Tuesday, August 31, 2004
Alls well that ends well...dammit!
After an effective emergency performance by Scott Downs lead to an initial victory against the Padres, The Expos have had three straight dismal outings by Patterson (it is an even start, I guess), Biddle (it is a start, I guess) and the Lesser Kim. This team had no depth at starting pitching before Armas became the game of Operation, now they are just throwing people out there hoping to get 5 innings out of them so the bullpen (which by the way is still doing a pretty good job) can slam down the win.
F-Rob, when he's not nodding off, is pratically begging for any arms he can get for the last month. Since this year they can actually call-up people from the minors (Don't get me started how ridiculous that was) he'll get them. Unfortunately, as I've said before, it's an unimpressive lot.
They did make some call ups. Along with Downs, they brought up Macier Izturis. That's good, but where's Brendan Harris? If he doesn't get a call on Sept 1...I'll...I'll wonder why. That's about it. This month will be all about evaluating Izturis, Church, and Harris, to see if they can play everyday, along with deciding which of Sledge and Chavez will be in the OF to start next season and which will be on the bench. Church ahs performed below what I expected but he has been sick. Izturis has played a bit better. I said I'll keep you informed statwise and I will...eventually.
Wilkerson, will be going to arbitration after the year. You mean a Boras client will be difficult to sign? Wilkerson has got everything BUT the average and will be a productive, though probably not starring, hitter for a good number of years. He should be signed to a deal, but nothing wallet busting.
On the brighter side, Sledge has been hitting well.
That's it. Oh and Wilbon comes back tomorrow to PTI. Our long National Nightmare wiil soon be over.
Thursday, August 26, 2004
Then the wheels fell off.
Livan had an awful 6th. So bad I doubt he could throw a strike with Eric Gregg behind the plate. (ok I jest. Eric Gregg could turn Carl Lewis into an all-star). He walked two men in with the bases loaded then Ayala had a very Biddle like performance. Better not to dwell on it.
Majewski is up and pitched allright.
Of course after I badmouth them Rivera and Sledge have the best games. Fine then. The whole team stinks! Stinks!
Shut 'em down, shut 'em shut 'em down bum bum
Other topics: Vidro is taking the last month of the season off (for surgery) and Armas should too. He left Wednesday's game early and has in I think three of the last 4 games. Frank seems to agree with me and has this to say.
F-ROB: "It's not fair to continue to ask the bullpen to do what they have been doing," Robinson said. "I've asked them to do an awful lot this year. I have a lot of confidence in them. They keep telling me they can go. But after tonight, I told (the front office) I can't continue to ask them to carry that type of load. It's not fair to them. We'll have somebody here. It doesn't matter. (We need) arms, bodies, anybody, volunteers, whatever. We are not going to be selective. Just get me some bodies here. That's all."
Shame is that there are no prospects close to major league ready for the 'spos pitching wise. It may be a long September, yet there's reason to believe, if ugly Counting Crows lead singer can bang both Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston, the Expos can persevere.
Prospects that are closer to major leagues may get a shot. Brandon Harris should be up for Vidro and it'd be a shame if Macier Izturis doesn't get some time at short. Izturis especially is "new school" and knows the value of a walk. As does Ryan Church, who is currently stuck behind the "hot" trio of Chavez, Rivera, and Sledge. None of which show any prospect of becoming more than a fast singles hitter who swings away, but maybe I'm wrong. I'm going to look at some stats and tell you, loyal Expos blog reader, what the Expos should do in September to look toward 2005 and a better season in Montreal (what? You think they're actually going anywhere?)
Monday, August 23, 2004
Another weekend away - Montreal 2 games Colorado 1
As for what happened in the mile-high city, The Stick snapped like a twig (simile usage - +2 grammar points for me). Nick Johnson will be out for the year. A speedy recovery to my favorite Expo. I'd like to say nothing good comes from a ball to the face, but Ryan Church was brought up and man, that kid can hit. He's going to force someone (Juan Rivera I'm looking at you) out of that outfield. Maybe, just maybe he can teach Endy and Termell how to take a pitch.
Now if we can just get Izturis and Harris up here and give them some MLB experience...
