So - I've compiled the information from 2005 on the Adjusted HR Rate. I've also added something else in called the Adjusted Run Rate. Basically, this current incarnation is similar in idea to the Adjusted HR Rate, only it measures how many runs a team scores per HR against how many it allows per HR. I have yet to decide if it's a good or bad thing to have a negative value, although I fortunately do know what negative values mean. (Half the time with studies and analysis, the main issue is figuring out what the numbers you get actually mean. I've got that so far.) I haven't had a chance to analyze the data and figure out if I can bring up anything concrete from it, but that part's done, at least.
Saturday, May 27
Yeah, I had this brilliant idea to update daily, and then reality set in. Can't win them all, I guess. Obviously at this point it's a little late to do a Late Series for ....well, Sunday and possibly Monday, so I'll get it on Memorial Day.
I did love how I completely whiffed the Cubs/Marlins series "prediction" earlier this week. I'm going to now go ahead to blame my lack of updating on shame.
So what the hell am I going to do with this now? Well, I'm still going to do the Early/Late Series posts, as I find them interesting. With June coming shortly, that means there's a good chance I'll break out with the Divisional Updates again. That being said, though, I'm starting to run out of things to do. It's fine and all to run around each division giving general updates on each team, but you can find that on your own. That's why I've linked those guys on the right. (Look for me to finally link a Dodgers blog here shortly.) I might do closer team studies at some point during the season - it's been tempting to bust out some "Focus on [Division]" weeks where all the posts are about the specific division in question, updating all the major stories coming out of it and so forth, but again, that seems like a small cop-out to me. Not so small I won't do it, however. ;)
I've been studying some of Bill James' work lately - and that of those who have followed in his footsteps. In other words, I think I'm about to start doing some statistical analysis. What will be the point of the analysis? My initial idea was to figure out whether the small-ball approach was better than the massive homer approach - or vice versa - but that's already been done before, and I'd rather not tread along the line of insanely obvious and overdone if I can help it. That being said, I'm still keen on figuring out if there's any correlation between home runs given up / allowed and winning percentage. Specifically, this would be runs scored / HR and runs given up / HR.
One thing I haven't quite figured out is why the batter that leads the league in HR has at least 50, but it's rare to see a pitcher give up more than 35 - Eric Milton included. Will this research answer my question? Maybe.
Basically, what I'm doing - and what I will post about shortly; look for it early next week or so - is compiling a bunch of HR-related data from every team in 2005 and seeing if I can find some sort of correlation. Then I'll do the same with 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, and 2000; as sample sizes go, it's not a Jamesian "let's take data from the last 91 years", but 6 years should be enough to find at least SOME kind of comparison. Consider this a pre-emptive thanks to baseball-reference.com.
The comparisons that I'm tackling first:
- What is the league average HR/AB, and did teams that performed above it have better records than teams that performed below it?
- What is the league average batters/HR given up, and did teams that performed above it have better records than teams that performed below it?
- What is the correlation between the first question and the second question: in other words, what will the Adjusted HR Rate tell me?
Of course, the initial question there is what's the Adjusted HR Rate. For me, I'm defining it as thus:
AdjHR = (HR hit / AB had) - (HR given up / batters faced)
More to come later.
Tuesday, May 23
Hey, this guy's got the same format as Sunday's entry. I mean, it's the same basic idea, isn't it? Look for this to degrade into blatant snarkiness about halfway through the AL Central; this may or may not coincide with the Royals.
INJURED: Brian Roberts, Daniel Cabrera
Cabrera should be off the DL (and walking everyone in sight) in the next couple of weeks. As for Roberts, he's got a strained left groin - guys can wince now, it's okay - and while he's been out for 3 weeks, chances are it'll be another week-plus before he comes back, too. Oh yeah, the shits and giggles: Hayden Penn got called up only to need an emergency appendectomy. Get well soon!
INEFFECTIVE: Javy Lopez
Hey, couldn't he hit at one point? Personal side story: I was at a Braves' game a few years ago, and there were a couple of girls (at the time, a few years older than me) who couldn't stop talking about Javy's ass. So, uh, I guess he still has that?
Boston Red Sox
INJURED: Coco Crisp
Crisp has begun his rehab process; look for a return in the next couple of weeks. David Wells will return from the DL this Friday; I'll leave it as an exercise for the reader to decide if this is a good thing or a bad thing for the Sox. [buffet joke goes here]
INEFFECTIVE: Keith Foulke
Proof that it hasn't been a bad year for the Red Sox: when your closer sucks it up, you bring up what turns out to be the hottest thing in the AL East this season. Poor Sox.
New York Yankees
INJURED: Hideki Matsui, Carl Pavano, Octavio Dotel, Tanyon Sturze, Shawn Chacon
Significant injury: Matsui. He could be out for the year. As for the rest, go ahead and generate some sympathy. I'll wait here.
INEFFECTIVE: None, not really
I mean, nobody's expecting anything out of Bernie Williams, and Aaron Small makes the least sense stat-wise to me as anyone, ever, so it's not like this team is too surprising. Besides, they're just saving themselves for the playoffs, right?
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
INJURED: Rocco Baldelli, Jorge Cantu, Dan Miceli
Yup, this might be the only time Miceli is viewed as "important". The Rays' pen sucks that badly. Both Baldelli and Cantu should be back soon-ish; Baldelli is - or should - be first back, as he has yet to play this season.
Also? Cantu has the best 'stashe EVER.
INEFFECTIVE: rotation (except for Scott Kazmir), bullpen
Ye gods. Shitty.
Toronto Blue Jays
INJURED: A.J. Burnett, Gustavo Chacin
On one hand, it hurts to lose 2 starters. On the other hand, is anyone really surprised that Burnett ended up on the DL? They're both in rehab, though. Burnett has another 2-3 weeks, probably, and Chacin has another month-plus (UCL).
INEFFECTIVE: Aaron Hill
Another example of the Rey Ordonez corollary in action.
Chicago White Sox
INJURED: None - not really, at least
Hermanson's on the DL, but there's enough depth that it doesn't matter. Take your time!
INEFFECTIVE: Jon Garland
Dig that 6.19 ERA. Surprisingly, he has a winning record. Mainly, he's just abysmal on the road.
