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June 22, 2007

Prospectus Hit List

Hurting Hurlers

by Jay Jaffe

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

1


Red Sox
46-25
5-1
.641
Up
Curt Schilling's punchless performance--his first zero-strikeout game since July 1, 1993--prompts a trip to the MRI machine. While his shoulder reportedly shows no major damage, a cortisone shot sends him to the DL, and his altered mechanics and reduced velocity have Will Carroll concerned. Since narrowly missing a no-hitter, the Big Schill has allowed 11 earned runs and 19 hits in 9.1 innings. Going to waste in Schilling's outing is Coco Crisp's two-homer effort, but his .522/.560/.957 performance since June 14 helps him climb back to replacement level. So he's got that going for him.

2


Angels
46-27
4-2
.589
Flat
Mike Scioscia and company roll into Chavez Ravine and complete their spanking of the Los Angeles Dodgers of Los Angeles, holding them to a grand total of 10 runs while winning five out of six. That's eight straight series wins for the Angels, and 12 out of 13; they're 29-12 in that span, a .707 clip. Alas, the news isn't all good. John Lackey's got some shoulder soreness, but the league's number five man in Support Neutral goodness isn't expected to miss more than a start. Garret Anderson hits the DL with a hip flexor strain, but given that he's hitting just .264/.265/.411 and walking, like, never (once in 132 PA), he'll hardly be missed.

3


Tigers
42-29
5-1
.586
Up
Maulball: the Tiger offense continues to tear through opponents; they're scoring 7.9 runs per game this month after dropping 24 on the Nationals over a two-night span. Magglio Ordoņez is hotter than hot (.483/.562/.667 in June), but he hardly stands out on a team where seven hitters have an OPS above 900 for the month. Kenny Rogers' return should give the rotation a much-needed shot in the arm, but the real help is needed in a bullpen that remains among the league's worst, with Joel Zumaya in danger of missing the rest of the year and Fernando Rodney (5.74) and Todd Jones (5.86) sporting some ugly ERAs.

4


Padres
41-30
3-3
.585
Down
Two-Hitter: Chris Young and Carlos Zambrano lock horns in a dandy pitchers' duel that will be remembered more for Young's slugfest with Derrek Lee. The Pads roll with the punches, snagging pugilistic Michael Barrett from the Cubs in a swap of backstops, but they end the week by laying an egg against the Orioles, dropping a pair that doubles the beleagured Birds' June win total.

5


Athletics
39-32
3-3
.581
Down
One day after being activated from the DL for the third time this year, Milton Bradley is designated for assignment; evidently, he was frustrated by the team's delay in activating him, while the A's decided that he was no longer worth the headaches. Bradley's hit a solid .292/.373/.446, albeit in just 65 at-bats for a team that's been stretched thin by his absence, but the performance of Travis Buck (.285/.381/.503) and the team's third-best VORP) and the return of Mark Kotsay apparently embolden Billy Beane. In more cheerful news, the majors' most productive rotation gets a happy return from Rich Harden, with Esteban Loaiza expected around the All-Star break.

6


Indians
42-29
3-3
.566
Down
Pronk Wrong? After leading by as many as 4.5 games at the beginning of the month, the Indians now find themselves sharing first place in the AL Central with the Tigers, and one reason for their troubles is Travis Hafner's slump. The DH is hitting just .200/.314/.233 without a homer this month--his May wasn't so hot either at .228/.394/.455--and he's slugging just .432 overall. He's not alone in his struggles; Ryan Garko (.170/.241/.283 in June) and Trot Nixon (.159/.302/.205) have been polluting the offense like it was the Cuyahoga River.

7


Yankees
35-35
2-4
.557
Down
Mile High Drub: fresh off a Subway Series win that caps a 14-3 run, the Yankees are swept in Colorado while being held to just five runs in a series more memorable for the 2007 first base debuts of Jorge Posada and Johnny Damon. As injured Jason Giambi cuts a deal to meet with Grand Inquisitor George "Torquemada" Mitchell, the picture at that position appears dire. Yankee first-sackers have hit .270/.336/.416, well below the league average (.274/.352/.452). With Damon possibly DL-bound, Posada needed behind the plate to minimize the presence of .116-hitting Wil Nieves, Josh Phelps DFA'd in favor of Andy Phillips, and a surprisingly torrid Miguel Cairo still representing what Joe Sheehan rightly terms "baseball malpractice," it's clear somebody's license to assemble a roster may have expired.

