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Monday, May 31, 2004

Sure, But Izzy A Good Hitter? I'll Say! Dodgers 3, Brewers 2

What a wild game! The Brewers' closer Danny Kolb, who came into the game with a hand-me-the-jewelers'-loupe 0.48 ERA, gave up the tying runs, and Burba burbled the winner to Izzy after Hernandez walked and Dave Roberts bunted him to second. If anything makes you grateful for Gagné, it's watching a game like this one, where the other team's closer gives up the lead.

I came in late to the game because my wife was monopolizing the TV watching the Cubs beat the Astros, but it didn't matter -- I missed none of the Dodgers scoring as it turned out, though here at 6-4-2 World Headquarters we were throwing things at Jim Tracy's voodoo doll in consideration of his continued batting Green in the four hole. Listen, Jim, it's over. Green needs to hit seventh, regardless.

Meantime, the Giants have a 10-game winning streak and are a game and a half behind the Dodgers.


Shoney Showed 'Em: Chisox 11, Angels 2

Dear Batgirl,

Sometimes trades backfire. What Dodger fan doesn't remember the Pedro Martinez/Delino Deshields trade? Well, now Angels fans have something to remember the Chisox for, though maybe not quite as traumatic as trading the most dominant pitcher of our era for a total bust: the Scott Schoeneweis/Tim Bittner trade. Bittner's doing well in the minors, but he's also unable to help a rotation that looks like a bunch of kittens on the mound against the Chisox, or as you call 'em, the Bitch Sox. It's a bitch, ain't it?

Lackey, the then-rookie hero of the 2002 World Series Game 7, hasn't ever looked that good since, and a bunch of us Angels fans are wondering what's happened. Is big John getting cocky? Or has he lost his confidence? Did losing on opening day in 2003 to the -- gulp -- last place Texas Rangers unhinge him? Whatever, he's never been the same since.

I didn't watch the game -- I was attending the going away party of a friend moving to New Hampshire (of all the crazy, wrong places to move to) -- but when I got out and turned on the radio, it was already 7-1, and things just went south from there. Ben Weber got another chance to pitch batting practice, and that he did. Shane "Can't Hit, Can't Field" Halter got another chance to "play" third. And Raul "Sarcoma" Mondesi "DH'd" (0-2, 1 walk). Really, we wanted to help out your Twins, we truly did. It's just that Scioscia wouldn't make out a lineup card to get that done. Who knows, maybe Ortiz will work his way back into the rotation.




Sunday, May 30, 2004

Winners, All

As of last night, every team in the NL Central has a winning record. The Pirates were the last team in the division to break .500, and they did it last night against my wife's Cubbies 10-7 in Pittsburgh.

Pirates record with Mondesi starting: 12-14
Pirates record without Mondesi: 11-8

Not that I'm saying anything.

Dodgers 10, Diamondbacks 0

Flew in from Milwaukee on a chartered plane
Man we played some dreadful ball
Wilson banged his hip up in an awful way
Nomo couldn't start at all
We're back in the N-L-L-L West
Now our pitching's the best, boy
Back in the NL
Back in the NL
Back in the N-L-L-L West
Hm. Team starts playing NL West (where we're now 12-7), team starts winning. Coincidence? Eh, whatever, I'll take it, though overall I still don't feel that sanguine about the team's chances over the long term. Tinkerbell's back in the room, and we know this because Lima threw a two-hitter through eight, with homers from Encarnacion and Beltre, and Paulie going 4-4. Of course, some of the hits might have been converted to outs (especially a string of groundball singles up the middle in the fifth) had Arizona second baseman Matt Kata not separated his shoulder earlier. I don't think I've ever seen Webb look this awful, nor their relief staff. This game was a gift with a pretty bow on top, though the ugly surprise might turn out to be Bradley's re-sprained left ankle.


Saturday, May 29, 2004

First Colón, Then Cancer

Mondesi is an Angel. The bad signings are metastasizing.

In The HD Zona: ASU 8, Arizona 3

We just got a Sony 42" WEGA LCD projector TV, and man, is it fabulous. Aside from the huge image -- which, as one of my female friends pointed out, is a definite turn-on for guys -- the image quality is immensely improved, especially over NTSC, the current standard in North America. There's some drawbacks, though: first, the price (our unit was about $2,500 or so from Ken Crane's), availability (the Sony unit we got was backordered, so it took us a month to actually take delivery), and technical issues. Most HDTVs on the market now are either plasma or LCD direct-view flat panels, or LCD rear projectors. Plasma inexorably leaks the noble gases that fill the display (and don't believe the salesmen who tell you otherwise -- at $12,000 a pop you have every right to be concerned). The LCD direct display units are damn expensive. And, the LCD rear projectors require expensive ($250) bulbs every 2,000-3,000 hours (about once every two years with typical viewing). Still, at the price point, the LCD rear projectors are a way better deal than the plasma units.

There isn't much HD content out there yet, despite the fact that Time Warner Cable has about a dozen or so channels dedicated to the format. Tonight, during a fit of wine-induced insomnia (weird, I know), I turned on an ASU/Arizona State game.

Things are a little different at this level. For one thing, coaches allow their starters to get into deep pitch counts, and by deep, I mean, halfway to China. Arizona starter Koley Kohlberg threw 145 pitches over 7.0 innings. This is not unusual. If you're a Moneyball purist, you've gotta wonder just how much will be left in those young arms after their college managers get done with them.

For another thing, bad umpiring seems to be about par for the course. The players accept this without complaint. At one time, an Arizona batter took a pitch directly on the arm -- it hit him square and obviously to the camera -- yet the umps didn't give the base, the manager didn't come out and argue the call or even ask for assistance, and the player barely spoke a word. In the majors, that would have been grounds for a bench-clearing brawl.

Then there's the dugouts. No protection. None. During the game, a foul ball got hit into one of the dugouts, but not surprisingly, the team was all standing so they scattered pretty quickly. Sitting invites a foul ball in the face.

Did I mention errors? They're a big part of the game here. Arizona made three, ASU one. It happens.

But man -- the camera work. Beautiful, as good as any major league game, and likewise the announcing. Better, in fact, than the Braves' or Chisox -- the two worst I've heard in the bigs. It makes you wonder who's getting paid off, or who's sleeping with whom.


Friday, May 28, 2004

Chisox 4, The A(mbulance) Team 3

You know, I didn't think Ortiz pitched that badly.

And neither did Gregg.

It's just one of those days. Home field advantage. Weak hitting. And a lineup on the DL.


Sure, He Can Hit, But There's A Kotch

... he just can't do it with any regularity or for much power. It's been almost a month now, and we've only seen a pair of doubles and three walks in 54 at bats.

Is it too early to declare the Kotchman experiment over?

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Euthanasia: Brewers 3, Dodgers 1

Richie who?

If you're a Brewers fan, you've long since forgotten the explosion in the house that Bud built, one that caused then-GM Ulice Payne to ultimately resign in the face of even further payroll cuts mandated by Bud Selig and his sock-puppet daughter.

No, you're probably glowing about .351/.408/.595 1B Lyle Overbay, newfound ace Ben Sheets (2.71 ERA, 73 IP, 1.36 BB/9, 9.49 K/9)... and sweeping the NL West leading Dodgers at home.

And for giggles, you're maybe gloating, just a little, because your team just dodged a big bullet now that Richie Sexson's on the DL for a labrum injury and will probably miss the rest of the season.

If you're a Dodgers fan, though, things are starting to look bleak. Already DePodesta feels required to spout platitudes that sound like they could have come from the GM's version of Bull Durham:

"I was prepared for this, even expecting it, because you're never quite as good as you are when you're winning or as bad as you are when you're not," he said. "I knew going into the year that there were going to be times when we struggled, because that's just what happens over the course of 162 games.

"What's happening now is probably just the normal ebb and flow of the season. Even teams that win 110 games have stretches when they don't play well. The worst thing you could do is overreact when something like this happens."

This is a team that's hurting. The pitching is worse than last year, with Nomo out of action (and terrible on the mound), Lima run out of gas (and into the bullpen), Alvarez making awful starts, Ishii collapsing unpredictably, and Weaver as freakily inconsistent as ever.

