Posted on: July 17, 2011 10:45 pm
Edited on: July 18, 2011 6:11 am
Since 1996, the Yankees have five World Series titles and no 11-game winning streaks.
The Rangers just won 11 in a row for the second straight year.
Since 2003, four teams have had a 12-game winning streak. Three of those four didn't make the playoffs, and the fourth didn't make the World Series.
Winning streaks make you look like you're the best team in baseball. All too often, the long season proves that you're not.
Winning streaks feel like they ought to be important. History shows that all too often, they're not.
So what does all this mean for the Rangers, who have swept the Orioles, A's and Mariners for their 11 straight wins?
Nothing, except that Texas has once again taken command of the American League West race, and has a chance to open up an even bigger gap with three games against the Angels this week in Anaheim.
With the Mariners' collapse -- they've lost nine straight, scoring just 11 runs total -- and with the A's continuing struggles, the Angels are the lone remaining challenger to Texas. And even the Angels have now fallen four games behind.
The Angels are supposed to be the Rangers' opposites. The Rangers are third in the league in runs, while the Angels are fourth from the bottom. The Angels are second in the league in pitching, while the Rangers are . . . moving up.
In fact, if there's anything to take from the 11 straight games they've won, it's that the Rangers' pitching has been outstanding. The team ERA through the 11-game streak is an impressive 2.09 (although maybe the three weak opponents had something to do with that).
Last year, the Rangers' 11-game winning streak came in June, and it was quickly followed by the Cliff Lee trade that turned Texas into a World Series team for the first time. It's hard to know whether this streak will be followed by any kind of impact trade -- or if the Rangers even need that kind of impact deal this year.
All we really know is this: If the Rangers win Tuesday, they'll be the first team since the 2006 Red Sox to win 12 in a row. If they win Tuesday and Wednesday, they'll be the first team since the 2002 A's to win more than 12 in a row (the A's won 20).
And whether the streak ends at 11, 12 or more, we also know that history tells us it's not as important as it seems.
On to 3 to Watch:
1. There's still no game-changer like Lee on the July trade market, but the market did get a lot more interesting with the news that the Rockies would listen on Ubaldo Jimenez. The asking price is admittedly huge -- according to the reliable Jon Heyman of SI.com, the Rockies wanted Manuel Banuelos, Delin Betances, Ivan Nova and Jesus Montero from the Yankees -- but at least there is an asking price. Most likely, Jimenez will make his next scheduled start, in Braves at Rockies, Tuesday night (8:40 ET) at Coors Field, but you never know. It's a safer bet that scouts will congregate in Denver, where Derek Lowe is scheduled to start for the Braves a night before Jimenez is scheduled for the Rockies.
2. Rangers manager Ron Washington chose Jered Weaver to start the All-Star Game, but he also agreed to Angels manager Mike Scioscia's request that Weaver pitch only one inning. That enabled Weaver to start Saturday in Oakland (where he won for the 12th time this year), and it also set up Weaver to start against fellow All-Star C.J. Wilson in Rangers at Angels, Thursday afternoon (3:35 ET) at Angel Stadium.
3. I'm still not sure who baseball's best pitcher is -- Verlander? Halladay? Felix? I do know that CC Sabathia is baseball's winningest pitcher (he's 14-4, with wins in each of his last seven starts), and that he's also baseball's hottest pitcher (5-0, 0.45 in his last five starts, with nine walks and 50 strikeouts in 39 2/3 innings, with a .449 OPS against). I also know that Sabathia has an All-Star matchup coming up, in Yankees at Rays, Thursday night (7:10 ET) at Tropicana Field. And I know that this is the last game of what the Rays saw as a critical 10-game stretch against the Yankees and Red Sox. By Thursday, the Rays figure to have a better idea of whether a run at the playoffs is realistic.
Posted on: May 3, 2011 4:36 pm
Edited on: May 3, 2011 6:49 pm
Baseball suspended Ozzie Guillen for tweeting during a game.
Shin-Soo Choo was arrested for driving under the influence, and he isn't expected to miss a game.
We shouldn't be surprised. Choo is the sixth baseball player to face DUI charges this year alone.
Not one of the six has missed a regular-season game because of it.
I'm not sure what the proper penalty should be. Choo, like the others, does face legal charges.
