Saturday, September 25, 2004

 

A Tough Call

Last August 26, Brian Giles cleared waivers for the Pittsburgh Pirates and a trade was made with the San Diego Padres. This trade involved a pitching prospect who was disapointing thus far (Oliver Perez) and an outfield prospect with 3 major league games under his belt in Jason Bay. The trade seemed odd at the time, because the Padres were in last place in the NL West and the Pirates were in their normal position of mediocrity in the NL Central. Star players like Giles are not usually traded to worse teams midseason, but are traded to contenders. Of course, San Diego is a contender this year, but I was wondering if they would be contending more thanks to the seasons Perez and Bay are enjoying in Pittsburgh. Incase you did not know, Bay is a rookie of the year candidate in the NL (oddly enough contested by the Padres shortstop, Khalil Greene) while Oliver Perez has Cy Young caliber peripherals with a .500 record for a bad team. Giles is having a season that on paper is not as good as Bay's (at first glance), but his stats are hampered by Petco Park, the toughest hitters park in baseball this year. Which makes me wonder: how dominating may Perez have been with half of his games in Petco? Bay and Giles are essentially a toss up (with park considerations in effect, if I am proved wrong later when the official numbers come out I'll make note of it and hang my head in shame.)

Giles: .283/.376/.476 (.851 OPS) 10/13 stealing, 87 BB, 152 GP, 23 HR, 29 2B

Bay: .291/.367/.574 (.941 OPS) 3/6 stealing, 38 BB, 112 GP, 25 HR, 24 2B


Pretty close...Bay owns the slugging (Giles slugged .521 last season in Pittsburgh in an injury hampered year; his last healthy year of 2002 he slugged .622. Chalk that up to Petco and age.)
Still, we give it to Bay considering next year he might be better (0-1, Bay)

Giles is leading in OBP by a slim margin, but is also hitting for less average thanks to Petco. Plus he doubles Bay in walks (1-1).

Average is a toss up, Giles may have lost 10 points of average, maybe more, but definetly not less. (2-2)

Steals are not a huge factor for either, but Giles did hit double digits in steals with a 77% success rate for a team fighting for a wild card spot, so I feel like I have to give it to him. (3-2, Giles)

Doubles are a toss up, we already discussed walks, and Bay would win the homer game thanks to Petco Park. (4-4)

So its time to look at OPS to see who can shake this tiebreaker. The problem with OPS (at least the OPS used in the media) is that it just adds apples and oranges together (slugging and OBP). That is not exactly accurate, so there are ways of tampering with the OBP figure to give you a more telling OPS number. Bill James feels that OBP is twice as important as slugging, and Billy Beane goes as far as to say its got a 3:1 importance. That was just a little lesson since they are so close anyways, so it is basically still a toss up, with maybe a slight edge towards Giles for the sake of knowing what your getting.

As far as Perez goes, I'm sure Giles can throw a strike if he had to, but not enough to rack up 225 K's in 28 starts. Perez has put up a 3.14 ERA, 225 K's, a 1.15 WHIP, and a .203 BAA for a poor Pittsburgh team. That figures to a 10-10 record. Looks kind of like Clemens' numbers with a higher ERA (now that Clemens had a great start last night anyways). So we could figure Perez for 17 wins maybe with a successful team. Like the Padres. Of course Perez may not have pitched like this without a change of scenery; there was a lot of pressure on him as a rookie in 2002 and he performed in limited duty, but injuries cut his prospect status into little pieces for the next season. He did have a 3.50 ERA his rookie year, but he had a 1.50 WHIP and almost a 2:1 K/BB ratio, compared to a 1.15 and a 3:1 on the money this year. Then again a healthy season combined with Petco Park may have given this kid an extra boost. Like Jake Peavy and his 2.27 ERA this season for the Padres. Let's just picture for a second Jake Peavy, Oliver Perez, and David Wells pitching in a 5 game playoff series...I feel it is safe to say they would reach the NLCS, even if they had to face the Cardinals. Also, Brian Lawrence has a 3.92 ERA, not especially awesome considering Petco, but good enough for a4th starter. The Padres have gone to a four man rotation for the stretch run, which is a great idea in itself, but I think it may be even scarier if Perez was involved.

