Mariners Musings

Musings about, um... well, the Seattle Mariners as well as a love affair with this game baseball. By Peter J. White

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Oh, Kansas City, going get my baby back home, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Now as I recall, when the Mariners last visited the AL Central it was with the force of a hurricane en route to an 11-1 road trip. Now all of a sudden, the Royals are the Cinderalla darlings of the baseball world:

"With the Twins and White Sox both under .500, the Royals have only 18 more games against teams with winning records, six with the Yankees and 12 with the top three teams in the West.

Leaving out its games against KC, Minnesota has only 12 more games against winning teams. They're done with the top teams in the East. And they have 13 left with the Tigers and 15 with the Indians" (Diamond Mind).

If the standings remain this way through September, this series may very well offer an October preview. Technically, as the Red Sox currently lead the wild card and the Mariners own the top record, the Royals would play in New York the first week of October. Nevertheless, the Royals are now a team to be reckoned with. Yeah, I'm still adjusting to the tought, too. And yet, being the division leader is all relative. Leading the AL Central is far from leading the AL West, in which the Royals would be 7.5 games out in 3rd place.

The Royals remind me a lot of the Baltimore team the M's just faced: Comparable offense to the M's with a sub-par pitching staff. The Royals rank 7th in runs scored and the M's 9th. Like the Angels and Orioles, the Royals force the defense to get them out. They put the ball in play with a .272 batting average, 9th among the majors, and don't strike out (ranked 26th). Again, the one batting stat that clearly separates these two teams is the base on balls, where the M's rank 7th and the Royals 23rd. Also, the Tony Pena likes to move his runners around the bases as just 3 teams have stolen more bases than his Royals.

From the mound, the Mariners have allowed the 2nd fewest amount of runs, whereas the Royals rank 23rd. The Royals' offense plays much like their opponents, who hit Royals pitching at a clip of .277, and just 2 pitching staffs in the majors have allowed more walks.

It's Lima Time for the Mariners! Tonight Freddy Garcia and Jose Lima battle it out for king of the mountain, er, I mean pitching mound. If nothing else, it should be emotional. Freddy sports an ERA of 4.41 and opOPS of .740 and Lima 2.52 ERA and .571 in 5 starts this year. Game 2 we'll see Ryan Franklin (3.75, .733) versus rookie Jeremy Affeldt (4.76, .781). Game 3 will be Jamie Moyer (3.02, .651) versus Runelvys Hernandez (3.05, .625). And in Sunday afternoon's finale, the matchup appears to be the struggling Gil Meche (3.61, .725) against the Royals' first half hero Darrell May (3.54, .730).

At approximately 11:37 EST this afternoon while dawdling with work, I stumbled upon ESPN SportNation's mid-term exam. It's not so much an exam, but a survey with a question pertinent to all 30 major league teams. Here's Seattle's:

"Who deserves the start in Seattle's third base race?"

To my dismay (alright, that's over dramatic), 61% of the now 10,224 souls who partook of this poll chose Wee Willie Bloomquist over Jeff Cirillo. Personally, I'm disappointed the Italian Sausage wasn't an option. That's where my vote would have gone. Apparently, though, the population of Kitsap County is coming to the cause of their Kid. Or maybe the Steve Kelley disciples. ("He's a cult hero," Melvin joked.) But come now, Steve's not exactly the sharpest tack in the world of Seattle sports journalism.

Now, any infrequent visitor of this here site may realize that I am no card-carrying member of the Jeff Cirillo fan club. Far from it. But I'll have nothing to do with the Wee Willie worship, either. It's really no wonder the average uneducated fan adores Bloomquist and hates Cirillo. Bloomquist just has that down home, naive Gomer Pyle look about him. Cirillo plays so intense he looks constipated and has given Mariner fans a year and half of talk with no results. But exchanging Wee Willie for Cirillo doesn't fix the offensive vacuum in the lineup, as Shannon Fears and Dave Cameron have so eloquently articulated that point of reason.

