Monday, June 27, 2011

HELLO CLEVELAND! Let me make sure I've got this right: it's June 27, and the Indians, Nationals and Pirates are all above .500?  And the Mariners, with the fewest runs scored in the American League (and barely above the bottom of the National League) are 1.5 games away from the playoffs?  What in the name of John Wockenfuss is going on here?


  1. isaac_spaceman10:48 AM

    As for the Mariners, they cannot score runs, that is true.  But if there were no such thing as the Phillies, people would be marveling at their starting pitching.  Felix is the reigning Cy winner, Michael Pineda a (or the) leading RoY contender, Bedard is healthy and back to his 2007 form for as long as he stays healthy, Vargas is having a career-best season, and Fister found a couple of miles on his fastball this year and is keeping everything down.  They're just not allowing any runs.  It's not sustainable (unlike the Phillies, assuming Oswalt comes back healthy), but it's a hell of a thing to watch. 

    And the Nats are only .500 on three straight one-run games that the Mariners gave them. 

  2. As for the Pirates, they cannot score runs, but their pitching has been very good (although not Mariners good).  All the starters have been capable, led by Jeff Karstens, a throw-in a Yankees trade a couple years back who has the fifth-best NL ERA, and Charlie "#electricstuff" Morton, who refashioned his pitching motion to be like Doc, and had Doc-like results until a couple of scuffles his last two times out.  The bullpen has finished things off, led by the transcendent Joel Hanrahan, who is perfect in save situations and generally just makes opposing batters look silly.  All of the defensive metrics - and my eyes - say the Pirates are markedly better on defense this year than last, which is helping the staff out to a major degree.

    On offense, things revolve around one of the best outfielders in the game, Andrew McCutchen, and a host of others who manage to string together some singles and doubles once or twice a game (usually in the first or seventh inning).  The whole thing is pretty improbable and ready to implode as soon as the pitching stops, but the fact remains the Pirates took 2 of 3 from both the Phillies and Red Sox this month and I was annoyed because they were thisclose to finishing off sweeps.  I'm going to chase this feeling.

  3. calliekl11:41 AM

    My current baseball/sports talk gripe: The drama of what to do with Gonzalez and Ortiz during the NL roadtrip. They both need at-bats (Gonzie is setting the world on fire, and Ortiz is apparently too sensitive to sit for so long), so the easiest answer is apparently to put AG in right, and Ortiz at first. I generally hate this plan, because it defensively downgrades 2 positions, but whatever, it's only for a few games.

    My issue is that apparently, if AG sets foot in right field, he will be injured to the point of no recovery... at least that's how the local media is making it sound. Even Francona said that he would hate to put him out there and have something happen. I'm sorry, isn't he a professional athlete? Shouldn't he be able to pretty much play any position (other than pitcher or catcher) without this level of concern for his well-being? Seriously, you would think the right field was the Swamps of Sadness the way people are talking.

    Also, side note: I don't know who they were talking about, but during the radio broadcast yesterday they mentioned the following: apparently some hitter for either the Red Sox or the Pirates has trouble hitting during the day, which his ophthalmologist has attributed to his having blue eyes. The doc's hypothesis is that people with blue eyes can't see as well in the day light, so he can't see the ball as well as his brown-eyed counterparts.

    All I can say is, man, I miss hockey.

  4. Neato Torpedo12:33 PM

    Yeah yeah... nobody likes losing to the Nats, but everyone seems quite capable of it right now.

    Don't panic: the Nats will implode soon.  They're a wildly-streak team, and when things go wrong its contagious, fast.  The only thing carrying them over the last month is Mike Morse hitting the ball like it killed his father and a pitching staff that seems convinced they're all Sandy Koufax redux.

    Here's a clear-eyed appraisal from one of the best Nats bloggers, Harper Gordek.  The collapse is coming - fear not.

  5. Who would have thought the Buccos and Nats would be having a big series between them on July 4th weekend?

  6. isaac_spaceman1:01 PM

    God, I remember the days when my hopes involved Mike Morse.  Good luck with that. 

  7. Neato Torpedo1:19 PM

    My only hopes for Mike Morse is that he looks lovely in someone else's uniform and we get some pitching prospects in return.  Same for Marquis, Nix, and (pleasepleaseplease) Ian Desmond.

    I will say - our bullpen has been lights out, and I think long-term that is critical.  Tyler Clippard, generally speaking, is fantastic.  The Nats may have fixed Henry Rodriguez.  Sean Burnett has figured hisself out.  Drew Storen is fabulous.  If we can plate 2 runs and get our starting pitching through the 6th, the Nats now have a shot.  It's been a long journey from the 2009 "Gasoline Alley" bullpen where you were glad they banned smoking in the park.

  8. The Giants have the lowest number of runs scored in baseball, have a -4 run differential and have the second best record in the Naional League after sweeping the Indians. Not sure if the Giants are beginning a new era of baseball where top to bottom pitching is more important than hitting and defense. Giants bullpen is lights out. Are position players becoming like tailbacks in football except for the truly great ones?

  9. isaac_spaceman8:03 PM

    Pitching is not more or less important than hitting.  By definition, a run prevented has the same value as a run scored.  And pitching is only the major component of run prevention; defense being the minor (but significant) component.  Also, a .564 winning rate with a ~0 (or <0) run differential this late in the season is unsustainable.  Either the run differential will regress up or the winning rate will regress down.  So I'm going to just say that the Giants are not reinventing what works in baseball.  They are fun team with fun personalities and solid pitching, but they are not magical. 

  10. Big Joe (formerly just "Joe")9:12 PM

    I'm enjoying the return to the pre-steroid era bell curve of both hitting and pitching numbers overall.  However, until a batter taking 100K in a season regains the stigma it once had, I think that the pitching stats lead us to feel that pitching has improved more than it has.  Whether its been bad hitting or good pitching, a few more "productive" outs would bring those pitching numbers more in line to what we saw as kids.

  11. Joseph J. Finn9:17 PM

    How about the stigma of already having 100 Ks on June 26?  Oh, Adam Dunn, what the hell happened?

  12. Isaac spaceman11:20 PM

    He always had 100Ks by midseason. He just usually had a bunch of home runs to go with them.

  13. isaac_spaceman12:32 PM

    ipad ate my reply.  I was going to say that 100 Ks by June 26 is a normal year for Adam Dunn.  What's not normal is the lack of power.