Overall, this was not a bad trade for the Padres. Acquiring a player of Giles stature can be a big boost to a team that may not have confidence in themselves, finishing in last place and all. Bay may not have broken out as well as he did in a pitcher's park like Petco, and maybe Perez did just need a change of scenery. I can only sit here and wonder where the Padres could be right now.


Wednesday, September 22, 2004

 

I was going

To respond to Marc's argument against Roger Clemens for Cy Young, but Jim Caples, far more eloquently than I possibly could have, beat me to it (http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=caple/040922).

My point about Bonds was I know no player effects the game like him, but Beltre has had the kind of breakout year and team carrying ability that everyone dreamed of when he was drafted at conception.

Short post here as well, calc midterm tomorrow, I'll put something else up then.

 

Something Different

I created a separate web page so I could give anyone reading who wants to a chance to read the essay I wrote on the Colorado Rockies organization. It is not on the main web site, because it is 11 pages long. I broke it up into 3 posts though, each dealing with a specific topic, so it is not a tiresome read if you do it like that. Here is the link:

http://coloradorox.blogspot.com/

Please give it some time, I spent a good week writing it up, nevermind the research and thought.

Thanks much,

-Marc

I'll have a new post tomorrow maybe, I spent a long time editing this one so it could fit, so I'm spent.

Link

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

 

Marc's Season Awards...not that the season is over

AL Cy Young: Johan Santana...no arguments there. I just wanna throw in one little number I recently saw online: Santana has 200 K's since June when he got hot, and during that time he has only allowed 79 hits, which is for lack of a better word godlike.

Honorable Mention: Schilling, who has outpitched Mulder in the last quarter of the season, distancing himself from his only real competition.

NL Cy Young: I will say Randy Johnson, so there. If only people didn't only pay attention to wins, then guys like Phil Niekro on bad teams would've won more Cy Youngs with their league leading ERA's and IP's and K's and countless other statistics. You know, kind of like Johnson this year. I am amazed that he is still pitching well considering the amount of times he has 2-1 and
1-0 games that he has pitched so brilliantly. Also its not like Johnson's a kid compared to Clemens, considering there is a year separating them if that. One more thing: "I don't care if he's [Johnson] beating Clemens in every imaginable stat (which he pretty much is), Clemens is having the better year." If he is beating Clemens in every imaginable stat, than how is he having a better year? Since when has playoff standings mattered in how great a pitcher you are? I guess when you are actually voting for the Cy Young and you only look at wins or the last month of the season its ok to do so, but when hypothesizing or saying how it should be, don't be one of them.

Clemens: 18-4 / 3.00 ERA / 1.14 WHIP / 198 K's
Johnson: 14-13 /2.74 ERA / 0.87 WHIP / 268 K's

Basically, the Astros are winning the Cy Young if Clemens does. Clemens is having a spectacular year though...


AL MVP: Honestly, I do not know. It could be Manny Ramirez. It could be Gary Sheffield. As much as I detest NY having Sheffield, there is a reason that it bothers me. I think its that whole talent thing he has going on. Of course, the most productive player in the American League this year is Melvin Mora (.343/.423/.574; 26 HR's, 37 2B's), but who am I to talk about him over playoff bound players? Can't go wrong with any of those 3, not that Mora will get more than say 2 votes.

NL MVP: Adrian Beltre, Land of Mortals

NL MVP: Barry Bonds, Miniature Deity Division

The Giants were a two-man show for almost 5 months straight: Barry Bonds and Jason Schmidt.
As you can see in my last article, helpful is not the word to describe Jason at the moment. What have the Giants done since then? Moved up in the standings. Yeah, Adrian Beltre has hit a lot of homeruns this year and the Dodgers have an offense, I know. Bond's numbers are better than Beltre's, and he is not even allowed to do what he is capable of on an at bat to at bat basis. Mostly because back to back AB come as often as most comets. Kinda like a player with Bond's talent; this year is no exception. Plus Pujols is having as good or better a season than Beltre anyways.

