On August 31st the Royals were 57-79. Another 100-loss season was improbable but definitely possible. Another 90-loss season seemed certain. Since then, of course, the Royals have gone 17-7, the team's best monthly stretch, at the moment, since probably August of 1989 when they went 21-8. (Either May 1993, when the Royals went 16-7, August of 1991 (18-11) or April of 2003 (16-7) are runners up.)
Considering the context, last night was the best start of HIram's career, and the kind of shutdown performance that I'd previously thought only Greinke was capable of delivering, amongst members of this staff. Slight to today's starter, Gil Meche? No, not really. That's just not what Gil is. You're never going to tune in to a Meche start and after three innings start wondering if he might throw a no-hitter tonight, or think he might strike out 12 guys. (Although actually Gil has struck out 10 twice this season.) What Meche has been is healthy, steady and consistent. After a rough April, his monthly ERAs have been: 3.65, 3.13, 3.05, .3.49, 3.96. Looking at his game log, he's really only had two bad starts since May.
Facing an arch-Twins pitcher type in Glen Perkins (4.50 ERA), the Royals have a perfect opportunity to continue their brilliant September and make the Twins nervous.* All they have to do is keep winning.
*Perkins was a first round pick in 2004. Seems like a non-impact player to me.
Game One Hundred Sixty: Cubs (96-63) vs. Brewers (89-71)
Game Time - 2:55pm C.T.
Coverage - TV: FOX Saturday Baseball - Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 187
Location - Miller Park, Milwaukee
Ted Lilly (16-9, 4.17/1.25) vs. Ben Sheets (13-8, 2.98/1.13)
After a lackluster performance on Friday night at Miller Park, one of Lou Piniella's crews will get back to work today against the Brewers' longtime ace Ben Sheets. The Brewers could clinch a playoff spot today with a win and a Mets' loss....Johan Santana will pitch on 3 days rest against the Marlins' Ricky Nolasco, first pitch at 12:10 C.T. Their magic number is down to two and if the Brewers make the post-season for the first time since 1982, Manny Ramirez, Rafael Furcal and the red hot Dodgers would be the Cubs' first round opponent.
Ben Sheets was penciled in for this start for a week, then scratched on Thursday just to be inked in on Friday. The Brewers have no idea what they will get from Sheets in his first start since facing the Cubs on September 17th. The experts called Sheets last start against the Cubs the biggest and most important of his career....wonder how today's game will be labeled in what could be his last in a Brewers' uniform. In a weird twist however, the Brewers' bullpen has been performing quite well over the last week while the Cubs' pen has struggled.
Lou Piniella announced on Friday that Jason Marquis and Bobby Howry would pitch out of the pen in the post-season. There is still one spot left on the 11-man staff for fall ball and according to multiple reports Piniella will decide between Chad Gaudin and Jeff Samardzija to round out his pen.
With Ryan Dempster starting game one, Carlos Zambrano in game two, Rich Harden in game three and Ted Lilly in game four, the other six spots appear to be Carlos Marmol, Kerry Wood, Neal Cotts, Sean Marshall, Jason Marquis and Bobby Howry.
The 2008 Chicago Cubs will play only a 161 game schedule and not 162. The postponed third game in the Houston series because of Hurricane Ike will not be made up on Monday. The Astros were eliminated from playoff contention when the Brewers beat the Cubs on Firday night....Opening Day in 2009 should be very interesting.
On the injury front, it appears Geovany Soto is fine after leaving Friday night's game in the 6th inning. Soto was lifted for precautionary reasons after aggravating the injury on his left hand. Soto could be back in the lineup on Sunday along with Mark DeRosa in the finale of the 2008 season.....look for Henry Blanco behind the plate today.
Kerry Wood should pitch in the next two games regardless of the score. Wood did not pitch in what could have been the Cubs last game at Shea on Thursday and did not pitch in the opener on Friday. With off days on Monday and Tuesday, Wood will not miss that much consecutive time on the mound.
And lastly, Lou Piniella appeared very irritated during Friday's game and his post game quotes reinforced his demeanor. An unhappy Piniella is a good thing in a 'meaningless game'....he will have his team ready to play and win on Wednesday.
One of the greats ... maybe it's not cool to say this anymore, but my favorite film of his is still Butch. "Who are those guys?"
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You might be noticing some updates happening around the site.. Yes, it's happening.
The off-season is going to begin the minute we play our last game against Chicago. I'm preparing a big time send off to end the year and we IMMEDIATELY look towards 2009!
The start of that is the Rule V Draft Eligibility chart that I've now added.. It is a work in progress...
You can now no longer decipher the awful rules and confusing wording of the Rule V draft when it comes to Indians players.. The only name that needs resolving this year is Kelvin De La Cruz, who is unclear if he will be eligible this year or not because of the date he signed. Tony from the Cleveland Indians Minor League Insider blog, who is in full force with tying up the 2008 season is trying to get to the bottom of it.
So, take the information for what its worth, for now.. Its a lot of numbers and names to read through but I've organized them based on draft/sign year.. If there are any errors, please point them out, because it could happen.
Starting MONDAY when everything gets kicked off, you will see an Off-Season Chart. Right now the link doesn't work, but Monday I'll put it up.. It has my full list of players that the Indians should be considering at the different positions, 40 man roster projection, our own free agents and arbitration players, and probably more.