The hitting has regressed to last year's awfulness -- including new acquisitions Encarnacion and Bradley -- with Green leading the way into the cellar, and Tracy apparently afraid to move him to the seven hole where he belongs. Only Cora and Izturis are -- barely -- holding their own.

And then there's Beltre and his busted ankle. Beltre's surgery-requiring ankle.

Even the usually excellent fielding, improbably, is also declining, with Beltre giving away yesterday's game in the final out, and again today with Izzy costing the team with his glove.

But this isn't about one game, or even a few.

It's about the season.

Beltre must get surgery. It's affecting his swing, and it's not getting better. He's pressing, and going after balls in the dirt again.

But if you take Belly out of the lineup, the team's chances for the season get a lot slimmer. He's been the mid-lineup offensive threat the Dodgers hoped for all these seasons in April and early May. Not anymore.

The Dodgers must win for McCourt to retain ownership of the team. Too many things have to go right to keep the loan sharks away. I'm not saying he's behind keeping Belly in the lineup, but he does have a strong reason to want it. But if Belly's still whiffing because of his ankle, it's time the Dodgers admitted the obvious: the season's lost. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon.

There just aren't enough corks for all the holes that need plugging. There's too many leaks in the payroll, holes with names like Green, Hundley, and Dreifort, and no cavalry in AAA to rescue the team. And we all know McCourt hasn't got the cash to make things fly, either.

We're no longer in first. And we're 24-21, the same as the Brewers. For those keeping score at home, that's a three-game series sweep away from .500.


Postscript: Green is on target for the Mendoza line with 10 more games at his present .143 (compiled over the last week) average. That would ironically put him on pace to hit .200 after the first game with the Blue Jays, the team he played for prior to coming to the Dodgers.

Izzy's Little Brother, D-Mac Near The Bigs?

Cesar Izturis' little brother is playing for the Expos AAA team:
Izturis, whose older brother Cesar plays shortstop for the Dodgers, is hitting .324-0-10 in 136 at-bats this season. Billed as a classic No. 2 hitter, he has made the jump to the leadoff spot. That move has been a little tougher to deal with, though he's handled it well statistically. He had 25 walks and just 10 strikeouts, posting a .429 on-base percentage.


A slash-type hitter who makes good consistent contact at the plate, Izturis could find himself in Montreal soon if the club decides to deal Cabrera this season.

Montreal, the best 4A club in the majors. Sheesh. In that same article:
Double-A Arkansas third baseman Dallas McPherson might be the next player in the Angels' system to head to Anaheim. McPherson is hitting .305-8-35 in 177 at-bats for the Travelers. While his plate discipline has improved, he still has fanned 50 times this season. Defensively, he cut down on his errors last year and has 10 in 45 games thus far. There was talk about moving him to right field, but that has since died down with the arrival of Vladimir Guerrero. His chances of moving up were enhanced by the shoulder injury that ended Troy Glaus' season.
Please, God, no. The last thing we need is to wreck a kid by calling him up too early.

Not His Town

Daryle Ward hits for the cycle.

You tip your hat. Maybe, like Clemens and the Red Sox, he needed that change of pace to get him to play to his potential.

The Couch Slug's In The House

Raul at Dominican Players dropped a line indicating Enrique Rojas, an AP reporter in the DR, says the Angels will announce they've signed Raúl Mondesi today. The Angels were the only team he was negotiating with.

No. Good. Couch. Slug.

Update: I guess you can read into this -- if it's true, and Raul hasn't steered me wrong yet -- that the Halos have no idea whether GA or Salmon can return this year at all.

Update 2: Now on the Angels website.

Why The Draft Will Not Be Televised

Hardball Times has yet another article on why baseball's amateur draft should be televised, and why this would benefit baseball, apple pie, motherhood, &c. Instead of approving it, I will give my simple list of reasons why this won't happen:
  1. The players drafted are, at present, relatively anonymous save for the readers of Baseball America and similar publications. Increasing their exposure by televising the draft would, in the owners' view, add upward pressure to signing bonuses, especially in the high rounds.
  2. Unlike college basketball or football players, players heading to the minors won't be able to contribute immediately to the club they drafted with, thus diluting fan interest. In fact, many of them won't even make it to the big team.
  3. Baseball at the college and prep level doesn't have a national following, therefore the players are unknown to most viewers. This also dilutes audience interest.
In short, there isn't an audience for it, and if there were, the downside for ownership outweighs any revenue they might gain.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Pickoff Moves

Up And Down

Hardball Times has an Ben Jacobs article on fantasy values of various players. Not surprisingly, Bartolo Colón makes his "In Free Fall" list:
Colon is now 4-2 with a 5.17 ERA, 1.41 WHIP and 41 strikeouts in 54 innings. He's not giving up a ton of hits, but his big problem is that too many of the hits he is allowing are going over the fence. Colon has already allowed 11 home runs, which would put him on pace to allow 44 if he makes 36 starts. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that he's going to be a big disappointment to everybody who drafted him unless he drastically cuts back on the home runs.
Eckstein makes his "Five on the Rise" list:
Eckstein finally showed some life, going 11-for-24 (.458) with a triple, five runs and an RBI in the last week. However, he's still hitting just .254/.322/.290 with no homers, four steals, 16 runs and seven RBIs. The paucity of steals is the biggest concern, as he's only going to be any help to your team if he's hitting close to .300 and/or stealing 25-30 bases.
Which is true whether you're a fantasy league player or David Eckstein. For that to happen, Eck's going to have to hit like a demon from here on out, especially with the season already about a third over.

Sons of Sam Horn Draft Study

Thanks to the Texas Rangers Blog for this interesting study about the amateur draft on the Sons of Sam Horn message board. The executive summary: Good stuff that I haven't had time to completely digest.

Update, 10/17/04: The study has moved.

The End of Collusion

Birds In The Belfry in their "Around the Horn" section recalls that the collusion penalty is still being paid by the owners:
Jack Morris, the star free-agent pitcher, offered George Steinbrenner the opportunity to have an arbitrator decide his salary. Andre Dawson, another star free agent, gave Dallas Green, the Cubs' general manager, a signed contract with the salary line left blank, to be filled in by Green.

Ah, the good old days of collusion. They are gone now, at least those days of collusion. Some people on the players' side - agents, for example - suspect they are operating in new days of collusion. But the old days are finally over.

With the distribution of checks to more than 650 players containing interest payments on damage awards the players previously received, the case is closed 18½ years after it began and 13½ years after the owners agreed to pay the players $280 million as settlement for their transgressions - which they have never admitted, incidentally.

The players are only now getting their checks, some of whom have already been voted into the Hall of Fame, or are managing teams. Amazing.

Update: Thanks for the lack of attribution, guys. This appeared in the New York Times.

Park Parked on the DL

Not that you didn't suspect something like this would happen, but ex-Dodger and current Texas Rangers pitcher Chan Ho Park has hit the DL again, with back problems.

Brewers 2, Choking Dogs 1

Speaking of choking, it's time the Dodgers admitted their season is over. Sure, they're in first place, but Abraham Lincoln was still President when they last strung two wins together. Okay, maybe not quite that long, but the Dodgers offense looked simply awful. When Alex Cora and Jason Grabowski are your big boppers, something's horribly, horribly wrong. And then to lose it on a bad throw? Ugh.


Choke, Choke, Choke: Jays 6, Angels 5

This one shoulda been ours.

The Angels only trailed in the second. Colón served up a mess of K's, seven in 6 2/3 innings. It woulda been his best performance in a mess of starts, but then he started serving up runs.

And now it's obvious who the holes in the bullpen are. Frankie should be closing, but the team needs a middle reliever to replace him.

Update: I should throw in a nice word for Kotchman's double. One for three with a walk is a fine night. Ditto for Eck's 2-4 plus a walk. So far, I'm not having to eat my words about Eck's resurgence. But just as he starts heating up, Figgy goes in an 0-5 slump, now hitting under .300.


But Do Their Needs Meche?

Mariners Wheelhouse and U.S.S. Mariner have mentioned a possible unloading of starter Gil Meche "while he still has value", as Wheelhouse puts it. The questions before the house for the teams covered by this blog: do you bite and why?

