Thursday, July 29, 2004


Expos 4 wins Other Teams 0 - Battling

While I was out traipsing about the Northwest and in airports the Expos have gone on a tear winning 4 out of the 5 games, and 6 out of their last 7.

The good:
The "other two" are finally hitting. I've talked about how Johnson and Vidro were carrying the team, but were showing limited power this year. Runs can't come from back to back singles. So how are they scoring? Take a look at the pre and post All-Star OPSs for Cabrera and Batista
Cabrera : .612/.731
Batista : .634/.910
That's a lot of doubles mixed in there. Cabrera should keep this up. He has it in him and was in a "trade me" funk all the first half. I don't expect Batista to continue this pace, but it's not crazy to think he could hit around .800 for the second half - given he's more of a .750 guy than .650.

Endy might have turned a corner. His splits are .685/.968 pre and post. He showed in the past he could hit lefties, so the very low stats this year were probably an aberration. This is the time where he should develop a bit more power. I'm optimistic for him hitting .750/.800 in this half.

The fantastic 4 remain so. Doesn't anyone listen to me? These guys are great. (and cordero should be traded for pop at third or first...sure wish the Twins needed a closer, they are loaded with 1B type guys.)

The Bad:
Patterson is not stepping it up. Keep the ball down and in the strike zone. Those are two of the most basic pitching rules. Patterson really isn't doing either well. He's got ok stuff, but not nasty enough to straight out fool anyone.

Vargas. Ah. We need that 5th guy in the pen, I guess. To give the guys rest but Vargas is giving up a couple hits every time out. He's still young but there is little progression. I wouldn't use him in pressure situations.

Catcher remains a void. Schnieder is most likely not the answer and Diaz is nothing but a fill in.

Today: Let's see if Biddle truly is getting it done as a starter. He hasn't been impressive starting (short innings - some hits, some walks) but it seems like he's getting K's and outs when he needs them. He's gotten marginally better with control since starting with the White Sox three years back so I expect him to be ok. But today I get to see it live. Yeah MLBTV!

Saturday, July 24, 2004


Quick note

I'm going to Seattle for a few days but a quick comment on the Expos before I leave. Two straight wins, following the same formula : Great starting pitching, use the Fantastic 4, get enough runs to get by. 4-1 versus the Mets and 2-1 versus the Marlins (A game we generally shoudl lose). Offense still needs work dammit, because it's not fair to the starter to hope for only 1 or 2 runs given up every game.

Thursday, July 22, 2004


2 Losses in a rwo - Slow Burn

The Expos have since wasted two good pitching efforts (surprise surprise).  Livan shut down the Pirates, getting the rare complete game loss.  Livan continues to shine as a guy who really can shut down the bad teams, can keep you in the game against good teams, and should never, EVER pitch against the Braves.    The offense had a remarkable 1 run off 10 hits (and 4 walks!).  It's hard to score that little if you tried.  

Then the offense came back the next day with 4 runs of 13 hits (and 3 walks), still poor but at least reasonably bad.   They had 2 HRs!  They haven't had 2 HRs in the same game since July 1st.  Seriously.   It wasn't quite enough though as the Mets took advantage of a wild pitch and an error to take the win.   Patterson pitched ok again, but for the love of god can they get someone in there to teach him to throw strikes?  For this guy it's the difference between a passable #2/#3 starter and a bad and short long relief career.   The bullpen using 3 of the Fantastic 4 and a surprisingly effective Kim, once again did well.  But can someone tell me why you bring in Horgan to face Reyes (a switch who hits lefties better), Matsui(ditto), and after he gets them both out THEN replce him with Ayala to face righty Zeile?   Not that it really effected the game but it makes no sense to me.  Now he'll be reluctant to use Horgan tonight, probably and we'll see some of the...less qualified bullpen out there.

I'm ceasing to be optimistic about the rest of the year.   I knew Montreal's offense is bad but do you know how bad?   The difference between #1 in runs scored and second to last is about 140 runs, the difference between second to last and the Expos is 70.  The can't get on base (OBP of .301) and REALLY can't hit for power (.370), and I think the latter is the most pressing problem this team faces.  Their OBP I think will be better in the second half (it already is in these few games) especially with Johnson back, for the full half, but the power...

Vidro is a really good 2nd baseman, with decent pop (.450) for that position.  The other acceptble hitters on the team Nick Johnson and Brad Wilkerson are good hitters but don't really have the power needed from a corner outfielder or a first baseman, and I'm not sure they ever will.  Endy Chavez (assuming he can keep up his average in the second half) would end up being a acceptable CF, but again no power.  I don't see the power coming from anywhere unless Doc Brown can bring us back 2003 Cabrera and 2000 Batista. 

