— Where BTF's Members Investigate the Grand Old Game
Saturday, June 28, 2003
Bi-Weekly Review: N.L. West
The N.L. West through June 26th.
The race is nice and tight, with the biggest factor thus far being luck. The division?s Pythags are brutally close. The Diamondbacks are tearing it up with 8 straight wins, and the Giants are in front due to their control over the Dodgers. The Rockies are in lurk mode, waiting to get another shot in intra-divisional games. With the Central being a severely weak sister, the second-place team in either the East or the West could easily be in a great race and miss the playoffs.
San Francisco is hanging on by their fingernails. It?s hard to tell if they have the horses to stay afloat, but the rest of the division is underwhelming, so I suspect they do/will. The Giants have had a nice winning month, but are doing so with little offensive production. Sure, Barry Bonds has a 1.121 OPS this month, but Alou?s lineup construction really isn?t helping ? and yes, I know what the sims say about lineup construction. Third base in the NL West is weak, and Edgardo Alfonzo is really making some Giant fans groan. His season of .660 OPS is poor, but his June .470 is downright pathetic. Jose Cruz? "breakout" season is simply “not.” If it weren?t for Marquis Grissom (.816 in June) and the JT Snow/Andres Galarraga 1B monster (.944/.922 OPS), the Giants wouldn?t score at all. Supersub Pedro Feliz is also hitting well. Ray Durham is getting on base (.379 OBP in June).
The pitching staff is mostly holding up their end of the bargain. Jason Schmidt continues to dominate. If Jesse Foppert figures out what he can or cannot do, he might succeed. Damian Moss is making the Braves look like geniuses after a great start. He’s posted a toll-free 8.88 ERA in June. Kirk Rueter and rotation newcomer Jerome Williams are pitching in an acceptable manner. The bullpen has been very strong, with Bulldog Jim Brower and Chad Zerbe have had outstanding Junes, to compliment the good work of Felix Rodriguez and Tim Worrell. The Giants are getting a good lesson in "Expensive closer? What for?"
Oakland		June 27-29
The Los Angeles Dodgers have played very well the last month, but have barely moved in the standings. Every time they inch up, they face the Giants and drop back a game.
The Dodgers pitching staff has an ERA of 2.45 in June. Odalis Perez has the worst June ERA at 4.65. Guillermo Mota is next at 3.48. If your opponent doesn?t score, you can get away with some pretty poor offense, which is a good thing for the Dodgers. Kevin Brown proved mortal last time out, but has been nearly untouchable for two months. He also has had remarkably low pitch counts for his K totals and IP, has only thrown 110 pitches once, and generally is around 100 pitches. I think that bodes well for his seasonal stamina. Hideo Nomo has regained his mystique, posting a 1.24 ERA in 5 June starts. He?s only allowed 32 baserunners in his last 36 innings. The Dodgers have also pulled a re-treaded Wilson Alvarez out and gotten good pitching from him. All in all, the entire Dodger staff looks strong. Which is going to be important?
The Dodger offense is terrible.
If I were a Dodger fan, I would sob audibly. Of course, as William Hurt pointed out in The Big Chill, you can?t go a single day without rationalization ? so Dodger fans don?t be blue ? it has to get better. 305?
Is that his OPS or the freeway he takes to the stadium?
At Anaheim		June 27-29
A month ago I wrote, "The Arizona Diamondbacks are done." O. R. they? Eight wins in a row, and they are five games over .500 and just a handful of games out of first ? all without the Unit and Schilling. Randy Johnson is schedule to start for Tucson on July 3, and return to the Dbacks after the All-Star Break. Schilling has begun to play catch, and while no specific date is targeted for his return, I?m sure he?ll rush back. Shea Hillenbrand has been sidelined for nearly three weeks too.
How are the Snakes doing it? With pretty good, but not great, pitching and spectacular hitting. Three Arizona regulars are posting 1.000+ OPS in June ? Gonzalez, Finley and Alex Cintron. Lyle Overbay is starting to hit and David Dellucci replacement, Robby Hammock, isn?t relaxing on the job, hitting well and playing wherever Brenly will let him, catcher, third base, and right field. Junior Spivey has regained his stroke and Tony Womack is even closing in on a June OPS of .800.
