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July 4, 2006

Prospectus Hit List

Week of July 3

by Marc Normandin

RkTeam
Overall W-L
Week W-L
Hit List Factor
Trend
Comment

1


Tigers
56-26
5-1
.643
Up
Even after a fundamentally atrocious Saturday, the Tigers remain atop the Hit List. The search is on for a left-handed power bat, possibly capable of playing at first thanks to Chris Shelton's extended slump. Hitting .229/.302/.406 for two months will get you noticed for the wrong reasons, especially on the heels of a ludicrous April that put you in the spotlight. First in defensive efficiency, eighth in EqA, and four starters in the AL's top 12 for SNLVAR. The Tigers might be for real, eh?

2


Yankees
46-33
4-2
.613
Up
The Yanks have basically been a .500 team in interleague, and now find themselves behind a pair of Sox teams for different playoff spots, four and six games back respectively. Robinson Cano heads to the DL in an already depleted Bombers lineup. Interesting that The Boss wants fans to go easy on certain players. Randy Johnson continues to baffle analysts with his Jekyll and Hyde antics on the mound. With Cano on the DL and the rotation still having issues, does Cashman make a move? Get to know Philip Hughes; you'll be seeing his name more often one way or the other.

3


Red Sox
50-29
6-1
.609
Up
The Red Sox rattle off 12 wins in a row before falling to the Fish down in Miami, powered by Manny Ramirez's bat (.368/.490/.842 during the streak), David Ortiz's late game heroics--as well as the sequel--and this catch. They also treated an old friend poorly, although the fans were much more receptive. The only real negative during the win streak? Well, Jonathan Papelbon gave up his second run of the season. Manny Ramirez's knee might keep him out of the All-Star game, but it certainly has not adversely affected his bat; he picked up his 2000th and 2001st career hits on homers Saturday. Finally, the Sox set a record for consecutive errorless games before snapping another streak against the Marlins.

4


White Sox
53-28
4-2
.609
Down
Right on the heels of the Tigers are the hot-as-can-be White Sox, who plowed through the National League with the greatest of ease...along with most of the rest of the AL. The last person that Cubs' fans wanted to have beat them, did just that. Jim Thome slowed down in June, hitting 5 home runs and "only" slugging .514. Luckily for the Pale Hose, they have more than one hitter in 2006. Juan Uribe hit .348/.385/.826 for the week, and Jermaine Dye hit an equally impressive .440/.500/.600. Thank your deity of choice for smallball and all of its positive contributions.

5


Blue Jays
46-35
5-1
.589
Up
Josh Towers was demoted again after another awful showing, and Dustin McGowan might be the answer for the rotation. Alexis Rios ends up in the hospital with an infection, and Vernon Wells misses a game with an injury. This creates a lineup where Gregg Zaun bats third and Troy Glaus plays shortstop, and the Jays win anyway. Zaun and Ben Molina combine to hit .327/.419/.455 in June; pretty nifty bit of offense from your catchers, and part of the reason the Jays lead in Team EqA. Lyle Overbay carried the offense the past week, slugging 1.077 with 9 extra-base hits in 26 at-bats. Roy Halladay is a joy to watch; don't miss his starts if you have a chance to see him.

6


Mets
48-33
1-5
.583
Down
It's difficult to maintain a winning record when only two of the eight guys in your lineup have an OBP over .300 for the week. Paul Lo Duca and Carlos Beltran hit .429/.455/.524 and .444/.524/1.167, respectively, assuming the role of offense while the rest of the team took the week off with pay. The Mets were quickly humbled in Boston, getting pummeled in games one and two before finally making things interesting in the series finale. After all the Jose Reyes hoopla, parades and confetti, he hit .190/.227/.286 for the week, with one caught stealing. The good news is that it can be comfortably labeled as a slump, and not regression like usual. Lastings Milledge was optioned to Triple-A to make room for Cliff Floyd on his return from the DL. Check out the Win-Probability Added graphs for the Sox/Mets series.

7


Twins
45-35
6-0
.538
Up
In the midst of a 10-game win streak; it's certainly a shame the roster didn't start out looking like this. Joe Mauer and his .392 batting average are snubbed by the fan voters in favor of Ivan Rodriguez. It must've been all those longtime Ernie Lombardi fans who hate to see their hero potentially dethroned. Speaking of Mauer, he hit .667/.696/.905 this past week. Even with the win streak, the Twins are 10 games back of Detroit and 7.5 games back of the Wild Card, although the playoffs look closer and closer every time Francisco Liriano pitches like this. The offense has dramatically changed since the beginning of the season: Check out Exhibit A and Exhibit B. OK, except for Luis Castillo, who has accumulated all of 0.2 Wins Above Replacement this season.

