Saturday, July 01, 2006

Weekend Links

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Hello all. I’m sorry if this weekend’s links aren’t quite up to par, but I’ve been spending most of my time trying to get my Blockbuster card back from Eddie Griffin.

  • The Twins kept things rolling Friday night with an 8-2 win over the visiting Brewers. Brad Radke continues to pick well, and Justin Morneau cranked his twentieth homer of the season. Hopefully that will help out his All-Star chances.

  • You know things are going well when Bump has kind words, even if they’re of the back-handed variety.

  • We all know defensive statistics are shaky at best, but Baseball Think Factory has their latest rankings up for all players with 200 or more innings in the field. Among the notables: Louis Castillo and Tony Batista ranked as the worst AL fielders at their positions, with Juan Castro posting negative numbers as well. I question the positive numbers for Morneau and Stewart, but then again, what do I know?

  • A follow-up link: hopefully you checked out Thomas’s Tuesday link of the minor league manager (another video here if you missed it). Now, thankfully, all has been explained: it was Calvinball.

  • Speaking of managers, it’s good to see that Ozzie has amended his ways.

  • I’ve always been a fan of Paul DePodesta, and frightwig does a wonderful job of summing up his situation. It also appears that DePo has landed on his feet in San Diego.

  • And finally, a link from the wonderful Fire Joe Morgan. I’m sure Celizic would have wanted the Metrodome crowd to mercilessly boo Koskie, too.

Enjoy the holidays, everyone.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Out of Left Field

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The Twins (and their fans) don’t need any extra incentive to win a border battle, but it’s there anyway. Beating down Milwaukee wouldn’t just improve the Twins record, it would also improve the chances of the Brewers becoming “sellers” at the trade deadline, which could make Carlos Lee available to the highest bidder.

Lee’s no stranger to Twins fans from his days as a White Sock(er), but it’s important to note that he hasn’t stopped mashing in Milwaukee. This year he already has 25 home runs (.582 SLG). The Twins might be especially interested because all that power is generated from the right side of the plate. His defense in the outfield can probably best be described as “indifferent”, but he’s a far better option for designated hitter than the Twins have had since David Ortiz left.

This is the last year of a long-term deal he signed with the White Sox, so he’ll be a free agent next summer. He’ll be an attractive one, too, seeing as he’s just thirty years old. The Brewers have a history of not being afraid to move mammoth right-handed sluggers to build on the future, ala the 2003 trade of Sexson for six players, all of whom had at least some time in the major leagues.

What’s Not Working. Yet.

They’ve developed a perennial Cy Young candidate and another starter with a 3.10 ERA. Their rookie first baseman has sixteen home runs. They’ve got two fantastic shortstop prospects, one of whom already has fifteen home runs. They’ve filled gaps with productive veterans, like acquiring one of the premier right-handed hitters in baseball, and a gold glove caliber Canuck who we all miss.

Yet their record is eminently average, and their playoff hopes are based more on a mediocre division than they are on sustained excellence. What’s wrong with the Brewers?

Nothing that most rebuilding small market teams don’t face. It’s great to say “play the kids” or to tout the advantages of building from within, but the reality is that teams who go that route have to be very lucky, or supplement their young talented core team with difference makers. For instance, it’s nice to portray the Tigers as a rebuilt team with some fun young players, but their team is also stacked with premier free agents, like Magglio Ordonez, Ivan Rodriguez and Kenny Rogers.

The Brewers have developed and nabbed about as much talent as any team can hope. They’ve drafted future stars, like Prince Fielder, who they selected in the 2002 draft and who already has sixteen home runs in his first full season in the majors. They’ve traded for minor league talent, like starting pitcher Chris Capuano, who was acquired a couple years back in the Richie Sexson deal, and who has a 3.10 ERA this year. They’ve traded for established difference makers, like Carlos Lee, who has 25 home runs and reasonable contract this year. They’ve found creative ways to plug gaps in their lineup, like trading a minor leaguer for Corey Koskie and $7 million.

But wait, there’s more. They’ve developed a perennial Cy Young candidate in Ben Sheets (whom they both drafted and developed). Their farm system has spit out productive middle infield prospects like Pez, such as shortstops JJ Hardy and Bill Hall or second baseman Richie Weeks. Their pitching coach has been praised for developing a bullpen out of former castoffs like Derrick Turnbow and Dan Kolb.

