Monday, June 30, 2008

This is scary

Yesterday on DTFT: Not even the news of Magglio Ordonez heading to the DL can spoil the feeling today. It's just a chance for Matt Joyce to join the fun.

Today, the Tigers' run continued. Matt Joyce's pinch-hit 3B drove in the tying run in the top of the eighth and Joyce scored the winning run on Curtis Granderson's single. Detroit rallied from 4-1 down heading into the seventh to win 5-4 in Minnesota, picking up its sixth in a row and 18th of 22.

Casey Fossum got the victory and Joel Zumaya got a five-out save.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Tigers burning bright

So, this is how it turns around. The Tigers hit the official halfway point of the campaign at 41-40, a remarkable record considering they were a season-worst 12 games under .500 (24-36) on June 6. That makes them a rather mindboggling 17-4 since then.

As bad (and unlucky) as Detroit was early on, it's pretty much gone all the other way in the last 21 games. For your consideration:

Sunday's 4-3 win was fueled by Dane Sardinha's 2-run triple in the sixth inning. It was merely the backup catcher's first career hit.

Saturday's 8-7 win came on Miguel Cabrera's walkoff 2-RBI double. Oh, and Ryan Raburn hit the first grand slam of his life. Yep, going all the way back to first swinging a bat in Little League.

Friday's 7-1 victory was highlighted by Eddie Bonine's 8 IP, 5 H, 1 R gem. Yeah, Eddie Bonine. The guy who has given up only 11 H and 3 R in 15 IP since getting roughed up a bit in his big league debut.

Thursday's 3-2 triumph came on Clete Thomas' bases-loaded walk in the 1oth inning. It was Thomas' second bases-loaded walk of the game and it came an inning after Gary Sheffield tied the score with a solo HR.

And Wednesday's 8-7 win came on a Sheffield RBI knock in the ninth. Detroit fell behind 7-6 in the top of the eighth, but got a run in the bottom of the frame to tie it.

Damn, baseball is fun.

Not even the news of Magglio Ordonez heading to the DL can spoil the feeling today. It's just a chance for Matt Joyce to join the fun.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The climb continues

The Tigers beat the Rockies 7-1 tonight behind Eddie Bonine's sharp 8 IP and Curtis Granderson's 4 H (2 triples) and 3 R. Detroit is 39-40 and could reach .500 Saturday for the first time since being 0-0 on Opening Day.

Detroit is 15-4 in its last 19 games. That coincides with Jeremy Bonderman going on the DL and reliever Todd Jones proclaiming it just another chapter in the greatest comeback in baseball history. Jones is looking prophetic, for now.

Entering tonight's game, the Tigs staff had a 3.63 ERA during the previous 18 games. The pitchers were limiting hitters to .259/.325/.397 for a .722 OPS. They'd allowed 73 R.

Meanwhile, the Detroit batsmen were .306/.363/.500 for a .863 OPS during that span, with 97 R. Interestingly, they had almost the identical number of Ks and BBs (118/57 to 114/59) in the 18 games preceding their hot streak. During those previous 18 games, they batted just .254 and slugged .411 in going 8-10.

I'll repeat, the pitching is the biggest factor in this turnaround. Bonine has been good in his last 2 starts, much better than anything Dontrelle Willis provided and much better than anyone could have hoped. Getting back Fernando Rodney and Joel Zumaya might have been a bigger plus for the psyche than anything else at this point, but we'll take that for now.

Gary Sheffield appears to be healthy and Granderson has got his groove back. He might be the most vital piece of the offensive puzzle. During the Tigers' 14-4 run entering tonight, Granderson batted .387/.424/.581 for a 1.005 OPS. He had 2 HR, 7 RBI and 11 R. He has a 15-game hitting streak in the works. Detroit is 31-27 in games Grandy has appeared.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Latrell, meet Shawn

Observers say it was Chacon's best throw of the year.