Armas was injured (again) but just a shin contusion (dumbing it down - leg bruise, dumbing it down more - boo boo, here. owie.) I'd say sit him for the year but this injury is nothing serious. Beltran didn't pitch well in relief of him, but he's the only one in the bullpen that didn't. And you know what, I'm going to let him off the hook. I'll blame it on having to come in for and injured pitcher. You aren't ready. You have to warm up in a hurry. How can he be expected to compete under those conditions? That's right he can't. Hernanadez pitched a complete game (and lost). This brings the Hoss (Hossy Hossnandez? Completey McGamerstein? He might be a Jewish Scott you don't know for sure) that bring the hoss' major league leading complete game total to 1,342. An amazing season. Old school, F-Rob. Old school.
Oh and now an update on the overall standing climb for the Expos. After beating the Rockies two of three, and crawl within 2 and a half games. (forget about the streaking Red Sox - this is the race we should be focused on. The Red Sox will just lose in the end. The Expos and the Rockies? Who can tell?) More concerning is winning to keep pace with the Blue Jays for Kings of Canada. The Blue Jays have had a bit of luck recently. We hate those guys most of all.
Tampa Bay 56-68 .452
Milwaukee 55-67 .451
Colorado 55-69 .444
Montreal 52-71 .423
Toronto 52-72 .419
Seattle 46-76 .377
Kansas City 44-77 .364
Arizona 38-87 .304
Friday, August 20, 2004
Left our mo' in San Francisco
4 games by the Bay and the best news the Expos can pull from them is that they managed to win a game. In the last three games the hitting has been up to snuff (Vidro and Wilkerson are hot) but the pitching has been off an on.
In Tuesday's game (Loss 4-5) Sunny Kim pitched a decent game. If he didn't "Chan Ho" those pitches to Bonds, we might have won it.
(A little side here : I have to respect the Expos for throwing to Bonds during the series. He's a great hitter - but he's not "necessary avoidance" great. That's ridiculous. I think it gives him an advantage because he can tell when a pitcher is pitching to him and is going to give him something to hit. My honest opinion - look for Bonds to slow down next year. I haven't seen him hit as many opposite field shots as in the past few years)
on with Tuesday - Ayala is the one who blew it in the ninth. Actually more because of shoddy fielding than anything else.
The first game of the double header featured a nice game by Rocky Biddle (yes Biddle and Kim had good games - it's like watching the Superfriends and Marvin and Wendy saving the day. Or for you younger folks, Power Rangers and those two dopes with leather jackets. Or for you even younger folks, waah waah you're a baby) and the bullpen.
The second game....well I don't understand why they didn't just shuttle someone down from Edmonton (Alvarez?) for a spot start. Knowing MLB it's probably a money thing. With the day off Thursday you could afford to throw anyone but still, not my choice. Tucker, tried his best but it wasn't nearly good enough. Then Robinson tossed in the Expos own private Roberto Hernandez, Claudio Vargas who proceeded to WALK IN THREE RUNS. Ouch
Tuesday, August 17, 2004
been a while: expos 2 other teams 2
Starters were good (Rauch, Armas) or passable (Patterson the Walk Machine, Hernandez) but the bullpen has been unusually shaky. Cordero has blown up twice, and Ayala and Tucker have both had poor outings. Beltran got called up and fit right in, tossing some good stuff with marginal control at the plate.
Hitting has been good - Wilkerson and The Stick are especially hot.
Since they passed Toronto, Montreal has completely turned it off. Turn it back on. Colorado is next in the overall standings. It starts tonight versus....Schmidt. Ok it starts tomorrow.
Thursday, August 12, 2004
Expos going for the sweep
Tonight they go for the sweep, Biddle (shudder) pitches for the first time since he got bopped with a comebacker in Houston. I expect a win, but only because Arizona looks completely deflated out there.
In minor league news, Church is back and promptly went 2-4 with a HR. Majewski is getting busted up, but since Rauch pitched well, I don't care anymore.
Selig says the whole "where they are going to end up" issue will be resolved in September. Ha! Don't hold your breath Billings.
Monday, August 09, 2004
Expos 2 Other Teams 1 - Rauch makes me look good
In game 2, we got exactly what we needed and I kind of expected from Rauch, a solid unspectacular start. It was once thought he could be a #1/#2 rotation guy. I don't believe that (it's not like he says - he did get chances with the White Sox) but he could be a solid #3 on back. Johnson got off his snide which I think was up to 0 for 17.
In game 3, we spot start Kim and he tightropes through 4, giving up just one run. A couple of Houston errors and timely pinch hits and the rocket goes down. Bullpen, much like Greta Van Sustren, is still getting it done.