8


Dodgers
41-40
1-5
.530
Down
The Dodgers fell out of first place, and quickly made a move that was mentioned all over the web. Reactions were mixed: Jon Weisman wasn't exactly thrilled, Christina Kahrl let Colletti have it, your humble Hit List fill-in piped in, and Rob McMillin showcased different theories about line drive data, the key to Hendrickson's smoke-and-mirrors half season, while remaining pessimistic and recalling the earlier trade between the two teams. Some people like the trade. His Saturday debut didn't impress anyone though. Maybe the Rays should dangle Aubrey Huff and Reliever X for Jonathan Broxton at the deadline, to see how desperate the Dodgers' front office is to win.

9


Indians
37-43
4-2
.527
Up
The Indians may only be ranked a few spots behind the AL Central division leaders on Hit List, but in the standings they are 15.5 games out of the Wild Card. That is most likely insurmountable, considering the competition in the American League. You cannot blame the offense, as it is ranked third in EqA; the pitching and the defense on the other hand...well, that's been offensive too. Mark Shapiro broke up the very successful first base platoon of Eduardo Perez and Ben Broussard (.320/.361/.562 with 18 dingers combined), signaling to the league that the Indians are now playing for 2007. The Tribe acquired a promising youngster in return, with Seattle signaling that 2006 is their year by giving him up. Will Andy Marte take over for Aaron Boone sometime soon to continue that process of transition? Considering Ron Belliard's performance, Shapiro may want Brandon Phillips back, too.

10


Rangers
41-41
1-5
.527
Down
What's the deal with Mark Teixeira? He only hit .250/.317/.411 in June, and now has an overall line of .268/.350/.433. His struggles at the plate have come at home, where he has batted only .227/.299/.386. This most likely won't last, but Adrian Gonzalez is outperforming him in San Diego. Luckily, Adam Eaton threw a couple innings in a simulated game, which should lessen the sting of that deal. Gary Matthews Jr. makes an outstanding catch to rob a home run, and Mark DeRosa hits .370/.409/.491 for the month. Ian Kinsler makes the Wilkerson/Soriano swap hurt a little bit less by hitting .500/.526/.833 this week, and .286/.345/.524 since his May 25 return. The Rangers keep hitting some bumps in the road, but with Eaton on the road to steadying the rotation, there is light at the end of the tunnel; that is, as long as Teixeira gets better before DeRosa gets worse.

11


Padres
43-39
4-3
.520
Up
The Padres appear to be the third best team in the National League, and if the Dodgers and Cards continue to scuffle, there is no reason that shouldn't hold up. Picking up Paul DePodesta for the front office should certainly help, especially when combined with Sandy Alderson and Kevin Towers, two of my favorite head honchos. Maybe the Padres can take some of those evil DePo Dodgers away from Colletti and Co. Vinny Castilla really needs to go...his best month was June, where he hit .280/.276/.440. The Padres have been grinding, if you're wondering how they snuck into first. Chris Young has been excellent, with a 1.93 ERA and 9.9 K/9 in his last six starts. He may be what separates the 2006 club from the previous incarnation.

12


Mariners
42-41
4-3
.515
Up
Picking up Eduardo Perez to platoon with Carl Everett was a nifty decision. Letting Roberto Petagine take over for Everett against righties should be the next order of business. Are the Mariners close enough to risk giving up prospects for a sniff of the playoffs? Ichiro Suzuki (.410/.459/.598) and Adrian Beltre's (.310/.380/.578) Junes point to yes, but the rotation is still a question mark. Jamie Moyer, Gil Meche and Felix Hernandez all looked excellent in June, but Jarrod Washburn and Joel Pineiro were awful. They need to shore up the rotation if they want to have a chance at the division, because the A's and Rangers are only going to get better as the year goes on. J.J. Putz gave up his second walk since May 13. This is the happiest Mariners' fans have been in a while.

13


Reds
44-38
3-3
.513
Flat
They've given up more runs than they've scored, which is amazing when you consider the strength of their offense combined with the pitching prowess of Bronson Arroyo and the unheralded and underappreciated Aaron Harang. I don't want to throw all the blame on Dave Weathers' shoulders, mostly because Eric Milton has pitched terribly, too. This is a team in desperate need of bullpen help, and another starter. If they can somehow swing those deals, they should stay right in the thick of things. Bronson Arroyo is second in the majors in SNLVAR behind Johan Santana. The entire lineup was firing on all cylinders last week, as non-pitchers hit .324/.389/.608. It'd be a shame to waste that kind of performance by only having two viable starters. Elizardo Ramirez has done his best to change that scenario (4.10 ERA, 25/6 K/BB in June), but Milton, Brandon Claussen and Joe Mays seem intent on spoiling the party.

