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MillerWatch


The Orioles continue to shock people who think the correlation
between payroll and performance is absolute. This old, slow,
defensively stagnant team has the worst record in baseball, and
that’s not too far from its actual level of ability.


Ray Miller is not going to make the next road trip with this
Oriole team, and that’s a shame, because he hasn’t had much
impact on the current situation. He’s not a particularly effective
manager, nor an incompetent: he’s just one of the vast majority
of managers who don’t make much difference. Miller has had a
reasonably successful career as a pitching coach, and if allowed
to return to that role, may still be able to positively impact
this Oriole team.


The real problem? A pattern of committing to players who are past-
prime, building a team that had nowhere to go but down as age
and injuries ate away at the thirty-somethings. Fielding a
defense that had no hope of supporting a staff that was going
to put the ball in play a lot.


This team is going down, hard, and it’s fault of Peter Angelos
and the comedy team of Pat Gillick and Frank Wren. Ray Miller, when
they make you the scapegoat, walk away with your head held high:
Joe McCarthy couldn’t have saved this team.


Rays & Jays


The two teams making the most noise in the East are Tampa Bay and
Toronto, with winning streaks of eight and five games, respectively.


Some numbers:

           Record   RS/RA    OBP/SLG  ERA
Toronto:     12-4  101/66  .392/.496 4.03
Tampa Bay:   10-7   86/84  .333/.444 4.61


There’s a difference between a bad team’s run of good fortune and
a good team playing near the top of its game. The Devil Rays are simply
not going to score five runs a game all year, and when Kevin Stocker
(1.664 OPS), Dave Martinez (.873 OPS) and John Flaherty (.834 OPS)
return to earth, this team is going to lose a lot of 4-1 games.


The Jays, on the other hand, have plenty of hitters with real upside,
and even when Tony Fernandez (1.085 OPS) and Darren Fletcher (.905
OPS) return to their level, the core of Shannon Stewart, Jose Cruz,
Shawn Green and Carlos Delgado is going to put lots of runs on the
board. Match that with their deep and effective starting pitching,
and there’s at least some reason to believe the Yankees won’t be
running away from the pack this year.


The Jays aren’t a .750 team; they don’t need to be. Look for them to
be in the wild card mix all season long.


Out in Left Field


Sometimes when you have three solutions for one position, you really
don’t have any:

.185/.228/.333


Rany Jazayerli’s Little League career? No, that’s the combined performance
of Chad Curtis, Shane Spencer and Ricky Ledee. The Yankee left field
triumvirate has provided nothing at the plate, leading to a general
offensive breakdown.


The 1998 Yankee lineup was strong top to bottom, with Scott Brosius
and Jorge Posada putting up good years in the eight and nine holes. This
year, Posada isn’t hitting (.467 OPS) and Brosius went on the DL
with a sore ankle and a .490 OPS, leaving Clay Bellinger and Luis
Sojo to play third base. Not good.


So with the left fielders not hitting, New York is left with a
six-man lineup. This counts Tino Martinez and his .680 OPS. Don Zimmer
hasn’t helped any of the candidates–only twice have any of them
had back-to-back starts–but if the Yankees are going to win, they’re
going to need to get production from one, two or all of the three-
headed monster.

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