Friday, August 06, 2004
Tonight Biddle pitches in Enron Field. How can I put this kindly? I can't. Good luck, Flying squirrel.
MLB finally picks up on what I've been talking about for weeks: "Since July 5, relievers Luis Ayala, Chad Cordero and Joe Horgan are a combined 6-1 with seven saves and a 0.23 ERA." But what abotu TJ Tucker? Since July 5 He's 1-0 with and 1.37 ERA. I guess that was something the fat cats in Washington didn't want you to know.
Johnson is on an 0 for 14 slump, but says he's playing on an injured knee.
Speaking of injuries, Armas Jr. is out for his next start and may go on the DL. Time to test out those AAA pitchers. Rauch may start. Sweet. Since I've been calling for it, I'm sure he'll get shelled.
In the Minors both Beltran and Majewski are performing well, same with Harris. New pick up Robertson not so much. Church - who had been doing real well went on the 7-game DL.
Lose 2 to the Cardinals
So the great second half Expos surge of 2004 may be over. It appears they won't play 0.750 ball the rest of the way and sneak into the wild card. But let's not dwell on the negative. Instead, use these games as a learning experience. We've learned the Expos still need big bats. Don't fool yourself. This team is capable of have a 5 games stretch with 4 runs at any moment.
Expos 4 - Cardnials 5
Hernandez did keep the team in the game, only to watch it slip away on a Cordero slider. A rookie versus the best non-steroid using, non-poor left feilding, non-jerk in the clubhouse, player who could easily have thrown Sid Bream out at home plate? Can't really blame Cordero.
4 extra base hits (all doubles) out of 11 hits. Can't really blame the offense either. A blameless loss versus a very good team
Expos 1 - Cardinals 2
Patterson pitched well. When he pitches bad you'll have walks and HRs. This game he only had walks. The HR he did give up was a solo shot to Edmonds. Again he couldn't make it to the sixth, throwing way too many pithces in the early innings but he realizes his mistake. From MLB.com :
"I'm having one long inning that's killing me," Patterson said. "Tonight it was the fourth inning (in which he walked three batters). I just threw so many pitches. It's just killing my games. I need to get consistent for five innings and go from there."
Good to see he realizes it. I tells ya I have a good feeling about this kid, I tells ya.
There goes Ayalas scoring streak. 26 2/3. Couldn't last forever, but it's a shame it had to end in a tie game.
Team only managed 5 hits. Two by Vidro.
Thursday, August 05, 2004
Carl Everett for John Rauch and Gary Majewski
Everett has pop, or more precisely he has pop when he's actually playing. If there is one place the Expos might have a surplus of talent on the offense side of the ball it's the outfield. Ok, "talent" might be too strong a word but they do have a decent number of young guys (Chavez, Sledge, Church, whichever of Broadway or Johnson they'd like to try tomove out there) that they should play out to see which (if any) are going to step up to be contributers 3-4 years down the road, which Everett is not.
As for the prospects, let me key you in on my thought process on these guys. At ages 17-22 a prospect is learning. He can have bad stats but still be a good prospect. He might be trying out new pitches, a new stance, whatever. His focus isn't on excelling, but on learning the right way to play. From 22-24 you got a prospect who is adjusting. Anything that he didn't get quite right, he's now refining. He can still have questionable stats but he should be progressing. By the time you are 25-26 you are settling, you should be finding your level. Maybe its in the major leagues or maybe you'll be at the deli slicing meat. You are barely a prospect. After 26, you should enjoy the best years of your career, hit age 30, get traded a couple of times as you behold what the ravages of age does to 5-tools or a decent curveball, hit age 34, go home and find out how much your autograph is worth at local card shows.
Rauch is basically not a prospect anymore. He's in his settling stage and frankly - it's not all that promising. Once the top pithcer in the White Sox system, he seems destined to be a #4/#5 innings eater if he's lucky. That's not a bad thing and it's not something the Expos don't need, but don't expect anything more than that from Rauch.
Majewski is 24 and refining. I'm pleased with his stats (note: I don't try to evaluate minor league stats that closely) and think he'll be a pretty good middle relief guy. Of course that's the 'spos strength right now, but an excess of decent relief pitchers is a good thing, especially come trade deadlines. There they can easily turn into decent position prospects.
Some people think they could have gotten more but all in all I think it was a fair value exchange, especially for an oft-injured 33-yrold malcontent (big words!)
