Billy-Ball Daily: 2007-10-10

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

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The only spin here is on my screwball

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Top of the 1st
I PREDICT
Okay folks, I think I provide you with a huge amount of information each day, a strong dose of analysis, tasty trivia tidbits, thoughtful commentary and hopefully, lots of humor. Considering I write every day, if I have to say so myself, I think I do a pretty good job. However, I have to tell you, my predictions are simply awful.

You would think that with all my involvement with baseball, I would get at least 50% of my picks correct. At this point, as I reflect on some of my selections, I think 50% would be terrific. Look, I am being honest with you so I’m here to remind you that prior to the season I picked as Division winners, the Yankees, the Mets, the Brewers, the Dodgers, and get ready, the Rangers. Granted I picked the Indians, but overall, my record is simply hideous.

What is wrong with me? Just to let you know this has been going on for a long time. I picked the Cardinals to lose in 1967 and to win in 1968 in the World Series. You might recall it went the opposite way.

I picked Al Gore. I picked John Kerry.

I predicted Isaiah Washington would return to “Grey’s Anatomy.”

I predicted a long and happy marriage for Britney Spears and Kevin Federline.

The more I think about my predictions, the more depressed I get.

I picked the South in the Civil War.

I predicted the mission was accomplished.

I predicted the success of Kei Igawa.

Clearly, some of my picks are dictated by my head, others by my heart; it simply doesn’t matter. The body part that seems to make the final determination is the one I sit on.

The question is why I do this? I don’t bet on things, thank goodness. I just predict. Then I have to accept the grief when I’m wrong. And, my goodness, I am wrong a lot.

So why am I coming clean here? It’s simple. I feel guilty. People ask me all the time who do I think will win this, who will win that? Invariably I make my prediciton and invariably I’m wrong. But people coming back to me the same way the people watch the weatherman who is so frequently wrong. By the way, if I predict a cold winter, it’s warm. If I predict sun, it rains.

But by writing this column, I have put out a warning: caveat emptor – buyer beware. I may know a little about what I’m talking about, but I know little when it comes to predictions.

Coming tomorrow…my picks for the League Championship Series.

Take the opposite.

Top of the 2nd
THE POSTSEASON SCHEDULE
AL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
Cleveland Indians vs. Boston Red Sox
Gm Date Site Time ET (TV)
1 Fri., Oct. 12 @BOS 7 p.m. (FOX)
CLE: C. Sabathia (1-0, 5.40) BOS: J. Beckett (1-0, 0.00)
2 Sat., Oct. 13 @BOS 8 p.m. (FOX)
CLE: F. Carmona (0-0, 1.00) BOS: C. Schilling (1-0, 0.00)
3 Mon., Oct. 15 @CLE 7 p.m. (FOX)
BOS: D. Matsuzaka (0-0, 5.79) CLE: J. Westbrook (0-1, 10.80)
4 Tues., Oct. 16 @CLE 8 p.m. (FOX)
BOS: T. Wakefield (0-0, 0.00) P. Byrd (1-0, 3.60)
* 5 Thurs., Oct. 18 @CLE 8 p.m. (FOX)
BOS: J. Beckett (1-0, 0.00) CLE: C. Sabathia (1-0, 5.40)
* 6 Sat., Oct. 20 @BOS TBD (FOX)
* 7 Sun., Oct. 21 @BOS TBD (FOX)
* if necessary