Sheff cooking again

Gary Sheffield is back and appears to be healthy. The Tigers go for another series win today against the Cardinals. Todd Wellemeyer (7-2, 3.67) pitches for St. Louis and has done a decent job against Detroit in the past. Sheff has a HR against him and Curtis Granderson could be poised for a nice day. Nate Robertson (6-6, 5.60) counters. Troy Glaus has hit Robertson pretty well in the past, but that's about it.

The Tigers had a season-high 19 hits last night in their 8-7 win. Their previous high of 18 hits came in a 10-9 victory. They've also had 17 hits in a 12-8 win and 16 hits in an 11-9 win. Nothing like making those knocks count.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Rally good

The Tigers got a 7-5 win in SD last night. The starting pitchers didn't figure much in the outcome, but Marcus Thames did. Thames hit a 2-run pinch HR to break a 5-5 tie in the seventh. Jeff Larish also had a pinch RBI single in the seventh. Magglio Ordonez gunned down a runner at the plate in the eighth and had a 2-run HR. Detroit overcame deficits of 3-1 and 5-4 to get the victory.

Curtis Granderson had two hits and two runs. He made a typical Granderson play in the third when he reached on an infield single and advanced to third when the ball was thrown away. I think many guys would have jogged into second on the play, but Grandy hustled around and then scored on a Placido Polanco sac fly.

Justin Verlander faces Randy Wolf today as the Tigers try to win their fourth consecutive series before returning home to tangle with the Cardinals and Rockies.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Oh, those bases on balls

Not much surprise the Tigers lost a game in which Eddie Bonine was matched against Greg Maddux. Except Bonine pitched well, giving up 2 solo HR in 7 IP. When Placido Polanco hit a 2-out HR in the eighth to tie the score at 2, Detroit had a chance to steal one.

Then Fernando Rodney missed the strike zone on 8 consecutive pitches and Casey Fossum wasn't much better, giving up a walk and two hits. Before the bottom of the eighth was over, it was 6-2 in favor of the bad guys.

Tonight, Nate Robertson (5-6, 5.46) faces Cha Seung Baek (1-2, 4.84). Robertson's ERA in his last 7 games is a run better than his season mark while Baek's is a run worse, althought he has pitched decent since joining SD from Seattle. Advantage Tigers. Detroit also has an edge in that many of its batters have seen Baek before with Seattle while few Padres have faced Robertson. Curtis Granderson has 2 HR off Baek and Edgar Renteria and Magglio Ordonez have one each.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Berkman in rare air

Lance Berkman is dominating the NL at a historic level, at least when using OPS+ as the measuring stick. Berkman's at 201. The only NL players to finish the season with a mark above 200 in recent years are Bonds, McGwire and Bagwell (and all three were linked to PEDs at some point in their careers).

Otherwise, you have to go back to Willie McCovey in 1969 to find a NL player to accomplish the feat. In addition to McCovey, the NL players since 1900 to reach 200 are Honus Wagner (1908), Rogers Hornsby (1922, 1924, 1925, 1928), and Stan Musial (1948). So, if Berkman can remain in that stratosphere, it's very impressive company.

And someone else finally realized Berkman shares an uncanny resemblance to Tony Stewart.

In the AL, players to reach 200 since 1900 are Frank Thomas, George Brett, Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig, Jimmy Foxx, Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, and Nap Lajoie.

California trip continues

The Tigers (34-38) head to San Diego (31-43) and face the struggling Padres. SD has lost 4 in a row and sends Greg Maddux to the hill tonight. Maddux is 3-5 with a 3.31 ERA this season. Over his last 7 games, he's 0-2 with a 2.95 ERA. I'm thinking "hard luck" is being tossed around frequently when discussing his campaign.

Pudge Rodriguez has 2 hits off Maddux in 8 lifetime ABs, and both are HRs. Miguel Cabrera has 5 extra-base hits in 19 ABs in his career vs. Maddux.

Detroit send Eddie Bonine for his second big league start. He got a win over the Dodgers in his first outing, giving up 6 runs in 5.1 IP.

