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A weblog of baseball news and analysis

Tuesday, September 30, 2003
Playoff Preview - American League Divisional Series. "Boston’s offense is a big scary machine. They led the league in runs, batting average, slugging (by 47 points) and OBP; they were second in walks and homeruns. Walker, Varitek and Kapler have had their struggles in the second half but they are still potent. Oakland’s offense, on the other hand, should rise and fall with Miguel Tejada and Eric Chavez. These two keyed the A’s second half surge for the second consecutive year and they will need to continue to hit if the A’s have a chance in the Divisional Series." (Baseball Primer)

2003 Playoff Preview: Marlins - Giants. "It's really pretty interesting. The Giants have a team with a left-handed superstar who is so good that he lures other teams into putting left-handed pitching on the mound. They have built the team around that superstar and, whether by coincidence or design, have surrounded him with hitters who absolutely feast on lefties. When you add in the fact that Bonds himself is hitting like .370 with an .875 slugging percentage against lefties in the last two years...well, it's not a very encouraging sight for a team relying heavily on two left-handed starters, like the Florida Marlins are." (Aaron's Baseball Blog)

2003 Playoff Preview: Cubs - Braves. "If Chicago can put together any sort of offense in this series and if Dusty Baker can effectively manage the bullpen, I think the Cubs will surprise a lot of people. If I were Dusty, I would shorten things up so that the only guys seeing the light of day in anything resembling a close game are Remlinger, Farnsworth and Borowski. That gives him a lefty, a righty and a closer, which should be plenty in the post-season, especially with Chicago's starters." (Aaron's Baseball Blog)

Playoff previews from Ben Jacobs: Yankees-Twins, A's-Red Sox, Braves-Cubs, Giants-Marlins. (Universal Baseball Blog, Inc.)

Astros needed more Ensberg. Rob Neyer: "Any writer who says he'd be a better manager than the worst manager is either 1) lying (i.e. 'using poetic license') or 2) patently delusional. Which isn't to say managers don't do stupid things that you or I wouldn't. And giving Blum more plate appearances than Ensberg is pretty stupid." (

Monday, September 29, 2003
A Giant task awaits as Marlins nail down playoff berth. (Miami Herald)

Cubs clinch first division title in 14 years. (Yahoo!)

Lopez: Cubs have no chance of beating Braves. Whatever you say, Brady Anderson. (Chicago Sun-Times)

Tigers beat Twins, avoid Mets' record. They ended the season on a 5-1 tear. Their record: 43-119. (Yahoo!)

Larkin re-signs with Reds for $700,000. Last week's take-it-or-leave-it offer turned out to be a take-it-or-we'll-raise-it offer. Cool. (Yahoo!)

Positive-ly Underrated!!! In the Big 3 I Trust. Paul stands up for Manny, Pedro and Nomar. (Musings from RSN)

Rise to prominence. Will Carroll and Nate Silver on Mark Prior. (

A deal for the ages. Bud Geracie on the Giants' signing of Barry Bonds in 1992. (The Mercury News)

Twins-Yankees series homepage. (

Red Sox-A's series homepage. (

Marlins-Giants series homepage. (

Cubs-Braves series homepage. (

2003 Playoff Preview: Twins - Yankees. (Aaron's Baseball Blog)

2003 Playoff Preview: Red Sox - Athletics. (Aaron's Baseball Blog)

Friday, September 26, 2003
Marlins clinch tie for NL wild card. The Phillies led the wild-card standings Saturday but have lost five consecutive games since. They finished 6-13 against Florida this season and lost their final seven games in Miami. (Yahoo!)

If I understand the playoff tiebreaker system as it's explained by Christian Ruzich, the only way the Marlins can miss the playoffs is if...

The Marlins lose three straight to the Mets
The Astros win three straight from the Brewers
The Cubs win three straight from the Pirates

The Astros and Cubs would tie for the NL Central title at 89-73, and the Marlins would also finish 89-73. Houston and Chicago would play a one-game playoff, with the winner taking the division title and the loser then facing Florida in another one-game playoff. The winner of that second playoff game would be the wild-card team. Any Marlins win, Cubs loss, or Astros loss this weekend wraps up the wild card for the Marlins.

Ensberg, Astros tie for NL Central lead. Houston fans had fun watching both the game and the scoreboard (the Cubs lost). (Yahoo!)

John Lauck: "For their part, the Cubs have their deadliest trio--Matt Clement, Mark Prior, and Kerry Wood--going against the Pirates at Wrigley this weekend. That may sound to some of you like a trio that can't be beat, and maybe it can't be. But I'll tell you true: I like the Pirate rotation opposing them--Josh Fogg, Ryan Vogelsong, and Kip Wells--and, what's just as important, I like the scrappy way the Pirates are finishing the season. The weekend will not be an easy one for Chicago." (Astros Daily)

Red Sox clinch final AL playoff spot. (Yahoo!)

Paul Testa: "Whatever happens over the next month this has been the best Red Sox team I have watched in my lifetime. Good luck the rest of the way." (Musings from RSN)

Gregg Rosenthal:
Somewhere around the time Derek Lowe lost his no hitter last night, that game started to drag. I wanted to celebrate, but were these guys? By the eighth, we were fielding an infield of Andy Abad, Lou Merloni, Mike Benjamin, and Chris Snopek. I think Lee Tinsley was out in left.

There was obviously no tension in the game, so the celebration took center stage. We can’t help but get gooey over these men acting like goofy kids. The only dry man in the clubhouse was Tom Werner. That’s respect.

For a night, it was all about us. The NESN post-game show was the best TV since the Soprano’s episode where Ralphie got killed. Asked about his lack of playing time early in the season, Ortiz said, “It’s all about the fans. They got me in the lineup… I love them.” Did you hear Ortiz? It was us that got him in the lineup, us that signed him, us that knew the Hillenbrand trade was genius all along. Whole lotta love.
(Gregg's Baseball, etc.)

Jays' Delgado hits four home runs. He's the 15th major leaguer to do that. (Yahoo!)

Coach: "Carlos Delgado is the best Blue Jay ever. Craig said it on the game thread, and if anyone else had any doubts, they should be long gone, like the slugger's fourth home run last night." (Batter's Box)

Tigers beat Twins for third straight win.
DETROIT (AP) -- Looking as if they had clinched a playoff spot, the Detroit Tigers mobbed Shane Halter when he crossed home plate.

Halter hit a two-out, solo home run in the 11th inning and the suddenly successful Tigers snapped Minnesota's 11-game winning streak with a 5-4 victory Thursday night.

With their third straight win, the Tigers would have to lose their final three games of the season to break the post-1900 record of 120 defeats by the 1962 New York Mets.
And even if they did, they'd still have a better winning percentage than those Mets. So there. (Yahoo!)

The 2003 Aaron's Baseball Blog Awards: Most Valuable Player.

Aaron Gleeman answers his mail.
I think there is a tendency in baseball to overlook the stars and try to pump up the secondary players on a team. It's the sort of thing that causes someone to say that a player that quite clearly has not been the best on a team is that team's "real MVP." I see it every year in tons of articles from writers across the country and I suspect you all hear it on the various games you watch on TV. "Player X is the real MVP on this team, even though he's only hitting .276 with 14 homers. He's the heart and soul of the ballclub."

Cliches can be fun and there is nothing wrong with giving compliments to a role player, but instead of completely exaggerating the value of a player and completely downplaying the value of another, why isn't it enough to just say that you think someone is an underrated player or that he is very important to the team?