Hey, I can dig these updates!
INEFFECTIVE: Aaron (f-ing) Boone, Jason Johnson, Paul Byrd
No major surprises; the Indians' pitching is slowly starting to come around, but in the meantime, 2 of their starters are still pushing the ol' 6.00 ERA mark.
Hell, even Polanco's woken up. Then again, are you surprised?
Kansas City Royals
...do you care? Really, do you? Let's just say they have some injuries, and the main ineffective players are all management, who keeps on bringing prospects up to have them sit on the bench. There! I'll actually write more on them at some point, I swear.
INJURED: Shannon Stewart
Just went on the DL with a left heel injury. Shouldn't be out much past the minimum.
INEFFECTIVE: Rondell White, Jesse Crain, rotation (Santana and Liriano excepted)
In Rondell's Battle of the Mendoza Line, the line's winning. Crain ...well, is finally falling in line with what makes sense given his previous K/9 numbers. (I've been wondering how long this would last for.) Not surprisingly, the rotation aside from Santana ...uh, sucks. Baker has some potential, though.
Los Angeles Angels
INJURED: Casey Kotchman, Bartolo Colon
Kotchman was hitting .152 - take your time, kid. The Angels have a ton of youngsters, no need to rush. There will be plenty of opportunity to play down the line. As for Colon, MLB's site is NO help. Say he'll be back within a month. Sounds good to me.
Seriously, I still don't know why these guys are 11 below .500. Any ideas? I'm blaming the offense until I hear otherwise.
INJURED: Justin Duchscherer(erererererer), Rich Harden, Esteban Loiaza, Milton Bradley
Ouch. That's going to hurt, although again - Harden's injury shouldn't come as a huge surprise to anyone involved. Same basic thing behind Bradley. Give Dusch two more weeks, Bradley an indefinite time table, Harden another week-plus, and Loiaza much the same.
INEFFECTIVE: Dan Johnson, Mark Ellis
Johnson, shockingly, has a lower average than Mario Mendoza. Ellis ...well, should be improving, but he's not.
No help for these guys, though.
INEFFECTIVE: King Felix (dethroned), Adrian Beltre (no shit), Jeremy Reed (worthless)
Lookit me phone it in! I'd expect marginal improvement from all these guys, but nothing major, in truth. Not yet, at least, especially from Beltre.
Oops - lest I forget, Everyday Eddie bit it in the closer's role, too.
INJURED: Adam Eaton, Ian Kinsler
Neither should be out much longer. Eaton is needed in the rotation, and while Kinsler is probably the better long-term play for the Rangers, Derosa has done well in his absence, plus the Rangers are still in contention.
INEFFECTIVE: Rod Barajas
Funny thing is Laird is better across the board. Oh well. Also, Francisco Cordero lost his closer's role. Guess that counts.
Monday, May 22
That's right! I'm changing things up a little bit (mainly because I'm getting tired of writing about the Red Sox and Yankees, especially since it's one of THOSE series). This time, I'm focusing on the series that only hardcore fans care about - the mismatches and alley fights. Let the games begin! (Houston @ Washington not included - next time the Nats better lose a series if they want in on this round!)
#5: Detroit Tigers (29-14, W2, 9-1) @ Kansas City Royals (10-31, L9, 1-9)
5/22: Verlander vs Affeldt
5/23: Rogers vs Hernandez
5/24: Bonderman vs Redman
5/25: Maroth vs Bautista
For the Tigers:
Always nice to know that the combined record of the teams involved is under .500 and it's not your fault at all. Basically, the keys for the Tigers are:
- show up
- don't have flashbacks to previous years
- don't accidentally show up in Cleveland's uniforms
Do that and they'll win 3 out of 4.
For the Royals:
Sacrifices are in order - and we're not talking sac bunts. Pick your god and kill that goat, kids. I never thought I'd actually suggest "bean their good hitters" as a legitimate strategy, but there you go.
#4: Tampa Bay Devil Rays (20-24, W4, 7-3) @ Toronto Blue Jays (23-20, L3, 5-5)
5/22: McClung vs Janssen
5/23: Hendrickson vs Halladay
5/24: Fossum vs Towers
For the Devil Rays:
- Don't accidentally import Florida's bullpen.
- Rock the house on Monday and Wednesday. Hope you get lucky on Tuesday.
For the Blue Jays:
- Win with Halladay, pray with everyone else.
- Hit the bullpen, hit it hard.
#3: Pittsburgh Pirates (14-30, L1, 4-6) @ Arizona Diamondbacks (24-19, L1, 6-4)
5/22: Perez vs Hernandez
5/23: Santos vs Vargas
5/24: Duke vs Batista
For the Pirates:
Well, since you have your 1-2 guys going in this series, that's got to be a good sign, right? Then you remember you're the Pirates. I think the motivation to temporarily fuck up Arizona's chances at getting first in the NL West might be enough to win 2. Maybe. Or maybe the motivation to not be made fun of. Feel the excitement! Come watch Jason Bay (seriously - he's good)!
For the D-Backs:
Show up, hope your pitching doesn't suck. Not a huge deal - Ollie Pee is a walking landmine, only he explodes INTO the ground (i.e., does you no harm). Your starters aren't bad, but there's nothing on their end to worry about. Viva le series victory!
#2: Los Angeles Angels (17-27, L5, 3-7) @ Texas Rangers (22-21, L1, 4-6)
5/22: Escobar vs Loe
5/23: Lackey vs Padilla
5/24: Weaver vs Tejeda
For the Angels:
WTF? Dooooood. Hit. Seriously.
For the Rangers:
No biggie - just pitch decently and hope for the best. Until the Angels realize they're supposed to be good, you can beat up on them.
#1: Chicago Cubs (18-25, W1, 3-7) @ Florida Marlins (11-31, L7, 2-8)
5/22: Marshall vs Nolasco
5/23: Wood vs Olsen
5/24: Maddux vs Moehler
For the Cubs:
No Glendon Rusch + Wood = series victory. Well, push a couple of runs across, too. Maybe that's the harder part of this.
For the Marlins:
Curl up into a ball, wait for 2007. Oh, and release your bullpen. Seriously. Start over.