Tigs are 8-2 in last 10 games, 13-7 in last 20, and 18-12 in last 30. They are 6-3 in interleague.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


The Orioles go for a series sweep tonite against the Houston Astros in Baltimore. The O's have not swept an inter-league series since 2005. That was in Baltimore. Against Houston.

Brad Ausmus is 9th all-time in Games Caught.

Darin Erstad is the only player to win Gold Glove awards as an infielder and an outfielder.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Marcus Homerunius

Marcus Thames just keeps launching bombs. Five consecutive games, which ties the Tigers record. The others to accomplish the feat aren't too bad: Hank Greenberg, Rudy York, Vic Wertz, and Willie Horton. Thames' last 8 hits have been HRs. He's got a 1.500 SLG during his 5-game tear. He's .288/.373/.915 in his last 20 games (11 HR - 22 RBI). Of his 30 H this season, 13 are taters. That's 43%. That's beyond even Ryan Howard territory (32%).

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Ecclesiastes 9:11

". . . the race is not to the swift . . ."

Last night in Philly, Pat Burrell and Ryan Howard both hit triples. Tonight, Sean Casey stole a base.

Truly, happenings of Biblical proportions.


As you may have heard, Willie Randolph is no longer the manager of the New York Mets and Omar Minaya handled the firing with the sort of tact and professionalism we've come to expect from this organization. The bottom line is that Wilie is out, which I regard as a good thing, and Jerry Manuel is in, about which I don't really have an opinion. Manuel was 500-471 with one division title in six year as manager of the Chicago White Sox, which sounds decent, but then Willie has a pretty good career record as a manager, too. Based what I heard of Manuel's press conference today, he seems like a reasonably smart guy who is willing to buck conventional baseball wisdom, but we won't really know how good he is at the job until he starts doing it. I don't expect immediate and drastic changes to staring lineups and bullpen roles, but if Manuel could have a word with Omar about adding someone capable of a hitting a home run to his bench, that would be a nice start.

Also relieved of his duties today were pitching coach Rick Peterson and first base coach Tom Nieto. Peterson probably deserves some credit for the development of John Maine, Oliver Perez and the recently solid Mike Pelfrey, but he probably also deserves some blame for Willie's awful bullpen managing. The fact that Mets pitchers have walked more batters per nine innings than the league average each of that last two years also does not reflect well on the team's former "CEO of pitching." I don't know anything about Peterson's replacement, Dan Warthen, but I hope he will work with the staff on throwing strikes, thus getting starters to go deeper into games and taking some pressure off of a bullpen that already shows signs of cracking. As for Nieto, he will be replaced by Ken Oberkfell, who I imagine will do a fine job taking players' batting gloves when they get to first base and yelling "BACK!" on pickoff attempts.

These changes, which also include Sandy Alomar Sr. taking over as bench coach and being replaced as third base coach by Luis Aguayo, won't fix all that ails the Mets. The players still need to, in some cases, play better or, in other cases, be replaced on the roster by better players. But Willie wasn't an asset to the team either tactically or in terms of leadership, so removing him was the right move. Time will tell if it makes any difference.

So long Willie

Mr. Met will comment on the Willie Randolph firing. We expect his press release soon.


Fernando Rodney's return to the bullpen didn't go smoothly last night and the Tigers coughed up a 4-3 lead in SF. At least Justin Verlander looked pretty good again, and outpitched Tim Lincecum.

Marcus Thames continued to rake.

Reports say the Tigers are interested in pitcher Freddy Garcia. Although Garcia was widely considered a bust in Philly last year, he could be a big help to Detroit if the team is still in the playoff hunt come September (when Garcia is aiming to return).

Garcia only pitched 11 times for Philly last year before his shoulder gave out. He finished with a 5.90 ERA, but for a 5-game stretch in May he posted a 3.69 ERA with 25 K and 9 BB in 31.2 IP. A healthy Garcia is worth a flier given the Tigers' situation.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Start me up

Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of the Tigers' 8-2 homestand was the starting pitching, outside of Dontrelle Willis and his Triple-A replacement Eddie Bonine. Here are some numbers heading into today's game, in which Nate Robertson fired 6 shutout innings of 4-hit, zero-walk ball.