By the way, the reason Bonds is walked all the time is because NO ONE EFFECTS THE GAME LIKE HE DOES. Teams do stop and think, hey maybe I can pitch to him, maybe he's lost a step, maybe....*looks back over their heads as fastball goes into stands*...ok nevermind, walk him next time. Bonds is walked for a reason. Mostly because he hit 73 homeruns in a season, and if they let him have as many at-bats as he did that year, that might not be the number he reaches but it sure as hell is going to top the 43 he has now. By the way, how do you hit 701 homeruns without some semblance of greatness? When Bonds hit his 100th career homerun, he was three years behind Hank Aaron's pace. Now he is 2 years ahead of it if I remember correctly. At least 2, maybe 3. With all of those walks in the last few years. Must I mention the fact that he is hitting .372 this year, with limited pitches to hit per week? And that he has struck out a grand total of 36 times this year? How about his worst month in May, where his OPS for the month (OBP + Slugging) totaled over 1.000? Emphasis on worst month of the year. There are 10 players in the entire majors with season OPS of over 1.000, and they are all considered among the game's elite. I think I can stop. If you want more on him be sure to comment.

AL Rookie of the Year: Bobby Crosby, no contest. Check out the guy producing for 6 figures at SS for the 1st place Athletics, saved them somewhere in the neighborhood of $11 million+ on Tejada.

NL Rookie of the Year: Take your pick, Khalil Greene or Jason Bay. Both with great stats, both missed a month of the season (Bay at the beginning, Greene now.) If the Padres win the Wild Card Greene will get the ROY.


 

Pitch Counts

Mark Prior just threw 129 pitches yesterday. Didn’t he have arm problems earlier this year? Elbow tenderness perhaps? Granted the Cubs needed the win. Did they need the win so badly they couldn’t bring someone in from the bullpen to close things out? Like maybe Latroy Hawkins and his 2.13 ERA the last month? Or anyone else to save Prior’s arm? It isn’t just Prior either; its every pitcher Dusty Baker comes into contact with. They all have extremely high pitch counts, and granted the guys in Chicago seem like they deal with it better than most. But if you’ve been living under a rock then you might’ve missed the parts where Kerry Wood and Mark Prior have combined to miss most of the season, severely hurting the Cubs playoff chances. Baker is not the only one either; his opponent today was the Florida Marlins and fellow asleep at the trigger manager Jack McKeon.

McKeon is basically the reason Mark Redman is dead tired this season for the Athletics. He also pounds his young pitchers into the ground start after start. I’m pretty angry right now that I can’t find the pitch counts per start for some of these guys, but once I do I’ll post them. Burnett is having trouble again with his elbow, but that might not be McKeon’s fault. He did have Tommy John Surgery after all and it is tough to say what may have caused his new pain. Josh Beckett has been pretty consistent most of the season, except for a July where he only pitched 7 innings. He seems to be injured quite often though, and I am not sure if it is entirely his own fault (not counting last year, where his blisters were the biggest problem.)

Just to make it clear, pitching 100 pitches per start is not a big deal. You could do it a lot during the season if you wanted to with probably little or no effect on your arm. It is when you start throwing 115, 120, and 125, and in Baker’s cases 130 pitches in a start that you become injured. You pitch differently with fatigue, changing your motions, your delivery; all things that can cause injuries to appear.