Sunday, May 21
First off, now that summer's hit (and classes haven't), expect more than just two updates a week. I'm going to try and do two weeks of daily updates - we'll see how well that goes. As of now, I've written the updates for most of this week; again, one of the things I do is write updates by hand first (partially so it lets me arrange my thoughts, partially because I don't have a laptop and one of my jobs gives me a TON of downtime, so I can do things like that).
So this format is kind of obvious, I think; we're going by division and team, highlighting the injured and ineffective players on each team. Note that we're talking about the egregiously ineffective players - the 25th man, etc., don't really count. Not too much. ;)
INJURED: Kelly Johnson, Kyle Davies
Johnson is just now beginning his rehab assignment in the low minors. Look for him to return to the majors in a couple of weeks - an early June target date seems likely. As for Davies, he just went on the 15-day DL (even though the depth chart says 60-day DL; we're going with the "out 6 weeks" option). Look for an early July return date.
Other notable injuries include Horacio Ramirez (still out with a hamstring pull) and Mike Hampton (still out for the year).
INEFFECTIVE: Jorge Sosa
Thanks to injuries and general ineptitude, Jorse Sosa has backed into the third spot in the rotation. He's responded beautifully with a 1-5 record and 5.55 ERA. Way to support the team, Jorge.
INJURED: Jeremy Hermida, Sergio Mitre
Hermida should be back any day now; heck, he should've been back this weekend. However, that's not the case, obviously, as he's still hanging out on the DL. It'll help the offense if he actually performs up to potential - and not the .250 he had put up before getting injured. Mitre strained his shoulder in his last start, landing him on the DL. The Marlins need his arm back in the rotation as soon as possible.
INEFFECTIVE: the whole damn bullpen
Seriously - if you've blown 4 leads in 5 days, that's not a good sign. Especially when your team is going to struggle to win already. Getting Carlos Martinez and Franklyn German back should help marginally.
New York Mets
INJURED: Victor Zambrano, Brian Bannister
Shhhh - don't mention the K-guy around Mets fans right now. Zambrano's out for the year. Bannister should be back soon - again, the Mets have almost been forced to bust out Lima Tima this year (have once already), so getting a dependable arm at the back end of the rotation is their highest priority right now. They've adopted the "throw shit against the wall" strategy back there right now.
INEFFECTIVE: Cliff Floyd
Floyd has yet to either 1) get hot or 2) get injured. That sort of streakiness won't last.
INJURED: Mike Lieberthal, Aaron Rowand
Lieberthal's been down for a couple of weeks; he was eligible to be activated from the DL as of yesterday, but don't expect him back for another week at least. As for Rowand, he met the wall the hard way about 10 days ago. That'll probably be another couple of weeks.
INEFFECTIVE: Ryan Madson, Gavin Floyd
Well, if it isn't pitching injuries, it's shitty pitching, right? Floyd has been the better of the two, checking in with a skinny 5.71 ERA. Madson? 6.95 ERA. At least he's in the bullpen now, making room for Hot Shit Du Jour Cole Hamels. More on him later on this week!
INJURED: most of the pitching staff, Brian Schneider, and a partridge in a pear tree
It's always a good sign when 4/5 of your potential rotation is on the DL, right? Not to mention your starting catcher. Guzman? Eh. He can stay.
INEFFECTIVE: Livan Hernandez, Felix Rodriguez, Joey Eischen
...and your other starter is throwing BP. Plus two of your guys in the 'pen are walking gascans. No wonder this team sucks.
INJURED: Derrek Lee, Mark Prior
Pour a 40 out for Kerry Wood - he's healthy! Won't last. Prior should be ready to go soon, and should go back to the DL shortly afterward. As for Lee, well, he was the Cubs' offensive lynchpin. I actually feel bad for them because of him being on the DL. Really. Look for Wade Miller to be back late in the year, by the way.
INEFFECTIVE: Juan Pierre and a couple of "no shit" guys
Pierre should turn it around; I wouldn't expect a .235 average to last, as that's way below his historical average and - quite frankly - he's too good for that. As for Rusch and Neifi!, uh ... yeah, no shit, guys.
INJURED: Ken Griffey, Jr., Austin Kearns
Cody Ross actually is injured, but he's the Reds' third catcher. Whatever.
I mean, David Weathers hasn't been great, but Coffey has, so damage minimalized. No wonder they've done well so far this year - helps when your pitching is good. Minus Eric Milton, of course. He's permanently on the ineffective list.
INJURED: Chris Burke, Brandon Backe
Burke should be back quite soon, which gives the Astros ample opportunity to not play him. (Sorry, bitter.) Backe hasn't had much of an opportunity to perform so far this year; he went down with an UCL injury and probably has a couple of weeks minimum before he can return. Don't expect him 'til mid-June, I'd say.
INEFFECTIVE: Jason Lane
Preston Wilson (.247) comes close, but he's streaky. Jason Lane, however, is currently rocking a .209 average. Bonus! Dig those 9 HR, though - plus 3 doubles and 17 singles. In 139 AB. At least he's slugging .424, and his ISO (isolated power) is high as hell.
INJURED: J. J. Hardy, Ben Sheets (duh), Tomo Ohka
Hardy is a recent addition to the disabled list; he wasn't doing great (.242) before he got injured, so maybe 3-4 weeks recovery will help. Ohka has been on the DL for a while, which hopefully for the Brewers means a return soon. As for Sheets, hell, who knows? He's approaching Prior/Wood DL territory between this year and last. Sucks, too.
INEFFECTIVE: Doug Davis
Not helping the Brewers' case is the guy who evidently thinks home is second (39 BB, 36 K). Feel the excitement!
INJURED: Sean Casey, Joe Randa
Now, if you're any other team with no shot, injured vets mean let the kids play. If you're the Pirates, that means Craig Wilson and Freddy Sanchez. Oops. At least Wilson has been rocking it - so he'll be back on the bench as soon as Casey returns. Viva la future! (disclaimer: have never taken French) Oh yeah - Kip Wells, too. Whoohoo.