And not to take away from Willie's awesome day at the plate last Sunday, but all grand slams are not created equal. Just think about this. When Wee Willie steps to the plate with 2 outs in the 1st, the 3 runners on the bases are all there by bases on balls. Standridge had already walked one run in. And we all remember what Lou thinks of young pitchers who don't throw strikes, don't we? And Rob Bell remembers even better than we do. You think he was going to nibble the corners with breaking stuff? It's not rocket science to say that Bell's one agenda was to put the ball over the plate to force Bloomquist to put the ball in play. And even Willie knew he was only going to see one kind of pitch and it would be right down the middle of the plate. Bummer for Cirillo.

But championship clubs can't afford to spend roster space on "cult heroes," much less starting time.
|| Peter @ 7/17/2003

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

5 questions

So I see former Tulsa Driller Hank Blalock won the All-Star game with a pinch-hit home run of Eric Gagne. That's my boy.

Jamie Moyer pitched the 4th and set down Edmonds, Pujols and Bonds in order. Now how many of you can put that on your resume?

Not Shiggy. He was due a meltdown any day now, so lucky for him it was only an exhibition, albeit an exhibition that "matters." He got charged for 4 runs while recording just 2 outs.

Edgar got plunked in the noggin and struck out twice, once looking against Kerry Wood and once swinging against Woody Williams.

Ichiro walked twice, scored the first run and robbed Albert Pujols of extra bases with a leap that looked like something from Swan Lake.

Boonie went 0 for 2, flying out to right and suffering the revenge of Gagne following Blalock's homer, going down swinging on 3 pitches.

Now that we've got all that hoopla behind us, now we can get on with the final 70 games and Aditya's 5 burning questions:

1. What are the odds of Snelling coming up to the big club this year (before Sep.)

Yes. Here's the stats on everyone's favorite Aussie Mariner: .321/.351/.455 with 2 home runs in 156 AB. The batting average is nice. The power leaves something to be desired (he's got 11 doubles also), but the discouraging part is just 4 walks to 26 K's. Just as long ago in 2001 for "A" San Bernadino he posted 45 BB to 63 K in 450 AB. Somewhere along with blowing out his knee he lost his plate discipline. If he's going to make any kind of impact in Seattle, he desperately needs to rediscover it.

With a long-term view in mind, I say Snelling needs to stay in San Antonio until he grasps the strike zone again. It'd be a bad idea to try and teach him that in Seattle. However, in the short-term, these are the EQAs (EQA is a Baseball Prospectus metric that weighs all of a player's offensive value in a number that looks like a batting average, i.e. .260=average, +.300=good, -.220=bad) for the Mariners' current bench: Ben Davis .293, Greg Colbrunn .279, Mark McLemore .230, Willie Bloomquist .250, John Mabry .166. In "AA" San Antonio, Snelling's is .293, but adjusted for the majors that's equivalent to .225, or roughly the offense of Mark McLemore. However, that would be a clear upgrade over John Mabry.

Personally, I'd rather see the M's keep Snelling where he his and go fishing on the waiver wire for bench help.

2. Now that Colbrunn is injured, would Borders be worthwhile as a RH hitter on the bench?

Definitely, especially if the only other option is Luis Ugueto. Look, on the one hand, Pat Borders is 40 years old. He hasn't seen even 100 AB against major league pitching since 1998. On the other hand, Borders is the starting catcher of this evenings "AAA" All-Star Game. His .324 EQA dwarfs the rest of the hitters in Tacoma. Adjusted to the majors it's .270, better than Mac, Wee Willie and Mabry. Besides, what does Ugueto offer you that Bloomquist and McLemore don't?

Yes, Borders is the best in-house replacement for Colbrunn. And while we're revamping the bench, Mabry needs to be given his walking papers and A.J. Zapp (.252 adjEQA) can be the leftie off the bench and spot first for Olerud once a week.

3. For that matter, would our offense improve if Borders replaced Wilson as our #2 catcher (that of course assumes a promotion of Davis to #1 catcher.)

