Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
July 11, 2005
BASEBALL: None But The Braves

It would be difficult - especially in a non-division game against a mediocre team - for the Mets to suffer a more demoralizing loss than Friday night's game, in which they squandered all the momentum from taking 3 of 4 from the first-place Nationals by blowing a 5-1 lead over the Pirates in the ninth inning. I'm not yet expecting a second-half collapse such as the team had had in each of the past three years, but it's hard to watch a game like Friday's and not come away convinced that this team will never get far from .500.

Looking at the standings, it's obvious that this is Atlanta's division to lose. Only the Braves and Nationals are more than two games over .500, and the Nationals have allowed more runs than they've scored and are hobbled until Nick Johnson, their best player, returns from injury; they've lost 5 of their last 7 games. The Braves, meanwhile, have reloaded rapidly with young players, plus they're the Braves. I'm not optimistic about the second half being anything but a replay of the last decade.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:36 AM | Baseball 2005 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

It would be very hard to bet against the Braves. The Nats win way too many 1 run games, and will fall back to earth.

The Mets will have to take some very serious looks at their pitching to compete. I looked at some strikeout/walks per 9 inning ratios, and they are very telling. I did Pedro just to see what a Hall of Famer looked like (it isn't easy to get Seaver to say another pitcher is on his level, and clearly Pedro is). Anyway, he is 9.65 Ks per 9 innings, and (read slowly now) 1.67 walks. I don't have pitch counts, but his strike to walk ratio has to be, in his career, on the Pete Alexander line, given playhing conditions.

The other success stories are Benson, at 5.11 and 2.43. However, I think that 5.11 gets a bit close to a failure rate, you don't want to fall much below that. Heilman is very good too, at 8.07 and 2.51. That 8.07 looms large, keep it in mind.

Then you have the so called wild ones, and they are: Zambrano and Ishi: Zambrano is at 5.74, Ishi at 4.37. My guess is that Ishi gives up runs in larger bunches, making it harder to compete.

I've left two off, and here they are:

Glavine is done. Finito. Won't last the year, and will get worse. Right now he is at 4.07 and 3.61. Those numbers are very close to each other, a bad ratio, and he doesn't put people away. In 200, he was at 5.67 and 2.42. So he was never a high strikeout pitcher, but 4 won't cut it, and he walks too many people for someone who can't strike you out.

Looper. A disaster. A real one. Not illusory. I alwasy thought his biggest problem, same as Armando Benitez, was he played in the same town as Mariano. That's like pitching next to Seaver or Koufax. How would you like to be a great lefty, and Lefty Grove in his prime is a Yankee? So I figured we were all spoiled by the greatest ever at his position. I was wrong. Looper just is not a closer.

Anyway, just for comparison, Mariano, supposedly older and back to the pack (hah!) right now is at 9.97 and 2.87. He's getting old? I'll take him. Looper strikes out 3.96 batters per nine innnings, and walks 3.41.

So instead of weaning Heilman out of the bullpen why not make him your closer? He reminds me of Isringhausen in many ways, so why not? Ring doesn't have control, at least not yet, and Looper walks the park. You simply cannot have a closer who can't strike anyone out, and walks the park.

Heilman really hasn't proven he can close well--such as that disaster in Pittsburgh, but Looper is already not one.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at July 11, 2005 12:01 PM

I am a Nationals fan, but I am resigned to the fact that Atlanta will win the division once they get healthy and make their annual late-season run. If everyone plays out the rest of the season per their year-to-date Pythagorean winning %, the final standings would look like this:

Atlanta 94-68
Washington 89-73
Florida 84-78
NY Mets 82-80
Philadelphia 81-81

What Washington did in the first half -- at one point they were 19 games over .500 with a Pythagorean % of exactly .500 -- is basically unprecedented, and I certainly don't expect them to repeat it. 89 wins ought to put them right in the thick of the wildcard hunt though.

Posted by: Chris at July 11, 2005 4:02 PM
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