INEFFECTIVE: Oliver Perez, Zach Duke
Or if you're the Pirates, you also call these guys your 1-2 punch. Uh.... uh-oh. Okay, so Duke hasn't been that bad. It's funnier if I include him, though - if it's just Ollie Pee, then he feels all singled out, and I don't want to make anyone feel bad here. (WARNING WARNING: ERA approaching Limian stage - 6.98 for Oliver Perez)
St. Louis Cardinals
INJURED: Sir Meatball
One would argue this is a good thing, as it lets young gun Anthony Reyes get some major league experience. I, however, will make the requisite "strained esophagus" joke and let it lie. He'll be back in a few weeks.
INEFFECTIVE: the outfield offense(ive)
Edmonds gets a minor free pass here, as he's at least hit with guys on. The other outfielders? Not so much. No rest for the weary (or in this case, sucky)!
INJURED: Russ Ortiz
Hm. Ortiz's injury lets young gun Juan Cruz into the rotation. Wonder if the D-Backs won't mind if the 'ol 6.91 ERA (Lima alert!) takes his time getting back. Of course, Cruz is inconsistent, so maybe they want a consistent (losing) pitcher in the rotation.
INEFFECTIVE: Tony Clark, Orlando Hudson
Hudson's doing his best Rey Ordonez impersonation at second. As for Clark, he was surprisingly good last year - maybe this is his season-long regression to the mean. Or just not too good in platoon duty (on the short end of the stick). Oh, and Shawn Green (warning: NSFW) - well, he is hitting .327, but dig those 3 HR.
INJURED: Yorvit Torrealba and a bunch of guys you don't care about
Well, you probably don't care about ol' Yorvit either. Fair enough.
INEFFECTIVE: Todd Helton
Blame it on whatever he had earlier. I don't know what on earth he had, but even though he says he's healthy, something's obviously wrong. If he can get it going, the Rockies will sorely need his bat to stay near the top of the division. And they need more than just a largely empty .292 average, especially since he normally hits about 30 points higher than that at least.
Los Angeles Dodgers
INJURED: Eric Gagne (le sigh), and a bunch of guys I don't want to type out
Seriously - 8 guys on the DL already? Go Dodgers! Obviously, Gagne is the most needed out of all of them, although some outfield depth couldn't hurt. No clue on timetables here, sorry. I'm on a deadline. Navarro is the least important, as Martin has done well in his absence.
INEFFECTIVE: Jae Seo
Expected to be a sleeper-good candidate, has just slept through the season so far. At least Aaron Sele is around to "push" him.
San Diego Padres
INJURED: Ryan Klesko
2006 charter member of the All-Wally Pipp Team.
Haven't been paying enough attention - although a Vinny Castilla sighting is enough to make me wonder. It's not like you expect much out of him - just not being Sean Burroughs is enough.
San Francisco Giants
INJURED: Moises Alou, Lance Niekro
Alou should be back to his usual ways soon (make your own joke, I've already made one shit joke today). Honestly, the Giants could use him as protection from Barry Bonds. As for Niekro, he just went on the DL - even though he's been out for a week already. Oh well. Sore shoulder, no timetable, whatever, the usual.
INEFFECTIVE: ESPN's poster boy
Seriously, you can read about him somewhere else. Not that I don't like you guys... but yeah, there's been enough already. Oh, and Pedro Feliz isn't too good (who?).
Friday, May 19
Hey hey, let's hear it for being late! Multiple updates are hopefully coming this weekend. We'll see how well that actually works, though.
It's an interleague weekend, so 14 series are between leagues. The remaining series? Made the top 5. What didn't? Well, Cubs @ Sox. Yup. Sorry, kids - too much of a team disparity. Some clunkers out there, too - Pittsburgh/Cleveland, Baltimore/Washington, and Florida/Tampa Bay (toilet bowl of the weekend - at least it's indoors).
#5: Atlanta Braves (21-20, W4, 8-2) @ Arizona Diamondbacks (22-18, L1, 5-5)
5/19: Thomson vs Vargas
5/20: Smith vs Batista
5/21: Hudson vs Webb
For the Braves:
Well, it finally happened - they got hot, and in a big way. They're the second-hottest team in the majors (behind Detroit) at the moment, and there's no reason why they should slow down here. Travis Smith gets his first start of the season on Saturday, and that's their worst chance to win. With their pitching, Francouer finally waking up, and the stadium, they should walk out of here with 2 out of 3. If not? Well, they should be .500 at worst. Hudson's been hot, too.
For the Diamondbacks:
While they're not on a roll, they need this series. The NL West has everyone within 2 games of first at the moment, and with the exception of Colorado, they have the toughest opponent. Will they win this? It's possible, but Claudio Vargas needs to have a good start tonight, as does Miguel Batista on Saturday.
They should win Saturday's game, which means they have to win one of the two pitching crapshoots. It could happen.
#4: Toronto Blue Jays (23-17, W2, 7-3) @ Colorado Rockies (22-19, L1, 4-6)
5/19: Towers vs Cook
5/20: Taubenheim vs Francis
5/21: Lilly vs Fogg
For the Blue Jays:
Uh, this is a rivalry game. I guess. When in Rome? Anyway, this is the Blue Jays' first - and only - look at Coors this season. They're currently blistering the ball to a team .299(!) clip. That makes their suboptimal pitching worthwhile.
What can they expect? They'll rough up Fogg, more than likely, giving them a good shot at winning Sunday. Cook's been tough lately, Francis is better at home than on the road ... who knows? A series win isn't unlikely, but might be more difficult than originally thought. They do have the easiest matchup of the top 3 AL East teams, though.
For the Rockies:
Tough draw. They hold - amazingly - a pitching advantage. Unfortunately, they haven't hit well at home. Go on the road for this series and they'd probably win it convincingly, but at home? Maybe not. Bet you never thought you'd read that.
Can they win it, though? Sure. Cook and Francis will keep them in the early games, and they should win Saturday's for sure. (This is the first time I've even heard of the Blue Jays' pitcher.) That gives them the pitching advantage tonight and the possibility of a Coors crapshoot on Sunday. They might sweep, which they'll need.
#3: New York Yankees (23-16, L1, 5-5) @ New York Mets (24-16, L2, 3-7)
5/19: Johnson vs Gonzalez
5/20: Mussina vs Martinez
5/21: Chacon vs Glavine
For the Yankees:
Another week, another marquee series. Surprise, surprise. They've got their big guns going this time, too.