While we're spouting EQAs, Wilson's is .211. Another way to look at this is with another fun BP stat Marginal Lineup Value rate (MLVr). This measures how many runs a player is worth above or below replacement level. Wilson scores a -.253. So Dan costs the M's about a quarter of a run each night he's in the lineup. Unfortunately, BP doesn't list minor league MLVr's. But if we were to assume that Borders just breaks even and plays like an average replacement level catcher, then in the 25-30 more games we would see Dan start (there's no earthly reason he should be starting any more than that), that's an improvement of 6 to 7 additional runs over the rest of the season. A small difference, but all theory.

With his contract and status in the community, Wilson's job will be nothing less than #2 catcher for at least another year and half. Borders, with the M's bench of extraordinary weaklings, should be given a shot there, though.

4. Why don't the M's ever make pitching prospect for position player prospect deals?

Just what is the meaning of life? And what is it that Victoria is keeping so secret? Some mysteries in life are meant to be solved on one's own.

5. What is the best way to deal with Gillick not making a deal this year?

A couple of Effexor and brace yourself for the acquisition of Reggie Sanders or Jose Guillen for any number of those promising pitching prospects.
|| Peter @ 7/16/2003

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Ambassador Boonie

If I were a beat writer in the Mariners' clubhouse, following the game my first stop for a quote would be Mike Cameron's locker. But a close second would the locker of Bret Boone, and judging from the Seattle media, I'm pretty confident I'm not alone in that preference. There's always such a self-mocking tone to Boonie's boasting that makes it seem so much more naive confidence than blatant arrogance. He seems to play the archetypal Loki trickster role in the clubhouse. And now the All-Star second baseman has the ear of the national baseball media, much to the dismay of "Commish" Bud:

"I'm not a big fan of Bud Selig being commissioner," he said. "It's not right. You want a non-biased person running the game. You don't want someone who's going to do what's best for the players. You don't want someone who's going to do what's best for the owners. You want someone to make decisions on what's best for baseball.

"How fair is it to have an owner as commissioner? 'Oh, but he's not an owner. His daughter is,' " Boone said, sarcastically. "Yeah, right. That's the No. 1 thing that's wrong with the game."

Priceless, classic Boone, speaking the mind of at least this humble, blue collar fan. But it gets better.

Surrounded by reporters in the U.S. Cellular Field press box later in the evening, Selig said he wouldn't comment on Boone. But with his passion rising as he spoke, Selig did take dead aim at Boone's words and what he felt was their inappropriateness.

"For years, owners were critical of their players, of other owners, of the union, the heads of their union," he said. "I told them 10 years ago, 'That's one thing people are offended by.'

"We don't do that. We've come to market a game. People are here to be happy. And so people commenting, particularly on things they have no clue about, it's just not worth my response" (Stone, Times).

Hold on a second, Bud, it's not worth your response? Then what are you doing? Hey, I understand the baseball labor infrastructure has never been perfect, but one thing that offends this "people" is the game being run by the owner's puppet. But here I am commenting on something I "have no clue about." As for Boonie, his grandpa was an All-Star ballplayer, his dad was an All-Star ballplayer. I think he's got a clue about baseball. What about you, Bud, are you a 3rd-generation baseball man? So despite Boonie not being worth a response, Bud continues the preschool sandbox rhetoric...

"The one thing we've found in all our polls, with all the labor unrest of the last 20 years: People are tired of hearing about it. They don't want to hear about us. They don't want to hear about the commissioner, the players association. The focus is on the game. Why would you do anything to disturb it? Until we learn that lesson, and learn it well, we are going to have problems."

What a minute, who brought up labor unrest and the players association? Bud, if you're so impassioned about the focus being on the game and not on you, than I suggest you step down immediately and allow someone who is truly infatuated with the game of baseball run it instead of your meaningless tinkering and inefficient leadership. As long as Bud Selig leads baseball, we are going to have problems.

Well, of course the media went scampering back to Boone for his reaction:

"It was a question that was asked, and I was honest about it. ... When we're gone 50 years from now, this game will still be here, because it's bigger than all of us. I just want what's best for the game."

If only Bud and his cohorts at Major League Baseball had such foresight and insight.

