Jeremy Heit's Blog
Friday, September 19, 2003
 
Any rational person realizes that the St. Louis Cardinals are out of the playoff hunt. They are 5 back in their division and even more in the wild card. Of course, we understand that with the Cardinals its the same story as it has been the last few years. The pitching staff has been banged up a little and hasn't done enough, despite the fact that the offense has played great. The offense is 4th in runs scored and 3rd in OBP, SLG, and OPS. The pitching staff is 19th in ERA with a 4.64 ERA and the starters are 17th with a 4.53 ERA.

But then on the team clubhouse page is a story about Brett Tomko...

"Right-hander Brett Tomko, eligible to become a free agent at season's end, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he would strongly consider returning. "We really haven't talked about it but if they want to know where I'm coming from, it would be great to come back here," Tomko told the newspaper. "It's great to play here and I'm happy here. If they want me to come back ... that would be awesome." Tomko, who is 8-2 with a 4.42 ERA since the break, will make $3.3M this season. He has a career-best 13 wins."

So, Tomko wants to re-sign. That's nice. Does he also want his 3 million dollars? Well, if that's true, is he worth it to the Cardinals, who have had problems with starting pitching the last few years.

Well, before looking at Tomko's stats, Woody Williams and Matt Morris will get and do deserve starting rotation spots next year. Everything else? It's up for grabs. Right now, Tomko, Stephenson, and Hitchcock/Haren hold them. Before I get to what I would do with the rest of the pitching staff, let me first tackle the Brett Tomko question...

191.1 IP, 13-8, 5.27 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, 5.08 K/9, 2.49 BB/9, 2.04 K/BB, 1.60 HR/9, 1.24 H/IP, .305/.348/.519 (.868 OPS)

The only positives he has going are the record and the walks. The record is probably what it is because he has a good offense behind him. The walks are good, but the strikeouts are too low. Plus, the HR (34!) against and hits against are way too high. So, we've established that he doesn't deserve the 3 million dollars for next year based on this year, but did he ever deserve the 3 million for this year? Here are his career stats before this year...

840 IP, 49-42, 4.46 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 6.39 K/9, 3.06 BB/9, 2.08 K/BB, 1.28 HR/9, .98 H/IP, .266/.322/.458 (.780 OPS) (rate stats include this year)

He has a career ERA+ of 96 and his only year over 100 was his rookie year when he pitched 126 innings and had an ERA+ of 125. He likes to give up homers, though he doesn't have a bad K/BB ratio. The H/IP are way down, which tells you a lot of singles could be falling in and he could be having a rough year. That said, I would not give a guy who has a career ERA+ under 100, whose going to be 31, 3 million dollars.

So what would I do with the 3, 4, and 5 spots in this rotation. Well, I'd give one to Kiko Calero. He's seen limited action this year because of injury and only has one start, but look at his stats...

38.1 IP, 1-1, 2.82 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 11.97 K/9, 4.7 BB/9, 1.17 HR/9, .76 H/IP, .212/.309/.380 (.688 OPS)
One start @MIL- 5 IP, 1 ER, 3 hits, 0 HR, 9/2 K/BB ratio

Very impressive in his only start. He has very good K/9, H/IP, and rate stats against. The walks are high and the HR could be a little lower, but he has a chance to improve on that (he is 28, so the window on that is closing). I wouldn't ask him to be much more than a back of the rotation guy next year, so I would plug him in with Williams and Morris as part of the rotation.

OK, so we have two spots left. What about the other imcubent, Garrett Stephenson? Well, he's 7-13 with a 4.59 ERA. He's also got a 1.52 K/BB ratio and a 1.55 HR/9 in 174.1 IP. He's only making $800,000, but is going to be 32 next year. He's also been very injury prone, which Matt Morris has too, but Matt Morris has also pitched a lot better. Basically, I think its time that the Cardinals moved on and got rid of him.

So that still leaves two spots. Well, one I would give to the kid, Danny Haren...

