does carlos pena suck?

i know, i know, more baseball. but one of the big acquisitions in my fantasy draft this year was carlos pena, the first baseman for the tampa bay rays. i argued back in march:

i’ve learned that having a james loney at first just won’t fly – there’s too much power at the position, and i put myself in a terrible disadvantage by not getting a piece of that power. you can’t make it up in other places. so i budgeted $45 for a 1B and hoped i’d get someone in the 3rd tier (first being pujols, second being fielder+miguel cabrera+ryan howard).

and here’s what i wrote about carlos pena at the time:

priority 2 was a win, i think, but i could easily be wrong. i paid $37 for carlos pena, who is good but one step down from what i wanted.

well, so far, i’ve been wrong. carlos pena is hitting .184 with an OBP of .298 and SLG .331. 5 home runs, 19 runs scored. excuse my language, but he’s been pretty fucking brutal.

now a lot of other moves i made have worked out. my pitching has started slow but is doing well enough, and my offense, despite the deadweight at 1st, has been doing great, anchored by the extra power out of my pair of 2Bs, dan uggla and chase utley. as of right now i’m in 2nd place, 3.5 points out of first, but as recently as last week i was in 1st. however, players are starting to move (including a trade i just made that i’ll have to write about in another post), and i need to make a decision on first base. i have a couple of interesting guys who i can consider moving to a team out of contention in order to replace pena, but the only reason to consider doing that is if i truly don’t believe pena will rebound. so, let’s look a bit deeper into his 2010.

fangraphs is the first (and sometimes only) stop when trying to evaluate players a bit further. looking at pena’s page there, you’ll see his BABIP is .220, which is low and somewhat unlucky. however, the real problem seems to be his GB/FB ratio, which has jumped to .98 from being .54 last year and .63 the year before that. this is partially due to a lack of line drives (12.6% as opposed to 17-18% the last 3 years), but his GB% has just skyrocketed so far this year. it’s really dragging down every other part of his line, because his K rate has dropped(!) and his BB rate is only slightly down. so why has the GB% jumped?

well, here come the fun pictures:
Carlos Pena 2009

the first picture is carlos pena’s pitches seen in 2009, and the second one is 2010 to this point. blue indicates balls, red indicates strikes, purple indicates swinging strikes, and green indicates a ball put into play. right now, it looks to me like pitchers have a really good approach when pena’s at the plate. the number of pitches on the outer half of the plate have decreased significantly, as well as the pitches in the upper half of the plate – everything is down and in, down and in. however, pena is also not punishing mistakes – there is far less green and far too much red on the second image. this could be because he’s generally trying to change his approach to adjust to the slump and see more pitches, but it seems to me that pena needs to adjust to how pitchers have adjusted to him – go down and get pitches in the lower half of the zone and punish the mistakes he has seen.

going back to fangraphs, it’s clear that not a lot has changed about pena’s plate discipline. he is swinging at a few more pitches outside the zone, but his overall contact% is actually higher than in year’s past. so while i can sit here and argue that his approach might need help, it seems much more likely that in reality, this is a bit of statistical noise from 39 games and 160 PA, and by the end of the season, we probably won’t remember the difficult beginning.

update a few things have changed as i was writing this post. first, i’m now in first place by 1.5 points with 80 points in the league. second, carlos pena hit a home run. but hey, i’m just working my way back into this blog game, so some rust is to be expected.


smell that?

that’s the smell of new server. and new host. i moved from a dedicated server on layered tech over to the planet yesterday. i left layered tech because my server there was having a massive hardware failure and getting a new server from them was just too expensive. i went to the planet because of good reviews from people i trust, as well as the good pricing. hopefully it works out well.

moving servers was surprisingly easy. of course, now that i say that, something bad will happen, but dump mysql, copy over some php and configs, and voila, everything worked. the two things that were tricky were timezones (apparently i have a remarkable amount of code that is very reliant on eastern time, which i guess is my bad) and perl’s mysql interface (the one i was using is uh… discontinued?)

anyway, just a note that i am alive, my server is new, and i hope to start having a presence here again.

weird coincidences

part of my job requires that i, from time to time, scour through databases of athletes of all sorts.  today the focus was on college basketball, where i ran into a quirk that made me do a double take.  we’ve recently gotten updates to our college basketball rosters for the 2009-10 season, and while the original set of players came in by last name, the new players we get come in by team name.  which is all a long way of setting up this unlikely pairing of names that i found towards the end of the 19618 row table:

| 3024400 | Williams | Travis | 80 | F | 33 | 0 |
| 3032344 | Rehnquist | Peter | 107 | G | 25 | 0 |

williams and rehnquist. back to back, for some reason, in a gigantic table of basketball players.

