Friday, June 20, 2003
What's going on with Torii?Torii Hunter, the star of the Minnesota Twins and one of the most exciting players in all of baseball, is currently third among AL outfielders in voting for the all-star game and will likely be the American League's starting centerfielder for the second straight season.
That's the good news. The bad news is that Torii Hunter's numbers this season are nowhere near where they were last year at this time.
Through June 19th:
Year AB AVG OBP SLG HR 2B BB SO SB CSPerhaps the most disturbing drop-off has been his stolen base totals. Last year at this time, Torii Hunter was 9/11 (82%) on stolen bases and he ended up going 23/31 (74%) overall in 2002. So far this year, he is 2/9 (22%) and he actually started the season 0/7.
Often times, a sudden loss of base-stealing ability is a red-flag for bigger problems with a player, particularly one that plays a premium defensive position like Hunter does. In Hunter's case though, I am not that concerned.
First of all, prior to 2002, he wasn't a good base-stealer. He went 9/15 (60%) in 2001 and was 23/39 (59%) combined from 1997-2001. He was even a horrendous base-stealer in the minor leagues, going 59/105 (56%).
Second, I have watched just about every Twins game this entire season, whether on TV or in-person, and it is obvious to me that not only has Torii Hunter not "lost a step," but that he is actually faster and more mobile than he was last season - at least on defense. That said, baserunning - whether that is stealing bases or just traveling around them - has never been Torii's strong suit. So far this year he's made several bonehead blunders on the bases, including getting doubled off of second base in the late innings twice in a two-week span.
Torii Hunter's base-stealing problems this season are just part of a team-wide epidemic, one that stems all the way back to last season. In 2002, the Minnesota Twins stole 79 bases and were caught 62 times. That works out to 56% success-rate, which is scientifically known as "real bad."
The Twins' 62 caught stealings were the 4th-most of any team in major league baseball last year, despite the fact that their successful steals (79) ranked just 19th. In fact, Minnesota's stolen base percentage (56%) was the worst in major league baseball last season. And that was despite the fact that they pride themselves on being a team that "does the little things" and they were actually pretty good at stealing bases the previous year.
The Twins were caught stealing 62 times in 2002 and stole 79 bases. Back in 2001, they were caught stealing 67 times and stole 146 bases.
This year, Minnesota's work on the bases started off much better. After going 14/27 (52%) in April of 2002, they were 11/16 (69%) in April this season. And then it all started going downhill. The Twins went 15/26 (57%) in May and are 9/15 (60%) so far in June. They are 35/57 (61%) overall this season, which is slightly better than how they did last season, but is still "real bad."
Torii's 2/9 is a big part of the team's struggles, but he's not alone.
Here are the biggest offenders:
Player SB CSIt's not like A.J. Pierzynski has suddenly started to try to run a lot and is getting thrown out - those are the 3 main base-stealers on the team. Hunter had a very good year stealing bags last season, and Rivas and Guzman are the two fastest players on the team. Yet, the 3 are a combined 11/27 (41%), which is beyond horrendous.
While Torii Hunter has, by far, the worst success-rate among the 3, his struggles are not as troubling to me as Guzman's. I got the feeling that the Twins were going to "send" Torii until he finally broke through and got that first stolen base and, after a while, it was almost comical - or would have been, if it hadn't been so sad.
But Cristian Guzman is one of the fastest players in all of baseball. Yet, over the last 2 seasons, he is now 16/34 (47%) stealing bases. That is mind-boggling to me. Anyone who has watched the Twins for any length of time and has seen Guzman smack a ball into the gap and end the play sliding into third with a triple can see what amazing speed the man has. And he's actually been quite successful stealing bases in the past. He was 25/33 (76%) in 2001 and 28/38 (74%) in 2000.
Cristian Guzman has a bit of a reputation among Twins fans as being a very lazy ballplayer. He almost never appears to be giving "110 percent" - whether it is short-arming ground balls up the middle, lobbing throws over to first base or - in this case - getting thrown out on steal attempt after steal attempt after...well, you get the point.
I have actually defended Guzman in the past. In fact, here is what I wrote about him in my Twins season preview for Baseball Primer:
"In Guzman's defense, I do think a lot of his disappointing play over the last season and a half has been due to various injuries. At times over the past two seasons it seems as though Guzman is simply being lazy on defense; making lazy, off-target throws to first base, not bending enough on routine grounders and occasionally letting one go right through his legs and simply not showing the range he showed when he first came up in 1999. I believe Guzman is a little lackadaisical by nature, but I also think a lot of that "laziness" is actually the effects of leg and foot injuries.What Guzman has done so far this season has done nothing but confuse me even more about his situation. I still believe that his decline in stolen base percentage and sudden loss of the ability to hit triples were the result of some injuries to his legs. That said, I don't know how I can continue to believe in that theory if Guzman continues to do what he has done so far this year.
Cristian Guzman is on pace to go 9/21 (43%) on stolen bases this year (so far, so good on the theory) and he's on pace to hit 21 triples (D'oh!).
I'm really not sure how to logically explain this. That exciting player that I talked about, smacking line drives into gaps and sprinting around second base on his way to a triple, is back this year. He's not settling for stand-up doubles like he did so often last season and just about everytime he has hit a ball into the gap and I have thought, "I wonder if he will try for a triple," he has tried and he's been successful.
Yet, when he is standing on first base, he simply cannot make it to second base before the ball gets there from the catcher. And it's starting to get pathetic.
The other night, against the Royals, Corey Koskie was at the plate and Guzman was on first base after drawing a rare walk. With one out and the count 3-2, Guzman took off for second base. Koskie took a called third strike and Guzman, for some unknown reason, went into a light jog halfway to second base. Kansas City's catcher, Brent Mayne, saw Guzman pulling up and, instead of throwing to second right away, he double-clutched the ball, no doubt wondering for a split-second what the heck was going on. After double-clutching, Mayne finally threw down to second base - and the ball beat Guzman there by 5 feet.
This was not some busted hit and run. And this was not some Ivan Rodriguez super-laser-throw down to second base, this was a Brent Mayne throw, after it was delayed when he double-clutched. And not only was Guzman out on the play, it wasn't particularly close.
Obviously that is just one bad play on Guzman's part and he actually stole a base against the Royals yesterday. That said, if Ron Gardenhire and the Minnesota Twins are going to continue to insist on being a "running team," they better get their [expletive deleted] together. They have already given away way too many outs on the basepaths over the last year and a half and the risk is so far from coming close to being worth the reward at this point it's pathetic.
Hey, wasn't this entry supposed to be about Torii Hunter?! Why yes, thanks for reminding me...
Torii's numbers are down almost across the board this year. His batting average is down 50 points and his OPS is 100 points lower than it was last year. Let's take a little closer look at why he's down:
Year AB/HR AB/2B AB/1BLike I said, his numbers are down across the board. He's hitting about 49% fewer homers, 13% fewer doubles and 8% fewer singles.
Actually, 8% fewer singles is what I would consider within the limits of "luck." I mean, if 3 bloops off of Torii's bat that were caught had fallen for singles, he'd be right at last year's level. The 13% drop in doubles is a little troubling, although still within the reach of luck. The nearly 50% decrease is homers, on the other hand, is definitely concerning.
While his overall numbers are down considerably, the one area of Hunter's game that is definitely improved is his plate discipline and strike zone judgment.
Year PA/BB PA/SOI have been extremely impressed with the improvements Hunter has made with his plate discipline this year. He has been laying off pitches that he almost always swung at (and missed) in the past. The high fastballs on the outer half of the plate, those 0-2 sliders in the dirt - where Torii would have whiffed on them in the past, he is just spitting on them this year and keeping at bats alive. And the results are definitely apparent.
Torii is walking 75% more often, which is huge. He is also striking out in about 19% fewer of his plate appearances, which is also significant.
The sad thing about the big improvements he has made in his plate discipline is that I fear he will go back to his old, hacking ways because his overall numbers are down. And who knows, maybe Torii Hunter would have better numbers this year if he wasn't walking more, wasn't laying off those bad pitches and was just swinging at anything that looked good to him like he did in the past. It's certainly possible, but I doubt it.
I am hoping Torii has some patience and is willing to stick with what is no doubt a real effort on his part to change his approach at the plate. His numbers are down right now, but, in the long-run, I think being more selective at the plate and getting better pitches to hit will pay big dividends for him.
Torii's on-base percentage is .329 right now, just 4 points worse than it was last season, despite his batting average being 37 points worse. As soon as a few more of those singles start dropping, Hunter's OBP is going to be nearing .350, which is what I would consider a "good" on-base percentage - and that is a number he has never even been close to approaching before.
Hunter is on pace to walk 67 in 155 games this season. From 2001-2002 combined, Hunter walked a grand-total of 64 times in 296 games. That's a significant change and something I think Twins fans should be very excited about. It may be difficult to look past his down overall numbers to see an improvement in plate discipline, but it is there, it is significant and it is going to make Torii Hunter a better offensive player.
Other Twins thoughts...
The Twins avoided a 4-game sweep at the hands of the Royals by spanking them 16-2 yesterday afternoon. Had the Royals won, they would have moved into a first-place tie with the Twins, something I didn't think was even a possibility a week ago.
Unfortunately, the game wasn't on TV, because I sure would have liked watching a nice 16-2 win after watching them lose 5 straight to Kansas City and Arizona. Actually, just looking at the boxscore makes me feel a little better.
