Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Three Weeks, Three Questions (High-Low Edition) 

A day late, and a dollar short, except that it's free...

Three Weeks

The Week That Was

The D-Backs remarkably improved to just 15 games out of first after going 3-4 on the homestand. The D-Backs scored 5.4 runs per game, but also gave up 5.4 runs per game (as always, these numbers eliminate the high and low scores). Randy Johnson pitched his 4,000th strikeout, got his 10th win, and was named to the NL All-Star team while the D-Backs fired their manager and pitching coach. A lesser writer might say "it was the best of times, it was the worst of times." (Just kidding, folks, about that "lesser writer" quip.)

The Two Weeks That Will Be

4 games at LA (we've already lost the first one), 3 at SF, three days of All-Star rest, then we host LA for four more. If nothing else, the D-Backs will get their chance to make other NL West teams' fans cry woe. You know, you look at the Dodgers' stats, and you wonder how exactly the D-Backs fell 15 games behind them. They don't hit much better, and their improved pitching stats aren't tremendous. Don't misunderstand me, I'm not saying that the D-Backs should be tied with the Dodgers, just that the stats themselves don't lend themselves to a 14.5-game gap. In fact, I took a look at BP's Adjusted Standings page, which indicates that, looking at 3rd-order wins, the D-Backs should only be about 5.5 games back of the Dodgers, and just 4 games back of the Giants (actual gap: 15 games). For whatever reason, the D-Backs are the "unlikeliest" MLB team in 3rd-order wins, losing almost 7 more games than might be expected. They're still not good, of course. But not as bad as their record indicates.

Three Questions

1. What Will Gonzo Do? The Republic reports that Luis Gonzalez is considering surgery on his elbow. This is the first time I've seen Gonzo comment publicly: "It doesn't make sense for me to keep going out there and playing and if we don't even have a shot at contending at the end because my main goal is to try to get back," Gonzalez said before Monday's game. "If that's the case, I'll get ready for next season and not go into the season on a rehab (assignment)."

Looks like we could be looking at an Andy Green / Quentin McCracken / Terrero outfield by August if not sooner.

2. What Will Randy Do? Every report talks about the possibility of Randy Johnson being traded. And so far he's said nothing that would indicate anything differently. (His non-denial denials are, in fact, denials.) But how many phone calls will Joe, Jr. take from Brian Cashman or Arte Moreno before he says, "No mas" and lets them take our best pitcher for magic beans and few real prospects?

3. What Will Al Do? Good luck to Al Pedrique. As noted earlier, the sharks are already swimming for you, too.

Randy won't end up an Angel. There's a number of reasons for this:

1) Stoneman doesn't make midseason moves of any importance. Never. Not one time. Period.
2) Stoneman is denying the obvious, that what this team needs is a quality ace, and moreover, it has it in Bartolo Colon. They think they're gonna fix him. They're wrong, and Bart's weight problem -- spoken of only by fans but never by management -- isn't getting better, but the outward discussion is in improbables only somebody not actually watching the team play or paying attention to the standings would accept (the team is getting healthy, the team is playing better, etc.).
3) The Angels need too many pieces to make a real shot at the division. They need a third baseman to replace Troy Glaus, whose career is now in deep jeopardy (see also, Green, Shawn, and what happens after shoulder surgery to power hitters), a legit ace to anchor the rotation (Colon was never this, would never be this, and shouldn't have been paid ace dollars because of the "he's so expensive we have to play him" theory of management), and a quality middle reliever to replace the infirm Donnelly, the catastrophically collapsing Shields, and the absent Ben Weber.

Randy ain't going to the Angels, and the Yanks have strings and magic beads in their farm system, so unless Colangelo loses his mind between now and the trade deadline, the Yanks won't get him either. My guess is he stays put.
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