Friday, July 11, 2003

Sweep! Tigers oust Sox, Loaiza.
They were surging, they were charging, they acquired Roberto Alomar and Carl Everett and then, they met the Tigers! Wins of 2-1, 4-2 and 1-0 gave the Tigers their improbable 3 game sweep. Newly appointed closer, Chris Mears saved all three games and rookie pitcher Jeremy Bonderman avoided his 14th loss with 6 1/3 innings of 3-hit ball. The final victory was a pitcher's duel between Esteban Loaiza and Nate Cornejo. Cornejo bested Loaiza with eight strong innings and came away victorious. Loaiza suffered his second loss to the Tigers, 5th overall, giving him a 2-2 record against Detroit in his All-Star season.

The Tiger bats didn't really explode for the series, but they did hit .260 (25-for-96) which is well above their .229 team average. In addition to great starting pitching, the bullpen was stunning in 6 1/3 innings with a 1.42 ERA allowing just 5 hits and one run. Warren Morris was the offensive star hitting .545 (6-for-11) with 2 runs batted in. The Tigers now welcome sweet-swining Boston into two for 3 with the first one tonight at 7:05 Eastern as Mike Maroth (4-12) takes on John Burkett (6-4). The Red Sox has swept the season series thus far, 4-0.

Trade winds swirling in mid-July!

A few trade rumors for the inquiring minds, courtesy of Lee Sinins' newsletter:

According to the LA Times, the Dodgers are trying to get Brian Giles, with the Pirates wanting 2 top pitching prospects in addition to Odalis Perez. While the Dodgers are willing to deal Perez, it's the prospects that would be holding up the deal.

My Thoughts: As a fan of the "under-privileged" teams, I'd hate to see the Pirates lose their best hitter, but adding Perez to Kip Wells, Jeff Suppan, Josh Fogg, and Jeff D'Amico would be quite a potent staff for the perennial NL Central doormats. And if Giles is moved, I'd much rather see him moved to LA over New York.

According to the Bergen Record, "The Mets are on the verge of a blockbuster three-way deal that could send Armando Benitez to the Giants for right-handed reliever Felix Rodriguez and prospects, according to a major league source. The Mets would then send Rodriguez to the Yankees for a second set of prospects.

My Thoughts: An interesting deal that certainly helps all three parties involved. Benitez and F-Rod are good enough players, but I don't think this trade is worthy of the moniker:

According to the Kansas City Star, Carlos Beltran trade rumors are intensifying.

According to Scott Boras, who is the agent for both players, there's no truth to a Johnny Damon for Carlos Beltran rumor, while Boras also says the Dodgers asked the Redsox for Damon for Odalis Perez, but the Redsox turned them down.

My Thoughts: It was rumored that the BoSox were ready to ship Trot Nixon for Perez, so why not Damon? I know they aren't the same player, but I think adding Perez to that rotation would be cause for concern for the Yankees. Pedro, Derek Lowe, Odalis Perez, Tim Wakefield... now you're onto something.

According to the Dayton Daily News, the Reds are interested in Devil Rays P Joe Kennedy, with the Devil Rays could be interested in minor league 3B Brandon Larson.

According to the Chicago Sun Times, the Cubs are exploring whether they are interested in Pirates 3B Aramis Ramirez.

Thursday, July 10, 2003

Simon & the Sausage

Pittsburgh Pirates 1st baseman Randall Simon has always been known as a free-swinger and yesterday he proved it. The hefty slugger knocked over one of the famous sausages at Miller Park during the popular between inning race in a game against Milwaukee by tapping it on the head with his bat. Soon after, he was arrested for misdemeanor battery... Is everyone done laughing? Ok, we'll continue. The blowup over this is simply preposterous. After seeing the incident several times, it's easy to see there was no malicious intent on the part of Simon as he was attempting to be funny, and frankly, he succeeded. Prosecutors will decide soon if charges will be filed and let's hope they make the wise decision not to do so.

The disgust with which Brewer's executive VP, Rick Schlessinger described his feelings on the incident was a gross overreaction. Had I not seen the altercation or heard what Simon had done, I'd have thought he killed someone the way Schlessinger sounded. This idiot, er VP also said he was sickened and that it was one of the most outrageous things he's ever seen in a ballpark. I guess he doesn't watch the Chicago White Sox highlights.