The Twins had 23 hits, including 4 from Guzman, 3 each from Jacque Jones, Hunter and Doug Mientkiewicz, and a monster, 4-5/2 HR/6 RBI game from Corey Koskie. Corey is currently batting .305/.406/.481 and is on pace to drive in 100+ runs and score 95. I would really love to see Koskie make the all-star team this year and I think he'd be a deserving selection. At 29, he is the Twins' elder statesman among hitters and he's been a very underrated player his whole career (he's a career .285/.378/.457 hitter that has turned himself into an excellent defensive third baseman).
Joe Mays had a nice start, eating 8 innings while allowing just 2 runs, both after the game was well out of hand. Mays improved his record to 8-4 on the season, which is amazing considering he has a 5.48 ERA. Of course, when your team scores you 16 runs, it's pretty easy to get the win. And the Twins have been doing some serious hitting when Mays has been on the mound the whole year.
Counting yesterday's 16-run outburst, the Twins have scored 6.0 runs per game in Mays' 15 starts. Even without yesterday's game they were averaging 5.3 runs per Mays start. In the games Mays has not started in 2003, the Twins are averaging 4.8 runs per game - 25% fewer than they have scored for Mays.
Meanwhile, Kyle Lohse has a 3.23 ERA in 14 starts this year and is just 6-4. The Twins have scored 4.6 runs per game when he pitchers - 30% fewer than they've scored for Mays.
I'm not sure what my point is, or even if I have one, but I just thought that was interesting. A pitcher's won/loss-record is one of the most misleading statistics in all of baseball, regardless of what Joe Morgan might have you believe.
Not only can a pitcher on a good offensive team like the Yankees have his record inflated because of run-support while a pitcher on the Tigers gets hurt by his team's lack of offense, but two pitchers on the same team can receive completely different run-support.
Next time someone starts talking about how a pitcher just "knows how to win" or they make the argument that a pitcher with a 4.20 ERA is better than someone with a 3.05 ERA because the first guy has more wins, just role your eyes, smile and nod your head. You give Kyle Lohse the run-support Joe Mays has had this year and he's probably 10-2 and getting a feature-article written about him in Sports Illustrated. Meanwhile, you give Joe Mays the run-support Kyle Lohse has had and he's probably 2-10 and Johan Santana might already have that rotation spot he deserves.
One final Twins note...
In the midst of the blowout yesterday, Bobby Kielty replaced Dustan Mohr out in right field at the start of the 7th inning and grounded out in his only at bat to drop his season batting average to .251. As you all know, I think Bobby Kielty is an excellent, underrated, underutilized baseball player. That said, as big a Kielty-fan as I am and much as I have been singing his praises over the last 2 years, I am little worried about his performance of late.
Kielty hit .324/.425/.588 in May, forcing his way into the mix as an everyday player in the process. Then he injured a muscle in his ribcage and was unable to play the field for several weeks. During that time, he struggled offensively as well, hitting .214/.371/.400 in April. Now, it's a credit to Kielty's power and plate discipline that he was able to have a .371 OBP and a .400 SLG in April while batting just .214, but his struggles at the plate have continued into June and have actually gotten much worse.
So far this month, he is hitting just .182/.250/.182. He has just 3 walks in 36 plate appearances and has struck out in 30% of his at bats. He hasn't had an extra-base hit since May 27th - a span of 44 at bats. Prior to this 44 at bat dry-spell, Kielty had smacked an extra-base hit every 8.5 at bats and he had an extra-base hit once every 9.9 at bats last season.
Basically, I am officially concerned. Bobby is too good a hitter to have gone 44 at bats without an extra-base hit and he's too good to have a .250 OBP this month. I don't know if the ribcage injury is still a problem or if it is bothering him at the plate or what, but something definitely isn't right with Bobby Kielty. And it's a shame, because he had finally started to convince Gardenhire that he was deserving of everyday playing time, but now Dustan Mohr is back as the regular right fielder and Justin Morneau is taking most of the at bats at DH.
Kielty's struggles have been painful for me to watch, not only as a Twins fan, but as someone who has been his biggest supporter. I am starting to understand how those Luis Rivas-supporters must feel!
Thanks for stopping by today and have a good weekend. I might be back with an entry on Saturday or Sunday but, if not, I'll see you Monday. In the meantime, make sure to check out my latest Bi-Weekly Review of the American League Central article over at Baseball Primer.
Bi-Weekly Review: A.L. Central (by Aaron Gleeman)
And if you missed a blog entry or two from earlier this week, here's your chance to check them out:
Monday: The Boys of Moneyball
Tuesday: Learning to fly
Wednesday: The last of a dying breed?
Oh, and don't forget to send me your "frequently asked questions" like I asked for yesterday. Don't know what I'm talking about? Click here to learn more.
Chicago (Garland) +110 over Chicago (Estes)
Toronto (Lidle) -100 over Montreal (Vazquez)
New York (Pettitte) -150 New York (Trachsel)
Atlanta (Maddux) -170 over Baltimore (Ponson)
Total to date: + $1,310
W/L record: 141-137 (4-3 yesterday for +70)
*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****
Thursday, June 19, 2003
100,000If I had a nickel for every...aw, nevermind!
As you may have noticed, Aaron's Baseball Blog went over the 100,000-visitor mark at around noon yesterday. Thanks to everyone who sent me an email yesterday congratulating and encouraging me, I really appreciate it.
I've got to admit that I didn't think I would be that excited about cracking the 6-digit mark, but as the total got closer to 100,000, it started becoming pretty cool.
I started this website back on August 1st of last year and my first official goal was to get someone who was not a member of my immediate family to read the site. It took a few days, but eventually some people I didn't know stumbled across it. My other big goals were to get 1,000 total visitors, and then 5,000. Then I set out for 10,000 in a month, and then 20,000 in a month. And now 100,000 total visitors.
It's really all quite unbelievable to me and it's pretty damn exciting and I am actually very proud of myself. It's hard work writing something new everyday and even harder trying to come up with stuff that (hopefully) a lot of people will find interesting to read. Writing this blog everyday has given me a new appreciation for what guys like Rob Neyer, Jayson Stark and Peter Gammons do on a daily basis.
I excitedly told my mom that the blog had reached 100,000 visitors yesterday and she said, and I quote, "You'd think at least one of those 100,000 people would want to give you a job, wouldn't you?"
I was trying to think of a really cool and original way to celebrate reaching 100,000 visitors, but I couldn't come up with anything brilliant to do.
So, instead of doing something original, I am going to steal an idea I saw on another blog I visit occasionally. Sarah Crabtree, a Michigan State student who runs a non-sports blog called "The Dub Side," had the brilliant idea to create a "Frequently Asked Questions" page about herself.
I figure now that I have reached 100,000 visitors on this site, it's pretty obvious that I am going to be around, writing this blog for a while. At the same time, I get a ton of emails everyday asking me various questions, not only about baseball and this website, but about myself in general. So, not only are you stuck with me for the forseeable future, but there are those of you out there interested in asking me stuff.
Following Sarah's lead, I want to open the floor to "questions from the audience." Ask me anything you want. It can be about baseball, about this website, about my life in general. Whatever.
Now, this whole thing may sound a little egotistical. After all, who am I to presume that you guys care about me enough to a) ask me questions about my life and b) care about the answers. And you know what? You're right, it is a bit egotistical. But so what? Isn't a guy allowed to have an ego once in awhile?
More importantly than inflating my ego, I think answering all the questions (which I will do on this blog, of course) will make for a really interesting/funny/entertaining entry, which is what the real point of all this is.
So, here's what you do:
1) Think up some questions that you want to ask me. I really don't care what they are about, just ask.
Favorite baseball player? Food? TV show? Book? Magazine? CD? Band? Actor? Actress? Supermodel? Website? Pizza topping?
Do I have any pets? If so, what are their names? What kind of computer do I use? What's my dream job? How old am I? What school do I go to? What's my major? Do I have any siblings?
Britney or Christina? Boxers or briefs? Field of Dreams or Bull Durham? Pepperoni or sausage? Magic or Larry? Mantle or DiMaggio? Democrat or Republican?
How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? If I could be a tree, what kind of tree would I be? So...you come here often?
What places have I traveled to in my life? What's my shoe size? How tall am I? Which superpower would I want if I could have my pick? How many people come to this website everyday? Why don't I get a real job? What weighs more, a pound of sand or a pound of feathers?
The possibilities truly are endless.
Ask me literally anything you want. I mean, what's the worst I could do, not answer them?
Knowing my readers, I bet you guys can come up with some pretty funny questions too. Funny, serious, stupid, completely-useless - whatever the questions are, just ask them.
2) Type them out and send me an email with them in it.
This is pretty self-explanitory. Chances are, if you are reading this right now, you have at least a working-knowledge of your computer. All you need to do, after you think of the questions to ask me, is click here to open up an email addressed to me, type in your questions and hit "send."
3) Wait for me to answer them on this blog.
Depending on how many questions I get, the likely time for me to post the entry answering all of them will be sometime early next week. So you don't even have to wait all that long to get your answers!
Pretty simple, right?
Trust me, it'll be entertaining. Of course, the whole key is that I get some good reader-participation. Because, without the questions, all you have is me with an empty blog entry and a bruised ego - and that's not fun for anyone involved.
Okay, now that I've got all that out of the way, let's talk about some baseball...
You may remember that, a few weeks ago, ESPN.com's Jayson Stark gave me a nice little plug in one of his columns. Well, today's the day I return the favor.
