I'm all set to take an overnight bus trip to Prague in the Czech Republic (where I will stay in a youth hostel that is also a boat) but first: baseball.
Ok, ok, I know I keep saying this, but....Baseball Prospectus kicks major @§§. One of their new methods of analysis is Team Health Reports, which is really cool to read about, because it's yet another new way to think about improving a team: eliminate those pesky injuries! If the Astros have Roy Oswalt and Jeff Kent all last year, we win the Central. But injuries happen, you can't really prevent them, it's part of the game...NO! I mean, well, sometimes. But not all the time. Why do some teams (Oakland) never seem to have injuries? Well, Mulder last year, but other than that, Hudson Zito Chavez Tejada....none of those guys ever seemed to miss any time. It's not just luck, and it's not as simple as "throw fewer pitches." There's work to be done on injuries, and Prospectus is DOING IT.
Oh, and everyone should check out their Baseball Prospectus Basics articles, which basically got me hooked on sabermetrics. They talk about why a strikeout isn't much worse than a regular out, why closers are overrated...read it.
Most of the news that I've been reading about the Astros lately involves how Pettitte and Clemens are leading by example in Spring Training, encouraging all the other pitchers to get up early, work out more, and get in better shape. I love this. Especially from a guy like Clemens, who has been an excellent pitcher in the major leagues for nearly as long as I have been alive. And he's still damn good. If he can impart a little of what he's learned over the years, it could really benefit our young pitchers, especially Wade Miller and Tim Redding, who have the stuff, but not the consistency or attitude. And so far it seems to be working - Miller has shown up at Spring Training looking more muscular and chiseled, and Redding has vowed to do whatever Clemitte tells him too.
I kinda changed my mind about trading Jeriome Robertson for Brian Roberts. Roberts isn't really very good, Chris Burke should be ready in 2005, and there's gotta be some team willing to give us more for Robertson.
So far, Berlin's Tiergarten wins the award for best park, edging out London's Hyde Park and Regent Park, and way better than Amsterdam's Museumplein.