I've been reading message boards regarding the incident as well and the crying is incessant. Yes, Simon did hit the sausage racer with a bat, but these incredibly uptight people forget that it's a heavily padded costumer and also that Simon took a swing that had less force than a bunt. They make it sound like he pummelled this racer with overhead swings to the head until seven security officers ran to the recuse. I know that on July 10th the sports news is running light, but this shouldn't be such a big issue and those of you crying for Simon's head need to shut up!

Tosca: Leave my pitcher out!
Toronto Blue Jays manager Carlos Tosca has asked AL All-Star manager Mike Scioscia to not use Jays ace Roy Halladay in next week's All-Star Game in Chicago, to which Scioscia agreed to as long as Halladay doesn't show up. Fair enough in my book. There is no valid reason for Halladay to utilize a roster spot that someone else like Roger Clemens or Pedro Martinez can use when Halladay's manager refuses to allow him in the game.

Tosca's reasoning for the move is that the new 4-man rotation employed by the Jays will have Halladay going Saturday against the New York Yankees and again on July 17th, the day after the break, against the Boston Red Sox. Of course this is hardly the first time that an ace on a team in contention has gone to the All-Star Game so all this shows how far the importance of the game has dropped. Halladay is 12-2 with a 3.48 ERA including just 12 earned runs in his last 7 starts all 7 of which he's gone 7+ innings in.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

What's wrong with Barry Zito?
After getting tattooed by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays last night, people are already wondering what is wrong with Barry Zito? The answer is nothing. While his inning workload has increased over the years, it's because he's getting older and better. And his K:BB ratio has dropped, but it isn't because his walk total has raised. In fact, from 2001 to 2002, he pitched 15 more innings, but walked 2 less. He's coming off a Cy Young season with 23 wins and before last night's debacle against Tampa, he had given 4 or more runs in just 2 other outings. The 35 hits in the last three outings is cause for concern and would surely signal that he's going through a trying period of starts, but I don't think anything is wrong with Zito.


00 7.58
01 8.61
02 7.14
03 5.41


00 1.73:1
01 2.56:1
02 2.33:1
03 1.58:1


00 4.4
01 3.4
02 3.1
03 3.4

The K's are certainly dropping, but strikeout totals do not a winning pitcher make, just ask Nolan Ryan. His WHIP remains at a healthy 1.25 despite the 35 hits in 3 starts and he's not walking a lot of batters, so I'm wondering why the major concern. Nearing the break, Zito still has a 3.49 ERA with 8 wins; the same ERA and just 3 wins off the mark from a year ago. In his short career already, Zito has proved to be an exceptionally better second-half pitcher as well:


Pre 17 9 4.01 1.26 79 216
Post 30 8 2.29 1.12 124 249

Those are some very promising splits and based on these numbers, I'd wait until August to make the call on the potential struggles of Zito. Until then, I'm willing to give the reigning Cy Young Winner the benefit of the doubt given his track record in the dog days of summer.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Dodgers epitomize anemic.

a·ne·mic also a·nae·mic
Lacking vitality; listless and weak

The definition that will surely be added in the next update of is Dodger offense. That might also be added to the book of oxymorons, too. In my short time on this blog, I've already documented the inferiority of my Detroit Tigers, but they are nearly talent-less. The Dodgers take sucking to a new level as they do it with players like Shawn Green, Brian Jordan, & Paul LoDuca as opposed to Tigers like Ramon Santiago & Omar Infante. If it wasn't for some unbelievable pitching, the Dodgers would have the worst record in the majors easily.