I really did not mean this to be anything against David Ortiz or "Dave," the person who emailed me, although I suspect it looks that way. I just think it is funny that I list 10 players on my MVP ballots and immediately get a couple dozen emails telling me that I am wrong, and that David Ortiz or Bill Mueller or Magglio Ordonez or Carlos Beltran or Shannon Stewart or Miguel Tejada or Eric Chavez deserve to be ranked ahead of someone on my ballot. And that's just for the American League. Not everyone can be in the top 10 and the player you think should be there and isn't is not the only player to get lots of "big hits" while being the "soul" of his team.
(Aaron's Baseball Blog)

Buda asked Twins fans why they hate the White Sox so much, and today he posts their responses along with his comments. "Bottom line, I don’t see a lot of reasons to be hating the Sox...[M]ostly, I think it's good old fashioned rivalry. The Twins have come out on top the last two years, but please quit acting like you're the 27 Yankees. You're maybe the fourth best team in the AL, probably 5th best, with the Sox right behind you. Let's keep things in perspective." (Chisox Daily, September 26)

Prospectus Triple Play: Expos, Giants, Blue Jays. "Team MVP: Barry Bonds. Yes, that's the kind of radical insightful analysis you can only get with BP. It's more interesting to try to name the second-most valuable position player on the club; the Bonds-led Giants are as close to a one-man team, or at least a one-man offense, as you'll find in a postseason qualifier in memory. For number two, we'll go with Jose Cruz Jr., who distinguished himself among a crowded field of unspectacular hitters with his spectacular arm. Cruz also has the distinction of being the most valuable number-eight hitter in the league, thanks to Felipe Alou's unusual lineup construction strategies." (Baseball Prospectus)

Thursday, September 25, 2003
Marlins edge closer to winning wild card. They took a 6-0 lead into the 8th and almost blew it, but they held on to beat the Phillies 6-5. The Marlins lead the Phillies and Astros by 3 games. (Yahoo!)

Astros top Giants to end four-game skid. Viz-ca-i-no (clap clap) Viz-ca-i-no (clap clap). (Yahoo!)

Cubs rout Reds, preserve NL Central lead. Shawn Estes pitched a 4-hit shutout, 8-0. (Yahoo!)

Prospectus Triple Play: Angels, Cubs, Tigers.
Last night's Cubs game was certainly one of the biggest games ever started by a pitcher as bad as Shawn Estes. There have been hurlers with ERAs over 6.00 through the years, but how often are those pitchers starting games for contending teams in late September? Although there is a tendency to blame Baker for continuing to trot Estes out there, what choice did he really have? The only other viable starter on the roster is Juan Cruz, who has pitched as poorly as Estes this year. The Cubs braintrust has been the hamstrung by a paradox, possessing one of the league's best rotations yet desperately needing another starting pitcher.

Last night we were all reminded again of why its always worthwhile to tune in to the games, just in case. Estes made Baker look like a genius by tossing a brilliant four-hit shutout, maintaining the Cubs one-game division lead with four to play. No one should have been surprised: Dusty Baker has spent the entire season, heck, several seasons, making decisions that defy analysts. Yet here he is, on the verge of another post-season.
(Baseball Prospectus)

Derek: "You'll notice the name of this blog has changed. There was someting of a revolution within the blog staff last night and the rebels have taken over. Their mission statement is simple: 'Dusty Baker is a freakin' genius. No criticism of Dusty Baker shall henceforth be tolerated. Any such criticism by any member of the DBIAFG staff will be punishable by the termination of said employee, his/her direct report(s) and his/her immediate supervisor(s).'" (Dusty Baker Is a Freakin' Genius)

Angels push M's to brink of elimination. John Lackey pitched a 5-hit shutout, 4-0. The M's are still alive, though, because the Red Sox lost. (Yahoo!)

Tigers doing their best to avoid infamy. They've won two in a row, and are stuck at 118 losses. (Yahoo!)

Pitching Under Stress. The Indians' approach to minimizing injuries to pitchers. Part IV of the Rethinking the Game Plan series. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

Prospectus Triple Play: Orioles, Rockies, Mets. "If they do the right things, the Mets will be right back in contention in 2005. They may have to settle for a down year in 2004: they're in a tough division, and would be wiser to save their money for when they're a little more ready to contend. An obstacle is their huge revenue stream: with that kind of money flowing in, it's tempting always to spend it. This is the sort of nonsense that got the Mets into this trouble in the first place, and if they're going to throw some of their cash around this winter, they should target younger players entering their prime. The greatest advantage of their woeful present state is that even the most deluded GM can't possibly suggest, for the umpteenth year in a row, that the Mets are just a veteran or two away." (Baseball Prospectus)

Baseball Prospectus Chat: Derek Zumsteg.
Jimmie (Tacoma, WA): What in the heck is up (or not up, as the case may be) with Ichiro this season? Is he trying to hard or has he been figured out?

Derek Zumsteg: Every year, there are people that think he's been figured out, and the next year, he tears up a storm. Last year, I attributed his late-season problems to that run-in with a wall he had, but after this year, I'm not so sure... maybe he really can't play 162 games a year, and needs a lot more frequent rest because he's so intense when he's on the field. That's a huge problem in Seattle, where their bench often includes whoever delivered the Gatorade that day as the pinch-hitter.
(Baseball Prospectus)

Whitney: "The Mets finish up against the Pirates tonight, then head to Miami for three against the wild card-leading Marlins. Despite the wins against the Bucs, hear me now and believe me later: The Marlins will coast into the playoffs on the New York Mets. I knew we'd screw the Phillies somehow, it just wasn't via beating them in baseball games." (Misery Loves Company)

New weblogs:

     Batting Around
     Dave's Mariners Blog

Wednesday, September 24, 2003
Wood dominates Reds, Cubs alone in first. He combined with two relievers on a two-hit shutout, 6-0. The Cubs haven't been alone in first place this late in a season since 1989, the last time they won a division title. (Yahoo!)

Ten-run inning drops Astros out of first. The Giants lit up Wade Miller in the second. (Yahoo!)

John Lauck:
We have come to a point in the season which may remind you of the 1999 NL Central race. In that year, the Reds trailed the Astros by one game with five games left to play. Now, it's the Astros who trail by a game with five to play. Then, as now, Houston finished the season at home, perhaps the only advantage left to them. Tuesday's night's drubbing was disappointing, but it was not surprising, at least to me. I mentioned to the subscribers to Astroday Extra that the Astros looked whipped in the ninth inning Monday night--whipped as in "season over." I said I hoped I was wrong, and I still hope I am wrong, but Houston must have two things Wednesday afternoon: they must have a great game out of Roy Oswalt, and they must have a genuine, playoff-caliber performance by the offense. Only by getting those two things might they merit the third thing they need, which they cannot provide for themselves: a loss by the Chicago Cubs, which would keep alive Houston's hopes for the playoffs. But if Houston is to make the playoffs, it has to start playing--and hitting--like a playoff team again.
(Astros Daily)

Marlins win, wild-card lead now two. Trailing 3-0 in the bottom of the seventh, the Marlins exploded for five runs and beat the Phillies 5-4. (Yahoo!)

Dan Le Batard:
Baseball is our most quantifiable game, with numbers and formulas to measure every conceivable value, with boxscores and radar guns and detailed histories that reveal, for example, that Juan Encarnación entered Tuesday's game against Philadelphia with 19 career at-bats against Kevin Millwood and no hits.

