Jeremy Heit's Blog
Saturday, September 27, 2003
A few things dicovered while clicking around on and thinking about the NL Central race...

1. While Ernie Banks would be so proud of the double dip today, it does result in a problem for the Cubs if they make the playoffs. Mark Prior will no longer be starting game one, unless he starts it on 4 days rest. If Chicago doesn't clinch by the end of today, Kerry Wood would have to start Sunday, leaving him out of the race for starting game 1. That leaves Carlos Zambrano as the game 1 starter (we'll safely assume that Shawn Estes will not see significant playoff time... then again, with Dusty Baker, you just never know). Making Prior have to start game 2 and Wood game three. If this series goes to a game 4 it would be interesting to see what happens. If Zambrano pitches well, he probably pitches game 4. But if he pitches bad, does Clement get inserted? I think it would be safe to say Prior would start game 5 no matter what... but would Dusty pull the trigger and use Prior out of the bullpen in game 4 if he was down in the series 2-1 and save Zambrano (or Clement) for five? I know that sounds a little strange, but have you seen what the Chicago bullpen has done? If the rotation had been able to be set up correctly, it would probably be Prior, Wood, Zambrano, Prior, Wood. Also, Wood would probably be available out of the pen in game 5... if Zambrano starts game 4 and Prior pitches game 5, does that mean Matt Clement could start game 1 of the NLCS if they make it (I would think if my Prior out of the bullpen thing happens in game four, Prior starts game 1 of the NLCS)? The rotation for the Cubs should be very interesting to watch.

2. From the RBI's are overrated department...

Aramis Ramirez has 105 RBI's
Luis Gonzalez has 104 RBI's.

Ramirez's batting line: .273/.325/.467 (.792 OPS)
Gonzalez's batting line: .304/.401/.534 (.935 OPS)

3. There is a lot of talk about how much better Luis Rivas is doing in the #2 spot in batting order. But is it really true?

Batting #2- 216 AB's, .250/.290/.412 (OPS- .702)
Batting #9- 227 AB's, .269/.321/.361 (OPS- .682)
Season Stats- 470 AB's, .260/.309/.383 (OPS- .692)

There are 27 AB's at other spots in the order that I left out because the 2 hole and the 9 hole are the two spots he's batted almost all of the year. The way I see it is that the "improvement" is the fact that he's hit 7 HR's in the 2 hole and hit just 1 in the 9 hole. He was actually a better "hitter" (if that's what you should call him...) in the first half and just displayed some more power in the #2 spot. Of course, the argument for his improvement in the 2 spot would have been better before his atrocious September...

63 AB's, .175/.235/.222 (.457 OPS)

4. Remember when I talked about bringing in Mike Cameron to play CF and Wil Cordero to platoon in RF with Timo Perez? Well, here's what they've done lately...

Mike Cameron
August: .222/.323/.321 (OPS- .644)
September- .153/.274/.250 (OPS- .524)

Wil Cordero
August: .271/.314/.406 (OPS- .720)
Spetember: .302/.375/.581 (OPS- .956)
vs. Lefties for Season: .324/.421/.528 (OPS- .949)

Mike Cameron has, uh, sucked lately... though I would still sign him just to see him play defense. Plus, he is still a good hitter. Wil Cordero had a tough August but put together a very strong Spetember and is still batting great against lefties, which we need him to do for the platoon with Timo Perez, if that happens, of course...

5. Speaking of that platoon, here's how the other side has done this year...

Timo Perez
vs. Righties- .278/.310/.375 (OPS- .685)

Maybe I should rethink this whole giving Timo Perez starting time thing...

Friday, September 26, 2003
Before I get to the post today, I'd like to point out future plans for this blog during the playoffs. I'll probably give playoff predictions Monday with maybe a little breakdown. In the days after that, I will probably give my own thoughts on the playoffs games and what I felt was important. Also, at some point during the next two weeks, watch out for the conclusion to the Paul Konerko Watch and the final report of the Mets young players in the majors.

In Monday's article, I said this...

"Anyway, I was looking at the schedule for the last week of the season and realized something... the Mets could play an important part in deciding who is the wild card. The next three games are against Pittsburgh, but the final three of the season are against the Marlins. So, let's say the Marlins beat the Braves tonight. Then, the Phils take 2 out of 3 against the Marlins. They are tied. At this point, Houston might fall out of it since they are playing San Francisco or the Cubs will do a choke job (obviously, someone has to win the NL Central). So it comes down to the weekend, with the Marlins playing the Mets and the Phils playing the Braves."