It might be in order to trade one of the fantastic 4 (if I had my druthrers it would be Tucker - who I think is pitching a bit over his head) for a minor league prospect with pop.  Since noone in our bullpen (or pitching staff or team except for Vidro) is going to fetch a Dallas MacPherson like talent, maybe a Jason Michaels?   I know he is not expected to hit well in the majors, too many swings and misses, but this team really needs power.  Just a thought

Tuesday, July 20, 2004


Expos 6 Pittsburgh 2 : It's all about the bullpen

Solid outing from the boys in gray, blue, red, and white.  The performance of Biddle was especially heartening.  Really I just ask he keeps the 'Spos in the game and he did.   Everyone on the team except Batista got a hit last night all seemingly in the same inning, lot of key 2 out hits. 
The real story for me though was the use of the bullpen.   Last night you had the dream team of Tucker, Horgan, Ayala, and Cordero come in.   And what happened?  The Pirates were shut down 3 hits no runs in the last 4 innings.   It seems reasonable to me to think that if the bullpen is handled in combinations of these 4 as much as possible, the Expos will rarely be out of a ballgame.  This is what good teams do, identify their best bullpen men and ride them.  With 4 reliable guys, there should be no reason to trot out anyone else except for mop-up duty or the occasional rest for one of the 4.   I imagine a long relief guy is necessary (Rauch?) but come on F-Rob, show me you know what you're doing.
Fantastic Four
Ayala         3 IP  3 H  0 BB  2 K  0.00 ERA
Cordero     2 IP  2 H  1 BB  2 K  4.50 ERA
Horgan      3 IP  0 H  0 BB  1 K  0.00 ERA
Tucker      3.1IP 5 H  1 BB  3 K  0.00 ERA
Might be working on the edge a little...

Sunday, July 18, 2004


Atlatna 16 Expos 5 Ugh

The less said about this the better. Downs just did not have it today and then we trotted out the almost the entire B-List of the bullpen. Kim was scary bad, I mean scary. Then Vargas and Bentz. But in a game like this I don't really care using these guys. Just awful.

As for the talk of the day in Expos land, the trade of Carl Everett for John Rauch and Gary Majewski. I'll detail it more tomorrow but my initial thoughts are that the Expos got the better of the deal. John Rauch isn't unusable and maybe, if they are lucky, he can be a back of the rotation guy. Everett, who I will unfairly blame for the season up till now, I think is closer to 2001-2002 stats than last years season. He can hit if he's not injured and his heads in it, but it was never going to be that way for this team. Now for some nonsense:

Ok Carl's gone! The cancer is in remission. This team is ready to roll!


quick note

Bad game last night. Ortiz didn't slip up, so the Expos offense had to make do with what they had. I think 2 runs was actually pretty good. The pitching held up fine until F-Rob decided to bring in Bentz. Why? I guess Horgan was worn out from last night, but I'd rather put in one of our strong rightys. Oh well I'll take a longer look at it later.

Today Downs goes. He's middling and give up a bunch of hits. Thompson for the Braves isn't all that, but he's the better pitcher in this game.

Saturday, July 17, 2004


It's a gift...and a curse

I was dead on for my prediction last night. The Expos got 5
runs, Vidro had his shot, and Patterson pitched well
enough. Actually he pitched like he did in Arizona, which
got him to Montreal. Too little control. 4 walks and
87 pitches in under 5 innings usually will get you a loss. But he
managed to pitch around this which makes me real interested in his next
start. I think a quality #2 starter lies in this guy.

I was not happy bringing in Vargas, who is proving bad starters can
transition to bad relievers, but I suppose F-Rob (as he likes me to
call him), F-Rob wanted someone who could go three innings if need
be. I'm just saying that three innings of Vargas - and you won't
have the lead anymore. Horgan had another fine go getting that
crucial DP. He got no ER in his last 7 appearences, very short
appearences but still, the Expos bullpen is becoming a real strength,
Horgan, Ayala, Cordero, and TJ Tucker. With Patterson back and if
someone can teach Armas to throw strikes. You could have a staff
that could really compete. I can see how they were at least
competitive. UNfortunately last night was a microcosm of what I
think the offense has been reduced to Johnson, and Vidro (and Endy if
it's a righty). You just pray for a timely hit from the other

Today we try to go for the series victory with Armas, who is hot (1 run
in last 17 innings). Of course he gets the luck of going
against Russ Ortiz who is 4-0 with a 1.65 era in his last 4
starts. It's got to end sometime right?
I'll say Armas manages to keep the ball where it's supposed to be
tonight and Russ gets a little flakey. A big hit by Endy gives us
the win 3-2.