But how do you measure weightless abstractions like attitude? The Marlins, by all accounts, are a relaxed team of innocents -- ''the most fun I've ever seen in one clubhouse,'' according to infielder Andy Fox. In a culture where silly fights sometimes start over the clubhouse music choices or clubhouse thermostat, the Marlins haven't had one incident of friction all season, which is rare in any work environment where people are around each other this much. The Phillies, by contrast, are perceived as a tightly wound bunch united only in their desire to strangle combustible Manager Larry Bowa, who leads the league in facial spasms.
(Miami Herald)

Red Sox get three in ninth, win in 10th. Down 5-2, bottom of the 9th, two on, two out, Todd Walker launched a 3-2 pitch into the right-field bullpen to tie the game. David Ortiz homered in the 10th to win it. (Yahoo!)

Peter May: "[Jorge] Julio cooperated nicely on the 3-and-2 pitch. We can only imagine how many TV sets were broken in the Mariners' clubhouse in Anaheim when he delivered exactly what Walker wanted -- a low fastball. Walker sent it on a line to right and the first thought was that it might not be high enough to make it over the low bullpen wall. But it did -- barely." (Boston Globe)

Angels 2, Mariners 1, 11 innings. Freddy Garcia pitched a terrific game, but it wasn't enough. Tim Salmon's home run won it for the Angels in the 11th. The Mariners now trail the Red Sox by 3 1/2 games in the wild-card race. (Yahoo!)

Derek Milhous Zumsteg compares the Mariners' ownership with the rest of MLB.
We forget something that makes the moral absolutist in me scream: while the Mariners have an insanely lucrative lease we gave them for no reason, and they're absconding with tens of millions of dollars with money while probably already trying to figure out how they can claim a loss this season, the Mariners ownership invests the money they think will keep the team competitive. There's something to be said for that.

The bad part about it is that if you believe that, as the M's have said, they're in the business of being competitive every season and not trying for the World Series, what would they do if they hired someone smart and saavy like (current Derek favorite example GM) Kim Ng, and she went out and assembled an ass-kicking super team (or a 1997 Marlins-style playoff-winning machine) on $80m?

Would they be happy the team played so well, and continue to invest? Or would they say "if we can win 95 games and go to the World Series on $80m, we should be able to get back to the comfortable 85-90 win level and only spend 65-70m, leaving us an extra $10-$15m."
(U.S.S. Mariner, September 24)

Yankees win sixth straight AL East title. Dog bites man, part I. (Yahoo!)

Twins repeat as AL Central champions. Part II. (Yahoo!)

A's win AL West for second straight year. Part III. (Yahoo!)

Prospectus Triple Play: Red Sox, Reds, Padres. "The cynics say the move is coming three years and several million dollars too late, but the Reds announced Monday that Barry Larkin has refused a one-year, $500,000 deal and will finish his career with a one-year stint with what his agent says will be a 'solid contender.' While few contenders seem to be in the market for an injury-prone shortstop years past his prime, he could take the Shawon Dunston role that Dusty Baker perennially keeps on his bench." (Baseball Prospectus)

Derek Zumsteg:
During a game last Wednesday, Tampa Bay Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella complained that the Boston Red Sox relievers were watching television in their bullpen, while his team's bullpen had no television. After talking to the umps, the umps made the Sox turn off the television. Piniella said a couple of things, but mostly that by having a TV, relievers could better see batters and their approach, which gave them an unfair advantage.

There are important issues at stake here. What if there are better-quality sunflower seeds available in one bullpen? Could one team stock a nasty flavor of Gatorade, like "Glacier Freeze," in the opposing team's bullpen in hopes of knocking them out of their routine? Make the bench itself uncomfortable and wobbly, promoting inter-bullpen arguments about who's rocking it?
(Baseball Prospectus)

The 2003 Aaron's Baseball Blog Awards: Cy Young.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003
Moyer wins 20th as Mariners roll. They're still alive. Moyer is the 5th pitcher with a 20-win season in his 40s. (Yahoo!)

Rob Neyer: "What's amazing about Jamie Moyer isn't that he's still pitching effectively in the major leagues at 40. There have been plenty of pitchers like that, and in fact there are two others right now, in the persons of Roger Clemens and Randy Johnson. No, what's amazing about Jamie Moyer is that he's still pitching effectively at 40 after he spent his 20s not pitching effectively." (

Red Sox protect wild-card lead. Byung-Hyun Kim's last three save chances have gone as follows. Friday: out, out, hit batsman, hit batsman, hook. Sunday: out, out, out, game over. Monday: out, out, out, game over. (Yahoo!)

Giants drop Astros into first-place tie. The idle Cubs moved up. It was Houston's third straight loss. (Yahoo!)

Marlins win, extend wild-card lead. The Phillies come to Florida tonight for a three-game series, trailing the Marlins by one game. (Yahoo!)

Prospectus Triple Play: Marlins, Yankees, Pirates. "The Marlins are 69-48 under [Jack] McKeon, and he has to be considered the front runner for the Manager of the Year award. Admittedly, we are a long way from being able to judge the full effect that any manager has on a team. However, the award tends to be given to the skipper of a club that is surprisingly successful, and no National League team has a better claim to that description than the Marlins." (Baseball Prospectus)

Nothing Personal. In Part II of Susan Vinella and John Mangels' in-depth look at the Indians' development plan, they examine the decision-making process behind not re-signing Jim Thome. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

Steps to Success. In Part III, Vinella and Mangels look at the Indians' methods for developing young prospects. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

It's a swing and a miss. Barry Larkin, who's been with Cincinnati for 18 years, has rejected the Reds' contract offer and will finish his career with another team.
"'The reason that the amount of money that they offered me was unacceptable is because of the principle,' Larkin said. 'I was surely not looking to break the bank. But there are other players out there that have been loyal to franchises and that have done some things in their careers that I think (were) respected by the franchises. This contract shows me the door, basically.'"
(Cincinnati Enquirer)

The 2003 Aaron's Baseball Blog Awards: Rookie of the Year.

D-Rays Blog Team Awards 03.

Dipping into all the mysteries of knuckler. Kevin Paul Dupont on Tim Wakefield. (Boston Globe)

17 straight in 2004...but where? Bryan on Greg Maddux's future. (Wait 'Til Next Year)

Monday, September 22, 2003
A's avoid sweep, rout surging Mariners. Ted Lilly and three relievers combined for a shutout. Oakland's lead in the AL West is back up to 4 games, with 6 to go. (Yahoo!)

Martinez helps Red Sox stop Indians. Pedro and two relievers combined for a shutout. Boston's lead in the AL wild-card race is back up to 2 1/2 games, with 7 to go. (Yahoo!)

The Red Sox have been in an offensive slump lately, scoring just 26 runs in their last 9 games (1, 2, 8, 3, 0, 4, 2, 4, 2). But they've gone 5-4 in those games, thanks largely to Martinez, Derek Lowe, Tim Wakefield and John Burkett. Since August 20, the Sox are 20-9.

Tigers tie AL record with 117th loss. They were swept by the Twins, who are on the verge of clinching the AL Central. (Yahoo!)

Prior dominates as Cubs beat Pirates. The Cubs pulled to within a half-game of the Astros, who lost to the Cardinals. (Yahoo!)

Phillies can't take over wild-card lead. They lost, and the Marlins lost. The Cubs/Astros (whoever doesn't win the Central) and Dodgers are still in the race, too. (Yahoo!)

Bill Simmons:
When HBO's documentary about the Red Sox launched this week, some of my readers wondered why I wasn't involved. Apparently I was missed: The media's latest effort to perpetuate a ghost story, misrepresent Red Sox fans and portray them as doom-and-gloom lunatics just wasn't the same without me.