Since Dusty Baker left San Francisco, someone had to carry on the job of destroying Jason Schmidt’s arm, so Felipe Alou apparently jumped on that opportunity. I am sure Schmidt will rebound nicely next year, but he did have a 146 pitch start this year that along with his 3 other complete games is probably hurting him now. The effects may not have shown immediately after that, but they are showing now. After looking like a lock for the N.L. Cy Young Award, Schmidt has struggled greatly the last month or so making the Giants job of getting in the playoffs a little harder as well. Here are Schmidt’s splits:

Pre-All Star: 11-2 / 2.51 ERA / 0.96 WHIP / .173 BAA
Post-All Star: 5-5 / 4.30 ERA / 1.25 WHIP / .240 BAA

It doesn’t look like he has pitched awfully in the second half, until you realize he has a 7.26 ERA in the past month alone. Schmidt looks like a pitcher who is tired, and if they make the playoffs he still has a month to go (if the Giants are lucky, which they won’t be if Schmidt doesn’t perform.)

Some people can pitch all year long in what looks like an abusive manner with no side effects, namely Livan Hernandez, whose arm apparently does not need feeling to work. Hernandez has pitched 1147 innings since 2000, and this season isn’t over. Some guys can do it, Randy Johnson is another, and Curt Schilling usually can do so. Prior was considered one of those guys by ESPN.com until his elbow started to feel tender. Go figure after 200+ IP in your first full pro season, followed up by 3 weeks of playoff pitching. There have been great strides in monitoring pitch counts in baseball in recent years, but some guys just seem to ignore the numbers, and they may be getting the results now, but they will be sorry when these guys can’t lift their arms anymore before they are 40. Or even next season, when guys like Prior are hurt a lot again. Can’t anyone take a cue from the ruin the Mets brought on Bill Pulsipher, Jason Isringhausen, and Paul Wilson? They took them from the minors and made them throw a boatload of innings in the majors, effectively ruining all of their careers as starters (Paul Wilson has only recently gotten back on track with any semblance of dignity as a starter, Isringhausen is an oft-injured closer, and I try my best never to mention Pulsipher ever.) I will try to get more in depth as soon as possible; retrosheet.org has the statistics I need but I don’t think they are posted until after the season is complete.


 

The seasons winds, it's time for the Awards...Kizner Style?

Let me just preface this by saying Barry Bonds is the greatest baseball player of my lifetime, your lifetime, and maybe, a lifetime to come.

As the season draws toward a close, pennant races heat up, titans clash, and we, the writers and the critics, debate the inevitable, the post season awards. Let me just say, picking the first 2 took me a matter of seconds, and picking the second 2, well I'm not sure, and I hope after reading this, you aren't either. Here's the first set of all my awards to come.

AL Cy Young: Johan Santana, who else can you even argue. Leading the league in ERA, and shutout innings this year. He is currently on a 30 inning shut out streak, there's just no competition. Every 5 days he pitches his heart out, and the Twins win; if that's not Cy Young, I don't know what is.
Honorable mention: Curt Schilling, who has picked up the slack in the wake of Pedro's decline. He was the first 20 game winner, and he has been the Red Sox ace in and OUT of Fenway. Something the often shaky Pedro can not do (see Pedro in Yankee stadium).
Dishonorable mention: Kevin Brown. He should get an award for breaking his hand, like the anti Cy Young, do they have one of those?

NL Cy Young: Roger Clemens, and please, don't say Randy Johnson. Clemens is once again dominating a league when he shouldn't be. How many more golden years are left in his arm? He's tied for most wins in the NL, is going to have yet another 200 K season, and will probably have yet another 20 win season. Did I mention the Astros have ridden the hotstreaks of he (and Roy Oswalt) all the way into playoff contention, and a huge showdown in San Fran this weekend. If the Astros finally make the playoffs, you have to look to Beltran, and you have to look to Roger Clemens.
Honorable mention: Randy Johnson. I don't care if he's beating Clemens in every imaginable stat (which he pretty much is), Clemens is having the better year. Johnson has the best WHIP, and K/9 in the NL. Anyone know where his team is in the playoff standings? What does it matter to Johnson if he throws the extra fastball down the middle, or pitches the CG, his team has no chance of winning, one more homerun, or 10 more pitches on his arm is of no consequence. He doesn't win my Cy Young for one reason, his starts are meaningless, and have been since week 2 of the season when everyone and their brother on the DBacks got hurt, Clemens is pitching for the Wild Card in Houston, let him have it.
Dishonorable Mention: Carl Pavano, who was the Cy Young winner this month, until he forgot how to pitch, and started looking like Way Back Wasdin. Not to mention the Marlins have fallen from possible playoff grace, but Pavano's implosion is what truly cost him.

