Lots of stuff…
- Barry Bonds choked again last night, failing to hit a home run on
any of the three strikes he saw in five plate appearances. At the rate he’s
going, 180 walks is within reach, as is a .520 OBP. Anyone looking to
criticize Bonds for his plate discipline should note that he scored after
all three of his walks last night, keying rallies that helped the Giants
stay within two games of the Diamondbacks.
I have no problem at all with the way the Astros are pitching to Bonds. Yes,
as fans, we all want to see history made, but this is a pennant race, and
unless you’re Bob Brenly, winning the game takes precedence over individual
achievement. This is the critical difference between this chase and the one
in 1998, and while it may cost Bonds opportunities to make personal history,
I have no doubt that if the outcomes continue as they did last night, he’ll
Should the Giants remain in the races, this weekend will be interesting. The
Giants play the Dodgers at Pac Bell Park, which was the same scenario in
which Bonds hit his 500th career home run earlier this season. That blast
actually turned a one-run Dodger lead into a one-run Dodger deficit in the
eighth inning, after which the Dodgers had to watch a ten-minute on-field
ceremony honoring Bonds.
Now, maybe that’s water under the bridge. Maybe. But there’s still a
distinct Dodger/Giant rivalry, and don’t believe for a second that the boys
in blue wouldn’t love to be the ones to end the Giants season, or that
they’ve forgotten what happened in April.
It’s worth noting that the Dodgers pitched to Bonds with a one-run lead, the
tying run on second base, first base open, and no one out in the ninth
inning of last Wednesday’s game. Perhaps that’s an indication of how Bonds
will be treated this weekend. But if it’s not, and Bonds continues to see
just a couple of strikes in every meaningful Giants game, don’t spend a lot
of time criticizing Jim Tracy. He has an obligation to try and win every
game, and not giving Bonds pitches he can drive has to be a part of a
- Jeffrey Loria, Jim Beattie, Peter Angelos, Syd Thrift…I really don’t
care who was responsible for the decision: all of you get kudos from me for
uniting Tim Raines and his son. Raines Sr. has long expressed his
desire to play alongside his son, and with the season dwindling to a few
short days, and Tim Raines Jr. spending those days getting his first
MLB cup of coffee with the Orioles, the move was a natural one.
I want to address one point. On "Baseball Tonight," Tim Kurkjian
tried to differentiate between this and the 1990 situation, when Ken
Griffey Sr. played with his son as a Mariner. Kurkjian did so by
pointing out that Griffey Sr. had been a good player that year, hitting .377
in limited time.
Well, that’s not entirely true: he did hit .377/.443/.519 with the Ms, but
had been terrible before being traded to Seattle: .206/.235/.286 with the
Reds. His line for the year, .300/.353/.414 in 140 at-bats, looks a lot like
Raines Sr.’s .304/.424/.430 in 79 at-bats. In other words, no apologies need
to be made for Raines Sr., who is just as good a player as Griffey Sr. was
at the time, and unlike his aging counterpart, is a better player than his
Raines, in fact, is still well worth the roster spot at age 41. With the
exception of his lupus-induced .215/.337/.341 in 1999 with the A’s, Raines
has been an excellent spare part every year since his time as a regular
ended after 1995. If he chooses to return in 2002, he’ll be a valuable bench
player. Maybe the Orioles will choose to get their "veteran
leadership" next year from a Hall of Fame-caliber outfielder who can
still actually play a little.
- The Braves gave themselves some breathing room Wednesday, putting
together eight runs against a pitcher who had handcuffed them prior to last
night, Robert Person. If they win tonight, they essentially end the
Phillies season; even if they don’t, they control their destiny into the
weekend. Clinching prior to Sunday has to be a priority for a team heavily
dependent on its pitching staff; they need to be able to set up their
rotation for the Division Series.
my dislike of Larry Bowa’s managerial style yesterday, which
sparked some criticism from readers, essentially along the lines of,
"he had the Phillies doing better than you expected, and you give
credit to managers you like when that happens, so how can you not give Bowa
Well, the thing is, the Phillies aren’t really overachieving. Over the
winter, they looked like a team that would be around .500, and that’s
exactly where they are. Their 83-75 record is actually a couple of games
ahead of their Pythagorean record of 81-77. They have the eighth-best record
in the league. The only reason we’re even talking about them is that the
Braves have played the season with half a lineup, and there’s no sense in
giving Bowa credit for that.
The Phillies aren’t any better than the White Sox or Dodgers or Cubs, and
giving them–or Bowa–bonus points for not having a good team in their
division doesn’t make sense.
- I’ve started a longer column on the Diamondbacks a couple of times, and
it’s something I’ll get done before the Division Series begins. They’re an
interesting team for me in that they’ve been successful with a formula that
goes against most of the things I like to see in building a winning baseball
team. It’s worth appreciating their success, and looking at it carefully to
see what, if anything, can be learned from it going forward. Two–OK,
probably two–division titles in three years can’t simply be dismissed.
Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. You can contact him by