardinals move off of KMOX radio after 52 years. This was their first year on a station on which the team had bought controlling interest. It’s a pattern. The Pirates are leaving KDKA – next year will be their first on a station other than KDKA for the first time in 60 years. Same with the Tigers and Phillies. The article was about what was happening from the baseball side and the radio side and where they fit in with mlb.com and MLB TV and online radio.

Q. Sounds like mainstream journalism.

A. That piece was – I was wearing my reporter’s hat for that.

(SMG thanks Larry Borowsky for his cooperation)

Steve,

Thanks again for the conversation this morning. A few quick items, then I’m off to my lunch appt.

The post I wrote last season about McGwire and the Hall is at this link —

http://www.vivaelbirdos.com/story/2006/1/21/101359/392

Then there’s a followup post here

http://www.vivaelbirdos.com/story/2006/1/23/10259/6850

And here’s what I wrote after Pujols’ big HR vs Lidge.

http://www.vivaelbirdos.com/story/2005/10/18/3133/6882

i particularly like this part:

and so it continues — the series, the season, the stadium; larry walker’s career. we go back to wondering who will be healthy enough to play, and which mulder is going to show up, and can the bullpen hold a lead, and will la russa keep the irrational decisions to a minimum. . . . . . or maybe we don’t. maybe we just let all that stuff go. maybe, in this newly born season, we simply watch like the newly born — with little understanding but much wonder. maybe we mull nothing but newborn thoughts: so this is what it’s like to be alive. well i’ll be damned.

Numbers: who are the main bloggers, how many members, page views, visits

Wher do you go in the baseball blogosphere?

What are your favorite subjects to write about?

You can write me back here, or call me at (720) 855 6199. Thanks again for the note, look forward to talking with you.

By lboros

Posted on Thu Jan 04, 2007 at 04:45:27 AM EST

insomnia sucks. i’m awake; might as well blog.

programming note: right before the holidays i had a long chat with rick hummel, the post-dispatch’s hall-of-fame-bound writer; look for the Q+A transcript in the next day or two.

in today’s p-d: the mulder bidding plods along
. texas and cleveland are in for two guaranteed years, and the bet’s to jocketty: call or raise? i say fold ’em. a mulder signing would be worse than no signing at all, imho, because it would make the cards apt to sit back and count on mulder for their midseason rotation boost, instead of aggressively pursuing walk-year pitchers who hit the market as the trade deadline approaches. jake westbrook and mark buehrle are both pending free agents and prime candidates to be moved; see derrick goold’s entry at Bird Land
today for a long list of other players who might shake free on that basis. if they have mulder in their hip pocket, the cards won’t feel the same urgency to bring in reinforcements. but mulder, whenever he returns, is just as likely to undermine the rotation as stabilize it — the guy hasn’t been right for two and a half years, and he’s recovering from a torn rotator cuff. i’d sooner have the cards take a flyer on tomo ohka or john thomson, the latter of whom tops jeff sackmann’s list of free agents still worth watching
.

sackmann’s list also names jeff weaver, who (according to the p-d article cited above) remains on the cardinals’ radar. if he’d sign for a year or two, sure — but why would he do that? he’s got a better resume than jason marquis and adam eaton, both of whom signed for three years in the low $20ms; if it takes more than that to get weaver (and it will), it’s too much. sure, he looked great in october; he also has posted era’s pushing 6.00 in two of the last four seasons
. weaver has had just one winning season in an 8-year career, and just one year with a sub-4.00 era. jocketty got him for next to nothing last season, and next to nothing is about what he is worth going forward . . . . well okay, that’s a little harsh; maybe not next to nothing, but in the same subdivision. will weaver be appreciably better than brad thompson over 30 starts? i’d put it at 60-40, maybe 65-35. if that’s worth $30m to ya, be my guest . . . .

it might be worth it to the seattle mariners, who per this diary at Halos Heaven
may empty part of their unspent zito purse into weaver’s lap. before you dismiss that as a worthless internet rumor, you should know that the socal-based HH seems to have an in with the socal-bred weaver; this blogger scooped the mainstream media by two days last winter when weaver signed his one-year deal with the angels. the diary also notes weaver’s fondness for st louis and hints that this factor might even trump seattle’s dollars. if jeff would grant the cards one of those coveted Hometown Discounts, i’d discount my reservations about him commensurately.

one other thing before we leave this morning’s post-dispatch: the last paragraph says st louis is considering adding a right-handed bat, with preston wilson among the possible targets. i’m not wild about preston, but he has his uses; i’d still rather have the other wilson, craig, who has better on-base ability.

randy johnson won’t be joining the cards
. . . . .

final item: the first of the diamond mind simulations have appeared, courtesy of Replacement Level Yankees Weblog (RLYW). for those not familiar with diamond mind, it’s a simulation game — think strat-o-matic, but a lot more sophisticated. the game first impressed itself upon cardinal fans back in the spring of 2004, when it correctly forecast that st louis would reclaim the division title
after its 85-win, 3d-place finish in 2003. that was not a widely shared prediction, you may recall; the astros had signed clemens and pettitte, and the cubs had added greg maddux to their terrifying wood/prior combination, while the cards were counting heavily on a reclamation project (chris carpenter) and an inexperienced 25-year-old (jason marquis). but in 100 full-season diamond-mind simulations using projected stats for 2004, the cardinals finished first nearly half of the time and had the highest average win total (92) over the 100 simmed seasons.

RLYW has run preseason diamond-mind simulations the last couple of years, with mixed results. in 2006, this exercise correctly called 6 of the 8 playoff teams; in 2005, it only went 3 for 8. the sims that appeared at RLYW last week are preliminary and should not be taken very seriously; they used data from one of the less established projection systems, CHONE, and only 100 seasons were simmed. by the end of spring training, RLYW will have run several thousand simulations using multiple sets of projection data — those are the results i would place the most stock in.

but we don’t have those yet. the results we do have, flimsy though they may be, are at least encouraging. the CHONE-driven sims project st louis as the best team in the national league
, with an average record of 90-72. the cards won the nl central in 54 of the 100 simulated seasons and took the wild card in another 15. even more shocking than that result was the following: the sims project st louis, with its uncertain starting rotation, to yield the lowest number of runs in all of baseball.

i e-mailed SG, who runs the sims for RLYW, and asked who he had slotted into the cardinal rotation for these simulations. he answered that carpenter, wells, wainwright, and reyes were in the first four slots, with narveson and blake hawksworth splitting the #5 slot. it so happens that CHONE thinks reyes and wainwright are just swell — both are projected to have era’s in the mid-3.00s — and it’s reasonably bullish on kip wells, who projects to an era of 4.41. if those pitchers can meet such rosy projections, then st louis will indeed have a hell of a staff.

but don’t order your playoff tickets just yet. it’s only one projection, and it’s based on so-so data and incomplete rosters. i recommended to SG that he use brad thompson as the cards’ #5 starter in future simulations; if they sign mulder or weaver or anybody else, that will alter the simulation results. i’ll keep an eye on his site and let you know how the make-believe cards fare in the thousands of make-believe seasons to be played in the coming weeks.

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