Billy-Ball Daily: 2007-9-10

9/10/2007
Billy-Ball Daily
Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)

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Rogers Hornsby stepped onto the field at Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis on Sept. 10, 1915, for his first major league game.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Top of the 1st
UNDER STANDINGS
It’s all right in front of us – three weeks left to determine the final five weeks of the season. Each remaining Monday we’ll start by looking under the standings

American League
AL Wild Card
W L Pct GB Home Road Streak Last 10 games Bat
Avg ERA Runs per G
New York
81 62 .566 – 47-27 34-35 Won 5 7-3 .290 4.52 5.90
Detroit
77 66 .538 4.0 38-33 39-33 Lost 1 6-4 .286 4.60 5.53
Seattle
75 66 .532 5.0 41-27 34-39 Won 1 2-8 .285 4.75 4.89

Eastern Division W L Pct GB Home Road Streak Last 10 games Bat
Avg ERA Runs per G
Boston
87 57 .604 – 44-25 43-32 Won 1 7-3 .279 3.82 5.32
New York
81 62 .566 5.5 47-27 34-35 Won 5 7-3 .290 4.51 5.90
Toronto
72 70 .507 14.0 42-27 30-43 Lost 2 5-5 .259 3.96 4.56
Baltimore
61 81 .430 25.0 31-40 30-41 Lost 1 3-7 .270 4.95 4.62
Tampa Bay
60 83 .420 26.5 35-40 25-43 Won 2 7-3 .268 5.57 4.87
* The Red Sox have guaranteed themselves a season over .500 and need to go 13-5 to grab 100 wins. They are focused on the post-season and must be starting to have concerns about their starting rotation after Beckett. The BoSox have six home games this week, and three are against Tampa Bay, the worst pitching staff in baseball. Maybe Manny will come back.
* The Yankees can lose the rest of their games and finish exactly at .500. That’s not gonna happen. The Sox may be starting to get concerned that the Yanks could go 19-0 and finish with 100 wins. This is the hottest team in baseball right now in spite of their rotation after Wang. They have a rough six games this week in Toronto and Boston facing two of the best pitching staffs in the majors since the All-Star break.
* The Blue Jays need to to play .500 ball to finish over .500 and with this team you never know what you are going to get, they remain inconsistent. They still have seven games with the Yankees and could really cause them some grief.
* The Orioles have thrown in the towel on Erik Bedard’s season by placing him on the DL. “The earliest he was going to be able to pitch would’ve been like the 27th of this month,” Orioles manager Dave Trembley said, according to the AP. “It would’ve been probably a three-inning start at best. And that would’ve been if everything fell according to plan. He hasn’t picked up a ball since the 26th of August.” He finishes the season 13-5 with a 3.16 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 221 strikeouts in 182 innings, a terrific performance on this terrible ballclub. The Orioles have to go 20-0 to finish at .500. They are more likely to go 1-19 and finish with 100 losses. They play the Yankees six more times.
* The Tampa Bay Devil Rays picked up a two-year option on their manager, Joe Maddon. Lou Piniella remains the Rays’ most successful manager in single-season terms; their 70-91 record and fourth place finish in the American League East in 2004 is the best season they’ve put up since they began playing in 1998. If they play as well as they did in NY last weekend taking two of three from the Yanks they will make Maddon the Manager of the Year next season. They have six games remaining with the BoSox and hope to go 10-9 to hit 70 wins, but they will still have another 90-loss season for the 10th time in its 10-year existence.

