Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Good to see the Tigers playing with pride. Let's see, 1 win in the last 12 games and a move into the AL Central cellar behind KC. It's been a year to remember, but not for the reasons everyone (most everyone) predicted at the beginning of the season. Never could I have thought it would be this bad.

Never did the Tigers get higher than 3 games over .500. They were 15-24 in 1-run games. They lost 18 of 82 games in which they entered the 8th inning either with the lead or tied. (By comparison, KC lost 13 of 79). They were shutout 12 times (including last night) and yet managed to score 19 runs in a game three separate times! After Miguel Cabrera (125) and Magglio Ordonez (98), Curtis Granderson is third on the team with 61 RBI. Armando Galarraga ended up the ace of the staff.

Oh, the horror.

The end of the ride

Todd Jones, aka Roller-Coaster, announced his retirement, and kept his sense of humor.

“So this is it,” Jones wrote in his most recent Sporting News column. “If you’re a Tigers fan, I’ll never stress you out again. If you’re not a Tigers fan, you’ll never have me as your ace in the hole, convinced I’ll blow a lead against your team.”

Jones finished his career ranked No. 14 in saves, with 319. He ranks No. 1 in Tigers' history, with 235 saves for Detroit.

We wish you well, Jonesy.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Tim the Enchanter

Tim Lincecum is having an amazing season, and aside from a Sports Illustrated cover story, it seems to be largely overlooked.
Lincecum's win percentage is .810 on a team with a .445 win percentage (and the SF bullpen has blown five leads for him). He's got a 2.46 ERA and his ERA+ is 174, well ahead of No. 2 Johan Santana at 155. The only NL pitchers over the last 40 years to lead the NL with a better mark are Roger Clemens, Jason Schmidt, Randy Johnson, Greg Maddux, Kevin Brown, Pedro Martinez, Dwight Gooden, Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Steve Carlton, and Bob Gibson.
His splits are incredible. Against RHB, Lincecum is .222/.289/.332 while against LHB he's .219/.299/.292. His BABIP is around .300 against both righties and lefties, which indicates his numbers are legit, not a fluke.
With men on base, he's .190/.243/.268 and with RISP he's .163/.234/.261. With a man on third and less than 2 outs, he's .125/.225/.156. Talk about rising to the occasion.
The third time (or more) through the batting order, he's .209/.292/.309.
Consider, Santana is .228/.277/.338 his first time through the order and .280/.332/.441 the third time (or more) through. Brandon Webb's splits for those situations are .205/.251/.260 and .263/.338/.386.
Lincecum, for the record, is .193/.261/.293 his first time through the order. Now, look again at his figures for the third time through. You don't solve a problem like Tim.
He's got 243 K in 215.2 IP.
To me, he's the NL Cy Young Award winner. It will be interesting.

Just so you know

Tonight is the final game ever at Yankee Stadium. In case you hadn't heard.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I'm sorry Ryan

Upon further review, I was too hard on Ryan Howard. I'm still not sure I would vote him MVP, but I can make a much better argument for him now.

Howard's low OPS can be mostly attributed to his lack of production with the bases empty. Howard is .192/.275/.440 with no one aboard. His BABIP is .212, which probably is a result of "the shift." With men on base, Howard's numbers are .306/.395/.637.

He has nearly the same number of PAs in both situations. But he has 20 fewer Ks with men on base, plus 10 more walks.

With RISP, Howard is .315/.436/.571.
With RISP and 2 outs, Howard is .318/.453/.541.

And he's been off the charts good the past month.

Overall, he's got 87 H and 115 RBI with men on base.

Is it enough to be awesome for only half the game and pretty much dreadful otherwise? Albert Pujols' OPS is the same whether the bases are empty or there are runners on base -- 1.104.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Everything's gonna be all right

If you're wondering why I haven't posted anything in a while, I assure you I have a very good excuse. Things had been going so well for the Mets since I last posted that I didn't want to do anything to jinx them. But now that the team's fortunes have taken a bit of a downturn in the last few days, I thought I'd come back and try to talk Mets fans off the ledge. With fourteen games left to play, the Mets have a one and a half game lead over the Phillies and a fanbase and media eager to remind them of last year's collapse. Instead of joining the chorus of naysayers, I will now give several reasons why September 2008 will not be a repeat of September 2007.

