No blue skies for Penny, Mayne deals.
Beatles' references aside, the Dodgers made a mess of the trade deadline, swapping out big names like LoDuca, Mota, Roberts, Martin, Encarnacion, etc., for Choi, Finley, Penny, and Mayne. The comparison of talent is similar (although some will even debate that), but why make so many changes to a first place team that's playing so well together? Obviously, LA thought it would get Randy Johnson and Charles Johnson, even though every report coming out of Arizona said that the Unit would accept a trade to the Yankees and ONLY the Yankees. CJ opted to stay put, so LA now finds itself in a precarious position, hoping that the newcomers succeed so some of the heat it taken off the Dodgers' brass. In the end, it seems that LA got caught up in the deadline and lost its focus on the primary objective: winning games, not trade wars.
It seems that the Wall Street Journal has finally caught up with TCO. Over two years ago, yours truly wrote a column about the virtues of managers Bobby Cox and Dusty Baker. I stated that Cox, talent in the field or not, has always managed to push the right buttons and come out on top. Similarly, Baker has led his teams to records better than what reflect the collective talent on the team (you can read the article here). Today, in the Weekend Journal section of the WSJ, an article entitled Einstein on the Bench (by Allen St. John) uses Bill James' P-Diff calculations to determine what you should have been able to figure out by watching a little baseball now and then (or listening to me several years ago): Bobby Cox and Dusty Baker are darn good managers.
Don't look now, but with smoke and mirrors, the Atlanta Braves are slowly pulling away from the pack in the N.L. East, leading Philadelphia by 2 1/2 games. Last night, they only scored one run, their starting pitcher gave up nine hits, but they found a way to win, defeating the Pirates and hard luck pitcher Oliver Perez.
Unheralded and relatively unknown, Perez has always been able to strikeout hitters (a career average of over 10 K/9 IP), but this year, his third season, he has become a good pitcher as well. Boasting an ERA right at 3.00, a WHIP under 1.100, and a K rate this year of 10.8 K/ 9 IP, Perez should be close to the league lead in wins. Run support, however, has done him in. While Perez struggles with a 6-5 record, Bartolo Colon finds himself at 9-8 despite LOWERING his ERA to a whopping 5.50 on the year after a solid performance last night. This is yet another reason why pitching is NOT 90% of the game - it is half, because you can't have one without the other.
Update: after THREE HBP's last night, Koskie's first plate appearance this afternoon vs. the ChiSox? That's right - plunk!
Ouch, ouch, and triple ouch.
Last night, Minnesota third baseman Corey Koskie tied a major league record by getting hit not once, not twice, but thrice (to steal a line from Montgomery Burns). With a walk thrown in for good measure, his five plate appearances look more like a pinch hit performance in the boxscore. Get hit he did, but it was certainly more than just a pinch!
Jake Peavy update (you know you can't live without it):
Thanks to some crafty middle relief work by Scott Linebrink, Jake Peavy managed to only give up 2 earned runs last night, making it 13 out of 14 starts in which he has given up 2 earned runs or less.
The not so fantastic follow up? Peavy is averaging less than 6 innings per start and has only finished the 7th twice this year. Jake is an up and comer, but he will need to learn to be more efficient with his pitches and pitch himself out of more jams if he wants to move to the next level of stardom.
If you watched Milton's no-hit bid yesterday afternoon, surely you noticed Doug Glanville's misplay of Michael Barrett's bloop hit which ended the no-no after 8 full innings. What the Chicago announcers (Steve Stone and Chip Caray) didn't point out, though, was how poorly Glanville played Corey Patterson's double several batters later which tied the game. Glanville was clearly not familiar with his new park's fences, racing to the warning track with the reckless abandon of a newborn chick. He kept hesitating as if he was going to hit the wall, not aware of the several angles ahead of him. It was a ball that should have been caught, in my opinion.
Glanville's first misplay merely cost his pitcher a statistical award, but his second misplay almost cost his team the game. Never ones to forgive, the Philadelphia fans let him have it when he came off the field, again when he stepped to the plate in the ninth, and yet again after he successfully bunted the winning run to second.
Fans pay money to see a game, so as long as they are not belligerent, they can do what they want and boo as they see fit. Personally, I've never seen the point in booing your team's players. As a fan, you want to see your team win, and the best way to do that is to encourage, or root for, the players. How does booing Doug Glanville help the Phillies win that game? It doesn't make him try harder - it just makes him defensive (which some may argue he should have been better at in the top of the ninth).
Glanville is a pro and knows he messed up. He, like most athletes, is probably unaffected by the boos, but while it may not hurt, can it really help?
Diverting away from baseball for the day (my website, my rules!), I implore any TV fans out there to check out NBC tonight. They are running four straight Scrubs reruns, and for those who haven't given the show a chance, it's one of the best on TV and deserves a look.
While everyone is talking about the "collapse" of the Cubs this year (even though their record is identical to Philadelphia and Atlanta) and how Houston can't do anything right, the real story to watch is the N.L. West, where the Dodgers are fending off the Giants and the Padres, with the second place team currently in position for the wild card, ahead of Chicago, Cincinnati, Atlanta of Philadelphia, Florida, New York, etc. Their games might be played late for most of the U.S., but the West teams should not be ignored this year.
Proof that you can never have enough pitching:
Mark Prior is out (again!) with elbow soreness, Kerry Wood was on the DL for an extended period of time, closer Joe Borowski isn't coming back anytime soon, and yet the Chicago Cubs are still in the playoff hunt thanks to Zambrano, Clement, Maddux, Rusch (?!), and some decent middle relief.
Before you start calling your local sports radio station complaining that your favorite team won't trade it's third or fourth starter and some minor leaguers for a Nomar, Steve Finley, etc., look at the Cubs and remember that you need to get to the playoffs before you can win in the playoffs, and the only way you can do that is to stockpile the pitchers.