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Hit List Factor


Another sweet week for the Tigers as they pad their lead by two more games; their Postseason Odds are at 97.8 percent. Still, it’s an underwhelming deadline as they come away with just the requisite lefty bat in Sean Casey. Admittedly, we’ve never tried to hit after fracturing vertebrae, but the not-so-mighty Casey’s .293/.381/.376 since returning from injury in late May isn’t exactly the sluggy stuff one would desire from a cornerman. It is, however, an improvement on the .260/.321/.370 Chris Shelton has put up since the beginning of May, but even that doesn’t quite explain the decision to demote Shelton unless it’s to get through a blockbuster-induced roster crunch. The good news is that Mike Maroth should begin a rehab assignment next week, and with Zach Miner (3.95 ERA, 11.1 VORP) fitting in nicely, the team might ease the workload on its tender young arms with a six-man rotation.


Bombershell: the Yanks make the deadline’s biggest upgrade, acquiring Bobby Abreu (.301 EqA) from the Phillies, a move that could up their Postseason Odds by 14.2 percent according to Nate Silver. That’s not including the bump given by adding the unspectacular Cory Lidle (4.74 ERA, 2.1 SNLVAR) to replace the slop they’re dishing out of the #5 slot in the rotation (combined 38 earned runs in 30 IP over eight starts in June-July)… or the fact that the Yanks dodged having to pick up Abreu’s $16 million option for 2008… or that they retained top prospects Philip Hughes and Jose Tabata… or that they swiped Craig Wilson from the Pirates for Shawn Chacon and his 7.00 ERA just before the clock struck deadline. Good stuff all the way around; even with Hideki Matsui likely returning in mid-August and Gary Sheffield around September 1, those two are no guarantees to be in full form, and Abreu’s career .412 OBP and majors-leading 4.47 pitches/PA will fit right in with the Bronx Bombers’ modus operandi no matter where he hits. Likewise, Wilson should replace the noble but ultimately flawed experiment of Andy Phillips (.239/.272/.401) as the team’s regular first baseman. Four added wins over the final 60 games, without even considering the Wilson component? Monty Burns George Steinbrenner owes Brian Cashman a shiny new donkey for getting such huge upgrades on his terms.


Carlos Beltran hits his third grand slam of the month and the Mets’ sixth, tying major league records for both and giving him four homers and 14 RBI on the week. He’s now second in the NL in Wins Above Replacement Player (7.1) and perhaps in MVP consideration. Beltran’s heroics help the Mets above 99 percent, the real suspense is the condition of Pedro Martinez‘s hip and the effect it will have on the rest of the rotation. In his first start in a month, Martinez survived a lousy first inning to finish strongly. Late news: the loss of Duaner Sanchez (fifth in the league at 2.832 WXRL; the Mets lead the majors with 10.709) for the season due to a car accident keys the almost-immediate reacquisition of Roberto Hernandez (-0.327 WXRL this year, and ten unearned runs hidden by that 2.93 ERA, but a team high 2.593 WXRL with the Mets last year), along with Oliver Perez (ERA by Boeing), at a price of Xavier Nady (.270 EqA).


Red Sox
The deadline comes and goes, but Theo Epstein keeps his Sox on. Most notably, he passes up a deal that would have brought Andruw Jones to Boston for Jon Lester, Craig Hansen and Coco Crisp. Sound thinking, given that Lester and Hansen aren’t just part of the team’s future, they’re keys to its present. Consider that Lester’s 17.1 VORP is just a hair behind Josh Beckett‘s 17.4; by the end of the year he could be the team’s second-ranked starter in that department. Hansen is still in the black in Reliever Expected Wins Added (0.260), which is more than can be said for Julian Tavarez (-0.627), and he doesn’t look or act like he was separated at birth from Freddy Krueger either. And if the Sox didn’t wind up with Julio Lugo or part with Mike Lowell, as other rumors suggested, they’ve still got a healthy, productive infield in place. A thornier issue is Trot Nixon‘s strained biceps, which has been termed “moderate” in severity; Wily Mo Pena is actually outproducing him (.152 MLVr to .097) by enough to offset the short-term defensive hit, but Nixon could be out six weeks. Late note: as for Jason Varitek‘s knee, three weeks is the guess here; I ain’t passed the boards but I know a lil’ bit.