AL MVP:Call me a homer until your blue in the face, it's Manny Ramirez. When you hit 41 home runs, 120 rbis, have an average over 300, and are leading the league in slugging percentage (with his 397 obp thats an OPS over 1000 kids), you deserve the MVP. When you have a career 316 avg and 1.010 OPS, you deserve your own wing in the hall of fame, but I digress. Did I mention he's in the top 10 in doubles as well? But the real reason I think he deserves the MVP is his consistency. Day in and day out, Manny brings his A game. He has single handedly carried the sox through the rough times, and captained the ship during the clear sailing. You take Manny away from this lineup, and these Red Sox aren't a playoff team, because chances are, Manny would be on another AL team, crushing the Red Sox post season hopes. Not to mention he's the most entertaining outfielder, ever.
Honorable Mention: Gary Sheffield, as much as I really dislike saying that. Sheff has had an incredible year for the Yankees, and carried them through their slump all the way to the division lead, and presumably the division title. He has been the force to reckon with in the absence of Giambi, the early season slump of Jeter, and Bernie Williams Geriatric World Tour 2004. He's been great in the outfield, and he's crushed the Red Sox, and when you're a Yankee, that's what counts.
Dishonorable Mention: Ichiro, there, I said it. Anyone who is considering him for MVP should be shot, sodomized, quartered, thrown into a fire, and told how wrong he is. I don't care if he reanimates George Seisler to start getting base hits for him, HIS HITS DON'T MEAN ANYTHING! He may break 250 hits, and not even score 100 runs! I'm not impressed by Ichiro's nickel and dime singles, his drag bunts down the 3b line. Big deal, what place is the team around you in? If you're God's gift to hitting, and you get on base so often, like say Bonds (yes I know Bonds has an obp 200 points higher, but hear me out), why is your team so far down. Barry gets on base and gets driven in, Ichiro doesn't. And what's with him and his usage of speed, or lack there of? If this guy is that great, and he outruns all these infield hits, why does he only have 35sbs?! His team is in last place, it's not going to matter if he gets picked off running to 2b, so why not run? Did the Mariners ever stop to think if Ichiro steals 2 out of every 3 bases, and puts himself in scoring position, even their nonexistent offense might score some runs? He's being misused, and not playing to his potential, so in the spirit of Seinfeld- NO MVP FOR YOU!