Orlando Cabrera for Francis Beltran and Brendon Harris...oh and Alex Gonzalez
Originally the deal was going to be Cabrera to the Cubs, which is how we could send a guy to Boston and get three guys from Chicago. Once Nomar became available, the Cubs said "Oooh Daddy, that one's shinier. I want that!", the Red Sox needed a replacement (actually they really didn't - weren't they playing well without Nomar to begin with? Oh those silly Sox) so the Expos agreed to send him there...as long as they could still get there guys from Chicago
Cabrera is good, no doubt about it. Better than he'd been playing this year, his potential lying somewhere between All-Star and solid contributer. But he did not want to play in Montreal, and I think it affected his play. Not to say he was purposely tanking. I don't think major leaguers do that. There's too much ingrained in them from year of ball that tells them to hit the ball in front of them or dive to make that play. It's instinct. If they're playing, they're trying. More like the thought of playing for the Expos was a nagging cold, bringing Cabrera down enough to have an extended slump. And if he was going to be like this all season - only to leave in the end, better to get rid of him now and get something in return. He'll be good in Boston, and wherever he ends up after that, but Expos fans can't worry about that because unless they were moving and a lot of money was tossed at him, it wasn't going to be with this team
Gonzalez is just there because. He should be as good at hitting as an unmotivated Cabrera. Fielding will suffer a bit but he'll be gone at the end of the year
I really like the other pickups they got. Neither of them are real young but both are ready to contribute now (or more likely - nex tseason). Beltran is a fantastic middle-relief/closer dominant in Triple A, a little wilder than he needs to be (22BB in 35IP) but with fantastic strikeout numbers(40K in those same 35IP). Batters don't hit him very well either, just .214 this season. His main problem is the longball. 8 given up in such a short period. Looking at his games played, he's generally really good 2 out of 3 times but that 3rd time, watch out. I'm saying that's transition kinks that'll be worked out in a year.
Harris has hit on every level he's played at, including a brief 3 game stint with the real Cubs this year. He won't be Albert Pujols (as some fancy baseball book apparently once compared him to) but he should be a very solid 3B. His fielding is nothing to write home about - but it is workable, unless they want to move him to 2nd (something the Cubs had been toying with). Luckily the Expos have a second baseman of the future (and present). I imagine he'll be next years starting third baseman.
Pierre Luc-Marceau for Jeriome Robertson
Marceau doesn't seem to be anything worth worrying about. His low minor league stats aren't awe-inspiring. I also don't think he's real young
Robertson, if you remember, had a great fluke 2003 winning 15 games despite having a 5.10 ERA. He's shown some skill (2002 PCL pitcher of the year) and pitchers develop a little slower than batters, but I don't see what he'll be doing here. Replacement 5th starter for Day? The Epxos have plenty of mediocre pitchers. Out of the bullpen work? The Expos could use another lefty (both Majewski and Beltran are righties), but it wasn't imperative when Eischen came back. I guess he'll be a lefty spot starter / long reliever to break-up the all righty rotation. I guess.
The Expos didn't make out like bandits but they did strengthen next years team. The relief pitchers they picked up Beltran and Majewski, along with what they have already, should give the Expos a lights out bullpen next year. That could mean trade bait next september to get a can't miss prospect or two. Harris should be a regular contributer to the Expos for years, at worst a Joe Randa type of player. Solid, dependable. At best he could be something special. The starters though are nothing more than back of the rotation guys when they need an ace, or at least a consistent #2. They also didn't get the power they need. Losing Everett is fine. Losing Cabrera hurts, but it was going to happen. Overall good, but not great.
Tuesday, August 03, 2004
Expos 10 Cardinals 6 - The Lesser Kim
Bats are still hot, at least some of them. Wilkerson and Sledge went 7 for 10 at the top of the lineup and Batista had two bombs when the Expos needed them. (one off the worst best closer in the league, Izzy) Biggest sequence not mentioned : Two outs and a man on second in the sixth and the 'spos get a pinch hit double by Endy Chavez, then a Wilkerson walk, and a single by Sledge. That's the 2-out rally that got them back in the game.
Thank god for the Cardinals being So Taguchi, which is not nearly as good as being So Raven
Bullpen goes 7 innings and gives up 1 run to a potent offense, 4 by Ayala, Horgan, and Cordero were scoreless. (TJ had the pitcher Maquis double - shut down the rest Pujols Rolen but Renteria had a weak single that got the run in) Vargas surprisingly effective.
