May 8, 2007
A Trio of Musings
In order to blow this golden opportunity to have their first plus-.500 season since 1992, the Brewers would have to go 59-71 the rest of the way. That's not happening--especially when they have the Nats lined up for their next two games. That should make the likelihood of a sub-.500 season even less…um…likely. In a very public cry for help, the Nats are sending Jason Simontacchi to the mound tonight for his first big league appearance since 2004. Every team--even a lot that go on to win tons of games and flags to hang at their ballparks--give a few starts every year to unlikely candidates (see the 2007 Red Sox and Julian Tavarez), but this is especially emblematic of how quickly the Nationals have acclimated themselves to traditional Washington baseball franchise malaise.
Chances are, you're probably pretty surprised to see that Simontacchi is still active; he was closing for Bridgeport in the independent Atlantic League last year. This year, he made two starts at Triple-A Columbus, walked one, struck out three and allowed 17 hits and seven runs in 10 2/3 innings. If you tilt your ear toward Wisconsin, you can hear a Homer Simposon-esque drooling sound emanating from the Brewers clubhouse. Of course, it would be a much better story if Simontacchi goes seven strong innings and keeps the Natties in the contest.
The Brewers' 22-10 start is their best record ever through 32 games. It's even better than their 32-game mark in 1987, the year they won their first 13 games--after that, they went 7-12. What follows is a list of the latest .667 (minimum) record the Brewers have managed in their history.
2-1: 1980, 1981, 1988, 1991, 1993, 1996
Most of these ended in heartbreak and demise, but 2007 will be different. Clay Davenport's current playoff odds report lists Milwaukee's chances of making the postseason at 64 percent. That's second in the National League, ranking behind only the Mets (68.3 percent) in the Senior Circuit, and it's also third overall--Boston's leading the way at 83.7 percent. What is more, those three teams are the only ones with 50 percent shots of winning their respective divisions.
Topic for discussion: if the Red Sox and Yankees were placed in different divisions, would it impact the entire salary structure of baseball? Does their head-to-head battle drive their payrolls ever upwards and, consequently, up the ante for the entire sport? Since both teams are smart enough to know you can't buy a World Championship but you can spend your way into October baseball, doesn't it stand to reason that their expenditures are made simply to get into the playoffs? If the divisions were realigned non-geographically somehow, would Boston and New York be able to ease off the pedal on that last 25 percent of their payrolls, or would they keep on spending because they have the money to do so? Just wondering…
It's a fleeting thing, but this matchup features the relievers with the two highest VORP marks in the American League. Boston's Hideki Okajima has made 15 appearances and is at 9.2, while Toronto's Jeremy Accardo is at 8.7 in 11 outings. Between them, they've surrendered one run in over three full games' worth of appearances. In terms of WXRL, Okajima is ranked seventh in the league, and Accardo is 19th.
Jim Edmonds was struggling, and then he went into a dry spell. Edmonds hasn't had a hit in his last 20 at bats going back to April 28 against the Cubs. At that time, he was already at an uncharacteristic .235/.325/.324, but now his OBP is 15 points higher than his slugging average. One might assume 20 straight hitless at-bats is the worst it's ever gotten for Edmonds, but not so--if he can land something safely in his first official at-bat tonight against Taylor Buccholz, he'll avoid tying his personal longest hitless streak.
These are the five worst non-safety streaks of his career:
Normally, we could write off a streak like this latest one as one of those things, much as we would have with the other four streaks on this list. Even a player at the top of his game--as Edmonds certainly was in 2004--is going to have a bit of a correction now and then. Preceded by a rough first month as this one was, and predicated by years of hard play and the fact that Edmonds will be 37 in June, this one sadly seems more symptomatic than coincidental.