Friday, July 04, 2003
All written up and no place to goDespite what you may have heard, sometimes BaseballPrimer.com is not quite a fine-tuned machine, running on all cylinders, all the time. Most of the time? Yes. All of the time? No.
Since the start of this season, I have been writing the "Bi-Weekly Review" of the American League Central for Baseball Primer every 2 weeks. So far, I have written 5 of them, which you can read by going to my "author" page.
Anyway, my 6th edition was supposed to be published this week. However, last week I talked to one of the "higher ups" over at Baseball Primer (who will remain nameless) and he told me that he was looking into finding another author interested in writing about the AL Central, so that we could split the duties, in which case I would need to write an article every month, instead of every 2 weeks.
He told me - and this is about as close to a direct quote as I can get - "I think I have someone interested, but if you don't hear from me, plan on having it turned in by Wednesday." Well, for those of you without calendars, Wednesday was two days ago and I had not heard from this person. Let's call him Chris...no wait...let's call him Mr. Dial...no, that's no good either. Okay, let's call him C.D.
Anyway, I had not heard from C.D. and it was Tuesday night, so I began writing my article. I worked on it a little Tuesday night and then woke up Wednesday morning (read: afternoon) and finished it. It was very lengthy and I felt like I did a very nice job on it. So, I sent it to my editor over at Primer, so it could be posted on Thursday.
Then, Wednesday night, the editor (let's call him D.S.) contacted me to let me know that another author was writing this week's (or bi-week's) edition of the AL Central Review. He wanted to know why I wrote it too, since he thought I had known that I was "off the hook" for this edition. I informed him that, according to C.D. (who is sort of coordinating all of this stuff, or at least is supposed to be), I was to go on as if nothing were different if I didn't hear from him and, in fact, I did not hear from him.
So D.S. asks me what I want to do about this. And, being the great humanitarian and all-around nice guy that I am, I told him to print the article by the other guy and not to worry about mine. He agreed to do that and the 6th edition of the "Bi-Weekly Review: AL Central" was published on Baseball Primer yesterday.
Now, the problem for me is that I have this 4,421 word article that I spent parts of two days writing and I have nowhere to put it. But then I thought about it and realized, I do have somewhere to put it! Apparently, I have my very own website devoted to baseball. Who knew?
So, without further ado, I present to you...
Bi-Weekly Review: American League CentralBy Aaron Gleeman
(***All stats and standings through June 30th***)
TEAM W L GB HM RD RS RA PYTH 1-RUNSince the last Bi-Weekly Review:
TEAM W L NotesMINNESOTA TWINS (43-38 - 1st Place)
MINNESOTA PITCHINGMinnesota's starting pitching in June was absolutely horrendous:
GS IP ERA SO BB HR OAVG RA/GAnd it's not just June. For the season overall, those five pitchers have combined to make 78 starts and pitch 469.1 innings with a 5.12 ERA. They have allowed 66 homers and have struck out a total of 264 batters - 5.06 per nine innings.
Meanwhile, Johan Santana made two spot-starts in June when Rick Reed went on the DL with a bum back and went 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA and had a 14/2 K/BB ratio in 13 innings. Overall for the year, Santana is 3-0 with a 1.00 ERA in three starts and, including his time in the bullpen, is 4-1 with a 2.41 ERA in 59.2 innings pitched. He has a 68/22 K/BB ratio and has allowed just three homers and an opponent's batting average of .209.
Over the last two years, Santana has made a total of 17 starts and has a 10-5 record and a 2.83 ERA in 98.1 innings pitched. As long as the Twins continue to keep their best pitcher in the bullpen to pitch 1.2 innings when their starter gets shelled twice a week, it's hard to have any sympathy for their pitching woes.
At this point, Joe Mays is living off his excellent 2001 season, in which he went 17-13 with a 3.16 ERA. Taking out that incredible (read: fluky) season, Mays has a 5.27 ERA and a 25-39 record in 521 career innings pitched, including a 5.87 ERA in 189.2 innings pitched over the last two seasons. He has struck out just 76 batters in those 189.2 innings, which works out to just 3.6 batters per nine innings. In that same span, he has given up 30 homers and allowed 55 walks.
It's not very difficult to put two and two together and see that the Twins seriously need to FREE JOHAN SANTANA!
MINNESOTA HITTINGWhile the Twins had a bad month courtesy of their horrible pitching, the offense has taken quite a bit of undeserved heat. Since starting the season slowly, Minnesota's hitters have been very good over the last two months. In May and June combined, the Twins scored 5.33 runs per game and batted .293 as a team. Over the course of the entire season, only the Red Sox, Blue Jays and Yankees have scored more runs per game than the Twins did in May/June and only the Red Sox have a higher batting average.
Corey Koskie was particularly hot in June, hitting .408/.483/.663 in 28 games. Very quietly, Koskie has put together the best first-half of any third baseman in the American League. He is hitting .309/.401/.507 and is on pace to hit 24 homers and 36 doubles, score 92 runs and drive in 100, and walk 90 times and steal 12 bases. Plus, he is one of the best defensive third basemen in baseball.
Fun with paces:
Corey Koskie - 152 games, 24 homers, 36 doubles, 100 RBIs, 92 runs, 90 walks, 12 steals
Cristian Guzman - 144 games, 0 homers, 18 doubles, 18 triples, 22 walks, 88 strikeouts
Jacque Jones - 144 games, 20 homers, 40 doubles, 92 runs, 14 walks, 126 strikeouts
Torii Hunter - 156 games, 22 homers, 34 doubles, 100 RBIs, 62 walks, 110 strikeouts
Doug Mientkiewicz - 144 games, 14 homers, 40 doubles, 44 walks, 58 strikeouts
A.J. Pierzynski - 132 games, 18 homers, 24 doubles, 94 RBIs, 20 walks, 46 strikeouts
Brad Radke - 32 starts, 198 innings, 242 hits, 104 strikeouts, 36 walks, 34 homers
Johan Santana - 54 games, 6 starts, 119 innings, 136 strikeouts, 44 walks, 6 homers
Latroy Hawkins - 76 games, 81 innings, 96 strikeouts, 18 walks, 4 homers
Eddie Guardado - 66 games, 65 innings, 58 strikeouts, 12 walks, 6 homers, 40 saves
7/3-7/6 - Cleveland
7/7 - Off Day
7/8-7/10 - @Texas
7/11-7/13 - @Anaheim
The Twins play three teams that they have yet to play this season, including the first four of 19 games against the Indians from here on out. Yes, that's right, 19 of their final 79 games (24%) are against Cleveland. Gotta love that MLB schedule.
KANSAS CITY ROYALS (42-38 - 2nd Place)
KANSAS CITY PITCHINGAfter a nice April in which Kansas City pitchers had the fifth-best ERA in the AL, the pitching staff has been a complete mess since. Kansas City's ERA in both May and June ranked 13th in the 14-team American League, ahead of only Texas both months.
The Royals used 17 pitchers in the month of June, including Albie Lopez, who gave up seven runs 2/3 of an inning against the Twins on June 19th and was released about an hour after the game ended. Lopez has been the worst pitcher in baseball this year. He has a 12.71 ERA in 22.2 innings pitched and has given up 41 hits and 17 walks, good for a .383 batting average and a .464 on-base percentage. Seven of those 41 hits were homers and 12 of them were doubles, leading to a .692 slugging percentage. .383/.464/.692 - in other words, he made every hitter he faced Albert Pujols.
Before getting released, Lopez pitched against seven teams this year. He had an ERA above 10.00 against five of them, including a grotesque 47.25 ERA against the Orioles. Lopez had a 0.00 ERA in seven innings against the Tigers and limited them to a .043 batting average. If you take those innings against Detroit away (and, the way they hit, shouldn't they be in some separate category?), Lopez has an 18.37 ERA in 15.2 innings and opponents hit .476 off him.
Chris George had a 7.56 ERA in June and somehow managed to go 4-1 in six starts. For the season overall, George is 9-5 in 16 starts and has a 6.86 ERA. Meanwhile, those poor guys in Detroit - Mike Maroth, Nate Cornejo, Jeremy Bonderman and Adam Bernero - have started 64 games and pitched 371.1 innings with a 5.06 ERA, and they have combined to win eight games (and lose 41!).
KANSAS CITY HITTINGThe Royals had an excellent offensive month, despite Mike Sweeney playing in just 15 of the team's 27 games and totaling only 55 at bats. Of course, he hit .364/.470/.600 in those 15 games...
Angel Berroa had a monster month, hitting .327/.383/.592 with five homers, seven doubles and two triples in 98 ABs. That brought his season-totals up to .283/.345/.457, which is very impressive for a guy who hit .215/.277/.360 while fighting through injuries at Triple-A last year. Berroa has been the third-best offensive shortstop in the AL thus far, right behind Nomar and ARod. Depending on whether you like errors or Zone Ratings, his defense has either been pretty good or absolutely horrible. Berroa has committed 19 errors, most in the AL, and has the lowest fielding percentage in the league. His .856 Zone Rating ranks seventh and he has turned the second-most double-plays.
Ken Harvey also had a big June. The rookie DH was hitting .228/.278/.371 at the end of May, but hit .333/.389/.561 in June to bring his season-totals to .258/.310/.425. Michael Tucker (.300/.385/.500), Carlos Beltran (.303/.410/.404), Raul Ibanez (.284/.313/.440), Desi Relaford (.280/.324/.452) and Aaron Guiel (.273/.347/.470) also had nice months.
Fun with paces:
Raul Ibanez - 160 games, 20 homers, 41 doubles, 91 RBIs, 103 runs
Michael Tucker - 144 games, 20 homers, 36 doubles, 6 triples, 83 RBIs, 89 runs
Angel Berroa - 154 games, 16 homers, 36 doubles, 6 triples, 30 walks, 22 HBPs
Mike Sweeney - 126 games, 24 homers, 22 doubles, 101 RBIs, 95 walks, 59 strikeouts
Darrell May - 34 games, 28 starts, 184 innings, 2 wins, 8 losses
Chris George - 32 starts, 170 innings, 75 strikeouts, 75 walks, 34 homers, 18 wins
Jason Grimsley - 88 games, 92 innings, 76 strikeouts, 27 walks, 6 homers, 39 holds
Mike MacDougal - 77 games, 74 innings, 61 strikeouts, 41 walks, 2 homers, 41 saves
7/3-7/6 - Detroit
7/7 - Off Day
7/8-7/10 - @Anaheim
7/11-7/13 - @Texas
The Royals get four with the Tigers and then head West (well, sort of) to face the Angels and Rangers for the first time this season.