8


Mets
38-32
2-4
.554
Down
The June swoon continues as the Mets drop series to both the Yankees and Twins; they're 4-14 since the calendar flipped. While the decimated outfield--including walking wounded Carlos Beltran--has much to do with the team's struggles, so too does the return to earth of the makeshift rotation. After compiling a 3.52 ERA through May despite the unsuccessful experiments of Mike Pelfrey and Chan Ho Park, the rotation has put up a 5.20 ERA this month. Orlando Hernandez is at 5.51 since coming off the DL, Oliver Perez has walked 16 in his last 24.2 innings (mama said there'd be days like these), and Tom Glavine has been rocked for 16 runs in his last 8.1 innings; he's been stuck on 295 wins for over a month.

9


Dodgers
41-31
3-3
.552
Down
Another troubling outing prompts Jason Schmidt to go under the knife; he's got the Deluxe Torn Labrum Platter with all the trimmings, so forward his mail to Spring Training 2008. Chad Billingsley takes his spot in the rotation, and while he's much improved over his rookie season, the move may upset the balance of the league's second-best bullpen (not that I'm advocating more Brett Tomko or Mark Hendrickson). Meanwhile, hitting coach Eddie Murray takes the fall for an underperforming offense that's 11th in EqA at a subpar .253, but he didn't sign Juan Pierre (.240), Nomar Garciaparra (.237), or Rafael Furcal (.254) to those big deals.

10


Brewers
41-31
5-1
.545
Up
Yo, Baby! Yovani Gallardo's solid major-league debut (6.1 4 3 3 3 4) helps the Brewers reverse their month-long slide with an 8-2 run, creating some daylight in the NL Central standings. Prince Fielder continues to crush with three home runs on the week, including an inside-the-park job, running his NL-best total to 26. Also helping out is Corey Hart, who's hit .355/.444/.694 in the leadoff role since Rickie Weeks went down. Weeks is back, doubling four times in three games since his return.

11


Cubs
32-39
2-4
.522
Down
The Cubs may be running second in the NL Central, but they lead the league in cantankerousness. Alfonso Soriano draws the Padres' ire after moonwalking to first base following a home run. Derrek Lee gets five for fighting after trading blows with Chris Young over a hit by pitch. Michael Barrett is shipped to NL West-leading San Diego after spats with Carlos Zambrano and Rich Hill, proving that the Cubs have no concept of punishment. Lost in this mess is Zambrano's 7.1 innings of no-hit ball; the Big Z has allowed just three earned runs and 10 hits over his past 23.2 innings.

12


Diamondbacks
42-31
5-1
.511
Up
Disc Error: Randy Johnson hits the DL with a herniated disc, the same one that was repaired over the winter. The news comes just as the Big Unit had begun to dominate--five earned runs over his last 29.2 innings, with a 42/4 K/BB ratio--and it overshadows a trip-salvaging sweep of the Orioles. Closer to home, Chris B. Young's walk-off home run caps an impressive comeback, but the rookie center fielder is hitting just .245/.280/.426 amid a June that's even worse than his frigid April.

13


Blue Jays
34-37
3-3
.508
Up
We spend a lot of time picking on J.P. Ricciardi for his pitching follies, and with A.J. Burnett now on the DL for the third time in 18 months, who can blame us for locking and loading against those ferocious barreled fish? (That part about Burnett missing just one start after being hung out to dry amid a shoulder strain? Lies, all lies...) Nonetheless, we have to admit surprise that the Vernon Wells deal is off to a bad start; the center fielder is hitting only .246/.301/.390, with a VORP that's being tested as a low-frequency weapon. The Frank Thomas move isn't looking too keen either, though the Big Hurt's two homers on the week lift his SLG above .400 for the first time since May 6. It's called progress, people.

14


Mariners
37-32
2-4
.507
Down
Pythagorean Payback: after much discussion the Mariners' run differential relative to their won-loss record, a six-game losing streak--all to sub-.500 NL Central teams--enables Pythagoras to collect some of the rent. Snapping the streak is Jeff Weaver, whose four-hit shutout gives the Master of Disaster his first win in a Mariner uniform. Weaver has allowed only four earned runs in 19 innings since coming off the DL, and his ERA is finally below 9.00 thanks to the return of those drop-down sliders to his arsenal. Meanwhile, Ichiro Suzuki's 16-game hitting streak means he's hit in 41 out of 43 games at a .413/.456/.513 clip.

15


Rockies
38-34
5-1
.506
Up
Rocky Mountain High: Colorado plays host to the majors' hottest team, the Yankees, and holds them to five runs during a three-game sweep. That's 20 out of 27 victories for the Rockies, who suddenly find themselves within hailing distance of the NL West's elite triumvirate. The staff has put together a 3.29 ERA during that run, with the bullpen--which otherwise hasn't been much to write home about--contributing a stingy 1.70 to that effort. On an even bigger roll is Jeff Francis, who wins the middle match of the Yankee series; he's allowed more than two runs only once in his last nine starts (1.86 ERA).

