If you can figure out Davey Johnson's bullpen philosophy, you're smarter than I am.
Yes, there is a big yellow tube that says, "You know you love it" on it, located in front of the new Cubs-owned merchandise mart. That's what the club has done with the southern part of the McDonald's lot across Clark Street from Wrigley Field. The Ricketts family purchased the property over the winter and pledged to do great things with it. If that means getting rid of that infernal McDonald's, I'll consider it progress.
Michael looks at five players who could play a large role in the post-season chances of an MLB team.
Two teams in the NL East are currently in the thick of a division race, while the three other clubs are hovering close to a .500 record with little chance of making it to the playoffs; the Playoff Odds Report has the Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves as very good bets to make the postseason while the New York Mets, Washington Nationals, and Florida Marlins each have less than a one percent chance to be playing in October. Still, all of these teams may yet have a player that could still have an impact on a playoff race, whether it is the NL East division race or a stretch run elsewhere. This week, let us take a look at one player on each team who could have a significant impact on his team’s (or another team's) chances at a playoff berth.
Philadelphia Phillies: Roy Oswalt, Starting Pitcher
Oswalt threw a simulated game on Friday and may be ready to begin a rehab start in the minors this upcoming week. He has been out since June 24 with a bulging vertebral disk and lower back inflammation. The Phillies should not really sweat Oswalt's regular season return, though, as their chances of making the playoffs are almost a certainty; they hold the best record in baseball and have a five-game lead on the team in Atlanta. The Playoff Odds Report has the Phillies as essentially a lock for the playoffs, putting them at a 99.1 percent chance of making the postseason. PECOTA projects that the difference between Oswalt and a fifth-starter type like the intriguing Vance Worley or the dreadedKyle Kendrick over the nine or ten starts remaining in the regular season is likely to be a little more than one WARP, which would, at most, amount to part of the difference between the Phillies getting home field advantage in the National League Championship Series or not. Right now, Baseball Prospectus's projections have the Phillies finishing four games ahead of the San Francisco Giants, so that one win may ultimately not matter much.
A look at valuing non-closer relievers on draft day, using Jason's matrix for relief pitchers.
First off, a giant thank you to all of the positive feedback to the closer matrix piece from last week. I am thrilled that it was received so well and your feedback helped end what was a rather disappointing professional week on a very high note. Many of you expressed a desire to see the same concept carried over to middle relievers and since this is a customer driven site, ask and you shall receive.
Cristian Guzman is headed to Texas, with the owner-less Rangers somehow pulling off another trade (are you paying attention, Los Angeles?). This guarantees that Jorge Cantu will be playing first base and not filling in at second for the injured Ian Kinsler, and also means that whatever playing time you thought was coming out of Joaquin Arias and Andres Blanco for the Rangers is going to be cut into.
The Hun goes Dempster-diving in another tight game in Wrigley.
Two tight games later, it's the series rubber match, a day game after a night game, and Luis Atilano's second start for the Nationalssince moving into the rotation after Jason Marquis' elbow-related breakdown. Atilano's debut was a quality start win against the Dodgers last Friday, and had to be sweet for the former Braves prospect from Puerto Rico, having had to already make the slow comeback from Tommy John surgery. Between generating a lot of ground-ball outs and relying on changing speeds and location on a moving fastball and a changeup, the question is whether throwing strikes and changing speeds is going to be enough; evaluations of his breaking stuff tend to be less than charitable.