CHICAGO WHITE SOX (40-42 - 3rd Place)
CHICAGO PITCHINGWhile Chicago's offense continued to struggle, the Sox pitching staff had their second very good month of the season. The White Sox had the third-best ERA in the AL in June.
No mention of the White Sox pitching staff can start with anyone other then Esteban Loaiza. I won't try to explain it other than to say I am fairly sure he has a deal with the Devil, although the official terms and length of such deal have yet to be disclosed publicly.
Loaiza went 3-1 with a 2.57 ERA in six June starts and is now 11-3 with a 2.18 ERA this season. There is no doubt about it, he has been the best pitcher in the American League this season. He leads the AL in ERA, is second in wins, third in winning percentage and opponent's batting average, fourth in strikeouts and sixth in innings pitched. His month-by-month ERAs are 1.25, 2.65, 2.57 and I have been tremendously impressed with him each time I have watched him (which, unfortunately, includes a 2-0 record and a 0.86 ERA in three starts against the Twins).
Billy Koch had himself a nice month too, his second in a row. Koch pitched just 13 innings in June but managed to be involved in six decisions, going 3-3 with a 3.46 ERA. He also saved five games, after saving just three in each of the first two months. After an 8.25 ERA in April, Koch has a 2.74 ERA in 23 innings since and has converted 8/9 save opportunities.
After striking out just 29 batters in April and May combined (3.9/9 IP), Mark Buehrle K'd 28 batters in June (6.3/9 IP) and went 3-2 with a 3.83 ERA. At 5-10, Buehrle is still on pace to lose 20 games, but his ERA is slowly creeping back under 4.00.
CHICAGO HITTINGAs I am sure most White Sox fans have been doing all season, I keep waiting for the Sox to start hitting again. I remember this team as one that couldn't really pitch, but would bash the crap out of you offensively. Chicago led the AL in runs in 2000 and scored the third-most in the AL last year and the sixth-most in 2001.
This year, the White Sox are scoring the second-fewest runs per game in the AL, ahead of only the Tigers. They are 13th in the AL in batting average, 13th in on-base percentage and 11th in slugging percentage.
While the offense as a whole was bad in June, several players had very good months. Magglio Ordonez hit .281/.389/.510 and walked 17 times in 27 games, after walking just 14 times in his first 53 games. Jose Valentin, who came into June hitting just .221/.293/.442, hit .278/.383/.489 in 26 games.
And Frank Thomas took a page right out of the Frank Thomas 1990-1997 book and had himself a .333/.468/.678 month - all while playing a ton of first base for the first time in a long time. The Big Hurt is now hitting .281/.426/.555 and is on pace for 34 homers, 38 doubles and 115 walks.
While Thomas had a big month, the man who used to play first base for Chicago, Paul Konerko, continued his nightmarish season. Konerko hit .098/.174/.098 in 41 June at bats, losing his everyday job to Brian Daubach in the process. Konerko is now hitting .185/.260/.265 for the season and has just three homers in 69 games.
Moments before this article you are reading was to be sent to "press," the White Sox made two rather large trades. First, they sent three minor leaguers to the Mets in exchange for Roberto Alomar and, later that same day, they sent some PTBNLs to the Rangers for Crazy Carl Everett.
This article should have been turned in already and I have written about the trades elsewhere, so, when you are done reading this, feel free to head over to Aaron's Baseball Blog to read my thoughts on the deals.
Fun with paces:
Magglio Ordonez - 158 games, 28 homers, 38 doubles, 91 RBIs, 89 runs
Frank Thomas - 150 games, 34 homers, 38 doubles, 77 RBIs, 81 runs, 115 walks, 111 strikeouts
Paul Konerko - 136 games, 6 homers, 16 doubles, 34 RBIs, 32 runs
Bartolo Colon - 34 starts, 241 innings, 217 hits, 172 strikeouts, 72 walks, 28 homers
Esteban Loaiza - 34 starts, 228 innings, 184 hits, 186 strikeouts, 53 walks, 16 homers, 22 wins
Mark Buehrle - 36 starts, 224 innings, 241 hits, 115 strikeouts, 77 walks, 28 homers, 20 losses
Tom Gordon - 67 games, 78 innings, 99 strikeouts, 40 walks, 2 homers, 8 wins, 10 losses
Billy Koch - 75 games, 69 innings, 65 hits, 51 strikeouts, 34 walks, 14 homers, 22 saves
7/4-7/6 - @Tampa Bay
7/7 - Off Day
7/8-7/10 - @Detroit
7/11-7/13 - @Cleveland
The White Sox get 10 straight road games against three teams with a combined winning percentage of .327 (79 wins, 162 losses) heading into the all-star break.
CLEVELAND INDIANS (34-47 - 4th Place)
CLEVELAND PITCHINGWhile their 4.39 runs allowed per game in June are good but not great, Cleveland's 3.69 ERA in June ranked second in the AL, behind only Seattle's 3.08. How is that possible? Well, the Indians allowed 18 unearned runs to score in 28 June games. In contrast, the Seattle Mariners have allowed just 14 unearned runs in 81 games this season.
Dan Miceli had a very nice June with Cleveland, pitching 13 innings with a 1.38 ERA. The Tribe quickly dealt Miceli - who has a career ERA of 4.72 - to the Yankees, along with Karim Garcia, for a PTBNL.
Rookie starter Jason Davis had a very good month, going 3-2 with a 3.02 ERA in six starts. Davis is 7-6 with a 4.53 ERA overall this season and has seen his monthly ERAs go from 6.67 in April to 4.71 in May and now 3.02 in June.
C.C. Sabathia went 3-1 with a 4.80 ERA in five June starts and continues to put together a very nice season. Sabathia is currently 7-3 with a 3.48 ERA in 16 starts. Lost in the career-low ERA is that his strikeout rate, which was a very promising 8.53/9 IP as a rookie in 2001, is down to 5.97/9 IP this year. Sabathia's monthly K rates are 5.5, 6.8 and 6.0 and he struck out 6.4/9 IP last season.
Cleveland closer Danys Baez had eight saves and a 1.93 ERA in 14 June innings. Baez is on pace to save 38 games and has a 3.51 ERA, although he is also 0-6. Opponents are hitting just .207 off him and have a .271 OBP.
CLEVELAND HITTINGCleveland's offense has been very strange all season. They scored just 3.31 runs per game in April and then, despite almost identical AVG, OBP and SLG numbers in May, scored 4.88 runs per game. And now in June, despite a fairly large increase in on-base percentage and a slugging percentage right around their season-totals, they scored just 4.39 runs per game.
Ellis Burks played just six games in June before his season ended with an injury and Omar Vizquel played 10 June games before he went on the DL (although he should be back at some point). Without their two veteran hitters, the Indians scored the 11th-most runs in the AL in June, although several Cleveland hitters had very good months.
Milton Bradley continued his season-long hot hitting, batting .340/.434/.500 in June. Bradley missed some time early in the year with an injury, but has played in 66 of Cleveland's 81 games and is hitting .341/.441/.516 on the year. He is second in the AL in both batting average and on-base percentage and is 10th in walks with 43, despite missing 15 games. Bradley appears to have established himself as Cleveland's centerfielder of the future.
Matt Lawton, whom the Indians got when they traded Roberto Alomar to the Mets in 2002, came into June hitting just .222/.304/.384, but had a vintage Matt Lawton .277/.398/.465 June. Lawton is fondly remembered by this Twins fan for hitting .278/.387/.478 with Minnesota in 1998, .305/.405/.460 in 2000 and .293/.396/.439 in 2001. If he is finally healthy, he could provide a big boost to Cleveland's lineup in the second-half.
Rookie outfielder Jody Gerut continues to impress, hitting .303/.384/.556 in June to raise his season-totals to .280/.333/.511 in 53 games. Gerut was originally called up as a short-term injury-replacement, but has taken over the everyday right field duties.
Fun with paces:
Matt Lawton - 150 games, 22 homers, 32 doubles, 74 walks, 76 strikeouts, 16 steals
Brandon Phillips - 152 games, 8 homers, 24 doubles, 22 walks, 94 strikeouts
Milton Bradley - 132 games, 12 homers, 50 doubles, 86 walks, 100 strikeouts, 26 steals
C.C. Sabathia - 32 starts, 202 innings, 196 hits, 134 strikeouts, 70 walks, 14 homers
Brian Anderson - 30 starts, 185 innings, 64 strikeouts, 38 walks, 28 homers, 10 wins
Danys Baez - 80 games, 82 innings, 62 hits, 66 strikeouts, 26 walks, 38 saves, 12 losses
7/3-7/6 - @Minnesota
7/7 - Off Day
7/8-7/10 - New York
7/11-7/13 - Chicago
Tough stretch of games coming up for Cleveland. They head to Minnesota for four and then host the Yankees and White Sox heading into the AS break.
DETROIT TIGERS (19-61 - 5th Place)
DETROIT PITCHINGI'm not saying Detroit's starting pitchers deserve to win any awards this season, but my god do they deserve better than this.
Detroit's front four of Mike Maroth, Jeremy Bonderman, Nate Cornejo and Adam Bernero combined to start 22 games in June. They pitched a total of 129 innings with a 5.16 ERA - and went 2-15. Take out Maroth, whom the Tigers miraculously scored quite a few runs for in June, and the remaining three guys went 0-13 in 17 starts.
And it's not like this has just been going on in June. Detroit's starters have been getting completely ripped off with run-support all season.
Mike Maroth has a 4.82 ERA in 17 starts and he is 3-12. Nate Cornejo has a 4.39 ERA in 16 starts and he's 3-6. Jeremy Bonderman has a 5.06 ERA in 16 starts and he's 2-12.
Meanwhile, Corey Lidle of the Blue Jays has a 5.32 ERA in 18 starts and he's 10-6. Andy Pettitte has a 4.78 ERA and nine wins. Al Leiter's got a 5.57 ERA and he's 8-5. Joe Mays has a 6.30 ERA and he's 8-5 too.