Only problem is their offense is banged up - specifically, their outfield. They should score on Friday, but the other two days are anyone's guess. They owned Pedro back when he was with the Sox; will that change now that Pedro has switched leagues?
For the Mets:
Tough break with Zambrano going down means that Jeremi Gonzalez sniffs a start for the first time in a while. Not good if you're the Mets. Could be Lima Time, though.
However, they've got their 1-2 punch in the final two games, meaning anything less than a series victory will be disappointing.
(For the record, this series falls under the "you'll hear about it somewhere else" exception.)
#2: Boston Red Sox (23-15, L1, 7-3) @ Philadelphia Phillies (22-18, L3, 6-4)
5/19: Clement vs Lieber
5/20: Beckett vs Myers
5/21: DiNardo vs Lidle
For the Red Sox:
It's a slightly easier draw for the Sox than the Yankees this weekend, even though this series got the #2 spot nod since the Phils are hotter than the Mets. They're getting healthy, which is good, as they're behind the gun - slightly - on pitching matchups.
Beckett is unquestionably their best pitcher going in this series, but they also drew the 1-2-3 of the Phils. Their familiarity with Lidle from previous seasons (Blue Jays) should help on Sunday. They could either get swept or win 2 out of 3, but a sweep might be a little too much to ask for.
For the Phillies:
Hey, solid pitching and a floundering Mets team? Sign me up! Huge motivation this weekend for the Phils - a good weekend and they could catch the Mets.
Is a good weekend possible? Totally - they lucked out only having to face Beckett. Just as importantly, David Ortiz will either be a PH or at first for the Sox. No reason why they shouldn't win the series here. Anything less will be subpar.
#1: Cincinnati Reds (24-17, W1, 4-6) @ Detroit Tigers (27-13, W7, 7-3)
5/19: Claussen vs Bonderman
5/20: Milton vs Maroth
5/21: Harang vs Robertson
For the Reds:
Uh-oh. Eric Milton's back. That's the equivalent of your mother-in-law dropping by because she was in the area.
That being said, Brandon Claussen and Harang have both been pleasant surprises, and while the Tigers have been tough pitching, they're not unbeatable. Unfortunately, the Tigers are also pretty hot. The key for the Reds will be getting ahead early and hoping the bullpen (with possible new closer Todd Coffey?) doesn't blow it.
Can it happen? 2 out of 3 isn't inconceivable. I can't pick Eric Milton to win, though.
For the Tigers:
Hot team + struggling visitors = fresh meat. Right?
This group of - still - overachievers (how much longer can we say that before they're for real? 2 weeks? 1 month?) throw their younger - but not youngest - guns out there this weekend. That'll keep them close.
What'll put 'em over the top? The Tigers know how to hit in Comerica. The Reds might not. The games will be closer than you think, but the Tigers should walk out of here with 2 - and they need to, as the Sox get an easier draw.
Wednesday, May 10
Maybe the better title would've been "Divisional One-Fifth of the Season Updates." That's kind of clunky, though, so you're stuck with that title. What can you figure out in the first month of the season with the standings? Well, if you can pick the divisional winners from that, I'd be surprised. However, you can figure out who's probably not going to get the title. That's what this is focusing on - who's probably out of it already.
(Standings are valid through Sunday night's games, since that's when I have the records.)
1 - Boston (19-12, 0 GB)
1 - New York (18-11, 0 GB)
3 - Toronto (16-14, 2.5 GB)
4 - Baltimore (14-19, 6 GB)
5 - Tampa Bay (13-19, 6.5 GB)
No real surprises in terms of ordering. I don't think anyone outside of homers expected the breakdown to be that different.
Both Baltimore and Tampa Bay are up against it when it comes to staying competitve in the division. Given Tampa Bay's pitching woes (they suck except for Kazmir) and hitting ineffectiveness (Cantu and Baldelli on the DL, Huff just off the DL), they're probably toast - but not yet. Baltimore can both hit and pitch, but they tend to do both at once. In other words, they're streaky, not consistent.
Toronto probably needs to get Burnett back soon; the early performance of Alexis Rios has helped, though. They have the firepower available on the team to make things interesting at the top.
Boston? Viva le Papelbon.
New York? They can hit.
1 - Chicago (22-9, 0 GB)
2 - Detroit (20-12, 2.5 GB)
3 - Cleveland (17-15, 5.5 GB)
4 - Minnesota (13-18, 9 GB)
5 - Kansas City (7-22, 14 GB)
- Cleveland (mildly)
- Kansas City
Let's get the obvious out of the way first. Kansas City sucks (but inexplicably owns Cleveland) and the White Sox still own everyone.
As for the rest of the division, surprises abound. Cleveland is mildly struggling (maybe they should beat the Royals; that'd help) - they're hitting, but the pitching has struggled mightily. With the amount of talent they have, there's no reason why they can't go on a roll.
Minnesota has deeper problems. Everyone figured that they couldn't hit (which is right). Nobody predicted the rotation would struggle. Johan Santana should work it out soon (and has showns signs of doing so already), as might Scott Baker, but their best help - Francisco Liriano - is locked into the bullpen thanks to Jesse Crain's ineffectiveness.
Detroit has been the biggest surprise. Can they keep it up? Everyone's playing over their heads right now, but the interesting thing is that they're not too above their heads. In addition, their historical performers (the guys who have done well before) haven't woken up yet. This might last longer than anyone expects.
1 - Texas (17-15, 0 GB)
2 - Oakland (16-15, 0.5 GB)
3 - Los Angeles (14-18, 3 GB)
4 - Seattle (13-20, 4.5 GB)
- Los Angeles
Oddly enough, Texas is getting by on better-than-expected pitching. Their offense hasn't quite snapped in like everyone thought - yet. That won't last. The question for them is will the pitching perform well enough for long enough.
Seattle has kind of devolved into the King Felix show. Well, that and the "Everyday Eddie Ain't Everyday no More" miniseries; J.J. Putz is the main guy now. The rest of the team is kind of boring, in truth; it's not a horrible team (there are worse out there), but there's not any one thing they do well.
Anaheim, on the other hands, is great at not giving their starters run support. The back end of the rotation has some issues thanks to Colon's injury. In addition, they have this weird youth/vet thing going on with their hitters that you normally only see with rebuilding teams. Theyll work it out, though.
