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June 9, 2000

From The Mailbag

Spanning the Northeast

by Baseball Prospectus

The Yankees and The Red Sox

In your most recent AL East Notebook you compared the Wiltons of the Yankees lineup to their current Equivalent Average. The overall Yankee lineup is 125 points of EqA behind what was expected, and this may indicate some more run production in the future.

Have you checked the Red Sox lineup?

Name               EqA    Proj   Diff

Brian Daubach .274 .279 +5 Mike Stanley .274 .266 -8 Jose Offerman .272 .210 -62 Nomar Garciaparra .315 .317 +2 Wilton Veras .246 .199 -41 Troy O'Leary .271 .211 -60 Carl Everett .279 .321 +42 Trot Nixon .270 .295 +25

The Red Sox lineup, even factoring in Wilton Veras as the everyday third baseman, is about 97 points of EqA below expectations.

If your article served to anoint a renaissance of the Yankee lineup, you could have done the same with the Sox.

--CS

Actually, all I was trying to say is that the Yanks will probably turn out OK on offense without trading the farm for a slugging outfielder. I also think the Sox will be fine, as you say.

However, when considering the balance of power in the division, watch out for that Boston pitching staff. Those guys resemble nothing so much as tinder waiting for a match.

Don't forget, 'tis the season for a nice barbeque.

--Dave Pease

Les Expos

I would just like to take this time to say what a great article you wrote about the Expos. I am a diehard Expos and I am really hoping for a wild-card spot.

My question is what is your honest opinion of how long the Expos will stay in Montreal. I love this team but live in Ontario and cannot afford to go to many games. Reading all the local papers, it does not sound too good.

--DM

I don't see the Expos moving, at least not in the near future. New owner Jeffrey Loria has been pretty clear about his support for the team staying. Also, part of his group's purchase of the team was building a local coalition to support him.

I think they'll either get their park, in which case they can't move, or other cities will realize that a new stadium is no guarantee of franchise location. I suspect the owners would rather implement widespread revenue sharing than deny themselves the money the next round of upgrades to the remaining parks will generate.

--Derek Zumsteg

Workloads

From ESPN.com's Al Leiter player page:

[Leiter] Appeared in Sports Illustrated's "Faces in the Crowd"
section (June 4, 1984) after striking out 32 batters in 13 1/3 innings of a
high school game.

That's incredible...does this stuff still happen regularly? Toms River has a great baseball program, but if that's the cost....

--GM

You know, I remember that game. I wasn't there or anything, but I grew up in New York, and I was 13 when Leiter made that start. He got a lot of press in the Tri-State area.

Sadly, while I'd like to think the work of Craig Wright and others has trickled down to the amateur levels, we have significant anecdotal evidence that it hasn't. And it's the pitchers with the most to lose who are subjected to the worst treatment in high school and college.

One possible remedy would be if the the various governing bodies of amateur sports moved from inning limits--there's generally an upper bound on how often kids can pitch--to pitch limits.

As much as I appreciate the note, Greg, I have to say that I hope to someday never have to answer questions like this. Sadly, I doubt that will happen.

--Joe Sheehan

Equivalent Average

One question: where can I find an explanation for the categories in the Equivalent Average report, particularly RAP and RAR? What do these represent?

--AM

RAR: Runs Above Replacement. What a player has been worth above and beyond what a freely available player at that position should produce. A "freely available player", in this usage, is significantly worse than average.

RAP: Runs Above Position. What a player has been worth above and beyond what the league average is at his position.

Setting up a glossary with all of this info available in it is at the top of our list.

Thanks

--Dave Pease

Individual Player Questions

Okay, I'll bite. Why are Olmedo Saenz's days at third base numbered? Jeremy Giambi doesn't have enough competition for playing time at third base or DH? You can probably tell where my interests lie.

--KF

Saenz has played third base badly during his brief appearances there. Overall, I wouldn't worry too much about Jeremy's PT. Saenz and Jeremy should wind up being a platoon in which Saenz gets a bit more PT than just against lefties; I still expect Jeremy to end up with ~350 PA.

The challenge comes if and when the A's call up Adam Piatt for keeps and once John Jaha returns from the DL. Even so, Jeremy would end up being the regular in right field if and when Matt Stairs gets traded.

Hope that helps,

--Chris Kahrl

I'm considering picking up Todd Van Poppel. Do you think he'll be the Cubbies closer? I have the choice between him and Matt Morris.

--DS

I suppose it depends on what you need. If you need saves, you might want Van Poppel, but he doesn't have the job to himself and there's talk that he might be put into the rotation.

If you're more interested in helping your team's Ratio, ERA and Wins, then Morris is the better choice. Compared to TVP as a starter, Morris will outpitch him.

Take Morris.

--Chris Kahrl

Is Adam Eaton the real deal and should I pick him up for 2001?

--LL

It's tough to say, since you didn't tell us anything about your league (NL/AL/mixed? how many owners? what categories?), but here's my take:

If you're in anything but an NL-only league with at least 10 teams, no.

If you're in an NL-only league with at least 10 teams, maybe, but only if you don't care how he does this year. Rookie pitchers are a notoriously bad bet, and you're judging him on a very small sample of innings. Plus, while Eaton was a well-regarded prospect, he was hardly Rick Ankiel.

Think about Tim Hudson, who came out of nowhere to be great last year, but has disappointed his owners this year.

--Keith Law

Is there any word out there on what's happening with Nick Johnson or when he'll be back? Maybe his health is forcing the Yankees' hand in getting another hitter?

--TA

Nick Johnson's rehabilitation has taken some time. He's started to swing again, hitting off a tee, but has recently experienced some pain and that's going to hold him back. The Yankees expected him to come off the DL this month, but they're going to continue to bring him along slowly to avoid any setbacks. Before he started hurting, I was figuring he was three weeks out. Now, who knows?

As for forcing the Yankees' hand, you may well be correct--they'll want him to get some at bats against live pitching in the minors first, since he's been out so long, and Steinbrenner may not be able to wait that long if the Yankees are falling behind the Red Sox. If they can't make a deal for a slugger (or two), though, they might still plug him in for the shockingly unproductive Tino Martinez at first base or give him some at-bats at DH, which would be a waste of his glove.

--Derek Zumsteg

We'd love to hear your thoughts on anything baseball-related at info@baseballprospectus.com. We'll publish the best of what we get weekly at www.baseballprospectus.com.

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