Although it's early, they have yet to score more than 4 runs in the month of July and they only did it 5 times in all of June. Their 76 runs in June gave them a paltry 3.04 runs per game. Even the Tigers, yes those Tigers, scored 92 for an average of 3.41 per game. The Dodgers apparently believe they are playing soccer or hockey and that 3 runs a night will be sufficient to win games on a nightly basis. At 1-9 in their last 10, the formerly dead-in-the-water Arizona Diamondbacks have now passed the Dodgers and sit 5 games back of the division leading San Francisco Giants. Worse yet, the Colorado Rockies are now just 2 games back of the Dodgers as well. Unlike some sports, a baseball lineup can't be carried by 2 or 3 people and thus LoDuca and Green simply can't do it all when the supporting cast includes the following:

Player AVG OPS

Ron Coomer .210 .573
Adrian Beltre .214 .623
Alex Cora .231 .574
Cesar Izturis .248 .573
Mike Kinkade .252 .775

Three of their best offensive players are sitting on the shelf with injuries as well; Brian Jordan (patella tendon), Fred McGriff (abductor muscle), and Dave Roberts (hamstring). Even if they get these guys back, they still need help. Help that Wilken Ruan, Daryle Ward and Jolbert Cabrera just don't offer. Texas' Juan Gonzalez has been mentioned in rumors to the Dodgers.

Now, in addition the immense offensive struggles, ace pitcher Kevin Brown has suffered an abdominal strain and will miss his next start. He will also likely skip the All-Star and start next on July 13th in Colorado. Darren Dreifort is already done for the remainder of the year leaving the pressure of the rest of the staff and the outstanding bullpen that has combined for a ridiculous team ERA of 2.90. Odalis Perez is the only starter with an ERA over 4.00 (4.12). Eight pitchers have ERAs under 3, including three starters. Imagine if the staff got to pitch against their own offense. General Manager Dan Evans has just over three weeks left to improve that lineup if the Dodgers expect to make a run at the D'Backs and Giants for the NL West Divsion title.

Same old story in Chicago?
The Chicago Cubs are infamous for starting out hot and fizzling as the season wears on. On Sunday, CF Corey Patterson tore his ACL and ended his season and possibly started the decline of the North-siders. He did the damage while beating out an infield single against the division rival Cardinals. Patterson was in the midst of a breakout season hitting .298 with 13 home runs, 55 runs batted in and 16 stolen bases. The 23 year old was replaced on the roster by Trenidad Hubbard.

The wind isn't the only thing swirling in Chicago, though as trade rumors have been heigtened even more with the injury. Beltre, Juan Gonzalez, Chris Singleton, Armando Rios and Tony Batista have all been mentioned in rumors with the Cubs. Mike Lowell of the Florida Marlins was heavily mentioned with the Cubs until he was reportedly taken off the block last week. No matter what happens, in early July it's shaping up to be quite a trading season this year.

Monday, July 07, 2003

In Focus: Eric Munson
It's been well documented that this season in Detroit hasn't been what fans had hoped for, and thus, you have to take the small victories and cherish them. One has been the development of 3B Eric Munson. In his fourth year out of USC, Munson is finally starting to pay some dividends of a 1st round pick. In his first year as a full-timer player, Munson has 12 HR, 35 RBI, and a .746 OPS. However, most important is his improvement over the course of the first half of this year:

April .175 .606 2 8 0.88
May .256 .767 4 9 1.00
June .291 .827 4 14 0.22
July .267 1.122 2 4 1.20

Not seen here is the 6 walks one week into July which eclipses his total from all of June (4). The constant uptick in OPS and steady power numbers are positive points in an otherwise dismal season. Plate discipline has always been a knock on Munson as well and while he hasn't become Mr. Patient just yet, he's slowly improving on his 0.6 BB/K rate from his minor league days. Even at .246, his average is 18 points above team average and second Dmitri Young (.293) for those with enough ABs to qualify for the batting title. Despite playing in Comerica, which is often regarded as a pitcher's park, Munson hits a stellar .281 there to just .212 on the road. His home runs are nearly split (5 hm. v. 7 rd.) but he has 7 more RBI on the road with 21. His 35 runs batted in account for 13% of the total RBIs for the team.

He's not breaking out to the level of Texas' Hank Blalock or Tampa Bay's Rocco Baldelli, but then again, the lineups they are in are far better and the strides the left-handed third baseman are something to talk about for Tiger fans. His defense is another thing all together, but right now, his offensive skills are helping the Tigers in their fight to avoid the record of the 1962 Mets for losses. Continued improvement out of young players like Munson, Carlos Pena, and pitcher Mike Maroth are about all Tigers fans can hope for this season. And even that looks bleak as trade rumors swirl around Maroth and his 4 wins, including 2 straight.