Unfortunately, it turns out that a team needs about fifteen dependable players to compete, and even the most productive farm system can have trouble finding all those pieces. The gaps for the Brewers have been on their pitching staff, which currently ranks last in the National League in runs against. Part of the problem is injuries. Sheets, who had a 2.70 ERA with 264(!) strikeouts in 2004, has had trouble remaining healthy for an extended stretch since. Toma Ohka wasn’t supposed to carry the Brewers staff, but his shoulder injury has meant more starts for guys like Dana Eveland (8.51 ERA), Ben Hendrickson (12.00 ERA) and our old friend Rick Helling (8.64 ERA).

The bullpen is almost as bad, and because of the bad starters, is also overused. Their closer, Turnbow, has blown four of 25 saves this year – and he’s the bright spot. The rest of them are pretty interchangeable – non-dominant guys with below-average ERAs because they tend to give up home runs.

That’s a shame, because this team has come a long way, and has a lot of offensive firepower. Their management has done a fantastic job, but their team still had some gaps which were widened by injuries where they could least afford them. The Brewers aren’t a great team yet. With some luck, they may just be a year from being a true contender.

On The Hill

Brewers: Carlos Villanueva (0-0, 2.65 ERA)

  • 2006 (AA): 4-5, 3.90 ERA, 62.1 IP, 61 H, 59 K, 14 BB, 6 HR

  • 2006: 17 IP, 12 H, 13 K, 4 BB, 26 HR

  • Desperate times call for desperate measures, which likely explains how a 22-year-old with all of 14 starts above A-ball finds himself in the Brewers rotation.

  • Doesn’t have a lot of velocity. Relies on great command.

  • Was sent to the bullpen about ten days ago, but he’s back in the rotation, replacing Rick Helling.

Twins: Brad Radke (6-7, 5.40 ERA)

  • 2005: 9-12, 201.2 IP, 117 K, 4.04 ERA

  • 2006: 93.1 IP, 129 H, 49 K, 25 BB, 17 HR

  • Relies primarily on an average fastball and a good changeup; also throws a curve.

  • He’s back. Since a shellacking against Cleveland at the end of May, Radke’s been very good. In June, he has a 2.27 ERA, and has given up just three home runs.

  • In the past, Radke’s shaken slumps by tightening his control, but that isn’t the case this year – he’s walking players at about the league average rate, which is a stratospherically high rate for Radke.

  • The knock on Radke has been his early game struggles. In his last start, the Cubs had several early opportunities, but didn’t capitalize. More promising is that Radke didn’t give up a home run (knock, knock).

What's Hunter Worth?

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The Twins have a big decision to make within the next month regarding Torii Hunter. Picking up his $12 million option would seem out of the question to a team with the Twins means – even to Torii. “I hope it's with a long-term deal, (because) I can't see it with the option," Torii reportedly said to’s Jayson Stark. "If they felt they had to go with the option, then I would be out of here July 31."

The reality is that neither option is very palatable to the Twins. Either they pay him $12 million to stay for one more year, or they pay him $2 million to leave as a free agent with no compensation beyond a possible draft pick. The third option – trade him for cheaper players or prospects before the end of July – isn’t going to be considered if the Twins are within shouting distance of the playoffs.

There’s one more option which Torii has mentioned a number of times – rip up the current contract and sign Hunter to a long-term deal. That’s a tricky proposition, and not just because it would need to happen over the next month, when it’s bound to be a distraction. The bigger problem is that it’s damn hard to figure out exactly what Hunter’s worth based on some of the other contracts that have been handed out lately. Given these deals, what would you pay Hunter?

I think most people would agree that Hunter slots in below Damon and above Cameron or Finley, but that leaves a range of salary between $7 million and $13 million per year. Would Hunter accept a four-year deal for $32 million plus the $2 million buyout? Would he be willing to do that when large market teams like the Angels or Dodgers might be waiting to offer him $44+ million? Would Terry Ryan be willing to tie up that much money when he has Lew Ford on the roster and Denard Span playing in AA-New Britain?