Armando Galarraga: 2-0, 12.2 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 9 K, 1.42 ERA, .430 OPS allowed.

Justin Verlander: 1-1, 16 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 11 K, 2.25 ERA, .431 OPS allowed.

Kenny Rogers: 0-0, 15 IP, 9 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 0.60 ERA, .479 OPS allowed.

Verlander has a 2.57 ERA over his last 6 games. Rogers has a 3.32 ERA over his last 9 games and it's 0.93 in his last 4. Galarraga has a 2.63 ERA in his last 4 games.

With Fernando Rodney and Joel Zumaya expected back this week, the pitching might be on the verge of becoming much better. That's provided Rodney and Zumaya can find something close to their 2006 form. If so, and the starters continue to be good more often than not, it will be very interesting to see what happens.

Detroit's ERA was 5.02 when its record was 16-26. Entering today, the Tigers were on a 15-11 run with a 3.96 ERA.

In April, when the Tigs went on a 12-5 run, the ERA was 4.08 and the OPS allowed was .685. In the 9 games leading into today, the ERA was 3.11 and OPS allowed was .602. So the pitching has been a much greater contributor.

Dead or alive

The Tigers completed their 10-game homestand with consecutive sweeps of the White Sox and Dodgers, ending 8-2. Exactly what the doctor ordered. So just when Sparky had that foot poised to kick dirt on them after Dontrelle Willis' start against the Indians, it's time to step back.

“People buried us, and they should have,” Tigs skipper Lazarus Leyland said after today's win. “Now we’ve got a chance to get them excited again.”

Detroit is 6 games out of first and heads to San Fran next. The Tigers got a bad draw and will have to face Tim Lincecum (8-1, 1.99 ERA) and Jonathan Sanchez (6-3, 4.26) in the first two games of the 3-game set. Those are pretty good numbers for a team that's 30-40.

The Tigers send Justin Verlander, Kenny Rogers and Armando Galarraga in the series.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Time for Thames

The Detroit media is asking whether it's time for Marcus Thames to play every day. Given the Tigers' options and Thames power, I'd say the answer is yes.

Thames is reputed for bashing LHP, but a look at his splits from 2006, when he hit 26 HR in 348 AB and posted an .882 OPS (for OPS+ of 123), show he had a .904 OPS vs. RHP in 218 AB and an .846 OPS vs. LHP in 130 AB.

For his career, Thames' OPS is .764 vs. RHP and .853 vs. LHP. He probably will never hit for a high average (.241 lifetime) or walk a lot (.306 OBP) but he can slug (.494). His SLG is .510 this year and .549 and .498 in 2006 and 2007. His OPS+ is average to better-than-average.

His OPS with RISP lifetime is .916 and it's .888 with men on base. In 19 AB with the sacks full, he's got 5 HR and a 2.030 OPS.

Perhaps with regular playing time, Thames will hit RHP, as in 2006. He has seen more regular playing time since the middle of May, and his OPS is .930 during that stretch (despite batting .222). He's got 6 HR and 15 RBI in his last 19 games. For the year, he's got a 1.080 OPS in the No. 3 spot (25 AB), which is where the Tigers can use some punch (.699 team OPS from spot). Thames has half the 6 HR produced from the 3 hole.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

People, it's bad

Mets starting pitchers over the past seven games: 42 1/3 IP, 40 K, 14 BB, 2 HR, 2.34 ERA.

Games won by the Mets during this stretch: One.

First it was the offense going limp as the Mets lost three straight 2-1 games in San Diego. Once the bats came to life, the bullpen decided to pick up the slack, blowing leads of at least two runs in each of the next four games. Billy Wagner has now blown three saves in a row, including the last two games which featured two of the best Met starts of the year by Johan Santana and Mike Pelfrey. Yes, that Mike Pelfrey.

