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July 17, 2009

Prospectus Today

The Better Half

by Joe Sheehan

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Picking up where we left off yesterday, here's the top half a second-half preview that spins off of the pre-season rankings I published back in April.

#15: Florida Marlins (me: 797 RS, 792 RA; projected: 747 RS, 770 RA). The Marlins have found the extra 50 runs in the same place the Twins did last year, ranking fifth in the league in runs scored despite placing 11th in OBP, 10th in slugging, and ninth in stolen bases. They're hitting .247/.310/.385 with no one on base, .268/.344/.417 with runners on, and .263/.352/.412 with runners in scoring position. That's not quite as extreme as last year's Minnesotans, but it does help explain the discrepancy. Batting Emilio Bonifacio first or second every day is crippling them, and yet there's no sign that's going to change; Bonifacio is representative of a team that strikes out a ton without picking up walks along the way, leading to a low batting average and low OBP. If the Marlins are to stay in contention, it will be because the young rotation behind Josh Johnson continues to improve. Ricky Nolasco has been lights-out since coming back up from a brief demotion, and both Chris Volstad and Andrew Miller have shown some development. An overachieving bullpen worked very hard has been a critical component of their success, and if things go south in the second half, that may be the culprit. All things considered, this is the fourth-best team in the NL East, and the one most likely to slip to 77 wins.

#14: Cincinnati Reds (me: 752 RS, 743 RA; projected: 663 RS, 754 RA). I thought I was being conservative in my projection for the Reds offense-apparently not. The signing of Willy Taveras, at the time sold as the import of an offensive sparkplug, has been the undoing of a team that was already going to have trouble putting runners on base. Batting leadoff or second almost every day, Taveras has been outplayed by Emilio Bonifacio, posting a .244/.286/.296 line with just 16 walks in 320 PA. He's not the only culprit-the Reds are getting nothing from the left side of the infield and catcher-but he's the one who was signed to be part of the solution. Punting him for Drew Stubbs, right now, would make the Reds a game better, maybe two, in the second half. The main reason the Reds are hanging around .500 is a matchup bullpen that has enabled them to win 22 of 40 games decided by one or two runs. Barring some massive turnover in personnel, they should slip out of the race shortly. If Jay Bruce's wrist injury pushes them in that direction, it's a net positive for the team in the long term.

#13: Minnesota Twins (me: 748 RS, 735 RA; projected: 786 RS, 734 RA). The gap there is pretty much Joe Mauer hitting like Rogers Hornsby for half of a season. It's a mix of a great player entering his peak and some good fortune on fly balls and balls in play, both of which have shifted a bit in the last month or so. He's still the league MVP at this point, even having missed a month. This Twins' offense is better than last year's, even if it may fall short of last year's number of runs scored. Jason Kubel gives them a third big-time hitter, and Michael Cuddyer is having a strong season. They desperately need a middle infielder or another outfielder who can hit, as there are just too many games they start with five holes in the lineup. A bullpen that doesn't inspire confidence outside of Joe Nathan and Jose Mijares is a problem as well. The Adjusted Standings say they've been the best team in the AL Central so far, and that's with some very high home-run rates out of their staff of Brad Radke clones. I give them the edge in the Central down the stretch thanks to the strike-throwers and the best lineup core of the three contenders; it's a small edge, however, and it's a race that could well come down to which GM adds two or three wins at the trade deadline.

#12: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (me: 741 RS, 726 RA; projected: 868 RS, 808 RA). Vlad Guerrero, Howie Kendrick, and Gary Matthews Jr. all tanked, and the Angels still went into the break with the fourth-highest number of runs scored in all of baseball. Credit Tony Reagins with one of the winter's best steals, getting Bobby Abreu for $5 million, and thus adding a who leads the team in OBP, is third in games played, and is 19-for-22 on the bases. The Angels need every single run they get, because their vaunted pitching and defense is no more; injuries crippled the staff in the season's first month, and only Jered Weaver is anywhere near a good starting pitcher so far. Scot Shields finally gave out after years of great work, Jose Arredondo lost some command and was hit hard, and Justin Speier continued to underperform his contract, all of which left the bullpen a mess. There's a reason the Angels are in on Roy Halladay, although it's not clear that they have enough to acquire the Jays' right-hander. Benefiting as always from geography and structure, the Angels head into the second half as a comfortable favorite in the West, though perhaps for the last time. The newly-dangerous offense could well make them scary in a short series.