The Angels are sitting on a rotational mess, hidden nicely by the offseason's additions to the team's bat collection. Colón has come very close to being a bust, Lackey's failing to turn it around, Ortiz earned himself a demotion to the bullpen, nobody's confident that Sele's 3.05 ERA isn't a fluke, and Washburn's run support luck is running out. Certainly, you can't bring another starter in without losing face on the Colón signing, as Bart is now the less-than-proud owner of the worst ERA in the rotation. But there's a couple mitigating factors here:

Both of which mean he might be suitable for a long-relief role. If that's the case, it means you could do something like releasing Josh Paul, whose last appearance was May 20th against the Yankees, and/or a struggling Weber, who doesn't seem to be turning it around.

The problem is that the M's would probably demand too much in return. A guy who can start but hasn't been effective in that role is probably better off on one of your competitors' teams, and preferably somebody in your own division.

Dodgers: This is a better fit from both teams' points of view. Not in the same division, the Dodgers might figure Meche is better than Nomo, whose mystery ailment (come on guys, the shoulder isn't right anymore) isn't improving, and whose sixth starter, José Lima, presently owns a 7.62 ERA in that role.

Again, the problem is the guy you give back.

Jackson, last year's wunderkind, now struggles at Vegas with a 5.21 ERA in 46.2 IP. Do you give him up? Tanyon Sturtze, with a 2.90 ERA at Vegas, was given permission to sign with the Yankees (where he is now the proud owner of a 18.00 ERA). There's another guy to check off the list. And on it goes; the list of Dodger pitching in the minors that's healthy and doing well is surprisingly short at the moment, and none of it is even in AAA. And as for hitters, what the M's would want back, the Bradley deal cleared the deck of anything like offensive help in the Dodgers' high minors.

I just can't see this deal happening, either.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

How Bad Is Weber?

Weber has appeared in 16 games and allowed runs in 12 of them. That puts him squarely in the ranks of the worst pitchers in the majors. Here's a list of pitchers in the majors right now with 15 or more innings pitched who've allowed one or more runs per inning pitched:

B AndersonKC54.21056
S ElartonCOL41.1845
M KinneyMIL30.2630
K AinsworthBAL30.2734
N CornejoDET25.2525
B WeberANA19.1019
D WrightCWS17.2417
C DurbinCLE16.2221
J LopezCOL16.0016
A HernandezMIL16.0118
J HaynesCIN15.0417

What's frightening about that list is only Lopez and Weber are relievers. In other words, Weber's getting as many chances as starting pitchers for teams dying for starting pitching, like the Rockies, Indians, and Detroit. Heck, I would rather have seen Ramon Ortiz last night.

(Yes, I know I'm rounding up in Weber's case.)

Monday, May 24, 2004

I'm Not A Pitcher, But I Play One On TV -- Blue Jays 6, Angels 5

I'm generally not too hard on Ben Weber because guys like him don't get strikeouts; he lives on the kindesses of strangers, or, um, the reliability of his getting GIDPs. Weber's presence on the team -- in the presence of obvious and superior alternatives (Shields, Frankie, Gregg) -- is pretty much a function of things I can't control.

But that doesn't mean I have to like it.

Weber, for a few games, at least, looked like he might have turned things around, but tonight wasn't one of those times. Tonight's game was full of needless errors. For instance, Chone Figgins' bobble that cost us an out and at least one run. Scioscia yelling at the umpires after the warning. (That was just dumb, Mike.) Weber's "Plate? Wazzat?" fielding. Frankie and Gregg again showing signs of craptitude -- and possibly overwork -- on the mound. Figgins running himself out of the sixth. Or heck, installing Weber on the mound in the first place in an Astroturf park. Groundball pitchers in a Turf park are a sure way to generate runs for the other team.

The homers were nice and all, but we just weren't getting anybody on base ahead of those guys; Kotch GIDP'd out of an inning. Let's face facts, kids, we lost this one more than they won it.

As a footnote: at one point one of Terry or Rory declared that it's not possible for a player's OBP to be lower than their batting average. As Tyler pointed out, this is indeed possible because sacrifice flies appear in the denominator of OBP but not in average. The more often you sacrifice, the worse your OBP.


Update: yes, of course HBP appears in the numerator and denominator. Duh.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

DaVanon: Better Than Your Average Replacement Player

Futility Infielder has a great article on Jeff DaVanon, everyone's favorite fourth outfielder, including a rundown on Jeffy's dad Jerry, a true futility infielder with the Cards, Astros, Padres, and Orioles. Unlike Jerry, Jeff seems to be having a relatively solid major league career. An article worth reading about the Human Walk Machine.

The Wild, Wild... Central?

The three division winners plus Wild Card format has been in effect since the 1995 postseason. In general, it's been extremely kind to the teams on the coasts. Since its inception, only two Central Division teams have ever won the Wild Card: the 2001 St. Louis Cardinals, and the 1998 Chicago Cubs. In both the years that the Cubs and Cards won, the Central had three teams over .500. That situation obtains now, with Cincy and Chicago in a tie for first, and all other teams in the Central -- except for the Pirates -- having a winning record. If this continues, the Central will be the toughest division in baseball, displacing either coastal division. More than likely, the Wild Card will come from that division also.

If the Dodgers wish to get to the postseason, they'd better win the division. For the first time in a long time, second place will be the first loser.

The Other Perfect Game This Week

Chuck Tiffany, for Dodgers' high A affiliate Columbus Catfish, 10-0, over seven innings, against the Greensboro Bats (Florida Marlins). Tiffany has 39 strikeouts in 28.2 innings, for a 12.24 K/9, walking only 7. Congratulations, Chuck.

Update: corrected for score and Carvajal's non-participation.

Angels Bench Makes Gammons' Most Surprising List

Peter Gammons published his "Better Than Advertised" list, and not surprisingly, Chone Figgins is on it:
[Figgins has] played short, third, center. He's a good leadoff hitter. "He's on base when he hits the ball on the ground, but he hits pitches you don't think he'll hit because he's got surprising bat speed." Going into Sunday's game, Figgins, Robb Quinlan, Jeff DaVanon, Jose Molina and Casey Kotchman were hitting between .286 and .375.


Figgins has been a surprise, as has been the entire Angels bench. So has Kevin Gregg, who they think has starter stuff but right now is replacing Brendan Donnelly setting up for Francisco Rodriguez and Troy Percival. Rodriguez and Gregg allowed 33 hits, six earned runs and struck out 61 in their first 48 2/3 innings. Everyone thought the Angels would be good, but to have the best record in the league with Garret Anderson, Troy Glaus, Tim Salmon, Darin Erstad and Donnelly all hurt?

Good stuff, and no kidding. I just keep wondering when the magic will wear off. We're playing the Blue Jays and Chisox this week, while the A's plays Boston and Cleveland, and the Rangers play the Chisox and Jays in the reverse order. There's no cakewalks and no hope of getting Anderson back soon, so we've gotta keep the kids hot. Good luck, guys.

Angels 8, Orioles 3

Somewhere, O's fans are fuming. Not only have they been sold a bill of goods about their young pitching, but they've watched Vladimir Guerrerro pound out homers in two consecutive games against them in this Angels homestand. Cabrera never really got any breathing room, and tried -- unsuccessfully -- to get himself out of jams in a couple innings. But the pitching today was in general bad on both sides. Both Frankie and Shields wobbled through their outs, and Sele was hardly recognizeable as the Yankee-killer of last week, giving up three runs. Frankie didn't collect a single strikeout and got himself into deep counts on nearly every batter. (Of course, he only faced the meat of their order, but still...) On the other hand, all three O's pitchers gave up one or more earned runs. Ouch.

I'll say it now: Eckstein's coming back. I know, I know, maybe I'll jinx it, but 2-4 with a walk -- a walk! -- is a revelation for him lately. And that hurl-your-bat-and-save-the-runner maneuver -- I've never seen anything like that. And his sudden conversion to a 5'9" shortstop on that line drive? Fantastic.

Really, the story was all about Vlad and Guillen, and of the two, I'm far more impressed with Guillen just because he's never put it together consistently before this year. Was he being mismanaged? I don't know, but I do get the impression that Scioscia's a manager who knows how best to squeeze good performances out of this guy.

Kotchman: okay, we all know about the no-strikeout record. It's all good, but the J. T. Snow impression's getting tired. Hitting a little less with some walks, or better, some power would be nice. Okay, he's a rookie: back off, I know. But somehow... first base should be a power slot, and .289/.333/.316 isn't that impressive. Erstad's .333 SLG is starting to look that much better, crazy as I think that might be.