These Mets keep finding new ways to lose and keep hovering around .500. They're currently three games under. I think it is time for them to accept that this roster, as currently constructed, is not that of a playoff team. Yes, if Moises Alou, Ryan Church and Orlando Hernandez were healthy and Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado were red hot, they might have a chance to dominate the National League. But those things are about as likely to happen at the same time as a bench featuring Fernando Tatis, Damion Easley, Marlon Anderson and Endy Chavez is to be an offensive asset. At least the Abraham Nuñez era only lasted a week.

If this team is going to contend this year, changes need to be made, not just in the coaching staff, but in the roster as well. The idea of Omar Minaya making trades to try to salvage this season with his job on the line is certainly a scary one, but at least he's not allowed to trade Reese Havens yet. The Mets still have an excellent core in David Wright, Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, Johan Santana and John Maine, but they can only take the team so far given such a putrid supporting cast. The Mets entered the season without a reasonable backup plan at first base or left field, two positions where they'd pretty obviously need one. Sixty-five games later, they still don't have one. This has led to Tatis starting twelve games at corner outfield positions while hitting .232/.267/.321. Of course the Mets couldn't have predicted Ryan Church would suffer two concussions before the start of summer, but counting on him to be both durable and the team's best hitter wouldn't have made much sense either given his history.

I don't know what the Mets can do to reconfigure this roster that would make a big difference, short of signing a certain career home run leader who will remain nameless to play left field. But thinning the herd of thirty-somethings who aren't hitting on the bench and replacing them with some late twenty-somethings who are hitting in New Orleans is worth a shot. Dumping Nuñez and calling up Chris Aguila, who was hitting .308/.384/.584 at AAA, was a start. Sending Tatis packing and finding a spot for Valentino Pascucci, who's hitting .292/.405/.590, who be a fine second step. If you put enough younger guys on the roster, Willie's bound to start one of them eventually.

Just when I thought I was out ...

Oh, these maddening Tigers! Is this simply the sweet dance of seduction or something more? I remember the 8-2 stretch that got Detroit within a game of .500, only to see it followed by 2-11. Ahead for the Tigs: the Dodgers (31-34), the Giants (29-37), the Padres (29-38), the Cardinals (40-27) and the Rockies (26-39). Failure to take advantage of this good fortune in the interleague draw could be devastating.

When Mediocre Feels Good

In the AL, O's hitters are 12th worst in Hits and Caught Stealing, 11th worst in Average and Runs, 10th worst in On Base Percentage, 9th worst in Walks and 8th worst in Striking out. On the up side, they are 4th best in Home Runs, 6th in Slugging and 7th in Doubles and Stolen Bases.

O's pitching has hit more batsmen than any pitching staff in the AL, is 12th worst in Walks and K's, 11th worst in HR and 8th worst in ERA.

O's pitching is 6th in Hits Allowed and 7th in Runs Allowed.

O's defenders rank 8th in Fielding Percentage and 9th in Errors in the AL.

Roughly speaking, in a 14 team league the O's defense ranks 8th, the pitching ranks 8th and the offense ranks 11th, yet the O's are 32-32 through 64 games. I am excited to see a level of mediocrity in Baltimore that has not been present in years. I hope they can keep it up.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Morgan Ensberg released by the Yankees

It wasn't that long ago that I thought that Ensberg would have been a better third base option for the Phillies then Feliz.

Ensberg in 74 ABs had a splended line .203/.263/.243. Throw in 22 strikeouts while your at it.

Compared to Ensberg, Feliz is an Allstar .248/.295/.410. Feliz also has 22 strikeouts so far this season, but he's got 222 AB.

Once again it has been proven that I should not be a GM.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Preparing to kick dirt

Another walkfest from Dontrelle Willis has the Tigers in an 8-0 hole vs. Cleveland tonight. I realized that Detroit needs to go 64-36 over its final 100 games (most likely 64-35 over its final 99 after tonight) to reach 90 wins. The AL Central leading White Sox and wild card leading Rays need to go 52-47 to finish with 89 wins. Can it be expected a team 10-games under .500 can flip a switch and go 29 over .500 the rest of the way? Even that might not be enough the way Chicago and Tampa Bay are playing.