As a whole, Detroit starters have a 5.02 ERA and they are 11-47. Minnesota starters have a 4.97 ERA and they're 33-29. Baltimore starters have a 5.20 ERA and they're 27-33. Heck, Texas starters have a massive 6.74 ERA - 34% higher than Detroit SPs - and they are 21-34.
Remember Chris George from the Royals? He has a 6.86 ERA - 37% higher than Detroit's SPs combined. He has pitched a total of 84 innings - 18% as many as Detroit's SPs combined. And he has nine wins - just two fewer than Detroit's SPs combined. Oh, and he has 42 fewer losses.
Currently, Maroth (3-12), Bonderman (2-12) and Adam Bernero (1-11) are all on pace to lose 20 games this season. The Tigers have recently said that Bonderman will likely be limited to 160 innings this year and he already has pitched 90.2, so it's likely he'll be shutdown before he can get to 20. Bernero has been the Tigers' worst starter and his lofty ERA may get him booted from the rotation before he can get to 20.
But Mike Maroth is pitching just well enough to keep making his start every fifth game and all he needs to do is lose eight of his second-half starts and he'll be the first 20 game loser since Brian Kingman in 1980. Maroth is on pace to make 34 starts and go 6-24. Assuming he makes 17 second-half starts, he could actually have a .500 record in the second-half and still lose 20 games. I don't know about you, but I'll be rooting for (against?) him.
DETROIT HITTINGAfter that first month in which they scored a grand-total of 54 runs in 23 games, Detroit fans were probably thinking, "it can't get any worse." Well, they were right, and the Tigers' offense has actually been better in May and June. Of course, being "better" in Detroit's case still allows them to be the worst offensive team in baseball.
The Tigers had almost identical offensive months in May and June. They scored 3.55 runs per game and then 3.52 runs per game, and hit .242/.309/.379 and then .247/.299/.379. What's amazing is that, in all of their offensive futility, the Tigers have actually stopped taking walks. After averaging 3.0 walks per game in April and 3.1 in May, the Tigers drew a grand-total of 2.4 per game in June - the lowest in the AL. There are two theories to explain this that I can think of: 1) Opposing pitchers have come to the realization that the Tigers couldn't hit water if they fell out of a boat, so they just toss it over the plate. 2) Detroit hitters realize they stink (I actually wanted to write that they realized they couldn't score in a who--house, but I didn't want to offend anyone) and figure, "I might as well just go up there hackin'."
Either way, the Detroit lineup is absolutely killing their pitching staff, who have actually been pretty decent - or at least not completely horrible - all year.
The only bright spots for Detroit offensively in June were Dmitri Young and Eric Munson. Young has been the Tigers' best hitter all year and hit .330/.418/.660 in June. Da Meat Hook is hitting .294/.368/.546 overall this year and is on pace to hit 30 homers and drive in 90+ runs. He deserves to be Detroit's all-star rep.
Meanwhile, Munson was the only other Detroit hitter with an OPS above .800 in June. He hit .291/.321/.506, raising his season-totals to a somewhat respectable .244/.313/.424. That is good for a .737 OPS, which, depressingly, ranks second on the team behind Young among hitters with 150+ at bats.
Warren Morris provided a little bit of punch upon being called up from Triple-A. Morris hit .280/.325/.440 in June 75 at bats and won himself the everyday second baseman job.
No one else on the team had an OBP above .305 or a SLG above .425 in June.
Fun with paces:
Detroit Tigers - 512 runs scored
The last team to score under 500 runs in a full, non-strike season? The 1971 San Diego Padres, who scored 486 runs in 161 games. Through their first 80 games, the '71 Pads scored 268 runs - 15 more than the Tigers have through 80 games. Stay tuned, it's gonna be a loooooooong season...
7/3-7/6 - @Kansas City
7-7 - Off Day
7/8-7/10 - Chicago
7/11-7/13 - Boston
Tough stretch of games for the Tigers...aw, who am I kidding?! Every stretch is a "tough stretch" for the Tigers.
Thanks for stopping by today and happy Fourth of July!
If you missed any of this week's entries or you just feel like reading them again because they were so spectacular, here they are:
Monday: Chatting through the pain
Tuesday: Louie, Louie
Wednesday: New Sox
Thursday: Joe and Johan, Roberto and Carl, Jay and Dave
Chicago (Wood) -170 over St. Louis (Tomko)
Montreal (Ohka) +170 over Atlanta (Ortiz)
Boston (Lowe) +135 over New York (Wells)
Chicago (Colon) -140 over Tampa Bay (Zambrano)
Total to date: + $2,040
W/L record: 163-154 (3-3 yesterday for +35)
*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****
Thursday, July 03, 2003
Joe and Johan, Roberto and Carl, Jay and DaveLots of stuff on my mind, so I'll get right to it...
Last week I talked about the struggles of Minnesota's starting pitchers and begged the Twins, once again, to FREE JOHAN SANTANA! I also presented Joe Mays as the #1 candidate to lose his spot as a starter.
Then I saw this in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune yesterday:
Twins Notes: Mays to stay in rotationMaybe this is me just being optimistic for once in my life, but I really get the feeling this thing I have been talking about for the last year or so is finally going to happen - Johan Santana is finally going to become a full-time starting pitcher for the Minnesota Twins. It's about a year too late as far as I am concerned, but now is better than never.
Joe Mays is struggling and he has been struggling for the last 2 years. Yet, the Twins continue to give him a ton of slack and keep in the rotation. Now, I understand if Roger Clemens has a horrible stretch and you stay with him or Pedro Martinez struggles and you keep him in the rotation, but this is Joe Mays we're talking about. And, more importantly, this "tough stretch" for Mays is a pretty long one.
This is Mays' 5th major league season:
Year IP ERA
2001 234 3.16
2002 95 5.38Okay class, which of those things is unlike the others?
At some point the Twins need to realize that 2001 was a fluke and that Joe Mays, even with one incredibly good and fluky season, has a 4.62 career ERA and has been a completely worthless pitcher for the last 2 years.
Of course, the way things have gone with the Twins and Santana, Johan will finally be put into the rotation to replace Mays, he'll go like 7-1 with a 2.12 ERA in the second-half and then Eric Milton will come off the DL and Ron Gardenhire will stick him back into the rotation and put Johan back into the bullpen. You laugh, but let me assure you that Gardenhire and the Twins are perfectly capable of doing just that.
I like Joe Mays. He seems like a good guy whenever I have heard him interviewed and it's not his fault the Twins gave him a massive long-term contract on the basis of one good season. But the fact is that he simply has never been able to strike anyone out and, over the last couple years, he has given up homers at an alarming rate. Those are not things that, when combined, lead to successful pitching.
Meanwhile, there is a guy in the bullpen that many people, myself included, feel could be one of the best pitchers in all of baseball - right now. He is 24 years old and over the last 2 years - while Mays has had a 6.00 ERA - he has proven that he can pitch at a high level in the major leagues. Why not stick Johan in the rotation, put Mays in the bullpen for a while and let's see what happens. What's the worst-case scenario? Johan sucks as bad as Mays and you have to switch them back? Even then, at least you find out if Johan can be a full-time starter (which is certainly a lot better than trying to find out exactly how many souvenir baseballs Mays can distribute to the fans in the outfield seats).
It's a no-brainer and if Rick Anderson is the guy keeping it from happening, then that, along with the fact all of his current starting pitchers stink, is a reason for him not to be in a position to make such decisions. You've got greatness waiting for a chance to shine, don't keep it locked in the bullpen because of Joe Freaking Mays!
I gave my thoughts on the two trades the White Sox made in yesterday's entry and my general thought, which is that they improved themselves, but not nearly as much as they could have/should have, still stands.
They traded for Roberto Alomar, who's play over the last 2 years is no better (and possibly worse) than the guy they already had at second base, D'Angelo Jimenez. And, to make matters worse, they immediately designated Jimenez for assignment to clear room on the roster for Alomar. What that means is that they have 10 days to either trade Jimenez to another team or release him.
I suspect they already have some deal in the works for him, but if they do end up releasing Jimenez without getting anything in return, that means they traded 3 prospects and lost a 25 year old second baseman, all for a 35 year old Roberto Alomar who may or may not even better better than Jimenez in the first place.
Of course, if Jimenez were to go on waivers, I would love to see the Twins claim him and stick him at second base. First of all, how cool would that be? The White Sox make their big deal for Roberto Alomar and we pick up their old second baseman and he helps us to the division title? Plus, our current second baseman is this guy named Rivas, whom you may have heard of.
Anyway, that's a very unlikely scenario because a) I don't think the Twins would value Jimenez over Rivas and b) if Jimenez goes on waivers, I suspect a team would claim him before the Twins got a chance (the waiver claims go in reverse order of W/L records).
Yesterday, I discussed the various options the White Sox have with Everett, including the impact of him playing centerfield or him being their DH. I am still not sure where he is going to play the majority of the time in Chicago, but he played center in his first game with the White Sox last night - against the Twins.
Game one of the Everett/Alomar Era in Chicago was an interesting one.
First of all, Everett and Alomar combined to go 1-9 with 2 walks and Alomar made an error at second base. In addition to that, Everett looked pretty awful in CF and, by my count, missed at least three balls he should have gotten to.
In the fourth inning, Bobby Kielty hit a ball to right-centerfield for what should have been a single, but no one cut it off and it rolled to the wall, allowing Bobby to coast into second with a double. I am not sure if this was a "playable" ball for a better centerfielder than Everett, but it was close at the very least.
Then, in the 7th, with a man on second base and 2 outs, Torii Hunter hit what can best be described as a "hanging looper" into centerfield and Everett came charging in and dove for it, but the ball bounced in for a single and the Twins scored the tying run.
Then, in the top of the 11th inning, Luis Rivas hit a line drive to centerfield that Everett played into a "triple." The next batter (Kielty) singled in Rivas from third for the go-ahead run.
Of course, the White Sox got the last laugh. After another crappy performance from a Minnesota starting pitcher (Kyle Lohse - 5 runs in 5 IP), Johan Santana, Latroy Hawkins and J.C. Romero combined for 5 innings of shutout relief pitching, including back-to-back two-inning, zero hit performances from Johan and Latroy.
