Biggest Mismatchups (Largest disparity in records with one team over .500 and the other under .500): Minnesota @ Arizona
This is the time I make a confession and beg forgiveness. I come to you with hat in hand, although I don’t really own a hat, so that leads to another confession: I stole the hat in my hand so that I might come to you with hat in hand. In any case, back to my original confession: I picked the Diamondbacks to win the National League West. What was I thinking? I don’t even remember. I think I was trying to be “different.” Most folks were picking the Giants with a few renegades going for broke on a Padres upswing. Another tiny minority had the Dodgers. I guess I took all this in and decided I needed to be iconoclastic. Where did it get me? Coming to you with a stolen hat looking for absolution–that’s where.
Why should the Diamondbacks trade Randy Johnson? Because George Steinbrenner wants them to? What is this madness that has beset baseball wherein a team goes south for a year and is suddenly expected to offload every manjack on the team who has the talent to stick his head above replacement level? Arizona plays in a division built on a sandy loam. The Diamondbacks could very easily reload in the offseason and come back and cop this thing in 2005. Having Randy Johnson still in the fold would certainly help in that regard. In modern baseball it seems, we have come to expect that both babies and bathwater must both be drained to the sea.
The Red Sox take a gamble on Pedro Astacio. Andy Pettitte comes off the DL again for the Astros, while Wade Miller replaces him. The Indians bullpen will give erstwhile closer Bobby Howry a chance. And the Padres engage in some micromanagement that Chris finds absolutely maddening. All this amd much more news from around the league in your Friday edition of Transaction Analysis.
Kyle Lohse got no help last Sunday. The Minnesota starter was fairly effective in his outing against the Brewers, surrendering three runs through 6 2/3 innings, and leaving a bases-loaded, two-out situation for Aaron Fultz to deal with. If Fultz could retire Brady Clark, Lohse would have a Quality Start on his ledger, and the Twins would still be in the game. Instead, Fultz and successor Joe Roa surrendered a single and two walks, the game got out of hand, and Lohse was blamed for three extra runs that he only played a small part in allowing.
A few months ago, I talked about one side of this story–measuring how well relievers handle their inherited runners. But what about the starters? How much can bullpen support distort their numbers during the course of a season or a career? One way of measuring this is to compare the expected outcome of those inherited runners to the actual outcome. For example, those three runners Lohse left for his relievers with two outs would be expected to score 0.7 runs on average. That’s based on this year’s league scoring numbers, as well as the impact the Metrodome has on scoring. Since all three runners actually scored, Lohse’s relievers cost him 2.3 runs for that particular outing. Add those numbers up for a starter, and you have a measure of the season- or career-long bullpen support he received.
For shame, Dayn, for not even mentioning that Altoona’s Jeff Keppinger is the only .400+ hitter in all of Double-A–his nearest competitor (Wright) is a full 40 points BEHIND him.
Granted, we know Keppinger’s not on anyone’s radar as a serious future star, but isn’t the point of selecting players for ‘All-Star’ status supposed to be to reward those having strong performances?
I realize Keppinger doesn’t have a single home run, but not even acknowledging Keppinger as an ‘also-ran’ ignores the fact that he is accomplishing something so far ahead of any of his peers to this point, is certainly an injustice. Give our boy Kepp a little love, would ya?
The play Derek Jeter made diving into the stands was one of the better plays I’ve seen this year. For all his shortcomings defensively, he certainly has a flair for the fantastic. I wondered initially why none of the Yankees fans caught him, but if I saw a big man coming at me in a full sprint, I might dive for cover myself. Jeter hit a chair with his face and some reports say his cheek hit an armrest. The mouse under his eye looked more like something we’d see in a boxing match, but the real worry was the chin. Cut open, Jeter’s chin might have been broken, but x-rays are reportedly negative. The concern now is the possibility of a concussion. The Yankees captain may need a game or two off, but it could have been much worse.
Someone needs to check the post-game spread. A second Yankee, Kevin Brown, was diagnosed with intestinal parasites on Thursday. Brown experienced an unexplained weight loss about a month ago, helping pinpoint the timeframe for the infestation. While it makes for some easy jokes–“Did they eat out in Boston?”–the fact is that even in modern America, this type of infestation isn’t uncommon. Brown, like Jason Giambi, should be cured easily, helping his recovery and stamina. It does not affect his return from the DL at all.
What do you do when you start believing in ghosts?
As I write this, the game has
been over for nearly 12 hours, and I still haven’t found a way to put it into words. Last night’s contest between the Yankees and Red Sox was about as great as regular-season baseball can be, with an ending that would get you laughed out of any fiction contest.
The greatness of our game was on display last night. There were exhibitions of
raw power by a Hall of Fame hitter like Manny Ramirez. There
was a mano-a-mano confrontation, replete with head games and consequences,
between Gary Sheffield and Pedro Martinez. There was jaw-dropping defense, including plays in consecutive innings that will probably be the two best plays anyone makes on a baseball field this
year. There was drama and decision-making, as each manager had to maneuver his
way out of difficult situations. There were 55,000 people hanging on every pitch for nearly four-and-a-half hours.