White Sox
Unraveling? Winners of just four out of 15 since the All-Star Break, and just 1-5 against their two division rivals after being swept by the Twins, the White Sox are hardly the sure thing they looked like three weeks ago; their Postseason Odds have dropped from 70.9 percent to 36.7 since the Break. Pitching is the problem; thanks in part to Javier Vazquez (7.79 ERA and more early pooping than Brangelina’s kid) and Mark Buehrle (11.15), the Sox have yielded a 5.91 ERA in the second half, surrendering 1.39 HR/9 with a 1.63 K/BB ratio, as compared to 4.40 ERA, 1.23 HR/9 and 2.23 K/BB prior. Also worth noting: the disappearance of the team’s plate discipline; they’ve dropped from .078 UIBB/PA to .055 since the break. For all that, Kenny Williams winds up simply sitting on his hands through the deadline in the face of such numbers and the drying up of the Alfonso Soriano rumors. Hmmmmm…


Blue Jays
Having already cured their “clubhouse cancer” Shea Hillenbrand, the Jays stay out of the trading deadline fray. Their lineup gets a facelift when Alexis Rios returns after missing a month with a staph infection, but whether Rios maintains the torrid pace that saw him hit .330/.383/.585 with 15 homers through June remains to be seen. The Jays have outscored opponents 93-80 since the All-Star break, but they’ve gone just 8-9 while watching the Yankees close the gap on the Red Sox. The crusher is a 6-5 loss to the A’s on Sunday in which B.J. Ryan yields a walk-off three-run homer to Milton Bradley. Now fourth in the AL in Reliever Expected Wins Added at 3.728, Ryan has been shaky lately, blowing three out of four save opportunities since the All-Star break (the Jays did win two of those blown games).


A proposed deal for Alfonso Soriano falls through because the Twins won’t include Matt Garza (13-4, 2.10 ERA and 143/31 K/BB ratio in 128.2 innings, split between High-A, Double-A and Triple-A) instead of Jason Kubel in their package with Scott Baker. That’s just as well, given Nate Silver‘s calculations that adding Sori would have upped their Postseason Odds by only 3.4 percent. They do manage to get a live arm (22-year-old righty Zach Ward) for Kyle Lohse, which is like getting a cheeseburger in exchange for pocket lint, and the roster spot clears the way for Torii Hunter‘s return from the DL, leaving open the eventual possiblity of a day without Jason Tyner or Rondell White in the outfield. With the Twins just 1.5 games out of the Wild Card, that ought to raise their postseason chances.


Back in the Saddle Again: buried by pundits, PECOTA and their own lackluster play earlier in the year, the Angels have ridden back into contention with a 19-6 July, with special thanks to major contributions from youngsters Jered Weaver (their second most-productive starter at 2.8 SNLVAR), Mike Napoli (the AL rookie VORP leader at 16.3 even after a dreadful .161 month), Howie Kendrick (.486/.513/.730 in 37 at-bats in July) and Maicer Izturis (.324/.378/.490; sure, the mistress is the one with the hitting genes). Of course, it’s helped that Vladimir Guerrero is impaling again (.385/.444/.583 this month after a .243/.257/.408 June), and don’t forget Juan Rivera (10 HR and .768 SLG). They’re neck-and-neck with the A’s through the weekend, but the crystal ball likes the Angels’ Postseason Odds much better (39.7 to 27.4). Bartolo Colon‘s trip back to the DL due to triceps tendonitis (a cascade injury) looked to keep the Angels from trading Ervin Santana in a deal for Miguel Tejada or Alfonso Soriano, but the two hitters’ teams reportedly declined the same Santana and Eric Aybar package.