Bobby Kielty, leading off in place of the injured Jacque Jones, went 4-5 with 2 doubles, 2 singles, 2 walks, 1 stolen base, 1 RBI and 3 runs scored. It was an extremely impressive performance and maybe this breakout game in the leadoff spot will slap some sense into Gardenhire, who continues to bat Jacque Jones - he of the .473 slugging percentage and .315 on-base percentage - in the leadoff spot. Meanwhile, Kielty has now played in 214 MLB games and he's got a .375 OBP.
Anyway, back to the Sox getting the last laugh...
After Kielty singled Rivas in from 3rd base in the 11th with the go-ahead run, the Twins had a 6-5 lead. They brought in Eddie Guardado to "close out" the game and he got two quick outs and then gave up a pinch-hit, game-tying homer to Paul Konerko, who came into the game hitting a robust .185/.260/.265.
Then, in the bottom of the 12th, Guardado walked Roberto Alomar (remember him?) and then Frank Thomas hit a 2-run homer to deeeeep left field to end the game.
So, as bad as Everett was in the field and as great as Kielty was at the plate, the White Sox ended up winning and, in the end, Robbie Alomar was the guy who scored the winning run.
I do wonder if they will continue to play Everett in centerfield everyday. His bat is a huge asset there, but I've got to think his D is going to absolutely kill the pitching staff in the long-run. I guess time will tell...
Incidentally, Frank Thomas is having the quietest .287/.428/.589 season a former 2-time MVP could ever possibly have. It's amazing, he is one of the top 10 hitters in all of baseball right now and it seems like most people are under the impression he is retired or something.
Okay, I said more than enough about the Twins, the White Sox and trade(s) between today and yesterday, so I'll stop yapping now. If you missed yesterday's entry, click on the following and go read it:
New Sox (July 2, 2003)
Over at "Procrastination Nation," there is an interesting entry in response to a story on CNN about about Jay Leno vs. David Letterman. I know this has absolutely nothing to do with sports, but it's interesting and it's my website, so that's what I'm going to talk about. The CNN article talks about how Leno consistently beats Letterman in the ratings.
Here's a little from Robert of Procrastination Nation:
They're different kinds of funny--Jay is set-up/punch-line, Dave is more reactive-subtle. This plays out not just in terms of strengths and weaknesses (e.g., Jay has a better monolog, Dave is funnier in interviews). It comes out in their personalities. Jay "works" every single joke. He's like a joke machine that seldom deviates from the pattern, getting laughs out of the mechanics even when the joke isn't particularly good. He's giving every vocal trick imaginable to squeeze every bit out of each joke.There are very few things I have ever read that I agree with more than the above paragraphs.
I find Jay Leno to be completely unwatchable. The man has absolutely no personality. He is like a robot that is programmed to do a TV show and, because of that, every interview sounds like it was scripted ahead of time (which they are). His monologue is sometimes okay, but every single joke starts with, "this is a true story..." He can't even tell a joke like a human being. Plus, Leno's "bits" are horrible and his interviews are awful.
The funny is that, in his younger days as a standup comedian, Jay Leno was a really funny, interesting and "edgy" guy. He wasn't dumbed down, he wasn't so afraid of saying something controversial and he wasn't completely unwilling to let his personality show. I have heard other comedians talk about knowing Leno "back in the day" and it is like they are talking about a completely different guy - a guy I might actually want to watch have his own late night show!
Meanwhile, Letterman, to me, is a comedic genius. It doesn't matter to me who the guest is or what the bit is, he makes it funny and enjoyable to watch. His interviews don't all begin with, "So, did you do anything fun this Summer" and then go into a drawn-out story that was agreed upon pre-show. No, he does an actual interview, as performned by a funny human being and not a joke-telling robot. Sure, Letterman's got questions written down and I am sure the guests have been briefed about what they'll likely talk about, but if someone says something strange or interesting, Letterman reacts to it. Whereas Jay just nods his head, gives his scripted response and moves on to the next thing that starts with, "So...I understand you have a grandmother?"
Next time you watch Leno, pay attention to the questions he asks and see how many of them are completely ridiculous questions that serve no other purpose than to get the guest into the agreed upon story/anecdote that he/she is supposed to tell. Jay will bring up a completely random topic and the guest will magically not only know what he's talking about, but also have a story to tell about it. And, amazingly, Jay will not be surprised by the story and he'll have some "witty banter" to go along with it.
I also agree with assessment that Dave's style appeals to a more intelligent crowd in general and that limits him in the ratings. You turn on Jay Leno and you are getting a cookie-cutter, middle-of-the-road talk show with some good guests, some lame bits and you know he isn't going to say anything weird or unusual. It's that old-cliche about playing to "middle-America." There are more people who want to watch that and there always will be.
Heck, my own mother, who has a great sense of humor and whom I would consider to be a very intelligent person, hates Letterman and watches Leno all the time. I've asked her about it and she even recognizes the same huge faults in Leno that I do, but she doesn't care. She is there for the talk show and the guests, not the comedy and the host.
This is not to say I am incredibly smart for liking Letterman or she is dumb for liking Leno, just that they appeal to completely different personalities. And, in general, I would guess that Letterman's audience is a more intelligent bunch, for the same reason Lenny Bruce, Sam Kinison and Richard Pryor had a more intelligent overall audience than Gallagher, Jeff Foxworthy and Carrot Top. Okay, maybe that's a little much, but you get my point.
By the way, Jay's best "bit" is the whole "Jaywalking" thing, right? Anyone who is a fan of Howard Stern (as I am) will recognize that bit as something Howard has done for the last 15 years or so. And I mean "done" in a funny way, not the lame way Leno does it. If you're going to steal an idea from someone who is funnier and more talented than you are, don't completely mess it up.
Of course, what the heck do I know? I appear to be the only person in America who watches Jimmy Kimmel Live every night!
Okay, that's my non-sports rant for the month. I hope you didn't mind too much. As much as I love baseball, I occasionally have thoughts about other things and, since I have a pretty sizable audience now, I feel the need to share those thoughts with you once in a while.
San Francisco (Rueter) -105 over St. Louis (Simontachi)
Philadelphia (Myers) -115 over Chicago (Zambrano)
Milwaukee (Kinney) +160 over Houston (Robertson)
Arizona (Webb) -120 over Colorado (Neagle)
San Diego (Eaton) +210 over Los Angeles (Brown)
Boston (Wakefield) -170 over Tampa Bay (Gonzalez)
Total to date: + $2,005
W/L record: 160-151 (0-1 yesterday for -100 and I almost won the bet for +$350, but the D-Rays blew the game.)
*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****
Wednesday, July 02, 2003
New SoxSome days, I have a hard time coming up with a topic I want to discuss on this blog. Those times are rare, but they do occur. And when they do, I usually do a "notes" entry or maybe a "mailbag" entry or something like that. Today was looking like it would be one of those days.
Then I got an email from Lee Sinins' Around the Majors Report at 2:10 PM yesterday, telling me that:
"The Mets traded 2B Roberto Alomar to the White Sox for minor leaguers INF Andrew Salvo and Ps Royce Ring and Edwin Almonte."This is obviously of great interest to me, because the White Sox are the team I believe to be the greatest threat to the Twins' 2003 AL Central Division title hopes. Additionally, I was sort of hoping that, if an AL Central team was going to go out and get a new second baseman, it would be the Twins.
To be honest though, this move doesn't "scare" me one bit as a Twins fan. Roberto Alomar is a great player - a first-ballot Hall of Famer in my opinion. But he's also 35 years old and, since coming to the Mets last year, he has been a shell of his old self.
Twins fans probably remember Roberto Alomar as this guy:
Year AVG OBP SLG HR SBThose numbers belong to Alomar during his 3 seasons with the Cleveland Indians. He hit for average, he hit for power, he stole bases and he played good defense at second base. And, had the White Sox just traded for that player, I would be extremely worried.
But Roberto Alomar is no longer that player.
Year AVG OBP SLG HR SB(*Alomar's 2003 totals are his projected numbers for a full season*)
Alomar's .266 batting average last year was his lowest since he batted .266 with the Padres in 1988 - his rookie year. From 1992-2001, Alomar batted .300+ in 9 out of 10 seasons. So far this year, he is hitting just .262.
From looking at those numbers and from watching Alomar this season and last season with the Mets, it seems obvious to me that he has "lost a step."
What is interesting to me, is how he has lost that step...
VS RIGHT VS LEFTAlomar is a switch-hitter and it appears as though he is no longer able to hit from the right side of the plate. His hitting from the left side has also declined significantly, but his hitting from the right side has completely deteriorated.
Plus, not only is Roberto Alomar no longer an all-star level player, the White Sox already have a second baseman with similar abilities.
2003Throw in the fact that D'Angelo Jimenez is 25 and Alomar is 35 and I am not sure I see an upgrade here, long-term or short-term.
Of course, it is entirely possible Alomar will be rejuvenated coming back to the AL to play with his brother Sandy in a pennant race. I think it is more likely that Alomar plays, more or less, like he has for the last one and a half seasons or so, which is at about the same level as D'Angelo Jimenez and nowhere near the level of the pre-2002 version of Roberto Alomar.
Beyond simply acquiring Alomar, this deal has other ramifications for the White Sox.
First of all, it means they are "buyers" and not "sellers." As a pessimistic Twins fan, I was hoping the White Sox would become sellers, simply because getting rid of their expensive/veteran talent would decrease the chances of them staying in the AL Central race with the Twins all season.
Any chance of that happening pretty much went down the drain when the Twins went 12-15 in June. And, while acquiring Alomar doesn't make them a much better team in my opinion, the fact that they are in the business of acquiring players and not trading away players is what worries me a bit.
The White Sox traded three minor league prospects to the Mets for Alomar...
Royce Ring is the best of the 3 and was Chicago's first round pick (18th overall) in last year's draft. A relief pitcher, Ring had a 3.21 ERA in 28 innings last year, along with a 31/11 K/BB ratio. So far this season, he has a 2.52 ERA in 35.2 innings in Double-A, along with a very nice 44/14 K/BB ratio.
Ring looks like a very nice relief pitching prospect, if such a thing exists. He's a good pitcher, but he's still a relief pitcher, and minor league relievers don't exactly have a great track-record of success in the majors. Baseball America ranked Ring as Chicago's #10 prospect before this season and John Sickels gave him a "B" grade.