But with the boss's feathers ruffled and this unfettered, ruffian ballplayer adding insult to injury, Selig's right hand man, Bob DuPuy, stepped in to attempt to keep his boss from looking quite so silly:

"His (Boone's) comments show a very unfortunate lack of understanding as to what the game is all about," DuPuy added. "To impugn the efforts of the commissioner over the last 11 years is ludicrous. We're trying to market the game to fans, and his comments show ignorance."

Yeah, that's mature, Bob. And using big words like "impugn." Is that to intimidate the jock ballplayers? Again, are you a 3rd-generation baseball player? So much for a constructive dialogue on the matter. And keep trying on the marketing, Bob. While your precious All-Star is in progress, I sit here typing at my computer. "This Time It Matters." Well, not to this fan. Doesn't matter a lick. Try again, because I've taken my bat and ball and gone home.

Nancy Armour in her Newsday article included the following Selig quote:

"I know a bunch of people who would be glad to rip a lot of people. The guy who's paying his way into the ballpark, frankly, doesn't care."

Guess what, Bud. This paying fan cares.

Bret Boone raised the extremely relevant point of the need for non-partisan leadership in baseball on one the sports biggest platforms. The childish knee-jerk reaction, like that of a wounded and threatened animal, by Selig and DuPuy only underscores their impotence of leadership and their own ignorance of the needs of baseball. And like Boonie says, it's nothing personal against Bud Selig, I just want to see what's best for the game of baseball.
|| Peter @ 7/15/2003

Crisps and Nibbles

Blame it on a subconscious depression brought on by splitting a homestand with the Orioles and Devil Rays. And no, Wee Willie's grand slam and the ensuing lop-sided victory doesn't count. As I'm sure Lou would testify, to qualify Jason Standridge, Rob Bell, Bobby Seay, Jesus Colome and Brandon Backe as legitimate major league pitching requires a certain level of suspension-of-disbelief. Quite a reach, indeed.

Blame it on an absence of the muses.

Blame it on legitmate life distractions.

Blame it an internet connection as reliable as that pitcher currently posing as Arthur Rhodes.

Blame it on the rain, if you like. Whatever, I am back... I think. At least until that internet connection blitzes out again.

I swear, that Baltimore series had conspiracy written all over it. Consider: The Orioles were 1-16 coming into Safeco last week, and then proceeded to win 2 of 3. Their first ever series win at the Safe. Something smells fishy. Also consider:

Pat Gillick - Oriole GM, 1996-1997
Bob Melvin - Oriole backup catcher, 1989-1991
Mark McLemore - Oriole second baseman, 1992-1994, 3 for 12 in the series.
Arthur Rhodes - Oriole reliever, 1991-1999, 1 BB, 0 K, 3 H, 3 R, 1 IP in the series.
Jamie Moyer - Oriole starter, 1993-1996.

Jamie didn't pitch in the series, so we'll consider him the Shoeless Joe of this conspiracy. Yeah, there were dark powers at work in favor of those hapless Orioles in Seattle.

I've done a little updating of the links on the right, and specifically the Moneyball links. There's a pair of Michael Lewis interviews, one with Identity Theory and one with Mudville Magazine. There's the Matt Welch column that I referenced in my first Moneyball post and had since lost the link, and Mark Gerson's review in the Weekly Standard. I hadn't realized that the James Surowiecki/Rob Neyer conversation on Slate was in three parts, so all three are there now. Then there's a review on a Tigers blog, Remember '84. Enjoy, knock yourself out and let me know what else I'm missing out there. Much thanks to Dr. Manhattan and Eric McErlain for bringing these to my attention.

Let's see, I've also added the latest discovery to the Mariner blogosphere, Ahoy the SS Mariner!. For those of you whose sole purpose of getting out of bed on Thursdays is to find the 2003 Win Shares for the Mariners and were grossly disappointed this past week, all I can say is... "Man, you're a loser!" Well, that and I've found someone else who does it better than I do. BaseballGraphs.com does a much more thorough job, as well as doing it for every team and splitting offensive and defensive value. So, I've added a link to the Mariners' Win Shares there. It seems to be updated pretty regularly, about every 10 days or so. Curiously, if we're to trust in Win Shares as a reliable measure of defense, then Jeff Cirillo, despite the praise, is just the 7th best defensive 3B in the AL. Hmm.