Never mind the six-game losing streak that surrounded it; the Rangers fire the deadline’s opening salvo by swiping not just Carlos Lee but also his heir apparent, Nelson Cruz (.302/.378/.528 in Triple-A), from the Brewers in exchange for a prospect and a trio of players–Francisco Cordero, Kevin Mench, and Laynce Nix–whose stocks are pretty low. Extrapolating from Nate Silver‘s “Playing Matchmaker” piece, that’s an improvement of 0.143 runs per game according to Lee’s and Mench’s Marginal Lineup Value rates, 8.58 runs over 60 games, nearly a win and maybe a 7-10 percent bump in their playoff chances. The late acquisition of Matt Stairs to log a couple of DHalicious months doesn’t hurt either, given that the team has gotten just .239/.319/.439 out of that slot this year. Of course, the Rangers will have to get better pitching than they have since the All-Star break, particularly at the back of the rotation, where John Rheinecker, John Koronka, John Wasdin and John Adam Eaton have combined to yield 35 earned runs in 39.1 innings over nine starts. Late acquisition Kip Wells (6.69 ERA, 16/18 K/BB) just looks like the next john.


Pad Todd: the Padres acquire the Cubs’ Todd Walker to play third base, a position he hasn’t played regularly in nearly a decade (Rate2: 103 in 60 games from 1996-1997). But it’s Walker’s bat, not his defense, that spurrred his acquisition; he’s hitting .277/.352/.390, which ain’t Mike Schmidt but it trumps the .226/.276/.320 the Friars have gotten out of Vinny Castilla, Geoff Blum, and Mark Bellhorn. Though they still lead the NL West by 1.5 games, the Pads have played just 7-10 ball since the All-Star break, and in some real slugfests; they’re yielding 6.35 runs per game in that span while scoring 5.53. Most worrisome is that Jake Peavy (16 ER in 17 IP since the break) and Trevor Hoffman (7 ER in 5.2 IP, plus three blown saves out of seven) have borne the brunt of the abuse, though Chris Young, Chan Ho Park and Woody Williams have combined for a 6.38 ERA as well.


Andy Up: with the season as dead as I-80 roadkill, the Indians finally recall Andy Marte (#1 on our Top 50 Prospect list in 2005, #7 this year), reasoning that the funk he’s in couldn’t possibly outstink the eye-watering stench that is Aaron Boone (-0.3 WARP). More palatable are the team’s acquisitions of Shin-Soo Choo for Ben Broussard, and Hector Luna for Ron Belliard, in that the team gets younger and sheds pieces which don’t fit into a future that’s still quite bright. Choo even homers to provide the difference in a 1-0 win against his old mates in his first game as an Indian; returns on investment don’t come any more quickly than that.


The Cards choose Ron Belliard’s veteran herbs, spices, and overstuffed pie crust over Hector Luna’s inexperienced, uh, untestedness in a challenge trade that, well, what did it do, really? Give the Cards a fourth dangerous hitter beyond Albert Pujols (who’s got elbow issues), Scott Rolen, and a diminished Jim Edmonds? Uh, no; Belliard’s .291/.337/.420 (.259 EqA) is an improvement on the rest-of-lineup’s .264/.323/.374 performance, but not by a ton, and it’s not even as good as Luna (.291/.355/.417, .266 EqA). Shore up a rotation that beyond Chris Carpenter has put up a 5.34 ERA? Nuh-uh. Cash in on the gap between perception and reality re: Jason Marquis while he leads the league in wins (12) despite an unsightly ERA (5.67)? Slow down there, Einstein. Narrowed the intradivisional cornrow gap? Unnecessary, unless the Reds send Bronson Arroyo back to the salon for a new ‘do. This may still be the Cardinals’ race to lose (80.9 percent according to the Postseason Odds, including 62.1 percent to win the division), but they’ve been playing sub-.500 baseball for the past two months (24-27). Unless Belliard can use his herbs and spices to add about 20 points of EqA and take the ball every fifth day for six strong innings (better him than late acquisition Jorge Sosa), don’t expect much.


