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April 24, 2000

The Daily Prospectus

Winners!

by Joe Sheehan

No sooner did I finish reading an e-mail Friday night from Paul Covert, with an excellent analysis of the relative chances of Ryan Klesko and Orlando Cabrera, than Klesko drew his first walk of the season and effectively ended the inaugural DiSar Awards competition. Benji Gil's Cinderella run at Jacque Jones had ended earlier that evening. So your 2000 DiSars go to Cabrera and Jones. Cabrera, it should be noted, is still going, with 63 walkless at-bats through Sunday's game.

Congratulations go out to Asa Allen and someone named Paul--no last name provided--who were the only readers to nominate both players. Thanks to everyone who took the time to submit names.

One of the interesting aspects of this month has been the streakiness demonstrated by a number of teams. The poster child for this phenomenon is the Kansas City Royals, who have followed their streak of four walk-off--and hey, that term sure got old in a hurry, didn't it?--wins with nine consecutive losses. Their current record of 8-12 is fairly reflective of the team's talent level, although running off some of the dead weight in the bullpen and rotation in favor of the good arms--Lance Carter and Jeff Austin spring immediately to mind--lurking in their system could edge them closer to .500 than .400.

Forty percent of the NL East is riding seven-game win streaks, but don't get too excited. The Mets and Braves have piled up those Ws against the bottom half of the NL Central (Pirates, Brewers and Cubs) and a Phillies team missing its #1 starter. The Braves are soft in the middle of their staff, a point driven home by how Bobby Cox is riding his starters, and the Mets' offense isn't as good as it looked against a Cub bullpen that contains about two major-league pitchers. The Braves are still the better team, especially now that they have quality OBPs in the top two lineup spots. The improvement there will push them into the top five in the league in runs scored.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Tigers have lost seven in a row, and only one of those has even been close. The Tigers are a bad team in just about every way you can be one, with a poor offense, a suspect rotation and an embarrassing defense. With the injury to Damion Easley and Juan Gonzalez's ailments, Detroit has been starting DHs at second base and in right field (Gregg Jefferies and Luis Polonia) and a left fielder in center field (Juan Encarnacion). This is addition to the presence of Dean Palmer at third base. All of this bad news behind a staff that puts the ball in play a lot in a park with a good-sized outfield. I could see the Tigers spending the rest of the season in the AL Central cellar.

The Tigers' dire straits are a good reason to take the White Sox's current five-game run with a grain of salt, although their pumped-up offense and underrated bullpen give them some credibility.

The best streaks of all belong to the Red Sox and Pedro Martinez. The Sox have had five games rained out over four consecutive days, while Pedro has been listed in your daily paper as "tonight's starter" for five days in a row. Today's forecast for Dallas, where the Sox are scheduled to take on the Texas Rangers, is for partly cloudy skies and a low of 61 degrees.

Take an umbrella, anyway.

Joe Sheehan can be reached at jsheehan@baseballprospectus.com.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
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