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July 10, 2000

The Daily Prospectus

Today Sucks

by Joe Sheehan

Mondays are pretty lousy, but a Monday with no baseball games? Yick...stop the day, I want to get off. Then again, this Wednesday will be worse; no games, and no sports page/Internet site full of Sunday boxscores to pore over, reliving the previous day's ballgames. Sure, there will be lots of All-Star coverage, but how much can you read about an exhibition game?

With real baseball on pause for 72 hours, I figured this would be a good time to meander through the leagues and take a look at how everyone is performing to date. So today I'll eyeball NL players, with the AL's to follow on Tuesday. Wednesday and Thursday we'll look at how the second half shapes up in all six divisions.

And Friday we'll run lots of Anna Kournikova pictures, so the week won't be a total loss.

I don't spend nearly as much time picking on the Angels as I could, but if there ever was a team that would benefit if MLB instituted a mandatory retirement age of 32 or so, it's them. Just for snicks, I divided their 2000 starters by birthdate; everyone born between the dawn of time and 1970 on one side, everyone born subsequently on the other. Here's what you get (stats through Wednesday):

Decrepit: 6.42 ERA

Not decrepit: 5.28 ERA

OK, so it's not like the younger guys have set the world on fire, but it's still a pretty good case for them. More Seth Etherton and Brian Cooper, less Ken Hill and Tim Belcher. Oh, and while I'm here: get rid of the fireworks during the national anthem, Anaheim. They're tacky beyond belief.

Anybody remember how long we waited for Charles Johnson to hit? He's now at a .314 EqA on raw totals of .313/.376/.627. Of course, he's also an Oriole, so no one notices. The batting average won't stay that high, but the power looks real and his defense is still good. He should be an All-Star, especially since the O's don't actually have anyone in the game.

Yes, David Wells is having a good year, but unless we've seen the last of that Dominican right-hander, Wells's performance is still only good for second in the Cy Young race. Even with Pedro Martinez's missed time, Wells only has 15 1/3 more innings under his belt, and the rest of his performance doesn't compare. To speak loosely, it's as if Wells matched Martinez for 106 innings, then put up 15 1/3 innings of 17.03 ball.

Michael Wolverton's Support-Neutral measures, which account for playing time, concur. Martinez is still worth two extra wins above replacement level as compared to Wells. It's still Martinez's award to lose. Or be robbed of.

Russ Branyan's walks, strikeouts and home runs--the Three True Outcomes popularized by the Rob Deer Fan Club--as a percentage of his plate appearances: 60.1%. Deer's best? 53.8% in 1991.

Here's a performance I have no explanation for: Mac Suzuki's 3.87 ERA in 13 starts and three relief appearances, with 7.4 strikeouts per nine innings and a 1.19 SNWAR.

The case for Tom Kelly as someone who can handle young players is a difficult one to make. He's had to listen to Todd Walker, Doug Mientkiewicz, Chad Allen...hell, everyone but Doug Baker taking shots from afar. But Corey Koskie has grabbed the third-base job with a .409 OBP, Jacque Jones doesn't walk enough but is slugging .511 and playing good defense and Christian Guzman could rap out 60 extra-base hits and 60 walks.

I'm just kind of wondering what could happen if Denny Hocking and Ron Coomer never came back from their fishing trip.

So, what do the Yankees need? Their starters are seventh in the league in SNWAR, their bullpen is tied for third in Adjusted Runs Prevented and their offense is fifth in the league in EqA. I've been pushing the idea that they need a hitter more than a pitcher--and their raw runs and ERA totals agree--but it's possible that I've overstated the case.

Tampa Bay has the best bullpen in baseball and it's not all that close. Go forth and win bar bets.

Batters are hitting .233 off Frank Castillo. Two-thirty-three.

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

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
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