The Reds may be 10-6 since Krivsky’s Folly, but we’ll wager that has more to do with Adam Dunn, Ryan Freel, Scott Hatteberg, Rich Aurilia and Edwin Encarnacion carrying 1.000+ OPSes since the Break than it does the contributions of Bill Bray (0.425 WXRL) and Gary Majewski (-0.865). The Reds are clearly in the driver’s seat for the Wild Card (62.3 percent chance at the postseason), and if Krivsky’s actions are to be judged, they intend to win it by firing a steady barrage of pitchers–any pitchers, even Kyle Lohse–at the opposition, a la the Simpsons’ crazy cat lady. True, beyond Bronson Arroyo the rotation is carrying a 5.06 ERA, but if Lohse (7.07 ERA, -6.3 VORP, -0.4 SNLVAR, -0.038 WXRL as a low-leverage reliever) is the answer, somebody’s asking the wrong questions.


By losing 13 out of 14 coming out of the All-Star break, the Dodgers plummet to last in the NL West and likely deal their postseason hopes a mortal blow (their Postseason Odds have dropped from 48.9 percent to 12.2), but GM Ned Colletti maintains they’re buyers, not sellers at the deadline. His deal to acquire Elmer Dessens (-0.634 WXRL) for Odalis Perez (-0.2 SNLVAR, .291 Expected Winning Percentage) plus prospects AND cash impresses nobody, but snagging Wilson Betemit (.277 EqA) for Danny Baez (-0.024 WXRL) and Willy Aybar (.269 EqA) has Christina Kahrl’s approval, and while obtaining Greg Maddux and cash for Cesar Izturis (.221 EqA while playing out of position) had this reporter ROTFLMAO, losing Joel Guzman and Sergio Pedroza for two months of Julio Lugo–even with Jeff Kent and Nomar Garciaparra (strained knee ligament) sidelined–seems a steep price to pay. But if one considers the upgrade of Lugo (MUCH better offense) and clearing of Little Cesar’s 2007 salary + option ($4.45 mil) as one deal, sets the price of a last-legs all-time great for Guzman (not Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, James Loney, Jonathan Broxton, Chad Billingsley ad infinitum), and considers the team’s need for infield depth given the various injury histories (including that of Rafael Furcal), then this series of deals (excepting Dessens) is defensible, if not quite the prescription for a team five games out.


Despite a fellow executive’s wish that Dan O’Dowd would “take a stupid pill” and trade prospects willy-nilly, the Colorado GM only parts with Ryan Shealy, a 26-year-old PECOTA stud 1B (.288/.359/.515 weighted mean projection) blocked by Todd Helton (signed through 2011, Scott Dohmann (6.20 ERA, 0.251 WXRL), and catcher Miguel Ojeda (not to be confused with Miguel Olivo). In return he gets Jeremy Affeldt and Denny Bautista from the Royals, two perennially disappointing pitchers who are still young enough (27 and 25 respectively) to turn it around. Most notably, both are groundballers (49.8 percent and 50.8 percent, respectively) who might hope to emulate the success of Aaron Cook (60.2 percent). In any case, the Rox still cling to hopes of reaching the postseason; their 15.1 percent shot ranks third in the NL West, a better bet than both the Giants and Dodgers.


As other teams attempt to upgrade themselves via trades, the Snakes have already added a couple of key players from within this month, promoting top prospects Stephen Drew (#19 on our Top 50 Prospect list) and Carlos Quentin (#27). The former, taking over for injured Craig Counsell, is down to .268/.305/.429 after a brief slump, but he did hit in 10 straight starts prior; his -0.071 MLVr improves that of Counsell (-0.096), and PECOTA sees him at 0.053 when it’s all said and done. The latter, who’s waiting for past-their-selldates Shawn Green or Luis Gonzalez to be shipped out, has cracked four homers and two doubles in just 20 at-bats. Can Chris Young be far behind?