Okay, so the ESPN.com servers aren't exactly going to explode when I send all of my readers over to read Stark's most recent article, and I doubt Jayson is going to devote an entry column to thanking me for the plug (like I did), but I was reading Jayson's latest "Rumblings and Grumblings" and I thought it would be fun to make some comments on some of things he included in the article...
The Rangers seem likely to win the First Club To Make A Deal award. "They're trying to get a jump on the market," says an official of one club that has talked to them. "There's no doubt about that."Baseball teams are very strange sometimes. This off-season, Ugueth Urbina was available to any team interested in signing him. After being let go by the Red Sox, Urbina ended up signing a 1-year deal with the Rangers for $4,500,000.
And now, just a few months after he was available to be had for less than $5 million and a one-season commitment, the Rangers are in a position to receive actual valuable players in return for trading him to another team, all because they were willing to pay his salary for like three months.
That's not to say that he's not worth trading for, because he is. And it's not to say that teams are stupid for giving up something in order to get him from Texas, because they're not. Just that, if there are so many teams interested in Urbina in June, you'd think a few of them would have been interested in him in January - when they could have had him for just a salary, instead of a salary and players.
There also have been some reports lately that the Rangers are floating the idea of attaching Chan Ho Park -- who still has roughly $50 million left on his contract -- to some of their more desirable players as part of potential deals. But an official of one club that has been talking with Texas issues a flat, "No way," on that idea.If Texas GM John Hart can get some team to agree to take on Chan Ho Park in a deal for Urbina or even someone like Rafael Palmeiro (if the Rangers decide to deal him), he's a pure genius. Park has been awful since coming to the Rangers and his contract is even worse, especially in what now appears to be a less favorable market for long-term contracts than a few years ago.
By the way, Mike Hampton is 3-3 with a 3.73 ERA for the Braves. He also has more walks (35) than strikeouts (29), so I wouldn't expect that ERA to stay in the 3's for much longer.
There may have been more rumors so far involving Ugueth Urbina than any other reliever on the market. But clubs fishing for bullpen help report that the other bullpen guys currently attracting the most interest are Tom Gordon (White Sox), Curtis Leskanic (Brewers), Jason Grimsley (Royals), Mike Williams (Pirates), Buddy Groom (Orioles) and the one veteran the Tigers might be able to trade in the next few weeks -- (surprise) Jamie Walker.There was some talk during the off-season that the Twins were interested in Tom Gordon, but he ended up with the White Sox and the Twins ended up with Mike Fetters as their official Veteran Right Handed Reliever. Fetters has pitched a total of 6 innings this year and now appears to be out for the season with an injury, while Gordon has been very good for the White Sox.
In fact, Flash Gordon has 45 strikeouts in just 33 innings, which works out to 12.3 per 9 innings - or 3rd best in all of baseball among pitchers with 20+ innings. He's behind only Eric Gagne (whom I discussed in some depth last week) and Mike Remlinger. This isn't the first time Gordon has posted excellent K rates. Since being moved to the bullpen full-time in 1998, his strikeout rates are: 8.9, 12.2, 13.3, 10.1 and now 12.3 this season. That's extremely good and, assuming the Sox deal him, he'll be a big part of some contender's bullpen in the second-half.
The Red Sox continue to be interested in signing Chuck Finley, if they can get his price tag below $2 million. But while teams are being told Finley is willing to play for Boston or in the midwest, an official of one interested club says he's convinced that "this guy really doesn't want to leave California, no matter what he's saying."Can Chuck Finley just hurry up and sign with the Angels already? They know it's going to happen, he knows it's going to happen, I know it's going to happen - just do it already. I'm sick of reading about him.
Phillies scouts who have shown up at various minor-league outposts are telling people they're hunting for potential down-the-road closers -- but there's still no indication they're looking to depose Jose Mesa at any point in the foreseeable future. On the other hand, they are believed to have some short-term interest in Mike Williams as a set-up guy and an occasional closer alternative. Tom Gordon also is thought to be on their potential July shopping list.When I first read that opening sentence, I read it as "there's still no indication they're looking to dispose of Jose Mesa..." Which would, of course, make more sense the way he's pitching this season. Michael over at "View From the 700 Level" has a "Mesa Watch" in which he keeps track of how many games it has been since Jose Mesa's last "implosion." Current streak: 2 games.
It also comes as no surprise that shortstop prodigy Jose Reyes has stepped right into the big leagues and made a case for himself to stick around for about a decade. "He's always reminded me of a young Tony Fernandez," says one scout. "Tony, when he was young, had those real fluid actions, and that's what this guy has. Very fluid. Tremendous body control. Great instincts. He's almost like an Ozzie Smith who can hit. To me, he has no limitations."Jose Reyes is definitely the real deal and probably just about the only reason to watch the Mets for the rest of this year. I ranked him as my #5 overall prospect in all of baseball when I did my "Top 50 Prospects of 2003" article for Baseball Primer back in January. He needs a little plate discipline and some consistency on defense, but he's a hell of a talent.
Clubs that have been in contact with the Yankees continue to report that their only conversation over Ugueth Urbina was brief, came from Texas' end and consisted of an offer by the Rangers to deal Urbina for Nick Johnson. The Yankees said no, naturally, and they haven't spoken since.Again, if John Hart can get anything even remotely close to Nick Johnson from some team in exchange for Urbina, he is the greatest GM on the planet. For the sake of Yankee fans everywhere, I hope Brian Cashman threw up on the phone when he heard that offer.
Scouts who have seen the Yankees' most advanced pitching prospect, Brandon Claussen, in the last month have done nothing but rave about how spectacular he has been. Since arriving at Triple-A Columbus a month ago, Claussen has faced 120 hitters -- and allowed only 18 hits (a .158 average). The only concern is that he's less than a year removed from Tommy John surgery, and no one has ever come back this fast and not hit a wall somewhere.I just have a sneaking suspicion that, in the end, Claussen is the guy the Yankees will end up trading in order to make their usual trade-deadline pickups this year. I could be wrong, but they don't have a whole lot of other top-notch stuff to offer. Maybe John Hart is setting them up with the Nick Johnson offer, so that when he says, "Okay, I'll settle for Claussen," the Yankees actually consider it. Claussen missed being included in my top 50 prospects because of his injury, but he's a very good young pitcher.
With Claussen all but off the market, one name you should look for the Yankees to start dangling is Jeff Weaver, who is creating serious doubts about his ability to pitch in New York. But one executive says he would be wary of Weaver just about anywhere.Well okay, I guess besides Claussen they also have Jeff Weaver to offer to teams. I don't think there is anything wrong with the way Jeff Weaver pitches. Whatever he was doing certainly worked okay in Detroit. His current struggles are nothing a few low-pressure innings and a competent defense behind him wouldn't fix.
Okay, so maybe Hart's real plan is to shoot for the moon in Nick Johnson, then take a step down and ask for Claussen and then "give in" to the Yankees and take Weaver off their hands for Urbina.
Bobby Cox has been in baseball for 44 seasons. So when he returns from Seattle saying Ichiro Suzuki is "the best right fielder ever," it's time to pay attention. Besides his bionic throwing arm, Ichiro is also "the fastest right fielder I've ever seen," Cox says. "He's unreal out there." Asked if a team that had Ichiro and Andruw Jones could get by playing just two outfielders, Cox chuckled: "You could play some innings that way."I have often wondered whether or not it would be a viable plan to play 2 outfielders and 5 infielders when some pitchers are on the mound. For instance, Derek Lowe, who induces about 4 ground balls for every fly ball he allows. It's certainly a radical idea, but I think it just might be decent move in rare situations. Certainly not with a fly ball hitter like Barry Bonds at the plate, but what about someone who hits mostly ground balls, like Luis Castillo or Ichiro! himself?
Plus, how much fun would that be to watch? Can you imagine if a team had a ground ball pitcher on the mound and just 2 outfielders and the batter ripped a line drive into the gap someplace? I'd love to have that game broadcast on HBO, just so I could hear the announcer go, "Awww s%@#!" as the ball split the outfielders.
Are they starters, or are they relievers? In Minnesota, Johan Santana has made three spot starts this year -- and given up a grand total of nine hits and two runs in 18 innings. In Toronto, Kelvim Escobar has allowed one run in 17 1/3 innings over his last two starts, with a strikeout-walk ratio of (gulp) 18 to 1. So we asked a veteran scout how he would use these two if they were on his staff.Nice to see "The Official Pitcher of Aaron's Baseball Blog," Johan Santana, get a little national attention. I obviously agree that he would be better as a starter, although I am not sure I have ever thought of him as "hyper" on the mound. In fact, he rarely (if ever) shows any emotion out there. He does struggle with his control at times, but I really don't think it's from being hyper.
I do think that he is better off when he gets consistent work and knows when he's going to pitch, instead of sitting in the bullpen for days and then being called into back-to-back games for an inning at a time.
That's it for today. Make sure to come back tomorrow and don't forget to think of some funny/serious/stupid/meaningless questions to ask me and send them to me by clicking here.
Chicago (Prior) -150 over Cincinnati (Wilson)
Pittsburgh (Wells) -110 over Montreal (Ohka)
Arizona (Batista) +130 over Houston (Redding)
San Francisco (Schmidt) -125 over Los Angeles (Perez)
Boston (Lowe) -140 over Chicago (Wright)
Kansas City (Snyder) -100 over Minnesota (Mays)
Toronto (Escobar) -135 over Baltimore (Helling)
Total to date: + $1,240
W/L record: 137-134 (2-4 yesterday for -230)
*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****
Wednesday, June 18, 2003
The last of a dying breed?Every season, around this time, the name Brian Kingman starts coming up. In 1980, Kingman went 8-20 for the Oakland A's - the last time a pitcher lost 20 games in a season. Typically, every season, at the end of June or the beginning of July, there are a couple of pitchers nearing 10 losses on the season.