For the most part, Sox fans have been pretty fortunate. Including me. Over the past three decades, I watched an inordinate amount of winning teams (more than any other franchise in baseball), as well as stars like Lynn, Fisk, Tiant, Rice, Yaz, Eckersley, Evans, Mo, Nomar and Manny. I was blessed with the chance to see Clemens and Pedro in their primes -- two of the best pitchers of the past 50 years. Dave Henderson's homer against the Angels remains one of the great sports moments of my life. Same with Pedro coming out of the bullpen and blanking Cleveland in the '99 playoffs (conspicuously missing from the documentary, of course). And for all its faults, Fenway (in the right seats) is still the best place in the country to watch baseball.

And then there's this: From 1999 to 2001, I could scalp tickets and watch the best pitcher of my lifetime, in the best setting on the planet, for less than $75 a pop. Maybe that doesn't make up for the championship drought. Few things would. But on those nights when Pedro had it going -- when he truly had it going -- there wasn't anywhere else on the planet you wanted to be. I will never see someone pitch like that again. Ever. Not in my lifetime.

Hidden humility. Dan LeBatard on Barry Bonds. (Miami Herald)

Jay Jaffe: "Bonds' performance in the face of his father's losing battle with cancer has changed my thinking on the man. It's not just the fireworks he's produced -- the game-winning homer upon returning to the team after a weekend spent visiting his ailing father, the home run in his first game back following his father's death (in a game he later left because of an accelerated heartbeat), the game-winning hit two nights later after being released from the hospital following treatment for exhaustion. It's that he's doing all of this with a heavy heart, able to shut out his grief only long enough to step into the one place he's in control, the batter's box, and perform at a level that may be unparalleled." (Futility Infielder)

John Mangels and Susan Vinella present an "in-depth, inside look at the remaking of the Indians." (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

Bernie Miklasz: "I'll say it again: La Russa deserved better from his players; unlike them, at least he brought intensity to his mission on a daily basis. But La Russa couldn't keep his players going. And for that, he should be held accountable. La Russa would be the first to say that; he HAS said it. But does he really mean it?" (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Keeping Up With Jones. Richard Lederer on Chipper. (Rich's Weekend Baseball BEAT)

Friday, September 19, 2003
Thome HR in 8th lifts Phils by Marlins. It was his 43rd, tying Barry Bonds for the NL lead. The Phillies are now only half a game behind the Marlins in the wild card race. (Yahoo!)

Astros get rare shutout at Coors Field. Wade Miller, Octavio Dotel and Mike Gallo combined on a three-hitter. Houston is a full game ahead of the Cubs in the NL Central. (Yahoo!)

Jones helps Twins get sweep of White Sox. The Twins have beaten the White Sox five straight and are now 3 1/2 games ahead. (Yahoo!)

Aaron Gleeman is scared of the Yankees, the Twins' likely first-round playoff opponent. They've beaten the Twins 13 straight times. "The last two seasons against the Yankees have been so ugly for the Twins that it is something most Twins fans, myself included, have just sort of tried forget about. If you pretend hard enough that it never happened, it starts to feel like the truth after a while, you know? During their last 13 meetings, the Yankees have outscored the Twins by a total of 90 to 36. New York has beaten Minnesota with pitching, holding them to 3 runs or fewer in 10 of the 13 games, and they've beaten them by simply bashing the hell out of them, scoring 10+ runs in 4 of the 13 games." (Aaron's Baseball Blog)

Red Sox increase wild-card lead to 2 1/2. It wasn't easy, but they beat the Devil Rays 4-3. The Mariners lost to Texas. (Yahoo!)

Doug looks at the Giants' postseason prospects. "I want to play Florida. One of the cool things about last year's post season run was avenging previous post season losses. Nothing can fully erase the painful memories of losing the 1987 NLCS to the Cards (damn you, Candy Maldanado and your stupid, inept slip-n-slide fielding) and getting beat out by the Braves in 1993. However, beating those teams in 2002 made last year's post season a little more special." (Westwood Blues)

Prospectus Triple Play: Diamondbacks, Royals, Phillies. "The out-of-nowhere emergence of Brandon Webb is a big reason for the change in the D'backs' outlook. He brings their staff ace total to three, which makes the Diamondbacks pretty fearsome for 2004. The back of their rotation is also set, thanks to the $4 million option they have on Miguel Batista, and a slew of candidates for the fifth slot. If the Diamondbacks can muster even an average offense, they will again contend for the playoffs next year." (Baseball Prospectus)

Prospectus Triple Play: Indians, Dodgers, Mariners. "The Indians have only three players above the age of 33, and none are major contributors to the team, due to injury, ineffectiveness, or both. The Indians also have a tremendous proportion of their players between the ages of 23 and 26, which gives them an opportunity to significantly improve in a very short period of time. The Indians are one of very few clubs with virtually no systemic Alvin Davis Aging Syndrome, where players mysteriously fall of a cliff in terms of their production. The Indians have truly embraced portfolio theory; some of the young guys will fall by the wayside, but some won't, and a couple will take big steps forward." (Baseball Prospectus)

Baseball Prospectus Chat: Rany Jazayerli.
Eric (Boston MA): How do the Red Sox get through the postseason with only one Pedro?

Rany Jazayerli: With a lineup of nine guys who all have an OPS above 750, an offense that has already set the major league record for extra-base hits in a season, and a better bullpen than anyone wants to give them credit for. Pedro's just the tiebreaker.
(Baseball Prospectus)

The Baseball Crank looks at the teams with the greatest on-base percentages in a single season, relative to the league.

Thursday, September 18, 2003
Mariners close gap in wild-card race. Jamie Moyer to the rescue, again. The Red Sox were shut out for the first time at Fenway this year, so the M's are only 1 1/2 games out. (Yahoo!)

Rogers shuts down Sox as Twins pad lead. They now lead the AL Central by 2 1/2 games. The White Sox try to avoid a sweep tonight. (Yahoo!)

Buda: "From the innings I have been able sit through, this is what I’ve taken from the games. The Twins haven’t pitched that well. I think the Sox are just choking." (Chisox Daily, September 18)

Aaron Gleeman: "If I were the White Sox, I'd start worrying about trying to beat Kansas City for second-place, because at least that's something they might have a chance at. Personally, I hope the Royals beat the snot out of Chicago during the 7 games they have left against each other before the end of the season. Why? Because I am sick of the Chicago White Sox. Over the last several seasons, they have been the cockiest team to have never won a single thing that I have ever seen. I think Twins play-by-play man Dick Bremer said it best during a broadcast a few weeks ago. When told by Bert Blyleven that the White Sox seemed confident and were doing a lot of talking, Bremer quickly replied, 'They did plenty of talking last year too, and they were 15 games back.'" (Aaron's Baseball Blog)

Cubs' Wood four-hits Mets, wins 2-0. The Cubs are now only a half-game behind the Astros, who lost to the Rockies. (Yahoo!)