With the A’s in a dogfight for the AL West title, Billy Beane not only elects to keep Barry Zito, but manages to keep him out of Will’s Mill as well. Zito does his part by shaking off an early grand slam and a rousing ovation to help Oakland stay ahead of the hard-charging Angels. The A’s don’t make any moves at the deadline, and while they can expect Rich Harden back at some point–likely in a relief role–Bobby Crosby is fighting back woes and the sub-Mendoza blues (.160/.261/.210 for July). Good news: acupuncture seems to have helped Eric Chavez (eight-game hitting streak, .333/.394/.433), and Milton Bradley is hitting .406/.465/.656 (including a walk-off homer off of B.J. Ryan) since the All-Star break despite contending with taunts from obnoxious fans.


Having already traded for Eddie Perez on June 30, the M’s go out and acquire his better platoon half, Ben Broussard, from the Tribe as well, allowing them to send Carl Everett (.227/.297/.360) back to the dinosaurs. The move backfires a bit; Shin-Soo Choo beats his former team with a solo homer in his first game with the Tribe, and roster replacement Chris Snelling–stop me if you’ve heard this one before–goes on the DL with impingement syndrome before even playing a game. D’oh! Nonetheless, the M’s snap a post-break skid by winning seven out of 10 to remain in contention in the Mild, Mild West, but the Postseason Odds decidedly aren’t in their favor: 7.9 percent, compared to about 25-40 percent for their division rivals.


A seven-game losing streak knocks the Giants under .500, diminishing their Postseason Odds from 37.2 percent to 13.1 percent. At the forefront of the team’s struggle is Barry Bonds; he’s just 1-for-15 during the skid and hitting .222/.425/.413 for the month, while new acquisition Shea Hillenbrand is hitting .231/.250/.308 with nary a walk. Still, deadline day finds the Giants unsure whether to call off the dogs. Out? Brian Sabean offers Jason Schmidt around, but in the end decides to keep his ace, who’s sixth in both SNLVAR (4.5) and VORP (42.9). In? Well, the Giants’ GM doesn’t go looking for an upgrade to Armando Benitez (-0.351 WXRL), who’s blown three straight saves and seven out of 20 overall; his job as closer is in jeopardy.


If middling bullpen help is the key to winning the NL Wild Card–a longshot, given their 5.2 percent chances per our Postseason Odds Report)–then the Braves are loaded for bear now that they’ve added Bob Wickman (-0.909 WXRL and Danny Baez (-0.024 WXRL) in trades; they’ll fit right on a staff that’s last in the NL in Reliever Expected Wins Added (-0.088). Trading Wilson Betemit to the Dodgers for Baez and Willy Aybar comes at an inopportune time, as Chipper Jones hits the DL with a strained oblique. But at least it dodges the question of the long-overdue shift of Chipper to first or left field, considering Aybar’s shortcomings at the hot corner (88 Rate2 in 49 career games). That’s one way to avoid upsetting your superstar.


Neither a Buyer Nor a Seller Be: the Marlins are content to stand pat at the deadline, as the rest of the world finally lets their pledge not to trade Dontrelle Willis this summer die its final death. Still, Joe Sheehan spots some ominous trends in the D-Train’s lines–plummeting K rate, spiking walk and HR rates–and sees a missed opportunity. On the field, the team continues to edge towards .500, with rookies Ricky Nolasco (6.2 no-hit innings) and Scott Olsen (six shutout frames) shining. That duo, along with Joshua Johnson and Anibal Sanchez, gives the team four of the league’s top 14 rookies in pitching VORP, with Johnson (30.2) actually outpacing Willis (21.3), and Olsen (20.1) not far behind.