Here are the Tigers' offense leaders, by position against AL counterparts, according to Hardball Times' runs created formula.

C - Pudge Rodriguez: 16 RC. Rank: 14.
Leader: Joe Mauer, Minnesota, 37.

1B - Miguel Cabrera: 37 RC. Rank: 3.
Leader: Justin Morneau, Minnesota, 44.

2B - Placido Polanco: 31 RC. Rank: 5.
Leader: Ian Kinsler, Texas, 50.

3B - Carlos Guillen: 36 RC. Rank: 3.
Leader: Joe Crede, Chicago, 40.

SS - Edgar Renteria: 28 RC. Rank: 4.
Leader: Michael Young, Texas, 37.

LF - Marcus Thames: 18 RC. Rank: 15.
Leader: Johnny Damon, NY, 49.

CF - Curtis Granderson: 19 RC. Rank: 13.
Leader: Josh Hamilton, Texas, 52.

RF - Magglio Ordonez: 40 RC. Rank: T2.
Leader: Bobby Abreu, NY, 43.

DH - Gary Sheffield: 15 RC. Rank: 14.
Leader: Milton Bradley, Texas, 50.

Hardball Times has an equivalent stat for pitchers. Justin Verlander and Jeremy Bonderman rank tied for 46th while Armando Galarraga is tied for 49th.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

How About That?

The O's have 14 one-run victories in 2008, 13 in all of 2007.
The O's have rallied from two-run (or more) deficits to win 13 times.
The O's are hitting 1.1 HR/game in 2008, .88 HR/game in all of 2007.
The O's are hitting .253 in 2008, .272 in all of 2007.
The O's are 31-31 through 62 games, 29-33 in 2007.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Even a win is tempered by a loss

The Tigers beat the Indians today, 8-4, but the big news was Jeremy Bonderman is likely done for the season because of a blood clot. I guess this means Dontrelle Willis and Armando Galarraga will both stay in the rotation now.

Maybe the adversity will ignite a spark in this team. The injury list is growing: Fernando Rodney, Joel Zumaya, Gary Sheffield, Vance Wilson, Ramon Santiago, Clete Thomas, Clay Rapada.

"One more chapter in the greatest comeback in baseball history," closer Todd Jones said on, trying to put a positive spin on the news about Bonderman.

On Saturday, Detroit won for only the third time in 33 chances when trailing after 7 innings. The Tigs scored six runs in the eighth, highlighted by Miguel Cabrera's RBI single to put the Kitties ahead and Edgar Renteria's grand slam.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Leyland thinks: My finger stinks, too

The Tigers start a 10-game homestand tonight and they really need to go 7-3 at worst to avoid me kicking dirt on them.

Detroit plays Cleveland, the White Sox and Dodgers in the next three series. At this point, there is no reason to believe the Tigers are better than their 24-35 record other than the fact we perceive them to be capable of so much more.

Here are the facts: Detroit was 0-1 in March, 13-14 in April, 10-17 in May and is 1-3 so far in June. The Tigs are 4-10 in 1-run games and 8-12 in "blowouts" (5+ runs). Their OPS was .792 in March/April, .712 in May, and is .618 in June. Their ERA was 4.88 in March/April, 4.73 in May, and is 5.75 in June.

There is nothing in those numbers to suggest a turnaround. In fact, they seem to get progressively worse in most cases. Who knew? The Tigers were riding high in April, shot down in May.

One of Detroit's big problems is the middle innings, 5 through 7. The Tigers have given up at least one run in 37% of 5th innings, 29% of 6th innings and 36% of 7th innings. Detroit's best inning is the 7th, scoring 34% of the time. Maybe the returns of Fernando Rodney and Joel Zumaya can help? It might be too late by the time those guys are able to contribute.

