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Wednesday Hero

Spc. Ross A. McGinnisSpc. Ross A. McGinnis
19 years old from Knox, Pennsylvania
1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division
December 4, 2006
U.S. Army

His mission was to patrol the streets of Adhamiyah in northeast Baghdad and find a place to put a 250-kilowatt generator that would provide electricity for more than 100 homes. But it’s a mission he wasn’t able to accomplish.

Shortly after Pfc. McGinnis’s convoy left the compound, and less than a mile from FOB Apache, an insurgent standing on a nearby rooftop threw a grenade into the sixth, and last, Humvee. “Grenade!” yelled McGinnis, who was manning the vehicle’s M2 .50-caliber machine gun. He tried to deflect the grenade but it fell into the Humvee and lodged between the radios.

“McGinnis turned and looked down and realized no one in the truck knew where the grenade was,” said Capt. Michael Baka, his company commander. “He knew everyone had their doors combat-locked and they wouldn’t be able to get out.”

Instead of jumping out of the truck to save his own life, like he had been trained to do, McGinnis threw his back against the radio mount, smothering the explosive with his body. The grenade exploded just as Pfc. McGinnis covered it. The blast filled the vehicle with black smoke and debris and blew the driver’s door and right passenger’s door wide open and blew the machine gun off its mount. The explosion hit McGinnis on his sides and his lower back, under his vest. He was killed instantly.

The other four soldiers in the Humvee suffered relatively minor injuries.

On the morning of December 4, 2006, before his convoy had left, Cpt. Baka has signed a waver promoting Pfc. McGinnis to Specialist and he was posthumously promoted to E-4.

For his heroic actions on that day, McGinnis was awarded the Silver Star and was nominated for a Medal of Honor which he received on June 2, 2008.

All Information Was Found On And Copied From MilitaryCity.com

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your site, you can go here.
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Third Baseman Fielding Age Curve

From CamdenDepot:

The above curve matches nicely with Joe Crede’s RZR numbers:

It should be noted, if you extend the curve into this year, Crede is still going to be a good glove at 3rd base (minus a few OOZ plays).

I’ve softened my disgust with the Crede signing a bit, and always admitted the most positive aspect of Crede’s signing is his glove (an “average” glove at third is hardly average at all, it’s actually a very valuable tool). The success or failure of the Crede signing will be based on his bat (he’s got to keep his OPS above .700 or else it doesn’t matter how good his glovework is at third) and his health.

Joe Crede Projected

Projecting players isn’t a terribly difficult concept to master. Baseball players have important and meaningful stats which over time correlate well to future performance. We also know players with similar stats have similar careers. With some tweaking, a successful projection system can be created which provides a way of predicting future performance with a good deal of accuracy (correlation about .6-.7). Baseball Reference provides similarity scores to help in this process.

Over at fangraphs, we can find some of these projections and for the most part the projections are very close to Crede’s .257/.306/.447 career line. There isn’t a large decline thanks to the fact similar hitters to Crede had offensive season’s at or above their career lines at age 30 and 31. Because of this fact, a drop in production isn’t foreseen.

However, of the players similar to Joe Crede (9 total players who were either retired or were playing but over the age of 31):

4/9 saw their careers ended at 30 or 31 (for a myriad of reasons, including injuries)
1 had a long battle with injuries (Fernando Tatis, still playing)
6/9 were offensively productive at 30 and above
7/9 were more offensively productive (100 OPS+ or higher) than Crede.

The problem then with creating a projection for Joe Crede is trying to guess at whether he’ll be injured, and if his lower offensive production is going to be more affected by age or not. Also, is Crede in the “Done at 31″ category or the “Productive years still ahead” category.

It’s all guess work. When I did my own projection of Joe Crede I came up with a very optimistic .260/.313/.460 line. If this comes to pass, I’ll have to eat my words about Crede being a bad signing.