Everything else.. Active Roster is out of commission for the most part, it won't get updated for the most part.. 40 man has now switched over to 2009 and is a WIP.. All the guys that are signed for next year have updated salaries, but pre arb and arbitration players' salaries are last year.. Option years, arbitration years have all been updated. That will be updated based on moves financially..
The Depth Chart will be updated sparingly.. It will be a projection mostly.. Right now it is also a WIP.. Its tough to project an entire organization but for the most part it will be shifted as we learn things and I'm sure symbols will dicate which is expected and what isn't.. Fun times.
So.. That's that.. The side organization box with the team logos is now updated, much smaller to cut down on length and load time and added the Columbus logo, yay. I'm looking for a better format there.
Monday, WE START the march to 2009!
Will Carroll has an Unfiltered blog post up discussing how the Rays-Twins trade this past off-season was a win-win deal, benefitting both teams.
Both teams might end up in the playoffs, but the Rays appear to have gotten a slightly better deal. Garza became an ace-level starter with a 35.3 VORP while Bartlett was named team MVP with a 13.3 VORP. That doesn?t mean the Twins got shafted. Young (14.2 VORP) played a pivotal role, while Harris surprised many with his play at short (9.6 VORP.) Harris also benefits if you include defense, putting up a 4.3 WARP1 that outshines Bartlett?s 3.4, which might stun those that rave about Bartlett?s defense.
It's a decent analysis -- but those numbers are a load of crap, both wrong and misleading. Nobody was surprised by Harris' bat -- it's his glove that's awful, no matter what BPro's poor fielding metric says. And to ignore Young's awful glove while mentioning his offense is poor form.
Whereas FRAA (which isn't based on play-by-play data) says Harris is +1 at short whlie Bartlett is -6 runs, combined BIS and STATS zone ratings have Bartlett firmly ahead +1 to -11. The latter metric follows better methodology, matches most people's scouting reports, and is in line with past performances. That's a 19 runs difference between BPro's numbers and much more correct numbers (albeit still with large error bars).
Here's the better analysis of the trade, in terms of overall 2008 production through September 5th:
Garza: 35 runs
Bartlett: 10 runs
Young: 0 runs
Harris: -3 runs
Um, so the Rays got a stud pitcher and competent shortstop in exchange for two replacement-level players. How, then, was this trade anything more than a win-loss deal for the Rays and Twins respectively? How did the Twins NOT get shafted?
Ted Lilly had a no-hitter going through six and dominated the Milwaukee Brewers, just as he had only a couple starts prior on September 15 against the Astros at the same place. The Brewers sent a clearly injured or inept Ben Sheets to the mound for the start in a roll of the dice. Dale Sveum paid for it immediately, as the Tiny Bears knocked a pair out in the first inning on Daryle Ward's two-run homer, and Micah Hoffpauir's two-run, bases-loaded RBI single in the third. That proved a knock-out blow for Sheets.
Though the Brewers got a look at the game by scratching out three runs against the Cubs' relief corps, the Cubs answered with a three-run ninth-inning rally that included a rare Kosuke Fukudome home run put the game away. The Brewers are now tied — again — for the NL Wild Card lead, as the Mets blanked the Marlins 2-0 behind Johan Santana.
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The Washington Nationals lost their 100th game last night and could end up with 102 by the end of the season. This is just a truly awful team, go ahead try and name one of their players. That’s what I thought, they have no stars (SS Cristian Guzman did make the All-Star team, how I don’t know). No National has more than 14 homers and 60 RBI’s (Ryan Zimmerman 14 homers, Lastings Milledge 14 homers, 60 RBI’s). They have no bullpen and Tim Redding is their only pitcher with double-digit wins and no Nationals pitcher is over .500. The team in the nations capital shouldn’t be this awful.
Wait a minute! The Nationals have the worst record in baseball **hint*hint**.
Saturday, Sep 27, 2008, 1:10 PM EDT
Mostly cloudy with a 90-percent chance of rain. Winds blowing in from right field at 5-10 m.p.h. Game Time temperature: Around 70.
The Marlins are looking to secure the series win and break the hearts of every Mets fan around the globe. It won't be easy because the Mets are rushing up their best pitcher on short rest.
Nolasco has been a machine this season. He takes the ball and he does his magic. As with every Nolasco start, if he can spot his fast ball and the breaking pitches are working, he is good to go.
Santana is going on three-days rest since the Mets are possibly facing playoff elimination. Santana's out pitch is a changeup and it may be the best one in the game. His has never pitched on short rest during the regular season in his career. He did it once in the playoffs in 2004 and was quite successful. If the Marlins hitters do get lucky and identify the fast ball, they have been known to hammer it.
If both pitchers are on, this could turn into a battle of the bullpens.
Josh Willingham, last night, tied a Marlins team record for hitting a home run in 4 consecutive games. Hopefully, by the end of today's game, he will hold the record exclusively.
Ichthyomancy is late, stupid day games, but is ready for action. Best of Luck to You!
The Phils squeaked out a win by snuffing out a ninth-inning Nats rally, and clinched the NL East. The Phils should be the Dodgers' first round opponents.
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