This year, there seem to be more "contenders" for 20 losses than usual.
The following players are currently on a 20-loss pace:
Current ProjectedThere are also 11 different players with 7 losses each, putting them all on 16-18 loss paces. A couple of bad starts and they are in the 20-loss mix as well.
Over the years, losing 20 games has taken on a definite stigma and, several times since 1980, a pitcher has been taken out of the starting rotation for the last couple of turns, so they can avoid any chance of possibly losing 20 games.
Since 1980, there have been 10 instances of a pitcher losing 19 games, including Jose DeLeon dropping 19 in both 1985 and 1990. Most recently, Bobby Jones and Albie Lopez lost 19 apiece in 2001 and Omar Daal lost 19 in 2000.
In addition to the 10 19-loss seasons, there have been 20 18-loss seasons and 33 17-loss seasons since 1980.
If losing that 20th game hadn't become such a horrible thing at some point, I am convinced it would have been "accomplished" several times since 1980. I mean, imagine another statistical milestone, like say home runs or wins or strikeouts or something. And now imagine that, over the course of 22 seasons (1981-2002), 10 players were within 1 homer/win/strikeout of matching that number and 53 players were within 2 or 3. Yet, it still hasn't happened.
Over the 22 year period (1968-1979) before Kingman lost 20 in 1980, not only were there 16 times when a pitcher lost 20 games in a season, there were 4 22-loss seasons and 3 21-loss seasons.
Heck, Wilbur Wood liked it so much that he did it twice (1973 and 1975). Of course, Wilbur started 48 and 43 games in those two seasons and most of the other 20 game losers from 1968-1979 started more games than starting pitchers typically start in this era. Still, the fact remains that Brian Kingman's "record" is currently in its 23 year and no one has been able to join him in the 20-loss club, despite dozens of pitchers coming very close.
At least one pitcher lost 20 games in 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1977, 1979 and then Kingman in 1980. And then, all of sudden, nothing.
Perhaps more amazing than the fact that no one has been able to do what he did in 1980 in 22 years is how Brian Kingman lost 20 games that year.
First of all, he actually pitched for a good team. The 1980 Oakland A's went 83-79 (.512) and finished second in the American League West. The AL East was much stronger that season, but A's had the 7th-best record in the 14-team American League.
Secondly, Brian Kingman was actually a decent pitcher in 1980. He pitched 211 1/3 innings and had a 3.83 ERA. The league-average ERA in 1980, adjusted to the Oakland Coliseum, was 3.76 - meaning Kingman's ERA was 1.8% worse than league-average.
So, he pitched for a good team and was right around league-average in preventing runs, yet he went 8-20.
Meanwhile in 1980...
Dan Spillner pitched 194 1/3 innings for a Cleveland ballclub that went 79-83. He had a 5.28 ERA - 29.4% worse than league-average - and he went 16-11.
Jack Morris pitched 250 innings for the Tigers, who went 84-78. He had a 4.18 ERA - 1.5% worse than league-average - and he went 16-15.
Len Barker pitched 246 1/3 innings for that same Indians team that Spillner was on. He had a 4.17 ERA - 2.2% worse than league-average - and he won 19 games.
Brian Kingman made 32 appearances in 1980. He won 8 games, lost 20 games and had 4 no-decisions.
Oakland's runs per game when Kingman pitched:
R/GThat's the difference run-support can make. For the season overall, the A's scored 4.23 runs per game. So, even in the games Kingman won, he got below-average run support from his teammates.
Overall, in the games Kingman pitched in, the A's scored 2.94 runs per game. In the other 130 games they played in 1980, they scored 4.55 runs per game. That's just plain, old, simple bad luck.
Of the 20 games Kingman lost, 5 of them were games in which the A's got shutout.
The 2.50 runs per game the A's scored in Kingman's 20 losses are even a little inflated because 11 of the 50 runs scored were in one game. If you take out those 11 runs and that one game, Kingman got a whopping 2.05 runs per game in his other 19 losses.
But okay, whether the offense is scoring 2.50, 2.05, 2.94 or 4.55 runs per game for him, it doesn't matter how many they score if he's pitching horribly in the games he loses, right?
Let's take a look...
Kingman's runs allowed per game:
RA/GWell, okay, maybe Kingman does deserve the brunt of the blame for those 20 losses.
He pitched phenomenally in the games he ended up winning and, because the A's were able to provide him with at least a reasonable amount of runs, he won the 8 games. He pitched even better in the games he got no-decisions in, but, because the A's only scored him 2.75 runs per game, he didn't get any wins.
And he pitched very poorly in the 20 games he ended up losing. He gave up 6.17 runs per 9 innings and, along with his offense scoring him a measly 2.50 runs per game...well, that's a 20-loss combination.
The funny thing is, after his first 21 starts, Kingman was actually having a decent year as far as wins and losses. He won his start on August 6th against the Twins, tossing a complete-game while allowing just 1 run. At that point, he was 7-11 with a 3.34 ERA. Not great, but not horrible either. And then it just all fell apart.
Kingman lost all of his next 8 starts and had a 5.49 ERA over that span. So, over the course of about a month, he went from 7-11 to 7-19 and, just like that, he was knocking on the door of 20 losses - and with more than 2 weeks left in the season.
The A's played the White Sox on September 25th and Matt Keough (16-13, 250 IP, 2.92 ERA in 1980) made the start, but left after just 1 inning. Jeff Jones (1-3, 44 IP, 2.84 ERA in 1980) relieved him and just didn't have it.
Jones got the first batter he faced to ground out and then followed that up with two straight walks, a wild pitch and another walk, before he was mercifully yanked out of the game and relieved by none other than...Brian Kingman!
Kingman came in and immediately allowed two of the runners he inherited from Jones to score. At the end of the 2nd inning, the A's were down 4-0, but Kingman was not on the hook for the loss, because the A's were already losing when he came in. Kingman then tossed a bunch of scoreless innings and the A's offense started to come back. They scored 2 runs in the 4th, 1 in the 5th and one more in the 7th - to tie the game at 4.
And then, wouldn't you know it, as soon as Kingman became the "pitcher of record," he coughed up 2 runs, the A's lost the game 6-4 and he had his 20th loss.
I have heard Brian Kingman interviewed several times in the past and he always talks about the pride he has in his 20-loss season and how he does not want anyone to lose 20 games because it would basically erase him from memory. That's his claim to fame - losing 20 games. If not for that, and the fact that it hasn't been done since, there wouldn't be many people aware of Brian Kingman's baseball career and I certainly wouldn't have written about him today.
Luckily for Brian, and despite the many pitchers are currently on pace to lose 20 games, I think his place in history of safe for this season. In fact, I think it is safe for quite a while. For a pitcher to lose 20 games in a season right now, it is not only going to take bad luck, relatively bad pitching and a lack of run support, it is also going to take a pitcher and a manager willing to ignore all the junk that is now attached to "losing 20 games."
Is Mike Maroth brave enough to ignore the losses as they pile up and just keep wanting to pitch when his spot in the rotation comes up? Is his manager, Alan Trammell, willing to forget about some meaningless number and simply put the guy he feels is one of his best starting pitchers on the mound every fifth day?
Same with Mark Buehrle and Jerry Manuel (unless/until he gets fired), Glendon Rusch and Ned Yost, Jeremy Bonderman and Alan Trammell, Adam Bernero and Alan Trammell.
Well okay, I guess it may all come down to Alan Trammell. He has three guys in his starting rotation right now that have a serious shot at losing 20 games this season. Plus, the Tigers don't exactly have a whole lot of other options for their starting rotation and their offense is horrible and doesn't appear to be in any danger of drastically improving anytime soon. So, if Trammell is willing to keep starting Maroth, Bernero and Bonderman, even when they start getting to 17, 18, 19 losses, then someone reaching that 20-loss mark is certainly a possibility. I just don't think it'll happen.
Hey, at least it will give Detroit fans something to pay attention to in the second half of the season, right?
(A big thanks Retrosheet.org and BaseballReference.com for all of the stats and information for this entry)
On the opposite end of the 20-loss discussion, Brian over at "The New York Yankees Report" has put together a very interesting and well-researched two-part piece on Roger Clemens' place among the all-time great pitchers in baseball history. It's a good read and you should definitely go check it out:
Is the Rocket the Best Pitcher Ever? (the permanent link to the specific entry doesn't work right now, so just scroll down until you get the that title - it is Sunday's entry)
Philadelphia (Millwood) -130 over Atlanta (Ortiz)
Florida (Penny) -120 over New York (Leiter)
Arizona (Webb) +110 over Houston (Villone)
Detroit (Bonderman) -105 over Cleveland (Davis)
Boston (Wakefield) +120 over Chicago (Loaiza)
Kansas City (George) +115 over Minnesota (Reed)
Total to date: + $1,470
W/L record: 135-130 (0-2 yesterday for -200, with one rainout)
*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****
Tuesday, June 17, 2003
Learning to fly
I'm learning to fly, but I ain't got wings
--- Tom Petty, "Learning to Fly"Remember a couple weeks ago, I made my Most Valuable Player selections for the AL and NL and said:
"I think the 50-game mark is probably right around the time where the stats people are putting up finally start becoming "real." Nobody is hitting .420 anymore, the only .500 on-base percentages belong to Barry Bonds, and the leaders in wins are Mike Mussina, Jamie Moyer, Mark Mulder and Kevin Millwood, not Runelys Hernandez, Jeff Suppan and Albie Lopez."We are now approaching the 70-game mark, which means all those "real" stats from two weeks ago are really real now.