Friday, July 16, 2004


Tonight's game

Tonight John Patterson goes for the Expos after being out since late April.   The ever-popular groin tear.   He was pretty effective in his pre-injury starts, good K/BB ratio.  We can kind of glean he has a problem giving up the longball, though.  Hopefully that won't be the case tonight.  What he should do in between innings is pay attention to opposing pitcher Paul Byrd.  Byrd doesn't have great stuff but he doesn't walk anyone and keeps the balls down.  When he does get hit (which he will) it's not the longball and there's noone on base to drive in.  Always keeps his teams in the game.   Patterson has better stuff and if he followed this strategy could be a fine pitcher in the majors. 

I think the Expos will get their 3-5 runs, probably a shot by Vidro involved, it'll just be up to Patterson to hold up his end. 


Big Sky Baseball

So the biggest question regarding my boys, the Expos, is where are they going to end up?  It's a damn good question and I don't expect an answer in late July/early August despite what DuPay would have you believe. 
Since then I may have time to influence the answer, might I suggest an alternative to the DC/VA/Portland/Las Vegas quadrumpterive.  I, instead of looking at population sizes and TV markets, SCIENTIFICALLY examined the distance between actual baseball cities.  I then GEOGRAPHICALLY determined the area of the continental US that must travel the most distance to see a live MLB game.  This area would be prime for expansion.  An unspoiled fan base.  The winner is Northeast Montana.  That's right "Montana's Missouri River Country" as you know it.  Land of Lewis and Clark and Outlaws and other stuff. 
Ideally we'd place a team in Wolf Point or Glasgow, maybe even Havre, but given the population sizes <10,000 I don't think baseball would go for it.  So I'll be the first compromise.  We can go with Billings.   It's a bustling growing city of 60,000+.   You can build a nice intimate ballpark that seats around 30,000.  You've got twice as many people in the area, so it should be easily filled.  Plus I  haven't even considered the Billings Metro area.  That should push the available population to slightly more than 60,000+.   Think about all the players who want to own ranches, it'd be a snap to find one in Montana.   There must be at least 40 of these.  And you'd have easy access to Wyoming.  It's like right there. 

Thursday, July 15, 2004


Atlanta 8 Expos 0 - Not an auspicious beginning

Not exactly the 2nd half opener that I was hoping for as the Expos came back from the All-Star break as if they were just playing out the string. Ok, sure, they ARE just playing out the string but taking 3 of 4 from the surging Pirates before the break you thought maybe, just maybe they could pull off a .500 2nd half. At least I did as of today when I looked up this stuff.

This makes the EXPOS 2-8 versus the Braves this year. But don't think they are handing the Braves the NL East, they're 1-5 versus the Marlins and below .500 for the Phils and the Mets, too. At least respectably bad (less than 100 losses) against everyone else they are record bad against the NL East.

The good news:

Endy Chavez makes 2-3 to keep his average in tradable area for some team looking for a lefty bat and some speed off the bench. Tomorrow I'll look up if he's actually being shopped (what ? It's late)

Decent middle relief work

The bad news:
Orlando Cabrera (who I know is being shopped) swung at everything and missed most of the time. 3 K's. It's hard to shop a light hitting SS, it's near impossible to shop a no-hitting one.

Eric Gregg couldn't make it in to ump the game for Livan.


What if they had a playoff game and noone showed?

Barring a horrible series of bus and plane crashes, all the Expos can do from here on out is play spoiler. Lucky for them they play in the NL East, where everyone else still has a chance. It's the perfect division for them. (I'm trying to be positive here). Tonight they start their non-playing All-Star Livan Hernandez against the Atlanta Braves.

Reason why they should spoil the Braves: Braves' fans can't sell out playoff games anymore. Every playoff game should be a sell-out. Let's knock them out.


It didn't have to be done

I was shocked...SHOCKED! to find that there was no good Expos baseball blog. Now, to be honest, I didn't necessarily want to read one, but someone somewhere out there probably did and, dammit, every team deserves a dedicated posting on the minutiae of trades and managerial mistakes and awful uniform changes. So here we go, it should be a short, fun ride for a while, then tedious random posting, then I'll quit.

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