Shifting over to the short season means that team's frontline starting pitchers will be on the spot.
Using Support-Neutral Winning Percentage to describe which team's starters have done the most to produce victory for their teams makes ranking the best playoff rotations a relatively straightforward exercise. Here are rotations ranked by unit-wide performances on the year, using the expected 2009 playoff teams, and ranked by SNWP and SNLVAR, which adjusts for lineup variations and value-added over replacement level.
Placed LHP Rich Hill on the 15-day DL (shoulder inflammation), retroactive to 7/28; purchased the contract of RHP Chris Tillman from Norfolk (Triple-A); transferred RHP Alfredo Simon from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [7/29]
Traded LHP George Sherrill to the Dodgers for 3B-S Josh Bell and RHP Steve Johnson. [7/30]
Placed RHP Bradley Bergesen on the 15-day DL; activated RHP Chris Ray from the 15-day DL; recalled RHP Kam Mickolio from Norfolk. [7/31]
Are there are any causes for concern as far as health for the players being brought up in trade talks?
With the non-waiver trade deadline fast approaching (and this year, the full name of the deadline figures to be particularly key), it's a good time to take a look at the health status of several of the players rumored to be on the block. Will a team be acquiring a guy who'll play the 60 or so games between now and the playoffs, or is the medical staff acquiring a new, added responsibility? This is hardly an exhaustive list, and I stay away from all but a couple of the prospects who have been mentioned in deals so far, but hopefully, your team is taking as hard a look at the medical records as they are the statline. Powered by the network of sources that keeps the information flowing year-round, on to the possible injuries:
The wages of irrational exuberance come at heavy cost if you get too worked up over present performance.
On July 30, 2005, the Colorado Rockies traded Eric Byrnes to the Baltimore Orioles straight up for Larry Bigbie. This was just three weeks after trading the late Joe Kennedy for Byrnes, who was terrible in the black and purple, hitting just .189/.283/.226 in 15 games. Bigbie had fewer than 100 plate appearances left in his career, and at the time was a 27-year-old whose career was in full reverse two seasons past a career-best 821 OPS. It was a trade of disappointment for disappointment, both teams hoping that the new guy would give them what their current one didn't.
An argument for how a hot start means that Seattle's season has playoff possibilities.
If you're one of those statheads inclined to pooh-pooh early-season action, avoid hasty conclusions, and prattle on about small sample sizes-and I'm one of the most guilty-there is one thing that a look at the standings should tell us that we might not have believed three weeks ago. What is it? That out in the AL West, the Mariners should be taken seriously as a team with win-now potential. No, really. Taking a look at Baseball Prospectus' Playoff Odds Report, you'll see that our daily million-season exercise in forecasting based on where we're at right now suggests that the M's have a 35 percent chance of reaching October action, 33 percent by virtue of winning their division outright. Go with the slightly more advanced, PECOTA projection-enhanced version of our forecasts of the remainder of the season, and the Mariners do better still, winning their division almost 37 percent of the time.
What gives? Well, first off, a dynamic forecasting system like our own adapts to what's already on the books. Beyond their stack of injuries in the rotation, the Angels were already at risk of fielding a mediocre offense, but now that they're without Vladimir Guerrero, they become that much more likely to struggle to achieve even that epithet. Up in Oakland, a rotation reliant on young talent has yet to gel, and the famed Moneyball offense remains as AWOL with Jason Giambi and Matt Holliday in the fold as it has been in recent years before their addition. Before the season even started, it was hard to see either of those teams as clubs likely to get out of the mid-80s in total wins. The Mariners were forecast as the likely winners of 77 or 78 games, or very much in the playoff picture, both in real terms and mathematically-already inside 10 games in a big-picture projection, where not that many things have to go right or wrong to put Seattle up with the initial favorites. Add in the virtue of head-to-head play in the league's short stack, going up against teams whose problems only seem to be mounting, and you get a brand of hope and faith that transcends Opening Day-inspired make-believe.
Using roster spots on a young player not guaranteed a job can nevertheless provide value during the season.
In many deeper leagues, it's hard to find players on the waiver wire that are both skilled and getting playing time. In AL Tout Wars, a 12-team AL-only league, there are currently only 12 hitters on the waiver wire who have gotten an at-bat in the last 14 days, and two of those players have been sent back down. We're left to bid on the likes of German Duran, Miguel Cairo, Oscar Salazar, and a few backup catchers. Tout Wars doesn't allow owners to bid on minor leaguers as part of the free agent process, further tightening the available player pool. Whenever a team calls up a prospect that isn't already owned, a bidding war generally ensues in the next FAAB period, so long as the potential for playing time exists. Hence we've seen major battles for the services of Brandon Boggs and Jeff Larish, among others. It's not a pretty picture.
One night in September, and the dozen teams still fighting for playoff spots are sending out a collection of starters that seems to be lacking in quality.
As of this morning, there are 12 MLB teams that can be considered to still be battling for a playoff spot. Four teams (the Red Sox, Indians, Angels and Mets) have essentially locked up their slots, and 14 others (the Blue Jays, a game above .500 after last night's disaster, top the list) are playing out the string. All 12 of those contenders take the field tonight, with one of them, the Tigers, playing two games.