#11: Cleveland Indians (me: 847 RS, 822 RA; projected: 821 RS, 906 RA). One of the bigger misses-yes, there's a bigger one coming-the Indians' bullpen was once again a disaster. Rafael Perez allowed nearly a run per inning. Jensen Lewis allowed a homer every four frames. Kerry Wood walked nearly six men per nine and allowed six homers in just 30 IP. Rafael Betancourt pitched well-and got hurt. Matt Herges pitched well-and got released. The bullpen cost the Tribe many winnable games early, just as it did a year ago, and has buried them. It hasn't helped that the Indians have one good starter, Cliff Lee, and no one else with an ERA as a starter below 4.50. This is the third time in four seasons that the Indians have been one of the game's biggest disappointments, and I'm not sure how Eric Wedge hasn't been the scapegoat for that; the players have failed, but I'm not seeing him running the bullpen in a manner that would lead to success. Mark Shapiro has a very tough decision to make here, whether to start over from the bottom, trading Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez, or keep the core intact and try one more time in 2010. As an analyst, you start to wonder if the Indians are to you what, say, Reggie Abercrombie is to a scout-all tools, no production. When does the evaluation catch up with the results?

#10: Philadelphia Phillies (me: 819 RS, 774 RA; projected: 867 RS, 776 RA). It would be easy to say that the 50 missing runs are Raul Ibaņez, but really, he just cancels out the awful season Jimmy Rollins is having. No, the Phillies' terrific offense is the result of better than expected seasons by a lot of guys, less dramatic bumps than what Ibaņez has done, but the kind of upward ticks that add up to a lot of runs. Chase Utley, Carlos Ruiz, Pedro Feliz, Shane Victorino, and Jayson Werth have all produced a little extra, and because of that, a good offense has been great. Once again, the Phillies have been exceptionally healthy, with only Ibaņez missing time. That's been their edge over the Mets the last two years, and if they win the East again, it will be their edge this time. Health, Will Carroll tells us, is a skill, and the Phillies seem to possess it, which means their best players have a greater impact on their fortunes than the best players on teams who have less durability. If it goes awry for the Phillies, it will be on the mound, where they've already had more go wrong this year than did all of last year, and they're reliant on some of the same question marks they've leaned on for 240 games. They're in an interesting spot-a legitimate title contender, but also young enough and with enough talent starting to come up that they could take a longer view and be the division favorite for a while.

#9: Tampa Bay Rays (me: 766 RS, 719 RA; projected: 866 RS, 728 RA). They're second in OBP, third in slugging, and famously are running like some team from the 1980s. All of this while getting very little from B.J. Upton and Pat Burrell at the plate, nothing from Matt Joyce and Dioner Navarro, and losing Akinori Iwamura to injury in May. Baseball is a very strange game. Whatever you think of Ben Zobrist, All-Star, you can't miss his 1012 OPS that includes a great walk rate and isolated power. Jason Bartlett is a more traditional fluke, a .280 hitter batting .350 for half a season. The offense needs to be this good for them to get past the Yankees or Red Sox, maybe even a bit better, and I'm not sure they can sustain quite this pace. There's some room to gain on the pitching side, where the lefties have been quite disappointing so far, and the bullpen a mess for most of the season. They play just five games against the Yankees and Red Sox-the only teams in baseball better than they are-from now until the end of August, so they could put a big run together.

#8: Chicago Cubs (me: 784 RS, 726 RA; projected: 669 RS, 665 RA). They've taken on some of the characteristics of recent White Sox teams, where all they can do is hit home runs. The Cubs are 14th in the NL in batting average, 15th in doubles, 16th in triples, 11th in walks, and 14th in steals. That's how you end up fourth in the league in homers and 15th in runs scored. Credit Lou Piniella for getting Alfonso Soriano out of the leadoff spot, which addresses some lineup dysfunction. Getting Aramis Ramirez back will be a huge boost over what Mike Fontenot and/or Aaron Miles were providing, and Jake Fox could be the OBP/doubles player that neither Kosuke Fukudome nor Milton Bradley have been. This is the best team in the NL Central, and still the favorite to three-peat barring a big pickup by the Cards or Brewers.