Let's just say that I'm no psychic. OK, change that... I'm an idiot. This is what happened with those three teams...

-The Marlins swept the Phillies and knocked them out of playoff contention.
-The Cubs took two out of three from the Reds (including a Shawn Estes CG shutout.... I would not have put down $1 on that if the odds were 1,000,000-1)
-Houston lost two out of three to SF and beat Milwaukee last night

The only thing I got right there was that Houston might have problems with SF. Of course, the Cubs didn't do well for themselves by losing to the Reds yesterday.

That basically leaves one playoff spot open... the NL Central. To tell you the truth, I don't know who's going to win. The Astros are playing a Milwaukee team that has played better of late and the Cubs are playing a Pittsburgh team that hasn't played as well of late especially after getting ird of a bunch of players. But, Pittsburgh still has the better staff. If I had to go witha pure gut feeling, its the Astros.

But the thing I want to talk about is what I saw the other night in Phillies game. That game would be Wednesday night's. This is the game log from the top of the 8th inning...

-C Utley singled to center.
-R Ledee hit for T Wendell.
-R Ledee singled to right, C Utley to second.
-M Byrd reached on infield single to shortstop, C Utley to third, R Ledee to second.
-P Polanco doubled to right, C Utley and R Ledee scored, M Byrd to third.
-M Tejera relieved J Beckett.
-B Abreu singled to center, M Byrd and P Polanco scored.
-J Thome walked, B Abreu to second.
-C Fox relieved M Tejera.
-B Abreu to third, J Thome to second on wild pitch by C Fox.
-M Lieberthal hit sacrifice fly to left, B Abreu scored.
-P Burrell flied out to center.
-J Rollins walked.
-C Utley struck out swinging.

Let's take this segment by segment...

-C Utley singled to center.
-R Ledee hit for T Wendell.
-R Ledee singled to right, C Utley to second.
-M Byrd reached on infield single to shortstop, C Utley to third, R Ledee to second.
-P Polanco doubled to right, C Utley and R Ledee scored, M Byrd to third.

At this point Josh Beckett, the starter, was in. I would have taken him out of the game at the beginning of the inning, especially since he was in the 100 pitch range and the score was 6-0 at this point. I would have especially taken him out when he loaded the bases, but let's say, like Jack McKeon, we let him go on until the score is 6-2 and there are guys on second and third. The next better up is Bobby Abreu. After that is Jim Thome. Both those hitters happen to be left handers. So, what does Jack McKeon do? He goes by the lefty-lefty book.

-M Tejera relieved J Beckett.

There is only one problem with the book... Lefties were batting .333 against him (unfortunately I can't remember the OPS number before he came in... now his OPS against is over 1.000). Meanwhile, I was sitting there wondering why Ugueth Urbina was not warming up. Later, I learned that McKeon has lost confidence in Braden Looper and that Urbina is basically the closer at this point. Well, first, I would still have Braden Looper as the closer. The second point is that Ugueth Urbina should have came into the game at this point. This is a big situation in the game. The two big hitters in the lineup are coming up with two men on down 4. Why Ugueth?

LHB: .183/.280/.296 (.576 OPS) (after the game stats)
Since coming to Marlins: 1.45 ERA, .91 WHIP, .178/.236/.279 (.515 OPS against overall)

He is by far their best reliever against lefties (not to mention their best reliever). At worst, he can give up a sac fly, have a guy on second or third, and two outs and the score be 6-3. Then, he would have to get out Lieberthal to end the inning, which I think he could do. Now, of course, Urbina could have given up the same runs that Tejera did, but the odds are a lot better that he doesn't. Then McKeon can bring in whatever reliver he wants (probably Chad Fox.. he seems to like him) or leave in Urbina to finish out a game with a three run lead. Maybe he could use it as a situation to get Looper's confidence back with a save. But the point is that McKeon has to understand that Urbina needs to come into the game at that point, as the Marlins almost lost the game because the right pitcher wasn't in the game. I don't know, but for some reason I feel McKeon could cost this team games in the playoffs by going to much by the book...

Also, on a funny side note, when I flipped to ESPN2 to see how Shawn Estes was doing with his CG shutout, they did a cut away to the studio to give an update on the Phils-Marlins game. They showed the Abreu single driving in two, and Dibble had this to say (or something to the effect of this)...

"McKeon had the wrong matchup here. Arbeu is 5-11 in his career against Tejera and now 6-12. He just hits this guy well."