72.2 IP, 3-7, 5.08 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 5.33 K/9, 2.73 K/BB, 1.96 K/BB, 1.12 HR/9, 1.16 H/IP, .293/.347/.470 (.817 OPS)

I know, those aren't overally impressive, but the BB rate is pretty good. He's only 23 and has time to improve. Plus, he tore apart Double-A...

55 IP, 6-0, .82 ERA, .76 WHIP, 8.02 K/9, .98 BB/9, 8.17 K/BB, .33 HR/9, .65 H/IP

Those are sick. The K/BB ratio and BB/9 ratio are amazing. In Triple A he also did fairly well...

45.2 IP, 2-1, 4.93 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 6.91 K/9, 1.58 BB/9, 4.38 K/BB, 1.18 HR/9, 1.10 H/IP

Not amazing, but I still love the BB/9 ratio and the K/BB ratio. He has great control and I should settle in nicely as a fourth or fifth starter on this team.

So, that's four. Who's the fifth? A free agent. Someone in the Steve Traschel mode. He doesn't have to be overly impressive or amazing, but just solid. With the 4.25 million from Stephenson and Tomko and whatever money they can get when they hopefully get rid of people like Fassero and Yan from the bullpen (that's another mess in itself) and replace them with cheap solid replacements, they could even go after more of a #2 starter. So, this is the starting rotation next year in my eyes...

1. Morris
2. Woody Williams
3. Free Agent
4. Haren
5. Calero

It's not an overly amazing rotation, but with the run support the team should provide, these guys could be a very solid starting bunch. Now they need to get the bullpen to hold a lead.

Thursday, September 18, 2003
 
Big time Hurricane Isabel isn't doing much damage here where I live, but with that and other things I've been busy with, I really haven't had much time to type or even think of an article. So, here's an update on how one of my favorite young Mets' prospects is doing.

3 GS, 15 IP, 0-2, 7.20 ERA, 20 hits, 13/7 K/BB ratio

That would be how Jeremy Griffiths has done since his last call up. And that includes a 6.1 IP start where he gave up only two runs. Yes, you just heard me groan... that groan would be from the thought of the Braves winning another 12 straight division titles (which by the way, is a sick thing this day in age).

Also, I'm thinking about changing my tagline (which would be at the top of the sidebar if you didn't know). If anyone has any suggestions I'd like to hear them.

Sorry about not having much of a post today because I really feel like my post quality has gone up the last week or two after it went down for a while towards the end of summer.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003
 
How is Pedro Martinez gettting Cy Young talk while the NL Cy Young has basically been given to Eric Gagne on a silver platter while ignoring Jason Schmidt?

First of all, the candidates in the AL far outnumber the ones in the NL. Yet, it seems like Pedro has a shot at the Cy Young, while Schmidt is second fiddle to Gagne.

Now, I bring up Martinez in particular for two reasons... one is that him and Schmidt are having sort of similar years. The other is that Pedro has been getting a lot of talk lately while Schmidt is getting none.

Here are their stats...

Martinez- 27 GS (3 CG), 176.2 IP, 13-4, 2.34 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 9.83 K/9, 2.29 BB/9, 4.29 K/BB, .36 HR/9, .80 H/IP, .217/.274/.319 (.593 OPS)
Schmidt- 27 CG (5 CG), 193.2 IP, 15-5, 2.28 ERA, .97 WHIP, 9.06 K/9, 2.09 BB/9, 4.33 K/BB, .56 HR/9, .73 H/IP, .201/.251/.308 (.559 OPS)

Jason leads the NL in BAA, ERA, and WHIP. Pedro leads the AL in ERA, BAA, and is second in WHIP.

This is not really about Pedro's chances of winning the Cy Young. I think he has a shot, but he faces tough competition with Mussina, Loazia, and Halladay. In the NL, no one is close to putting up Schmidt's stats as a starter. The guy most talked about is Russ Ortiz, but that's because he has a good amount of wins. The best arguments can probably be made for Kevin Brown (or Hideo Nomo) and Mark Prior, but I don't think they compare with Schmidt. Schmidt's numbers are better than some of Pedro's and very close to some of his others. The WHIP below 1 is just amazing to me.

