Monday, August 15, 2005

Sweet Lou

In the words of Professor Hubert Farnsworth, “Good news everyone!” We actually swept a team, and now roll to the turf of the AL’s perpetual cellar dwellers. What’s that, you say? You have a few numbers you want to whisper into my year?

Three and seven. Three of ten. At least that isn’t how we’ve fared against the Red Sox this year. Instead, we’re hitting .300 against the mighty Tampa Bay Devil Rays, a team that’s sure to make a serious run for the pennant in 2012.

Pardon me while I lament dropping seven of ten to D-Rays, 23.5 games behind Boston, meaning 19 games behind us, 20 in the loss column. They’ve allowed 698 runs this season, most in the majors by 22 over Kansas City, a team you don’t really want to draw comparisons to.

Then again, you don’t really want your franchise drawing comparisons to the D-Rays, either. Hell, the D-Rays don’t even want to be compared to the D-Rays.

The D-Rays single handedly prove that team batting average means jack squat, as they are tied for second in the AL – with the Yankees, 14 points up on the AL best Chisox. When it comes to that slugging stat that I’ve been raving about, they drop to sixth, a mere point ahead of Chicago, but 18 up on the Athletics.

If I was a D-Rays fan – the fact that I’m not proves there is some sort of higher existence – I would actually be scared to check their pitching statistics. Their team seems like they can hit, so the problem should be obvious even before noting that they’re last in the AL in ERA at 5.58. Remember those White Sox, who just one paragraph ago were behind Tampa Bay in two offensive categories? 1.94 lower ERA. Hell, even the Yanks have a point on them.

Remember that WHIP stat that I deemed integral to the Yankees success or lack thereof? Oh, those D-Rays and their 1.57, tying KC for the AL worst. But that’s not the worst of it.

Their strikeouts to bases on balls ratio – a stat that I not so much neglected to leave out of my analysis last week as just didn’t have room for it without expanding to 5,000 words – is an abysmal 1.50. You can know next to nothing about strikeouts to walks ratio, and still be certain that walking two guys every time you strike out three is going to end up in lost games. I don’t care if you slug like the Texas Rangers – though they manage a not-so-much-better 1.83 ratio.

Wanna hear worse? Of course you do. The D-Rays strike out 6.05 per nine, which ranks ninth in the AL. Which means they walk four per nine. And that’s in addition to a team OPS of .822, worst in the AL.

So let’s add all of this up. They walk plenty, strike out a couple, and have the worst on base plus slugging in the league. And THEY’RE besting US 7-3 this season?

But such has been the ongoing story of the 2005 New York Yankees. Squeaking out a few clutch wins surrounded by losses to the bottom feeding teams. Worst part of it all: an ESPN headline from June 23rd – no small sample of the season: “Half of Rays road wins at Yankee Stadium.” Demoralizing, just demoralizing. The number: four.

The question we’re all asking is: how? How is it that the D-Rays are killing us this year? Their K/9 is 5.00, lower than their yearly totals. Their K/BB is 1.57, slightly better than they’ve fared against the rest of the league, but not an abnormality that would explain these losses. Hmmm….maybe we need to look at our own corps of pitchers to figure this one out.

Well, upon some brief research, our K/9 against the D-Rays is 5.30, and K/BB is 1.56. So all in all, we’re sitting pretty even in the free outs/free bases category, even though our K/BB is

What does all this mean? When you break everything down to their most simple parts, it basically means that the team that smacks the crap out of the ball the most will take this series. That, or if one team can come up with some stellar, consistent pitching.

Actually, the series may boil down to Sweet Lou and how he’s feeling. If he’s feeling like getting fired, he may sabotage his starting pitcher by pulling him after seven innings of shutout ball (see Casey Fossum, June 20th).

I know this sounds Bill Simmons-esque, but shouldn’t Piniella get his own reality show? Just him and his antics in the dugout and in the front office. It’d be great. Hell, you wouldn’t even have to be a baseball fan to enjoy it. Who wouldn’t enjoy watching a guy try his hardest to get fired, but won’t quit because he doesn’t want to lose out on the remaining portion of his contract?

I’ve now managed to blow hot air about the D-Rays for over 800 words. In fact, I don’t think I’ve said anything meaningful up to this point – and don’t really plan to for the rest of this space. It’s tough to dissect a team this horrible when they’ve done a number on your team thus far in the season.

All I’m expecting from these three games: at least one Sweet Lou ejection. And I guess that’s all I can ask for.