Subway should call the agent for Victor Diaz and see if he’s interested in shilling for the company. The Mets’ own male version of Oprah is back to the normal-sized player that the Dodgers thought highly of, rather than the rotund version they shipped off for two months of Jeromy Burnitz. A rumored move to third base was mentioned in St. Lucie, however, as his inability to turn the double play was becoming an issue in camp.
For all the criticism that the Devil Rays take–deservedly–for their on-field misadventures, they do medhead well. Over the past three seasons, no one has done it better. How can a team be so bad in most areas and so good in another? The simple answer is commitment. At some point, the Rays management decided that losing players to the DL was unacceptable. With trainers Jamie Reed (now of the Texas Rangers) and Ken Crenshaw and team doctors James Andrews and Koco Eaton, the Devil Rays did the medical equivalent of signing Alex Rodriguez and Pedro Martinez. From the simple to the technical, the Devil Rays’ medical staff has become second to none. It shows. While their dollars lost to DL stats are skewed by the fact that they don’t spend many dollars, they were among the best in days lost to the DL. The question is, do they get enough advantage from what seems to be their one area of excellence? For now, the answer is no. Keeping mediocre-at-best players healthy only keeps a team from plumbing the depths of replacement level.
The Diamondbacks left themselves thin in the outfield. The Royals’ off-season moves could pay off in the standings. The Phillies need to get Chase Utley in the lineup. These and other news and notes out of Arizona, Kansas City, and Philadelphia in today’s Prospectus Triple Play.
One of the most important differences between a starter’s job and a reliever’s is that relievers often have to enter the game with a crisis already brewing. In addition to the normal pitching responsibility of preventing batters from coming around to score, the reliever often has the task of preventing runners already on-base from touching home as well. His handling of those inherited runners is a critical part of his overall job performance, but it’s one that gets very little attention in mainstream baseball coverage. It doesn’t show up in ERA or any other widely available stat; and while you’ll occasionally hear a mention of a reliever’s “stranded runner percentage,” that’s not a number you’ll find listed in the tables of your morning paper. Besides, just measuring the percentage of inherited runners that were stranded (or the percentage that scored) doesn’t paint a complete picture of the inherited runner issue. For one thing, in many cases those inherited runners are still on base when the reliever leaves the game. If Joe LOOGY comes in the game with a runner on second and none out, he strikes his batter out, and then gets taken out of the game, it doesn’t make sense to count that runner as “not stranded” or “not scored”. To see this in practice: Tom Martin was easily the majors’ best reliever in percentage of inherited runners scored, according to STATS Inc.’s list, and Buddy Groom was the AL leader. But those ratings of Martin and Groom, both situational lefties, were inflated by the fact that they didn’t finish innings nearly as often as the average reliever. They didn’t allow their inherited runners to score partly because they were taken out of the game before they had a chance to.