Billy-Ball Daily: 2008-8-4

8/4/2008
Billy-Ball Daily
Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)

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By Baseball Newstalgist, Bill Chuck

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The only spin here is on my screwball

Monday, August 4, 2008

Top of the 1st
THE JULY REPORT CARD
Here is a review of the month of July with records and standings as of August 1.

AL East W L PCT GB HOME ROAD
Tampa Bay 64 44 .593 – 41-16 23-28
Last year the Rays were bedeviled by a 41-67 mark. They struggled a bit in July going 13-12 but actually gained some breathing room. The Rays have the majors’ best home ERA at 2.93. They should have made a deal before the deadline.

Boston 62 48 .564 3.0 38-16 24-32
The Red Sox finished the month at 11-13, including 4-8 after the All-Star break. The team at home was 6-6. The over-rated Nancy Drew hit just .221 with 3 HR and 9 RBI for the month. The over-the-hill Jason Varitek hit .197 with 1 HR and 5 RBI in July. Great month for Jon Lester, 3-0, 2.05 ERA.

New York 59 50 .541 5.5 34-26 25-24
The Yanks had a good month going 15-10 and exhibited a strong bullpen which will only be better with Damaso Marte (and without Kyle (What is) Farnsworth. The Yanks now have A-Rod and I-Rod and X-Man, now they just need to keep winning. Joba Chamberlain proved he’s the real deal going 2-1, 2.52 ERA in July. It was their 16th consecutive season with a winning record in the month of July which surpasses the longest stretch for any club (Pittsburgh Pirates, 15 straight winning Julys from 1899-1913).

Toronto 54 55 .495 10.5 30-23 24-32
The Jays were a surprisingly strong 13-11 in July. They were 55-54 at this point last season.

Baltimore 52 56 .481 12.0 29-23 23-33
The Orioles were disappointing in July going 10-16 but they have already won more one-run games in 2008 (19, 19-20 record) than they did the entire 2007 season (13-31).

AL Central W L PCT GB HOME ROAD
Chicago 61 47 .565 – 35-16 26-31
The White Sox were 13-12 in July. Last year after 108 games the ChiSox were 49-59.

Minnesota 61 48 .560 0.5 38-20 23-28
Another good month for the Twins as they went 15-10. They leads the majors hitting with runners and scoring position and RISP w/2 outs and hitting with the bases loaded. No wonder they are such a terrific team. Great month for Justin Morneau, who hit .360, 6 home runs, 23 RBI.

Detroit 55 54 .505 6.5 29-22 26-32
After a huge June, the Tigers were 13-13 in July and need a big August and September. They had their best offensive month in July scoring 152 runs, but they have been shutout 11 times this season. Miggy Cabrera, had a great month, hitting .330, 8 home runs, 31 RBI.

Kansas City 50 60 .455 12.0 24-30 26-30
The Royals were 12-14 in July and gave up 28 more runs than they scored. Theme song: “On the Road to Nowhere.”

Cleveland 47 61 .435 14.0 29-26 18-35
Another disappointing month as the Tribe went 10-14. Wow, the Indians were 60-47 last year at this point. By the end of last season the Tribe had lost 24 times in their division; by the end of July this year they had lost 28 times.

AL West W L PCT GB HOME ROAD
Los Angeles 69 40 .633 – 31-21 38-19
The Angels went 19-6 in July, the second-best calendar month in club history. They opened the month with a 3.5 game lead and ended with a club-record 12.5 game lead. They hit .296 for the month after hitting .252 in June and averaged 6.4 runs per game (160 total) after just 3.8 per game last month. The Halos hit 36 home runs in 25 games in July, the most since the club hit 42 long balls in June of 2003. Francisco Rodriguez went 0-1, but had12 saves, but perhaps a worrisome 3.75 ERA.

Texas 57 53 .518 12.5 28-23 29-30
Third straight winning month for the Rangers (13-12), the first time that has happened in a season since posting winning record in first 3 months of 2004. The team has now been .500 or better in 7 of the last 8 months dating to last season. The team earned run average was 6.63 and according to Elias no other team in major league history has had a winning record with an ERA that high. As if this team needed another bat, rookie Chris Davis, hit .303, 8 home runs, 16 RBI in July. Texas or its opponent scored 10-plus runs in 10 of 25 games in July, including four games in which both teams scored in double figures.