But like the others, he won't face any baseball charges. There's no precedent for punishing players for off-field matters, and for now the Basic Agreement between the players and owners doesn't provide for it.
With six DUI incidents this year, you can be sure the owners will raise the issue in this summer's negotiations on a new Basic Agreement.
Meanwhile, baseball gets another black eye.
Fortunately, none of the players cited for DUI so far this year seems to have hurt anyone. But fans remember that Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart was killed by a drunk driver two years ago, and one fan suggested to me on Twitter that any player getting a DUI should be forced to donate a month's salary to the Adenhart Memorial Fund.
So far, that's not happening.
All we can do is present the ugly list, with the ugly details, and hope that the next player who goes out drinking remembers that he has enough money to afford a cab home -- and that the potential cost to his reputation is a lot more than the price of that cab ride:
-- Adam Kennedy, Mariners, Jan. 26 in Newport Beach, Calif. Kennedy signed with the Mariners on Jan. 10. Not even three weeks later, he was calling Seattle reporters to apologize to fans, after he was caught driving over the limit. "Regettable is an understatement," Kennedy told the Seattle Times.
-- Austin Kearns, Indians, Feb. 12 in Nicholasville, Ky. Police said Kearns was driving down an emergency lane without headlights, and was weaving. No wonder he didn't tell the Indians about it until the arrest became public several weeks later.
-- Miguel Cabrera, Tigers, Feb. 16 in St. Lucie County, Fla. This was the ugliest of all of them, with Cabrera allegedly firing threats and drinking Scotch in front of police officers. Baseball worked out a treatment plan for Cabrera, but said he would face penalties if he didn't stick to the plan.
-- Coco Crisp, A's, March 2 in Scottsdale, Ariz. Crisp was stopped at 2:15 a.m., driving a 2009 Rolls Royce Phantom with an expired license.
-- Derek Lowe, Braves, April 28 in Atlanta. Another bad one. According to police, Lowe was drag-racing another car, while drunk, on Peachtree Road in Buckhead.
-- Shin-soo Choo, Indians, May 2 in Sheffield Lake, Ohio. The details are still to emerge on this one, but Choo was picked up early Monday morning. Police said he blew a 0.20 on the Breathalyzer test, more than twice the legal limit. Police also said he asked an officer for directions to his (Choo's) home, then was weaving as he drove away and was pulled over.
Posted on: December 14, 2009 5:52 pm
Now that John Lackey is headed to the Red Sox, and now that Roy Halladay is headed to the Phillies, and now that Cliff Lee is headed to the Mariners, where does Derek Lowe go?
How about the Yankees?
The Yankees want a fourth starter to go with CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte, and they have hitters who could interest the Braves. The two teams have talked, and while it's not certain that a Lowe deal has been discussed, it would make sense.
Lowe also makes sense for the Angels, who have lost out on both Halladay and Lackey, their two top targets. Outfielder Juan Rivera would be "a nice start" to a package for Lowe, according to someone familiar with the two teams.
The Mariners have also shown interest in Lowe, but now that they are set to get Lee, they would seem to have less motivation to make a trade.
The Braves began the offseason exploring deals for either Lowe or Javier Vazquez, but sources said that they are now much more focused on dealing Lowe than Vazquez. Vazquez, in any case, would be a tough deal to make for the Angels, because of the pitcher's strong preference to stay on the East Coast.
The Braves are willing to pay some of Lowe's salary ($45 million over the next three years), depending on the players they get in the trade.
Posted on: December 8, 2009 11:06 am
Edited on: December 8, 2009 12:28 pm
INDIANAPOLIS -- Derek Lowe and Javier Vazquez are starting to look a little bit cheaper.
The salaries of Lowe ($45 million over the next three years) and Vazquez ($11.5 million in 2011) haven't changed. But one signing and another near signing show that the price of mid-range pitching is going up again.
Brad Penny, who had a 5.61 ERA before the Red Sox released him last August (and later pitched better for the Giants), signed Monday with the Cardinals on Monday for $7.5 million, with a chance to make another $1.5 million in incentives. And Randy Wolf, who a year ago had to settle for $5 million from the Dodgers, was closing in on a three-year, $30 million contract with the Brewers.
The Braves have been trying to trade either Lowe or Vazquez to get the big bat they need.