14


Cardinals
44-36
2-4
.513
Down
The Cardinals fell from ninth to fourteenth in the Hit List in a matter of a week, which is expected when you go 2-10 in a 12-game stretch. Mark Mulder hits the DL, Anthony Reyes pitches effectively (2.08 ERA in 13 IP) in his place, and Cardinals fans study the shellacking of their beloved Redbirds. This Cardinals season is turning out to have as many twists and turns as a Mike Patton inspired project, which means there's still hope for a positive finish. Albert Pujols has hit .372/.438/.558 since his return June 22; he's slumping a little, which is scary. Scott Rolen has also been on fire, hitting .333/.429/.792 last week, and .372/.422/.606 overall in June. This team desperately needs a healthy Jim Edmonds back, because So Taguchi isn't going to slug .500 every week.

15


Rockies
42-39
4-2
.512
Up
The Rox managed to go 4-2 on the week, even though only two of their players produced anything resembling a useful offensive line. Brad Hawpe smacked the ball around to the tune of .364/.418/.818, while Cory Sullivan contributed with a .467/.467/.600 line. The rest of the lineup hit .233/.317/.355. Of course, Rockies starters had a 3.29 ERA in the past week, with Jason Jennings leading the charge: 10 innings pitched, with a 2.57 Run Average and only one homer allowed. Aaron Cook threw a quality start, and Josh Fogg had a complete game shutout. This Rockies team certainly has a different vibe going than those of the past, and they will be tested against their divisional rivals in the coming matchups. I'm starting a rumor that Mariners fans hate Brad Hawpe after reading that.

16


Giants
42-40
5-2
.508
Up
The Giants managed a strong week, even with Barry Bonds only slugging .250--with a .524 OBP of course--thanks to strong showings from Randy Winn (.433/.469/.700), Pedro Feliz (.286/.310/.714), Ray Durham (.292/.320/.667), and Mark Sweeney (.400/.526/.800). Armando Benitez managed to not blow a save, and a Giants blogger shares his thoughts on the MLB draft. Speaking of the draft, the Giants locked up their first round pick. The rotation was wonderful during the week, with a 2.25 RA highlighted by two strong Matt Morris outings. With Bonds still having problems, and Moises Alou recently put back on the DL, they will need all the pitching strength they can get to keep moving forward out west.

17


Athletics
42-39
1-5
.493
Down
Mark Ellis returns from the disabled list, and Frank Thomas does the same. It is nowhere near enough to save the A's during a terrible week where they only manage one victory, but they remain in first place out west due to the scuffles of the rest of the division. Outside of Dan Johnson's .322/.402/.529 June, the lineup looked lifeless, but the pitching was strong, with a 3.67 Run Average for the month. Huston Street gave up 6 runs for a mortal 3.12 RA in June, although he went without giving up a run this past week. Then again, your closer does not see a lot of work when the team is slapped around in five out of six games. The A's need to get back on track before the Rangers start to put themselves back together first.

18


37-44
3-3
.480
Flat
Jeff Weaver is designated for assignment so that brother Jered can join the rotation. That's going to be awkward during the holidays...Interestingly enough, subtracting that awful Colorado start from the mix gives Jeff a 3.73 ERA with 8 K/9 and a K/BB of 5.60 over his previous six starts; very effective numbers. If a team can pick him up on the cheap, they might do themselves a huge favor; he's probably a better (and less expensive in a talent exchange) option than Mark Hendrickson. Vladimir Guerrero finally looks like a slugger for a change, hitting .333/.391/.619 for the week, but with only one home run. That brought his overall line from June all the way up to .243/.257/.408; the Angels are going to need his bat if they expect to do anything in 2006. The alien inhabiting Orlando Cabrera's body refuses to vacate the premises to the tune of .337/.398/.436 in his last 101 at-bats.