Gregg: the only pitcher tonight who looked like his old self. I can't tell you how grateful I was that the Halos weren't ahead by three runs or less. From a winning-the-game point of view, it's probably crucial that Percy not get the ball in late innings.


Gilligan's Island of the Damned: Braves 5, Dodgers 1

Just sit right back
And you'll hear a tale
A tale of a team in first
Their hitting started very hot
But now it's gotten worse

The starters coughed up runs like phlegm
The bullpen blew up too
If not for the weakness of the NL West
The Padres they'd pursue

The team hit into double plays
And only got one run
They stranded eight and left the Braves
Feeling like they were done

Okay, so Wilson had another bad outing, but we got spoiled by his performances last year. Maybe they should bench Green every day -- another day, another GIDP. I turned this one off in the seventh -- no point in watching further. Hopefully they turn it around soon, but I'm not all that optimistic.


Saturday, May 22, 2004

Glaus, Game Shows, And GEICO

This is like a bad GEICO ad:
The doctor who performed surgery on Glaus' right shoulder found "significant damage," according to Manager Mike Scioscia, and the odds of Glaus returning to play this year appear slim. He'll wear a sling for the next 10-14 days before being re-examined and planning out a physical therapy plan.

"There's a lot of work ahead of Troy before he considers even thinking about playing this year," Scioscia said.

Yocum: Troy ... there's bad news and good news. The bad news is, you'll never play again.
Glaus (groggily): Uh... the good news?
Yocum: I just saved a bunch of money on my car insurance...

(Props to Stephen Smith for that idea.) But if this is an ad, it means somewhere there's gotta be a reality TV show where the team has to find a replacement player either at center or third base. Thus, we cut to the unwarranted return of the third base version of ... Elimidate! And here's the contestants:

Okay, it's time to change the channel. Is there a game on TV somewhere?

A Life? What's That?

Terry at The Bench Coach hangs 'em up, and I must say he'll be missed. Drop by and say your respects. Is it a coincidence that the Dodgers were just on an eight-game losing streak? Well... seeing as how Mariner Optimist is on strike until the team goes on a five-game win streak, it's easy to understand how such thoughts might enter my noggin. Anyway, good night, Terry. It's been a fun ride while it lasted, and we hope to hear back from you soon.

Dodgers 7, Braves 4

Whew -- did that ever feel better. Cora popping one into the stands, Grabby as well, and a veritable hit parade at the bottom of the order, with Grabby, Ross, Izzy, Cora and Bradley all getting two hits on the day. The rain probably helped the team some this time, though I had my fingers crossed when I saw Bradley making an incredible sliding catch I thought sure would re-injure his ankles. Jeffy had his best outing of the year, striking out nine, made bad only when Tracy failed to observe the signs of a struggling pitcher in the 8th. DeWayne Wise came in to pinch-hit a three-run gopherball. And, hey, we even got to see Gagné pitch, even though he did give up a solo homer to one of the Joneses. I'll take that any day so long as we win.

About the only bad news on the day was the announcer saying that Encarnacion had shoulder problems last year that -- stop me if you've heard this one before -- he elected not to have surgery on. I'm figuring on career-ending shoulder surgery round about August. They're dropping like flies here...


Anderson's Reward

Arthritis is an autoimmune disease; one way to shut down or reduce to the body's immune reaction is to administer steroids.

Doctor's orders, ya know.

I'm not saying it will happen. But.

Pickoff Moves

Anaheim Stingers 6, Orioles 3

You've just gotta wonder what's gonna happen today when Angels-killer Sir Sidney Ponson (j/k about the knighthood) takes the mound against a lately inoffensive Angels offense. I'm predicting an Orioles win, but the glass is half-empty for me a lot of the time, and it's easy to do, too, when so many of your big boppers are out of the lineup. The all-reserves team took the field yesterday, none of them hitting well against Baltimore starter Eric Du Bose, prompting me to wonder whether Mike shouldn't have contacted my friend Debi about filling out the lineup card. But once ex-Brewer closer Mike DeJean got to the mound, it was partay time for the Angels. Wash had a quality start -- not a great one, but acceptable -- but the boys didn't put it together in time to give him a win.

Robb Quinlan 3-3 with a walk on the night, Guillen 2-4, and the rest of the crew putting together no better than a 1-3 game? Rickety, rickety is the offense.


Eight Is Enough! Braves 2, Dodgers 0

Okay, we get that they're not really a contending team. But did they have to lose in such an obvious fashion? I mean, it's pretty clear by now that Beltre needs surgery, Green's was a flop, and neither of Cora and Izturis, over the long haul, amount to anything like a complete major leaguer. And Bradley -- well, let's just say he's not the solution to the middle of the lineup. I predicted a bad clubhouse funk before the season, but I guess now I was only off on the timing. They say teams aren't as bad as they appear when they're on a losing streak, nor as good as they appear when they're on a tear, but I have long suspected this team will be a middle-of-the-pack performer. We're headed that way now. And if the Pads win tonight and the Dodgers don't, how long will it be before the team turns it back around?


At The Padres' Beck and Call

The Padres' 2003 fill-in for closer Trevor Hoffman Rod Beck has returned, from still undisclosed personal problems. I'm not sure how effective he'll be having missed almost two months of play (and Spring Training as well?), but if he returns to last year's form, he'll provide solid middle relief for them. I still think, in this weak division, the Padres are the team to beat.

Dayn Perry: Erstad's Injury A Boon

As if we didn't know.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Hey, Jim -- It's the Kid On Line 1!

The Angels being stuck in a slump -- well, were stuck in a slump until the eighth of tonight's game -- got me remembering a story my friend Debi passed on just before game seven of the World Series two years ago. How many times have you read the lineup and gone positively nuts because Scioscia insists on putting a slumping Eck at the top of the order? Or ditto for Tracy with his man-love obsession installing Green in the cleanup spot when he's hitting .236? Most of us, of course, are not brave enough -- or liable, in any event -- to contact the front office and deliver our pearls of wisdom. (God knows they probably don't read our blogs, anyway.) And even if you did, would they listen? Well...
When I grew up, we had season tickets to [Angel Stadium] -- incredible seats...we gave them up during the Rams debacle, but that's another story...

So one year, I can't remember which, I might have been 10-11, the Angels actually could possibly make it to the play offs...I went to 2 games in a row, and 3rd baseman, Carney Lansford made something like 7-8 errors in two games. I was appalled.

I called then manager Jim Fregosi - not really expecting to get in - not knowing if they were going to randomly ask a caller's age. I get his secretary, she wants my name, number and will have Mr. Fregosi return my call...


OK - and I give it to her (at this point, I'm figuring the SWAT team was going to descend on my house with paratroopers for doing this. Hey - I was a Kid!)

So Jim calls me back. I ask about Lansford, and Jim (we're now on a first name basis) says that Carney has been having a lot of personal problems. I explain to him that I completely understand that (after all, I was almost 11 ;) but I went on to explain that we really had a shot at the playoffs this year and Carney should keep his personal problems off the field or not be on it.

Jim said he didn't have any other 3rd baseman.

He was sooooo wrong...

I told him he could take Bobby Grich off of short stop - throw him on third, bring Dan Ford in from left field to cover short, and on and on I went - completely rearranging his out and in field.

Jim tells me that he'd "think about it" and thanks me for my call.

The next night, the game is televised, the Angels are in New York, there's been a line up change - Carney Lansford is out of the game, Bobby Grich is playing 3rd base, Dan Ford is covering short stop.....and on it went. Fregosi used my entire line up.

They beat the Yankees that night.

Jim Fregosi wasn't signed to manage the team the next year. I'm sure the fact that he was taking advice from some random 10 year old kid probably had nothing to do with that. ;)

Sadly, Debi never again managed a major league team, but at times I think she'd do better than some guys I've seen in the dugout.

Postscript: Baseball Almanac shows Fregosi's last year was a half season before being fired in 1981, when he managed the team to a just under .500 record of 22-26. Maybe she was thinking of '79?

Doug Pappas Dies

all-baseball.com reports the sad and unexpected death of Doug Pappas, author of the Business of Baseball blog, due to heat prostration while on vacation. His blog was a wonderful source of information. Doug, you will be missed. Next time you hurl a curse at Bud Selig -- remember Doug as the guy who helped expose him for the jerk he so often was.