Hunter says there hasn't been a hint from the front office that they want to start negotiating a long term deal. Looking at the questions above, and with the possible range in salaries, it wouldn’t be too shocking if the Twins decided the chance of negotiating successfully in the next month was outweighed by the risk of it affecting Hunter’s performance. Or, possibly, Ryan has just delayed his decision until the all-star break so he give the Tigers or White Sox some more time to cool off.

But the clock is ticking. If the Twins find themselves on August first with Torii Hunter, without a long-term deal, and with no realistic chance of making the playoffs, Ryan will have made a mistake that a payroll-capped team like the Twins can’t afford. Literally.

Links of the Day for 6/29/06

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The Twins won again. You know things are going well when your local sports writers don't feel the need to mention that it was a sweep.

Unfortunately, things are going well for every team in the division and we are still eleven games out of first place (blasted tigers!). Jim Caple of ESPN's page 2 wrote an article commenting on the American League's utter domination of interleague play this year. Apparently, the addition of Juan Castro has brought the entire national league to its knees. Even the Royals are 8-5 against the NL!

With their recent success, the young members of the Twins are generation some positive buzz. With this added attention, Liriano has been give a nickname. Also, I can finally stop complaining about the lack of all-star votes for Mauer.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Links of the Day for 6/28/06

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Hitting Stride: Another day, another victory for the resurgent Twins. The wins are tallying like grapes from a vine, adding up in bunches. 5 in a row, 14 of 15, 16 of 18. And they’re doing it the well-rounded way, with hitting and pitching. The pitching and defense have given up no more than 3 runs in 15 of their last 18 games, an impressive streak that accounts for more than just the Twin Terrors start days. The winning attitude has seeped into the dugout and infected everyone with a confident swagger missing earlier in the season. As Jim Souhan writes, there’s been little ground made up on the Tigers or White Sox, yet the overall psyche of the fanbase is soaring. It’s once again exciting to watch a winner, talk successes, dream fortunes and breath that Dome air.

Hits Parade: Like the Energizer bunny, he keeps going and going and going. 4 for 5 Monday night. 5 for 5 Tuesday night, bumping his batting average to .389, 27 points higher than the closest suitor. It doesn’t matter who pitches them. Just that they’re in the vicinity of the plate. Chairman Mauer does the rest. And at long last, the rest of the country has noticed, as evidenced by his recent climb up the All-Star ballot. It’s a crying shame it figures to be too little too late. Methinks this will be the last year that mistake is made.

Torii Talk: ESPN’s Jayson Stark throws his two cents into the Torii Hunter roundtable discussion. Very thorough and enjoyable read.

Break Out the Rosary Beads: Please keep in your prayers the game’s beloved scribe, Peter Gammons, who suffered a brain aneurysm Tuesday. The man lives and breathes America’s pastime, using his wisdom and wit to become hands-down the best in the business. Here’s to a speedy recovery Mr. Gammons. We’re pulling for you.

Pure Entertainment: I’m sure everyone has been inundated with the absurd verbal feud between Ozzie Guillen and Chicago Sun-Times columnist Jay Mariotti. I don’t blame Ozzie for ripping him, but of all the words he could have picked to describe the @&#$!, the one that rhymed with hag would be well down my list of choices, not to mention outrage everyone and their mother. Well, a Chicago blogger has taken it upon himself to do the impossible and unite Cubs and Sox fans in their common hatred for Mariotti. This irrepressibly funny blog,, exposes him for the shallow writer he truly is. And if that’s not enough, check out this article from Chicago Tribune writer Eric Zorn, who painstakingly pieces together the highlights of Mariotti’s fuzzy logic and irrational tendencies from 2005. Some write to educate, some write to entertain. Some writers accomplish both (see Peter Gammons, above) while one does neither – Jay Mariotti.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

On Dodgers and Saints

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Ask most Twins fans about connections between Minnesota baseball and the Dodgers, and they’ll mention the 1965 World Series. However, the Dodgers have a much deeper history with baseball in the state through the old St. Paul Saints, who became a Brooklyn Dodgers farm team starting in 1944. A number of famous Dodgers spend time in St.Paul, such as Duke Snider (of “Willie, Mickey, and the Duke” fame) who played 66 games with the Saints in 1947.