Edwin Almonte is another relief pitching prospect and was Chicago's 26th round pick in the 1998 draft. He had a 1.49 ERA in Double-A in 2001, with a nifty 62/16 K/BB ratio in 66 innings. Last year in Triple-A, he had a 2.24 ERA and a 56/12 K/BB ratio in 60 innings. So far this year, Almonte has struggled quite a bit. He is pitching in Triple-A once again and has a 6.88 ERA in 34 innings. Baseball America ranked him as Chicago's #23 prospect and John Sickels gave him a "C+" grade.
Andrew Salvo was Chicago's 22nd round pick in the 2001 draft and was not among Chicago's top 30 prospects according to Baseball America and John Sickels did not give him a grade.
So, basically, the White Sox sent the Mets a couple of pretty good relief pitching prospects, one of whom was their first round pick just a year ago. That is not a king's ransom by any stretch of the imagination, but I think it is a lot to pay for a declining 35 year old second baseman who may or may not actually be an upgrade over your current situation.
Time will tell if Roberto Alomar plays well in the second-half and is worth it for the White Sox, but if they are going to be "buyers," I am glad to see that they are buying guys like Roberto Alomar and using up some of their better prospects to doing so.
Literally minutes after I finished writing the following words...
"And, while acquiring Alomar doesn't make them a much better team in my opinion, the fact that they are in the business of acquiring players and not trading away players is what worries me a bit."...the White Sox made their second big trade of the day, acquiring Carl Everett from the Texas Rangers for 3 PTBNLs (Player To Be Named Later).
As I type this a few minutes after hearing about the trade, I am not quite sure what to make of it.
The Twins' announcers were talking about how Chicago GM Kenny Williams told them that he was planning on making "one more big move" before the all-star break. I would assume that this is that big move and, in a way, I guess I am happy they got Carl Everett and not Carlos Beltran or someone like that.
That said, Carl Everett is definitely an impact player. He is hitting .274/.356/.544 so far this year and, while he had down years in 2001 and 2002, he hit .300/.373/.587 in 2000 and .325/.398/.571 in 1999.
The big question for me right now is what position Everett is going to play with Chicago. Everett played left field, center field and right field for the Rangers this year and also served as their DH. The White Sox have Carlos Lee in left field and Magglio Ordonez in right field, so those two spots don't seem to be options for Everett.
Everett is "stretched" as a centerfielder (to say the least), but that is the position at which his offense could make the biggest difference.
Chicago centerfielders - a group which includes Aaron Rowand, Armando Rios, Willie Harris, Joe Borchard and even a few games of Magglio Ordonez - are hitting just .221/.304/.264 this season. That is a combined .568 OPS from their CFs, which is the worst production at that position among all 30 MLB teams this season. So, if they stick Crazy Carl in center, they go from the worst offensive production to a guy that is slugging .544 this year and .478 for his career.
On the other hand, along with whatever offensive gains they get by replacing Rowand/Rios/Harris/Borchard in CF with Everett, comes a serious defensive drop-off. Calculating the value of defense is a lot harder than offense, so I can't speak of the defensive impact with the same certainty that I just spoke about the offensive impact. I will say that I would consider Everett to be one of the worst defensive center fielders in baseball and I think both Aaron Rowand and Willie Harris are pretty good defensively in center. Whether that is worth 10 runs a year or 30 runs a year or 50 runs a year, I don't know for sure.
(In case you're wondering, Diamond-Mind gave both Rowand and Harris a "Very Good" rating in CF last year, while Everett got a "Poor.")
If the Sox decide the defensive problems that come along with Everett in CF are not worth the offensive gains, they will almost certainly play him as their designated hitter. This is the confusing part to me. Playing Everett full-time at DH would mean Frank Thomas is the everyday first baseman. That in itself comes with a defensive drop-off, although first base defense is nowhere near as important as CF defense.
As a DH and with Thomas at 1B, Everett would essentially be replacing Paul Konerko and Brian Daubach.
2003Looking at those performances from this season, trading for Everett and playing him at DH appears to be a no-brainer. Paul Konerko has been an absolutely disaster this year - one of the worst hitters in all of baseball. Brian Daubach has been much better, but he is still not hitting at an acceptable level for a 1B/DH.
On the other hand, check out their performances over the last 3 years:
2000-2002Depending on if you want to look at 2003's numbers or 2000-2002's numbers, the White Sox either made a huge offensive upgrade at DH or acquired a player with similar offensive abilities to two guys they already had.
I think I would go somewhere in the middle and say that Everett is an upgrade over whatever combination of Konerko and Daubach the Sox would have used, but not a huge upgrade. Of course, if the White Sox knew that Konerko and Daubach were going to continue to hit like they have during the first-half of this season and not how they have hit over the last 3 years or so, then this was a brilliant move.
At the end of the day, I think the Chicago White Sox have improved themselves. They have added two veteran players, one of whom is going to be in the Hall of Fame and another who is slugging .544 this season. On the other hand, unless Everett ends up playing CF, they are replacing two spots in their lineup - DH and 2B - that could very well have given them the exact same production without the two new players. And, in getting Alomar and Everett, they traded away several of their valuable prospects.
For all my fellow Twins fans out there, Chicago's trading yesterday is not a reason to panic. Especially not when your own team is providing plenty of reason to panic on their own. If the White Sox win the AL Central this season, it won't be because of Roberto Alomar and Carl Everett, it will be because the Minnesota Twins let them win it.
AL CENTRAL THROUGH 7/1/2003Today's picks:
Tampa Bay (Bell) +350 over Boston (Martinez)
Total to date: + $2,105
W/L record: 160-150 (1-1 yesterday for $0 and still hanging on above 2K.)
*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****
Tuesday, July 01, 2003
Louie, LouieOne of the cool things about having my own website where people read what I write everyday, is that I am "known" for certain stuff. For example, writing very long, "Gleeman-length" entries. Or for my never-ending support of Bobby Kielty and my incredible obsession with Johan Santana. And, perhaps most of all, my dislike of Luis Rivas.
However, as I have watched my beloved Twins over the past month or two, I can't help but notice that Luis Rivas is playing better lately, at least offensively. His batting average was, until an 0-3 last night, up over .270 for the first time all season, he is actually getting multiple hits in games occasionally and, overall, his work at the plate has simply been noticeably better.
So, for the past week or so, I have been planning on devoting an entry to Luis Rivas and his play of late. I wanted to examine his improvement and see where it is coming from and try to decide how "real" I think it is. Then, I woke up yesterday morning, turned on my computer and made my daily treck around the blogging universe. One of my first stops, as it is every day, was TwinsGeek.com.
The Twins Geek, aka John Bonnes, is a really great guy (if you remember, we went to lunch a while back), a huge Twins fan and an excellent writer. I read his entries every day and I always enjoy them. Yesterday's entry was particularly enjoyable for me, because...well, it was the same entry I wanted to write about Luis Rivas!
And I don't mean "the same" as in he wrote about Luis Rivas and I was planning to write about Luis Rivas. No, I mean the same, as in he wrote the exact entry I would have written (well, his was more to the point and wasn't 50 pages long, but you get the idea...).
I mean, just take a look at the first paragraph of John's entry:
"The Twins won a thriller yesterday afternoon, beating Milwuakee 5-4 in an extra inning game featuring a rally in the bottom of the ninth. The winning run was scored by Luis Rivas, who came around from 2nd on an infield single, and set that up by stealing second base. He also went 3-5. So it seems like a good time to research a question I've wondered for a couple of weeks now...I won't quote John's entire entry, because you should definitely head over to TwinsGeek.com and read it yourself (after you are done here, of course). I will say that John examines three parts of Rivas' offense: Batting Average, Isolated Slugging Percentage and Batting Eye.
Batting average, as everyone knows, is simply hits divided by at bats. It's probably one of the first mathematical "equations" you ever learned (assuming you were a baseball geek like John and myself).
Isolated slugging percentage is a hitter's slugging percentage (total bases divided by at bats), minus their batting average. In other words, how much power does this person have?
Batting eye is strikeouts per walk, which could, depending on your point of view, be described as either "plate discipline" or, as I would call it, "strike zone judgment."
Those three stats that John chose to talk about are essentially the three big ones. Is he getting hits, are they going for extra-bases and is he taking walks/striking out?
So, John pretty much covered what I wanted to cover. But, because I like to hear myself talk (and see myself type), I want to take my own look at Rivas' play of late. After all, I have been pretty harsh on Luis Rivas for a very long time now, so the least I could do would be to spend a little time seeing whether or not he is actually becoming a good player, right?
Most of the optimism surrounding Luis Rivas comes from the fact that he has been a much better hitter over the last 2 months:
Month AB AVG OBP SLGThat's real, significant improvement and his numbers in June are the type that even I can get excited about.
The problem, of course, is that a month (or even 2 months) is much too small a sample to conclude that a player who has been a very bad hitter for several years has changed dramatically.
On the other hand, some Twins fans disagree with me. Many people I have spoken with are very excited about Rivas' last month or two and they feel like it is almost certainly the start of him becoming a good hitter.
Well, check out these numbers:
AB AVG OBP SLGThe above hitting lines are from Luis Rivas - in September of 2000, June of 2001, July of 2001, September of 2001, October of 2001 and September of 2002.
As you can see, Rivas has had several months during his career when he has been a decent hitter. The fact is, every major league hitter who gets everday playing time for several years in a row is going to have good months, that's just the reality of small sample sizes, luck and random distribution.
Are Luis Rivas' back-to-back "good" months this season any different than any of those other months? Well, not really. In fact, if I were to put May and June of this year in with the 6 other months from earlier in his career and mix them up, you wouldn't be able to tell which was which.
AVG OBP SLGNow, you tell me. Which is May and June of this year?
There are a lot of .290s and .300s on that list, there are a couple of .400 OBPs, some decent slugging percentages and even a month when he hit .361. Yet, in 2001, 2002 and so far this season, Luis Rivas has been one of the worst hitters in baseball.
The point is, improvement from a player like Rivas has shown over the past 50-60 days or so is absolutely great to see. However, it is no more a sign of significant, long-term improvement in his overall ability than those months in 2000, 2001 and 2002 were.