Yankees 6, Angels 2

Colón is an overpaid ...

... number six. Demote him, and do it now. Is it embarrassing for Bart to watch Ramon Ortiz pitch three innings of scoreless, 2-hit relief, with six strikeouts? Good. If he keeps that up, I have no problem putting Ramon back in the rotation. Bart needs to give some serious thought to pitching, because the thirty extra pounds he carried into spring training is starting to look like a log around his neck. Angel bats went silent, as we knew they eventually would, but Bartolo threw batting practice for the Yankees. Embarrassing, embarrassing, embarrassing. Washburn is closer to being an ace, and that comes from somebody who doesn't think he earned -- even in 2002 -- the title.

The 3-5 hitters went a collective 2-12 with no walks. It's nice that Eckstein's hitting again, but can we please get some middle lineup production going?


Glaussing Over The Facts

More from Ken Rosenthal on Glaus' shoulder, including the now-standard line that Glaus refused surgery. I sometimes wonder where these guys get their info, or whether they even bother checking facts.
The suspicion both inside and outside the Angels' organization is that Glaus feared that his numbers might suffer, hurting his free-agent value at the end of the season.


Glaus' agent, Michael Nicotera, says the player's red-hot performance was deceptive, because he was unable to turn on inside pitches. At one point he told Nicotera, "I'm just waiting for it to blow out." He asked Dr. Lewis Yocum, the Angels' team orthopedist, if his recovery from surgery would be more difficult if the injury worsened. According to Nicotera, Yocum said, "That is a calculated risk."

Well, duh, and it's altogether possible that's what caused Green to have his current woes. But here, kids, is the kicker:
"He had another MRI done. The labrum was worse. The tear in his rotator cuff is now completely through. You can literally hold Troy's wrist, pull down and create two fingers of space in his shoulder."
Multiply this times yesterday's Slate article on shoulder reconstruction, and you've got an ex-third baseman, and very possibly, an ex-player. (By the way, who the hell is doing this that they know? Man, that sounds painful.)

Today's the day Troy goes under the knife. Turn your thoughts and prayers his way.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

It's Only A Game, People

Chill out, already. One wonders whether the Marine in question -- the stab victim -- might also happen to be sporting Yankee colors, but be that as it may, violence at the park is hardly necessary. Fortunately, it appears the transgressor is in custody and the injury slight.

The Ugly News About Labrum Reconstruction

Thanks to Jon for this Will Carroll story about labrum repairs.
If pitchers with torn labrums were horses, they’d be destroyed. Of the 36 major-league hurlers diagnosed with labrum tears in the last five years, only midlevel reliever Rocky Biddle has returned to his previous level.
Of course, that doesn't go into third basemen, but you've got to believe that Glaus is a huge risk going forward, at least at third, and possibly with the bat.

Let's hope that the other Angels have better prognoses than Troy.

Providing Trade And Comfort

So Andrew Brown is the PTNBL in the Bradley trade? Given the alternatives between him and Joel Hanrahan, I suppose I can live with it, but it seems, on its surface, very expensive, especially given Bradley's .252/.323/.432 line, not to mention his time spent on the DL. Does "cheap" make up for "ineffective"? And how good will this trade be if Gutierrez becomes the hitter Logan White's scouts projected him to be?

At Mariners Wheelhouse, Jeff speculates the M's will pick up Paulie next year based on his status as an aging vet with a quality if low-powered bat, and an unrepeatable career year behind him in 2001. The vitriol being hurled right now at Bavasi in the Mariners' blogosphere is intense and constant; the fear now has become that the team will bite at even more of the same toolsy-but-poor-hitting rookies at the trade deadline and even after the season's end. After the Looper/Ketchner for Cabrera deal, Bavasi's skills as a barterer of human flesh have legitimate reason to be called into question.

What I wonder about is DePodesta's.

Have we, as Dodger fans, been too willing to give him the benefit of a doubt because of the team's early success? I've said his moves looked good before. But how good do they look now that the PTNBL is Andrew Brown? DePo rooked Bavasi, it seems, on the Ketchner trade, but you never know until the kid makes it all the way up. Still, early returns are encouraging, with a 1.69 ERA, 7.98 K/9 and a 3.05 BB/9. So that's a big drop from his single-A numbers, but not unexpected. And what of Grabowski? His two-homer game aside, he's been mostly ineffective at the plate, spending more time at or below the Mendoza line than above it. Olmedo Saenz and José Hernandez have been good in limited action, but neither is the answer to any question aside from "Who should be in reserve?"

The jury's still out. But the fact is, the team needs help, and, apparently, sooner rather than later. We're waiting, DePo.

Becalmed: Phillies 9, Dodgers 4

There's a reason this web site exists. Unfortunately, a lot of people had begun to forget that reason. There's no forgetting anymore, however. The Dodgers lost their sixth in a row Wednesday, and it's increasingly clear that the team is finally living up to expectations—low expectations. The Dodgers have lost sole possession of first place, and along with that, have lost the confidence (or cockiness) they had just a couple weeks ago. It's only mid-May, but this streak has the potential to really screw them up... as well as scare off the bandwagon fans who were suddenly believers in the team (which, actually, would be a welcome occurence).
  -- Dodger Blues

I have made mention of the problems the team might have in the past. Bradley isn't really a true heart-of-the-order masher. Neither is Encarnacion. The pitching has regressed a lot from last year, especially with Nomo. Alvarez is a lot of things, but another way to spell Brown he is not.

And now the Padres are tied with us for first place. This team will have losing streaks for sure, but we haven't faced a genuinely contending team with their pitchers in full working order until the Phillies. Kerry Wood, you will recall, had back stiffness when we beat the Cubs. I'm predicting a sweep in Philly, with one win but a series loss in Atlanta.


Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Nuke The Bronx From Orbit...

... it's the only way to be sure.

I hate the Yankees. I hate Gary Sheffield -- I hated him even when he was a Dodger. His psycho player act wore thin then and it's even thinner now. And what the F is with that bat-waggling? Hit the ball or don't, buster. I hate Jeter and his flashy-ass spin-and-throw move that loses the ball about one time in eight. I hate Giambi and his beady little eyes. Every minute he spends on the DL or riding the pine is like a vacation for everyone else. And, God help me, I hate A-Rod and his simpering, passive-aggressive doe eyes one minute, and Mafia-inspired backstabbing the next.

And I hate their fans. Their fans have been an absolute plague on the Angels' boards this week. It's not enough that they win the game -- noooo. They have to gloat about it. At the Big A, they're loud, obnoxious, frequently drunk, and ugly. Yeah, I said it, ugly. We got this one enormous fat guy with a belly hanging well over his shorts waving a Yankee banner between sections trying to get the multitudinous Yankee fans to whoop it up some more. And, sorry Alex, the ump did not hand us the game yesterday. Every third game they don't win is because of bad umpiring, not because they didn't play well. No, nothing like that.

Anyway -- Lackey -- another less-than-optimal night for John, though you have to give him some credit for having faced a really killer lineup (albeit in somewhat of a slump). But he needs to find his control and fast. This game really gives you a feel now for just how much this lineup misses Glaus.


Something About The Air? Schmidt One-Hits The Cubs

Jason Schmidt was on last night, tossing a thirteen-K, one-hit blanking of the Cubs. Good news for the rest of the NL West, though: Felipe Alou let the Giants' duct-taped ace roll to 144 pitches last night. Baseball Prospectus has yet to publish their Pitcher Abuse Points leaderboard, but you've got to believe that Schmidt, who's averaged 129 pitches in his last three starts, is going to end up near the top of that list when it finally makes it out.

It's What You Know That Isn't So

Tyler at Athletics Nation says "And now the news that Lip Glaus could be out for the season. ... We all knew Glaus couldn't stay healthy for a season." Why did we know that, Tyler? Judging by at-bats, he's never been out before 2003 for more than a few days. Granted, his (re-)injury comes during a particularly bad time for the Angels, but that doesn't mean he's injury prone.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Amezega: He's A Floor Wax And A Dessert Topping! Angels 1, Yankees 0

Oh. My. God.

That thought permeated my mind like a mustard gas attack the second I saw Alfredo Amezega warming up in the Angels dugout. Why was this oh-so-horribly wrong?