Oakland normally struggles early. This start can only mean good things for them once they go 22-4 in August (give or take).
1 - New York (21-10, 0 GB
2 - Philadelphia (17-14, 4 GB)
3 - Atlanta (13-18, 8 GB)
4 - Washington (11-21, 10 GB)
5 - Florida (8-21, 12.5 GB)
- New York
Florida and Washington are both bad. Florida kind of has a purpose to its performance; the Nats don't (but that may change soon). Atlanta hasn't pitched as effectively as expected (see Jorge Sosa, early Tim Hudson) and hasn't hit well either. That might turn around soon, but it may not matter by that point.
Philly is marginally better than expected, and in a divsiino with one struggling team and two bad ones, that's about all it takes to look like a challenger to the Mets.
The Mets have opened up strong. However, there are some cracks in the castle walls: Cliff Floyd has struggled and Victor Zambrano is out for the year. If Floyd stays healthy, he'll turn it around, but the Zambrano injury weakens the back end of the rotation. On top of that, movig Heilman into the rotation would weaken a pretty solid bullpen.
1 - Cincinnati (21-11, 0 GB)
2 - St. Louis (20-12, 1 GB)
3 - Houston (19-12, 1.5 GB)
4 - Milwaukee (16-16, 5 GB)
5 - Chicago (14-16, 6 GB)
6 - Pittsburgh (9-24, 12.5 GB)
To nobody's surprise, Pittsburgh's been bad. They're stuck in a veteran/youth mold as well, and should probably just let the kids play. At least it'll be productive. Chicago hasn't played well, but injuries can be blamed for that mostly. They need offense in a bad way.
Cincinnati has had much better than expected pitching. Will it last? Maybe; Arroyo and Harang aren't bad, and with those bats, .500 the rest of the way is possible at least.
Houston has ben good, but blame it on a surprisingly good back-end of the rotation. Even with some changes, things might stay constant for them. Same with Milwaukee; look for them to stay kind of close, then make a late-season push.
St. Louis? Pujols is Pujols, and he's bailing out an underperforming offense.
1 - Colorado (19-13, 0 GB)
2 - Arizona (18-14, 1 GB)
3 - San Diego (16-15, 2.5 GB)
4 - Los Angeles (15-17, 4 GB)
5 - San Francisco (14-17, 4.5 GB)
This division is pretty much a race to five games over .500, and as far the Padres, Dodgers, and Giants are around that range. All these teams have some kind of hole - usually back-end pitching and offense - so they'll stay close.
Probably the seaosn's biggest surprise has been the Rockies getting it done- on the road no less. With Helton back, it's not outside the realm of possibility they keep this up. Stranger things have happened, and it's not exactly a powerhouse division in the first place.
Arizona is also a surprise; however, their situation is slightly different than Colorado's. If they can rely on Webb and their offense, who knows? They stand a chance.
Monday, May 8
First off, if you're looking for the Early Series post, it's here. This is a personal thing - a little bit of Nats love, if you will. Anyway.
The Nationals finally have an owner, and even MLB is admitting to it. The Lerner group was selected as the winning bidders on the team over the "token minority" cries of Marion Barry and a few others in DC politics (I forget the names).
As a Nationals (former Expos) fan, what does this mean? Honestly, I don't know yet. I've gotten so used to fandom without a direction that having one - at least theoretically - is kind of shocking. Granted, it's just as likely that he takes the team and guts it as it is that he jacks the payroll up and signs a few free agents. Let's look ahead to a possible Best-Case / Worst-Case Scenario.
The Mets got old, the Braves reverted to mid-80's form, and the Phillies never found pitching. This leaves the division wide-open, and the Nationals' new park (which opened on time) is better on hitters than RFK was. A retooled offense (led by Alfonso Soriano) and a rejuvenated pitching staff lead the Nationals to the first division crown (and over .500 record) this century.
Leadership is smart and saavy, as one of the first things that the Lerners did was fire Jim Bowden. Taking the approximate equivalent of a "Moneyball with money" approach allowed the Nats to both replenish their farm system and sign a series of solid, if unspectacular free agents. They give the Nationals a surprisingly deep lineup that - while it's not on the level of the early 2000's New York Yankees - is quietly dangerous. No major home run threats aside from Soriano (a holdover from the earlier era), but 25-HR types abound. Even Soriano found some plate discipline, and he even figured out how to be Rickey lite.
Jim Bowden is immediately signed to a 12-year extension. He responds by signing every pitching currently on the DL in the major leagues to 3-year guaranteed contracts. In addition, he forgets to sign a shortstop one season and the nats have to bring a guy up from rookie ball.
The new owners adopt an Orioles mindset. New free agent signings are made chiefly as "name" signings, even though their contribution to the team's success is minimal. Ryan Zimmerman is traded in 2008 for Jose Lima. The farm system is systematically gutted of anyone with talent, what little there was in the first place. As most of the money is tied up in the big leagues, the forces the nats to draft based on price, not talent.
Attendance suffers. 10 years from now, the Lerners sell the team back to MLB and buy the Marlins (after nuking the radio deal. They never got a TV deal in the first place). The new stadium collapses under its own weight on Opening Day.
What's likely? A combination of the two. I'm figuring a payroll increase, but just because we'll have money doesn't mean we'll spend it wisely. It's just as likely as the plan will be haphazardous as it will be clear. Even if Bowden's gone, there's no guarnatee that his replacement will be any better (Scott Layden -> Isiah Thomas, anyone?). Good drafting falls victim to injuries and unfulfilled expectations. Revenue streams might not be there.
We'll just have to see. I'd like to be optimistic, but I'm afraid of it - the Nats have killed me before. Who knows? Maybe this time my faith will be rewarded. Maybe this owner will give a damn about the team, about the city, about the fans. Hell, I'll just settle for caring about something beyond the bottom line.
Posted by Chris Pendley at 2:39 PM
Update! I'm actually posting something tangible after this. The horror!
Again, same basic idea as I did last time. Consider yourself warned.
#5: Houston Astros (19-12, L3, 4-6) @ Los Angeles Dodgers (15-17, W3, 5-5)
5/9: Pettitte vs Seo
5/10: Buchholz vs Tomko
5/11: Rodriguez vs Lowe
For the Astros:
Ouch. Get swept in Colorado, which can't be good for the psyche. Didn't hit well in Coors, either. They're struggling, and unless they ramp it around quickly, they could be up against it in the NL Central really quickly.
