11th and Washington

11th and Washington: July 2006

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Will the Angels regret three weeks in June?

If the Angels miss out on a playoff spot by one game, they'll have to look at their decision to send Jered Weaver down for three weeks in June.

After defeating Kansas City on June 13, Weaver was optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake city when Bartolo Colon came off the disabled list. Five days later, when Weaver presumably would have pitched, the Angels lost, 7-3, to San Diego. They went on to lose six of their next 10 games after that, and if Weaver had pitched every five games, he would have gotten the start on June 30, when the Angels lost, 6-1, to the Dodgers.

Another way to look at it is to examine the games started by Jered's brother, Jeff, who was the player ultimately traded when the Angels came to their senses and recalled Jered from the minors. Anaheim lost two of the three games started by Jeff Weaver in the three weeks his brother was hopping around the Pacific Coast League.

So whether you look at the games Jered Weaver might have pitched had he gone every fifth game following his June 13 start, or use the three starts made by Jeff in the three weeks Jered was in the minors, the Angels lost two of three in both instances. He won each of his first seven starts and was in position to win his eighth yesterday, but the bullpen blew his lead in the eighth.

Hopefully, it won't cost them in September.

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Saturday, July 29, 2006

Vroom me out to the ballgame

So Pedro is back and the Mets are in good shape. What a nice, comforting win last night. So long as the Mets can take two out of three this series -- and continue to win two out of three more often than they lose that ratio -- I'll relax more and more each day. For the past few years now, I've been hoping for someone to knock the Braves from the top of the National League East. ABB was my motto -- Anybody But the Braves. I thought last year might be it; then I really thought this year was it, but I didn't know if the Mets would be the ones to do it.

I think we're getting closer to that.

But how about last night? The largest crowd -- well, regular-season crowd, they say -- to see a game in the 40 years the Braves have been in Atlanta? Damn. What could have brought them out to The Ted?

Oh. NASCAR Night.

Yep, some real baseball fans they have down there in Atlanta. Not that it doesn't surprise me. There have been repeated signs, but unless the team reaches the NLCS, the fans don't pay much attention. The die-hards are there, as they are in every city (how do you think the Royals and Marlins claim even 10,000 per game?), but if Jimmy Carter's seat is empty, you can bet there aren't many filled in the upper deck, either.

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Mets are Wright on the Braves

Back in 1999 -- as much as I hate to admit it -- Chipper Jones won the National League MVP award with what he did against the Mets in September. Atlanta beat New York by 6 1/2 games that year, but on Sept. 21, the teams began a three-game series at Turner Field with the Braves holding a two-game lead. They played six times in the next nine days, and Atlanta won five of them.

Chipper batted .300 with four home runs, six runs and nine RBI in those six games. He hit .556 in the three-game sweep of the first series in Atlanta and homered in each of the games, going deep twice in the first one.

In his career, Chipper has played the Mets 160 times and has the following stats: .330 average. 422 OBP, .574 SLG, .996 OPS, 116 runs, 29 doubles, 35 homers, 107 RBI, 94 walks, 88 strikeouts and 19 stolen bases. That's an MVP year in itself. He's enjoyed Shea Stadium, too, hitting 17 of those 35 homers in Queens. No wonder he named one of his children Shea.

But the Mets may now have their answer to Chipper. While Atlanta's third baseman may never again get through a season without a nagging injury or a disabled-list stint, the Mets have David Wright only beginning to emerge. OK, he's probably emerged, but he's still developing, still getting better.

The best part, however, is that he's turning into the Mets' version of Chipper, not just overall, but in this NL East rivalry as well. He's off to a good start. In his 41 career games against Atlanta, Wright is batting .301 with a .385 OBP, .589 SLG, .974 OPS, 19 runs, nine doubles, 11 homers, 24 RBI, 18 walks, 27 strikeouts and four stolen bases without being caught. And, like Chipper, he's doing slightly better on Atlanta's home turf -- six homers and 12 of his 24 RBI have come at Turner Field. All those women who show up to Shea with "Mrs. Wright" t-shirts had better get used to the thought of a son named Turner Wright.

Conveniently, Wright's 41 games against Atlanta are just about one-fourth of Chipper's 160 against the Mets. Extrapolating Wright's career numbers against the Braves gives you: .301 average, .385 OBP, .589 SLG, .974 OPS (the averages won't change when you simply multiply the numbers that make them up), 76 runs, 36 doubles, 44 homers, 96 RBI, 72 walks, 108 strikeouts and 16 stolen bases. With a 44-homer pace, you have to figure the runs and RBI will come up, particularly if the Mets can keep a strong lineup in front of Wright over the next 10 years. He's also got a few years to truly settle in and cut down on the strikeouts and bring up his walks -- plus, you figure the Braves will walk him intentionally more often. The point is, I have a feeling that once Wright hits the 160-game mark against Atlanta, his numbers will be very similar to those Chipper has put up against New York.

Here's hoping Wright continues the trend this weekend in Atlanta.

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