NL MVP:Adrian Beltre (dodges all the large objects being thrown at him), hear me out. Beltre has finally developed into the player everyone always dared to dream he might be. He's hitting 339. 60 points over his career average, he's leading the league in homeruns with 45, and he's got 11 RBIs. He's been essential to kick starting that Dodgers offense in the decline of Shawn Green, and in the turn over that resulted from players like Paul Lo Duca being traded away, he did not miss a beat. Yes, I know Milton Bradely being added to the line up helped, and that having an absolutely lights out closer makes life a lot easier, this team isn't where it is without Adrian Beltre. Yes, I know the same is true about Bonds, but let me make my case about him next.
Beyond Honorable Mention:Barry Bonds. Yes, I know he's Barry Bonds, and I'd love to give him my MVP award, and in all reality he'll probably win it, but I really don't think he should. No player has been more singularly important to his team than Barry Bonds, but is he more important because teams make him more important? The Giants have scores 787 runs this year. Of them, 600 were scores in innings when Bonds got on base. In an inning when Bonds walks, the Giants typically score 1.09 runs, as opposed to .95 runs when he does not. They score an astonishing 1.25 runs per inning when he is intentionally walked. So it begs the question, with the Giants doing so much scoring when Bonds is on base, why do teams so willingly put him there? I don't think he deserves the MVP because the other teams, and not he himself, the player, Barry Bonds, are the reason he is so spectacular. Counting all his abs this year that were not hits (in other words, only outs), Bonds has an OBP of 370 (credit to Jayson Stark and ESPN.com for all stats here). 370, that's higher than the league average, without ever getting a hit. How can you argue that other teams fear of him, although substantiated, isn't contributing to his greatness? So what if he hits a homerun every game, if he get's out the other 2 at bats, he's only scored 1 run, and on base once. That's a lot better than putting him on base 4x a game, and making him do no work. Pitch to him, make him run, make him earn every base, but quit giving him the free ones. Did I mention how abysmal the rest of the Giants lineup is compared to him?
So why don't I think Bonds is an MVP, because he'll do this on any team he's on, and not just the one he's playing for. That doesn't make him the MVP, it makes him a God among men, and I think he's beyond this award, and undeserving of it as a singular player.
Dishonorable Mention: Hard to pick just one out of the NL, but let me try. SAMMY SOSA!!!! *pumps a fist to his chest and raises a finger to God*. When you're hitting 257, with only 77 rbis and an obp below 350, and your name is Sammy Sosa, you're having an offyear. Maybe it's because they took the cork out of his bat, maybe it's injuries, or maybe he's just getting old. But if I hear one more person talk about how great Sammy Sosa is, and attribute the success of the Cubs team this year to him, I'm going to explode.

More awards later, comments, rants, disagreements welcome




Monday, September 20, 2004

 

We Got a Problem

Here is the problem:

Oakland: 87-62
Minnesota: 87-62

As my buddy Andrew informed me late last night, Oakland and Minnesota are all tied up. Why is this bad? Well because it interferes with everything my and Kizner said the last 2 days. If Minnesota finishes the season with a better record than the Athletics, guess who the Red Sox face in the first round of the playoffs?

So if your a Sox fan, root for the A's for the rest of the season, hopefully they beat up on Anaheim(who is struggling just as bad if not worse than the A's in the last few weeks) in those 6 games they have left against each other.

Oakland's remaining schedule: 3 games @ Texas, 3 games @ Anaheim, 4 games versus Seattle, and 3 games against Anaheim. Of couse if Anaheim beats up on Oakland there is a good chance that Oakland won't even make the playoffs. Again though Anaheim isn't Minnesota, and their bullpen is the problem to face, not the starters. Beat up on Anaheim early and they really lose some advantages.

Minnesota has the division locked up, and their remaining schedule consists of: 3 @ Chicago, 4 @ Cleveland, 3 @ New York, and 3 versus Cleveland. If the Athletics continue to struggle then I guess Sox fans should hope for Minnesota to beat New York up in that series before the playoffs. The BoSox still have 3 games left against NY, and as the season series has taught us so far we have no idea what is going to happen. So it might come to the point where the division is important, no one is sure yet though.




 

From the jaws of defeat, I see victory...

So we didn't sweep the Yankees this weekend, and we're still 4.5 games back. Am I the only one who's not only concerned, hell, I'm overjoyed this weekend's series ended the way it did- and you should be too!

So the Yankees series didn't go as you planned, big surprise, but it went just the way I thought it would. I thought Arroyo would put a quality outing (6IP 2ER) , and he did. Those 2 ER gave the Red Sox something that Pedro and his 8, or Derek Lowe and his well, Derek Lowe like ability to walk in runs didn't when they came to bat in the top of the 9th, A CHANCE TO WIN!

On Friday, the Red Sox exploited the one weakness that the Yankees really have this year. Sure, you can argue the vaunted Yankees starters have been anything but this year, but even as a dillusional Red Sox fan, I can't lie to myself about this, they're going to show up in October, you know it, I know it, they know it. The Red Sox were able to put the hands in the game of the Yankees bullpen, something opponents have done to the Yankees more times this year than any year in recent history, and it's something that's beginning to take effect.