The good news? Their surprises are pitching - Buchholz and Rodriguez. There's no telling when they'll come back to earth, but you have to ride it while you can. Their pitching shouldn't be horrible in Chavez Ravine.
Can they win here? It's possible. Seo and Tomko aren't spectacular, so they should pull out one of those games. This is a very open series; if they get hot early (they have a game tonight, too), then they could very easily roll through here.
For the Dodgers:
Momentum is nice. Currently riding a 3-game sweep of the Brewers, the Dodgers now welcome in a struggling Astros team. Can they piece it together enough to sniff .500? Perhaps. Their starters should be serviceable, leaving the bulk of the burden on the offense. That's going to be a problem against the Astros starters.
Figure they'll win one game at least (not the Tuesday night game, though) and move from there. Homefield advantage should get them two, but there's no real key to this series, oddly enough.
#4: Milwaukee Brewers (15-15, L3, 4-6) @ San Diego Padres (16-15, W8, 8-2)
5/9: Davis vs Hensley
5/10: Capuano vs Park
5/11: Bush vs Peavy
For the Brewers:
Live by the young kids, die by them, huh? They lost a couple of close games to the Dodgers this weekend before getting blown out on Sunday. They should rebound, especially given the guys they're throwing. Davis is the key to this series for the Brewers - if he pitches well, they can come out of this series with a victory. Otherwise, they might win one, but asking for more than that will be tough.
David Bush draws the short straw and has to go against Peavy on Thursday. That's going to hurt, as he has to pitch pretty much perfectly to have any real shot of a victory. Of course, if the offense retools, all bets are off, but a 2-1 series victory isn't out of the question here.
For the Padres:
Eight-game winning streak? Yikes. The good news is Peavy goes for them in this series, so they've got a good shot at winning at least one. They're on a roll to boot - even Hensley and Park might be able to scrape enough run support to pull a game out. Of course, when you're not routing the hapless Cubs, that's not saying much. A couple of close victories early on before a decisive Sunday victory give this series the same basic view as the previous series for both these ballclubs.
Still, give the homefield advantage to the Padres and don't expect a lot of runs. Do expect a 2-1 series break for the Pads.
#3: New York Mets (21-10, L1, 7-3) @ Philadelphia Phillies (17-14, W8, 8-2)
5/9: Martinez vs Myers
5/10: Glavine vs Lidle
5/11: Trachsel vs Floyd
For the Mets:
Uh-oh. Here comes Lima Time. Well, to be precise, Lima Time went on Sunday, but still, there are some back-end rotation issues that the Mets won't have to deal with this series. They will, however, get to deal with Gavin Floyd. Open season!
Aside from that, though, this matchup is pretty even. Undoubtedly, the pressure is on the Mets to keep their hot start intact, and they'll be tested against a scorching Phillies team. Look for the Mets' bats to have an impact in the second two games, and if they're going to win the first, it's going to be on the back of Pedro.
For the Phillies:
Normally, I'd say they don't have much of a chance, but let's check the matchups. They're not too bad pitching-wise; Myers gets the short end of the stick, but if anyone can handle it on this staff, it's him. Glavine's been off the chain lately for the Mets, but who knows how long that'll last. They need to bring the bats on Thursday, though.
The Phillies need to get a little lucky here, to be honest. However, roasting San Fran is a pretty good tune-up for your bats, as their weekend victories were convincing. A sweep is probably too much to ask for, but a series win is at least plausible.
#2: Colorado Rockies (19-13, W3, 7-3) @ St. Louis Cardinals (20-12, W3, 5-5)
5/8: Francis vs Marquis
5/9: Fogg vs Carpenter
5/10: Kim vs Suppan
For the Rockies:
So much for struggling at home. After wiping out Houston there, the Rockies take their show on the road. They get a Cards team that isn't as good as the previous year's model, but still isn't bad in its own right. Brad Hawpe's been a road monster this year; if he can keep doing that, then the Rockies stand a chance.
Figure they'll lose the game Carpenter's starting. The other matchups aren't quite in their favor, but they're not so slanted that they can't pull both out. A series victory might be pushing it for them - but then again, they seem to be winning out of spite now anyway.
For the Cardinals:
Uh-oh. You knew they were going to get hot eventually, and while 5-5 in the last 10 isn't exactly hot, the 3-game winning streak could easily be a sign of things to come. There are holes, but they shouldn't be too terribly tested against the Rockies. Carpenter should rock the house against them.
For the other games, the question is where does the offense come (outside of Pujols)? It's a good question; Edmonds has struggled, and Rolen needs a third bat in the lineup to provide some protection - and that's a bat they don't have right now. If someone gets hot - Encarnacion, maybe - then you could see this lineup roll. Otherwise, they've got issues, but they can probably piece it together enough to win at least two.
#1: Boston Red Sox (19-12, W4, 6-4) @ New York Yankees (18-11, W5, 8-2)
5/9: Beckett vs Johnson
5/10: Schilling vs Mussina
5/11: Wakefield vs Chacon
For the Red Sox:
Everyone and their brother is covering this series. I'll be brief. Beckett and Schilling gives the Sox a huge advantage in the pitching department, as all the Yanks starters are at least reachable. If Wakefield has a good knuckler, then the Sox might sweep. If not, 2-1 is possible.
For the Yankees:
They've gotta hit. Plain and simple. If they do that, they'll give the pitching enough of a cushion to make a few mistakes, which they could very well need.
Friday, May 5
So I've made yet ANOTHER change in how I'm doing these. Instead of giving a preview of each series, I'm opting instead to just focus on what I feel are five series to watch, in order from least important to most important. This was partially done because it was, well, it was easier on me. In addition, there are certain series that unless you're a fan of those teams (or you have a fantasy team with players from those teams on it), there's no reason for you to care at all. (I'm looking at you, Pittsburgh @ Washington.)
To make up for this, what I'm doing instead is covering those selected five series a little more in-depth to give the the reader a better overview of what's going on in the series. The research is now more directed, and hopefully this'll give a better view on what's going on. Thoughts? Let me know!