I've also broken down and joined the Amazon Associates program. Yes, I confess, I've gone commercial. Any pop culture reference you see referenced here on this site (i.e., the newly added Reading/Listening/Watching links in the top corner) with a link that can be purchased on Amazon, then I highly recommend you get to Amazon from here and purchase them because then I get a measly cut for the referral. And hey, I could use the spare change.

I suppose I discovered the sub-culture of baseball blogs in October of last year. Sunday evening I met my first live, in-the-flesh blogger, and let me say, I was not in the least disappointed. And neither should you as you read Eric's analysis of the sports world at large on a daily basis at Off Wing Opinion. Eric and I met up to catch the Cubs/Braves game, but spent more time chatting up the finer points of Moneyball, sabermetrics, blogging and the '86 Mets. We did pause long enough for Eric to point out to me the striking resemblance of Braves' pitcher Shane Reynolds at the plate to the vintage Wally Joyner.

One idea we bounced around was the though that perhaps the descrepancies in Pythagorean projections ismaybe a result of not luck but the manager. One of these days when I've got a nickel of spare time maybe I can dig a bit into that theory. Regardless, a good time was had by all.

And speaking of everyone's favorite geometrician, I'm surprised I haven't gotten this question earlier:

Just one question: can you explain your ranking system
briefly. I want to know how you can rank the phils and
astros above sf and oakland. thanks and keep up the good


Darren, that may be the best question I've ever gotten. I suppose maybe I'm a bit gutless. I just can't bring myself to rank the teams subjective, because then I have to deal with backing that up and deal with why I put such-and-such team above/below another team.

What I use is the Pythagorean projections, one of those crazy inventions of Bill James. It's based on the idea that a team's won and loss record is directly related to the amounts of runs they score and allow. If you check out Rob Neyer's index page on ESPN and scroll to the bottom, he offers a pretty good explanation of how it works in addition to how the standings would look if that method were perfect.

Most teams perform within just a game or two of their projection. Any deviation beyond that is credited to luck, so most believe. Amazingly 9 teams so far deviate from their projections by 4 or more games, while 6 are playing to them exactly. For that many teams to be playing beyond what their run differentials say they should is rare. I haven't looked at every team, but I know the Reds have a great record in 1-run games, but a terrible record in blowouts. Teams like the Phillies, Angels, Orioles, Astros and Cardinals are playing so far below what we would expect possibly because when they win, they win big, and when they lose, they lose close. The thought is that that evens out by the end of the season.

So to answer your question, Darren, the rankings are based on run differential. The Phillies rank so high because they've scored 438 runs and allowed 348. They've outscored their opponents by 90 runs. The Astros have outscored their opponents 69 runs, while the Giants 46 and the A's 58. The more runs a team scores and the fewer it allows, then in theory, the more wins they should have. And certainly, in my opinion, then they are the better team.

As I understand, Diamond Mind uses a method that breaks it down even further using total bases + walks to project how many runs a team should be scoring/preventing thus leading to wins/losses. Baseball Prospectus also modifies the formula to account for ballparks and such. I just haven't graduated to that yet.
|| Peter @ 7/15/2003

Pythagorean Rankings: Week 15

(last week's rank in parentheses)

1. Seattle (1) Hold me, I'm scared. The M's were 4-5, averaging 4.2 runs per game against the pitching that is Texas, Baltimore and Tampa Bay. Meanwhile, Oakland and Anaheim enter the break with 5-game winning streaks, 4 and 8.5 games back, respectively.

2. Philadelphia (3) Randy Wolf ranks 4th in the NL in WHIP (1.09), 4th in BAA (.204) and 7th in K's (106). To catch the Braves in the standings, the Phils need to shake up Jimmy Rollins (.296 OBP in July), Pat Burrell (.239) and/or David Bell (.306).

3. NY Yankees (2) Derek Jeter putting up a respectable .316/.388/.450 line, but just 5 stolen bases in 7 tries (71%) after 59 in 65 attempts (91%) in previous 2 years. He had a nice week of a .640 OBP in 19 AB.