Without question, the Yankees on paper have one of the best bullpens in baseball. They have 2 absolutely lights out setup men in Paul Quantrill and Tom Gordon, both arguably in the top 10 in the league. Then they have Rivera. Say what you want about him losing Friday, his game being on the decline, or even the Lugo hit in the world series. Game 7 on the line, 3-2 count, bases loaded, 2 outs, I'm up by a run, and my closer is in, Rivera is near the top, if not the top if a VERY short list of who I want my world series hopes resting on. So we know these guys are good, and they've continued to show us this all year (Tom Gordon leads the AL in holds, Quantrill leads the AL in IP by a reliever, and Rivera leads the ML in saves). Here in lies my point.

These guys, well great, are being overworked. The Yankees starting staff hasn't been dependent all year, and all 3 of the above members of the usually unshakable bullpen, have already shattered career IP and/or Appearance numbers for the season, and it's not even over yet, nevermind October! These guys may pitch like Gods among men, but they are truly mortal, and the wear and tear on their arms is beginning to show (see Friday night), and as the Yankees progress toward, and even through October, it's only going to get worse.

So why am I happy the Sox lost? Because it means the Yankees have to go play Minnesota, and if that doesn't relieve some of your doubts about this weekend, you should really rethink your priorities about the division title over the world series title. As Marc mentioned yesterday, no pitcher in the 2nd half has been more lights out than Johan Santana. As I write this article, he has extended his scoreless innings pitched streak to 30, during a stretch run that doesn't even matter for the twins, as their division is locked up tighter than a girls pants when they're standing around me. Again I refer to Marc above, Radke's Quality Start totals, and the fact that playing in the Metrodome is about the equivalent homefield advantage of having to run the bases while 60,000 odd fans stand on either sides of the base paths with bats waiting for the opposition to attempt to run the gauntlet. Did I mention Joe Nathan has been more money this year than Mike Vanderjagt in a game against any team not named the Patriots?

So this means the Sox get the A's, and no, I'm not looking past them, hell, I'm looking towards them, because they aren't the Minnesota Twins. The Red Sox know they can go into Oakland and win, they know they can come back from a 2-0 defecit (see last year's playoffs). Mulder is hurting, Zito's 12-6 curveball is more like a 12-1230, and Hudson can't win 3 games by himself. Did I mention Octavio Dotel is Oakland's closer?

So in the end, yes, even I'm upset the Red Sox lost to the Yankees, I hate to see my team lose. But try to take solace in what lays ahead, a 5 game series with a team we've been 8-1 against. Take the series New York, I'll see you in the ALCS, if Johan doesn't beat you to it...


Sunday, September 19, 2004

 

State of the Nation

Well, the BoSox lost to the Yankees for the second game this series, losing the series and falling to 4.5 games back of the divisional lead. Unless they rebound in the second series, it looks like the division and home field advantage throughout the playoffs will go to NY. This might not be as bad as it sounds though. The Red Sox would still have the wild card (pending a surge by Anaheim) and they would have one thing going for them in the first round. They would not be the team facing the Minnesota Twins in the Divisional Series.

Oakland has been struggling as of late, and lost the season series to Boston 8-1. Oakland is still a dangerous team though, so I am not saying it is a cake walk. What I am saying is the Sox would face a seemingly human Athletics rotation, at a time when Mark Mulder is struggling (6.39 ERA and only 4.94 k/9 in the past month), Zito has not been Zito all year and Hudson is winning solely by not giving up homeruns. Rich Harden is pitching better than anyone in that rotation at the moment, and their bullpen is also in question. Boston could gain some playoff momentum off of the A's. Oakland is one of the better home teams in baseball, and Boston went in a few weeks ago and took three straight in commanding fashion. This would leave NY to face the Twins.