basically i’m getting coded messages from my database. now i just need to see what exactly the database wants me to do.

why i might never play xbox 360 again

i’ll admit it – i’m cramming in a few posts to try to get my monthly total respectable.  on the other hand, microsoft’s pricing for hard drives is absolutely absurd, and now that i’m up against my 20gb hard drive’s limit, i’m going to have to make some tough decisions.

i don’t download movies.  i don’t buy a ton of arcade games.  i definitely don’t install games on my xbox.  however, my drive is full.  i get a lot of demos.  i do have a few full arcade games.  but the killer for me is the DLC – i religiously buy DLC for games i like, because why wouldn’t i want more levels of rainbow six or call of duty 5, but these things take up a ton of space.  so, my decision to 1) buy multi-platform games on the xbox and 2) spend money on xbox live’s marketplace has caused me to run out of hard drive space.  of course, it seems pretty obvious to me that this behavior is something microsoft would want to encourage, so maybe they wouldn’t take a huge markup on their hard drive upgrades.

to be more plain, the only reason one would buy a xbox 360 hard drive upgrade is so one can spend more money on xbox 360 games and xbox live’s marketplace.

and yet a 120gb hard drive, something i can get on newegg for $65 and on ebay for even less, sets me back $135.  a full 100% mark-up on a device that will almost always be purchased by someone enthusiastic about using the system and spending money on the system.

so i think for multi-platform games from now on i’m going to just stick with the playstation 3 – it has more capacity out of the box, and hard drive upgrades are encouraged rather than blocked off by proprietary technology.  this plan will go into effect once i get my ps3 repaired.  which is a whole other story, which i probably won’t post, because it’s even more boring then this post and the previous one.

vroom vroom

in my own personal attempt at having a mid-life crisis at 28, i have replaced my 1998 toyota camry with a 2010 audi a4.  i got the car last monday.  so far, it has been a great decision.  after one week, i drove the car 336 miles, or 48 miles a day.  if i maintain that rate, i will drive 17520 miles this year, and 52560 miles in 3 years.  my lease is for 3 years and 45,000 miles, so, sustaining this driving rate, i will be 7560 miles (or $1890) over my miles limit at the end of the lease.  of course, i will not sustain this driving rate – i drove every day the first week, including a very unusual 80 miles round trip to the buffalo wild wings in dublin, california and a pretty abnormal 55 miles round trip to benihana in burlingame, ca on a weeknight.  a weeknight!

so as you can see, my life is not at all interesting.

a collection of ideas for short stories

also known as “things that have happened”, a recurring segment here

1) i had red meat saturday night.  i had lamb chops at kokkari estiatorio, one of the best greek restaurants in san francisco.  the lamb chops are their signature dish.  they were very good.  honestly, i would have rather had the fish, but at least i’m past this hurdle (which i cleared to very little fanfare) and i can go about my business as a person again.

2) i got civ4 working in ubuntu.  downloaded the game through steam.  ran steam and then the game through wine.  i wanted to do a little write-up, but then #3 happened.  and yes, i know half of that was gibberish to you.

3) my car broke down on the 280, northbound, in burlingame.  the 280 is one of the faster highways around, people generally go around 80 on it, so this was… a scary situation to say the least.  but i managed it ok, and i didn’t cut anyone off or cause any issues, and i got AAA to tow the car off the right shoulder into a garage in burlingame and i’m currently waiting to hear from the mechanic at said newly-minted AAA approved ASE certified garage as to whether or not i just murdered my ’98 camry.

each of these bullet points deserves its own post, but life isn’t fair, so for now, i give you this.

revenge is mine!

so part of the reason why i lost a huge number of files (in the end, let’s just say i lost everything) 2 weeks ago is because two of the 1.5tb drives i ordered were actually defective.  this will happen from time to time and i was pretty unlucky to get two bad drives but i can’t put much fault on newegg or seagate.  you have to assume the drives are bad, is what i’m saying.

anyway, yesterday i got two replacement drives in the mail.  i’ll mail back the bad drives tomorrow, because just now my second drive finished resyncing and i have 4 beautiful solid green lights on my NAS and 0 drive alerts and 3.9 terrabytes to get busy filling.

i think i’d fill these drives a whole lot faster if i had a just-announced nikon d300s.  but that might have to wait.

another readynas update

friday was not my finest hour.