The following offseason, the Dodgers went a step further and purchased the Saints. Branch Rickey was the president and general manager at the time and had integrated the major leagues by promoting Jackie Robinson to the Dodgers earlier that year. On May 18th of 1948, he did the same with the American Association when he sent Roy Campanella to the St. Paul Saints. Campanella hit two home runs in his first Twins Cities appearance, a game at Nicollet Park against the Minneapolis Millers. After less than two months he was recalled to the majors, where he won the Most Valuable Player award three times, and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1969.

The Future Twins Double Play Combo?

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Twins drafted two high school shortstops in the second round of the 2005 draft, Paul Kelly and Andrew Thompson. After very good short seasons last year with the Twins Gulf Coast League rookie league team, the two now form the double play combination for the Class-A Beloit Snappers. For Twins fans, they look like a tandem worth following.

Kelly has been Beloit's primary starting shortstop, and as of the recent all-star break, he was hitting .272 with 36 RBI (which is one shy of Eric Lis’ team leading 37). Kelly is a complete player who plays excellent defense with a strong arm (he was a high school pitcher with a 93 mph fastball) and very good range.

Thompson, who is ex-major leaguer Robbie Thompson's son, has played second base. He’s battled some strange injuries this year, such as being blindsided during a bench clearing brawl, ending up on the disabled list with a concussion, and then being beaned in his first game back and missing several more games. He’s hitting .266 and shows a little more “pop” with his bat.

Those numbers don’t make them prospects as much as the number “19” does – neither will turn 20 years old until after the season is over. This year they were both selected for the league’s all-star game with Kelly earning a starting position. By comparison, six of the nine starters for their all-star squad were 20 to 24 years old.

On the Hill

Dodgers: Brett Tomko? (5-6 5.12 ERA)
  • 2005: 8-15, 191.2 IP, 114 K, 4.48 ERA

  • 2006: 83.2 IP, 95 H, 47 K, 20 BB, 14 HR

  • May not start due to injury

  • It’s unclear exactly how Brett Tomko has survived for ten years in the majors. He’s never had a really exceptional year, except for possibly his rookie season in 1997. His career ERA is 4.55, and most of that has been in the National League (where ERAs are lower) and in pitcher’s parks. The Twins likely have three minor league pitchers that could outperform Tomko this year. Apropos of nothing, he just signed a contract guaranteeing him $8.7 million for the next two years. And you wonder how Kyle Lohse keeps winning these arbitration cases?

  • Tomko played a role in the hubbub two years ago when an unnamed Giants pitcher called AJ Pierzynski a “cancer”. Pierzynski’s refusal to quit playing cards to go over hitters with Tomko was one of the criticisms of AJ.

Twins: Johan Santana (8-4, 2.75 ERA)

  • 2005: 16-7, 231.2 IP, 238 K, 2.87 ERA. Led league in strikeouts, second best ERA, third place in Cy Young voting.

  • 2006: 111.1 IP, 92 H, 115 K, 17 BB, 12 HR

  • It’s too early to debate the leader for the Cy Young award, but Santana is at least a candidate again. He leads the league in ERA and in strikeouts. Kenny Rogers leads the league in wins (10), but if Santana and the Twins new offense can rack up close to twenty wins, it would be awfully hard to not give it to him.

  • In his last couple of starts, early leads have helped Santana, which is very good, because in neither start was he really dominant. Instead, he could focus on being efficient and eating innings. It’s all relative, and the stats don’t really show it (unless you’re looking at strikeouts) but Santana is going through a slightly rough patch right now. That the results are still so impressive is a testament to how good he is, and how high our expectations are set.

Links of the Day for 6/27/06

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The Twins sudden transformation from a mediocre buzz kill into a pretty solid ball club combined with the Tigers and White Sox maintaining their huge lead has gotten people thinking about next year already. Things look good in 2007, but a lot is riding on Terry Ryan’s answer to the Twelve Million Dollar Question—Should the Twins keep Torii? Naturally, lots of bloggers have chimed in. Jesse Lund thinks that the Twins should keep Torii around until he retires, while Frightwig thinks that an extension would be a huge mistake. Personally, I think that Twins should exercise Hunter’s option (as CMathewson argues) but that after that it’s time to let Torii go. There are just too many better, younger players that are going to have to be resigned with that money.