Oakland 53 55 .491 15.5 32-29 21-26
The A’s had their worst July in 11 years (8-19 in 1997), posting an 8-17 mark (.320) during the month. They batted .235 with 86 runs scored in July, the lowest in the AL, and the second fewest walks (71, tied with Seattle). The last time the A’s had fewer than 71 walks in a full month was July, 1987 (60). The pitchers had a 4.17 ERA in July, the only month this year it did not register an ERA under 3.72. But rookie pitcher Brad Ziegler, had 11 more appearances, 17 more innings, without giving up a run.

Seattle 41 68 .376 28.0 20-33 21-35
The M’s need 23 wins in their last 54 games to avoid becoming the first 100-loss team with a $100 million payroll. The Mariners are the only American League team without an eight-game winner so good luck on that quest.

NL East W L PCT GB HOME ROAD
Philadelphia 59 50 .541 – 29-24 30-26
Just like last season the Phils were 15-10 in July and they are entering their time of the season. Over the past 3 seasons, the Phillies are 140-94 (.598) after the All-Star break, which is the best record and most wins among all NL clubs. Over that same time frame, the Phillies have scored the most runs (1,343) in the NL. Big month for the big guy, Ryan Howard, hit .311, 10 home runs, 27 RBI.

New York 58 51 .532 1.0 32-20 26-31
The Mets were a huge 18-8 in July. Jose Reyes was tied for the major league lead with Milwaukee’s J.J. Hardy with 39 hits and was also tied with Tampa Bay’s Carl Crawford with four triples in July. Fernando Tatis led all major leaguers with a .397 (29-73) batting average in July (min. 70 at-bats). David Wright led the majors with 26 runs scored in the month. Oliver Perez led the majors with a 1.38 ERA (five earned runs / 32.2 innings) in
July (minimum of 27 innings). Carlos Delgado was tied for third in the majors with nine home runs in July (he hit.357, 9 home runs, 24 RBI). Mike Pelfrey was tied for second in the majors with four victories in July. The Mets won 10 games in a row from July 5th-July 17th. The Mets were 10-2 at Shea.

Florida 58 52 .527 1.5 32-25 26-27
The Fish were 15-12 in July after going 12-16 in June. The Marlins collected a season high 241 hits in July, besting their previous high of 240 in April. Jorge Cantu hit .343 average to lead the club. Cody Ross led the team with 22 RBI and Doug Waechter came out of the bullpen to earn three of the bullpen’s seven wins.

Atlanta 50 59 .459 9.0 32-24 18-35
The Braves went 10-15 in the month of July, with a .256 team batting average (12th in NL) and a 5.27 team ERA (15th). The ERA was the Braves’ highest in one calendar month since July 2006 (5.31).

Washington 39 70 .358 20.0 21-33 18-37
The worst record in the majors 5-17, in July and the worst record forever for this season.

NL Central W L PCT GB HOME ROAD
Chicago 65 45 .591 – 39-15 26-30
The Cubs went 15-11 in July, winning every month this season, the first time they have done that since 2001. The Cubbies had a 3.64 ERA in July that ranked second in the majors behind the Dodgers (3.44). On the other hand, Chicago hit just .265 last month, that ranked eighth in the N.L. and 18th in the majors. They averaged 4.9 runs per game. For the season, they lead the majors in walks.

Milwaukee 61 49 .555 4.0 32-23 29-26
The Brewers went 16-10 in June and then 16-11 in July, it marked the first time that the team had at least 16 wins in consecutive months since July (16-12) and August (16-14) of 1995. Ryan Braun (.366, 9hr, 23rbi) was the Brewers Player of the Month and
CC Sabathia (4-0, 1.82) was the Brewers Pitcher of the Month for July. However, since the Break, the Brewers were last in the National League in batting average with RISP.

St. Louis 62 50 .554 4.0 31-25 31-25
The Cards were 13-14 in July but look at their home and road records for the season. The Cardinals didn’t make any moves at the deadline, but the way their players get hurt and recover they have enough internal transactions to keep a changing face on this team.

Houston 51 57 .472 13.0 27-26 24-31
Acting like buyers before the trading deadline, somebody better let them know that they were 10-14 in July, the 3rd consecutive season and the 4th time in 5 years that the club has posted a sub-.500 record during the month. The Astros hit .262 during July and posted a 4.95 team ERA. On the plus side, they have committed the fewest errors in the bigs and are hitting better than any other team with runners on first and third.

Pittsburgh 51 58 .468 13.5 32-26 19-32
The Buccos were 12-14 in July. Pittsburgh posted the third-highest batting average (.282) in the National League during the month of July, trailing only New York (.304) and Colorado (.302). Pirates are now trying to trade the memory of Roberto Clemente. The more things change, the more the Pirates stay under .500.