The other day, as I often do, I was looking at some of those real stats and it struck me just how many players are in the middle of having extraordinarily surprising seasons...
Melvin Mora | Baltimore Orioles | 2B/SS/LF/CF/RF | Age: 31
Melvin Mora is currently hitting .360/.465/.585. He leads the American League in batting average and on-base percentage, is sixth in slugging percentage and second in OPS (on-base % + slugging %). He also leads the American League in Runs Created/27 Outs (10.70) and Equivalent Average (.363).
Prior to this season, Melvin Mora had 1,658 plate appearances in the major leagues and was a .249/.334/.388 hitter.
The amazing thing about Mora's season so far is that it isn't a case of a player getting off to an incredibly hot start and riding those early-season numbers the whole year:
Month AVG OBP SLGIt's growing!
Mora has been good at home (.344/.466/.624), on the road (.374/.464/.551), versus lefties (.353/.522/.558) and versus righties (.361/.451/.584). He's been good during the day (.407/.478/.712), at night (.340/.460/.532) and, in what is my favorite stat of all, Melvin Mora has put the first pitch of an at bat in play a gand-total of 6 times in 243 plate appearances this season - and he's hitting .500 when does so.
Where exactly is this Melvin Mora offensive outburst coming from? Like you, I have absolutely no idea. I will say that, at various times throughout his career, Mora has been a good offensive player.
April 2002 - .267/.455/.453
June 2002 - .296/.367/.541
May 2001 - .333/.418/.409
June 2001 - .326/.404/.526
June 2000 - .312/.354/.519
August 2000 - .333/.406/.500
So, over the past 3 seasons, Mora has 6 very nice offensive months (5 of which came before all-star break). The problem with him has been the fact that, aside from those 6 months, he has been completely awful offensively for long periods of time.
2002 second-half - .195/.317/.363
2001 second-half - .210/.283/.284
Mora is a really great story (the man has 2 year old QUINTUPLETS people!) and has been a huge part of the Baltimore Orioles somehow continuing to hang around the .500-mark.
Javy Lopez | Atlanta Braves | C | Age: 32
Unlike Melvin Mora, Javy Lopez has actually been a very good offensive player in the past. In fact, during the middle part of Atlanta's decade-plus run of dominance, Javy Lopez was consistently one of the better catchers in baseball.
Year PA AVG OBP SLG OPS+That would be a pretty nice 6-year run for a first baseman. For a catcher, it is great.
Those 6 years were Lopez's age 24-29 seasons and, shortly after the end of the 2000 playoffs, he turned 30. After officially joining the "wrong side" of that magical age for baseball players, Lopez followed up that great 6-year stretch by having the following seasons at 30 and 31:
Year PA AVG OBP SLG OPS+That is a catcher in serious decline if I have ever seen one. At 31, Lopez had the worst offensive season of his career, the second straight year his offensive numbers had slipped.
And now, at age 32, he is doing this:
Year PA AVG OBP SLG HR 2BYes, those numbers are correct. And no, I don't get it either.
At this moment, Lopez's OPS figures since 1999 read as follows:
.908 - .821 - .747 - .671 - 1.016
He's a catcher, he's aging, he's past 30, he's declining and then...BOOM - he's got a 1.016 OPS and 19 homers in 49 games.
Like Mora, Javy Lopez is actually getting better as the season goes on:
Month AVG OBP SLGLopez is currently on pace to hit 46 home runs. That would make him the only catcher in the history of baseball to hit 40+ homers in a season after the age of 31. Even if Lopez ends up with "only" 30 homers this year, he will join a very select group:
Catchers: 32 or older/30+ homers:
Player Year HRIn fact, even if you drop the home run number all the way down to 25 (just 6 more than Lopez has already), the new (32 and older/25+ homer) list looks like this:
Player Year HRThat's a total of 8 seasons over the course of about 125 years of baseball. The list includes just 6 players - 3 of whom are either in the Hall of Fame or will be someday. Now, barring some serious injury or complete power-outage, the list is about to get a 7th member: Javy Lopez.
Of course, a few years ago the idea that Lopez would hit 25 or 30 homers at the age of 32 wouldn't have been strange at all. But this isn't a few years ago and the fact that the 2003 season is coming up on 70 games old and Javy Lopez is on pace for 46 homers is pretty remarkable.
Greg Myers | Toronto Blue Jays | C | Age: 37
Time Period AVG OBP SLG
2003 .345 .431 .559After 15 years in the majors leagues as a reliable, run-of-the-mill backup catcher, Greg Myers is having a tremendous season and one that I don't think anyone could have predicted.
Not only is he hitting better than he ever has (previous career-best season is .224/.313/.447), he is playing more than he ever has.
Myers has been one-half of Toronto's incredibly successful catching platoon this season. He and Tom Wilson (and a few horrible at bats by Ken Huckaby) have combined to give Toronto the best team batting average by catchers (.317) in baseball, the third best slugging percentage (.516) and the fourth best on-base percentage (.385).
Myers has gotten the bulk of the playing time against right-handed pitching, against whom he is hitting .350/.443/.583 in 140 plate appearances. He has also been very good (.320/.370/.440) in his limited playing time against lefties this year, after hitting just .212/.255/.346 against southpaws from 2000-2002.
Myers is currently on pace for 387 plate appearances this season. That would be a career-high by over 50 plate appearances. He is also on pace for 127 games played, 336 at bats, 16 homers, 23 doubles, 51 walks, 56 RBIs, 60 runs and 116 hits - all career-highs.
Will this continue for the rest of season? I really doubt it. I mean, the odds of any catcher hitting .345 over the course of a full-season are slim and we're not talking about a young player who is breaking out here. We're talking about 37 year old catcher with 15 years of major league mediocrity under his belt, someone who has never even come close to this level of play before.
I'll definitely be rooting for him though. I've taken a real liking to Blue Jays this season and, more importantly, I have Greg Myers on one of my Diamond-Mind keeper league teams and that .345 average would look real nice in my starting lineup next year (and for only $7 too!).
Alex Gonzalez | Florida Marlins | SS | Age: 26
Ever since the Marlins promoted Alex Gonzalez to the majors leagues in 1998, there have been two Alex Gonzalezes playing shortstop in the major leagues. Florida's Alex Gonzalez has stayed with the Marlins his entire career, while the "other" Alex Gonzalez, who has been in the majors since 1994, played the first 8 years of his career with the Blue Jays, before joining the Cubs last season.
Prior to this year, they both had similarly bad offensive numbers for their careers:
Alex Gonzalez AVG OBP SLGOn April 13th - two weeks into the 2003 season - the two Alex Gonzalezes were off to fantastic starts offensively...
Alex Gonzalez (Florida) - .326/.396/.721
Alex Gonzalez (Chicago) - .395/.458/.581
Like many baseball fans at that point, I dismissed both of their hot starts as anything but just that - hot starts - because...well, they were still Alex Gonzalez.
Then, on May 5th - over a month into the 2003 season - the Alex Gonzalezes were still chugging along:
Alex Gonzalez (Florida) - .336/.381/.664
Alex Gonzalez (Chicago) - .308/.387/.467
The Chicago version had seen his batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage each drop about 100 points since his hot start, but he was still having a very good season. And the Florida version was barely letting up at all. His hitting batting average was actually higher than it was on April 13th and his OBP and SLG had gone down, but not a ton.
Alex Gonzalez (Florida) - .332/.375/.594
Alex Gonzalez (Chicago) - .254/.311/.400
Apparently, the go-back-to-playing-like-Alex Gonzalez memo hasn't made it to Florida - yet. The Chicago version has gone back to his craptastic ways and, despite his great start, is now within a couple of points either way of his career batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.
Meanwhile, the Florida version is officially moving past "hot start" and into "great first half." He is sixth in the National League in both batting average (.332) and slugging percentage (.594). He is second in Equivalent Average (.313) among all MLB shortstops, trailing only Nomar Garciaparra (.323). Who would have thought that the best shortstop so far named Alex would be Gonzalez?!
I keep waiting for him to go back to being Alex Gonzalez. I mean, his namesake in Chicago toyed with the idea of being a useful offensive player for a little while, but eventually went back to being Alex Gonzalez. But this Alex Gonzalez in Florida is being very stubborn about the whole thing.
Esteban Loaiza | Chicago White Sox | SP | Age: 31
It is now June 16th and I feel completely safe in saying the following: Esteban Loaiza has been the best pitcher in the American League this season.
Loaiza leads the AL in ERA (2.24), is second in opponent batting average (.213), third in wins (9) and fourth in strikeouts (78).
He has made 14 starts this season, pitching a total of 92 1/3 innings with a 9-2 record and a 2.24 ERA. Exactly how out of the blue is this?
Time Period IP ERALoaiza's play this season has been just as surprising and completely out of the blue as Mora, Myers and Gonzalez. However, I will say that, during spring training, the White Sox were talking quite a bit about how Loaiza was looking like a completely different pitcher and had made big changes to his pitching style. I didn't believe it at the time, of course, because there is talk like that from every team about one player or another every spring.