With all of the winning the Twins have been doing, Gardy hasn’t had a whole lot to get angry about. While I haven’t missed Gardy’s tantrums, I’m sure some of you have. So for those of you who need your daily fix of managers flipping out, the video of the Ashville Tourists’ manager losing it will keep you satisfied for a long time. This guy has put Gardy to shame.

If, like me, you’ve been watching the World Cup, you’ve probably been pretty disappointed in the officiating. Then again, what with players diving left and right, it’s got to be hard to tell what’s actually a foul. Thankfully, that kind of stuff doesn’t happen in baseball, right?

Monday, June 26, 2006

Acing History

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Thursday’s last start against the Houston Astros and Roger Clemens has produced the inevitable backlash. Francisco Liriano’s effective performance propelled him into a national story, not because he was any more or less dominant than he has been, but because the national media was on hand to witness it. The hype-o-meter surged, and local sports fans and commentators instinctively cautioned against overreacting. Teams may catch up to him the second time around, we’re warned.

Poppycock. These are words that apply to a host of young pitchers, but the hype on Liriano isn’t based on one start, or even on a couple of months of success. Those are just supporting a longer history that gives a more definite vision of what expectations should be. That history includes being a top five prospect in the Giants system. That history includes more than a strikeout per inning at every single stop in his six year professional career. Most of all, that history says expectations for a top of the rotation left-handed ace are well founded.

Whether those expectations should include serious consideration as a Cy Young candidate this year is debatable, but the numbers are there. The only thing keeping Liriano from leading the league in ERA is the number of innings he’s pitched, and he’s likely just two starts from closing that gap. He’ll get at least eighteen more starts to improve on his seven wins (and that’s with just seven games started this season). His strikeout numbers, due to his late start, will likely never catch up to teammate Johan Santana, but he has a decent chance of finishing among the top seven in the league.

To be sure, there are dangers that young pitchers must face, and the top one is their health. This is especially true for Liriano because of his age and his history. Younger pitchers are at a higher risk for injuries as they grow into their bodies, and Liriano is just 22 years old. In addition, Liriano is likely only on the Twins because he battled shoulder problems while with San Francisco. If pleas from sports commentators to “keep pressure off the kid” include watching his pitch counts, then by all means, keep pressure off the kid.

Still, Liriano isn’t most young pitchers. He isn’t just “pitching smart”, or “showing poise”, or “letting his fielders do their jobs”. He is dominating. This isn’t a surprise to those who look beyond his call-up last September. So expect the best, pray for health, but most of all, enjoy the ride.


The 1965 season holds a special place for a generation of Twins fans’ hearts despite our boys ultimately finishing second best to the Dodgers. The Twins won the first two games in Met Stadium, which meant beating Hall of Fame pitchers Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax. They were not as fortunate in Dodger Stadium, and lost all three games before coming back to the Met.

It also set the stage for the greatest clutch postseason performance in Minnesota history, courtesy of Jim “Mudcat” Grant. Think Kirby Puckett’s Game Six or Jack Morris’ Game Seven were impressive? Facing elimination, Grant not only pitched a complete game, holding the Dodgers to one run (on a solo home run), he also slugged his own three-run bomb to place the 5-1 victory out of reach.

However, those heroics were overshadowed the next afternoon. The difference, as it so often was with the Dodgers in the sixties, was Koufax. Dodgers manager Walter Alston (who had also managed the St. Paul Saints) decided to start Koufax on just two days rest, figuring that Drysdale could bail the team out if Koufax tired. It was an unnecessary backup plan. Koufax gave up just three hits while pitching a complete game shutout, in a Dodgers 2-0 victory. Twins fans would need to wait 22 more years for their first world championship.

On the Hill
Dodgers: Derrek Lowe (6-3, 2.90)

  • 2005: 12-15, 222 IP, 146 K, 3.61 ERA

  • 2006: 106.2 IP, 90 H, 54 K, 32 BB, 7 HR

  • When Carlos Silva sleeps at night, he dreams about having Lowe’s career. The two are similar, with Lowe being an extreme groundball pitcher who relies on double plays to erase baserunners. He’s parlayed that skill and his inning-eating ability into a ten year career, including a world championship. It also earned him a four-year, $36 million contract through 2008.