16


Braves
38-35
3-3
.501
Down
Keeping Up with the Joneses: Andruw's benched amid a 2-for-36 slide that has his overall line down to .202/.299/.388. Chipper's hurt again after hitting .448/.515/.483 in his eight games since coming off the DL. Tellingly, the latter had just one RBI in that span while the team was shut out four times and averaged only 3.0 runs per game. The duo's fate goes a fair distance towards explaining how the Braves have lost 12 out of their last 18, missing their golden opportunity to seize control of the NL East amid the Mets' struggles.

17


Twins
36-34
3-3
.496
Down
Justin Morneau's third walk-off homer of the year thwarts a seven-run rally by the Brewers, but it's the sole highlight in an otherwise lost series. Johan Santana blanks the reeling Mets, winning a bet that costs Bert Blyleven his hair. Scott Baker joins the party, winning a start that salvages his spot in the rotation--negative VORP and all--and enables the Twins to close their week on a high note.

18


Phillies
37-35
2-4
.493
Down
"And That One's For Giving Charlie Manuel a Job!" The Phils have a pair of ten spots dropped upon them by their manager's former club. That's just part of a rough week that sees the staff surrender 48 runs to the majors' two most potent teams while sending the Phils' run differential into the red (the Mets are now the NL East's only team with a positive differential). Jon Lieber yields 14 of those runs in two disaster starts; even with his shutout of the Royals the previous week, he's allowed 27 runs and 52 hits over his past 36 innings.

19


Orioles
31-41
2-4
.491
Down
Sam in a Can: an eight-game losing streak prompts the Orioles to fire Sam Perlozzo and unsuccessfully court Joe Girardi as his replacement. Accompanied by the hiring of Andy MacPhail as the team's COO, the change comes amid a 2-14 freefall, but it has little chance of altering the team's fortunes this year. For the moment, pitching coach Leo Mazzone will stay; his rotation is second in the league in SNLVAR, but the $42 million bullpen is dead last in WXRL, with Danys Baez now a not-so-innocent bystander and Todd Williams an ex-O.

20


Giants
30-41
0-6
.479
Down
A seven-game losing streak runs the Giants' string of futility to 19 losses in 25 games, relegating Barry Bonds' 748th homer to footnote status. Tim Lincecum coughs up another disaster start that begins with 15 balls in his first 19 pitches; his ERA is now 5.88 amid an 18.2 inning/22 run streak; the Giants may skip his next turn. Matt Cain holds the Red Sox to a lone run but gets zero support for the second start in a row; he's 2-7 with a 3.15 ERA, making him baseball's unluckiest pitcher by a wide margin.

21


Marlins
35-38
3-3
.478
Flat
The Marlins split their weekly slate, but troubles abound in a rotation that's 15th in the league in SNLVAR. Staff leader Sergio Mitre is rocked by the Royals after hamstring troubles push back his turn, while Josh Johnson is hit hard in his return from ulnar neuritis (3.2 9 8 4 4 2). Dontrelle Willis departs his latest start after just one inning due to forearm tightness; he'll likely miss a turn in this latest twist to his uneven season (4.90 ERA, 4.6 VORP). And Anibal Sanchez is 'scoped; a torn labrum means this little fishy is cooked for the year.

22


Astros
31-41
4-2
.445
Up
With 12 hits in a seven-game span, Craig Biggio grinds towards number 3,000. He's still eight hits shy, but his hot streak has lifted him all the way to .238/.278/.395, with a subzero VORP to boot. Turning to the bullpen, Brad Lidge strains an oblique less than a week after regaining the closer role, while Chad Qualls is suspended for throwing a ball into the stands (intentionally, you 'Blauch-Heads)--yes, those Astro relievers will do anything to avoid sitting next to Dan Wheeler.

23


Reds
28-45
2-4
.441
Flat
Series losses to Texas and Oakland send Jerry Narron's club further into the red, particularly with yet another bullpen meltdown; the Reds are now last in the league in WXRL, and second-to-last in Adjusted Runs Prevented, but at least they've stopped parading what's left of the zombie Gary Majewski (15.88 ERA, .516 AVG allowed) at every turn. Turning to the rotation, Homer Bailey provides one of the week's few bright spots, but with a 7/11 K/BB ratio in 18 innings, he's not exactly looking entirely ready for prime time.