Pretend we just traveled back in time to the end of the 2001 season. Luis Rivas, after a bad first few months, has just hit .361/.403/.444 in September and .310/.333/.345 in October. Reason to get excited, right? Not so much. The next year, Rivas hit .256/.305/.392 and was, once again, among the worst offensive players in baseball.
As I write this entry, Luis Rivas has the following career stats:
G AB AVG OBP SLGMaybe this is just me being stubborn, but I tend to trust 1,100+ major league at bats and 2,100+ minor league at bats over 140 at bats, even if they are the most recent performance from a player. And, even if I were to want to believe in Rivas' last 2 months being the start of significant improvements on his part, why would I trust his .300/.402/.386 this June any more than I would his .361/.403/.444 in September of 2001. And why would I trust his .300/.329/.371 (which, incidentally, isn't even a good offensive month) over his .302/.316/.415 in September of 2000 or his .292/.333/.431 in September of 2002?
I wouldn't, unless of course I was looking, searching and praying for a reason to believe Luis Rivas is going to become a good hitter. I'm not looking for such a thing, because I don't believe such a thing exists. I could be wrong, of course. And, believe me, nothing would make me happier than to have Luis Rivas become a good player. It's going to take more than a decent month or two to convince me though, especially when there are literally thousands of at bats to remind me of his past and many other instances of Rivas "improving" throughout his history with the Twins that have, as of yet, proven to be simply decent months.
For every player, a "season" is made up of good stretches and bad stretches, good months and bad months. At any given time, you can stop and examine what a player has done over some period of time and conclude that they have made tremendous improvements or are struggling mightily. Maybe Barry Bonds is just 3 for his last 16 or Albert Pujols is hitting .443 in June. That doesn't make Barry Bonds a .188 hitter and it doesn't make Pujols a .443 hitter. It just means that, during a particular period of time, that is what they are hitting. Check back later and it may be reversed, because, if it didn't go in ups and downs, Albert Pujols would be a .443 hitter and we'd have to reprint all the record books.
My point is that Luis Rivas is having a very nice (for him, at least) period of time right now, but he and every other major league baseball player go through this same thing every season. You have good months and bad months, and they combine to make you the player that you are.
The player that Luis Rivas is so far in 2003, even with his two months that have Twins fans all excited, is almost identical to the player he has been throughout his major league career (and minor league career):
Year AVG OBP SLG OPS EqA ISO PA/BB PA/SOMeanwhile...
While Luis Rivas was having one of his best months as a baseball player, Aaron's Baseball Blog was having it's best month as a website. The two facts are, I think, purely coincidental.
After topping 20,000 visitors in a month for the first time in May and crossing the 100,000 visitor-mark on June 18th, this blog had over 25,000 total visitors in June (25,950 to be exact).
As I do every month, I present to you the month-by-month visitor totals:
Month Visitors Per DayNow, if only one of those 112,000 visitors wanted to actually pay me for writing...
Chicago (Buehrle) -130 over Minnesota (Radke)
Cleveland (Rodriguez) +130 over Kansas City (Lima)
Total to date: + $2,105
W/L record: 159-149 (1-1 yesterday for -30, but still above 2K for the season.)
*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****
Monday, June 30, 2003
Chatting through the painOn Friday night, the Milwaukee Brewers and Minnesota Twins played the first game of their three game series at the Metrodome.
I watched the game and chatted with Al Bethke, a Brewers fan who runs "Al's Ramblings" - one of the best baseball blogs around.
Aaron: I'm watching the Red Sox through the beauty of DirecTV. They scored 10 runs in the first inning without making an out!
Al: I love Boston, Theo has built his team just like I would if I had $90 million to spend. Who they playin' tonight?
Aaron: Florida. Already on their 3rd pitcher and they have recorded 2 outs.
Al: 3rd pitcher? Did one get hurt?
Al: At some point, you have to admit you're beat and let someone take a beating.
Aaron: Okay, so how do I save the transcript of this chat?
Al: That I don't know.
Al: Did you do the other chat in this room?
Aaron: Yeah, but I wasn't in charge!
Al: I can barely turn on the computer if my wife isn't here.
Aaron: I think I have it set up.
Al: Matt Kinney gets another chance to face his former 'mates.
Aaron: Yeah, he pitched okay last time against the Twins, although they got some runs off him.
Al: Did you see the matchups for the rest of the series? Our pitchers that is?
Aaron: No, I haven't looked.
Al: Saturday, Dave Burba (yes, the one who fought in the second World War) is in town, though he hasn't been added to the roster yet.
Al: Sunday, we have Matt Ford going, who is a Rule 5 lefty. He has pitched very well, but he was in the Florida State League last year. First start.
Aaron: Good, we'll welcome them both into the rotation....
Al: I knew that would upset you.
[FIRST PITCH FROM KYLE LOHSE TO ERIC YOUNG]
Al: So, most of us Brewers fans think Eric Young would be a perfect fit for the Twins.
Al: Free agent after the season, better than Luis Rivas.
Aaron: Ugh. As much as I hate Rivas, I'm not a big Young fan either.
Al: I'm not either, but he could win you a game at some point. For you guys, one win could mean it all.
Aaron: I have always thought Young was pretty bad defensively.
Al: Yes, he's awful in the field, one of the worst second basemen in MLB, bottom 5 for sure.
Aaron: Rivas has been getting a lot of heat from the media and from Gardenhire lately, so maybe they'll do something.
Aaron: I'd rather have Mark Loretta, whom I am sure you are familiar with.
Al: Loretta would be a great guy for you. Rumor has it he's headed for St. Louis.
Aaron: Yeah, I bet a lot of teams have called San Diego about him.
Aaron: I just saw this graphic: "Lohse vs Brewers: 1-1, 9.53 ERA."
[MILWAUKEE GOES DOWN 1-2-3 IN THE TOP OF THE FIRST INNING]
Al: Funny, the Crew had Loretta, Young, Jose Hernandez, Ronnie Belliard and Tyler Houston last year, and Lenny Harris still got a ton of ABs. Harris is the worst player in the game.
Aaron: I think Lenny Harris somehow acquires pictures of his managers in "compromising" situations.
Al: That may well be the case. Lenny has a career sub .700 OPS and he hasn't been able to play middle IF in a decade. I don't get it.
[BOTTOM OF THE FIRST, JACQUE JONES LEADS OFF AGAINST KINNEY]
Aaron: So what do you think of Kinney so far this year?
Al: Matt has looked solid. I saw him pitch for the Twins some the last couple seasons, and I always liked him. Only weakness is he tends to give up a few HR's.
Aaron: Yeah, he seems to have periods when his mind just lapses and he pitches stupidly.
Aaron: When he's on and concentrating, I always thought he could pitch.
Al: He has had a bad start or two in a row. Hope that ends tonight.
[JONES SINGLES, CRISTIAN GUZMAN COMES TO THE PLATE]
Al: Do you think Guzman is injured? He doesn't look the same as he used to.
Aaron: Yeah, I think he's been injured since he came back from the all-star game in 2001.
Aaron: Although, his triples are back way up this year, so it's weird.
Aaron: He's on pace for 19 doubles, 19 triples and 0 homers in 612 ABs. That's pretty pathetic.
[GUZMAN TAKES A CALLED THIRD STRIKE]
Aaron: I am really hoping Corey Koskie makes the all-star team, he has been great -.311/.408/.502 with nice defense at 3B.
Al: Koskie's having a good year, for sure. Always liked him. .400 OBP, can't beat that.
Aaron: Blyleven just said Koskie's hitting .439 over his last 23 games.
Al: Maybe he's do for a cool streak.
Aaron: Close pitch.
Al: I thought it was strike 3...too close to take.
Aaron: Jones was running on 3-2...I can't tell you how many times we have had a strikeout/throwout to end an inning this year.
[KOSKIE POPS OUT TO LEFT, JUSTIN MORNEAU COMES TO THE PLATE]
Al: Here's the kid.
Aaron: Did you see his HR in Milwaukee last week?
Al: I did not, but the TV guys are talking about it.
Aaron: It dented the scoreboard!
Al: Hit the scoreboard, that's quite a poke.
Aaron: 460 feet I think. It knocked a light bulb out.
[MORNEAU HITS A CHECK-SWING GROUNDER BACK TO KINNEY FOR THE THIRD OUT]
Aaron: Well, so much for that. I start talking up his power and he hit one 3 feet.
Al: Boston got 14 in the 1st. One touchdown pass and Florida's right back in it!
Aaron: I just heard that ties an AL-record for the 1st inning.
[TOP OF THE SECOND, JOHN VANDER WAL AT THE PLATE]
Al: John Vander Wal was a dandy pickup. $700K and he's mediocre. Nice spot filler.
Aaron: Does he platoon or play against lefties too?
Al: Platoons with Brady Clark, another cheap guy who can hit a tad. Nice 5th OF, Clark is.
Al: Brady does everything well except hit for power, plays all 3 spots, good defender.
Aaron: The Brewers have made some nice low-cost pickups. I like Keith Ginter too.
Al: I love Keith Ginter. I love anyone who gets on 35% of the time, but especially when they play middle IF.
Al: That's why I'd like to move EY, I think Ginter's younger and better in the field and at the plate.
[VANDER WAL WALKS]
Aaron: Did you see Eric Young's kid got drafted? He must've had him while he was in high school.
Al: Yep, he's 36 and his son's 18. Eric Jr. is going to college however.
Aaron: Speaking of kids, the Brewers drafted Anthony Gwynn, right?
Al: Yep, just activated him today. Started him in low A-ball. He sounds like a slap hitter with OBP skills.
[WES HELMS GROUNDS INTO A DOUBLE-PLAY TO END THE INNING]
Al: Wes Helms has the 9th best OPS for 3B in MLB. Didn't get a chance to get that in. :)
Aaron: Yeah, Helms was a nice low-cost pickup too.
[BOTTOM OF THE SECOND, DOUG MIENTKIEWICZ AT THE PLATE]
Aaron: When he doesn't pull everything, Doug is a great hitter. He gets in trouble when he starts pulling grounders to 1B and 2B.
[MIENTKIEWICZ SINGLES TO LEFT]
Aaron: Right on cue.
Al: Do you think the Twins would be better with Doug at 2B and one of their bench bats at 1B? He played there in AAA the year he was in Tom Kelly's doghouse.