Armas might be injured. That's no good. He's better than anyone we'd replace him with. Not much, but this team doesn't have a lot of room for error.
Kim. I hope this isn't the replacement 5th starter for Day. 4 innings - 5 ER. 2HR. It takes a lot to be considered the lesser Kim pitching in the majors. But he's got it made. Runs given up in 11 out of his last 14 appearence. "Not fair" you say? "Sometimes he starts" you say? Ok how about 7 out of the last 14 times he's appeared he's given up more runs than he's completed innings. Not talking so much now are you, big boy? Please bring up Rauch and give him a shot. Sometimes a change of scenery is all you need.
Johnson 0-7. Just not his night. If he could have rapped out a couple hits., Batista's heroics probably wouldn't have been needed
Robinson uses 2 (count 'em) 2 pitchers as pinch hitters. Livan in extras, for Cordero and sacrificing kind of makes sense. He's a better hitter, more likely to get the job done (which he did) . But in the 5th - knowing you're going to take out Kim for Tucker, who in their right mind lets Tucker bat to lead off the inning? I don't get it. I would say maybe he confused him with Michael Tucker but who would let him bat either?
Monday, August 02, 2004
Expos 2 Other Teams 1 - Wap! Pow!
Expos 1 - Mets 10
Good : Nothing really. I guess F-Rob is getting wiser. None of the Fantastic Four were wasted in this game. Just Vargas, Kim, and new Frightful X member, Corocoran.
Bad : Biddle gets shellacked. I take back that OK thing I said last time. He's not a starter...well he's not a starter on a good team. On the Expos he's a servicable #5. However they've got enough potentially mediocre guys in AAA that Biddle need not be doing this. Shame they didn't trade him when he was racking up mirage saves last year.
This should be a GM mantra. Always trade a non-dominating closer. They are much more likely to end up back setting up, then in an All-Star game. Look at Borowski in Chicago, Mike Williams in Pittsburgh. Let them go for a good AA player. (If you're wondering I think Cordero is better than that though still not untradeable.)
Expos 9 - Marlins 0
Good : Everyone is still hitting. Johnson, Wilkerson hit HRs and even Livan had as many hits as he gave up, 3.
Livan pitched a great game. A great complete game. I still don't see why there aren't more of these in the majors. I do believe you need to be careful with a young or injured arm. But once you get around Livan's age (29) I don't see why you can't be throwing 110-120-130 pitches a game. Save your bullpens for when you need them - give yourself an extra roster spot by cutting a reliever. Makes sense to me.
Bad : Nothing.
Expos 8 - Marlins 5
Good : I love this new "hitting the baseball" Tony Batista much better than old "swing and miss" TB. He's batting .299 since the first brave game with 5 HR and 19 RBI. 2 more hits in this one
Ayala, Horgan, and Cordero combine for 0 runs in 3 innings. 3 hits total - 2 by Horgan in a 1/3 of an inning (but to be fair they were infield hits) . I proclaim the Montreal bullpen the biggest hidden story of MLBs second half.
Bad : Patterson...well he wasn't bad but he wasn't good. He threw a lot of pitches (112 in 5 innings) for as few runs as he gave up. Struck out a lot - which helps. Boy has got to get that head on straight.
Biddle. That's right Biddle. Since he got rocked and removed on Thursday, F-Rob brought him in for an inning on Saturday. Just to get his feeling back. Not a bad move by F-Rob, until you consider it's Rocky Biddle. Walk, pinch-hit LoDuca HR, single. If the Marlins hadn't given him a sacrifice out after that - I think the game could have been lost. F-Rob was not happy with his performance. Could a demotion be in store?
Endy might be slowing down.
Expos Marlins - Rained out!
Good : Day of rest for the team
Bad : We were leading at the time.
Zach Day broke his hand on a bunt attempt (did noone teach him ho to bunt? Why did he have his hand wrapped around the bat like that?) He'll be replaced today. Probably by Scott Downs - but options are plentiful and noone really stands out. Rigo Beltran is in Edmonton, along with youngster Josh Karp. I would like to see either Wilton Chavez or John Rauch be given the call. It's time to see what we've got with Wilton, and maybe a change of location will get Rauch pitching like people thought he would in Chicago.
Oh yes, the trade...ummm I'll get to that later.