Cincinnati 51 59 .464 14.0 30-25 21-34
Adam Dunn in July hit .310, led the majors with 12 homers and tied for second in the National League and tied for third in the majors with 26 RBI. By the end of the month, the Reds were 32-29 vs. opponents with records above .500 and 19-29 vs opponents with records below .500. The Reds were a respectable 12-13 in July.

NL West W L PCT GB HOME ROAD
Arizona 57 52 .523 – 30-22 27-30
Arizona was 14-11 in July and were actually +18 in runs. The D-backs hit .272 in July, fifth in the National League despite having 13 games with at least 10 hits. Arizona is 16-7 in Brandon Webb starts and under .500 otherwise.

Los Angeles 54 55 .495 3.0 30-27 24-28
Why did the Dodgers want Manny? At the end of July, the Dodgers led the NL and ranked third in the majors with a 3.67 ERA, trailing only Oakland (3.57) and Toronto (3.64). Los Angeles had a ML-best 2.89 home ERA. That’s why they were 16-10 in July.

Colorado 50 61 .450 8.0 31-22 19-39
Starting their comeback early this season, on August 1 this team was 10-4 to begin the second half of the season, the best record in the NL in that span. The Rockies finished July with a 17-10 record, their most wins during any month this year. Garrett Atkins and Matt Holliday combined for 50 RBI more than any other pair of teammates in the NL during the month. Ubaldo Jimenez led the majors with five wins in the month. Don’t forget the rookie, with the racecar driver’s name, Ian Stewart, who hit .432, with 1 home run, 15 RBI.

San Francisco 45 63 .417 11.5 20-34 25-29
The Giants were 8-16 in July, their worst month of the season. Through the end of July, the Giants were 21-22 vs. teams with losing marks and 23-41 against winning clubs.

San Diego 42 68 .382 15.5 24-33 18-35
Padres were 9-15 in July and were not as good as that. In the month of July, the Padres stole one base, with the theft by 42-year-old pitcher Greg Maddux. That put Maddux behind the 96 players who stole at least one base in July.

As we hit August we say goodbye to the hopes for the following teams for this season (too many teams ahead of them in the division and/or too far behind in the Wild Card): Baltimore, Oakland, KC, Cleveland, Seattle, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, SF, SD, and Washington. On the verge: Houston,Toronto, Detroit, and Colorado.

Have a great August.

Top of the 2nd
SWEEPS
The Astros beat New York 4-0 yesterday to finish their first three-game sweep of the Mets since September 1993 as Randy Wolf (7-10) won his home debut for the Astros, who’ve won six of their last seven games. The Astros won a series from the Mets for the first time since July 2005. New York went 1-for-10 yesterday and 6-for-26 in the series with runners in scoring position. Houston’s bullpen did not allow a run in 11 innings against the Mets who have dropped four in a row and were shut out for the fourth time this season. Closer Billy Wagner was unavailable with a strained left forearm and was due to have an MRI exam tomorrow. The Mets also placed right-hander John Maine on the disabled list to further rest his sore right shoulder.

Daisuke Matsuzaka picked up his 12th win and the Red Sox completed a three-game sweep with a 5-2 win over the struggling Oakland Athletics yesterday. Matsuzaka (12-2), allowed two runs, four hits, walked two and struck out eight in six innings. In the 5th, David Ortiz walked and took off for second on the next pitch, not drawing a throw on his first stolen base of the season that amused the crowd as catcher Rob Bowen bobbled the ball. Boston improved to 40-16 at Fenway Park after losing five of the first six games in a nine-game homestand. The Red Sox, just 24-32 away from home, play their next seven games on the road, beginning tonight in Kansas City. The Athletics lost their sixth straight and 15th in 17 games.

The Washington Nationals won yesterday, 4-2 victory to finish off a three-game sweep of the stumbling Cincinnati Reds. Not counting a win in a one-game series with Atlanta on opening day, the Nationals now have two sweeps — both against fellow last-place teams. They took three in a row in Seattle during an interleague series in June. The Reds lost for the eighth time in nine games and fell to a season-worst 10 games under .500. The Reds have a losing record in 21 of their last 24 road trips.