#7: Arizona Diamondbacks (me: 823 RS, 748 RA; projected: 719 RS, 790 RA). Even in a year in which some of the young hitters stepped forward-such as Justin Upton and Mark Reynolds-the D'backs' offense has been a disappointment because Chris Young, Chad Tracy, and Conor Jackson have failed. As a team, the Snakes have good secondary skills, but make so little contact that their team batting average gets eaten alive. They might have survived this with a healthy Brandon Webb, but not only have they missed their ace, but in his absence Yusmeiro Petit, Billy Buckner, and Bryan Augenstein combined to allow 70 runs in 79 innings over 16 starts; replacement-level pitching, indeed. As with the Indians, you start to wonder why a front office that does things the "right" way cranks out so many disappointing seasons.

#6: Oakland Athletics (me: 746 RS, 695 RA; projected: 680 RS, 755 RA). This one is pretty simple: there was an expectation that Jason Giambi, Matt Holliday, and Orlando Cabrera would provide so many extra runs over what they were replacing that it would vault the A's to a lofty perch. Instead, those three players have been various flavors of disappointing, and none of the holdovers could hit to begin with, so you have another lost year in Oakland. I was overly optimistic about the pitching as well; Trevor Cahill and Brett Anderson have been perfectly acceptable in their rookie seasons, and expecting more was being blinded by green-tinted glasses. A healthy Joey Devine might have helped, although it's hard to argue that Andrew Bailey, who inherited his role, has hurt the team. Taking the long view, the A's, once criticized as a softball team, have a persistent problem putting anything like a major league offense on the field. Developmentally, they have to address that or be in line for a very long run of failure. Trading Matt Holliday for one major league-ready outfielder who can hit would be a good start.

#5: Atlanta Braves (me: 799 RS, 703 RA; projected: 687 RS, 698 RA). The outfield was even worse than expected, as Jeff Francoeur drove his career out off the bridge, no center fielder emerged (forcing the Nate McLouth trade) and Garret Anderson did exactly what he does. Declines from Chipper Jones, Brian McCann, and Kelly Johnson could not have possibly come at a worse time. The current Braves team is as good as it's been for a while, with five good starters, a fantastic back of the bullpen, and a viable (if flawed) offense getting good production from randoms like Martin Prado and David Ross. The eventual addition of Tim Hudson will help as well. They're nothing like the fifth-best team in baseball, but because of the pitching staff, they're also a serious threat in the East to the Phillies and the Mets, and they remain my pick for the NL Wild Card. I'd feel better about this if they could make a trade for a left fielder-Jordan Schafer, never a prospect I've been enamored of, may have more value as trade bait than anything else at this point.

#4: Los Angeles Dodgers (me: 819 RS, 711 RA; projected: 816 RS, 622 RA). I've been writing a lot about scheduling this season, and I think you have to consider it when looking at the Dodgers' season. They opened with a month of games within the division, playing the lousy Padres and Diamondbacks, as well as the Rockies before they upgraded their defense, and the Giants before Pablo Sandoval gave them an offense. This gave them a big cushion when Manny Ramirez was suspended, and may have enabled them to suffer that blow with more grace than they could have had they been, oh, 16-13 at the time. Juan Pierre briefly played his best baseball in years as a fill-in, and now it's a foregone conclusion that the Dodgers will make the playoffs. I'm not convinced the run prevention is sustainable in the second half, as the Dodgers have gotten an awful lot of above-their-heads innings from Randy Wolf, Ramon Troncoso, Ronald Belisario, Guillermo Mota, and Jeff Weaver. There's going to be a reckoning, not one that endangers a post-season berth, but one that will require Joe Torre to shuffle his bullpen roles as the season goes on, and even rework them for the playoffs. Torre works best with a push-button pen, and the lack of one is the biggest concern the Dodgers face as they prepare for October.

#3: New York Mets (me: 812 RS, 712 RA; projected: 698 RS, 760 RA). The Mets are 21-27 without Jose Reyes, and 8-13 without Reyes and Carlos Beltran. As Ben Shpigel reported yesterday, they aren't terribly close to getting those guys back either, so while I've continued to tout this team as the favorite in the East, it's harder and harder to sustain that when they're playing without their best players into August. Jerry Manuel has burnt out his bullpen, the effects of which showed last night when the Mets squandered a quality start by Oliver Perez by allowing single runs in the seventh and eighth innings. The 2007 and 2008 Mets were victimized by late-season injuries to Billy Wagner that cost them games and, eventually, the division. The 2009 Mets are also succumbing to injuries. Their main rivals repeatedly have stayed healthy to beat them out. This, not anything about character, is the key storyline in the NL East over the past three years. What do the Phillies have, or know, or do, that the Mets do not?