Aaron: Yeah, if Doug could handle 2B defensively, they'd obviously be much better off.
Aaron: Morneau could play 1B, LeCroy could DH...it would solve all kinds of problems (goodbye Rivas!).
Al: I doubt if he'd have great range, but his hands are as good as anyone's.
Aaron: I get a ton of emails from Twins fans saying they think Doug should play 2B. I'm just not sure he could handle it.
Al: Is he the best defensive 1B you've ever seen?
Aaron: The only thing he isn't awesome at is making throws, but he picks everything, he has great range and he's very nimble around the bag.
Al: Keith Hernandez was outstanding as well, but I'd take Doug M.
Aaron: Yeah, I didn't get a chance to see Hernandez obviously, but I'd like to see how they compare
Al: Am I that old?
Aaron: Am I that young!
Aaron: Actually, I was 7 when Keith retired, but by that time he had been done for a couple years already.
Al: The thing about Keith, on a SAC bunt, he'd field a ball bunted down the 3B line and make the play. He was literally 10 feet away from the batter when contact was made.
[TOP OF THE THIRD]
Aaron: Bremer just said they are renaming "Kirby Puckett Place" "Memory Lane."
Aaron: Gotta be because of Kirby's "problems"
Al: Too bad, who didn't love Kirby?
Aaron: Yeah, Kirby's situation broke a lot of hearts here.
[BROOKS KIESCHNICK FLIES OUT TO THE WARNING TRACK IN CENTER]
Al: Too bad Kieschnick doesn't swing hard.
Al: Our idiot announcers just said, "Hunter is one of the better OFs defensively in the game." Ya think?
Aaron: He's definitely top 5, but if I could take one guy right now, it'd be Mike Cameron.
Al: I never saw Mays play, but I'll put Hunter against anyone, ever. I can't believe how often he takes away HRs.
Aaron: I was at a game this year when he took a homer away from Carlos Lee. Best catch I have ever seen.
Al: He stole a couple in games I attended at the Dome as well.
[YOUNG LINES A SINGLE OFF OF LOHSE'S ARM]
Aaron: I hope Lohse is okay.
Al: I'm sure he'll be OK, unless it stiffens up later.
Aaron: If he's injured, our rotation becomes a complete disaster.
Aaron: Although....(FREE JOHAN!)...nevermind.
Al: Hey, just so you have Johan pitching "important" innings in the bullpen, you'll be fine. :)
[SCOTT PODSEDNIK HITS A DOUBLE INTO THE GAP IN RIGHT-CF, 2-0 MILWAUKEE]
Al: He smoked that one.
Aaron: He's really been great this year - .312/.391/.428 before that double - and completely out of nowhere.
Al: I still feel he'll "correct" but I agree. Heckuva year thus far.
Aaron: I'm still mad I didn't grab him as a free agent in my Diamond-Mind league at the start of the year.
Al: Career .338 OBP in AAA.
Aaron: Yeah, that's why I didn't grab him up.
Al: Butch Wynegar, our hitting guy, has seemed to have a good influence on Pods and Helms. Both take a ton of pitches compared to early in the season.
Aaron: I didn't know Wynegar (former Twin) is the hitting coach.
Al: Yep. Yost actually did interviews and such, rather than hiring his buddies.
Aaron: What do you think of Yost?
Al: I question Yost's use of the bullpen, and his fascination with Royce Clayton, but overall, I'd give him a "B-."
[BOTTOM OF THE THIRD, JACQUE JONES BUNTS FOR A SINGLE]
Aaron: That's a helluva bunt, right into no man's land.
Aaron: Sexson had to go get it and Kinney was slow to the bag.
Al: I hate the bunt as a weapon, but when it works, it's pretty.
Aaron: I wish Guzman would bunt more actually. Back before he thought he was good, he used to bunt a ton for hits.
Al: I remember that, he used to choke to bunt 4-5 times a game.
[GUZMAN SINGLES TO CENTER]
Al: How's attendance up there? I saw the other day they're 11th or 12th in the AL? That's gotta be disappointing.
Aaron: Right now they are averaging 21,978, which is actually 8th in the AL. About 3,000 more per game than you guys...
Al: True, but we're rebuilding. You guys have the team I hope to have in a couple years.
Aaron: Yep, but you have that great new stadium with the leaky roof!
Al: (Shaking finger) Actually, the roof hasn't leaked or squeaked this year. They finally got it fixed, it appears.
[KOSKIE LINES ONE TO SEXSON AT 1B FOR A DOUBLE-PLAY TO END THE INNING]
Aaron: 6'6" sure comes in handy.
Al: Sexson takes up a lot of room. That's the 10th double he's stolen this year, that I've seen.
[TOP OF THE FOURTH, SEXSON LEADS OFF WITH A SINGLE TO CENTER]
Aaron: Guzman has that Derek Jeter "wave at the ball as it rolls past you" move down.
[VANDER WAL HITS A LINE DRIVE OFF JACQUE JONES' GLOVE IN LEFT]
Aaron: I can't believe he didn't catch that.
Al: Dropped it, hit his heel.
Aaron: That's a tough play, but he was there, and Jones is the best LF in baseball, in my opinion.
Al: I've seen him lose too many balls in the roof to say that, but he could easily play CF. You know how I feel about signing Hunter to that deal when they had a replacement.
Aaron: Jacque went like 2 years without losing a ball in the roof and then lost 2-3 in 2 weeks recently.
Al: He used to lose them all the time when Hunter was sent down to AAA years ago, and he played CF. I remember Kelly saying they had to recall Torii to "shore up CF defense."
[KIESCHNICK SINGLES TO RF AND IT GOES UNDER MOHR'S GLOVE]
Aaron: Oh my...
Al: Is Kielty OK to play OF?
Aaron: Yep, he has been playing the field, but Mohr has taken most of his playing time
Al: How, in the name of common sense can that be?
Aaron: Well, Kielty has been very bad offensively lately, but I would obviously be playing him everyday.
Al: C'mon, just in June. His '03 numbers are still very good. Small sample.
Aaron: Yeah, I agree. You're not only preaching to the choir, you're preaching to the minister!
[ROYCE CLAYTON IS HIT BY A PITCH]
Aaron: Clayton is looking out at the mound...he should just shut up.
Al: Does this irritate you as much as it does me? The looking toward the mound crap?
Aaron: Yes, especially in this case. No way he tries to hit Clayton here. Just be glad you didn't make an out Royce.
Al: I'd be giddy to get on base.
Aaron: Lohse should have Farnsworthed him.
Al: Heck, Fernando Vina leans into every inside pitch just to get on.
Aaron: Yep, Eckstein too.
Al: I wish baseball would get tough on charging the mound. Unacceptable.
Al: Why haven't they at least made it illegal to leave the bench and bullpens?
Aaron: I wish the teammates wouldnt get involved. I'd like to see the hitter and pitcher settle it.
Aaron: I'll guarantee Paul Wilson never charges anyone again.
Al: That's why the NHL is such a joke until the playoffs. They have
designated "goons" that suck, but are big and tough. Only job is to "protect" star players.
Al: Speaking of the NHL, do you think the Twins would have a new park if Norm Coleman had beat Jesse to be governor in '98? I do.
Aaron: Possibly. Norm is a big sports guy
[BOTTOM OF THE FOURTH, JUSTIN MORNEAU TAKES A CALLED THIRD STRIKE]
Aaron: Ugh. He thought he had a walk on 3-1 and then took 3-2 right down the middle.
Al: Kinney has a good curve (he calls it a slider) tonight. He's had every RH batter's knees buckling.
Al: Justin takes pitches, sure sign of a star.
Aaron: Torii has been much more patient this year too.
Aaron: Right on cue!
Al: Maybe the walks will come. Still just a .320ish OBP for him.
Aaron: Yeah, but that's because his batting average is way down. He's on pace for almost twice as many walks as 2002 and 2001
Aaron: On pace for 61 walks to be exact. Still not a ton, but OK.
Aaron: 35 last year, 29 in 2001. If Hunter walks 60 times a year, he'll be one of the best CFs in baseball.
Aaron: Now, Mohr hacks like crazy -14 BBs in 215 PAs.
Al: I think as silly as it is, Mohr plays because he hits .290, and that is a good BA. However, Kielty's OBP is much better.
Aaron: I have always said Mohr is a perfect 4th OF, but I agree he plays because of his batting average.
Al: I am a big BB fan, so he's not my type. He's a nice reserve, but how does he start on a team that has Kielty?
Aaron: I agree completely (of course). As bad as Kielty is playing of late and as good as Mohr played, Mohr is hitting .291/.340/.477 and Kielty is hitting .247/.367/.423. It's close though, so I cant blame Gardy too much
Al: I just don't think he respects OBP and walks.
[MOHR GROUNDS INTO A DOUBLE PLAY TO END THE INNING]
Aaron: Johan is warming in the bullpen.
Aaron: Another one his "high-leverage" bullpen appearances, no doubt. He'll come into a 4-0 or 5-0 game or something.
Al: The fact he isn't in the rotation is mind-boggling.
Al: 6-7 solid innings every 5th day, or the 3rd LH in the 'pen?
Aaron: And its not like Gardy uses him in long-relief, he pitches like 1 or 1 2/3 innings usually.
Al: I said when they signed Rogers it was an awful move, because of Johan.
[VANDER WAL HOMERS TO RIGHT]
Aaron: Wow, 6-0 Milwaukee. That ball was crushed.
Aaron: I think I am bad luck on these chats. The Twins got killed the last time I did this too.
Al: Plenty of time left, our pitching isn't the Dodgers.
Aaron: I guess I'll have to stop making fun of Milwaukee all the time if they win the season series against us, huh?
Al: If you wish.
[BOTTOM OF THE FIFTH, 6-0 MILWAUKEE]
Aaron: Lohse is done, Rick Anderson (pitching coach) just delivered the news.
[PIERZYNSKI POPS OUT TO FIRST]
Aaron: Pierzynski now throws his bat every time he doesnt get a hit...it's funny
Al: AJ, another non believer in the BB.
Aaron: Yeah, but he's a great hitter for a catcher.
Al: No argument there. But, he has to hit .300 to have a .330 OBP.
Aaron: Yeah, and he's a .295 career hitter.