So far though, it's looking like the truth. Loaiza is striking out 7.60 batters per 9 innings. Prior to this season, his career-high was 6.19 in 2000 and he has spent the majority of his career in the 5.00-5.75 range. Loaiza has always had good control and, despite his sub par strikeout rates, has usually had a 2-1 K/BB ratio. This year he is on pace to walk 57 batters in 220 innings and is striking out 3.25 batters for every walk.
Perhaps even more impressive than the big boost in strikeouts is the fact that Loaiza has been able to keep the ball in the ballpark so far this season. He has given up just 6 homers in 92 1/3 innings - one every 15.4 innings pitched.
Innings per HR:
Year IP HR IP/HRSince making lists and trying to predict the future is fun, here is how I would rank the chances of the 5 players I just discussed continuing to play at (relatively) the same level for the rest of the season:
1) Javy Lopez - Unlike the rest of the guys, Lopez actually has a history of playing reasonably close to this well and that has to count for something.
2) Esteban Loaiza - I have watched Loaiza pitch several times this year and have been as impressed with his performance as his numbers would indicate. From what I have seen, this is not some guy getting lucky breaks or incredibly good defense played behind him. He's genuinely pitching differently and much more effectively.
3) Melvin Mora - In thinking of Mora, I could have gone either way. On the one hand, he made great strides in his plate discipline last season (70 walks in 149 games) and has continued that this season, so his great start isn't completely reliant upon batting average. On the other hand, he's still Melvin Mora (how's that for serious analysis).
4) Greg Myers - As much as I'd love it for my Diamond-Mind team, I just can't go against 15 years of history and about 3,000 plate appearances that say Myers isn't gonna hit .345 for much longer. That said, I have watched the Jays a lot this year and I have been tremendously impressed with his approach at the plate every time. He works very long counts, rarely swings at a bad pitch and, when he has gotten a good pitch to hit, he's crushed it.
5) Alex Gonzalez - Gonzalez still isn't walking (10 walks in 62 games) and I can't see that batting average staying in the .310-.330 range, so, even if some of his new-found power remains, he's due for a big dropoff.
The Twins began a 4-game set with the second-place Royals last night, losing game one 9-8.
The Twins were down 8-0 after six innings, but rallied back with 2 in the 7th, 3 in the 8th and 3 more in the top of the 9th, to tie the game at 8 heading into the bottom of the 9th. Ron Gardenhire pleasantly surprised me by bringing in Eddie Guardado to start the 9th inning in a tie game (not a save situation) and, wouldn't you know it, Eddie gave up a 4-pitch walk, a wild pitch, a single and, before I could even settle into watching what was suddenly a very winnable game, it was over.
Normally a 4-game series between a first-place team and a second-place team is pretty important, but I just cannot get that excited about this particular series, mostly because there is not a bone in my body that believes the Royals will be anywhere close to the Twins when the 2003 season is over. Maybe I will be proved wrong, but the Royals improved their record to 16-3 by beating the Twins back on April 24th and are now 18-29 since then. Meanwhile, the Twins are 29-18 over that same span.
A 16-3 start does a lot to carry a team throughout a season and the Royals are still above .500 despite losing 29 of their last 47 games. However, they are also 3 games behind the Twins already, despite that 16-3 start, and what they did in April isn't going to help them make up ground come September.
I still say the Twins' biggest threat this season is Chicago, who beat to the Red Sox last night to improve their record to 32-37. I guess that tells you all you need to know about what I think the Twins' chances of winning the division are, and that's actually strange for me, because I am normally very pessimistic regarding my favorite teams.
I think Ron Gardenhire has done a great job since taking over the Twins at the start of last season and I definitely think juggling a roster full of good players in order to get everyone playing time like Gardenhire has done is very tough to do. That said, his lineup for last night's game is a perfect example of one of his biggest flaws.
Against Darrell May, a left-handed pitcher, Gardenhire started Jacque Jones in left field and batted him leadoff.
Meanwhile, Bobby Kielty sat on the bench.
vs lefties (2003):
Jacque Jones - .243/.260/.378
Bobby Kielty - .311/.436/.756
vs lefties (career)
Jacque Jones - .218/.254/.318
Bobby Kielty - .293/.398/.522
Gardenhire is trying to constantly juggle lineups to find playing time for Kielty, Matthew LeCroy, Dustan Mohr, Lew Ford and now Justin Morneau. Yet, for some reason, Jacque Jones continues to get a "free pass" against lefties, when he has been absolutely horrible against them his entire career.
By the way, to all the people out there who sent me emails when Jacque started the season very hot against lefties (.364/.400/.500 after 22 at bats) - remember how I said it was early and you should wait until he had a few more at bats against them before you got all excited?
Same old, same old.
Bobby Kielty has struggled against right-handed pitching this year and, while I don't agree with it, I can understand why Gardenhire would not use him everyday against righties. But when there is a left-handed pitcher on the mound there is absolutely no way Bobby Kielty should be on the bench while Jacque Jones plays. None. Not this year, not last year, not next year.
"Just when I thought that I was out, they pull me back in!"
--- Michael Corleone, "The Godfather: Part III"FREE BOBBY KIELTY! (against lefties, at least)
Arizona (Good) +135 over Houston (Robertson)
San Francisco (Foppert) +180 over Los Angeles (Brown)
Toronto (Halladay) -150 over Baltimore (Daal)
Total to date: + $1,670
W/L record: 135-128 (Only made one pick yesterday and won it on Dontrelle Willis' 1-hitter)
*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****
Monday, June 16, 2003
The Boys of MoneyballLike many of you, I recently read Michael Lewis’ new book, Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game. The book is an inside look at the Oakland Athletics’ front office and one particularly interesting aspect of the book is the “draft room” section. Lewis takes the reader into the A’s “war room” as they prepare for the 2002 June amateur draft, in which they have a record seven first-round picks.
The book focuses on the unique ways the A’s do things in their organization and their approach to the draft is a perfect example. With their seven first-rounders, the A’s drafted at least one player who was not thought of as 10th round pick, let alone a first-round pick. They passed on great athletes with an abundance of “tools” to take guys that don’t quite look as good in their uniform. As Oakland General Manager Billy Beane says many times throughout Moneyball, “We’re not selling jeans here.” Oakland used all of their first 23 selections on college or junior college players – signing all 23 of them.
The all college-approach Oakland took in the 2002 draft was extreme, even for the A’s. They used three of their first 23 picks in the 2001 draft on high school players, including their second of three first-round picks (Jeremy Bonderman). In 2000, Oakland again chose high school players with four of their first 23 selections. Even in the recently-completed 2003 draft, the A’s took high school players with two of their top 23 picks.
While it is certainly too early to pass judgment on the success of Oakland’s 2002 draft, it is never too early to check in on its progress...
Nick Swisher | First Round (16th overall) | OF/1B | Ohio State
With their first of seven first-round picks, the A’s selected Nick Swisher, a switch-hitting junior outfielder from Ohio State University, whom Baseball America ranked as the 34th best player in the draft. In 169 games at Ohio State, over three seasons, Swisher hit .323/.452/.613 with 35 homers, 42 doubles and five triples. He walked 131 times, while totaling 116 strikeouts.
According to Moneyball, the selection of Swisher had been a plan of Oakland’s for some time. In particular, Billy Beane was so infatuated with Swisher that he avoided scouting him in person, so he wouldn’t “show his hand” to other teams. Michael Lewis writes in Moneyball that Billy Beane “wanted to fly across the country to watch a few of Swisher’s games, but his scouting department told him that if he did, word would quickly spread to the rest of Major League Baseball that Billy Beane was onto Nick Swisher...’Operation Shutdown,’ the scouts called their project to keep Billy as far away from Swisher as they could.”
Swisher, whom Lewis says Beane spoke of “in the needy tone of a man who has been restrained for too long from seeing his beloved,” signed for a $1,780,000 bonus – $370,000 less than the player chosen one spot ahead of him and $220,000 less than the player selected one spot after him.
Swisher made his pro debut at Single-A Vancouver of the Northwest (short-season) League in 2002. In 13 games he hit .250/.433/.450 with two homers, three doubles and a 13/11 BB/K ratio, before he was promoted to Single-A Visalia of the California League. Swisher struggled at Visalia, hitting just .240 in 183 at bats. He did show some nice power, stroking four homers, 13 doubles and two triples – good for an isolated slugging percentage of .150. While Swisher walked quite a bit (26 times in 49 games), he also struck out a ton (48 times, or 26.2% of his ABs).
Swisher started the 2003 season at Single-A Modesto, where he hit .296/.418/.550 with 10 homers, 14 doubles and a 41/49 BB/K ratio in 51 games. Swisher was recently promoted to Double-A Midland of the Texas League. At the time of his promotion, he ranked third in the California League in on-base percentage (.418), fourth in slugging percentage (.550), fifth in homers (10) and fifth in runs batted in (43). So far in Double-A, Swisher is batting .222/.300/.370 in just seven games.
Joe Blanton | First Round (24th overall) | RHP | Kentucky
The A’s second first-round pick came to them by way of the New York Yankees – one of two picks Oakland received from New York as compensation for Jason Giambi. With it, they chose Baseball America’s 18th ranked player, Joe Blanton, a 6’3” right-handed pitcher from the University of Kentucky.
In his three seasons at Kentucky, Blanton spit time between the rotation and the bullpen, putting up overall numbers that were not particularly impressive. His career ERA was 5.11, including 4.58 in 100 innings during his junior year. While Blanton’s ERA was less than impressive, the A’s likely looked past that and saw his excellent strikeout rate. In his final season at UK, Blanton struck out 133 batters in 100 innings (12.0/9 IP). He also cut his walks from 5.7 per nine innings as a sophomore all the way to 3.3/9 IP.