#2: New York Yankees (me: 789 RS, 675 RA; projected: 911 RS, 801 RA). Clearly, I was wrong about how New Yankee Stadiun would play, a fact that accounts for much of the gap in the numbers. Run environment aside, the Yankees have been as good as expected, with the struggles of Chien-Ming Wang on the mound and Joe Girardi in running a bullpen canceled out by bounceback seasons from a number of regulars, even after accounting for the park. Alex Rodriguez is having the worst 950 OPS season in baseball history, a victim of the focus on batting average and counting stats. This isn't a park effect: the Yankees lead the AL with 373 walks drawn, which is why they'll be the AL Wild Card, and a dangerous one at that. Now, if they could just get the enormously talented pitching staff assigned to the correct jobs: Philip Hughes and Joba Chamberlain starting, David Robertson and Phil Coke setting up Brian Bruney, then Mariano Rivera; Alfredo Aceves going multiple innings in middle relief, and Brett Tomko fetching Gatorade and setting up fantasy football leagues.

#1: Boston Red Sox (me: 822 RS, 637 RA; projected: 856 RS, 700 RS). They've allowed more runs than expected by not getting their best pitchers to the line in the first half. John Smoltz and Clay Buchholz are up now, though, and with Josh Beckett and Jon Lester pitching exceptionally well, it wouldn't be surprising to see the Red Sox go on an extended run the rest of the way. This is the best team in baseball, which is the front for the best organization in baseball, and if they don't have the best record at any particular moment in time, remember that they play in the toughest grouping of teams in American professional sports. Winning the AL East might be more impressive than winning the Stanley Cup.

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

39 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

dianagram

Gary Matthews Jr. tanked? I thought he was already relatively useless. Were you really expecting a return to his pre-FA walk year statline?

Jul 17, 2009 12:09 PM
rating: 0
 
Bill N

He means that he's having the worst year in his Angels tenure, offering even less offense and, in a new twist, no good defense.

Jul 17, 2009 12:51 PM
rating: 0
 
jramirez

"(me: 797 RS, 792 RA; projected: 747 RS, 770 RA). The Marlins have found the extra 50 runs"

Um...if I read this correctly the Marlins have scored fifty LESS runs than you predicted? Did someone spike my coffee again?

Jul 17, 2009 12:35 PM
rating: 1
 
Drew Miller

I saw the same thing--my guess is that he transposed the numbers.

Jul 17, 2009 12:56 PM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Joe Sheehan
BP staff
(17)

Did it once in each article, in fact.

Jul 18, 2009 07:06 AM
 
alaime

Not sure how the Mets rate as "as the favorite in the East" at this stage. Denial is a terrible thing. :)

Jul 17, 2009 12:40 PM
rating: 1
 
Mountainhawk

I'm sure tons of teams have come from 4th place 7.5 games out with 75 or so games to go and won the division.

Jul 17, 2009 12:57 PM
rating: 1
 
Drew Miller

With half the starting position players injured?

Jul 17, 2009 12:59 PM
rating: 0
 
Mountainhawk

These Mets have shown they have the hearts of a lion. They won't just quit and give up. You are acting like this is a team that blew a 6.5 game lead with 3 weeks to play.

Jul 17, 2009 13:03 PM
rating: 1
 
Drew Miller

Proof that the day has been long--missed the snark.

In all seriousness, I don't see how the Mets can possibly be ranked 3rd here. The only way they have a chance in the Central is if they get some of their stars back, which, as noted, isn't happening anytime soon. In my eyes, they should have appeared in yesterday's article.

Jul 17, 2009 13:08 PM
rating: -2
 
bflaff

I guess I'll be the one to point out that these ranking were Joe's pre-season rankings. He's just revisiting them to see where he hit or missed. So when he put Mets #3, their injury problems weren't yet manifest.

Jul 17, 2009 13:32 PM
rating: 1
 
Mountainhawk

True, but in his chat earlier this week, he still picked the Mets to win the division.

Jul 17, 2009 20:07 PM
rating: 0
 
sroney

The rankings are his pre-season rankings.

The Mets blurb even says that it is hard to keep considering them the favorites.

Jul 17, 2009 13:35 PM
rating: 1
 
alaime

Not saying they can't come back and win it all. Just that I don't see how they can be considered THE favorite with all the injuries and drama surrounding them.