Rob... 11 AB's... Hell, Rey Sanchez could be 5-11 against Mike Mussina in 11 AB's. Does it mean...

1) that he owns Mussina
2) that the manager played the wrong matchup because of that

And if you need an answer, no it doesn't... 11 AB's are meaningless...

Wednesday, September 24, 2003
Before I get to football, let me just say that these are my picks for the awards (you've heard all the qualifications... I don't need to go in-depth here)...

NL Rookie- Brandon Webb
AL Rookie- Angel Berroa

NL Cy Young- Jason Schmidt
AL Cy Young- Roy Halladay

NL MVP- Barry Bonds
AL MVP- Alex Rodriguez

OK, now to my football notes of the week...

1. I'm really starting to think the Jets should have drafted Byron Leftwich. I'm serious on this. DeWayne hasn't helped the run defense much and they needed someone to replace Vinny before the season. I like Byron a lot and think he will be a top tier quarterback in this league (better than Carson Palmer...) and you just never know with injuries in the NFL.

2. What do I say about Drew Bledsoe other than he sucked? Let's see... he cost my fantasy team and played horrible in an important game for my AFC East champs. Add to that it was Miami and I sorta went a little nuts on my TV during the game.

3. Could I not be more right about the NFC North? Well, at least the top anyway...

3a. So maybe Arizona isn't going 0-16... they are still the wrost team in the league.

4. Could I not be more wrong on the NFC West?

4a. Dennis Erickson.... the Niners are nuts. TO won't like any coach.

5. I was a little scared about Jake Plummer after Week 1 and the Cinci game, but I feel a lot better after Monday night.

6. Doug Johnson 4-0 as a starter... am I stupid or what? I said Tampa could be a problem, but every game has been fairly close.

7. Does Tony Dungy bring the bubonic plague to offenses everywhere he goes? I know they played fairly well in the second half (it was Jacksonville), but this team used to be explosive and able to score at will. Also, it would help if a play was actually called in the huddle every now and then.

8. Jamal Lewis might just get 2,000 yards this season. He is a monster right now.

9. Tom Brady must stop it. Now. Please, someone stop this madness...

10. Who gets injured first? The 50 million carry a game Ricky Williams or the bound to wear down and get injured by week 10 Priest Holmes. I got Ricky getting injured in Week 7.

11. You know, the way the division looks, Dallas could win the NFC East. Seriously, that's how unimpressive the division is right now.

12. KC? I don't know. I might have underestimated them (OK, fine I did), but they are definitely not the best team in the league.

13. Houston is playing a lot better. I know, they got killed 42-10 by KC. But they are...

14. Marshall Faulk... that whole Marc Bulger would win a bunch of games starting also relied on Marshall Faulk being in there. Of course, Marshall may be wearing down a little. I didn't believe it when people say it, but it might be true.

15. And finally, I was on the Matt Hasselback bandwagon two years early. Drafted him as a sleeper QB in my fantasy league. Resorted to Jake Plummer by the end of the season.

Up to 15 thoughts this week. Nice of me, huh? Remember, nothing tomorrow, extremely busy... We'll see what happens Friday, but definitely a lot on the weekends. Also, watch out, the Paul Konerko Watch conclusion shoud be coming soon after the season is over.

Monday, September 22, 2003
Sorry about no posts on the weekend, I was extremely busy and tired. So you know for the week, I'm probably not going ot post tomorrow (busy), Wednesday I should get a chance (I have a real school essay to finish up, but I should get my football review in, plus maybe a few baseball notes), Thursday I have no shot, and Friday is up in the air at this point, though it will probably be late afternoon if I do. The weekend I'll have lots of time to post...

Anyway, I was looking at the schedule for the last week of the season and realized something... the Mets could play an important part in deciding who is the wild card. The next three games are against Pittsburgh, but the final three of the season are against the Marlins. So, let's say the Marlins beat the Braves tonight. Then, the Phils take 2 out of 3 against the Marlins. They are tied. At this point, Houston might fall out of it since they are playing San Francisco or the Cubs will do a choke job (obviously, someone has to win the NL Central). So it comes down to the weekend, with the Marlins playing the Mets and the Phils playing the Braves. Think the Marlins have an advantage in schedule? I think so too. But for the heck of it, let's break down the probable pitching matchups for these games...

Marlins vs. Mets

Griffiths vs. Pavano

Seo vs. Redman

Leiter vs. Willis

For the Friday matchup, Pavano has pitched 15 innings against the Mets with a 1.80 ERA. He's also 5-2 with a 3.68 ERA in 71 IP since the All-Star break. Griffiths has not pitched against the Marlins this season and since his late season call up he's pitched 22 innings with a 5.32 ERA.

