Welcome to the only recap of last week that won’t punish you with endless Luis Castillo references. Mets fans have endured enough. Besides the fact that ESPN will beat a single highlight into the ground, what else did we learn last week?
The Rockies have to be a wee bit frustrated
After an undefeated week where they ran their winning streak to 11 games, Colorado has closed the gap in the N.L. West to… 10 1/2 games. They haven’t lost in nearly two weeks and they’re still not even with shouting distance of the Dodgers. Part of that is how bad they were to start the season, but the other part is that the Dodgers just won’t stop playing like the best team in baseball. The Rockies have managed to insert themselves into the Wild Card race with their surge, and they now have the third best run differential in the National League, but they’re still fighting an uphill climb to get into the playoffs.
The Texas Rangers don’t win when they don’t score.
Despite all the talk about the improved run prevention down in Arlington, they still rely on their offense to win them baseball games, and last week, the hitters went into a collective slump. Nelson Cruz, Michael Young, and Ian Kinsler all had wOBAs below .200, and Elvis Andrus and Marlon Byrd weren’t much better. With half their line-up hitting like pitchers and Josh Hamilton on the DL, Texas scored just 14 runs last week. They’re going to have to hit early and often if they want to hold off the Angels for the A.L. West. Too many more weeks like this and they’ll be looking up at Anaheim in the standings.
Philadelphia might want to ramp up their search for a starter.
Ruben Amaro’s not been shy about his desire to add a frontline starter via trade to replace the injured Brett Myers, but the performances of J.A. Happ and Antonio Bastardo had bought him some time and allowed him to be patient while waiting for the right deal. Not this week. Happ walked 10 guys in two starts, while Bastardo gave up three hits and three walks in just one inning in his only start of the week. They gave up 14 runs in 12 innings between them, for a not-so-nifty 10.50 ERA. Time to burn up the phone lines again, Ruben.
Willy Taveras doesn’t want to get on base.
Okay, that’s probably not true. I’m sure he wants to, but he just can’t figure out how. The Reds center fielder went 0 for 22 last week, and has now gone 32 plate appearances without reaching first base safely. His disastrous slump has dropped his season line to .229/.283/.289, and while he’s playing solid defense in center field, the Reds can’t keep sticking a guy with a .267 wOBA in the line-up regularly. Taveras is going to have to get hot in a hurry if he wants to stay on the field, because even Dusty Baker won’t tolerate 0-for-weeks for too long.
The Angels didn’t want to wait for Howie Kendrick to regress to the mean.
Mike Scioscia had apparently seen enough of Kendrick for now, as the Angels shipped their starting second baseman back to Triple-A and have apparently given the starting job to Maicer Izturis, based on this weekend’s line-up. Kendrick was hitting just .231/.281/.355 when he was demoted, but had anything really changed? His walk rate, strikeout rate, and isolated power are all right in line with his career numbers. The drop in numbers is entirely due to a .269 batting average on balls in play, which is about 80 points lower than his career mark. Even if he’s not hitting the ball as hard this year (his line drive percentage is down a bit), there’s still no way you’d project him for a .269 BABIP going forward. He was going to find more holes, and given his defense at second base, the Angels should have been willing to wait for his luck to turn.
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