The Tigers have hit better at home, where they are 12-14, so I guess there is a little hope for these 10 games. However, Detroit's OPS was .579 on its 3-6 road trip.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

The good, the bad and the Nuñez

The Mets organization had some reason to smile entering Thursday, having won three straight series and holding three of the first thirty-three picks in the MLB draft. And Met fans could be forgiven for smiling too after the Mets didn't use any of those top picks on college relief pitchers. In fact, the Mets used only one of their eight picks today on a pitcher, taking right handed starter Bradley Holt from UNC Wilmington with the thirty-third overall pick. Six of their other seven picks were used on college hitters, headlined by Ike Davis, a first baseman/outfielder from Arizona State, at the 18th pick and Reese Havens, a shortstop from the University of South Carolina Columbia, at the 22nd pick. I don't know nearly enough about these guys to have any strong opinions about the Mets' draft thus far, but I do like to see the Mets restocking their barren farm system with hitters. I wouldn't have minded seeing them go for one or two more high risk/high reward high schoolers--Puerto Rican outfielder Javier Rodriguez at 68 was the only one they took out of high school--but I can't fault them for going for safer college players who are closer to being ready for the majors. Just for fun I will point out that Davis hit .355/.418/.612 for his college career and .394/.468/.778 this year. Havens hit .298/.396/.470 for his career and .359/.486/.645 this year.

While I'm cautiously optimistic about the Mets' draft, I can't say the same about their recent major league roster moves. Today they sent down Nick Evans, which is completely reasonable, and called up Abraham Nuñez, which is totally unfathomable. The Mets' roster already has three catchers and no backup outfielder or first baseman, unless you count Fernando Tatis and Damion Easley as either or both of those things, and to this they add the offensive cipher that is Nuñez. Nuñez got 574 at bats for the Phillies over the last two seasons (it's a wonder they didn't win any playoff games) and hit .221/.310/.277. All of these numbers are fairly consistent with a career in which he peaked at a .343 OBP and .361 SLG and had a batting average of .225 or lower in five different seasons. No amount of defense is going to make up for his Neifiesque offense, especially given that he only plays third base, where the Mets don't need a backup, shortstop, where the Mets don't need a backup, and second base, where the Mets already have a backup. Unless Nuñez's job is to boost the self esteem of Luis Castillo and Brian Schneider by comparison, his presence on a major league roster, especially that of a team that fancies itself a contender, is baffling.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Leyland must be at 5 packs a game

The Tigers lost in walk-off fashion for the second consecutive day and fourth time in their last 8. They lost on an infield single by Jack Cust. Jack Cust!

Detroit pitchers issued 10 walks and the Tigers batters failed to take advantage of 12 free passes. They are 1-31 when scoring 4 or fewer runs and 4-10 in 1-run games. They are 20-2 when leading after 7 innings; 2-28 when trailing after 7.


I was at the Phillies game last night, hoping to see Junior hit No. 600. He didn't, but I did get to see him draw walk No. 1,191.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

More Ryan Howard

The future of Ryan Howard is a popular topic of discussion among Phillies fans. Some of my Philly fans believe Howard can continue to be a productive hitter into his mid-30s. Based on history, I disagree, particularly with Howard's somewhat late start to his MLB career.

Historically, players made in Howard's mold breakdown more quickly than others. Also, Howard's high K totals leave him little margin for error. When Howard batted .313 in 2006, it was because he batted .455 (including 58 HRs) when making contact. He hit a HR on nearly 40% of flyballs. That's a lot of work to get the BA to .313.

Last year, Howard's contact BA was .430, which led to a .268 overall BA. This season, his contact BA is .333, and his overall BA is .206. The fact he strikes out so frequently and relies on the HR for so many hits is a dangerous longterm situation, I think.

Among the 10 "most similar" players for Howard on are Cecil Fielder, Mo Vaughn, Tony Clark and Tim Salmon. If that's not cause for pause, nothing is.

Howard's OPS+ his last two seasons are 167 and 144. This year it's 101.

Fielder's OPS+ after the age of 29 were 113, 111, 108, 101 and 86. Vaughn's after 29 were 153, 119, 115, 113 and 73. Clark's were 47, 100, 95, 154, 60, 103 and 84. Salmon's were 119, 135, 98, 133, 122, 67, and 109.

While many of those numbers are better than their league's average, they're not superstar quality.