4. Boston (4) Pedro has just 6 wins to his credit in 16 starts despite leading the AL in WHIP (1.02), BAA (.210) and K/9 (9.79). He's 2nd in ERA (2.36) and 4th in K's (112). Yet, Pedro gets run support of nearly 6 per start.

5. Atlanta (7) The Braves are 10-3 in July so far against the Marlins, Expos, Mets and Cubs. This despite the fact that Rafael Furcal is getting on base just 28% of the time this month and Javy Lopez is slugging .341 with zero homers. The second half will not be near as generous to the Braves as the first.

6. Houston (11) After suffering a sweep in Pittsburgh, the Astros bounced back to sweep the Reds, including a pair of blowouts and holding the opposition to just 2 runs in 4 of the past 4 games. Geoff Blum is getting in on the action with a .901 OPS for the past 2 weeks.

7. Anaheim (8) Underrated, overrated, whatever: Garret Anderson ranks 2nd in the AL in SLG (.597), 3rd in RBI (78) and 6th in HR (22). He's on pace for 53 doubles and 39 homers.

8. Oakland (6) Forget Moneyball. Scott Hatteberg hit a game-winning home run swinging on the first pitch Friday night against Baltimore. The A's could sure use a bit more than his line of .259/.341/.380 though.

9. St. Louis (5) The superstars-and-scrubs roster suspiciously resembles the Mariners of the mid-90s. Jason Isringhausen has a 1.32 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 5 saves in 13+ innings since coming off the DL. Scott Rolen needs to break his all-or-nothing July funk. His OBP is a dreadful .234 with just 1 walk to 11 K's, but he's slugging .500 as 7 of his 10 base hits have been for extra bases.

10. San Francisco (8) Between last Monday and Saturday, Barry went 9 for 17 with home runs on 5 consecutive days but just 2 walks. He's on pace for just 145 walks, his fewest since his merely human 2000 campaign.

11. Arizona (10) Brandon Webb leads NL rookies with 81 K's and opponents are hitting .214/.277/.326 off of him. Compare to Dontrelle Willis' line of .238/.295/.341.

12. Toronto (11) There's still next year. The Jays have won just 2 of their last 10 against Orioles, Red Sox and Yankees. The offense's OPS is down to .721 for the month, while opponents are hitting them for .301/.361/.476.

13. Los Angeles (13) Man, the bottom falls out fast in LA. First Crime Dog, now Brian Jordan's lost for the year and Kevin Brown's on the DL. Could things get worse for the boys in blue? Anybody know the number for Rickey Henderson's agent? [I swear I wrote this Monday morning before the story broke.]

14. Florida (14) Pudge Rodriguez has been on an absolute tear. After his terrible slump, his numbers are back up to .300/.375/.515. That OBP matches his career high in 2000 as he's just 2 walks short of his career high. Perhaps the by product of hitting in front of Mike Lowell and Juan Encarnacion instead of Rafael Palmeiro, Juan Gonzalez and A-Rod? His slugging, though, is the lowest it's been since '98.

15. Montreal (15) Brad Wilkerson is wilting in the July heat with just a .514 OPS. Meanwhile, Livan Hernandez has won his last 3 starts, allowing just 4 runs with 24 strikeouts in 26 innings. That's 2 complete games and an 8-innning outing.

16. Colorado (16) Jay Payton is on pace for 22 home runs, 104 runs scored and 80 RBI--all career highs. Todd Helton has a sick 1.500 OPS thus far in July and 7 home runs.

17. Kansas City (20) There's no way the Royals can deal Beltran leading the division by 7 games. And it only gets better with Sweeney and Runelvys coming of the DL.

18. Chicago Cubs (17) Dusty's kooky comments seem to have distracted everyone from noticing the Cubbies haven't won a series in 4 whole weeks. They're still just 3 back of the Astros, but that seems like a huge 3 games.

19. Baltimore (18) After watching 3 Orioles games this week, Buck Martinez and Michael Reghi had nearly brainwashed me into believing Deivi Cruz was just getting warmed up. Let the record show his OBPs by month: April .188, May .286, June .323, July .289. No guys, Deivi still stinks, really bad. And after winning 2 of 3 in Safeco, the O's managed just 3 runs in 3 games in Oakland.