  1. Because he takes out the one of only two credible power threats at the top of the lineup.
  2. Did I say "power threats"? I meant, "threats to get a hit".
  3. Because he can't run the basepaths to save his life.
And sure enough, he got erased making the kind of mental mistake that should have been fixed in the minors. Yet somehow, he made up for it in the 11th, when he successfully sacrificed, and Adam "Angees" Riggs singled in the winning run.

Dammit, I want some blowouts of the Yankees. These guys are the Evil Empire. I just can't help myself: when I saw Sheffield take a hit on that corner wall shagging a flyball in right, I cheered. Base of me, I know, but I can't stand the Yankees. Gotta give props to Posada for what he did for Kotch last week, but in general, Yankees suck, as the boys from Boston always say.

I'm beginning to agree with Richard that the team is winning in spite of Mike.

I realized this morning I'm not being charitable, or complete, about this game. Sele, Frankie, Percy, and Shields-ey (alliteration must be preserved here) pitched another wonder against the Bronx Bombers; if this keeps up, the staff ace may well prove to have been a guy we already had on staff. Sele's 2.79 ERA is now the lowest of any starter. And Riggs -- wow. To get called up and drive in the winning run after waking up every day for so many years and finding your picture next to the definition of "journeyman" in the dictionary -- well, that's a good day at the ballpark. And can I cheer -- just a little bit? -- for Eckstein going 2-5 on the day? He probably won't hit anything like .300 on the year, but he's at least headed in the right direction. I won't feel comfortable about it until he has a couple weeks of 2-4 and 2-5 days under his tiny belt, but seeing as how Mike isn't going to demote him from leadoff, we're obliged to applaud and nervously hope he can keep it up.

And everyone else in the division did us a favor by losing. We're atop the division by 3.5 games. The worst that can happen after this Yankees series is for us to be up by only a half a game.


Schoeny Update

Now they're saying Schoeneweis is "pitching like a staff ace". That tells you something about the Chisox rotation, but still, I'm always glad to see guys do well... so long as they're not up against us.

Randy Johnson's Perfect Game

Randy Johnson has pitched a perfect game, 2-0 versus Atlanta. The last perfect game was Yankee David Cone's against the Expos in 1999. Johnson is the oldest pitcher ever to throw one. Congratulations, Big Unit.


Troy Glaus Injury Timeline

The Scott Miller article forwarded by reader mattkew in CBS SportsLine speculates that Glaus and the Angels will part ways this year. A timeline of the injury history starting from last year when it all began: In his article, Miller asks "Why didn't he have surgery on his shoulder last fall, after two different highly respected doctors all but gave him directions to the operating room?" Well, Scott, maybe it was because at the time both told him to go to rehab.

Monday, May 17, 2004

A Shoulder Made of Glaus, Part 2

Sixty days my rear end. See Jon's commentary on Shawn Green for where this is going.

Well, at least we have Dallas McPherson to look forward to. Troy, you were a great MVP in 2002 and it was a fantastic career while it lasted. I guess it's a good thing that they didn't re-sign Glaus in the offseason, huh?

Update: ESPN reports he may be out for the rest of the year. No duh, and add it's "stick a fork in him" time, but I include this for the sake of completeness; IMO his career is over, but at least he's got D-Mac behind him. Who knows, he might make a nice backup infielder. Well, he's not so good at short, and hasn't played the position since the minors. Heh, never mind.

Score Bard's New Periodic Table Of The Blogs

The Score Bard has updated his periodic table of the blogs, and I ranked "sulphur". Jon, it seems, has been merged into all-baseball.com's new listing as "Al", aluminum. Thanks, Score Bard. Always happy to get a link, especially from a quality blogger.

Update: And please, if you need something to cheer you up after Sunday's losses, know that metropolitan LA's teams aren't the only ones to lose. Read Batgirl, especially this Legovision reenactment of Troy Glaus, pre-shoulder-trauma, tagging out Henry Blanco.

A Good Man On A Bad Team

Today I was reminiscing about Benji Gil, the Rangers' first-round draft pick in 1991. He barely was able to play in the majors: he came up in 1993, skipped 1994, played -- poorly -- in 1995 through 1997, missed 1998 and 1999, and then the Angels signed him. He gave them two very good years (2001: .296/.330/.477, and 2002: .285/.307/.431), and two really bad ones. Last year, the Angels released him. He has subsequently bounced around the Indians minor leagues, and now the Rockies were the last team to kick him out after a wretched spring training.

Which brought me to the team stats page. If you scroll your eyes down, you'll see a fellow named Joe Kennedy, carrying an unexpectedly good 2.85 ERA. Looking at his peripheral stats, he's got respectable-but-not-great numbers:


What's more, his strikeout rate, never especially good with Tampa Bay, has actually improved over his 2003 spent there. Those kind of numbers -- especially H/9 -- have got to get worse in Colorado, but who'd've believed you could get that from a journeyman pitcher at Coors Field, when the starting rotation's ERA presently stands at 7.67? Baseball Prospectus gives him a 15.0 VORP (subscription required), putting him in the neighborhood of such luminaries as Roy Halliday, Wilson Alvarez, and Ben Sheets. Given the Rocks' proclivities, I have to believe his acquisition was an accident, but however it occurred, at least the Rockies' fans have one guy they can look forward to, not unlike Barry Bonds and the Giants.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Sheets Kickers

2004 stats to date:

Barry Zito, Moneyball stud: 5.63
Ben Sheets, Moneyball laughingstock: 2.90

This commercial message is brought to you by Mr. Small Sample Size, the king of big ERAs.

Broomsville: Reds 6, Dodgers 3

The feeling that Tinkerbell has left the room settles in hard around here, especially with the Angels' depleted lineup finally going thump in Baltimore. But settle in it has, as the Dodgers choked hard against the Reds, 6-3. In fact, the only redeeming thing to happen in baseball for me was the Cubs 4-2 win today versus the Padres, effecting a three-game sweep. (Hint to the Dodgers: based on the last two games I saw there, you might try to hit hard down the left field line. All the homers were in the general vicinity of the Western Metals building, including José Macias' fluke two-run shot today.) Have the Angels had bad luck recently? Well, how about Sammy Sosa being scratched because of a bad sneeze? Older players -- you'd think they could ask politely for a few days off!

At the very least, in today's game, Green and Beltre should have flip-flopped. And perhaps Cora could have been used in leadoff, I don't know. And now, the trip to Philly after a losing homestand. This could get ugly. Minus the hitting, the pitching isn't good enough to keep the team in close games.

The thing that bugs me is Gagné's lain fallow for so long I can't even remember the last time I saw him pitch.


Postscriptum: Is it still too early to remind people that Baseball Prospectus projected the Dodgers to finish fourth?

Orioles 4, Angels 0

As I mentioned earlier, the Mariners' blogosphere has taken a sudden culling along with the team's fortunes. It's not surprising; losses will do that to you. That's why I don't have too much to say today, especially since I left the game at about the sixth, when it became plain that the problems besetting the Angels wouldn't go away, namely Larry (Halter), Moe (Kennedy), and Curly in the infield. Okay, subtract one Stooge, but after two errors in one game and no redeeming bat activity to make up for it, I'm starting to agree a little more with Richard's call to put Amezega in at third and let Halter check his glove for holes. But, hey, at least it was a .500 road trip. That's what everyone should shoot for.


Angels 7, Orioles 4

Every team in the NL West lost yesterday, while every team in the AL West won. I'm not sure how often this happens, but it must be damn frustrating if you're a Mariners' fan: just as your team finally catches a break, beating the Yanks 13-7 in the 13th inning, everyone else does, too, as the Rangers beat the Tigers 6-1, and Oakland beat Kansas City 3-1. U.S.S. Mariner has, predictably, had trenchant commentary on the unexpectedly bleak situation in Seattle. The number of M's bloggers has collapsed faster than Saddam Hussein's army, prompting U.S.S. Mariner to trim their sidebar. And while I don't think anyone will take them up on their new fan jersey combination, the comment they passed on from one of their readers strikes me as apropos to both the Angels and Dodgers situations:
Underperformance by one person is poor performance. Underperformance by a whole team is poor management.
Well, yes, and that's why you have to wonder about how the Angels are doing. Richard has started blasting Mike for his in-game moves. Yes, I'll give you his running game is an absolute puzzler sometimes, but what about the successful double-steal the other day? Without comprehensive data to hand, I'm not going to go far with this one quantitatively. While this game was going on, we were at Petco watching the Cubs beat -- beat? No, pound -- the Padres. (We're going to a second game tonight at Petco, so neither have I got the time -- wish me luck on the traffic. Expect a mess of photo essays up in the next few days, including, hopefully, our Spring Training adventures.)