Also the quote was "I've continued to tout this team as the favorite in the East" so IMO this is Joe's current thought.

Jul 18, 2009 05:10 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Joe Sheehan
BP staff
(17)

In all honesty, it shifted for me between Thursday and Friday. There was a really pessimistic report, linked in the piece, about when the Mets might get their stars back. I'd been envisioning a full roster not long after the ASB, but that looks less and less likely. Without a full roster, the team can't hang.

No place else to stick this, so I'll do it here. Phillies fans like to act like 2007 and 2008 were inevitable in some way, and that they're this disrespected class. In 2007, the Mets didn't have Billy Wagner for a couple of key games and lost the division because of that. (One of the underreported stories that year, also, was that the Phillies closed on some insane kick, 22-5 or something.)

In 2008, they lost Wagner just after the trade deadline, while at the same time the Phillies got Brad Lidge's stone-fluke HR-rate season. If Lidge's last 165 innings are distributed in just about any other manner than the one in which they have been, the story is different.

Those things were the difference the last two years. The narrative may be about everything else, but the standings difference was 1) Wagner and 2) Lidge.

This year is a different animal for any number of reasons. But 2007 and 2008 happened because of very specific things, and the idea that those were somehow known quantities in March, or May, or even August is pretty silly.

Jul 18, 2009 07:46 AM
 
jballen4eva

I'm a Phillies fan who actually thinks the Mets were the team to beat in 2007. But how is your reasoning above any different than arguments that support certain games over others? For example, Chase Utley would have had a career year in 2007 but for a stint on the DL; do you think his injury was less important than the Mets losing a one-inning pitcher for a couple of games? How is one factor, or one game, more important than another.

As for 2008, the impact of Wagner's loss had as much to do with how shallow the Mets' bullpen was. To me, the 2008 Mets and Phillies were pretty evenly matched if you could quantify and add up individual talent, but the Phillies' talent was much more evenly spread. From an anecdotal/intuitive perspective, doesn't it make sense that this sort of team would perform better over the long haul than a team with a greater concentration of talent (if for no other reason than the risk of injuries to key players)?

Jul 18, 2009 11:30 AM
rating: 4
 
SamHughes

Joe, love your stuff as you know, and I think it's kind of sweet how you keep sticking up for the Mets in their darkest hours, but I don't think you're applying a very careful eye to your own narratives here.

"In 2007, the Mets didn't have Billy Wagner for a couple of key games and lost the division because of that."

Wow. Have you forgotten that in 2007 the Phils lost Freddy Garcia for almost the whole season (once he finally admitted his shoulder was bothering him); that their first closer, Tom Gordon, was out for a number of weeks (can't find the exact numbers); that Chase Utley was out for over a month with a broken hand; that Myers (their final closer) missed 55 games with a shoulder injury? There's more, but you get the point. All that, but the only injury that mattered was Billy Wagner missing "a couple of key games"?

I agree that nothing was inevitable about 2007 and 2008. You could argue that the Phils were smart not to sign Wagner to a four-year contract when they strongly suspected he'd break down a lot sooner, but signing Gordon to three years wasn't exactly a stroke of genius, either. So they certainly got some good luck along the way, as most winning teams do.

But let's not get carried away. The Mets didn't face any more adversity in 2007 than the Phillies did. If anything, they faced less. They just didn't recognize their own weaknesses in time.

Jul 18, 2009 12:52 PM
rating: 2
 
BP staff member Joe Sheehan
BP staff
(17)

Wagner was key because the Mets lost some specific games late in the year--I'm remembering a Thursday night in Miami, for one--where he would have made the difference. The fact that he was also lost in 2008 is why I keep coming back to it.

I should make one point here...I mentally placed Chase Utley's injury in 2006, not 2007, because I keep thinking he should have been MVP that year instead of Howard, and wasn't because of the injury. In fact, he played 160 games in 2006, and missed all that time to the broken hand in '07, costing him the MVP over Rollins.

I don't mean to make a single excuse for a single team. I more want to point out that the idea that the Phillies were obviously and clearly superior--inevitably so--to the Mets the last two years isn't defensible. They won two very close races well within the margin of error, and their 2008 title happened in no small part because Brad Lidge squeezed a miracle year in between two other ones. Since joining the Phillies, Lidge has a 3.61 ERA and 10 HRA in 102 innings, which is pretty much what you'd have expected from him...except how it was shaped was *perfect*.