Eric Gagne deserves some consideration for Cy Young, but I don't think a closer should win the award if their is a starter who is having a excellent year, no matter how the reliever is doing. Jason Schmidt is having an excellent year and deserves the Cy Young. Now, hopefully some of the writers will get by the consecutive games saved streak and pay attention to Schmidt, which will be hard because his team has all but clinched their playoff spot.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003
 
Today I have two quick hits on intentional walks...

1. Barry Bonds has 58 IBB's. That alone would rank him 51st in walks, tied with Edgar Renteria, Travis Lee, and Geoff Jenkins. So, will someone please pitch to him.

2. Did Art Howe learn anything from Billy Beane about OBP? The Mets have the #2 pitcher in intentional walks (11 from Al Leiter) and two pitchers tied for 5th (Seo and Traschel with 9 along with Hudson and Villarrell... wonder what Billy would think of that... and the fact that Bradford, a relief pitcher, has 8). Also, farther down the list in a massive tie for 28th, are Ambassador Tom and David Weathers.

OK, now on to football, where I have 13 interesting (hopefully) thoughts...

1. My Doug Johnson prediction went by the wayside... to the Redskins. To say I'm shocked is an understandment.

2. The Jets suck. They really do.

3. I actually underestimated the Buffalo defense, which will just make my AFC EAST champion prediction look better.

3a. I also underestimated the KC defense... which makes my 7-9 pick look bad.

4. Does anyone really believe that Martz will stay with Bulger? The second he loses a game he's out and Warner is in.

4a. This also makes it seem like the genius of that Rams championship team was Dick Vermeil and not Mike Martz.

5. Did Cleveland really shut down an offense of Manning, Edge, and Harrison to 9 points and then give up a boatload of points to Boller, Lewis, and Taylor? I mean, why were there not 8 men in the box and double coverage on Heap at all times? Really, Kyle Boller and Travis Taylor are not going to beat you.

6. Now you see why Jon Kitna could be a successful quarterback in this league after Sunday's game.

6a. You also saw why he never has been.

7. The Panthers showed why they were my sleeper team from the NFC to make the playoffs at the beginning of the year.

7a. Their offense also showed why I picked them to go 8-8.

8. This is my favorite quote from today's TMQ

"If we accept the official gate number, the Cards committed one turnover for every 3,854 customers. It is impossible to calculate how many points Arizona scored per customer, because in mathematics, you cannot divide by zero."

How is Arizona not going to go 0-16 this year?

9. Notes from the MNF game:

a. Why is Tiki Barber considered a very good to elite running back? He fumbles way too much, especially when running up the middle, to be an every down back.

b. Quincy Carter impressed me with game management last night. He showed a lot of promise last night. I really hope it continues because I like the way he plays.

c. Terry Glenn is the best slot receiver in the league. He could be a top 5 receiver in the NFL if he really wanted too.

d. How is Matt Bryant not cut yet? I'm serious... how are Giants fans not calling for his head?

10. My Super Bowl team sucked. Is Steve McNair feeling pressure because everyone has him pegged as an MVP... I really hope not....

11. Jake Plummer threw for 3 TD's... Clinton Portis also did all the work, but that's not important.

12. Look Donovan, here's my piece of advice. Don't listen to Andy Reid. He's telling you to be a pocket quarterback. You're not. You're best when you're moving and doing athletic things. Go back to the way you were two years ago, when you just reacting and not thinking.

13. And finally, NE won. Tom Brady had a good day. Why will this guy not suck!

There you go. I should be back tomorrow with all baseball.

Monday, September 15, 2003
 
Today, as I look at the standings, I wonder how the Red Sox have not run away with the Wild Card....

Well, let's start with this...

