In just four short years, the White Sox have gone from Pride of Chicago to second fiddle. The Cardinals look to improve a bit in 2004, if only because they've managed to shed some dead weight. And the Rangers, once again, looked to be a weaker sister of the AL West. All this and much more news from Chicago, St. Louis, and Texas in your Tuesday edition of Prospectus Triple Play.
Turning Japanese: When it comes to spinning his wheels, Kenny Williams gives Onan a run for his money.
Most of the excitement in Philadelphia has to do with an improved bullpen, recent versions of which have been the perceived bane of the city's existence. So out with Jose Mesa, in with Billy Wagner. Given how much of the blame for the Phillies' disappointing performances the last two seasons has been placed at the foot of the relief staff, it's easy to understand why fans, media, and the team itself is so eager to have the hard-throwing lefty closing games. I actually agreed that the move would help the Phillies, although not exactly for the reasons generally given. Closers are overrated as a class, and as great as Wagner is, using him solely to protect ninth-inning leads and the occasional ninth-inning tie is a suboptimal application of his talent. However, I also know that Larry Bowa is one of the most temperamental managers in the game, and I strongly believe that his emotional style has been a detriment to this team over the past two seasons.
While I've avoided saying so until now, the Phillies have to be considered the favorites in the National League East. It's not clear that any team is better than them, but this isn't the AL Central. There are basically five teams who look to be no worse than 75-87, and four who should be over .500. The Braves have fallen back to the pack, the Marlins should decline a little from last year's 91-71 performance, and the Mets could rise to .500 if their new acquisitions, Kazuo Matsui and Mike Cameron, meet expectations. Even the Expos have a chance to stay in the Wild Card chase, thanks to a balanced offense and Frank Robinson's demonstrated ability to get a lot from no-name bullpens.
The White Sox need to drop their ticket prices. A closer look at the Cardinals bullpen. The Rangers have a slew of options for the outfield and first base. These and other news and notes out of Chicago, St. Louis, and Texas in today's Prospectus Triple Play.
Win Some, Lose Some: The Sox got swept by the Texas Rangers over the weekend, dropping them three games behind the Royals, and into a tie with the Twins for second place. Coming on the heels of a series loss in Anaheim, the ground lost was substantial: our post-season odds report, which had the Sox as better than even money to win the division less than a week ago, pinpointed their chances at just 26.8% entering Monday night's home game against the Angels (Frank Thomas' heroics on Monday night should help to improve that figure a little bit).
The Diamondbacks keep cycling through injuries. The Red Sox keep cycling through relievers. Lima Time has Royals fans cowering. Izzy returns to a battered bullpen. News, notes, and Kahrlisms from 21 major league teams in the latest edition of Transaction Analysis.
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The Snakes bury John Patterson, the Red Sox sort through a batch of soft tossers, the Marlins vie for a 25-catcher roster, and the Devil Rays solve all their problems by grabbing Al Martin and Damion Easley.
Fresh off PECOTA's maiden voyage into rotoland, Nate Silver publishes the PECOTA-generated roto values used by the BP team at the recent Tout Wars National League draft. Hint: pay the premium for studs.
You can import these values into a spreadsheet by selecting them in your browser and copying them, pasting them into a text file (i.e. Notepad), and opening the new text file with your spreadsheet (i.e. Excel).
Well, the Red Sox disintegrated, the A's have been the best team in baseball
for a couple of months, and neither the Yankees nor the A's has gotten here
by the expected route. Starting tomorrow, they'll be facing each other for
five very short games in what could be one of the closest matchups in
This series shapes up as an interesting experiment. How important is
positive momentum going into October? The Yankees set a new standard for
backing into a division title, losing their last seven games and 13 of
their last 15. The A's, however, drove from out of a playoff spot to a
division title in the last ten days of the season, winning 11 of 12 games
and 19 of 22.
Optioned INF Nelson Castro to Erie (AA); assigned Ps Mark Harriger and
Ramon Ortiz and C Bret Hemphill to extended spring training; assigned Ps
Mike Bovee, Mike Butcher, Brian Cooper, Seth Etherton,
Lou Pote and Keith Troutman, and C Fausto Tejero to their minor-league