Central Division W L Pct GB Home Road Streak Last 10 games Bat
Avg ERA Runs per G
Cleveland
83 60 .580 – 44-27 39-33 Won 2 7-3 .269 4.15 5.01
Detroit
77 66 .538 6.0 38-33 39-33 Lost 1 6-4 .286 4.67 5.54
Minnesota
70 73 .490 13.0 37-35 33-38 Won 1 3-7 .268 4.15 4.54
Kansas City
62 80 .437 20.5 31-40 31-40 Lost 5 3-7 .263 4.48 4.54
Chicago
61 82 .427 22.0 31-38 30-44 Lost 1 4-6 .245 4.88 4.21
* Out with an elbow injury, the Indians’ Bartolo Colon is about ready to return to the rotation. He’s currently on target to start next Sunday against the Royals. The Tribe needs to go 17-2 to reach 100 wins which is not real likely. The Clevelanders do have six remaining with the Royals, three with the White Sox and A’s, and four with Seattle. Their only challenge left will be their three games with Detroit. These guys are going to the post-season.
* On Sept. 27, 1987 in Toronto, Kirk Gibson hit a dramatic tying home run in the 9th off Tom Henke, and the winning single in the 13th to beat the Jays, 3-2, and ultimately came from behind to pass the Blue Jays and win the division. But that is much less likely to happen this year in Detroit’s struggle to make the post-season particularly since they head into the final three weeks of the season without right-hander Jeremy Bonderman whose elbow pain has finally affected his effectiveness on the mound. Bonderman was 9-1 the first half. He’s 2-8 since the All-Star break. The Tigers have three with Cleveland and six with Minnesota in their rough road to overtake the Yanks for the Wild Card. I hope they fade soon because I can’t stand listening to Rod Allen on the television broadcasts.
* Joe Mauer returned to the starting lineup yesterday for the first time since Aug. 25. Mauer, who had been sidelined by a hamstring injury, hopes to finish strong as the Twins play out their schedule. The Twins need to go 11-8 to finish at .500
* The Royals have shown less signs of hopeless this season and I do think Alex Gordon has a big future. They need to go 8-12 to win 70 games.
* There is nothing entertaining about the White Sox including their manager. They are guaranteed to finish under .500. They appear to be on their way to their first last-place finish since 1989.

Western Division W L Pct GB Home Road Streak Last 10 games Bat
Avg ERA Runs per G
Los Angeles
84 59 .587 – 49-25 35-34 Lost 2 5-5 .285 4.17 5.13
Seattle
75 66 .532 8.0 41-27 34-39 Won 1 2-8 .286 4.76 4.96
Oakland
69 75 .479 15.5 36-35 33-40 Lost 3 4-6 .254 4.18 4.49
Texas
68 74 .479 15.5 42-32 26-42 Won 5 8-2 .263 4.72 5.02
* The Angels activated Bartolo Colon from the disabled list yesterday but it is unlikely he will see much action as they head to the divisional title. They need to 16-3 to reach the 100 win mark. The week ahead look huge for the Halos as they face the two worst pitching staffs since the All-Star break in the O’s and the White Sox. And the Angels are the fifth-best offense since the break.
* The collapse of this team has been humiliating and may still cost John MacLaren his interim job. The Mariners next 10 games are with Oakland and Tampa Bay and while that may be enough to save their .500 record, it most likely won’t revive their dwindling Wild Card hopes. Richie Sexson was unable to complete yesterday’s game due to his nagging hamstring injury and a striking resemblance to Dave Kingman.
* It’s hard to think of the A’s as an afterthought, but sadly that’s all they are as a .500 record is getting hard to reach.
* This will be the Rangers eighth losing season in nine years although they will probably avoid their fourth 90-loss season during that stretch. I still whip myself regularly to remind myself that I picked the Rangers to win this division. What was I thinking?!? They do have a chance to pass the A’s, before we’re done; maybe that’s what I was thinking.

National League

NL Wild Card
W L Pct GB Home Road Streak Last 10 games Bat
Avg ERA Runs per G
San Diego
77 65 .542 – 40-31 37-34 Lost 1 4-6 .249 3.65 4.48
Philadelphia
75 67 .528 2.0 41-30 34-37 Won 2 5-5 .279 4.82 5.49
Los Angeles
75 68 .524 2.5 37-32 38-36 Lost 1 5-5 .273 3.99 4.55
Colorado
74 68 .521 3.0 43-28 31-40 Won 1 7-3 .275 4.42 5.09
Atlanta
73 70 .510 4.5 38-36 35-34 Lost 1 5-5 .276 4.18 5.02
Chicago
72 70 .507 5.0 38-36 34-34 Lost 1 4-6 .269 4.06 4.55

Eastern Division W L Pct GB Home Road Streak Last 10 games Bat
Avg ERA Runs per G
New York
81 61 .570 – 38-30 43-31 Won 3 8-2 .274 4.01 4.89
Philadelphia
75 67 .528 6.0 41-30 34-37 Won 2 5-5 .279 4.82 5.51
Atlanta
73 70 .510 8.5 38-36 35-34 Lost 1 5-5 .276 4.20 5.01
Washington
64 79 .448 17.5 36-35 28-44 Won 1 6-4 .253 4.48 3.97
Florida
61 82 .427 20.5 30-41 31-41 Lost 2 3-7 .265 4.90 4.80

