May 13, 2004

Moving Day

As you read this, I will be moving all of my stuff out of the dorm room I've been living in since last September. This is something I have done in years past, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that it will not be a fun experience. For some reason, the worst parts of my personality come out whenever I am moving into or out of a dorm.

For testimony regarding this, you can ask my mom, although she won't be involved in this year's move-out (smart move on her part!). For some reason, when I am in the middle of packing and moving boxes from one place to another, every single little thing that could possibly annoy me annoys me, and not just a little. It builds throughout the day, to the point that my dad asking me where I want a box to be put will end up with my yelling at him or something equally as ridiculous.

But I can't help it. God love my parents, they know what they're in for heading into this every year. The good thing for my dad is that it is infinitely worse on move-in day, because at that point I have an entire year of school ahead of me. Right now, after move-out day, all I have ahead of me is about four months of watching baseball with my dog.

All of which is my little way of saying that, if you show up here Monday and there is nothing new for you to read, it is most likely because my father murdered me today. If this does happen, I urge authorities not to prosecute, as he will almost certainly be within his rights to beat me to death with whatever blunt object he can find after taking my abuse for however long he can take it before snapping today.

In the meantime, some baseball-related notes...

It has been an amazingly up and (mostly) down year for my man Johan Santana, but he turned in a beauty of start yesterday afternoon.

IP     H     R     ER     BB     SO     HR     PIT

7 6 0 0 2 5 0 94

Before you get too excited, you have to remember that the Mariners can't hit. Aside from that, it was a wonderful thing to see. He gave up six hits in seven innings, but all of them were singles. He only walked two, struck out five and, perhaps most importantly, did not give up a homer. He also made it through seven full innings with just 94 pitches, while throwing 66% strikes.

Santana has been wildly inconsistent and mostly sub par this year, but the funny thing is that his numbers right now aren't bad. The ERA is at 4.47, which is a little high, but not so high that a few more good starts won't get it into the 3.00s. And his record, thanks to run support and bullpen support, is 2-0. He's unbeaten!

Santana is still not quite right in my opinion, but he's closer than he was at the start of this year. I have put aside visions of him going 18-6 with a 3.10 ERA and 220 strikeouts for now, and I would be happy with some consistency for the rest of the season, along with him just staying healthy.

If you remember back to the start of the year, I wrote about the fact that, in Santana's first 2-3 starts, he was inducing a ton of ground balls, which was never his style. I suggested that this showed that something was wrong with him, or at least not right, as his style and pitch assortment is one that causes extreme flyballs.

Well, Santana is now back to getting everything in the air. Check out his totals after those first three starts:

GS       IP      ERA     W     L     SO     BB     HR     GB     FB      G/F

5 31.0 3.48 2 0 30 10 4 28 35 0.80

Not bad, huh? Not all of those starts were good ones and I still don't think Santana has quite been himself during that span, but the numbers are sure nice to look at. In his first three starts, he had more than two groundballs for every flyball, whereas now he has 25% more flyballs than groundballs.

Along with Santana's good pitching lately, the Twins have actually gotten some offense from their shortstop, Cristian Guzman. Guzman is one half of the "Keystone Chasm", along with Luis Rivas. My personal nickname for Guzman, depending on if he's playing well or playing like he normally does, is either "Lesser of Two Evils" or "Crissy." Both work well.

A lot of the Twins fans I hear from are getting excited about Guzman's play this season, particularly of late. So far this month, Guzman is hitting an even .400 in 47 at-bats. For the season, his batting average is up to .328 in 31 games.

Now, don't get me wrong, Cristian Guzman hitting .328 two months into a season is always going to be reason for happiness. It is very difficult to not be a good offensive player with a .328 batting average. However, this is one of the emptiest .328 batting averages you will ever see.

Guzman has drawn six walks in 135 plate appearances and he has a total of eight extra-base hits in 125 at-bats. In other words, everything is based on him hitting a ton of singles (33 in 31 games, to be exact).

If he gets cold (or goes back to being Crissy), and his batting average drops to a still-very-respectable .280 or so, then his overall numbers would look like this: .280/.308/.368.

In other words, Guzman is doing just fine while hitting .328, but if he were walking and hitting for power like he is now and his average was "only" .280, his offense would be a sinkhole, just like it was last year.

Now, you may think that Guzman can hit .328 all year, but I doubt it. Even if he can keep the average at .300, his overall numbers right now would be .300/.328/.388. The average American League shortstop hit .269/.329/.414 last year.

In other words, Guzman's offense is so entirely based on dumping singles over the infield that he would be a below-average offensive shortstop even while hitting .300.

There was once a time to get excited about Guzman putting up a big batting average. It was the first-half of the 2001 season. He was hitting .308 -- 20 points lower than he is hitting now -- but he had a .507 slugging percentage. Back then, Guzman had seven homers, 22 doubles and 13 triples in 347 at-bats before the All-Star break.

Then, after the break, he hit .288/.316/.404, which is the very same high batting average emptiness that he's doing right now, just minus a few singles.

One final way to look at what Guzman is doing offensively is to separate hitting singles from everything else. Once you do that, you get this:


2002 .112 .019
2003 .097 .043
2004 .088 .028

ISOP is Isolated Power, which is his slugging percentage minus his batting average. ISO is Isolated Discipline, which is his on-base percentage minus his batting average. In case you're wondering, there isn't a number in that above table that isn't awful.

Same old crappy Guzman, just more singles. He's actually hitting for less power than he did in 2002 or 2003, and he hit for almost zero power in both of those years.

I'm all for switch-hitting middle infielders relying on slapping the ball around the ballpark and racking up singles. You can be a very nice player doing that. These types of guys are called Luis Castillo. The problem is that guys like Castillo, the slap-hitters who make themselves into good player, actually take walks, and that is something Guzman has been completely incapable of doing in six years.

As for why I'm choosing now to pick on Guzman, when he's hitting .400 this month and .328 this season, I'm not sure exactly. I guess I'm just playing the part of the turd in the punchbowl.

Oh, and he's another one that'll make a nice, big splash: Guzman's DP partner, Mr. Rivas, is "hitting" .215/.259/.355. Exactly how many years must I be forced to put up with this, exactly? The funny thing is, when the Twins finally ditch Rivas, I bet you won't be able to find anyone who was a supporter of his. I should start documenting names for historical accuracy.

I can just see it now. "Who, me? No way, I never thought Rivas was gonna do anything. I've been saying they should get rid of him for years!" It'll be like the exact opposite of trying to find someone who thought the Marlins had a chance last year.

See ya Monday...

Today's picks:

New York (Trachsel) +210 over Houston (Oswalt)

Anaheim (Colon) -135 over Baltimore (Ainsworth)

Total to date: -$1,000

W/L record: 41-58 (2-4 on Wednesday for -100, with one rainout.)

*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****

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