The media's been making a big deal out of the White Sox' collapse, but they clinched the AL Central on Thursday.
That the Sox got well during the month against the league's weaker
sisters, including the Tigers and Royals, misses the point; the Indians
did the same for much of the month, then in the last few days the Indians,
Red Sox and Yankees have all struggled at times against similarly weak
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Jay wonders how much young talent the Braves traded away during their impressive decade-plus reign over the NL East.
Lo and behold, the Braves are at it again, having recently zoomed past the Washington Nationals and into first place, swinging the balance of power in the NL East by about 10 games in the standings over a six-week period and doing so with a roster that's included as many as 10 rookies. Most notably, Jeff Francoeur has hit a whopping .397/.405/.781 with seven homers in his first 21 games, Wilson Betemit has hit .307/.360/.474 while covering for an injured Chipper Jones, and Kyle Davies has stepped into a rotation that's had as many as four starters on the DL and has been better than league-average. Meanwhile, Schuerholz made one of the few notable deals at a quiet trading deadline, acquiring gas-throwing reliever Kyle Farnsworth for Roman Colon and Zach Miner, two live arms who may or may not amount to much in Detroit and points beyond.
Trading tomorrow's talent for a shot at today's pennant is a common strategy, of course, and it's worth a closer look to see how a given team fares in those exchanges. Last summer, as the trading deadline approached, I examined the track record of the Yankees front office in light of the previous year's Brandon Claussen-for-Aaron Boone deal. Rather than be concerned with who the Yanks received in return or whether they "won" a particular trade based on some VORP- or WARP-related accounting, I focused on another issue: how well did the players they traded turn out?
If you're anyone other than a key decision maker for most teams in baseball, you're probably aware that you shouldn't place too much emphasis on spring training stats. Besides the obvious (to most) sample-size caveats, there's also a litany of other reasons not to take Cactus or Grapefruit League numbers terribly awfully really very seriously. For one, an inordinate amount of the playing time goes to reclamation projects, prospects not quite ready for competition at the highest level, minor league vagabond types or veteran performers tinkering around with a new pitch or reconstructed swing. It's simply not the sort of premium level of competition you'll find in regular season contests. While spring training numbers should be taken more seriously than, say, laundry instructions or warning labels on beer, they're still not to be imbued with head-slapping importance. All that said, this time out I'm going to take a look at a handful of spring performances that do have a reasonable degree of import for one reason or another.
All that said, this time out I'm going to take a look at a handful of spring performances that do have a reasonable degree of import for one reason or another. One problem, particularly with regard to offensive stats, is the puzzling lack of availability of walk and OBP figures for hitters. So excuse the forthcoming quick-and-dirty analysis, but I'm only firing the gun Daddy gave me. In no particular order...
Two of baseball's best front offices have once again done their jobs well, and Oakland and Boston will face off in the five-game ALDS. It's really a classic matchup, with a tremendously vicious offense against a team built primarily on pitching and defense. The thing that would surprise many in the mainstream media is that the team built on pitching and defense is wearing Green and Gold.
A lost season for the Angels has folks in Anaheim scratching their heads. John Smoltz's injury buries Bobby Thigpen's name for another year. The Royals' run evokes memories of George Brett and company. Sandy Alomar...you can probably guess what Chris will write about Sandy Alomar. Witticisms, Kahrlisms and roster schmisms in this edition of Transaction Analysis.
Certainty changes everything. Baseball's exciting, if for no other reason, because the Devil Rays--an abjectly bad franchise--can beat the Yankees every couple of times they meet. Unlike in football, the outcome of a single contest between a defending champion and a perennial cellar-dweller is relatively uncertain, thus every game has the ability to provide a legitimate sense of drama. It's the lack of certainty that makes it the greatest sport in the world.
Certainty changes everything. Baseball's exciting, if for no other reason, because the Devil Rays--an abjectly bad franchise--can beat the Yankees every couple of times they meet. Unlike in football, the outcome of a single contest between a defending champion and a perennial cellar-dweller is relatively uncertain, thus every game has the ability to provide a legitimate sense of drama. It's the lack of certainty that makes it the greatest sport in the world. On that note, however, watching the A's rack up wins as the Mariners continue to struggle has begun to make me numb. Every game, the A's are victorious. They're not playing out of their minds--or like they're in another league--they're just winning every single game they play, and it's scary. Intellectually I know that there's luck, chance, and the simple fact that teams go on tears once in a while, but in my gut I know that the A's are going to win tonight, simply because they're taking the field.
The A's added a right-handed hitter to play right field and bat fifth.
Jermaine Dye isn't having a good season--.270/.330/.414 after last
night's A's debut--but his 1999 and 2000 placed him among the AL's premier
right fielders. If he splits the difference between his first half and his
previous two years, he'll help the A's. The defensive upgrade over Ron
Gant and Jeremy Giambi is significant as well,
and as we've seen
in Minnesota, a good outfield defense can make a big difference in a team's