Al Yellon:
I can't say enough about how Kerry Wood stepped up today, throwing his best overall game of the year, striking out 11, walking only one, and throwing a fairly efficient 125 pitches (well, fairly efficient for him, at least - he also hit his 21st batter of the season, one short of the Cubs club record that has stood since 1900, and the most in a single season by anyone since the Angels' Tom Murphy hit 21 in 1969) as the Cubs shut out Al Leiter and the Mets 2-0, for now, moving to within one game of the Astros pending their game tonight at Colorado, and accomplishing the following statistical feats on what was an absolutely tourist-guide-perfect weather day, 78 degrees, low humidity and bright sunshine:

* They swept their first series at home this year (yes, true, believe it or not);
* They swept the Mets for the first time in eleven seasons (since August 1992);
* They sold out the ballpark, drawing 38,482; I don't have exact figures but there must have been at least 6 or 7 thousand tickets sold today alone; that makes the season total 2,882,569, extending the record set yesterday, boosted the per-game average to 36,956, needing 117,431 or 39,143 per game to break the 3,000,000 mark;
* The entire bullpen got the day off, great news with tomorrow's off day and a doubleheader Friday in Pittsburgh;
* The 82nd win of the season clinched a winning season, the fifth in the last eleven years.
(and another thing!, September 17)

Marlins rout Phillies. Florida's lead over Philadelphia is back to 1 1/2 games. (Yahoo!)

Prospectus Triple Play: Braves, Twins, Devil Rays. "Thirteen years is an eternity in baseball, and requires a roster to be turned over two or three times or four times; the Braves have maintained success at each juncture. No team in the Free Agency era has put up a run anything like what the Braves' have, and no team is likely to any time soon." (Baseball Prospectus)

Christopher Young:
Let’s say that the Red Sox head into their final weekend at Tampa Bay leading the wild-card race by a game over Seattle, with the M’s wrapping up the regular season with a three-game home series against the division-winning A’s.

This is where things could get interesting. Suppose Oakland decided two things: first, that it will rest the regulars, and secondly, that it will get its post-season rotation in order...By losing those final three games in Seattle to the Mariners, the A’s not only rejuvenate their line-up for the upcoming week, but also, by extension, give Seattle three much-needed wins in order to secure the wild-card.

But the A’s would be doing themselves another favor as well. If they allow Seattle to take the wild-card instead of Boston, the playoff alignment would change, and no longer would Boston — as the wild-card champ — come to Oakland for the division series...Oakland would instead draw the AL Central Division winner in the first round.

In that scenario, Boston would need to sweep the Devil Rays in that regular-season finale to clinch the wild-card; otherwise, if Boston took only two of three, it would finish tied with Seattle, necessitating a one-game playoff to determine the wild-card champ. And the locale would be — you guessed it — Seattle, where the Sox would have to fly immediately following the Tampa series for the winner-take-all clash the next day.
(Boston Phoenix)

New weblog: Baseball History.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003
Phillies pound Marlins 14-0 in opener. The Phillies are now just one-half game behind the Marlins, who had won eight straight against them before last night. (Yahoo!)

Red Sox win as Pedro gets No. 100. Martinez went the distance to beat the Devil Rays, 3-2. (Yahoo!)

A-Rod, Rangers sink Mariners. The M's now trail the Red Sox by 2 1/2 games. (Yahoo!)

Loaiza again denied 20th win by Twins. In the past week, the Twins have gone from two games behind the White Sox to one and a half games ahead. And seven of their last nine games are against the Tigers. (Yahoo!)

Aaron Gleeman: "At the risk of completely jinxing my favorite team, let me be the first to say this: The 2003 AL Central division race is over. That's right, over. You heard it here first. Whether the Twins win either of the next two games against the White Sox or not, they will win this division. And they will have done it by holding their own against the Chicago White Sox." (Aaron's Baseball Blog)

Wreck of Cards. Tom Verducci:
There's no mystery as to when the Cardinals' season fell apart. They were in first place on Sept. 1 when they went to Wrigley Field for a five-game series. St. Louis lost four of those games while La Russa blew his cool, erupting at Chicago manager Dusty Baker, bringing a fatigued Woody Williams out of the bullpen between starts -- how can a team be short of pitching with expanded rosters? -- and making moves that raised eyebrows in the clubhouse, such as taking Tino Martinez out of a tie game in the seventh inning with two outs so a pitcher could pinch run for him. The Cubs sent the Cards into a 4-10 spiral. From first place to out of contention in two weeks.

Jay Jaffe on Ted Lilly, who's been Oakland's best starter since Mark Mulder's injury. (Futility Infielder)

Tom Tippett on the Devil Rays. "This is still a last-place team that is looking for it's 60th win of the season, but there's a lot to like about them. Two years ago, Tampa Bay featured several over-priced veterans in decline, some young players without a whole lot of upside, a front office that seemed have no plan, and a collection of promising prospects who were still in the low minors. Now those prospects are on the big stage and doing well, the aging veterans are gone, and the front office has loads of room to add payroll if it so chooses. It'll take a while to go from 60 wins to 90 wins, but at least they seem to be headed in the right direction for a change." (Thoughts from Diamond Mind, September 16)

Prospectus Triple Play: White Sox, Brewers, Cardinals: "Johan Santana is good. Really good. OK, you knew that, but we're talking Pedro Martinez good. Like Martinez, Santana has wicked movement on his fastball, and a devastating changeup. Also like Martinez, he's learning to use the inside part of the plate. While his HBP totals don't reflect it yet, Santana was keeping [White] Sox hitters off balance by brushing them back, setting them up for embarrassment when his two-seamer dovetailed away from them later in the plate appearance." (Baseball Prospectus)

Prospectus Q&A: Ned Colletti, Part II. Jonah Keri interviews the Giants' Assistant GM.
BP: Which do the Giants favor, high school or college pitchers?

Colletti: We prefer college pitching. College pitchers are further along in terms of maturity and life experience. That doesn't mean we haven't taken high school kids. But when you're 18 years old and you're going away from home for the first time, it can be tough--there are a lot of different things that occur in a young person's life. If a pitcher goes through the right college program though, we'll know that he hasn't been misused, and that he's also been taught well. We do as much research as we can to make sure we don't get a pitcher coming out to the draft who's misused and might be injured. And that can easily happen at the high school level, sometimes the college level too. A major league club has a different level of investment in a player, to where you wouldn't have used him the way he might otherwise get used at the high school or college level.
(Baseball Prospectus)

Baseball Prospectus Chat: Jonah Keri.
Bryan Smith (Chicago): Jonah...please give me five names that will take big leaps next season. Thanks!

Jonah Keri: Mark Teixeira will have a similar leap to Hank Blalock v03 vs. v02. Brandon Phillips can't help but get better because he was Neifi-riffic this year...actually Neifi put him to shame. Adam Dunn will stay healthy next season, and cut down on his strikeouts just enough to trigger a healthy spike in production. Shawn Green will have a bounceback year after fixing his shoulder. Pat Burrell's 2003 season will look like a weird fluke five years from now.
(Baseball Prospectus)

Tuesday, September 16, 2003
Red Sox keep hold of AL wild card. They gained a game on the Mariners, who lost to the Rangers. Derek Lowe improved to 16-6. (Yahoo!)

Lowe's solid start proves he's on his game. Michael Silverman: "Lowe recorded 24 outs against the Devil Rays, who lifted just one ball to the outfield. Right fielder Gabe Kapler was the lucky recipient. Lowe got 17 outs on ground balls and six on strikeouts." Well, to be accurate, Rocco Baldelli's double was also lifted to the outfield, and Aubrey Huff's homer was lifted past the outfield, but it was still a classic performance. (Boston Herald)

PortlandSoxFan charts Lowe's last six starts. "Could this be the return of the 2002 Lowe that the Sox need to cement their playoff hopes and to actually give them a chance in the postseason? Let's hope so. A Lowe like this, combined with the Pedro we've seen over the last month or so can only lead to very good things."