20. Chicago Sox (19) "Give us your tired, your overpaid, your huddled, washed up former stars yearning to breathe free." Roberto Alomar: .229/.325/.286. Carl Everett: .243/.317/.297. Since the big trades, the Sox have lost 2 of 3 in Tampa Bay, lost a sweep in Detroit and split a series in Cleveland. And this is the Royals' best competition.

21. Minnesota (21) Swept in Chicago. Losers of 3 of 4 at home against Cleveland. Swept in Texas. Swept in Anaheim. The pitching has gotten so bad they've called up James Baldwin. James Baldwin! Even Johan Santana has given up 7 runs in his last 9 innings.The Twins have been outscored 78-37 these past 2 weeks.

22. Pittsburgh (22) The Pirates have a trio of starters with ERAs south of 4: Jeff Suppan (3.73), Kip Wells (3.76) and Jeff D'Amico (3.97).

23. Cleveland (23) Thanks to a .549 OPS, rookie supposed-phenom Brandon Phillips is headed to Buffalo. Maybe the Indians think they have a shot.

24. Milwaukee (25) The Brew Crew has yet to win a series in July and just endured a sweep by the Reds. Richie Sexson is on pace for 44 homers, 122 RBI and 105 walks.

25. NY Mets (24) Last one turn the lights out, Armando. The appropriate growing pains are ensuing as Aaron Heilman has a 7.17 ERA and 1.59 WHIP in 4 starts and Jose Reyes in hitting .250/.257/.370 with 7 errors in 27 games.

26. San Diego (28) Two reasons the Padres are climbing the ladder are Mark Loretta (.310/.372/.430) and Sean Burroughs (.305/.367/.443). Now, if they could just get some power in their lineup.

27. Texas (27) Juan Gone on pace for 40 home runs, which would be his highest since '98, but that .321 OBP is his worst since '92. He's got a .965 OPS thus far for July just in time for the trade deadline.

28. Cincinnati (26) Now officially the worst team in the NL as a result of 8 game losing streak against the Mets and Astros. They did enter the break with a 3-game sweep of the Brewers, though. Just like Barry, Junior homered in 5 straight games. Unlike Barry, those were his only 5 hits for the week.

29. Tampa Bay (29) Victor Zambrano has not lost a decision in over a month. That's 6 starts, and he's won 4 of them, allowing 13 runs while pitching at least 7 innings in all but one of those starts.

30. Detroit (30) Matt Roney has a 3.34 ERA and 1.23 ERA in 5 starts thus far. The Tigers enter the break coming off what may be the high point of their entire season: Rule V pickup Wilfredo Ledezma pitched 7 shutout innings against the Red Sox. Jamie Walker and Chris Mears added 2 more scoreless innings for the combined shutout against baseball's most prolific offense.

AL - Garret Anderson (Anaheim) 23 AB, 6 R, 10 H, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 1 SB, 1 BB, .435/.458/.826, 1.284 OPS
NL - Todd Helton (Colorado) 24 AB, 12 R, 12 H, 2 2B, 1 3B, 6 HR, 9 RBI, 4 BB, .500/.586/1.417, 2.003 OPS

AL - Pedro Martinez (Boston) 0-0, 14 IP, 9 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 19 K, 1.29 ERA
NL - Jerome Williams (San Francisco) 2-0, 15 IP, 9 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 11 K, 0.60 ERA

AL - Deivi Cruz (Baltimore) 20 AB, 2 H, 3 RBI, .100/.143/.100, .243 OPS
NL - Jack Wilson (Pittsburgh) 25 AB, 1 R, 1 H, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 CS, 2 BB, .040/.107/.160, .267 OPS

AL - Jason Standridge (Tampa Bay) 0-1, 0.2 IP, 1 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, 1 K, 67.50 ERA
NL - Steve Trachsel (NY Mets) 0-1, 1.2 IP, 8 H, 7 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 37.80 ERA
|| Peter @ 7/15/2003