2 of the readynas drives were showing as failed.  i pulled one.  everything broke.  my nas then spent the next 3 days claiming that the entire volume was dead.

i have somehow tricked it into thinking that one of the previously ‘failed’ drives is not dead, and i’m copying files off of the nas as we speak to an external drive.  however i’m seeing a lot of read errors when i copy files (mostly around my DNGs and NEFs, the files straight off my camera), which leads me to believe i’ve lost a significant amount of data.

so, what have i learned from this ordeal, in which i thought alternately that everything was fine, that i lost everything, and now the reality that i’ve lost some things, especially the things that matter most to me:

1) don’t panic and stay calm.  instead of pulling drives willy-nilly, i should have started a copy to an external drive on friday and let it go until it was done.

2) back things up.  more.  meaning, before i even started this upgrade i should have backed up the entire NAS to SOMEWHERE, anywhere.

3) back things up, more.  meaning i should have been copying my irrecoverable files on a weekly basis to somewhere else.  photos, documents.  not music files or things that i can get again, but something like “original RAW files from trip to europe with jen” would count.

4) sometimes shit happens.  i was freaking out on friday.  but i watched some west wing, went to sleep, woke up, talked to jen, and spent saturday out of the apartment, away from all the devastation.  and after all this, i didn’t care as much about losing files.  as jen said, they are just things.  and as i was telling myself, it doesn’t mean i didn’t experience the things those photos captured.

on a more specific note about the readynas, i think after inserting a new drive, the right move is to reboot, let the entire RAID rebuild, and then replace the next drive.  this relates back to #1 – patience.  this shit takes time.  i wanted 4.5tb as fast as possible, and rushing through it kicked my ass.

update: final tally, 173gb of 698gb (24.79%) lost, most of which were photos.

maybe i spoke too soon

i might have sung the praises of my readynas too soon.  drive 4 added fine.  then i replaced drive 1, and that worked well.  then drive 2 blew up in the middle of adding it (possibly a bad drive) and after adding drive 3 (supposedly fine) the NAS has been doing a raid sync for over 24 hours.  something is seriously messed up!  so maybe some tough love will help.  readynas, this is what you’re supposed to do – this is what i paid for.  get it right or pay the price.

praising the readynas

yesterday was a big day for me.  two packages in the mail, both of the utmost importance.  the smaller of the two packages was my release day copy of ncaa football 2010 for the xbox 360.  there is a good chance i’ll actually be able to get an online dynasty going with some people this year, and if this happens you’ll be hearing plenty more about this game.  but for now, let’s focus on the bigger package – four 1.5tb hard drives.

between the music obsession and the photography hobby, i have pretty ridiculous storage requirements.  and of course, there is the natural paranoia that any good nerd should have about hard drive failure (note: if you are not paranoid about hard drive failure, you should be).  so a while back, i bought a netgear readynas (previously branded as infrant).  it holds 4 drives, it does dead-simple raid and file sharing, so it basically fits the need of anyone who just wants more storage that is redundant (that is to say, hard drive failure isn’t a catastrophe).

did i mention its tiny form factor?  it has a nice, tiny form factor.  you can stick the thing anywhere with a power cord and a network cord and just forget about it.

my original configuration was goofy.  i had 3 drives in there of varying sizes (1x500gb and 2x750gb) – this limited the size of my raid considerably and wasted space on the larger drives, but whatever, i had no interest in buying a new drive or 2 for a moderate increase in size.  then, of course, the big drives came down in price and the equation changed a little.

i got the 4 drives for $120 each from newegg.  not a bad deal at all.  so i started the upgrade process last night.  this is what i’m talking about when i say dead-simple: pull out tray, unscrew existing drive, screw in new drive, push in tray, wait 5-7 hours (by, i don’t know, playing ncaa football 2010, sleeping, going to work, doing your normal thing because the NAS STAYS ONLINE), and then repeat for the next 3 drives.  then the one bit of downtime comes when you reboot (sleep during this step) and voila, you just turned your 921gb array into a 4.5tb array without losing any data.  and this is in a CONSUMER GRADE device.

i knew all this stuff going in, this is why i picked the readynas and paid the slight premium for it – but man, when it actually comes together in practice, i just fall in love all over again.