Hunter leads Twins into first place. He drove in five runs, and the Twins took a half-game lead over the White Sox. (Yahoo!)

Chat wrap: Rob Neyer.
Paul (minneapolis): What do you think now of the Minnesota Twins decision to take Joe MAuer over Mark Prior in the 2001 draft. Will Mauer ever be as highly touted as Prior?

Rob Neyer: In retrospect, it looks crazy because Prior looks like the next Tom Seaver. Or Jim Palmer. Or . . . you get the idea. But Mauer's an amazing prospect, and if Prior blows out his elbow next season the Twins will be thrilled to have Mauer. The real problem is that Prior's already in the majors and playing brilliantly, while Mauer's in the minors and might take a year or two to establish himself once he does reach the majors.

Prospectus Triple Play: Astros, Athletics, Rangers. "The only improvement in the offense has been the revival of Eric Chavez and Miguel Tejada. With Oakland's two biggest bats looming larger, the A's have averaged 5.0 R/G, up from 4.6 in the first half. The A's second-half offensive improvement can be attributed almost exclusively to the left side of the infield, a performance that has overshadowed the decline of the rest of the lineup." (Baseball Prospectus)

Prospectus Q&A: Ned Colletti, Part I. Jonah Keri interviews the Giants' Assistant GM. (Baseball Prospectus)

The Southpaw wants the Giants to go after Vlad Guerrero.

Monday, September 15, 2003
Buehrle pitches White Sox past Red Sox. Chicago held Boston, best-hitting team in the majors, to 10 runs on 19 hits while taking two out of three in Fenway. (Yahoo!)

David Cameron: "The Mariners inability to make a move at the deadline, while all the other contenders 'loaded up' for the stretch run, has had absolutely nothing to do with the August-September swoon." (U.S.S. Mariner)

Colby Cosh on the refusal of MLB to call up a single minor-leaguer for the Expos' September stretch drive: "It's the overt, collusive, unapologetic manipulation of a pennant race. If it was wrong for Pete Rose to consort with gamblers because it might ultimately harm the fans' faith in the purity of on-field competition, and if it was wrong for the 1919 White Sox to throw the World Series, how much worse is it for baseball's owners to openly apply different rules to one team?...I for one would recommend a class action suit against Major League Baseball whose plaintiffs would include anyone who bought a ticket to an Expos game, home or away, this year." (

Shawn Weaver: "I really love baseball. You can watch two games in a row, played by the same two teams, and they will look completely different. Sometimes it doesn’t even look like they are playing by the same rules. Such games were played Saturday and Sunday by Cincinnati and Chicago." (Cincinnati Reds Blog)

Chat Transcipt: Billy Beane.
Dave S. (New York): You mention wanting as much value straight out of the minors as you can get because you're running a small-market team. Do think you'd use a different development strategy if you worked for a larger-market club?

Billy Beane: The advantage you would have in a large market is you would be able to retain the players that you had drafted and developed under your philosophy. My guess is that we would have a lot fewer questions about our lineup if a certain First Baseman was still around...who by the way embodies everything that we look for in an offensive player.
(Baseball Prospectus)

Walker Faces Tough Hurdle. Richard Lederer on Larry's Hall of Fame qualifications. (Rich's Weekend Baseball BEAT)

Bi-Weekly Review: A.L. Central. "You really have to be a special kind of team to lose 120 games. Not only are the Tigers stocked with bad to mediocre players but they’ve also been ravaged by injuries. A sore hamstring has hobbled Bobby Higginson, but probably not as much as an ailing bat. His career is over, over, over." (Baseball Primer)

Friday, September 12, 2003
Radke outpitches Loaiza as Twins top Sox. The Twins and White Sox are back in a tie for first. (Yahoo!)

Aaron Gleeman: "And just like that, after six months and 146 games, we're right back where we started. Except now, the Minnesota Twins are in command...I would have been happy leaving Chicago down two games, because I think the Twins will make up that many with the remaining schedules. Leaving Chicago tied is just an added bonus and the reason why I think the Minnesota Twins will win this division." (Aaron's Baseball Blog)

Expos hold off late Cubs rally, win 3-2. The Astros and Cardinals both lost, though, so the Cubs didn't lose any ground. (Yahoo!)

Prospectus Triple Play: Angels, Cubs, Tigers. "The Cubs have three of the top 10 pitchers in the National League in SNWAR, and a very good fourth starter in Matt Clement. If they can get to October no one is going to want to face them." (Baseball Prospectus)

Around the league from Universal Baseball Blog, Inc. "After this season, it would serve the Cubs right if Hee Seop Choi never turns into a good player. Even after being jerked around so much that his batting average has fallen to .220, Choi still has a .353 OBP. If the Cubs had just stuck him in their lineup (against righties at the very least) and left him there, he might have solved their well-documented offensive woes. Hopefully, they haven't damaged his confidence so much that he can't recover."

Cubs' ticket scam of '03 looks very familiar. Greg Couch compares it to the Cubs' ticket scam of 1908. (Chicago Sun-Times)

Prospectus Triple Play: Expos, Giants, Blue Jays. "Did we mention the Expos called up exactly zero players from the minor league system at the Sept. 1 roster-expansion date? At a time when they were still in the playoff race? As Terrmel Sledge finished off the second-best season in the Pacific Coast League, with 102 Equivalent Runs? To which we can only say, Bud Selig's tenure as commissioner is scheduled to expire in 1206 days, 15 hours, and 50 minutes from now." (Baseball Prospectus)

McCarty pitches interesting idea. "The 33-year-old has begun to work out with [Red] Sox coaches in hopes of coming back next season as a pitcher/outfielder/first baseman. He said that his bid was inspired by multifaceted Milwaukee Brewers pitcher/pinch-hitter Brooks Kieschnick, who made the successful transition this season from position player to pitcher after only 25 minor league appearances last year. Kieschnick has a 1-1 mark with a 4.72 ERA in 38 relief appearances, as well as a .311 batting average and five homers as the Brewers' top pinch hitter." Cool. (Boston Herald)

New weblogs:

     Beaneball (A's)
     The Waveland Chronicles (Cubs)
     yanksfan vs. soxfan (Yankees and Red Sox)
     The Monkey's Paw! (Angels)

Thursday, September 11, 2003
With pressure on, Twins top White Sox. The four-game series finishes today. The Twins can pull back into a first-place tie, but they'll have to do it against Esteban Loaiza. (

Chicago honk puts Houston in NL Central lead. The Cubs led the Expos 4-0 in the 6th, with Matt Clement working on a no-hitter. But then things fell apart. (

Al Yellon has been attending the entire Cubs-Expos series in Puerto Rico. (and another thing!)

Chat wrap with Eric Neel and Jeff Merron, who have visited all the MLB ballparks and ranked them from 1 to 30. (

The Baseball Crank on the 1928 pennant race: Yankees vs. Athletics.

Christian Ruzich explains the playoff tiebreaker system. (Baseball Prospectus)

Prospectus Triple Play: Orioles, Rockies, Mets.. "Jeff Conine was traded to the Florida Marlins last week, basically to cover their loss of Mike Lowell. While rumors earlier in the year had swirled around a Conine-for-Derrek Lee deal, when the deal was finally done it involved two minor league pitchers, Danny Bautista and Donald Levinski...[B]oth are likely to be numbered among the Orioles' top prospects (it's not like there's a lot of talent for them to beat out), which is an excellent return for an aging, average player." (Baseball Prospectus)

Baseball Prospectus Chat: Billy Beane. Starts Friday at 3:00 pm EST. You can submit questions ahead of time, though.