Johan Santana. In September 2007, the only Met starters with ERAs under 4.5 were Pedro Marintez at 2.57 and Oliver Perez at 4.45 and neither of them averaged even six innings per start. Tom Glavine, John Maine and Orlando Hernandez all had terrible months, Mike Pelfrey was still pitching like the 2007 Mike Pelfey and guys like Brian Lawrence and Philip Humber got key starts with disastrous results. This September, Santana has pitched 20.1 innings in three starts with a 2.66 ERA, 20 strikeouts and only six walks and one home run allowed. The 2.66 ERA is actually the highest he's had in any month since May and he's been averaging more than six innings per start all season long. Overall Met starters aren't having a great month, posting a 4.90 ERA in September, but both Jonathon Niese and Oliver Perez pitched well this weekend and Santana gives the team something they didn't have last year. He is someone they can depend on to go out every five days and pitch well deep into the game. That's not enough to seal up the division, but it should be a big help in avoiding the five-game losing streaks that befell the team twice last September.

Guillermo Mota. Guillermo Mota is pitching for the Milwaukee Brewers right now, which has been and should continue to be a big help to the Mets' bullpen. The 2007 Mets' pen ranked high on the list of reasons for the collapse, well ahead of the offense, posting an ERA of 4.40 in the second half an 4.63 in September after a 3.67 first half. This year they had another good first half at 3.81 and bad second half at 4.86, but they've turned things around with a 3.03 ERA 30:14 K:BB ratio and just 29 hits and three home runs in 35.2 innings. Sure, they blew two run leads with two innings to go in two of the last three games, but overall they've been dependable. Luis Ayala shouldn't be given too long of a leash as closer, but he has been solid with a 9:1 K:BB ratio and only one home run allowed in thirteen innings.

Daniel Murphy. The young infielder-turned-outfielder is hitting .360/.442/.528 in 89 at bats with the Mets and he is just the best example of a group of young players who are making an impact for the Mets in this pennant race. There's Jonathon Niese, who pitched eight shutout innings on Saturday. There's Nick Evans, who is mashing lefties to the tune of .338/.386/.508. These are the sort of players who would have been left to rot on Willie Randolph's bench. While I haven't agreed with every decision made during the Jerry Manuel regime, he has shown more willingness to play young, unproven rookies in important roles than Willie ever did and the team has benefited greatly from it.

Fernando Tatis. Thirty-three year old Fernando Tatis, who had all of 56 major league at bats from 2004 to 2007 is hitting .301/.375/.489 for the Mets this year. This continues to be ridiculous. I was genuinely surprised when he didn't hit a game-tying three-run home run in the ninth inning on Sunday. If Mr. Two Grand Slams In One Inning can hit .300 with walks and power in 2008, how can the Mets not win the division?

It's not going to be easy. The Mets have a slightly tougher schedule than the Phillies the rest of the way as the Mets have to play the Cubs four times while the Phillies have only the Marlins, Braves and Nationals standing in their way. But while they may have the best record in the league, the next time the Chicago Cubs are a force to be reckoned with in September would be the first. Fourteen games remain and the Mets' magic number sits at thirteen. Good thing I'm not superstitious.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Surprisingly, many talking heads ARE putting Albert Pujols at the top of the MVP discussion. This is good. Unfortunately, I've also heard the names Carlos Delgado, Ryan Howard, and Ryan Braun tossed around. This is bad.

Delgado is understandable because of his second-half surge. But when measured by win shares, Carlos Beltran is the Mets' main man, followed closely by Jose Reyes.

Ryan Howard? Sure, he's got tons of dingers and RBI, but he has been lacking. It's hard to imagine calling someone with 42 HR and 126 RBI lacking, but it's true. He's got half the win shares of Lance Berkman, who leads the NL. Pujols is second, followed by Beltran. Howard's OPS is .845, which ranks between Mark DeRosa and Troy Glaus in the NL. His slugging percentage is tied for 17th in the league. You cannot discount he's driven in 126 runs, but given his opportunities, you get the feeling those numbers should be even better. Howard's RC/27 ranks 33rd in the NL, between Adam LaRoche and Cody Ross.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Keeping it close

I remember when the Tigers got off to their woeful start to the campaign all the commentators said the most important thing was for Detroit to stay close to Cleveland. That was all they needed to worry about because that was the team to beat in the division. Well, the Tigs are just 1 GB the Tribe as we head down the stretch! I can't wait to see the conclusion of this exciting race!