NL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
Colorado Rockies vs. Arizona Diamondbacks
Gm Date Site Time ET (TV)
1 Thurs., Oct. 11 @ARI 8:30 p.m. (TBS)
COL: J. Francis (1-0, 1.29) ARI: B. Webb (1-0, 1.29)
2 Fri., Oct. 12 @ARI 10 p.m. (TBS)
COL: J. Fogg (1-0, 0.00) ARI: D. Davis (1-0, 6.35)
3 Sun., Oct. 14 @COL 8:30 (TBS)
ARI: L. Hernandez (1-0, 1.50) COL: F. Morales (0-0, 9.00)
4 Mon,. Oct. 15 @COL 10 p.m. (TBS)
ARI: M. Owings (0-0, 0.00) COL: U. Jimenez (0-0, 1.42)
* 5 Wed., Oct. 17 @COL 8:30 p.m. (TBS)
ARI: B. Webb COL: J. Francis (1-0, 3.00)
* 6 Fri., Oct. 19 @ARI 8:30 p.m. (TBS)
* 7 Sat., Oct. 20 @ARI TBD (TBS)
* if necessary

WORLD SERIES
Gm Date Site Time (TV)
1 Wed., Oct. 24 AL hosts FOX
2 Thurs., Oct. 25 AL hosts FOX
3 Sat., Oct. 27 NL hosts FOX
4 Sun., Oct. 28 NL hosts FOX
* 5 Mon., Oct. 29 NL hosts FOX
* 6 Wed., Oct. 31 AL hosts FOX
* 7 Thurs., Nov. 1 AL hosts FOX

Top of the 3rd
RANKING THE FINAL FOUR
Today we’ll look at the offense, tomorrow at pitching.

Batting Average
The Rockies were 5th in the majors with a .280 team average.
The Red Sox were 6th in the majors with a .279 team average.
The Indians were 15th in the majors with a .268 team average.
The Diamondbacks were 29th in the majors with a .250 team average.

Homers
The Indians were 9th in the majors with 178 team homers.
The Rockies were tied for 13th in the majors with 171 team homers.
The Diamondbacks were tied for 13th in the majors with 171 team homers.
The Red Sox were 18th in the majors with 166 team homers.

Runs
The Red Sox were 4th in the majors with 867 runs scored.
The Rockies were 5th in the majors with 860 runs scored.
The Indians were 8th in the majors with 811 runs scored.
The Diamondbacks were 26th in the majors with 712 runs scored.

Slugging Percentage
The Red Sox were 6th in the majors with a slugging percentage of .444.
The Rockies were 7th in the majors with a slugging percentage of .437.
The Indians were 12th in the majors with a slugging percentage of .428.
The Diamondbacks were 18th in the majors with a slugging percentage of .413.

Stolen Bases
The Diamondbacks were 10th in the majors with 109 steals.
The Rockies were 13th in the majors with 100 steals.
The Red Sox were 15th in the majors with 96 steals.
The Indians were 22nd in the majors with 72 steals.

Walks
The Red Sox were 1st in the majors with 689 walks.
The Rockies were 5th in the majors with 622 walks.
The Indians were 6th in the majors with 590 walks.
The Diamondbacks were 15th in the majors with 532 walks.

Strikeouts
The Indians were 6th worst in the majors with 1202 strikeouts.
The Rockies were 7th worst in the majors with 1152 strikeouts.
The Diamondbacks were 15th worst in the majors with 1111 strikeouts.
The Red Sox were 21st worst in the majors with 1042 strikeouts.

Left on Base
The Red Sox left the 2nd most runners on base in the majors with 1291.
The Rockies left the 4th most runners on base in the majors with 1251.
The Indians left the 6th most runners on base in the majors with 1215.
The Diamondbacks left the 28th most runners on base in the majors with 1090.