Atlanta now has another pitcher to trade, after reliever Rafael Soriano accepted arbitration at Monday night's deadline. The Braves already signed relievers Billy Wagner and Takashi Saito, so the plan is to move Soriano. While he could get a large contract in arbitration, he could still have trade value, since teams prefer relievers on one-year contracts.
Posted on: May 12, 2009 12:12 am
NEW YORK -- A few notes on the first of the week's fascinating pitching matchups, with the Braves' Derek Lowe beating the Mets' Johan Santana 8-3 tonight at Citi Field:
-- It turns out Lowe and Santana are offseason neighbors in Fort Myers, Fla. "He lives three houses down," Lowe said. "I didn't see him much, but I saw his Lamborghini."
-- Lowe was 0-for-9 this year and 1-for-his-last-34 (not counting a postseason hit) when he singled off Santana in the second inning. "Luck," Lowe said. "You go up there with such low expectations. I almost wanted to ask for the ball."
-- Amazingly, Santana is now winless in six career starts against the Braves. They're the only team he has pitched against but never beaten (he has never faced the Twins or Rockies). Even more amazingly, he now owns a 2.31 ERA in those six starts, and is 0-4.
-- Santana's ERA in his four wins this year: 0.70. His ERA in his two losses: 0.00 (two unearned runs in each game). Santana's ERA in his nine losses as a Met: 2.59.
-- Before tonight, Lowe and Santana had never matched up as starters. They had pitched in the same game twice; both appeared in relief in a July 3, 2000 game at the Metrodome (an 11-8 Red Sox win, with Lowe getting the save), and Lowe appeared in relief of an April 12, 2000 game that Santana started at Fenway Park (a 7-3 Red Sox win). "I love facing guys like that, especially Santana," Lowe said. "He's going to beat you more than you're going to beat him, but it's fun challenging yourself. I've always enjoyed watching him."
-- Lowe said he didn't think about the Mets' offseason interest in him. He also said that it wasn't just the lack of a four-year offer that kept him from signing with the Mets (he got four years, $60 million from the Braves). He said other teams were offering more money than the Mets even on three-year deals.
-- Great line from Lowe on Santana: "I know the guy would rather give up a root canal than give up an earned run."
-- Lowe has become a big fan of Jair Jurrjens, who starts Tuesday's game. "We've got our best pitcher going tomorrow," he said.
Posted on: December 15, 2008 4:03 pm
Even after getting rejected by A.J. Burnett, the Braves aren't expected to pursue Derek Lowe, and have little interest in rekindling Jake Peavy talks with the Padres, according to people familiar with their plans.
The Braves were never willing to guarantee a fifth year to Burnett, who took a five-year, $82.5 million offer from the Yankees instead.
Agent Scott Boras has told some teams he's looking for a similar deal for Lowe, and that at the minimum he would want four years at $16.5 million per year. The market for Lowe has shrunk some, because the Mets now consider him out of their price range, and the Phillies are no longer interested after re-signing Jamie Moyer. The Red Sox have been mentioned as a possibility, but they've balked at Boras' asking price.
The Braves have already acquired Javier Vazquez, but they came into the winter with a goal of adding two starters. They could go back into the trade market to try to find another pitcher, although teams that were looking said not many starters were available at last week's winter meetings.
The Braves thought last month that they were extremely close to a deal for Peavy, but got frustrated when the Padres tried to change the deal at the last minute. There's still enough bad blood between the two teams that it would be tough for them to get back together and complete a trade.
Posted on: November 25, 2008 3:34 pm
While the Mets wouldn't mind adding a hitter in this free-agent season, people familiar with their plans said that pitching has to come first. The Mets need a closer, and they also need at least one starter, and they believe there's a good chance they'll use up all their money filling those needs.
Mets people agreed that Derek Lowe would be their preferred starter, because they believe that CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett would cost too much, and Ben Sheets' health scares them. But with the chance that Lowe's price will be close to that of Burnett, the Mets may have to move on to other options.
"Don't discount Oliver Perez," said one person who has spoken with the Mets decision-makers. "And I wouldn't even count Pedro (Martinez) out, although it would only happen if he would take a lower guarantee and then some incentives."
Many people around the game still expect the Mets to sign Francisco Rodriguez as their new closer. The Mets have more money than any of the other teams seeking a closer, and Rodriguez is still the biggest target on the market.
"(Mets GM Omar Minaya) likes to make a splash," said one person who knows Minaya well. "K-Rod would do it for him."