[TWINS GO DOWN 1-2-3 IN THE FIFTH]
Aaron: Johan is coming in - and it's a 6-0 game. The next time Gardy starts talking about needing Johan in the bullpen for important outs, someone should slap him.
Aaron: C'mon Johan, don't embarrass me!
[JOHAN STRIKES OUT EDDIE PEREZ]
Aaron: God I love that changeup.
Al: Johan's almost unhittable when he's on.
[JOHAN STRIKES OUT CLAYTON]
Al: Wow. Ball dropped about a foot.
Aaron: I truly believe, besides Mark Prior, Johan Santana is the best young pitcher in all of baseball.
Al: Speaking of Prior, have you seen his pitch counts? He's going to end up rehabbing right next to your friend, AJ Burnett.
Aaron: Yep, I watched his 16 K game, although Dusty took him out after 8...and they blew the game.
Al: 127 yesterday, over 120 several times. I get mad when Sheets goes over 115, and Mark's just a baby compared to Ben.
Aaron: Yep, but he's still not in Burnett territory - yet.
Al: If they stay in the race, we'll see them get higher though. 120+ in April, Wood going 140 in April, they'll be left out there to rot in August.
Aaron: I am more worried about Wood for whatever reason.
Al: I think Ben McDonald threw 181 in college, and his coach argued it was no big deal. Nice brief career for McDonald.
Aaron: Yeah, the guys in the College World Series had some huge pitch counts this year.
[BOTTOM OF THE SIXTH, KOSKIE AND HUNTER HIT BACK-TO-BACK DOUBLES, 6-1 MILWAUKEE]
Al: Geoff almost got Hunter at 2B.
Aaron: Yeah, Jenkins has a great arm in LF.
Al: He should be in RF. Anyone can play LF, my wife can throw better than Luis Gonzalez for example.
Aaron: Yeah, I heard she has a great arm. :)
Al: My son has her legs. She's 5'0" and I'm 6'2", but with a 30 inch inseam. He's going to be a short guy, as his legs seem to be about one third of his body.
Aaron: How old is he?
Al: Turned 1 June 2nd. Born in St. Paul, Children's Hospital. Just started walking a week ago.
Aaron: Is he switch-hitting yet?
Al: I've tied his right arm behind his back so he will be a lefty reliever. He'll be pitching in 2052, ala Jesse Orosco.
[TOP OF THE SEVENTH]
Aaron: 22,000 tonight, thats not bad.
Al: But on a Friday night in June, with a few thousand Brewers fans, should be at least 30K in the house. We had 25K at Miller last Friday, I believe.
Aaron: Yeah, I agree. And it's not even that nice outside today.
Al: I'll be the first to say the Dome is horrible though.
Aaron: Yes, it is.
Al: The St. Louis fans at the game a couple Mondays ago said they couldn't believe how nice Miller was. They hope the new SL park is a lot like it, they said.
Aaron: The OF looks weird to me. The whole window-look.
Al: It's unique. Different because of the retractable roof. Never heard anyone say anything negative that's seen it. Just idiots like Caple putting it down.
Aaron: I just rip it because it leaks (or leaked)...
Aaron: ...and because I am jealous, mostly.
Al: And it's Bud's park, right?
[PODSEDNIK HITS A CHECK-SWING SINGLE TO THIRD AND JENKINS BLOOPS A SINGLE INTO LEFT]
Aaron: Ugh, Johan is getting unlucky.
[SEXSON HITS A THREE-RUN HOMER TO RIGHT, 9-1 BREWERS]
Aaron: See, now that sucks. Johan got Podsednik to hit a weak little squibber to 3B on a check-swing, but he beat it out. Then Jenkins hits an opposite field single.
Aaron: And then Sexson goes deep.
Al: Luck never hurts a thing.
Aaron: If he gets Podsednik (which he should have), the inning is over. Now he's given up 3 runs and Gardy just yanked him.
Al: I thought Sexson might drive one to RF, he had some good swings up there.
Aaron: I don't know why he wouldn't just leave Johan in. He's pitching well, a couple cheap singles and a homer.
Al: Me neither.
Al: Of course, now that he's allowed a HR, and the score is 9-1, is he saving him? If that's the case though, why bring him into a 6-0 game?
[BOTTOM OF THE SEVENTH, 9-1 BREWERS]
Aaron: We're gonna be at .500 very soon, it's depressing.
Aaron: Heck, we're only 8 ahead of you guys after tonight!
Al: I wouldn't concern myself with KC. I picked CHI, and still think they could make a run. They are underachieving on a grand scale.
Al: What's KC at right now?
Aaron: 41-34 and winning tonight, which would be 5 in a row.
Al: So, since they were 16-4, they are 25-30. I doubt if they'll win 75 games, honestly. Maybe I'm underestimating them.
Aaron: I agree, but it's getting tougher not to believe.
Aaron: Kinney is at 94 pitches, I wonder how long he'll go.
Al: I'd guess one more inning.
[TWINS GO DOWN 1-2-3 IN 7TH AND BREWERS START 8TH WITH 3 SINGLES]
Aaron: Bases loaded. Jacque and Cristian just let it drop right between them. Nice "single."
Al: Not a game the Twins will put in their time capsule, is it?
Al: Remember, the roof's white.
Aaron: Off-white, thats the problem!
Al: I believe it's called "dirty white."
Aaron: It's very dirty actually.
Al: Tough to clean.
Aaron: That's true.
[JENKINS STRIKES OUT ON A 3-2 PITCH AND HIS BAT FLIES INTO MILWAUKEE'S BULLPEN]
Aaron: That bat had some distance on it.
Al: Jenkins saw 6 balls, but he swung at 3 of them. Pitiful discipline.
Aaron: Bases loaded, 9-1. He wanted to hack.
Aaron: Nakamura gets some wicked movement.
Al: First time I've seen him, does he ever throw a fastaball?
[SEXSON SINGLES TO RIGHT, 11-1 MILWAUKEE]
Aaron: There was the fastball!
Aaron: Nakamura has had awesome minor league numbers.
Al: Lots of AAA guys are there because they can't hit breaking balls, so that makes some sense.
Aaron: Well, yeah. But he's done it at every level, I think he can be a good pitcher.
Al: Is he still a prospect, or a minor league vet?
Aaron: He's like 25 or 26 I think. Before tonight he had 8 Ks in 9.1 IP with the Twins.
[BOTTOM OF THE EIGHTH]
Al: Two things I gotta touch on before this game is over. First of all, have you looked at and chuckled heartily at the Cubs' bench? Lenny Harris, Paul Bako, Troy O'Leary (never hit outside of Fenway), Tom Goodwin...
Aaron: Yeah, I wrote an entry about the Harris/Bellhorn situation a little while back.
Al: I'd have trouble putting together a worse bench if I tried.
Aaron: Their bench looks just like Dusty's bench last year in SF.
Al: I said the same thing. He just needs Shawon Dunston's .220 OBP to round out his group of veteran leadership and overall suckiness.
Aaron: It gets better when Choi comes back, but not much.
Al: Tony LaRussa always puts together a bench of like 5 Denny Hocking types, they can all play 5 spots, and none of 'em can hit a lick.
[TWINS GO 1-2-3 IN THE EIGHTH]
Aaron: I think I want Kinney back now please.
Al: What, to pitch in important long relief situations?
Aaron: Wow, Mienktiewicz is at third base!
Al: 2B, Gardy, 2B.
[KIESCHNICK HOMERS TO LEFT]
Aaron: God, this is depressing.
[EDDIE PEREZ HOMERS TO LEFT]
Al: OK, now I can feel your pain.
Aaron: An extra three feet and Mohr catches both of those!
[CLAYTON DOUBLES TO LEFT]
Aaron: Wow, Mohr must have a bulls-eye on him or something.
Al: I can't believe the empty "box" seats down the LF line. Those were always full when we attended last year.
Aaron: Well, some people may have left at 9-1 or 10-1 or 11-1 or something.
Al: Mohr looks like crap tonight in the field, that's for sure.
Al: You gotta wonder if the pitcher is tipping his pitches. They are swinging from their heels.
Aaron: I just saw this graphic: Of MN's 20 home losses, 14 have been by 4+ runs.
Aaron: I honestly think that might have an impact on attendance to some degree.
Al: What I wouldn't give to have your "benchwarmers" - LeCroy and Kielty.
Aaron: I'll trade them to you for Kinney and your stadium, deal?
Al: You plan to close I-94 and hitch the stadium to a trailer?
Aaron: Yes, that was my plan.
Al: Sounds like the Russian idea of landing on the sun after the US beat them to the moon. To beat the heat, they were going to land at night.
Al: Good thing this game's almost over, I'm running out of material.
Aaron: I ran out awhile ago. I'm only good when my team is doing the butt-kicking.
Aaron: And we were playing the Brewers, so I thought I could break out my good material!
Al: Kinney may get a CG.
Aaron: 108 pitches going into the 9th, might as well.
Al: I'd yank him.
Aaron: We'll be hacking, it'll be over soon.
[MORNEAU SINGLES TO LEFT]
Al: 110's plenty.
Aaron: Foster is warmed up.
Al: What do you think of Lew Ford?
Aaron: I like him, yet another good player who can't play the middle-infield.
Al: He's a good fundamental guy, like Pods.
Al: Still have Restovich and Cuddyer in AAA right? And Cuddyer is learning 2B.
Aaron: Yep, Cuddyer's injured right now, but he had been playing all over in AAA.
[MIENTKIEWICZ GROUNDS INTO A DOUBLE-PLAY TO END THE GAME]
Aaron: Well that was fun, but depressing. I bet that felt good for Kinney to beat his old team.
Al: You'll probably win the next two. I'm sure Matt is a happy man.
Aaron: I'm now 0-2 on chats.
Al: Best of luck over the weekend and in the coming months.
Aaron: You too...thanks for doing this.
W: Kinney (6-6)
L: Lohse (6-6)
HR: Vander Wal (8), Sexson (22), Kieschnick (4), Perez (8)
Don't forget to go check out Al's Ramblings.
Atlanta (Maddux) -130 over Florida (Redman)
Chicago (Garland) -120 over Minnesota (Mays)
Total to date: + $2,135
W/L record: 158-148 (4-4 on Friday for +70.)
*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****