A college junior, Blanton signed for $1,400,000 – $800,000 less than the player chosen one slot ahead of him and $25,000 more than the player chosen directly behind him.
Blanton made his pro debut at Single-A Vancouver and appeared in four games, two as a starter and two in relief. He pitched a total of 14 innings, posting a 15/2 K/BB ratio and a 3.14 ERA. The A’s promoted him to Single-A Modesto of the California League, where he struggled, pitching six innings with a 6/6 K/BB ratio and a 7.50 ERA.
Blanton is currently pitching at Single-A Kane County of the Midwest League. He has been in the starting rotation all season, making 14 starts and pitching a total of 84 innings with a 3.00 ERA. Blanton has a phenomenal 82/14 K/BB ratio and has given up just four homers. Blanton is second in the league in strikeouts (82) and fourth in innings pitched (84).
John McCurdy | First Round (26th overall) | SS | Maryland
With the only one of the seven first-round picks that was actually their own pick, the A’s selected John McCurdy, a shortstop from the University of Maryland that Baseball America had ranked 45th overall. McCurdy had an incredible junior season at Maryland, hitting .443/.496/.828 with 19 homers, 20 doubles and 77 RBIs in only 54 games, on his way to being named Second Team All-American. In addition to the huge power numbers – some of the best ever for a college shortstop – McCurdy also showed good speed (20/23 on SBs) and decent control of the strike zone (18/31 BB/K ratio). That said, his amazing junior year was definitely a huge step up from his performance the year prior. As a sophomore, McCurdy hit “only” .300 with six homers and 17 doubles in 52 games, good for a .495 slugging percentage.
A junior, McCurdy signed for $1,375,000 – the same amount as the player chosen one spot ahead of him and $25,000 less than the player chosen right after him.
McCurdy debuted at Vancouver last year and hit just .242/.282/.332 in 56 games. He hit for very little power (three homers and nine doubles in 223 ABs) and had horrible control of the strike zone. He struck out 57 times in 223 at bats (25.6%) and walked only 12 times. Unlike Swisher and Blanton, McCurdy was not promoted to a higher level and played the whole season in Vancouver.
McCurdy is currently playing shortstop at Kane County. He is continuing to struggle and is hitting just .236/.289/.277 through his first 62 games. He has one homer and seven doubles in 242 at bats, along with a 13/47 BB/K ratio. McCurdy is 8/11 on steal attempts and has committed 16 errors at shortstop.
Ben Fritz | First Round (30th overall) | RHP | Fresno State
With the first of two picks they received from the St. Louis Cardinals for Jason Isringhausen, the A’s selected Ben Fritz, a 6’4” right-hander from Fresno State University – Baseball America’s 53rd ranked player. During his junior season at Fresno State, Fritz spent time at pitcher, catcher and first base, and was named the Western Athletic Conference’s Pitcher of the Year. He was also named Second Team All-American as a “utility player.” As a pitcher, Fritz started 16 games for Fresno State in 2002, going 9-5 with a 3.25 ERA and totaling 98 strikeouts in 119 innings (7.8/9). As a hitter, Fritz hit .283/.361/.487 with 10 homers and 17 doubles in 230 at bats.
A junior, Fritz signed for $1,200,000 – $5,000 less than the player chosen ahead of him and the same amount as the selection after him.
The A’s liked Fritz more as a pitcher than a hitter and he began his first pro season starting games for Vancouver. He made nine starts, totaling 40 innings with a 2.95 ERA and a 33/14 K/BB ratio, before he was promoted to Visalia. At Visalia, he made three more starts, with a 16/6 K/BB ratio and a 3.71 ERA in 17 innings. Combined at both stops, he pitched 57 innings with a 49/20 K/BB ratio, while holding opponents to a .212 batting average.
Fritz is currently in Modesto’s starting rotation. He has started 14 games, totaling 74 innings with a 4.99 ERA. He has a 76/32 K/BB ratio and has allowed just three homers. Fritz is second in the California League in strikeouts (76) and sixth in innings pitched (74).
Jeremy Brown | First Round (35th overall) | C | Alabama
With their second Jason Giambi compensation pick, the A’s selected University of Alabama catcher Jeremy Brown. Brown, who was not among Baseball America’s top 250 players heading into the draft, was one of the main characters in Moneyball. After four seasons at Alabama, Brown left as the school’s all-time leader in games played (251), runs scored (244), runs batted in (231) and walks (207). Brown hit .363/.465/.574 as a junior and .320/.493/.566 as a senior, walking 69 times in 66 games.
When the A’s draft room discussed Brown, there wasn’t a whole lot of positive things said by their scouts. One Oakland scout said, “This kid wears a large pair of underwear.” Another scout chimed in that “it’s a soft body...a fleshy kind of body.” To which Beane, of course, responded: “We’re not selling jeans here.”
As a college senior that had not been getting much attention from scouts, Jeremy Brown expected to be drafted in the late rounds. The A’s called him prior to the draft and informed him that they were interested in taking him in the first-round. According to Moneyball, Brown thought it was one of his friends playing a prank on him and he told A’s scout Billy Owens that he would need to call him back. “He thought it was a crank call...he said he wanted to make sure it was me, and that I was serious,” Owens said.
A senior, Brown signed for $350,000 after agreeing to a pre-draft deal with the A’s. The player drafted one spot ahead of him signed for $1,000,000 and the player one spot behind him signed for $1,050,000.
Brown began his pro career at Vancouver, where he hit .286/.487/.321 in 10 games, before the A’s promoted him to Visalia. At Visalia, Brown played in 55 games, hitting .310/.444/.545 with 10 homers, 14 doubles and a 44/49 BB/K ratio.
Brown is currently catching at Double-A Midland of the Texas League, the only one of the A’s seven first-rounders to begin this season above Single-A. Through his first 60 games, Brown is hitting .281/.402/.390. He continues to control the strike zone (40/32 BB/K ratio) and get on base (.402 OBP – fourth in the Texas League), but the power he showed in 2002 has not been there thus far. Brown had an isolated slugging percentage of .235 at Visalia last year and an ISO of just .109 so far this season. Brown has four homers, nine doubles, a triple and three stolen bases (amazing, I know) in 210 at bats.
Steve Obenchain | First Round (37th overall) | RHP | Evansville
With their second Jason Isringhausen compensation pick, the A’s selected University of Evansville right-hander Steve Obenchain, Baseball America’s 170th ranked player. During his final season at Evansville, Obenchain appeared in 25 games (five starts) and totaled 78 innings pitched, with a sparkling 1.38 ERA and 89/23 K/BB ratio. He also had a 2.55 ERA and 61/11 K/BB ratio in 67 innings pitched during his sophomore season.
A junior, Obenchain signed for $750,000 – $300,000 less than the player chosen one spot before him and $125,000 less than the player chosen one spot behind him.
Obenchain began his pro career at Vancouver, pitching 41 innings with a 2.85 ERA and 29/10 K/BB ratio, before moving on to Visalia. There, he pitched another 24 innings with a 3.00 ERA and 10/3 K/BB ratio. Combined at the two stops, Obenchain totaled 65 innings pitched with a 2.91 ERA and 39/13 K/BB ratio, holding opposing batters to a .237 batting average.
Obenchain is currently in Modesto’s starting rotation. He made just four starts before being sidelined with a concussion when he was hit by a ball in the outfield prior to a game. He missed a little over a month and just recently returned to action. Through his first eight starts, he has a 4.54 ERA and a 17/18 K/BB ratio in 40 innings pitched.
Mark Teahen | First Round (39th overall) | 3B | St. Mary’s
With their second Johnny Damon compensation pick, the A’s selected St. Mary’s College third baseman Mark Teahen, whom Baseball America had ranked #134 overall. During his junior year at St. Mary’s, Teahen hit .412/.493/.624 with six homers, 15 doubles, four triples and 30 walks in 49 games. He was a First Team All-West Coast Conference Selection.
According to Moneyball, in the Oakland draft room prior to the draft, A’s Director of Scouting Erik Kubota says, “I hate to say it but if you want to talk about another Jason Giambi, this guy could be it.” Kubota’s statement is met with silence from A’s scouts, but the A’s nevertheless take Teahen in round one.
A junior, Teahen signed for $725,000 – $150,000 less than the player chosen one spot ahead of him and $525,000 more than the player taken one pick after him (Mark Schramek, taken by the Cincinnati Reds, who signed for just $200,000 – tied for the lowest of any player taken in the first three rounds of the draft).
Teahen started his pro career at Vancouver and hit .404 in 13 games, before he was promoted to Modesto. At Modesto, Teahen appeared in 59 games, hitting just .239/.307/.299 with one homer and nine doubles in 234 at bats.
Teahen is currently Modesto’s starting third baseman. Through his first 53 games he is hitting .279/.382/.350 with one homer and nine doubles in 197 at bats. He has 31 walks and 51 strikeouts.
(Jason Giambi hit .291/.436/.470 with 12 homers, 16 doubles and a 74/47 BB/K ratio in 89 games at Modesto in 1993. He was 22 years old, the same age Teahen will be in September)
Steve Stanley | Second Round (67th overall) | OF | Notre Dame
After seven first-round picks, the A’s used their lone second-rounder on Notre Dame centerfielder Steve Stanley, who was not among Baseball America’s top 250 players. In his four seasons at Notre Dame, Stanley played in 256 games for the Irish. He hit .383 in 1,003 at bats, including .400 as a junior and .439 his senior year. He also drew 126 walks, struck out just 65 times and stole 116 bases. Stanley was a First Team All-American his senior year.