The gap between my preseason and in-season evaluations of the Phillies and what actually happened isn't large. It happens, however, that you can fit division titles--and a World Championship--in there.

Jul 18, 2009 15:30 PM
 
phuturephillies

So because you remember specific games the Mets would have won with Wagner, that means they were the better team? The Phillies were without a healthy Rollins for like the first three months of 2008. Where does that get factored in? It seems like you're now dabbling in anecdotal evidence which supports your preconceived notions that the Mets were just the more talented team, but because of injuries and luck they lost. Its even reflected in the writing in the BP annual, which basically just wrote the Phillies 2008 off as some giant stroke of luck, one which certainly couldn't be repeated. But since the team is right on track again this year, its again just luck and the misfortunes of other teams that have allowed the Phillies to lead the division.

This year, the Mets have legitimate injury concerns and complaints. But part of it falls on the GM for not having even passable depth in AAA, and that in turn reflects on the team as a whole. And had the Phillies not really struggled in June (which is a now yearly occurrence) they'd have an 8-9 game lead, at least. As a Phillies fan, I've grown accustomed to reading about the Phillies amazing luck here, and the talent of other teams. I think at some point you put aside the anecdotal and figure out why PECOTA loves the Mets talent and plays down the Phillies talent.

Jul 18, 2009 16:55 PM
rating: 0
 
amazin_mess

Good lord....the Phillies fans' inferiority complex never ends. Just leave the Mets alone - there is no rivalry - check the standings. If you were a Mets fan, you'd probably appreciate being left out of this discussion.

Jul 19, 2009 08:48 AM
rating: 1
 
jballen4eva

Fair point, Joe. I agree completely that it's a stretch to think of the Phils in 2007-2008 as anything more than on par with the Mets. I do think that the Phillies have a better system in place to keep themselves in contention for the next few years, but you already noted that. The 2009 Mets had a better bullpen to start with, but their offense is filled with aging players and no adequate replacements.

2006 was the year Pujols was cheated out the MVP award for missing some time, although Utley was more valuable than Howard that year, as well.

Jul 18, 2009 16:55 PM
rating: 0
 
jkaplow21

Interesting, when I try to back-peddle, by bike just stops.

I am amazed at you trying to justify your picks that were clearly off. You continue to do this and when called out on it you act like your readers are the biased ones. You are completely self-unaware.

I think this is really a credibility thing. You HAVE to say that Utley is lucky, that Howard really sucks and Lidge wasn't that good and that Wright and Beltran really are angels sent from the lord above because otherwise you'd have to admit you've been wrong for the last 3 years.

Jul 18, 2009 17:33 PM
rating: -2
 
airlifting

Not sure how or why anyone predicted the Indians to be pre-season AL Central favorites anyway. That pitching staff is terrible and should've been seen from a mile away. Fausto? Sowers? Pavano? Laffey? God, that's a miserable staff. Even *with* Hafner producing at "ok" levels...this team looked bad in December and looks bad now.

Jul 17, 2009 12:41 PM
rating: 1
 
Drew Miller

Carmona was expected to rebound--he didn't. Reyes was supposed to be decent--he wasn't. Going into the season the Indians didn't think they had to rely on Sowers or Laffey that much. But I don't know why they thought to rely on Pavano.

Jul 17, 2009 12:58 PM
rating: 1
 
bflaff

I honestly think that there's a certain amount of optimism granted to teams that do things the 'right' way (or have done things the 'right' way in the past), as if they will be able to mitigate problems a bit better, or squeeze more out of middling players than other teams because they are (thought to be) so savvy.

I'm not even sure that this is a perception consciously arrived at, but there does seem to be an ongoing assumption with certain teams that their moves will mostly work out, even if only modestly, while other teams don't get the same kind of treatment. Some teams definitely live on the opposite end of that spectrum, and their moves get seen through a lens that trends towards skeptical from the jump.

Jul 17, 2009 13:43 PM
rating: 3
 
Drew Miller

Oakland is projected to score more runs than the Cubs. Oakland is also predicted to give up more runs than the Cubs.

This flies in the face of virtually everything said about the two teams this season.

Jul 17, 2009 13:00 PM
rating: 0
 
sbnirish77

Kudos to Joe for admitting that at least with repect to the A's that "expecting more was being blinded by green-tinted glasses."

Such glasses must be have been passed around the virtual pressroom at BP many times throughout the years.

