September 11, 2002
The Daily Prospectus
With due respect, let's get down to baseball...
This is a strange time for me personally. I find myself rooting for the Giants. This is a similar feeling, I suspect, to finding yourself cheering for influenza, spoiled shellfish, or for a victor in the California Gubernatorial Race.
It's NoCal vs. SoCal in the baseball world right now, and as a NoCal separatist (we can make the cutoff point somewhere around Gilroy or so, and you can expect the water rates to go up--gouge us back by charging an inordinate amount of $$$ per NoCal prisoner housed within 100 miles of Coalinga), I find myself actually rooting for a bunch of aging, low-OBP hitters with moderate power... the ones in Orange and Black.
I thought Jim Tracy did a tremendous job managing the Dodgers last year, and my opinion of him's even higher now. Tracy's done an admirable job of spotting a bunch of role players, placing them in situations that give them the best opportunity to succeed. Take Marquis Grissom as an example. Over the previous three years, Grissom's hit .295/.338/.460 against lefties, in just over 450 PA. Against right-handers, he's stunk up the joint like Drew Carey in an airplane bathroom--.229/.273/.363 in 1300 PA. Tracy's been able to balance his playing time better, allowing Marquis to get 42% of his PA against lefties, instead of only 26%. (Grissom's posted a .934 OPS against lefties, and .712 against righties.) In other words, Tracy probably deserves some credit for summoning the aliens that have taken over Grissom, Dave Roberts, and Alex Cora, and made them useful contributors.
Meanwhile, out near the magic kingdom (which is Disneyland, not the floodlighted $80/hour studios of the San Fernando Valley), Oakland and Anaheim are playing their most meaningful series since Ed Ott body slammed Rickey Henderson. They're the two hottest teams in baseball, both driven by strong rotations, some potent contributions from the bullpen, offenses without a megastar, and furry, bouncing primates. (Dan Hedaya is a noted A's fan.) Oakland has an opportunity to basically clamp down on a playoff spot if they can win 3 out of 4. Anaheim has an opportunity to drag the A's kicking and screaming into the discussion of the wild card. Seattle may find that all they have to show for Freddy Garcia's velocity is a couple of brief postseason appearances.
On the east coast and fringes of the AL Wild Card, the remaining schedule for the Boston Red Sox looks something like this:
Red Sox @ Tampa Bay Worcester Webelos @ Red Sox Baltimore @ Red Sox Red Sox @ Washington Generals Cleveland @ Red Sox Red Sox @ Baltimore Macaulay Culkin @ Red Sox Tampa Bay @ Red Sox 6 Wounded Voles @ Red Sox
So yes, they're down, but you never know. It's not as if it's
impossible to win 17 of the remaining games, and have a nailbiter of a
final week. As an A's fan, I want the Yankees and the Giants, in that
Gary Huckabay is an author of Baseball Prospectus. You can contact him by
Gary Huckabay is an author of Baseball Prospectus. You can contact him by clicking here.