Weekly Pepper - Week 20

by Gregory Pratt, BaseballEvolution.com
August 25, 2008

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Gregory Pratt has everything working well in his life right now.

And That's the Bottom Line Because Stone Cold Said So! -- Coming into Friday's matchup with the New York Mets and Johan Santana, Roy Oswalt had gone 7-1 in his last 10 starts with a 2.51 ERA and an average of 6.3 strikeouts per start. He threw a complete game against New York, but lost 3-0 to a Santana gem. I knew that Oswalt would round back into form, and I'm also excited for Johan Santana, who has had a great season despite the lack of support from his teammates, although I worry about his much-diminished strikeout rate. I don't think it really matters, though, as Roy Halladay had a similar drop a while back and is currently in second place in the AL strikeout race. I wouldn't be stunned if Santana were making a personal choice, too.

Do You Smell What New York is Cooking? -- Am I the only one who looks at Xavier Nady's year and is pleased with his late-bloom? It's good to see talented players reach their peak and find success, although I don't think he'll be good for many years to come. He'll likely never be this good again, either. Conversely, I'm rather excited about Damaso Marte's collapse in New York. Maybe it's because I saw it coming. That guy's been worthless in New York and it's because he has a ten cent head. His work ethic isn't very good, either, and he isn't a reliable workhorse. He got in trouble with Ozzie Guillen for faking an injury after being used a few times too many for his liking and, as Keith helpfully emailed me, he's been lousy without a day's rest (4.23 ERA) for his entire career. Of course, Keith cited it to dispute my claim that Marte is a head case, but I am more than willing to accept the consensus around baseball that the guy is weak under pressure.

Cardinal Bloom -- For all this talk of Xavier Nady blooming late, what about Ryan Ludwick? Good for him to have as good a year as he's having. It's players like him who demonstrate unequivocally that every ballclub needs some luck in its player-development and scouting and coaching to find success.

Stewing Pavano -- Carl Pavano -- "yes (this Newsday headline calls out) Pavano" -- pitched the Yankees to a win on Saturday against the Baltimore Orioles. Meanwhile, all of New York City (including the Yankee clubhouse) hates his guts, and he's a joke all around baseball. But all's well that ends well, right?

Braun Gone -- Ryan Braun's injured and potentially out for the season, which is terrible news for the Brewers and all of baseball.  Buster Olney commissioned a statistical analysis that calls him the best hitter against good pitchers in the majors. Jeff Francoeur is cited as the worst.

Pound-for-Pound -- I read a description of Tim Lincecum in Sports Illustrated as "pound for pound" the best pitcher in baseball, and I got a huge kick out of it. As far as I am concerned he is the deserving Cy Young Award winner in the National League this year. He's been much better than Brandon Webb despite Webb's lead in wins. I hope he keeps the great season going and pulls it off. And while I also believe, unconventionally, that Roy Halladay deserves it over Cliff Lee in the AL, I do acknowledge that that argument is not an easy one to make. Lincecum over Webb is.

A.J. Pierzynski's Only Friend -- Pierzynski got caught in a rundown against the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday afternoon and got out of it by falling backward and flailing his arms after initiating contact with the defender. Doug Eddings came over, ruled it defensive interference and Pierzynski was safe. A.J. subsequently scored the winning run.  Eddings is the notorious (in Orange County) umpire from the infamous 2005 ALCS game between Pierzynski's Sox and the Angels.

Little League Grows Before Our Eyes -- This story updates the Little League World Series of a few years ago when "Danny Almonte made Matthew Cerda cry." I wish them both peace at the center and I recommend reading it if you have any interest whatsoever in the effect of a Little League World Series on a young man's life, especially considering the "importance" of that particular series.

To-Be-Determined for AL MVP -- If the season ended tomorrow I think it's clear that Carlos Quentin deserves to be the American League Most Valuable Player but I am in favor of waiting until the season is over before I make the decision. Hamilton has slumped since the All-Star Break and he's lost Ian Kinsler while Michael Young goes into his decline, but he might well find a rhythm again and make the race interesting. Truthfully, I'm rooting for Josh, but we'll have to wait and see what happens. I am already willing to say no to K-Rod for MVP.

History of the Week -- This thread on the most shameful performances in baseball history is my history of the week. There's some interesting material on some of the game's darkest days in that article.

Gregory Pratt is a political science and history double-major at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His political commentary can be found at the Office of the Independent Blogger, and he can be reached at gregory@baseballevolution.com.