So, taking everything in, it looks like there’s about 45% chance Crede gets injured sometime during the year and it’s enough to shorten his season substantially. There’s about a 45% chance Crede will end up within spitting distance (+or- 30 OPS points) of his projections/career line. The other ten percent belongs to the “improbable outcomes” tails; one where Crede has a career year and sets himself up for a productive career after 30 and the other where Crede is remarkably terrible despite not being injured.

So, let’s call the Crede signing a coin flip. I’ll admit my pessimism but you should probably check your euphoria.

How can this be a good thing?

dc

Via Drudge

From the Notebook

-The Twins season is starting up and the wheels of amatuer baseball punditry are starting up. I recently contributed to the opening Twins Roundtable at the Bleacher Report. For those interested in reading the specific sources of skepticism I have regarding Joe Crede, you can look here and here.

-Thanks the MLB Network I was able to watch a Twins Spring Training game and I noticed a few things: Danny Valencia is making solid and square contact with the ball; Joe Nathan doesn’t look very polished right now; Trevor Plouffe has a good arm. It’s not much, but it was good to finally see some real baseball.

-MLB TV also played an entire Tigers/Yankees classic game, a CG win for Mark Fidrych. Bob Uecker and Ernie Harwell (both HOF announcers) provided the play by play. Awesome. The MLB network is quickly becoming my favorite idiot box station.

-Read through Col. Charlie Beckwith’s book “Delta Force” last week. A very good book, the late Col. Beckwith was one of the primary catalysts in the creation of “Delta Force” and the man who led the failed rescue mission into Iran. This book was very readable, the information given a rather enlightening look at the role of special forces in modern warfare, and as a military autobiography it is truly excellent.

-To complete my Managerial Accounting class I had to get MS Excel. When I installed Excel, MS Word was also updated (I had been running a very old version of Word). Now, MS Excel has become my favorite toy. MS Word on the other hand crashes everytime I try to use it. After spending hours and days trying to find and fix the problem, I have given up and switched to Open Office Writer. What the hell is wrong with MS? How hard is it to make MS Word not crash?

-One little bit of political hackery: Whenever you hear about one political party talking about “bipartisanship” it is almost always in an effort to spread the blame in case a piece of legislation flops. Bipartisanship itself is not a value. However, sometimes coming together in “bipartisanship” isn’t a bad thing (post 9-11 being an example from recent memory). Those times when bipartisanship is a legitimate appeal to the humanity within in us all are exceedingly rare.

Promises

Quotes and notes from “President Barack Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday evening, as prepared for delivery and provided by the White House”*:

I know that for many Americans watching right now, the state of our economy is a concern that rises above all others. And rightly so. If you haven’t been personally affected by this recession, you probably know someone who has — a friend, a neighbor, a member of your family. You don’t need to hear another list of statistics to know that our economy is in crisis, because you live it every day. It’s the worry you wake up with and the source of sleepless nights. It’s the job you thought you’d retire from but now have lost; the business you built your dreams upon that’s now hanging by a thread; the college acceptance letter your child had to put back in the envelope. The impact of this recession is real, and it is everywhere.

No problems here except the simple fact during recessions enrollment into institutions of higher learning go up, not down, as the opportunity cost of going to school is substantially reduced.

But while our economy may be weakened and our confidence shaken, though we are living through difficult and uncertain times, tonight I want every American to know this:

We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before.

Of course, but will we do so fast or slow? What costs will we foolishly burden ourselves with in faint hope of relieving our current discomfort?
Continue reading

Yeah…

So sayeth the lord:

Obama Says USA will rebuild and emerge stronger…
Obama vows to increase number of soldiers…
Obama vows to seek cure for cancer ‘in our time’…
Obama says bank bailout may cost more than expected…
Obama promises universal EDUCATION THROUGH COLLEGE…
Obama promises universal health care… *

My problems are over, it’s time to stop blogging, it’s Heaven on Earth!

*Via DrudgeReport’s Homepage

More on Crede

Aaron Gleeman is ambivalent:

Unfortunately there’s also a worst-case scenario, which is that more back problems lead to a repeat of 2007 when he hit .216/.258/.317 before undergoing surgery. Because of the incentive-heavy deal that may only cost the team $2.5 million, but the playing-time incentives will also motivate Crede to continue playing at far less than full strength and the games lost before ditching him could be much more costly. In that scenario the Twins spend millions on a hobbled downgrade from the Buscher-Harris platoon.