24


Devil Rays
31-39
2-4
.427
Flat
Summer Reruns: stop us if you've heard these before: Rocco Baldelli reinjures his hamstring two days into a rehab assignment, Elijah Dukes finds a new way to creep people out even when he's not getting at-bats, and the Rays' bullpen blows a six-run lead. Actually, that last one is news, as it's the first time in eight that the Rays have lost to the Diamondbacks. Never has the need to shed the teal--to say nothing of their designated psychopath--been more glaringly obvioius.

25


Cardinals
32-37
4-2
.427
Up
Bumped from the rotation due to his 2-11, 6.93 ERA craptacularity, Kip Wells' two perfect innings of relief and Ryan Ludwick's 14th-inning homer send the Cardinals to a series victory over the Royals. Hey, who's not impressed when the defending World Champs eke out a win over the Hit List's second-lowliest team? Even with a winning record for the week--not to mention good news about the progress of Chris Carpenter--it's rough stuff for the Redbirds, who lose Jim Edmonds, David Eckstein, and Braden Looper to the DL. While Edmonds has been around replacement level, the other two are third on the team in hitter and pitcher VORP, respectively.

26


Rangers
28-44
4-2
.417
Up
Weird Week in Hicksville: GM Jon Daniels gets a one-year extension despite the Rangers' abysmal showing this year. We're all for giving a young whippersnapper a chance, but one has to wonder whether he's the ideal rebuilder. Daniels has been smoked on his highest-profile deals--Alfonso Soriano, Francisco Cordero, Adrian Gonzalez/Chris Young, John Danks--while assembling a rotation whose two most expensive investments--Kevin Millwood and Vicente Padilla--have combined for a -27.5 VORP this year and are still owed $77 million. Owner Tom Hicks continues to bring the crazy by accusing Juan Gonzalez of using steroids--apparently, he avoided Jose Canseco's publicity tour--but if Hicks is going to bemoan every dollar that's (Juan) gone to waste, he should be lashing out at the idiot who shelled out for Alex Rodriguez ($140 million for his three years in Texas) and Chan Ho Park ($65 million for a measly 6.8 WARP). Oh, and Sammy Sosa becomes the fifth hitter in baseball history to reach 600 homers, connecting off Jason Marquis of the Cubs, but even that may not punch his ticket to Cooperstown.

27


White Sox
29-39
2-4
.408
Flat
A bullpen meltdown prompts Ozzie Guillen to call his team's play "a joke". The painful punchline is another late-inning debacle--notice a pattern?--this time via Bobby Jenks, one of the few otherwise innocent bystanders during the team's 5-19 slide. Jenks has put up a 2.45 ERA in that span, while the rest of the relievers are at 8.70, with a WHIP of 2.28. Whips--now there's something Ozzie might try...

28


Pirates
31-41
3-3
.403
Flat
Hot Stove League: Ian Snell's kitchen mishap costs him a start, but Tom Gorzelanny picks up the slack with seven strong innings. Alas, there's little cooking with the rest of the Pirate offense, which puts up consecutive zeroes against Jeff Weaver and Felix Hernandez, two pitchers who haven't exactly been lighting fires this year. That makes for 18 runs scored in their last seven games, against teams not exactly stifling opponents this year; is it any wonder why the Pirates have the worst third-order winning percentage (.378) and are dwelling in the Hit List netherworld?

29


Royals
29-44
3-3
.396
Flat
Heartbreaking 14th-inning defeat notwithstanding, the Royals are having a very good month; they're 10-9, with a +22 run differential. Alex Gordon is hitting .333/.361/.507 in June, and if you expand the horizon back to May 13, he's at a very reasonable .288/.341/.456 over his last 135 PA. Also hot: Brian Bannister, 4-0 with a 1.61 ERA this month and now second on the staff in VORP.

30


Nationals
30-42
1-5
.390
Down
So Much for Progress: the Nats' stretch of good baseball comes to an end, as the team is outscored 48-22 on the week, with the Gashouse Gorillas, er, Detroit Tigers scoring 32 of those runs in just three games. The drubbings knock more than one pitcher's ERA into next week; Levale Speigner is finally put out of his misery in a move that brings Luis Ayala back from the dead, or at least the minors. Also recalled: Brandon Watson, whosets an International League record with a 43-game hitting streak. He's not a prospect--in case those PECOTA comps that include Juan Pierre, Jason Tyner, and Alex Sanchez fooled you--but if you're looking for the answer to the question, "What's a scrawny flychaser with zero power gotta do to get a break with the league's crummiest team?" you've now got it.


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.

Jay Jaffe is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Jay's other articles. You can contact Jay by clicking here

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