Top of the 3rd
AT A GLANCE
* The Angels surrender 10 unearned runs as Yankees gain split with the Halos, 14-9.
* Manny-Mania continues in LA as he goes 4-5 in 9-3 victory over the D-Backs.
* Carlos Pena draws a bases-loaded walk in the 10th to give the Rays a 6-5 comeback over the Tigers.
* The Cardinals bullpen implodes as the Phils explode for four in the 8th for a 5-4 win.
* The Braves beat Ben Sheets and the Brewers, 5-0.
* Chicago has won seven of its last eight games and tops Pittsburgh, 8-5.
* Royals rumble in KC, they win the brawl, they win the game topping the White Sox, 14-5.
* Francisco Liriano threw six scoreless innings helping the Twins to a 6-2 victory over the Cleveland Indians and Minnesota moves into first place.

Top of the 4th
THINGS YOU HEAR
Braves P Tim Hudson announced he will have Tommy John surgery within a week.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Cardinals outfielder Chris Duncan will have season ending neck surgery that will involve installing a prosthetic disc in place of a herniated disc in his neck. The procedure is relatively new and thought never to be done on an athlete before. It has been called something that could be career threatening.

The AP reports that Adam Wainwright is close to returning from a sprained middle finger that has kept him on the DL for nearly two months. He said, “I’m very shocked right now. I can’t believe how good I threw. I told the training staff before I threw today, I said the last two days I’ve felt a 200 percent difference in my hand, just holding stuff, grabbing things, even grabbing a remote or something. It just felt good all of a sudden. Today I went at it 100 percent and tested it completely.”

The Boston Herald reports that Joe Borowski has been offered a minor league deal by the Red Sox. If the Sox sign Borowski, he would be eligible to pitch in the postseason even if he does not appear in the major leagues until after September 1. In other Red Sox news, the Providence Journal reports that Julio Lugo is running again for the first time since straining his left quad. He said, “It feels good. It’s coming along.” Bartolo Colon, who is recovering from back stiffness, is set to make a rehab start with Triple-A Pawtucket and David Aardsma, who is recovering from a strained right groin, is scheduled to throw an inning at Pawtucket.

Matt Clement has been released by the Cardinals. He has not pitched in the major leagues since 2006, when he underwent right shoulder surgery and was ineffective in the minors.

Chipper Jones should return from the disabled list on Friday, according to MLB.com. He fielded ground balls and took some batting practice on Saturday and says he is ready to go. “I feel great. Everything feels good. I’ll be ready by Friday,” he said.

According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Derrick Turnbow and the Brewers have decided the reliever will start physical therapy instead of surgery to try and repair his torn right rotator cuff.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Cubs pitcher Jon Lieber will begin a minor league rehab assignment soon.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pirates closer Matt Capps could start a rehab assignment next weekend.

Top of the 5th
GOODBYE MESSAGE FROM JUNIOR
Ken Griffey Jr. released this statement through the Reds Saturday:

I would like to thank the Cincinnati Reds organization for allowing me to fulfill a lifelong dream of playing for my hometown team. I will always value the lasting friendships I have with the Lindner, Castellini and Williams families.

While my nine seasons there were filled with personal highlights – like hitting my 400th, 500th and 600th home runs in a Reds uniform – and the negatives of having to fight through too many injuries, my biggest regret is that we were not able to win a world championship while I was there.

I also would like to thank my many teammates, managers, coaches and Reds employees for their help and support and to acknowledge the many friendly relationships I had with most of the members of the local media. I will miss the banter.

Last, but certainly not least, I would like to thank Reds fans for their support. I really do understand that the overwhelming majority of fans wanted so badly for me to succeed. Additionally, I would like to sincerely apologize to those fans offended by my wrongful actions last Saturday night. It was an overreaction on my part to what I felt was a series of public inaccurate and unfair remarks about me.

I wish nothing but success for the Reds both on and off the field.

Sincerely,
Ken Griffey Jr.

“I don’t know if you’re going to see the guy from Seattle.”
Junior to White Sox GM Kenny Williams

The White Sox are already seeing the Griffey who was in Cincinnati as he had to leave the game on Saturday with leg cramps.

