Saturday, May 22, 2004

What's happened lately?

Well, the Astros have gone 1-3. Lance Berkman has been going crazy, our starting pitching has been a little iffy, Morgan Ensberg is hitting almost nothing besides line drives...

...and I'm getting tired of tennis. I didn't think it would ever happen, but teaching it 4/5/6 hours a day and playing for another 1 or 2 is wearing on me.

The NL Central is now in a 3-way tie, with the Astros, Cubs, and Reds all at 24-18, and the Cardinals only 1.5 games back. Once again we're trying to the best 'Pythagorean' team in baseball (the greatest differential between runs scored and runs allowed) and somehow not make the playoffs:

We've outscored our opponents by 61 runs (233-172).

Cubs? 206-160. (+46)

Reds? 197-206. (-9!!!)

Cardinals? 211-193 (+28)

Why is this? Why do we win blowouts and lose close games?

1. We have a team that (no matter what Jimy Williams wants it to be) is built for the big inning: a couple of walks and a 3-run bomb.

2. Inefficient bullpen usage. When is the better team to use your best reliever:

A) Up by 4 in the 9th inning (a 'Jimy save')
B) Up by 1 in the 8th inning

3. Pinch-hitters. Pinch-hitters come up in a lot of big situations in close games (and should come up even more often for us, since we're carrying Everett and Ausmus), and our "Ace" pinch-hitters, in order of at-bats:

1. Jose Vizcaino, 41 (.171 / .261 / .195 = 456 OPS)
2. Orlando Palmeiro, 34 (.176 / .263 / .294 = 557 OPS)

What can we do? Jimy can learn a few new tricks, Hunsicker could trade for a bat off the bench...or we could get ready for a few more close losses.

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