Aaron Gleeman on Andruw Jones. (Aaron's Baseball Blog)

The Wild Bunch. Bill Peterson on this year's races. (Cincinnati CityBeat)

King Kaufman on the paucity of football blogs. (Salon) (reg. req.)

Jon Weisman:
Twenty years ago today, Dodger Stadium hosted its greatest game.

It began swathed in bright blue skies and triple-digit temperatures. When it ended, 228 crazy brilliant minutes later, shadows palmed most of the playing field, and every Dodger fan who witnessed the spectacle found themselves near joyous collapse.

The game was between the Dodgers of Steve Sax and Pedro Guerrero, of Greg Brock and Mike Marshall ... and the Braves of Dale Murphy, of Bruce Benedict, of Brad Komminsk.

In the end, however, it came down to one man. A rookie named R.J. Reynolds.
(Dodger Thoughts)

Wednesday, September 10, 2003
Buehrle continues dominance of Twins. The White Sox now have a two-game lead. (Yahoo!)

Dodgers' rookie outpitches Big Unit. Edwin Johnson, on his 20th birthday, beat Randy Johnson, one day before his 40th birthday. You can't make this stuff up. (Yahoo!)

Baseball Prospectus Chat: Chris Kahrl.
Jorens (Brooklyn, NY): What do you see the Mets doing in the off-season? There's rumours around here that Foulke would be added. I'm hoping for an outfielder (Beltran?) and a starting pitcher (Millwood?).

Chris Kahrl: I'm sure we can expect them to play the market, and Beltran would be a fine target. Given their investments in pitching in the past, I can't see them diving into another four-year commitment that some of the panic-stricken locals might wish for. The Mets problem is that, while they were never as good as Steve Phillips wished, they're not quite bad enough to make the decision to tear down and rebuild a no-brainer. I think now is the time to do that, but there's next to no chance they can move any of their big contracts.
(Baseball Prospectus)

Prospectus Triple Play: Red Sox, Reds, Padres. "There are always the interesting human interest stories about the man who finds a priceless copy of the Declaration of Independence or a lost Jackson Pollack painting at a garage sale. After their own version of a three day sales at Crazy Eddie's, the Reds are left with several players who could best be described as 'replacement level talent.' While not much is expected of Tim Hummel or Eric Valent, is there a gem hidden in the vein of coal? D'Angelo Jimenez (13.9 VORP) has been everything the White Sox think they got from Roberto Alomar (3.9 VORP), putting up numbers that could fade Felipe Lopez into the same sort of position Jiminez found himself in--lots of talent and perceived personality problems." (Baseball Prospectus)

Rob Neyer on the Rookie of the Year controversy.
I simply can't support a rule based on a player's nationality or his birthday. Here's something I can support, though: a rule that ties the Rookie of the Year Award to compensation. Think about it ... What distinguishes all the players who don't seem like "real" rookies? They make a lot of money. Here are the salaries of the three Japanese players who have won the award, along with this year's favorite:

Hideo Nomo      1995    $2.1 million
Kaz Sasaki      2000    $4.0 million
Ichiro Suzuki   2001    $5.7 million
Hideki Matsui   2003    $7.0 million

Essentially, these players were all paid like established stars in their rookie seasons, but the idea of "rookie" is that you're not already an established star. Granted, getting paid like a star doesn't mean you'll play like a star. But considering the high rate of success for the well-paid Japanese players -- the only notable exception is Hideki Irabu -- salary would seem to be a pretty accurate predictor of stardom.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003
White Sox strike first in clash at Comiskey. They lead the Twins by one game. (Yahoo!)

Rob Neyer: "[L]ately it's become apparent that Pena and his senses have taken leave of each other, and the Royals need to find out whether Pena's condition is treatable, or terminal. You see, just within the last five days Tony Pena has absolutely blown two critically important games with utter mismanagement of his bullpen." (

Brian on great baseball names. "One of the great things about baseball is the sheer volume of it. Hundreds of thousands of games since 1869, tens of thousands of players: that adds up to a lot of names. This season alone, 173 players have made their major league debuts – among them, Koyie Hill, J.J. Putz, Humberto Quintero, Aquilino Lopez, Shane Victorino, Pete Zoccolillo, Rocco Baldelli, Kiko Calero, Chin-hui Tsao, Laynce Nix, Nate Bump, Jason Roach, Bubba Crosby, and, yes, Bo Hart." (Redbird Nation)

Prospectus Triple Play: Marlins, Yankees, Pirates. "With the loss of [Mike] Lowell and Florida's continued playoff contention, a 30-day rental of [Jeff] Conine makes sense. Oh, except it is not a rental--they actually reworked his deal to keep him in teal through 2005, reportedly paying him $3 million for each of the next two seasons. Conine is playing LF for now (with Miguel Cabrera switching to his natural 3B), but will likely end up replacing Derrek Lee next season when Lee is non-tendered. Conine is older and worse than Lee both offensively and defensively, and also older and worse than Kevin Millar, who the team didn't want last off-season, even for less than they are now paying Conine. " (Baseball Prospectus)

Monday, September 08, 2003
Prospectus Triple Play: Indians, Dodgers, Mariners. "Needless to say, it's ambiguous whether or not Eric Gagne has been the best reliever in the National League this season, let alone the best pitcher. He's been as dominant as a human can be with a ball in his hand, but the fact of the matter is that he simply hasn't had the ball in his hand enough to make it clear whether his value exceeds that of a starter like Schmidt, Prior, or even Livan Hernandez. If the season ended today, he'd warrant a top-five spot, though where in the top five that'd be will have to wait until the end of the season." (Baseball Prospectus)

Friday, September 05, 2003
Cubs top Cards, gain ground in NL Central. They took four out of five from St. Louis, and are a half game out of first. (Yahoo!)

Al Yellon: "Had the last five games been played as part of any postseason series, that series would instantly become the most legendary playoff series of all time." (and another thing!, September 4)

Sosa, Devil Rays edge Mariners 1-0. That's two straight complete-game shutouts for the Rays over the M's.

Prospectus Triple Play: Diamondbacks, Royals, Phillies. "[Brandon] Webb fans shouldn't fret if he doesn't win the award that brought so much fame to Bob Hamelin and Pat Listach; his peripherals indicate that he is more than just a flash in the pan. Webb's 3:1 K/BB ratio and filthy 3.19 GB/FB Ratio put him just below Kevin Brown as the nastiest groundball pitcher of the year. It seems probable that we haven't heard the last of Webb yet." (Baseball Prospectus)

Chat wrap with Joe Sheehan. "I don't know how to phrase this, but basically, I ignore 95% of non-baseball baseball stories. I think they're largely media creations designed to distract people from the fact that beat writers have become extremely superfluous in the information age by creating the illusion that journalism is happening. The game on the field is vibrant, and there's just no need to cover the sport as if it's a sorority." (Baseball Prospectus)

Prospecting: Kevin Youkilis. "Youkilis will almost certainly have a major league career of some value, though not likely one of extraordinary performances. While the risk is low, the reward is not particularly high either. The Red Sox made a good value pick in the eighth round, but Youkilis likely won't be the organization's savior." (Baseball Prospectus)

Cooperstown Confidential. Bruce Markusen on the notable baseball figures who have passed away in 2003. (Baseball Primer)

Bi-Weekly Review: A.L. West.
The following table shows the performance of Seattle's major trading-deadline acquisitions over the past few years:

Oh, that's right; there haven't been any.
(Baseball Primer)

New weblogs:

     Ivy Chat (Cubs)
     Barry Zito Forever (A's)
     The Joy of Sox (Red Sox)
     The House That Dewey Built (Red Sox)
     Misery Loves Company (Red Sox and Mets)
     Al's Detroit Tiger Blog
     Some Calzone for Derek
     National League Ledger
     Shallow Center
     Wait 'Til Next Year
     The Baseball Desert

Thursday, September 04, 2003
Alou's career-high five hits carry Cubs. They came back from a 6-run deficit to beat the Cardinals. (

Scott Lange: "No, wait, that was the best Cubs win I have ever been to." (Northside Lounge)

Al Yellon: "Somehow, some way, this Cub team, which has soared to the heights and hit the depths, today put together what is perhaps the greatest team effort that I have ever seen from a Cubs team. This despite Dusty Baker's best efforts to make some of the most boneheaded moves I have ever seen from a Cubs manager, moves that made me wonder if he was even watching the same game we were." (and another thing!, September 3)

Josh Schulz argues that "[t]his game is the perfect example of why Tony LaRussa is a wildly overrated manager." (Go Cardinals)

Red Sox 5, White Sox 4, 10 innings. David Ortiz won it in the 10th with his second homer of the game, after Manny Ramirez and Nomar Garciaparra combined to throw out the potential winning run at home in the 9th. (Yahoo!)

Slugger is bringing out the best. Gordon Edes on Ortiz. (Boston Globe)

'Lucky kid' shuts out Mariners in debut. Doug Waechter became the first Tampa Bay pitcher to throw a shutout in his first major league start (it was a two-hitter). (

Prospectus Triple Play: Braves, Brewers, Twins, Devil Rays. "When the Devil Rays parted with Randy Winn for the rights to pay Lou Piniella a large amount of money (and got Antonio Perez as a throw-in; thanks Pat), there was understandable jeering. Piniella, never known for his ability to deal with losing teams or develop young players, was being asked to take over a team of kids who were not going to win. Instead of impending disaster, the team has improved throughout the season, and Piniella has garnered more respect for his work this season than in any in recent memory." (Baseball Prospectus)

Moneymaker (or, Everything I Need to Know about Baseball I Learned From Watching the World Series of Poker). Nate Silver: "Lest you think this is a Bill Simmons-style off topic diversion, there are lessons that can be drawn from Hold 'Em and applied to baseball. Let's take a break from the usual dose of number crunching and look at those this week." (Baseball Prospectus)

The Southpaw looks at the NL MVP race.

Richard Lederer compares Alex Rodriguez to great shortstops in history. (Rich's Weekend Baseball BEAT)

Thaw Teddy Ballgame. From Mad Ape Den, a website dedicated to words of three letters or fewer:
Our man Ted was the top guy to e'er ply a bat. He hit .400!
And how is Ted now? Do not ask. He did die, and his son had him cut up and put on ice. He try to get the odd fat cat set to buy a bit of the DNA his dad had.
Ted had a yen to be ash. "Fry me up and put me in an urn," he did say. But his son did not do as Ted did ask. It's odd, and sad -- for any guy or gal who is a son, or a dad, or who has one, or who is a Red Sox fan.
You can buy a Thaw Teddy Ballgame shirt here.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003
A's work a little extra for 10th straight win. The game was scoreless until Oakland got two runs in the 12th. (

No Manny, no problem: Red Sox edge ChiSox. Gabe Kapler and Trot Nixon (.312/.401/.585) homered. (

Blue Jays unveil brand new logo. They're keeping the word "Blue" in their name, but eliminating it from their uniforms. The color blue is staying, but red is going. (CBC Sports) (See the new uniforms here.)

Larry Mahnken: "If the Yankees are going to stay at the top, they're going to have to replicate [their past] success in player development. Giambi and Mussina are elite players, but they're also getting old, and when their contracts run out they'll likely be average players, but still making elite salaries. Derek Jeter is also dramatically overpaid, and when his contract runs out, he'll likely have as much defensive range as second base. The Yankees can go out and sign Vlad and Colon and Carlos Beltran and Kaz Matsui and Eric Chavez--and whoever else they feel they need--but eventually, they'll have an average team with a massive payroll and they'll collapse, just like the Orioles, just like the Mets. They need to develop stars from within." (Replacement Level Yankees Weblog)

Prospectus Triple Play: White Sox, Astros, Athletics, Cardinals, Rangers. "Bo Hart is a guy whose four-year-long minor league track record suggests that, at best, he's suited to be a utility infielder. Still, the Cardinals may have to keep starting him at second. With Fernando Vina still on the shelf and a weak corps of minor leaguers at the upper levels, he could still be the best option the team has. Continuing to hit him in the leadoff slot, however, given the amount of power the Cards have concentrated in the middle of their order, is costing them dearly." (Baseball Prospectus)

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Marlins 5, Expos 2
. Florida completed a four-game sweep of the Expos to take the NL wild-card lead. (Yahoo!)

Prior defies rain, baffles Cardinals. He's 6-0 with an 0.57 ERA since coming off the disabled list on August 5. The Cardinals and Astros are now tied for first, 1 1/2 games ahead of the Cubs. (Yahoo!)

Brian: "As a Cardinals fan I don't mind Baker playing fast and loose with his young arms. Kerry Wood has been noticably worse this year when coming off of a taxing start. And Prior -- I'd like to say that I want to see him have a long, healthy, productive career, but the devil on my shoulder says otherwise. After the kind of horrible luck the Cardinals have had over the years with potential ace starters (Alan Benes, Darryl Kile, Rick Ankiel) I think a little schadenfreude is permissable." (Redbird Nation)

Joe Sheehan: "With a gun at my head, I'd pick the Cubs in the Central and the Phillies for the Wild Card, but there's no combination of teams that would really surprise me. I'd tier them as the Phillies, Cubs and Astros up top; the Marlins and Diamondbacks in the middle; and the Expos, Dodgers and Cardinals in the rear. Any of them can win, and that makes for an exciting month of baseball." (Baseball Prospectus)

Prospectus Triple Play: Angels, Cubs, Tigers. "Do you ever get the idea that Dusty is just toying with us? Its as if he wants to show how great of a manager he is by deliberately fielding mediocre players. Rumor has it that Baker has been trying to acquire Gerald Williams, Mike Lum and Chico Salmon." (Baseball Prospectus)

Prospectus Triple Play: Expos, Giants, Blue Jays. "Why make a big deal out of the [Giants'] inability to hit righties, when they're running away with the division anyway? Because it could make a big difference come playoff time...The worst first-round scenario for the Giants would be to face the Cubs or the Expos, neither of whom have any lefties to speak of. (Chicagoans speak of Shawn Estes as infrequently as possible.)" (Baseball Prospectus)

Derek Zumsteg on the AL Cy Young race: Esteban Loaiza versus Tim Hudson. (Baseball Prospectus)

Nate Silver compares Loaiza to unexpected Cy Young contenders from the past. (

Derek Milhous Zumsteg: "Boston fans like to believe their suffering was first sung by Homer, but I'll tell you that we stood and cheered for the M's when they had no chance at all facing Boston, when you hoped to be surprised by a good game, and every ticket you bought was a leap of faith that Alvin Davis might hit four home runs and pitch nine good innings, or something equally improbable would happen and the M's would pull one out. Boston's fielded winning teams since I was born, but the Mariners -- to be a long time Mariners fan has required faith, and boundless hope, and a love for baseball, even bad baseball by a bad team in a bad dome, supplied by a bad owner." (U.S.S. Mariner)

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