Pull the Trigger, Dump the Contract, and Return Pat Gillick’s Pants, Please: the Phils trade Bobby Abreu and Cory Lidle to the Yankees and get a bit of salary relief, a capable LOOGY in Matt Smith, and a buncha prospects, none of them among the Yankees’ best; shortstop C.J. Henry was their #1 pick in 2005 (as an 18-year-old he’s hitting .237/.326/.350 in Low-A). All in all, an underwhelming return given how many teams were in the hunt. They also shed David Bell (the Curse of Rick Schu continues) and Ryan Franklin, addition by subtraction given the way those two were killing time dead in red pinstripes. In happier news, Randy Wolf is back on the hill, and Chase Utley‘s hitting streak reaches 31 games; he’s hitting .406/.459/.744 in that span and is second in the NL in VORP (51.9).


The Astros stand pat at the deadline, yet manage to anger ace Roy Oswalt due to rumors he’d been mentioned in trade talks with the Orioles. Oswalt wasn’t the only ‘Stro whose name served as grist for Will’s Mill; Brad Lidge and Morgan Ensberg turned up in rumors as well. And Oswalt isn’t the only one who’s ticked (he’s demanding a five-year contract in order not to explore free agency after 2007); Houston is miffed at Peter Angelos because they learned the O’s were shopping Oswalt et al. to a third team. In any event, Houston, just 7-14 since July 4, finds its Postseason Odds fading fast; they’re down to 3.0 percent, and they’ve been in single digits for all but seven days over the last two months. And they’re still not scoring for Roger Clemens–just 26 runs in eight starts, including a familiar number against the Reds.


Doug Melvin leaves the pundits muttering that he’s done more to help his former team than his current one; trading Carlos Lee (28 homers, .295 EqA, and 27.6 VORP, second on the team) and Nelson Cruz for Kevin Mench (.261 EqA), Francisco Cordero (-0.901 WXRL), Laynce Nix (his name says it all) and a prospect neither gives the Brewers a better shot at the 2006 Wild Card (they’re below 5.0 percent anyway) nor improves their 2007 hopes. To contend this year, they’ll need another 10 starts from Ben Sheets that look like his last two (15 IP, 3 ER, 15/1 K/BB), and four RBI per day from Mench wouldn’t hurt either. Sadly, the team’s best acquisition is no Ranger, nor David Bell (ugh) or Tony Graffanino (with Rickie Weeks perhaps done for the year), it’s the hammy addition of Chorizo to their sausage race lineup, though after a brief weekend cameo to commemorate Cerveceros Day, they’re sending him out for “extra seasoning.” Insert rimshot here.


The deadline passes without the summer’s most anticipated trade–that of Alfonso Soriano–taking place, a huge mistake, according to Joe Sheehan. Jim Bowden had palatable options; he bypassed a Jason Kubel/Scott Baker package from the Twins, and an Ervin Santana/Eric Aybar one from the Angels, packages that would have given the Nats two good young players far from arbitration AND a shot at resigning Soriano in the offseason if they value him so highly. Instead, the Nats get to ride Soriano to, what, fourth place in the NL East if they get it together? Bowden’s preoccupation with Soriano prevents the Nats from dealing any of their pitchers, though at this point it’s safe to say that Livan Hernandez (5.70 ERA overall, 6.18 in July), Ramon Ortiz (4.84/4.03) and Tony Armas (4.79/6.60) are waiver bait at best.


Owner Peter Angelos puts the kibosh on dealing Miguel Tejada, choosing the Man With the Thousand-Yard Stare over Roy Oswalt, Adam Everett and Willy Taveras “Shoot the moon!” rants a gleeful Angelos, “The sale price of my franchise is guaranteed by Major League Baseball at $365 million, and Forbes estimates that I’m pretty much there already! Seventy-four wins a year plus the Nationals’ TV money is a grand return on my further investment of NOTHING! Mwahaha! Screw you, Frank Robinson! Screw you, Davey Johnson! Screw you, Earl Weaver! Screw you and this infernal Oriole Way and its eternal expectation of success, Paul Richards! It’s Jeff Conine vesting options from here on out, suckers!”