Back to the Halos. I'm starting to think I might like Wash, just a little. For one thing, I hate flyball pitchers, and for another, I hate extreme flyball pitchers. With sufficient run support, any hack on the mound can be made to look good, although to take it to the extremes the boys in St. Louis do is just crazy. Yet, eight innings and two earned runs? And now he's sporting a sub-5.00 ERA? Wowzers. If he gets below 4.00 I'll do handstands. And no, Richard, I'm not taking back anything I said about Halter. I'll agree that his rotten glovework has cost the team dearly from time to time, but he does -- sometimes -- do things that redeem him. Hey, at least he's not Eric Owens, or worse yet, Scott Spiezio -- who is now 1-42 in the clutch for the M's. So much for "clutch hitting" as an ability.


Congrats, Lakers

Congratulations to the Lakers for pulling one off. I normally couldn't give the gluteus maximus of a Rattus rattus about basketball, but Dodgerkid -- who was a little down on the team earlier -- will be happy to be proven wrong, I'm sure.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Big Unit At The Big A?

pussinboots on the Angel Fan Forums reports a Phoenix rumor that Randy Johnson wants to be traded to a contender if the team isn't in it by June, and he has a no-trade clause including the Yanks. The Angels were mentioned.

Yes, folks, Elvis has left the building.

Update: The Arizona Republic adds this coda. As usual, one misheard comment becomes a trade rumor. Sheesh.

Diamondbacks ace Randy Johnson stressed Friday that the frustration he expressed one day after losing a 1-0 decision to the New York Mets' Tom Glavine shouldn't be interpreted as anything else.

"Don't read into any more about that than what it really is," Johnson said before Friday's game against Montreal.

Johnson wasn't available for comment after losing Wednesday on a home run allowed to the Mets' Kazuo Matsui for the only run of the game. He remained baffled about a question pertaining to any disappointment that only 27,750 fans - the third-smallest home crowd of the season at the time - paid to see him face Glavine.

Yet Another Injury? Colón Left Game With Back Stiffness

Maybe this was why Colón did so poorly yesterday. He had back trouble:
Colon gave up Javy Lopez's solo home run in the fourth, four more runs in the fifth, then left because of lower-back stiffness...

Pickoff Moves

Salmon, Damned

Two at bats. Two freakin' at bats. That's all it took before Salmon's knee blew out again.
"It felt fine during warm-ups and pregame, but when I actually got out there and played at game speed it hurt," Salmon said. "You can do all the practice you want, but you can't simulate a game situation. That's why they have these rehab games. I needed to see how it would react at being a little out of control on a swing and running the bases hard."

. . .

"I have very mixed emotions right now. From a player's perspective its great to get back on the field, but the injury just isn't where it is supposed to be," Salmon said. "We've got a lot of good things going on with the big club. It's a long season and I don't want to force this and drag this thing out. I'm still trying to figure things out. We'll have to see how it feels tomorrow. Right now it is tender and sore."

Salmon was supposed to play this weekend with the Quakes and possibly rejoin the Angels Tuesday, but that time table is now up in the air.

Grand. Simply grand.

Glaus At 1B?

The Angels website picked up on the possibility mentioned in yesterday's broadcast that Glaus might play first base to keep his bat in the lineup rather than have a fixed DH. The way the team's been injured this year, we'll need every break we can get.

Reds 2, Dodgers 1

The ride's over.

You'll have games like this in the course of a season, but the question is, was it avoidable? Is Ishii reverting to form? I don't know, but the number of walks points that way. But the bats, the bats... my first thought, after reading the box score, was Grabby batting leadoff? Another Tracy's-lost-his-mind moment, I thought, but 1-3 with a walk isn't too bad. The problem is the gaping hole that has become Shawn Green's bat -- .236? Enough, already -- to the bottom of the lineup with you. But -- unlike Eckstein, Mendozadom is highly unlikely for Green. Even if he continues at his current .192 pace (over the last week), it would still take him 138 four at bat games to get there. His descent has been imperceptable after his early good start; as of April 15th, he was hitting .333. On the other hand, the Reds' pitching staff is 13th in the league by ERA, so if there were ever a team he could recover his swing against, it should be Cincinnati. I'll hold off on advice to move him down the order, but if he doesn't start producing this weekend, it's time.


No Epic Battles For Us, Thanks -- We're Waving

Jon dutifully recorded Cora's epic at bat Thursday, with this hoping-to-counteract-the-stereotype close:
To anyone who might be reading this from the outside, who has bought into the stereotype of the Dodger fan, who has mocked us, please try to understand. Just try.

Dodger fans are real.

Of course they are, Jon, but that doesn't mean they actually give a damn about good baseball. I had completely forgotten about this, but letter writer Paul Haddad in today's Times reminds us that the crowd assembled was "busy doing the wave throughout most of Cora's 14-minute battle for the ages." Arrive in the third, and do the wave through the exciting bits. <expletive>

Friday, May 14, 2004

Step On Their Necks, Already: Angels 10, Orioles 9

Colón is an overpaid number two.

Here we go again. Five earned runs, five innings, four walks, five strikeouts. 4.59 ERA. Gregg didn't look so hot, either, but, hey, you gotta tip your caps. But this is pathetic.

In the ninth: Rory Markus:

Good thing he put that caveat in there, because it really is believable. Percy can't get it done anymore. If I see one more blown save where K-Rod gets pulled because of Percy's title as "closer", I'm going to punch a hole in the wall. When you're ahead, you step on their necks. Percival's ERA is now 4.26. When are they going to pull this guy? He doesn't have it.

What's wrong with this pitching staff is the GM's inability to recognize and acquire quality pitching. We should have had Javier Vazquez. Instead, we have an overpaid number two. Step on their necks, already. This should have never gone to extra innings. Christ, do I miss Donnelly.

And what was up with Figgins not getting credit for hitting for the cycle? Maybe I'm ignorant of the rules on how scoring works, but he got two bases in the tenth when the throw to the plate was wide. Isn't that a double?


A Shoulder Made Of Glaus

Again, same shoulder, and this time his knee, too. This same injury kept him out of the lineup for two months last year.
Angels general manager Bill Stoneman had no roster move to announce and said the club did not think the 15-day disabled list was immediately necessary.
Yeah. Well, whatever games he sits out are just more DL time as far as I'm concerned.

The Curse is back.

Update: This could be really bad. Even though it's his throwing shoulder, Shawn Green is the poster child for what happens after a shoulder reconstruction, and if Troy has to undergo that, chances are his labrum's done for good -- as is his ability as a power hitter.

Pickoff Moves

Yankees 7, Angels 3

David, you have three 0-4 games until Mendozahood.

José Guillen wasn't enough. In its presently depleted state, the Angels' lineup isn't enough. That was obvious yesterday, when the Yankees smacked around Angels "pitching". Lackey has never really returned to his 2002 form, and I suspect his early success may well be due to the league having not seen him. About the only good thing to come of this was his five strikeouts, but his demotion from 2002 World Series Game 7 hero (and ALDS Game 4 winner) to back-of-the-rotation scaremonger has been absolutely brutal. Lack needs to settle down and learn to pitch. And there's no place in the bullpen for him.

Note to whoever's writing the headlines over at mlb.com: Lackey was many things, but unlucky wasn't one of them.


Cubs 7, Dodgers 3

The Dodgers scoring in this game was almost like a gift, and yes, we got to see the promised Borowski/Grabowski matchup, which our rookie won. But Nomo lost the game, and after this outing, you have to wonder whether he can be effective ever again in any role. Update: I have to agree with Terry: Hideo needs DL time.

Helen complained that JoBo has looked awful this year; for whatever reason, he can't find his rhythm and has drifted into anticloserdom, giving up a mess of hits and walks. I thought at first maybe she's getting spoiled watching Gagné, but in fact Borowski seems to be undergoing an Ortizian transformation, with his H/9 nearly doubling and BB/9 tripling over last year. JoBo, you'd better stop handing out free passes. Closers can't afford to do that.