19


Marlins
35-43
3-3
.479
Flat
Hopefully my attempt at filling in for Jay goes better than Anibal Sanchez's attempt at filling in for Brian Moehler. Sanchez made a few mistakes that he needs to not repeat to David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez, but that's something you have to learn. Considering the Fish handed the Red Sox one of two interleague losses, a 3-3 week is not all bad. Not to mention they are the second ranked National League East team in this week's Hit List. The lineup has really started to pick it up, with Hanley Ramirez coming off his slump to hit .333/.357/.481 and Miguel Olivo finding a groove at the plate (.333/.375/1.000 this week, .393/.410/.625 the past month). Dontrelle Willis, Ricky Nolasco, Scott Olsen and Joshua Johnson combined for a 2.75 Run Average in June, although Brian Moehler was smoked for an 8.33 RA of his own to even things out. If Sanchez can comfortably settle into the fifth starter role-- and his minor league numbers show he can--the Marlins may have the best NL rotation. Not bad for a couple of kids.

20


Diamondbacks
40-42
3-3
.476
Flat
The D'backs seem to have remembered how to hit the past week, with Luis Gonzalez (.333/.407/.625), Shawn Green (.435/.462/.826), and Eric Byrnes (.333/.391/.524) causing most of the damage. For the month of June overall the bats had fallen off the planet, with only a .253/.320/.393 line of futility. The starting pitching was very effective all week, only giving up 17 runs in 45 innings, but the bullpen was terrible, with a 12.75 ERA. This didn't stop them from sweeping the Athletics though, who looked kind of like the D'backs did a few weeks back. Miguel Batista tried his hand at a perfect game, which would've come as a surprise to everyone considering his season thus far. The weekend series was a boost after reading news like this beforehand.

21


Astros
40-42
2-4
.460
Down
Roger Clemens is back, and it's 2006, but the Astros still don't score runs for him; He's 0-2 with a 2.38 ERA. Eric Munson had the hot hand this week for the 'Stros, hitting .375/.412/.625, with Mike Lamb and Lance Berkman chipping in (.304/.304/.565 and .409/.480/.500). Clemens or no, if the rest of the rotation doesn't start to pitch more effectively, 2006 isn't going to have a storybook ending. Andy Pettitte was terrible in June--kind of like April and May--with a 5.45 ERA and 1.49 HR/9. He walked and struck out three in his last start, while giving up five runs in six and a third. Roy Oswalt scattered 9 hits for only 3 runs in his 8 inning victory against Texas; overall, he has not looked as good as he did in 2005, and Pettitte has obviously taken a step backwards. The Astros might have a bit of luck left to tide them over, but they better find out where they are hiding it, fast.

22


Brewers
40-43
3-4
.457
Down
First order of business: Chris Capuano needs help to make the All-Star team. He's been exceptional this year, and is the main reason the rotation has held together in Milwaukee as well as it has. Ben Sheets threw off a mound, with a simulated game coming soon. The Brewers rotation held up well over the month (3.92 ERA from the 1-4 starters) excepting the rotating fifth spot, which had its issues outside of Carlos Villanueva's starts. Sheets would only serve to lower the runs allowed if he could stay out there for more than two starts at a time. The bats were cold outside of Carlos Lee (.414/.433/.724) and Damian Miller (.353/.421/.412), but the team is still ranked sixth in the NL in Team EqA.

23


Braves
35-47
3-3
.452
Up
With the Braves quest for yet another divisional championship almost assuredly ended, the topic of debate among Braves fans has become young Jeffrey Francoeur, and what to do about his lack of plate patience. Some feel that he is a very clutch and helpful piece of the lineup, while others simply count the outs. Francouer's EqA suggests he is a replacement level hitter, which is certainly a problem for a starting corner outfielder. He has earned -0.1 WARP in 2006; he'll surely develop into a fine hitter, but even Jose Reyes is laughing at his current lack of patience. Outside of Chipper Jones, no Brave impressed with the bat in the past week. Chuck James, Horacio Ramirez and John Smoltz were all useful last week, but Ramirez is the only one to succeed all of June; his peripherals point to luck in that regard.

24


Orioles
38-45
3-3
.452
Up
Outside of Nick Markakis' improvement, there is not really much to talk about for the O's. With the way the Red Sox, Yanks and Jays have been playing, they are destined for fourth this year, and if Tampa continues to fleece other teams out of their prospects, you have to wonder how long even that pattern will hold. Naturally, the Orioles signed Russ Ortiz to help their rotation, casting Bruce Chen aside and putting him in the bullpen. Ortiz gave up 3 runs and 4 walks to an anemic Braves lineup, so you can be sure his next start will go just peachy. Jeff Conine and Brian Roberts led the offense for the week (slugging .708 and .538, respectively), and Roberts was snubbed for the starting spot at second in favor of Mark Loretta for the All-Star game for his efforts. Daniel Cabrera continues to tease the O's with potential, striking out 10.9 per nine while also walking 7 per nine in June.

