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Saturday, September 06, 2008

Games, Games, Games

Yup, Moseley Still Stinks: White Sox 10, Angels 2

Dustin Moseley versus the Chisox? That illusion you saw back on July 13 against the popgun A's was just that; put him in front of a bashing team in a hitter-friendly park, and that's why he only lasted an inning and a third. Darren Oliver, who had a bit of a shouting match with Mike Scioscia after he, too, gave up even more runs, wasn't much more effective. Juan Uribe homered twice — just an indicator of how bad things went for the Halos. The bullpen's torched already; at least he didn't have to call on Jose Arredondo.

The Angels did next to nothing against Mark Buehrle, and it's the 2005 ALCS all over again out there.

Yahoo boxYahoo recap

With Shutout, Dodgers Almost To Parity: Dodgers 7, Diamondbacks 0

Danny Haren gave 'em up early and hard as he pitched his shortest appearance of the year, giving up four runs in only four innings. He's now surrendered more home runs to the Dodgers than any other team, and Andre Ethier got one more last night.

Ethier's first inning homer could have been the first stroke in a cycle but for a botched baserunning play in the eighth; as he rounded second, he turned to look behind him at the ball, and that caused him to stumble. He decided to keep going but then had to hit the brakes and got tagged retreating to second. Despite that, it was a terrific game for him, with five hits, five runs driven in, and five at-bats.

Derek Lowe went eight shutout innings, and Chan Ho Park pitched a scoreless ninth to preserve the shutout. With the win, the Dodgers climb to a half game back of Arizona. If nothing else, this race has some drama.

Yahoo boxDodgers recap

The Suddenly Collapsing Cubs: Reds 10, Cubs 2

How to explain this one? I asked Jay Jaffe earlier in the year about the Cubs' ability to hold up down the stretch, and he figured there weren't any major problems. It seemed to me at the time that the rotation was a bit of smoke and mirrors outside of Carlos Zambrano, with the team's emerging ace, Ryan Dempster, way outperforming his career numbers. He has a 151 ERA+ for the first time ever; you'd have to go all the way back to 2005, with a then-career-high 141 ERA+ earned mostly in relief with six spot starts to find anything even remotely similar. Sure enough, when we saw him at Wrigley, he lost on a night when it was all but impossible to hit one out of the yard — in part by giving up a longball to Ty Wigginton.

Much the same sort of thing seemed to be happening last night, only last year's miracle pickup turned this year's league average innings muncher, lefty Ted Lilly. The Reds just teed off on Lilly, only the nominally ineffective Bob Howry and the returning Angel Guzman managed to post scoreless appearances, three of the five pitchers used by the Cubs. It's a bad stretch, but you'd think they could pull it together a little faster than this.

The overall "meh" quality of NL teams seems to me to a function of the league, something Joe Sheehan takes on today at Baseball Prospectus. Talking about the sins of the Astros, his comments could easily apply to most of the contenders in the NL:

There was no NL version of Billy Beane or Theo Epstein, and there was certainly no George Steinbrenner or Arte Moreno. There was no striving for excellence, but rather an understanding that, if you built a decent team, caught some breaks, and maybe made the right move at the trade deadline, you could win 89 games and reach the postseason. For most franchises, it was enough to aim lower. Over time, the effect was a league with inferior talent, on field and off, and an incredible amount of parity. That's how, in consecutive seasons, an 82-win team and an 83-win team have made the playoffs. It's how a team with no more than 85 wins made the postseason in each year since 2004, a streak that will probably continue this year. The NL isn't inferior to the AL just by chance. It's inferior, to a large extent, by choice—the kind of choice that Drayton McLane made when he hired Ed Wade and told him to try to win in 2008, and the choice he'll make when he tells him to try and win in 2009.
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Dodgers almost to parity...and more importantly, almost to first place...yes, I know that is hard for you to take Rob. Tell me something, I know that in this day and age we're supposed to ignore injuries and all, but where would your favorite team be if they had lost Guerrero, Lackey and F-Rod for the amount of time that the Dodgers have lost Furcal, Saito and Penny?
Well, let's see: Howie Kendrick has missed 54 games (and counting); Maicer Izturis played 79 and is done for the year; Aybar has been gone for a couple of weeks despite being "day-to-day." Last year's ERA leader, John Lackey, missed the first six weeks of the year. Last year's 18-game winner, Kelvim Escobar, didn't throw a pitch all season. Mike Napoli missed virtually all of July.

So, I'd say the Angels would be...in first place. If they'd had all of those guys healthy all season, they're probably be sitting on a 25 game lead, having wrapped up a playoff spot sometime in early August.
Fiend, what is your point, exactly? The Dodgers get a big pile of suck called Andruw Jones -- how is that defensible? Counting on Jeff Kent to stay healthy and bat fourth? How smart is that? And on top of it, throwing away young talent and lots of it for two two-month rentals? Feh.

As jjackflash mentions, the Angels have had plenty of guys on their own DL, too.

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