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May 9, 2001

The Daily Prospectus

Around the NL

by Joe Sheehan

(Note to anyone trying to send me e-mail: it probably will bounce for the next 12 to 48 hours. Thanks for your patience. --JSS)

Walking through the parity league...

  • Robb Nen has been alternating dominant seasons with so-so ones since 1996, but his early results so far indicate that the streak may end. Ten baserunners and 23 strikeouts in 14 innings are about as good as it gets for a relief pitcher.

    Nen threw fewer innings last year, 66, then he had in his previous high-performance seasons. That may be a factor, although we don't know enough about reliever workloads to say for sure.

  • Injuries to Mark Kotsay, Tony Gwynn, and Mike Darr opened the door, and it now looks like Rickey Henderson has no intention of walking back through it. The runs record and 3,000 hits, which both looked like longshots two weeks ago, now appear to be attainable by August, maybe sooner. As a shameless Rickey fan, I hope he gets them while leading the Padres deep into the NL West race.

  • After I wrote the column on guys with low BAs who are having big seasons, I received mail in praise of J.D. Drew, who at the time was hitting under .250. Well, Drew has now mixed in some singles and is hitting .280/.425/.646. Most impressively, he appears to finally have an everyday job and is batting fifth in most of Tony LaRussa's lineups. Memo to TLR: It's about freaking time.

  • I still don't know how to solve Rick Ankiel's problems, but I do know it's not just about the walks anymore. The league is hitting .275 off him and he's giving up a home run every three innings, plus he's not even averaging five innings per start.

  • Aramis Ramirez: .283/.360/.616. Sometimes, you just have to get the hell out of the way and let a guy play.

  • The weird thing about the Phillies is that they're off to a good start without getting anything from their best players. Scott Rolen, Bobby Abreu, Pat Burrell, and Mike Lieberthal are way below their established performance levels, while only Travis Lee has an OBP above .350.

    If you're the Braves, that's a thought that has to keep you awake at night.

  • Look past the record: 1-4 Tony Armas Jr. has been one of the better pitchers in the NL this season.

  • DiSars update: Marquis Grissom is up to 74 at-bats without a walk, and getting more playing time. Never, ever, discount veteran presence.

  • I don't want it to sound like I'm pushing the panic button, because I really enjoy watching this guy pitch, but since his 13-strikeout, 127-pitch win over the Cardinals, Wade Miller has eight strikeouts (against six walks) in 15 innings.

    I'm just sayin'...

  • By the way, if Brad Ausmus got all the credit when Jose Lima has his one good start, why doesn't he at least get some of the blame now that Lima has imploded again? Or take heat for the fact that Scott Elarton has sucked so far?

    If you wonder why we discount the case for catchers impacting pitcher performance, this is a good example of why. It, like "chemistry" and "veteran leadership" and all that fun intangible stuff, is simply something that gets pointed to when it's convenient, to make a good story.

  • The Florida Marlins are a quality right fielder away from winning the NL East. If there's a GM that should be calling the Diamondbacks every single day about Erubiel Durazo, it's Dave Dombrowski.

  • One of the most underrated great trades of the 1990s: then-Rockies' GM Bob Gebhard sending Eric Young to the Dodgers for Pedro Astacio. Astacio has been one of the most reliable starters in the game since the deal, a fact masked by his home park.

  • Deion Sanders: .235/.278/.412. Yeah, what do the computerees know?

  • If Barry Larkin doesn't go into the Hall of Fame right quick, they should just convert the place into a landfill.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Joe's other articles. You can contact Joe by clicking here

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