Top of the 4th
TRIBE TALK
* The Indians have now played 61 postseason games since the 1995 season and are 32-39 in those games.
* The Indians earned their seventh AL Central Division title and first since 2001 as they posted a mark of 96-66 (.593) during the regular season which tied the Red Sox for the best record in the majors.
* The 96 wins were the seventh highest single-season win title in franchise history and their most wins in a season since 1999 (97-65).
* It was the 17th time in franchise history that the team topped 90 wins.
* The Indians seven division titles since 1995 is third most in the majors over that time, trailing only the Atlanta Braves (11) & the New York Yankees (10).
* Their 48-28 was the best intra-division mark in the majors this year. The Indians were 35-40 (.467) against the AL Central in 2006.
* The Indians recorded 11 or more wins against all 4 teams in the Central, including a record of 14-4 (.778) against the Minnesota Twins.
* The Indians pitching staff finished with the third lowest ERA in the American League at 4.05, down from 4.41 in 2006.
* Indians starters posted the lowest ERA (4.19) in the AL, while recording 70 of the teams 96 wins, which ranked 3rd most in the MLB.
* Tribe’s starters led all MLB starting staff’s in innings pitched with 1021.1 innings ahead of the Chicago White Sox (1016.0) and Toronto Blue Jays (102.1IP).
* Since July 24th, the Indians starting pitchers were 29-17 with a 3.31 ERA (410.2IP, 402H, 151ER) over their final 63 games to lower their ERA from 4.79 (10th in the AL) to 4.19 (led AL).
* Fausto Carmona (3.06) finished 2nd in the AL in ERA, while C.C. Sabathia (3.21) finished 5th in the league. This marked the first time since 2000 (Colon & Finley) that the Indians had 2 pitchers finish in the top 10 in ERA.
* The Indians finished 6th in the American League and 8th in Major League Baseball with 811 runs scored (5.0RS/GM).
* From August 17 thru the end of the season the Indians hit .275 (402-1462) with 86 2B, 42HR and 211 runs scored over the last 42 games (5.0RS/GM).
* The Indians were a major league-best 31-12 (.721) over the last 43 games of the season since August 15th.
* The Indians hit .264 (671-2553) in the second half (4.6RS per game) after hitting .272 (831-3051) and averaging 5.4RS per game in the first half.
* Overall the Indians finished 7th in the AL in doubles (305), 5th in home runs (178), 12th in stolen bases (72), 4th in walks (490), 5th in on-base % (343) and 5th in slugging % (.428)
* Tribe had 7 different players notch double-digit home run totals and 5 reach the 20 homer plateau.
* In the ALDS, the Tribe scored 16 of their 24 runs with two out.
* They were 12-for-27 with two out and runners in scoring position against the Yanks.
* Grady Sizemore hit .375 (6-for-16) with three runs and a .524 on base percentage.
* Jhonny Peralta hit .467 (7-for-15.
* Victor Martinez and Kenny Lofton tied for the RBI lead with four each.
* In six innings, Rafael Perez went 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA, allowing one run on three hits. He struck out six and walked a batter.
* The Red Sox own home field advantage because they went 5-2 against the Indians during the regular season.
* In losing five of seven games to Boston during the regular season, the Indians hit .229 (45-for-197). Kelly Shoppach hit .571 (4-for-7) with one homer and one RBI. Kenny Lofton hit .297 (11-for-37) against Boston as a member of the Texas Rangers.
* Paul Byrd and Fausto Carmona are the only Tribe pitchers to beat Boston this year.
* In Boston’s seven games against the Tribe this season, Ramirez batted .417 with two doubles, three home runs and seven RBI.
* Against C.C. Sabathia, Manny Ramirez hit .571, 12-for-21, but Jason Varitek hit.100, 1-for-10.
* Josh Beckett has struggled against Travis Hafner (.444, 4-for-9), but loves to face Victor Martinez (.182, 2-for-11).
* Casey Blake, has a .348 average with five home runs and 12 RBI in 46 at-bats at Fenway.
* Travis Hafner has a career average of .345 with four homers and 21 RBI in 58 at-bats at Fenway.
* Kenny Lofton, has an average of .333 with three homers and 18 RBI in 234 Fenway at-bats.
* Victor Martinez is batting .314 with three homers and 14 RBI in 51 Fenway at-bats, and the numbers for Jhonny Peralta are .286 with two RBI.
* Grady Sizemore is has a .231 average with two home runs and four RBI in 38 at-bats at Fenway.
* Kelly Shoppach is 4-for-5 with a home run, and Jason Michaels is 4-for-10 with a homer at the Fens.
* Sabathia is a homegrown pitcher who is 100-63 over his seven seasons.
* Carmona signed as a non-drafted free agent in December 2000 and went 1-10 as a rookie last year.
* Paul Byrd, went 15-8 this season, his most victories since 2002.
* In the bullpen, the Rafaels — Betancourt and Perez — each has an ERA lower than 1.80,
* Closer Joe Borowski had 45 saves.
* The bullpen ranks fifth in the AL in ERA.
* The intended closer, Keith Foulke, retired in spring training.
* The first homestand was postponed by snow.
* Designated hitter Travis Hafner, a career .297 batter before this season, ended at .266.
* Cliff Lee, an 18-game winner two years ago, and Jeremy Sowers, 7-4 as a rookie in 2006, went 6-14 total.
* Ryan Garko is a converted catcher playing first base.
* Switch-hitting rookie shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, began the season at Class AA Akron (Ohio), came up Aug. 7 and has hit in the No. 2 slot while playing second base — even though he had never played that position in the minors.