The pitching has had some very shiny moments ? Miguel Batista has still pitched great with a 2.05 ERA this month. When the Diamondbacks finally designated Matt Williams for assignment, and whoever had "June 2" in the "Matt Mantei to DL" pool won (second place to "May 28"), the Purple got a little bit better. Jose Valverde was called up. The 24-year old has been stellar, saving 8 games, winning one in just 12 games ? and 12 innings. For the Smoltz fans, the Diamondbacks have won every game Valverde has appeared in. Valverde is teaching the Diamondbacks the invaluable lesson of "Expensive closer? What for?" It?s a good year. Sadly, much of the mainstream media is too stupid to recognize that this is what Bill James means.
Brandon Webb is still pitching great ? 2.77 ERA in June. Andrew Good had three good starts, dropping his ERA from 5.14 to 4.07, before slipping again in his last two, pushing his season?s mark back to a 4.67 ERA.
The Snakes switched gears and personnel, and are playing well. The Unit and Schilling might drag them back into the race.
At Detroit		June 27-29
The Colorado Rockies have played well in June. Preston Wilson is having a spectacular season. He seems to be the perfect pick-up for the Rockies. And I love the lambchops! There was some discussion here and from Prospectus regarding his "style" being well suited to Coors, but then Jose Hernandez has the same style, and he stunk up the joint. Jose Hernandez turned out to be very valuable ? he got Mark Bellhorn to Denver ? which is a very good thing. Why the stupid Mets couldn?t have traded Robbie Alomar for Bellhorn is beyond me ? well, it?s beyond Jim Duquette anyway, but that?s another story.
Todd Helton is hitting like he should and Larry Walker has his numbers creeping up to 1.000 OPS. With Wilson, Helton and Walker providing a ton of juice, the surprise performance of Juan Uribe and Chris Stynes really help the Rockies score away from home. Bellhorn should really enhance that, provided Colorado plays him. As near as I can figure it, Bellhorn called Dusty Baker a dirty **********. But at least all the Cub Game Chats won?t open with "Is Dusty got Bellhorn in the lineup today?" anymore.
The Rockie pitching has rebounded. Jason Jennings struggled the first quarter of the season and has hit together, putting a 3.25 ERA on the board in a 4-0 June. He is wrecking my HACKING MASS team. Shawn Chacon got destroyed by the Royals on June 7, allowing 12 ER in 3.2 IP. His two starts before that he shut down the Dodgers and Giants, and has since won three more times ? albeit against the Tigers and Padres (twice). Nonetheless, Chacon is back in the groove and pitching well. Scott Elarton looked good in his first two outings after being recalled, but proceeded to have his hat handed to him by the Tigers ? twice, allowing 6 runs to them. Ugh. Denny Neagle had a "Raise Dead" spell cast over him, made his saving throw versus his constitution and proceeded to make two starts this month. Stunning. He wasn?t too bad either, considering both starts were in Coors, and he lasted at least 6 innings in both games and only allowed four and three runs, respectively.
In the pen, Jose Jimenez notched seven saves while tallying a 7.84 ERA in June. Brian Fuentes pitched one more inning and had an ERA of 0.00 and made no saves ? but he got five holds? Justin Speier also has pitched well.
At Pittsburgh	June 27-29
The San Diego Padres are terrible. Hey, I didn?t have to change the opener! I actually get to watch the Padres next week, so I?ll have some first-hand disgust to share next time! The Padres have barely played well enough in any facet of the game to celebrate. I feel your pain, Vinay.
Xavier Nady has been uncovered this month. He?s posting a .598 OPS. Mark Loretta is playing well, generating a .945 June OPS. Sean Burroughs is showing some of his promise, hitting pretty well, with good plate discipline, if not much power. Catcher Gary Bennett has been busy embarrassing himself with a .121/.205/.121 line ? in 70 PAs! Equally astonishing is Brian Buchanan?s .325/.404/.725 line. Ryan Klesko?s largely disappointing season is picking up as he gets his batting average up. He?s still not killing the ball, but he isn?t hovering around .220 either. Rondell White has still been one of the better "What?" pick-ups of the season.
The rotation has been better. Oliver Perez is back in there and pitching well, with a 2.61 June ERA in three starts. Adam Eaton made four starts with a 3.29 ERA. The wins aren?t there, but the pitchers are pitching well. Jake Peavy?s K/9 has dropped considerably. I don?t know if his arm is tiring or if he found out that strikeouts were fascist, but he has gotten wins instead (no, I?m not judging him by that, but the team is). Brian Lawrence started the month with two great starts, but struggled against the White Sox and the Rockies.
Once again, it?s going to be a long, hot summer in San Diego.
At Seattle		June 27-29