Stanley signed for $200,000 – $395,000 less than the player chosen directly ahead of him and $367,000 less than the player chosen directly after him. There is a scene in Moneyball where Oakland scout Rich Sparks has just had a conversation with Stanley, in which he told the diminutive outfielder that the A’s plan to take him in the second-round of the draft, as long as he is willing to come to a pre-arranged agreement on his signing bonus. Billy Beane asks Sparks if everything is set to go with Stanley and Sparks says, “I thought he was going to jump through the phone when I told him...I think he’d play for free.”
Unlike most of the A’s 2002 draft picks, Stanley began his pro career at Modesto. He hit .286/.382/.347 in 63 games, hitting one homer and 11 doubles in 262 at bats, along with a 39/46 BB/K ratio.
Stanley is currently playing at Double-A Midland, along with Jeremy Brown and the recently-promoted Nick Swisher. Through his first 64 games, Stanley is hitting .297/.375/.329 with just six extra-base hits (four doubles and two triples) in 249 at bats. He does have a very good 31/36 BB/K ratio. Stanley is considered to be an excellent defensive centerfielder and is tenth in the league in on-base percentage (.375).
Bill Murphy | Third Round (98th overall) | LHP | Cal State Northridge
With their third-round pick, the A’s selected Bill Murphy, a 6’5” junior lefty from Cal State Northridge – Baseball America’s 66th ranked player in the draft. In his junior season at CSN, Murphy went 9-3 with a 3.43 ERA in 102 innings pitched and posted a 127/60 K/BB ratio.
Murphy spent 2002 in Vancouver’s starting rotation, appearing in 13 games (nine starts) with a 4.57 ERA in 41 innings. He struck out 46 batters (10.1/9 IP), but also walked 35.
This year, Murphy is pitching at Kane County, where he is currently 6-4 with a 2.12 ERA in 13 starts. He has 81 strikeouts in 85 innings pitched (8.6/9 IP), along with 30 walks and four homers allowed. Murphy is ninth in the Midwest League in ERA (2.12), first in strikeouts (81) and second in innings pitched (85).
John Baker | Fourth Round (128th overall) | C | California
John Baker, the A’s fourth-rounder last year, played all of 2002 at Vancouver. He hit just .235 with a .304 slugging percentage in 39 games, but posted a .389 on-base percentage, courtesy of 22 walks and seven hit by pitches.
Baker is currently the starting catcher at Kane County. Through 65 games he is hitting .298/.385/.433 with four homers, 17 doubles and two triples in 245 at bats. He has 32 walks and 62 strikeouts.
Mark Kiger | Fifth Round (158th overall) | SS | Florida
The A’s drafted University of Florida shortstop Mark Kiger in the fifth-round, after he had an outstanding three year career, including an incredible final season. In his last year in Gainesville, Kiger hit .403/.522/.609 with 11 homers, 12 doubles and four triples in 258 at bats. He posted an awesome 60/24 BB/K ratio in 65 games and even stole 11 bases.
Kiger made his pro debut at Vancouver last season and hit .244/.346/.362 in 66 games, smacking five homers and 12 doubles in 246 at bats, to go along with a 40/58 BB/K ratio.
Kiger is playing at Modesto right now. He has been moved to second base full-time and is hitting .277/.384/.430 through 63 games. He has five homers, 19 doubles and two triples in 249 at bats and has posted a 41/43 BB/K ratio.
Brian Stavisky | Sixth Round (188th overall) | OF | Notre Dame
After drafting Notre Dame centerfielder Steve Stanley in the second-round, the A’s snatched up his college teammate and fellow Irish outfielder, Brian Stavisky, in round six. While nowhere near the defensive outfielder that Stanley is, Stavisky has a lot more offensive potential. Stavisky put up monster numbers during his three seasons at Notre Dame. He had slugging percentages of .569 and .657 during his first two seasons and hit .394/.451/.658 in his final season.
Stavisky began his pro career at Vancouver last season and hit .294/.407/.441 in 32 games, hitting one homer and 10 doubles. This year, Stavisky is playing at Kane County, where he is batting .284 with a .380 on-base percentage in 42 games, but has just seven extra-base hits and zero homers in 141 at bats – good for just a .340 slugging percentage. Stavisky has played some left field at Kane County, but has primarily been a designated hitter.
Brant Colamarino | Seventh Round (218th overall) | 1B | Pittsburgh
In the draft room, just as the A’s take University of Pittsburgh first baseman Brant Colamarino with the 218th overall selection in the draft, Oakland Assistant General Manager Paul DePodesta says that “no one else in baseball will agree, but Colamarino might be the best hitter in the country.” Like many of the other players the A’s selected in the 2002 draft, Colamarino is not the best physical specimen. In what is one of the most memorable lines in the entire book, Lewis writes: “When Brant Colamarino removes his shirt for the first time in an A’s minor league locker room he inspires his coaches to inform [Beane] that ‘Colamarino has titties.’”
Colamarino played at Vancouver last season, hitting .259 in 67 games. He walked 27 times, OBP’d at .348 and showed a little power, smacking six homers, six doubles and two triples in 228 at bats – good for a .382 slugging percentage.
Colamarino is currently at Kane County, where he is the everyday first baseman. In 65 games he is hitting just .233/.326/.381 with seven homers and 14 doubles in 236 at bats. He has 28 walks, but has struck out 54 times.
Jared Burton | Eighth Round (248th overall) | RHP | Western Carolina
The A’s selected Jared Burton, 6’5” right-handed pitcher from Western Carolina University in the eighth round. Burton was 7-6 with a 3.76 ERA during his final season at WCU. He struck out 105 and walked 31 in 103 innings.
Burton played at Vancouver last season and posted a 3.58 ERA in 37 2/3 innings of work while splitting time between the rotation and the bullpen. He had a 38/14 K/BB ratio and didn’t give up a single homer.
He is at Kane County this year, pitching mainly out of the bullpen. Burton has appeared in 15 games (two starts), pitching a total of 31 2/3 innings with a 2.27 ERA and a 33/7 K/BB ratio.
Shane Komine | Ninth Round (278th overall) | RHP | Nebraska
The A’s drafted Shane “Hawaiian Punch Out” Komine in the ninth-round, after the Honolulu native had an outstanding four-year career at the University of Nebraska. Komine went 41-8 during his collegiate career, including 10-0 during his senior year. He had ERAs of 3.58, 2.25, 3.37 and 2.34 and was a Second Team All-American as a senior. Komine racked up huge strikeout totals, punching out 510 batters in his 429 career innings (10.7/9 IP), including 115 Ks in 96 innings (10.8/9 IP) his senior year.
Komine pitched at Visalia last year, posting a 5.96 ERA in 25 2/3 innings, while struggling with his control. He struck out 22 batters, but walked 20.
This year, Komine began the season at Kane County, where he was absolutely un-hittable. Komine made eight starts and pitched a total of 54 innings, striking out 50 (8.3/9 IP) while walking just nine. He had a 1.82 ERA and gave up only 45 hits, including just one homer, on his way to a 6-0 record.
The A’s promoted him to Double-A Midland, where he is currently 3-1 with a 2.72 ERA in six starts. He has a 31/8 K/BB ratio in 40 innings pitched and has given up just 32 hits.
For my thoughts on Moneyball the book (instead of the players), click on the following:
Moneyball (May 20, 2003)
Florida (Willis) -130 over New York (Glavine)
Total to date: + $1,570
W/L record: 134-128 (4-1 Saturday for +330, and I seem to have turned the corner on my losing...)
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Sunday, June 15, 2003
"Cause you're so smooth"(This entry was originally made on Saturday, but, through the magic of blogger, it was accidentally deleted and re-posted)
Johan "The Official Pitcher of Aaron's Baseball Blog" Santana made his third start of the season last night, in place of the injured Rick Reed.
Johan's three starts:
Game IP ER H SO BB W/LAnd now? Well, it's back to the bullpen, of course!
Rick Reed is coming back off the DL and will be taking his spot in the rotation back anyday now.
Johan is now 3-0 with a 1.00 ERA in 3 games as a starter, 1-1 with a 3.06 ERA in 18 games as a reliever and 4-1 with a 2.32 ERA in 50 1/3 innings overall. Meanwhile, Kyle Lohse has a 2.91 ERA and the other 4 Minnesota starters look like this:
Rick Reed 4.37 ERAI think y'all know the drill by now, so let's all say it once together with some feeling: FREE JOHAN SANTANA!
Oh, and do you remember that Justin Morneau kid that I was talking about the other day?
The Justin Morneau Era (through 3 games):
G AB AVG OBP SLG RBI RUNHave a good weekend and, to all the fathers out there (including mine): Happy Father's Day.
See ya Monday...
This week's entries (in case you missed them):
Monday: The Johan Liberation Movement
Tuesday: The Mid-Summer Classic
Wednesday: The Justin Morneau Era
Thursday: Examining Godzilla
Friday: Reader Mail (Weekly Wrap-Up Edition)
Chicago (Prior) -150 over Toronto (Davis)
Pittsburgh (Fogg) -125 over Tampa Bay (Bell)
Philadelphia (Wolf) -130 over Cincinnati (Graves)
Arizona (Batista) +130 over Minnesota (Mays)
San Diego (Lawrence) +120 over Chicago (Wright)
Total to date: + $1,240
W/L record: 130-127 (1-2 yesterday for -140)
*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****