Beginning of August
Seattle: 66-42
Boston: 63-44

From then on, its seems like the Mariners have crashed and burned and that the Red Sox's have played fairly well. So why are the Red Sox's only a .5 up on the Mariners with 1 game in hand? Well, let's take a look at what happened in August...

Record in August
Boston: 15-14
Seattle: 14-15

First, let's take Boston. Their batting line was .282/.358/.476 for a .834 OPS. So, how in the hell did this team only go 15-14? Well, the pitching staff had a 4.76 ERA. And the starters... well, take a look for yourself...

Pedro- 2.90 ERA, 1.32 WHIP
Lowe- 4.50 ERA, 1.31 WHIP
Burkett- 4.89 ERA, 1.24 WHIP
Wakefield- 5.71 ERA, 1.41 WHIP
Suppan- 6.08 ERA, 1.35 WHIP

Suppan, Wakefield, and Burkett also gave up 5 homeruns each. So, really, it doesn't matter how well you hit if you only have one starting pitcher under 4.

And the Mariners? Hitting line of .271/.337/.373 for a .710 OPS. So this team had to ptich really well just to keep themselves at 14-15, right? Well, they have a 4.19 ERA. And the starters...

Moyer- 3.89 ERA, 1.27 WHIP
Garcia- 4.28 ERA, 1.43 WHIP
Franklin- 4.58 ERA, 1.64 WHIP
Meche- 5.13 ERA, 1.26 WHIP
Piniero- 8.31 ERA, 1.85 WHIP

Basically, this means that 1) the bullpen was extremely good and 2) they were able to pull out some close games. Those starters stats are disgusting, worse than the BoSox. And they had an OPS 124 points lower than Boston's.

This is how its gone so far is September...

Boston- 8-4
Seattle- 6-6

Boston's hitting line this month so far is .279/.370/.444 for an .814 OPS. Once again, a good hitting month. This month, though, the pitching has been a lot better with a 3.31 ERA... and the starters...

Pedro- .64 ERA, .71 WHIP
Wakefield- 1.93 ERA, 1.07 WHIP
Lowe- 2.08 ERA, 1.69 WHIP
Suppan- 4.74 ERA, 1.37 WHIP
Burkett- 4.76 ERA, 1.24 WHIP

Pedro and Wakefield have been dominant and Lowe has been good. The problem here has been Burkett and Suppan, who still both have ERA's over 4 and a half (I know, its a small sample size, but also look at last month).

The Mariners? A hitting line of .222/.304/.351 for a .655 OPS. This hitting month is worse than the last one. The pitching? Great, with a 3.18 ERA. And the starters...

Franklin- 1.17 ERA, .85 WHIP
Moyer- 2.57 ERA, 1.50 WHIP
Meche- 2.57 ERA, 1.43 WHIP
Garcia- 2.70 ERA, 1.15 WHIP
Piniero- 3.00 ERA, 1.07 WHIP

All ERA's 3 or under. But once again, this team hasn't hit over the last month and a half.

So what do I think is going to happen in this race? Well, its really a battle of a bad offense vs. a team with two very questionable starters and another shaky one (Wakefield). If Seattle's pitching keeps it up, they have a shot, but I really think this is going to the Red Sox's. I have two basic reasons for that...

1) The Red Sox's offense is great and will not stop hitting. It's simple.... Boston is hitting and Seattle isn't.
2) The remaining schedule....

Boston has 14 games left with 7 vs. TB, 3 vs. Cleveland, and 4 vs. Baltimore
Seattle has 13 games left with 6 vs. OAK, 3 vs. Anaheim, and 4 vs. Texas

With Boston having the extra game and the easier schedule (Baltimore is playing decently, but they don't have to play Oakland, who is fighting Seattle for the division), they get an advantage over Seattle (Those 20 million games they get against TB pay off). With the easier schedule and the better offense, I think Boston will win the Wild Card.

