Archive for June 5th, 2006

Monday: 06.5.2006

Homestand Complete; Out of Town for 6.

At 4-6, I simply cannot deem the 10-game homestand a success. Playing two of the best teams in the American League, New York and Boston after three games with Cleveland, I was really hoping the team would make a statement. Or should I say, a positive statement. That said, the team did distance themselves a bit more from the Chicago White Sox, who were busy going 3-7 on their road trip. A three-game set with them starting Tuesday will give the team a chance to separate even further from the Sox. After Chicago, the team heads to Toronto to face the high-octane offense of the Blue Jays. On the heels of the disappointment at home, these next six games are at least as important if not more so than the 10 previous. Both teams are capable of taxing a pitching staff and these two lineups will provide the staff a perfect opportunity to show just how good they really are this season. Ranks are in the American League:

Team Runs Rank AVG Rank OBP Rank SLG Rank OPS Rank HR Rank Runs/G
Chicago 306 4th 0.276 6th 0.349 5th 0.465 2nd 0.816 4th 81 t1st 5.56
Toronto 317 3rd 0.303 1st 0.365 3rd 0.503 1st 0.868 1st 81 t1st 5.87

Detroit nemesis, Jim Thome was able to impose his will on the team in the first series between the teams this year. He was 5-for-11 with three home runs and five runs batted posting a disgusting .455/.571/1.455 line. That’s a 2.026 OPS!!!!! For his career, he has 45 home runs and 100 RBIs in 131 games vs. Detroit.

Toronto’s best hitter, Vernon Wells, has not been nearly as strong against the Tigers with a .270/.290/.405 line in 33 games. He has four home runs and 18 runs batted in. That said, he is in the midst of a career-year and on pace for 44 home runs. With him comes American League batting leader Alex Rios (.360). Rios is having a breakout season in this, his third season. Sample size caveats apply heavily, but Rios has had his way with the Tigers in seven games going .429/.448/.679 with two home runs and six RBIs. The Toronto hit parade doesn’t stop there. Troy Glaus has returned to the American League on fire. His 17 home runs so far have him on pace for 50 this season. Against the Tigers, he has 12 in 52 games while with the Anaheim Angels. After the series with Detroit, only his former AL West opponents will have a thicker book on Glaus than the Tigers. At-bats against:

Team AB
OAK 329
TEX 300
SEA 292
TOR 209
DET 203

Of the two, the White Sox have a significantly better pitching staff with the Blue Jays’ team ERA among the league’s worst at 4.85 (9th in AL). What they lack in run prevention, the Blue Jays make up in ability to exploit Detroit’s weakness, strikeouts. Detroit’s 400 strikeouts are most in the American League. The Jays strike out 6.3 per nine while the Sox are at 5.5.

Toronto has the best single pitcher of the two teams in Roy Halladay, but the Tigers will miss him as he is scheduled to go June 8th in Baltimore. The second-best, Chicago’s Mark Buehrle will also be missed having pitched Sunday against Texas. Toronto also features one of the league’s best closers. Only the outgoing Jonathan Papelbon from the Red Sox has been better than the Jays’ B.J. Ryan.

For this road trip to be success, a winning record is in order. Two series victories would be excellent for team as they would have momentum coming home to face the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for four before a giant interleague stretch against the National League Central.

Random Notes:
Jim Leyland was not very happy with Todd Jones‘ decision to call catcher Vance Wilson out to the mound during Friday’s meltdown. See John Lowe’s article at the Free Press website.

-As a Texas graduate, I’d be thrilled if the Tigers took Drew Stubbs with their first pick during Tuesday’s draft. At least one mock draft (that of BA’s Jim Callis) I saw had him slotted to the Tigers at #6. In a subscriber-only piece at Baseball America, Stubbs receives mixed reviews. He draws comparisons to Rocco Baldelli, Torii Hunter, Mike Cameron & Preston Wilson. He is regarded as the “toolsiest player” in the draft thus the comparisons to Baldelli. His tools+strikeouts combination conjure thoughts of the other three. A clip from the piece: “One scouting director said the decision offers two possibilities, both of which frightened him: He’d be scared to draft Stubbs too high because of what Stubbs can’t do, but he’d also be scared to pass on him because of what he can do and might do down the road.” Here are his numbers in three years with the Longhorns:

2006 62 0.342 0.439 0.580 12 60 41 26
2005 72 0.311 0.384 0.527 11 71 32 32
2004 71 0.301 0.372 0.474 8 75 28 28

-Speaking of the draft, top pick possibility Andrew Miller wears his hat like a dork:

Chris Spurling was optioned back to Toledo after Sunday’s game as Jason Beck reports.

-The Arizona Diamondbacks, powered by my choice for NL Cy Young Brandon Webb, are playing .600 ball right now! Eight regular hitters are hitting .291 or better and only catcher Johnny Estrada (.335 OBP) is getting on less than 34% of the time.

Albert Pujols is out indefinitely and headed to the disabled list with a muscle strain perhaps derailing what was shaping up to be one of the best offensive performances in baseball history. He was on pace to hit 72 home runs with 188 runs batted in and a .307/.441/.748 line.