Top of the 5th
MANUEL LABOR
The Philadelphia Phillies and manager Charlie Manuel agreed to a new two-year contract with a club option for 2010. “I am very happy to be back for another two years,” Manuel said. “I’m proud of what the team accomplished this year and I’m looking forward to defending our division title and reaching our goal of winning a World Series for Philadelphia.”

The 63-year-old Manuel led the Phillies to an 89-73 record in his third season with the team and led the Phils to their first postseason appearance in 14 years. Manuel, who previously managed the Cleveland Indians, is 262-224 in three years in Philadelphia. Among Phillies managers, Manuel reached 250 wins in the fewest games since Pat Moran managed the club from 1915-18. The Phillies were swept 3-0 by the Colorado Rockies.

Top of the 6th
LARUSSA WAITING
Tony La Russa, who is deliberating whether to return for a 13th season, will wait for the St. Louis Cardinals to hire a GM before making a decision whether to return. “The GM is the guy I would work for directly,” La Russa was quoted as saying. “So why would I get in a situation where the manager is not the guy who (the new general manager) would hire?”

You know where I think La Russa will end up – http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21216307/

Top of the 7th
ATTENDANCE SURGES
Eight teams — both New York clubs, St. Louis, Detroit, the Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee and Boston — set new franchise attendance records, with the Yankees setting another American League record with a league-leading mark of 4.27 million tickets sold. Four clubs this year — the Cubs, Cardinals, Red Sox and Giants — sold more than 95 percent of their available ticket inventory, with another four clubs topping the 90 percent threshold.

Top of the 8th
DID YOU KNOW?
Since the 5th inning of Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS against the Red Sox, Alex Rodriguez is 0-for-27 with runners on base in the postseason.

Top of the 9th
PASSING (ON) THE BUCK
When is enough enough? Well, we apparently we haven’t quite reached the Joe Buck saturation point. Apparently Fox is considering a weekly, half-hour late-night show hosted by its lead sports personality, Joe Buck. Buck, Fox Sports’ lead play-by-play announcer, heads up the top broadcast teams for the network’s National Football League and Major League Baseball coverage.

The format currently under consideration would include both interviews and comedy and be set in front of a small studio audience. The network’s entertainment division just quietly completed a pilot for the show in New York. The son of the late legendary sportscaster Jack Buck, he was hired by Fox in 1994 at the age of 25 and became the youngest announcer to call a regular NFL package on network television. Buck has also appeared on shows such as NBC’s Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and twice actually guest-hosted Craig Kilborn’s Late Late Show on CBS in 2004.

Bottom of the 9th
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Information provided in Billy-Ball has been gathered from A.P. reports, espn.com, sportsline.com, mlb.com and numerous other e-sources. Opinions expressed in Billy-Ball are obviously solely the opinions of the author of Billy-Ball and do not reflect those of source material no matter how off the wall they may be.