Sunday, September 14, 2003
 
As I see the Marlins are rolling and opening up a lead on the rest of the NL for the Wild Card, I was wondering... Is Carl Pavano the best fifth starter on a playoff contending team?

I'm going to put the rotation in this order...

1. Redman
2. Beckett
3. Willis
4. Penny
5. Pavano

So, back to the question... Is Pavano the best fifth starter on a playoff contending team? Of course, I ask this question because it means he won't get a start in the playoffs. First, let's take a look at his stats...

184 IP, 11-11, 3.96 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 1.90 BB/9, 6.02 K/9, 3.15 K/BB, .93 HR/9, .99 H/IP

Those stats are extremely good, except for maybe the homeruns. That does give him a .260/.299/.413 (.712 OPS) against line for the season.

So, let's compare him to the other fifth starters...

AL EAST
Yankees- Jeff Weaver/Jose Contreras- This one doesn't even merit a look at the stats. Jose only has 47 IP and a 4+ ERA and Weaver has given up over 200 hits and has a 5+ ERA.

Red Sox- Jeff Suppan- Its worth a look at the stats...

186.2 IP, 12-9, 4.05 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 2.27 BB/9, 4.77 K/9, 2.11 K/BB, .96 HR/9, 1.03 H/IP

The stats are fairly close, except for the strikeouts. The two major things that make Pavano better, other than the strikeouts, are the .751 OPS against for Suppan and the .866 OPS against lefties for Suppan.

AL CENTRAL
White Sox- Combination of Neil Cotts, Danny Wright, and a few others does not come close to Pavano.

Twins- Um, I guess its Eric Milton now? Was Joe Mays and he has a 6+ ERA. I guess its became Rick Reed (until he was DLed) when Johan Santana got in the rotation... No matter what, no one deserves a look.

Royals- They've used a million different pitchers. Meaning they've used about 10,000 different fifth starters...

AL WEST
A's- Was John Halama for part of the season and then Ted Lilly when Harden came up. Ted Lilly has just given up to many home runs to be considered (1.27 HR/9) and Halama only has 13 starts.

Mariners- Freddy Garcia- 4.75 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, and 7th in the AL with 69 BB. Not a chance.

So, out of the AL, the only legitimate candidate was Jeff Suppan, and he falls short.

NL EAST-
Braves- Shane Reynolds- 11 wins, 5.73 ERA, 1.52 WHIP. I think this is Joe Morgan's idea of a Cy Young candidate.

Phillies- Amaury Telemaco doesn't have enough innings (36.1 IP), but hasn't started badly (3.96 ERA, 1.13 WHIP). Brandon Duckworth, who I've always liked, had a 5.04 ERA as a starter.

NL CENTRAL
Cubs- Shawn Estes and his 6+ ERA anyone? Juan Cruz only has 55 IP and 5 GS.

Astros- Ron Villone has 16 GS, so let's give him a shot.

90.1 IP, 6-4, 3.69 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 4.20 BB/9, 7.27 K/9, 1.74 K/BB, 1.20 HR/9, .80 H/IP

He has a .692 OPS against, which works in his favor, but I think the home run and walks totals are too high for him to be as good as Pavano. Closer than Suppan though.

Cardinals- Same as the Royals (I mean, Jeff Fassero is the fifth starter right now).

NL WEST
Giants- Dustin Hermanson? Correia? No real fifth starter here.

Dodgers- Andy Ashby is done for the season and wasn't good while he was starting. Mullen hardly has any starts. Odalis Perez wasn't the fifth starter anymore after Dreifort got injured, and anyway, that 1.32 HR/9 isn't good.

I left out the Expos (Zach Day has a 1.04 K/BB, which won't cut it) and Diamondbacks (Elmer Dessens wasn't going to beat out Pavano) because they are basically out of it. So, the top fifth starters for teams in contention?

1. Carl Pavano
2. Ron Villone
3. Jeff Suppan

There you go. Carl Pavano is the best fifth starter on a team in contention.


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