Top of the 6th
BILLY-BALL-SITE-OF-THE-DAY
Is there an all L.A. World Series in our future? Well, I wouldn’t place any money on that, but I would recommend 6-4-2 — an angels/dodgers double play blog. It’s our site of the day.
http://6-4-2.blogspot.com/

Top of the 7th
PROBABLE PITCHERS
AL
OAK Greg Smith (5-10, 4.04)
TOR Roy Halladay (12-8, 2.85)

CLE Cliff Lee (14-2, 2.58)
TB Matt Garza (9-6, 3.56)

NYY Joba Chamberlain (4-3, 2.24)
TEX Vicente Padilla (12-5, 4.52)

BOS Clay Buchholz (2-6, 5.94)
KC Gil Meche (9-9, 4.22)

BAL Dennis Sarfate (4-2, 4.00)
ANA Joe Saunders (14-5, 3.09)

MIN Glen Perkins (8-3, 4.20)
SEA Miguel Batista (4-11, 6.43)

NL
WAS Tim Redding (7-6, 4.34)
COL Aaron Cook (14-6, 3.53)

PIT Yoslan Herrera (1-1, 9.00)
ARZ Dan Haren (11-5, 2.62)

HOU Brian Moehler (6-4, 4.23)
CHC Ryan Dempster (12-4, 2.90)

MLW Manny Parra (9-4, 3.93)
CIN Bronson Arroyo (9-8, 5.74)

ATL Jair Jurrjens (10-6, 3.06)
SF Matt Cain (6-9, 3.70)

Top of the 8th
DID YOU KNOW?
In the Rays 6-5 come from behind 10 inning win over the Tigers, Trever Miller picked up the win by getting the final two outs in the 10th for the Rays. He did not have a decision in his previous 121 outings — a major league record — dating back to a victory over Atlanta on Sept. 30, 2006.

Top of the 9th
SKIP CAREY
Skip Caray, a voice of the Atlanta Braves for 33 years died in his sleep at home on yesterday. He was 68. The cause of death was not immediately known, but various health problems had limited Caray to calling only Braves home games this season. Caray said this year he was battling diabetes, congestive heart failure, an irregular heartbeat and reduced kidney and liver functions.

“We’ve all lost a very good friend,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said. “For me, he was a good buddy — at the park and away from the park. We always had a lot of great laughs. He will be very sorely missed.”

“Our baseball community has lost a legend today,” Braves president John Schuerholz said. “The Braves family and Braves fans everywhere will sadly miss him. Our thoughts are with his wife Paula and his children.”

“It’s a sad day,” John Smoltz said. “There are no words. Sad doesn’t do it justice. I will always remember Skip for his humor and his ability to go about life the way he did. I gained so much respect for what he did and how long he did and how he did.”

“I figured Skip Caray is as much a part of Atlanta Braves baseball as any of us,” said Chipper Jones. “We all grew up listening to Skip, whether it be on TV or radio. Any time the guys on ESPN imitate [you] calling the highlights, you’re pretty much a legend. From a fan’s standpoint, he’s going to be a huge loss for them because he relayed the games to fans for so long.”

Skip was son of Hall of Fame broadcaster Harry Carey and the father of Chip Caray, part of the Braves broadcast team, and Josh Caray, who is working on the radio for the Class A Rome Braves.

Caray and Pete Van Wieren have been broadcasting Braves games since 1976. Caray’s sarcastic wit made him a popular lead voice of the broadcast team, and his fame grew nationally as TBS carried Braves games to a national audience for 30 years.

“But behind the humor there was an honesty and a commitment to telling it like he believed it to be that never, ever varied,” Van Wieren said. “If he didn’t like it that a game was two minutes late getting started, everybody knew about it. If he had an opinion on a player, he said it. And he had a way of saying it that was sometimes humorous. The way he could take a bad ball game, in some of those bad years especially, and turn it into a fun broadcast, whether it was by talking about something in the game or whether it was talking about something that didn’t have anything to do with the game, maybe it was a movie that was coming up after the game or maybe it was a restaurant that he’d gone to. It could have been anything. He was just a very entertaining broadcaster and a very good one. The game was still the most important thing, but if game was decided by the fourth or fifth inning, people would still watch the rest of the game just to hear what he had to say about things. That’s a very, very unique ability.”

“We were able to joke around with one another, laugh at one another, and we also had a mutual respect for one another,” Tommy Glavine said. “I’ll miss that, seeing him around the game, taking a jab or two.”

“For so long, he was what people associated with the Atlanta Braves,” Glavine said. “Turn on TBS, and there was Skip. Good times, bad times, that was the constant. The voice people identify the Braves with is Skip Caray. That’s going to be missed.

“Not only are the Braves losing somebody special from their organization, baseball is too.”

Bottom of the 9th
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Bill Chuck is the creator of Billy-Ball.com and, with Jim Kaplan, is the author of the book, “Walk-Offs, Last Licks, and Final Outs – Baseball’s Grand (and not so Grand) Finales,” with a Foreword by Jon Miller available now from ACTA Sports.

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