Jul 17, 2009 13:26 PM
rating: 0
 
kjohnson

Kudos to Joe, too, for his closing line re the Indians: "When does the evaluation catch up with the results?" When teams perform below expectations, it's typical to say the problem was underperformance rather than false expectations. Happens all the time with players, too - it's far more common for scouts or analysts to say a player didn't develop to his potential than to acknowledge they misjudged the player's potential.

Jul 17, 2009 19:46 PM
rating: 3
 
T. Kiefer

"[T]he Yankees have been as good as expected"--is this a compliment, or an insult?

"...with the struggles of Chien-Ming Wang on the mound and Joe Girardi in running a bullpen canceled out by..." Mark Teixeira once A-Rod got back in the line-up.

Jul 17, 2009 15:06 PM
rating: 0
 
judyblum

I think the main reason the Red Sox have allowed more runs than expected has more to do with their defense going from pretty good to poor than it has to do with the pitching.

Jul 17, 2009 15:38 PM
rating: 3
 
phuturephillies

What do the Phillies have that the Mets don't? More talent.

PECOTA loves the Mets. Even the washed up Mets like Tatis. The Mets big 5 is great, but the Phillies have a better roster from 1-25, and a much deeper farm system with impact talent at AA and above.

Jul 17, 2009 21:16 PM
rating: 1
 
jballen4eva

Deeper talent, better player development, better health management, and better coaching.

When it comes to Joe's denial of the Phils' superiority over the Mets, Joe's turning "luck" into the new "heart and soul."

Jul 18, 2009 07:03 AM
rating: 2
 
bisonbison

"Winning the AL East might be more impressive than winning the Stanley Cup."

There's a statsy article for someone to write.

Jul 18, 2009 00:14 AM
rating: 1
 
Matt Kory

"Winning the AL East might be more impressive than winning the Stanley Cup."

I guess that depends on what you are impressed by. If Joe means 'more difficult' then that is certainly arguable.

Jul 18, 2009 05:50 AM
rating: 1
 
Timbo623
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I think winning the NFC East this year (or last year), is more impressive than winning either the AL East or the Stanley Cup. The 4th place Redskins would have made the playoffs from any other division last year, and all 4 teams look significantly better this year. Certainly would love to see some sort of joint BP-FO venture trying to quantify which division was actually more difficult (and no one really gives a s--t about hockey, so I'm willing to agree that both are more impressive than winning the Cup) Either way, as far as football and baseball go (for the purposes of this argument), its safe to say east coast elitism is founded in demonstrable superiority ...

Jul 18, 2009 21:00 PM
rating: -4
 
greensox

Putting the As at #6 was absolutely ludicrous on its face and revealed the warts of this site: the bias.
On most other teams, 35+ year olds would have been lampooned and pencilled in for sharp delines. But because Beane signs them, they are expected to provide an offensive renaissance.
And it's not coincidence that the other howler of a preseason prognostication was Mark Shapiro's Cleveland Indians.

Jul 18, 2009 20:33 PM
rating: 0
 
RaysProf

This is the second time recently that Baseball Prospectus thinks the Rays relief pitching have been a problem. Their relief core is second to Boston in ERA in the AL. What Rays have had problems with is starting pitching. When 3 of a team's starters (Kazmir, Price, Sonnanstine) have WARP1 values either negative or virtually 0, you have problems.

However the true reason that the Rays record is worse than predicted using the AEQR and AEQRA system is the offense. The Rays put players on, but don't score (488 actual runs versus 526 using the team's hits/walks.) The question becomes - is it purely bad luck or is Joe Maddon's theory of running actually hurting the team?

Jul 19, 2009 14:58 PM
rating: 3
 
SaberTJ

Are we seriously using ERA to defend a bullpen's effectiveness on this website?

Jul 21, 2009 11:12 AM
rating: 0
 
RaysProf

I am confident one can because the number of IP is large and includes contributions from all the participants. Where it is less helpful is individuals who have pitched only 40 or so innings.

Of course I would love to use a BP based statistic for teams, but I can't seem to find one. It is easy to find ARP and WXRL for individuals, but not for teams. If you can help me out, I would appreciate it.

I'll say it again - the Rays problem has been starting pitching and their ineffectiveness of turning hits/walks into runs. (Last night was another example - 3 homeruns, lots of walks - 3 runs.)

Jul 21, 2009 14:33 PM
rating: 0
 
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