  • Lowe is having a fantastic year, second only to 2002, where he ended up with a 2.58 ERA, 21 wins with Boston, good for third place in the AL Cy Young voting. He pitched a complete game in his last start, a 4-2 win over Seattle.

Twins: Francisco Liriano (7-1, 2.17 ERA)

  • 2005: 1-2, 24.2 IP, 33 K, 5.70 ERA

  • 2006: 66.1 IP, 51 H, 74 K, 19 BB, 3 HR

  • See “Acing History”, above

  • Please, god, keep this kid healthy

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Dugout Splinters

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Mystery Solved

Of the criticism that Terry Ryan received this year, the most unfair surrounded the performance of designated hitter Rondell White. White has been absolutely terrible this year, and for the first month he was terrible in a critical place in the lineup. Of all the offensive struggles the Twins faced this year, his collapse was the most damaging. It was also the least predictable.

White didn’t just spring from the ground in December when he signed with the Twins. White’s professional career goes back to 1990, and what is says is that he’s a professional hitter who borders on elite, except that he’s hasn’t been able to stay healthy. The move to sign him to an incentive-laden contract and play him as designated hitter was close to brilliant, and had the potential to pay dividends the way Chili Davis did fifteen years ago.
The news that he’s battling – and probably has been all year – a shoulder injury that hasn’t healed correctly suddenly makes his .182 batting average a bit more understandable. It may give both White and the Twins some insight on how he can find his previous form. Maybe more importantly, it confirms that the designated hitter spot is now available, either for a nominally healthy Shannon Stewart or a player acquired at the trade deadline.
The Dodgers

Their offseason can be best described as “dysfunctional”. They threw money at a slew of questionable veterans. And they still find themselves contending for a division title as the All-Star break approaches. Let’s take a look at the last nine months of Dodger history and find out how that happens.

The Dodger tumultuous offseason started the day after the season ended. That’s when manager Jim Tracy exercised an out clause in his contract and resigned. The previous season it had become clear that he didn’t see eye-to-eye with GM Paul DePodesta. As the offseason progressed, it became clear he wasn’t alone.

Depodesta, the ex-assistant GM from Oakland who was heavily profiled in the book Moneyball, had been mocked the previous year by the Los Angeles scribes as “Google Boy” while the Dodgers finished with just 71 wins. He spent four weeks searching for Tracy’s successor, but owner Frank McCourt wasn’t satisfied with DePodesta’s choice. Instead, he fired DePodesta and hired San Francisco Giants assistant GM Ned Colletti. Then he replaced Tracy with Boston’s previous manager, Grady Little. (Yes, the same Grady Little that left Pedro Martinez in 2003 ALCS Game Seven too long.)

Then the Dodgers lightened their rather large and heavy purse. Their premiere signing was Rafael Furcal, the 28-year-old shorstop from the Braves, to a 3-year, $39 million contract. Beyond Furcal, however, they plugged their holes with a number of declining veterans who were familiar because they were ex Red-Sox (Nomar Garciaparra), ex-Giants (Brett Tomko, Kenny Lofton) or both (Bill Mueller).

One of those signings paid off huge. After recovering from another early season injury, the 2006 Garciaparra has morphed into the 2000 Garciaparra, except he’s playing first base. The other free agent signings haven’t done much, but ex-St. Paul Saint J.D. Drew has been reasonably productive and (more importantly) has avoided the disabled list.

The Dodgers offense ranks second in the National League and seems to thriving because it’s so well balanced. The Dodgers have nine players with 70 or more at-bats who have an OPS (On-base Plus Slugging percentage) exceeding 800 (the benchmark for a solid offensive year), ranging from 35-year-old veteran backup Olmedo Saenz to 21-year-old prospect Matt Kemp. If Furcal ever gets going (he’s currently hitting just .251) they could be a hard team to pick shut down.
But mostly, the Dodgers are blessed to be competing in the NL West. Last year the Padres, who finished all of two games above .500, won the NL West. The division is stronger this year, but the Dodgers 40-35 record is still the worst record to be leading a division in the major leagues.
On The Hill - Billingsly vs. Silva
Chad Billingsley (0-0, 3.48 ERA)
  • 2005 (AA): 13-6, 146 IP, 162 K, 3.51 ERA

  • 2006 (AAA): 6-3, 3.95 ERA, 70.2 IP, 57 H, 78 K, 32 BB, 7 HR

  • The 21-year-old has been in the majors for just two weeks, and this will be his 3rd major league start.