For Saturday, Mark Redman has pitched 24 innings against the Mets with a 4.88 ERA. He's got a 6-5 record with a 4.25 ERA in 78.1 IP since the All-Star break (including a 5.26 ERA in August and 5.82 ERA in September). Seo has pitched 11.2 innings agains the Marlins with a .77 ERA, including the one hitter he had to leave. He's 0-3 with a 1.96 ERA in Spetember in 18.1 IP, which has brought down his post break ERA to 4.61 (July ERA was 6.61 and August was 5.34 ERA).

For Sunday, Dontrelle Willis has pitched 16 innings against the Mets with a .56 ERA (including that one hitter) He's got a 4-5 record with a 4.95 ERA in 67.1 IP since the All-Star break (which includes his 6.92 ERA in August). He has a 3.08 ERA this month, but his stats (24/10 K/BB, 4 HR allowed in 24.1 IP) aren't overly impressive. Leiter has pitched 23.1 innings against the Marlins with a 6.56 ERA. He has been hot since the All-Star break with a 2.41 ERA and a 6-4 record (.95 in July, 2.10 in August, 3.86 in September).

Basically, the Friday matchup bodes very well for the Marlins as Griffiths has not pitched well and I think Carl Pavano is the best fifth starter in the league. The Saturday matchup pits two starters against each other who have struggled since the break, but Jae Seo has pitched well as of late. If it comes down to Sunday, the Marlins could be in trouble. Dontrelle has not pitched well of late and Leiter has been one of the hottest pitchers since the break. So how do the matchups look for the Phillies?

Braves vs. Phillies

Ramirez vs. Telemaco

Maddux vs. Padilla

Hampton vs. Millwood

For Friday, Telemaco has not pitched against the Braves. He has a 2.84 ERA in 25.1 IP this month and a 4.50 ERA in 18 IP in August. Ramirez has one start against the Phillies where he went 7 innings and gave up 2 runs. He has a 4.31 ERA in 77.1 innings since the break, but has a 2.93 ERA in 27.2 IP in September.

For Saturday, Padilla has a 2.23 ERA in 36.1 IP against ATL this season. Since the break, he has a 3.16 ERA in 79.2 IP and in 22 September innings he has a 1.64 ERA. Maddux has a 9.45 ERA in 20 IP against PHI. Since the break he has a 3.18 ERA in 82 IP and a 3.75 ERA in September.

For Sunday, Millwood has a 7 ERA in 18 IP against ATL (seems like old ATL pitchers can't do well against their old team). He has a 4.29 ERA in 84 IP since the break and a 5.54 ERA in 26 IP in September. Plus, he's starting tomorrow, which means his start was moved up one day from when its supposed to be, Wednesday (probably so he could pitch this game on normal rest). Hampton has a 5.19 ERA in 17.1 IP against PHI this season. Since the break, Hampton has been outstanding, with a record of 9-2 and a ERA of 2.45 including 1.69 in 26.2 September innings.

Friday's game has a lot of inexperience in the pitching matchup, but both guys have looked good in September. Both guys on Saturday have also been very hot as of late. On Sunday, Millwood has been very cold as of late, as Hampton has been very hot.

Now, first of all, I'd be very surprised if these are the guys that pitch for the Braves this weekend. That's why they call them probable matchups. But, if they do, I'd say that the Phils have an advantage in pitching matchups and clearly do if the guys for the Braves don't start (and someone like Shane Reynolds does). But that's more for what their guys have done then the guys they are facing. Both teams are facing young pitchers on Friday (who have been up and down this season), and both have starters that have been fairly consistent lately (though Pavano got rocked in his last start).

The main difference is that the Phils are sending out an extremely hot pitcher on Saturday and their staff ace on Sunday. The Marlins are sending out a pitcher who has struggled the last two months on Saturday and a rookie who has not pitched well as of late on Sunday. Both teams are facing hot starters on Saturday and Sunday and its seems like the pitching matchups and the pitchers being used favor the Phillies more, expecially if some of the Braves pitchers don't pitch.

Of course, these are always one game situations, and who knows, Mark Redman could come out and throw a CG two hitter and Leiter could give up 10 runs in 2 innings the next day. That's the beauty of baseball... as much as you look at how pitchers have done lately, you just never know when it comes down to the playoff push.

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