Given the excess payroll room, incentive-driven nature of the deal, and continued presence of Buscher and Harris as fallback options the only way for the Crede signing to really hurt the Twins is if his back problems reoccur without sending him to the DL and the plug isn’t pulled quickly. After missing 112 games in 2007 and 65 games last year there’s a good chance that Crede’s back will act up again, but at least signing all of those washed-up veterans has given the Twins plenty of plug-pulling practice.

Ubelmann at WGOM is positive:

Honestly, with Crede, that seems like an awfully functional group of position players. No two players are exactly alike and Gardy should be able to mix and match players in a way that makes the whole greater than the sum of its parts. Also, we’re not carrying anyone who looks below replacement level going into the season, so I can’t really say that they could significantly improve any spot without also putting down a significant wad of cash. I’m a little bit more worried about our pitching depth than our position players, if the Twins are still looking to tweak the roster.

Joe Crede, An Elite Glove?

It’s clear from reading through the comments sections of the prominent Twins blogs that Joe Crede’s defense at third base is highlight of his game. No doubt, at the pinnacle of Crede’s career he was an excellent fielding third baseman. The question is whether the Twins can expect an elite glove at the hot corner from Joe Crede during the 2009 season.

Fielding can be a hard skill to measure but there are a few good stats out there which can help peel away some of the mystery. One of them which is normally useful when you have a large enough sample size is Range Factor. The way we find a player’s range factor is simple enough, it’s outs plus assists over innings multiplied by nine (RF9). We then get an estimate about how many fielding plays a player makes every game, on average.

Below is Joe Crede’s RF9 compared to the league average for 3rd baseman:

As we can see, in the 7th and 8th year of Crede’s career he was quite a bit better than the league average. However, last year Crede was just about average. Range Factor has it’s flaws and some people won’t use it at all, but the above results are nicely replicated by a look at Crede’s Zone Rating (specifically, his RZR from THT). The Hardball Times doesn’t have lifetime data but it does have RZR numbers from the last five years. Here is Crede’s RZR over the last five years with a polynomial trendline added:

As we can see, almost the same curve exists in Crede’s RZR numbers and RF9 numbers. In fact, Crede’s RZR last year is very close to the AL median for 3rd baseman. Last year, Crede was basically an average fielder. He also made 20 errors in 2008 (12 fielding and eight throwing) which is a more visible but less meaningful stat.

If Twins fans are expecting an elite glove from Joe Crede, they are setting themselves up to be disappointed. While it’s true Crede was battling back problems last year and could put together a good comeback season this year, there’s no reason to believe this based on his numbers. At best, Crede could be an average to slightly above average glove at third base. Considering his hitting is already below average, it’s hard to see what kind of value Crede adds to the Twins.

Joe Crede a Twin?

Count me among those who wanted to projectile vomit when I heard Crede and the Twins had likely come to an agreement. His career 93 OPS+ is a huge downgrade from a Buscher/Harris platoon and his price tag makes the wound sting a little more.

Remember, most baseball players experience a precipitous drop in production towards the end of their careers:

The above graph is using batting average which isn’t the best measure of a hitters value but it illustrates an important truth. Below is Joe Crede’s OPS+ by year with a 2-year rolling average trendline which shows, while individual differences and random fluctuations always exist, Joe Crede appears on the way down:

And yes, there are some problems (confounds) with the above graph. I didn’t weigh each year by at bats, so the rolling trendline isn’t entirely accurate. Also, who knows what the best rolling average is, two years, three years or 600 at bats. I don’t know.

Crede, at best, could be as good as a Harris/Buscher platoon. Both Buscher and Harris project to be league average hitters (about .740 OPS) which ain’t good considering Buscher’s fielding issues, but when platooned they project a little higher (especially Buscher, who struggles mightiliy against left handed pitching). Crede, however, has a huge downside potential.

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