  • Both scouts and statheads agree that Billingsley is legitimate. His minor league numbers, especially those strikeouts, have been impressive, and he was the Dodgers first round draft pick in 2003.
  • Has a reputation for racking up high pitch counts that can lead to five or six inning starts. That happened in his last start against the Mariners, where he needed 97 pitches to get through the fifth inning. He also gave up four walks.
    • Carlos Silva (3-8, 6.87 ERA)
      • Throws a 90-mph fastball that naturally sinks, which some refer to as a “power sinker”; also throws change-up and curve.

      • 2005: 9-8, 188.1 IP, 71 K, 3.44 ERA

      • 2006: 76 IP, 111 H, 29 K, 11 BB, 18 HR

      • Silva’s had much more success in his last couple starts, but it isn’t apparent he’s turned the corner just yet. In both starts, he tired after 70 or so pitches, which seems odd for a starting pitcher whose primary asset has always been to eat innings. Also, we still aren’t seeing the high ratio of ground balls that we’ve seen when Silva is really on a roll. It’s possible that he’s made some adjustments such that he no longer needs to be an extreme ground ball pitcher, but there are enough unanswered questions for Twins fans to remain cautious in their optimism.
    • Many current Dodgers have faced Silva when he was pitching for the Phillies. As a group, they’ve hit .266 against him with two home runs in 64 at-bats.
      • Links of the Day for 6/26/06

        Powered by Intern Sam

        • .182, 0 HR, 15 RBI. You know who we’re talking about. But there’s nothing to worry about, because the Twins and their apparently godforsaken DH have figured the whole thing out. “White and Ron Gardenhire had a long talk Friday, when White informed his manager of how much his shoulder has been bothering him.” White is now getting treatment for the shoulder, and “[his] roster spot appears safe once left fielder Shannon Stewart (left foot) is activated from the DL.” To which the fans of Minnesota can only respond (with apologies to Adam Sandler): Once again, something that could have been brought to our attention IN APRIL!!!!!

        • Speaking of ulcers and things that induce them, Francisco Liriano may have one. Think good thoughts, people…

        • There’s been some talk this year about how the Twins had better find a way to get back into contention with the crop of youngsters currently beating the snot out of the ball, because the famous Minnesota farm system is just about tapped out. Far be it from Intern Sam to be the voice of optimism, but it sounds as if the Twins might have a couple of right-handed dynamos not more than two years away from joining the major league rotation. (Disclaimer: There is no such thing as a true prospect until you get to Double-A. Further disclaimer: There is no such thing as a pitching prospect, period.)

        • And speaking of prospects, Gordon Wittenmeyer is pleased to introduce the final piece of the Twins 2007 outfield picture: a big rangy Aussie named Trent Oeltjen. Try making a Lewwww-style chant out of that, why doncha?

        • LaVelle E. Neal III has an interesting piece in today’s Strib concerning how the Twins determine what level of the minors to start a prospect at after he’s signed. (Lest anyone become confused by LaVelle’s statement that the Twins farm club in Fort Myers is a level below the team in Elizabethton, you should know that the Twins actually have two teams in Fort Myers: the Miracle, a High-A club in the Florida State League, and the Gulf Coast Twins, a short-season rookie league club. LaVelle is referring to the latter.)

        • Ever wonder what makes Tigers manager Jim Leyland the living legend that he is? Well, it’s his seemingly endless supply of grizzle. (That, and the uncanny ability to turn a team of utter incompetents into World Series champions faster than Lou Brown. But mostly, it’s the grizzle.)

        • As if Ozzie Guillen didn’t have enough problems, John Rocker is now publicly defending him. Been nice knowin’ ya, Ozz…