Cold Comfort

A deal's a deal, but I'd be creeped out, too, if my siblings decided to freeze my father, regardless of whether he's Ted Williams. The temptation to speak out about it publically would be pretty intense. The lawsuit brought against Bobby Jo and Mark Ferrell -- Williams' eldest daughter and son-in-law -- by Williams' estate (read: siblings) sounds too much like the kind of thing the Scientology creepos might try to pull off.

Mariners 3-way Deal?

Blecch, whether it's the PI's imagination or not:
Bavasi said no deals are near, but rumors are circulating the Red Sox and Royals are trying to entice the Mariners into a three-way trade. Boston would trade pitcher Byung Hyun Kim and, possibly, outfielder Johnny Damon to the Mariners in exchange for pitcher Freddy Garcia and minor league starter Cha Seung Baek.

If the Red Sox could get the Mariners to bite, Garcia would then be shipped to Kansas City, with outfielder Carlos Beltran going to Boston.

And this helps Seattle how, exactly? You know things are bad when the local papers start talking up rumors of trades that erode a team's value.

So, Billy, What Does Work In The Playoffs?

A good article in Hardball Times about what works in the playoffs. Two things: teams that strike out a lot don't make it, but teams that successfully steal a lot do. Bad news for the 2004 Angels, as they seem to be whiffing at a record pace.

Timmy At Rancho For Rehab

Tim Salmon will appear starting tonight at Rancho Cucamonga for a rehab assignment. Come on down, Timmy, we could sure use the help.


Every now and then I like to taunt the jackasses of the sporting press, such as they may be, about their obvious idiocy and failure to pay attention, dammit. One such came across the transom from one column by "JT the Brick":
McCourt was accused of only being interested in the real estate value of Dodger Stadium in L.A. and Dodger Town in Florida. He got ripped for hiring a young general manager in Paul De Podesta, who had experience in finding undervalued and unwanted talent that other teams were willing to dump. Sports talk radio hosts would base their shows around making fun of McCourt and the future of the 2004 Dodgers.
Well, we can't help guys like Plaschke who go off half-cocked. So far, hiring DePodesta has looked like an eminently sensible move, a rarity for Frank-n-Jamie, but fair's fair, and we here at 6-4-2 have to grudgingly accept the good with the bad, even if it comes from an veteran knucklehead. That is, it's hard to be anything less than grateful when he takes the advice of we lowly bloggers seriously (i.e., shut up, Frank).
And surprise, surprise, the Dodgers began Thursday with the best record in baseball (22-10) and won six games in a row.
Well, gee, after playing 33 games, I guess we can all go home now and declare the Dodgers world champeens, can't we? I mean, really now. Let's see just how much money Frank has in the 2004/2005 offseason, and whether they sign Gagné and Beltre. Jon might not think so, but it's still a real possibility that Beltre is a goner after this season. Debt service is a bitch, yanowaddimean?
Once washed-up pitcher Wilson Alvarez looks like he has found his old form. [Gee, he was that way last year, too, remember?] Adrian Beltre is batting .377 and will make the all-star team along with Paul Lo Duca, who is batting .386 while compiling 42 hits. Kazuhisa Ishii has already won five games and Eric Gagne has 10 saves and looks more dominant than last season.
Wilson was that way last year. Paulie's a well-known first-half performer. And which Gagné have you been watching? The one who had a strikeout rate lower than OP's two weeks into the season?
I applaud Frank McCourt for buying the Dodgers while other local real estate developers and movie stars held on to their money and criticized him behind closed doors. The sports media in L.A. doesn't have enough money combined to buy season tickets to the Dodgers let alone pick up the tab while the apologizing to Mr. and Mrs. McCourt in public.
Look, Jack, Eli Broad made a good faith bid long before Frank even was able to spell "Dodgers", but Fox turned him down -- remember? And the jury's still out -- in fact, they're taking an extended lunch break -- on the question of whether McCourt is anything like a good owner. Skepticism is the name of the game around here. A winning start doesn't mean he -- or the team -- can keep this up indefinitely. What happens if they swoon in September -- again?

We'll have to wait and see.

But none of that makes Frank a good owner.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Mr. Small Sample Size Presents: Angels vs Yankees!

And now, Mr. Small Sample Size presents the Angels' stats against the Yankees:
C FigginsOF31425300080000.357.571.357
C Kotchman1B31315100460000.385.462.385
V GuerreroOF31265101392310.500.750.417
J DaVanonOF31144200163310.500.545.364
A Kennedy2B31123101170210.273.636.273
D EcksteinSS2900000000200.000.000.000
S Halter3B3902000120400.222.222.222
J GuillenOF28441025111000.5561.375.500
B MolinaC3811001341100.200.500.125
A AmezagaSS3710000000100.000.000.000
T Glaus3B1511001240201.200.800.200
J MolinaC1400000000300.000.000.000
We lost the series, kids, but face it: these are some damn respectable offensive numbers. If anything, this series showed just how much we missed Donnelly in the bullpen. With the big D in there, we would be walking out of this series with a win, by virtue of cleaning up on the first game. How many times did the bullpen choke in that game, three times? Sheesh.

OT: My Favorite Teacher

First off, I should say that, as I've aged, I've waxed increasingly skeptical of education's machinery. Too much of it is cant, duckspeak designed to fool a blinkered audience. When you see "My Child Is An Excellent Student At Nosebleed Elementary" bumperstickers on the back of every third car, you begin to suspect that the paeans aren't all that meaningful, and the mind inexorably begins to extrapolate that through high school and thence to college, the rubber stamp of academia. For years, I've suspected that the value of a college education in practical terms is in steep decline. When I was in college, back in the middle 80's, the problems were already apparent to anyone pursuing a liberal arts degree. Those of us in the hard sciences, and especially, engineering programs at the time were pretty smug, because the leap up in salary was enormous. Now, it's brother-can-you-spare-a-dime time for even Eta Kappa Nu types in the US, as literally hundreds of thousands of tech jobs have moved offshore. It seems there's little practical reason anymore to get into any of the technical or hard science degree programs. The market has spoken, and it wants Americans to be greeters at Wal-Mart.

Once upon a time when I wasn't so bitter about my future employment prospects should my present situation collapse, I was contemplating pursuing a straight computer science degree, simply because of the math requirements in the engineering programs. (You shouldn't read too much into this: the degree program really consists of four years of programming tricks, while navigating the tedious seas of Turing machines.) But something happened along the way that changed my mind. That something, or someone, was Kevin Shannon, then -- as now, apparently -- of Orange Coast College. I had him for precalculus, a subject I never got to in high school, victim of a series of horrible instructors there. He's the first and only math prof I have ever had who could make that light come on in my head. And now, he's received a $15,000 award for being so good.

Shannon is going to use his $15,000 to help his son go to college.

"He's 10, and he wants to be a pediatrician, so I think that will pay for about a year," said Shannon, a math teacher at Orange Coast College.

Shannon thought he was being interviewed as a finalist for teacher of the year. But when he showed up at the County Department of Education offices, he found out he had been tricked.

He was the winner.

Shannon said it must have been his students who got him over the top. "My students appreciate what I do, and they wrote letters of recommendation," he said.

Shannon's own essay helped as well.

"The value of a diamond is determined by the four Cs - cut, clarity, color and carat," he wrote. "A college education is more valuable than diamonds. In my educational philosophy, the four Cs of college teaching are connection, content, clarity and conduct. When any of these elements is missing, education loses its value."

OCC President Gene Farrell showed up to support Shannon.

"He's fun to watch teach," Farrell said. "He's so passionate about teaching. And he looks way too young to be at our school for 27 years."

Over my career, I got more out of his instruction than that pleasant but relatively small amount: I changed majors (to an Engineering program, despite the math, no longer deathly afeared of it). When I was at OCC, he was still the surfer dude fresh from UCSB, full of tales of days spent at the beach while "rotating right circular cylinders about the axis of the thumb" -- i.e., hoisting a few cans of Tecate. I wish him well, and hope he continues to help others the way he helped me. Thanks, Mr. Shannon.

Kevin Shannon, A Good Guy And A Great Teacher

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