#5: Atlanta Braves (12-16, L2, 3-7 in last 10) @ New York Mets (19-9, W2, 7-3)
5/5: Davies vs Trachsel
5/6: Hudson vs Zambrano
5/7: Sosa vs Maine
For the Braves:
Sure, it looks like a mismatch on paper against the Braves, seeing as how the Mets are hot and the Braves, well, aren't. But the Braves have always done well against the Mets, winning 2 of 3 at Shea last month. The key to the Braves' success in this series is going to be getting to the Mets' starters.
The Braves are fortunate enough to not have to throw out absolute dreck (Sosa is an exception), so they'll hold a small advantage in starting pitching. All the Mets' starters are reachable, and if their starters can hold the Mets down for 5-6 innings at least, this could be good news for the Braves. A series victory is more likely than you think. Davies won his last start against the Mets. Hudson's been HOT lately.
Can Francouer hit? Or walk? Or do something useful? There's the issue.
For the Mets:
They're hot, but they lack a little bit of a psychological edge. While their pitching is on the short end of the stick this time around, their hitting is well above the Braves'. They hold the homefield advantage, too.
There's no reason why they shouldn't win 2 out of 3, really. Sosa is certainly reachable, and they can probably get to Davies if Trachsel can throw a decent game. Of course, can Trachsel throw a decent game? If he can, they should rock the house against Sosa, and boom, there's your series victory. A win against Hudson would be nice, but probably a little unexpected.
#4: San Francisco Giants (14-14, L1, 4-6) @ Philadelphia Phillies (14-14, W5, 6-4)
5/5: Cain vs Floyd
5/6: Wright vs Madson
5/7: Morris vs Lieber
For the Giants:
Well, they're on a little bit of a skid, but there's no reason why they shouldn't walk out of here with 2 out of 3. Their pitching is a fair amount stronger than the Phillies' pitching, and even with that, their offense isn't too much worse. Cain and Wright are better than their counterparts (Cain especially).
Can they put up enough runs? Probably. It's an offensively-themed ballpark and two pretty bad starters. Of course they can. Win one, lose one, and you've got a decent chance at worst in the Sunday game. Sure you can pull this out.
For the Phillies:
Bad pitching? Eh, we'll just mash the crap out of the ball instead. They're hot - even with Floyd and Madson going. That'll hurt, but in that ballpark, they can put up a 5-spot in a hurry with the lineup, too. They need to be at the top of their offensive game early on, because otherwise they could be down early.
Slug their way past the first two games and then you have a small advantage at home with your ace going. A sweep isn't entirely out of the realm of possibility.
#3: Cincinnati Reds (20-9, W1, 8-2) @ Arizona Diamondbacks (16-13, W5, 8-2)
5/5: Ramirez vs Webb
5/6: Arroyo vs Vargas
5/7: Williams vs Hernandez
For the Reds:
Hell, I don't know. Arroyo's been lights-out for them, as has Harang. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me why they're as hot as they are, but 8-2 is 8-2 over the last 10. Things are just falling right for them.
In this series, they're going to have a tough job against Webb. Aside from that, though, runs should be plentiful. Their best avenue against Webb is get him to throw a ton of pitches early, wear him out, then rip the bullpen to shreds. Not exactly an original game plan, but a game plan anyway. That and hope Brandon Phillips gets hot again.
For the Diamondbacks:
They're doing better than expected, not to mention riding one heck of a hot streak going into this series as well. Their gameplan shapes up almost exactly like the Reds' gameplan; nail the starters early and often, and hope Arroyo goes into a high pitch count early.
The good news for the D-Backs is that the Reds' bullpen isn't that great. Weathers has done better than expected, but that's also because nobody really expected him to get save opportunities, either. It's always easy to exceed expectations when nobody has any.
Look for a fair amount of 8-6 games and the like. Best offense wins.
#2: Houston Astros (19-9, W3, 6-4) @ Colorado Rockies (16-13, L1, 6-4)
5/5: Buchholz vs Kim
5/6: Rodriguez vs Jennings
5/7: Nieve vs Cook
For the Astros:
Say what? They're on a roll, and Wandy Rodriguez has been pitching over his head lately. If that continues, great, but this has some signs of a false start. Of course, since Rodriguez (and a surprising Taylor Buchholz) are both pitching, we'll see what happens.
In their favor, the Rockies have sucked at home. They can sneak a couple again here. Of course, one of these days, Coors is going to become Coors, and on the surface, this looks like it could be a series of 10-8 games. In reality? Maybe just 6-4.
For the Rockies:
That 16-13 record? They're 10-5 on the road. What? Yeah, they're 6-8 at home. The homefield advantage Rockies are 6-8 at home. That won't last.
Now's as good a time as any to change that. The "bottomfeeders" of this division are on top, and this is a great opportunity to take the challenge presented by the Astros and show that this team is legit. Todd Helton is coming back on Friday, too.
#1: New York Yankees (15-11, W2, 7-3) @ Texas Rangers (17-12, W6, 7-3)
5/5: Mussina vs Padilla
5/6: Chacon vs Loe
5/7: Wang vs Tejeda
For the Yankees:
Congrats! Your pitchers are actually better in this series! A-Rod returns, too. Exciting for the home fans, I'm sure. Again, look for a hot team in a hot environment with hot hitters to cut these guys down. 4 runs has been their magic number of late - but I'd be surprised if they can win with anything less than 6.
Their main advantage is throwing Mussina in the first game. They luck out and get the back end of Texas' rotation. This means more chances to get to the bullpen early and often.
For the Rangers:
Their work is cut out for them. Again, they're hot - hotter than the Yankees - but that might not be quite enough. They're battling uphill with their pitchers, although not as much as you think. Padilla and Loe haven't been half bad. Again, like a lot of the better series this weekend, it's going to come down to hitting.
And the Rangers? They can mash. No reason they shouldn't take 2 out of 3.
Monday, May 1
Okay, so thanks to a) a bunch of schoolwork and b) various levels of indisposition, I wasn't able to throw up the late-week series information last week. In addition, I'm going to have to wait on the early-series discussions as well due to real-life workload.
The good news? I'll return this weekend with the same basic format. Look for an update on either May 4th or May 5th.