* The Mets can still lose this division, but they will really have to work real hard to do it as they remain the best team in the NL. Don’t expect them to go 0-20 to finish at .500, but also don’t expect them to go 19-1 and pick up 100 wins. This is the remaining challenging week for the Mets as they host the Braves and Phils for six games. Twelve of their final 13 games are against Washington and Florida. The lone exception is a makeup game with the Cardinals, who are at Shea Stadium in the midst of a season-ending homestand, so doesn’t require extra travel.
* Nobody should be complaining about Charlie Manuel anymore, he’s done a great job getting the Phils in the divisional and Wild Card races. Every game is important for Philly now as they chase the Padres. This is not an easy week because after four in Colorado they fly to New York for three.
* The Braves have 12 of their final 19 games are on the road, including three-game visits to both the Mets and Phillies. They need to sweep the Mets and hope for the best in the next six games against the Marlins and Caps.
* A great season for Manny Acta and the Nats. Instead of challenging the 1962 Mets they will finish ahead of the Marlins.
* The Marlins need to go 19-0 to finish two games under .500. How’s your season been?

Central Division W L Pct GB Home Road Streak Last 10 games Bat
Avg ERA Runs per G
Milwaukee
73 69 .514 – 45-26 28-43 Won 2 7-3 .266 4.50 4.91
Chicago
72 70 .507 1.0 38-36 34-34 Lost 1 4-6 .269 4.11 4.55
St. Louis
69 71 .493 3.0 39-31 30-40 Lost 3 5-5 .273 4.60 4.55
Cincinnati
64 79 .448 9.5 35-37 29-42 Lost 2 3-7 .267 5.04 4.92
Pittsburgh
63 80 .441 10.5 33-39 30-41 Won 1 4-6 .263 4.76 4.55
Houston
62 81 .434 11.5 36-33 26-48 Lost 5 3-7 .255 4.73 4.36
* Will the Brewers hang on? Will they beat out the Cubs and Cards? Are any of these teams relevant to the second round of the post-season? The Brewers next nine games are against Pittsburgh, Cincy, and Houston, do you get the feeling this is the time they must get hot?
* Ahh, the Cubbies. They are already much better than last season, isn’t that enough? No. Five of their next eight games are against St. Louis, it remains to be seen what in the Cards for this team. None of the rest of their games are against teams with an over .500 record.
* Damn that Rick Anki*l. Are these Tony LaRussa’s final games at the helm? Is he the next Yankees manager? Will the Cards finish over .500? Do I have to ask so many questions? Apparently.
* Cincinnati interim manager Pete Mackanin may actually be back next season. Poor Pete.
* Pirates GM Dave Littlefield won’t be back next season. The Pirates’ 442-581 record and .432 winning percentage in his six-plus seasons as general manager made his firing on Friday understandable.
*
* Littlefield was fired Friday after the franchise showed negligible progress on the field and not nearly enough in its farm system. Director of player development Brian Graham will serve as the interim general manager until Littlefield’s replacement is found, after a team president is hired. Many of Littlefield’s moves seemed dictated by money. His failure to protect some top prospects and keep marginal ones led the Pirates to lose five of the top six picks in the 2005 winter-meeting draft, resulting in audible laughter in the New Orleans hotel meeting room. The Pirates are two losses away from their 15th consecutive losing season.
* Odds are Houston’s interim manager Cecil Cooper will get to come back next year. This whole division is so miserable. The Astros need to go 19-0 to finish at .500.

Western Division W L Pct GB Home Road Streak Last 10 games Bat
Avg ERA Runs per G
Arizona
81 63 .563 – 46-29 35-34 Won 5 7-3 .248 4.14 4.36
San Diego
77 65 .542 3.0 40-31 37-34 Lost 1 4-6 .249 3.66 4.46
Los Angeles
75 68 .524 5.5 37-32 38-36 Lost 1 5-5 .273 3.99 4.53
Colorado
74 68 .521 6.0 43-28 31-40 Won 1 7-3 .275 4.40 5.08
San Francisco
65 78 .455 15.5 35-36 30-42 Won 1 4-6 .252 4.04 4.23
* The Diamondbacks are a pretty amazing story considering they give up more runs than they score and if they win this division it will be incredible. All-Star second baseman Orlando Hudson may need season-ending thumb surgery. Hudson tore a ligament in his left thumb sliding headfirst into third base against San Diego on Tuesday night. He is hitting a team-high .294 with 10 home runs and 63 RBIs. Arizona signed veteran reliever Bob Wickman, 38, who was released by the Braves last month. He was 3-3 with a 3.92 ERA. The next 12 games are home and away series with the Giants and the Dodgers. The D-Backs are the lowest-scoring team in the majors on the road this season and they are on the road all week.
* The key for the Padres is going to be a 10-game homestand, which starts Friday, against San Francisco, Pittsburgh and Colorado. The Giants and Pirates have losing records. Last season, the Padres were 1