25


Phillies
37-44
2-5
.442
Up
The Phillies started the week off on the wrong foot, losing in extra innings to David Ortiz and the Red Sox. It didn't get any better, as they only went 2-5 for the week. The Phillies president finally speaks up about the Brett Myers' fiasco from the week before. Interleague certainly wasn't a pleasant experience, as the Phils dropped 13 of 18 overall, and now find themselves only half a game up on the Marlins. Jon Lieber will bring some much needed help to the rotation this weekend, but will it be enough in the long run to stave off the charging Fish? Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and David Dellucci all hit 3 home runs apiece, with Chris Coste and Jimmy Rollins chipping in (.400 OBP for Rollins, .529 SLG for Coste). Even a clicking offense wasn't enough to overcome a 6.61 Run Average for the week. For something a little more promising looking, here's a review of the 2006 draft for the Phils.

26


Nationals
35-48
2-4
.423
Down
Nothing has really changed with the Nationals. Alfonso Soriano is still their best hitter, and he's still being shopped around for top prospects. The two pitching trading chips on the team are injured, adversely affecting their value. Jim Bowden has been named as the more-permanent general manager once Kasten and Co. take the reigns of the franchise, which means what exactly? Frank Robinson is the one who has job insecurity? That hardly seems fair, but the new owners will learn soon enough. Ryan Zimmerman and Marlon Anderson put up a fight at the plate this week, hitting .318/.348/.545 and .438/.471/.875, but the rest of the team was pretty punchless. That of course is an issue when your pitching for the week looks like so.

27


Devil Rays
35-47
2-4
.418
Down
Despite the 2-4 record, the Devil Rays had themselves a fine week, dumping Mark Hendrickson and Toby Hall on the Dodgers in exchange for a young, potentially more effective starter and one of the better catching prospects out there. Dioner Navarro did not hit much in his first week of games with the club, but he did manage a .385 OBP. There were actually some really great weeks at the plate, with one of the highlights a fine showing from Russ Branyan (.364/.533/.636). Rocco Baldelli continues to hit the ball like it owes him money: .391/.417/.739 for the week, and .370/.427/.654 overall since his return from an injury that forced him out for all of 2005. With Carl Crawford performing well, and Jonny Gomes (when healthy) a force to be reckoned with offensively, the Rays certainly have the core for a potentially lethal lineup set in place. In other news, Scott Kazmir was named to his first all-star team, forcing Mets fans to boycott the event.

28


Pirates
28-55
2-4
.395
Down
It's always a good thing when your only superstar player starts to make comments in regards to how necessary the other players are. It's even better when he's correct in his assessment. The Pirates tried to smooth over the issue by stuffing the ballots with Bay's name. Not that Bay doesn't deserve his spot, but this helps show how well the system works, eh? Instead of focusing on the team at hand, why not look at what put the team in this predicament in the first place? Pittsburgh is ranked #23 in Team EqA, and three of their most valuable pitchers (according to VORP) are relievers. With Oliver Perez's demotion and the release of Ryan Vogelsong, the Pirates might get the chance to test out some additional arms.

29


Cubs
30-51
2-5
.392
Up
Derrek Lee has not immediately saved the offense as some would hope; his .281/.361/.438 line for the week is certainly better than what most of his teammates have put up in his absence, but it did not even replace the production lost when Michael Barrett went to serve his suspension. Phil Nevin has hit .244/.301/.477 in his 25 games as a Cub, which sadly makes him semi-useful. The team actually hit very well this week, thanks to production from Juan Pierre, Aramis Ramirez, Jacque Jones (who slugged .720), Michael Barrett, and even Neifi Perez. Of course, the pitchers immediately went into a tailspin, with a 6.14 ERA for the week and a HR/9 of 2.29. Cubs fans should've seen this coming.

30


Royals
27-53
3-3
.342
Up
At the beginning of the week, it looked as if the Royals might actually sneak out of last on the Hit List, and find their way to the 29th spot. A 3-3 week may be a large improvement over the status quo, but it is not enough to propel them forward just yet. The Royals did manage to finish interleague play at 10-7, even taking 2 of 3 from the reeling Cardinals. There has been improvement for the Royals as of late, even if Ozzie Guillen can't pick a proper all-star from the roster. Why not Jimmy Gobble, who has done very well out of the bullpen? I guess Dayton Moore can unload All-Star Mark Redman on someone who appreciates that sort of thing. Zack Greinke is a step closer to rejoining the big league club, which is wonderful to see.


The Prospectus Hit List rankings are derived from Won-Loss records and several measurements pertaining to run differentials, both actual and adjusted, from Baseball Prospectus Adjusted Standings through the close of play on every Sunday.

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