The Twins boast a very strong rotation for two reasons: Johan Santana and Brad Radke. Radke is not really dominating play, but he is leading the league in quality start percentage and has an odd statistic going for him. He has more people who have grounded into double plays against him than he has giving up unintentional walks. Radke has been on his game all year. Santana on the other hand, has not been consistent all season; he did pitch poorly in April or May(5.40 and 5.79 respectively). That does not matter now though because he has decided that he is the best pitcher in baseball this season, boasting a monthly ERA after those two months of 2.39, 1.17, 2.08, and 0.00 for the month of September (in 21 September innings). With a 1.27 ERa since the break, he has been on somewhat of a roll. He also leads the AL in strikeouts, and has an Batting Average Against of .193. I am not too keen on the chances of whoever has to face Santana in October. The Twins could easily win like so: Santana pitches the opener, Radke for the second game, anyone for game 3 in Minnesota (Metrodome + playoffs = best home field advantage in baseball). If Santana wins game 1, then they win one at home, Santana still gets one more game. That makes 3 wins, series over. The Yankees may not have the horses to play the pitching game with them, so they need to win on offense, which will be tough with two games against the best pitcher on the planet this year.

I think I have made my point. If the Sox beat Oakland, they face Minnesota in a 7 game series, where Schilling and Pedro and Arroyo might do enough damage to help the Sox to victory. One more thing, Derek Lowe's ERA at the Metrodome for his career is 6.58, compared to a 3.08 at Fenway. If Lowe pitches at home there is a better chance of pulling a win out of their fourth starter in the playoffs, which is a HUGE boost for a team that features Pedro Martinez and Curt Schilling. The Sox may also be best served with avoiding a Santana-Martinez or Santana-Schilling matchup if possible. If he has a good chance of winning because he is that lights out, don't waste all your bullets on him. I like the Sox chances better in 7 games than 5, home field advantage or no.

 

The NL Wild Card

This is my first blog at this site, so I thought I should take on an interesting current topic (even though I am sure no one will stumble upon it until it is ancient history.) The NL Wild Card race is the only exciting race left in baseball this year, as the Cardinals clinched last night, the Dodgers and Giants are close (but not that close) and the Braves look like they should lock up another N.L. East Title. The link at the bottom shows the Wild Card standings as of today, or whenever it is your looking at this.

The San Fransisco Barry Bondsians lead the Wild Card by half a game over the Chicago Cubs, who have fallen from the lead earlier this season. Houston is 1 game back, continuing their playoff surge. Poor San Diego is 3 games back, but they have 4 games left against the Giants. If the Cubs and Astros don't overtake the Giants while the Padres beat up on them (if they do) then the Pads may have a shot. They also have 3 games left against Los Angeles, who leads the division. The Padres are not even my favorite team out of this bunch, that honor (if it was one) would go to the Astros, who I have loved since childhood. But this year I said something along the lines of San Diego is a contender in the NL West or the Wild Card and was laughed at by someone who apparently does not know any better. Not to mention they have Brian Giles on their team, who after languishing in an underrated career in Pittsburgh has a shot at the playoffs. More attention to players like Giles, Mark Loretta, and Jake Peavey is a key thing for some sort of national spotlight (translated: $$$) for that team.

Loretta is having a career year, but it may become the norm for a few seasons until he hits his decline phase. He has never hit like this before (.340/.389/.504) but then again it is only his second season as a regular at one position. Baseball-Prospectus ran a great article on Loretta and Melvin Mora, another player having a career year who is enjoying his second full season at one position, and ran a history of other players to basically double their value over one season in their 30's compared to their other greatest season in their 20's.

So, aside from the fact that Brian Giles is one of my favorite players and Mark Loretta has been a fantasy staple for my team for 3 seasons now, why do I want San Diego to win? Why not? My only issue with the Padres taking the Wild Card is that the Giants would have to lose it, and I am too much of a Bonds fan to see him miss out on another oppurtunity to win a ring. I would easily change that opinion if my beloved Red Sox reached the Series against the Giants though.





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