The Cubs go 6-1 on the week, with their lone loss featuring 5.2 innings of no-hit ball from Mark Prior. Still, it’s a dark week as Derrek Lee returns to the DL with an aggravation of his wrist injury (he could be done for the yearTodd Walker heads to San Diego for a live arm, and Greg Maddux departs for LA, bringing Cesar Izturis in return. Hand it to Jim Hendry: if Neifi Perez and Ronny Cedeno had both gone down, the Cubs would have been reduced to either disinterring Billy Jurges or begging Tony Womack to come back as their non-hitting middle infielder if they hadn’t obtained Izturis. And why nab one of those delectable Dodgers prospects when Dusty Baker (whose job is safe) would only chew him up and spit him out like some Corey Patterson wannabe?


Too Littlefield, Too Late: after more than three months of fielding offers for Craig Wilson–a move necessitated by signing the long-past-selldate Jeromy Burnitz and trading for Sean Casey–Dave Littlefield unloads Casey for minor league reliever Brian Rogers, then swaps Wilson for Philip Hughes Eric Duncan Shawn Stinkin’ Chacon and his
7.00 ERA. He fills the Wilson gap by acquiring the Lite version in Xavier Nady for the cost of the fungible Roberto Hernandez and the enigmatic and disappointing but hardly-without-upside Oliver Perez (-12.2 VORP third-to-last in the NL). Chacon, of course, fills his slot (or maybe the also-traded Kip Wells’) with that big-ass ERA. Sure, it’s totally unfair to judge the haul until Joe Randa inevitably slips through on a waiver deal (likely for Miguel Tejada or Alfonso Soriano straight up, dontchaknow), and we’re still awaiting word on whether that trade of Jason Bay for a six-pack of Iron City went through, but in the meantime, this still has to rank as one of the more stupefying deadline performances in recent memory. Can’t blame Chris Duffy for wanting out, and we’re even starting to feel for Jim Tracy, which is saying something.


Devil Rays
Squawky Prospects: Delmon Young gripes about remaining in the minors, backed by a chorus of B.J. Upton and Elijah Dukes, leading to speculation that the Rays might cut through the Bull and “send a message.” Behavioral issues and all, however, it’s the prospects who hold the hammer in an organization that has yet to produce any real on-field success; a disgruntled one has to like his chances of winning better behind almost any Door #2. The deadline passes and the kids remain, however, adding Joel Guzman (.290/.346/.443 at Las Vegas, hardly the most titillating performance in town) in a deal for Julio Lugo. Meanwhile, Scott Kazmir misses a start, then lands on the DL with a sore shoulder but Will Carroll suggests it’s 130-Inningitis, so don’t panic.


Injuries to the likes of Doug Mientkiewicz and Reggie Sanders prevent Dayton Moore from entirely cleaning house. But he does keep the equipment manager busy by shipping out Elmer Dessens, Jeremy Affeldt, Denny Bautista, Matt Stairs, and Tony Graffanino, acquiring Odalis Perez (with the Dodgers paying part of his salary), Jorge De La Rosa (who beats the Rangers in his Royal Blue debut), big bopper Ryan Shealy (.281/.354/.568 in the thin air of Colorado Springs), Scott Dohmann (whom PECOTA forecasts to have a 100 percent chance of turning 29 next year), and prospects Kevin Goldstein can tell you about over a couple of beers if you’re still interested. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of waiver bait remaining, including the aforementioned as well as a pair of easy Marks (Redman and Grudzielanek). Anyway, even without the makeover, the Royals have been playing nearly .500 ball (21-22) over the last seven weeks, with David DeJesus (.309/.382/.442 in that span) and Mark Teahen (.301/.394/.584) leading the offense to a robust
5.42 runs per game, enough to outstrip most of the staff’s mistakes (5.05 runs per game). Yippee!

This week’s column is dedicated to the loving memory of Clara Gottfried Jaffe (11/2/1912-8/1/2006), wife, mother, grandmother and so much more to three generations of baseball fans

The Prospectus Hit List rankings are derived from Won-Loss records and several measurements pertaining to run differentials, both actual and adjusted, from Baseball Prospectus Adjusted Standings through the close of play on every Sunday.

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