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Michael/Male/26-30. Lives in United States/Pennsylvania/Wexford/Christopher Wren, speaks English. Spends 20% of daytime online. Uses a Fast (128k-512k) connection. And likes baseball /politics.
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United States, Pennsylvania, Wexford, Christopher Wren, English, Michael, Male, 26-30, baseball , politics.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Now we've got a battle... 

The NL East: blockbuster trades, massive contracts, abortive stadium deals … the NL East is in the news in a big way this week.

The Braves … I tip my hat to our friends down in Atlanta: getting Hudson, moving Smoltz back into the rotation … I think these guys upgraded their starting rotation, just when I thought they were going to suffer a downgrade with Russ Ortiz and Jared Wright leaving. The Braves will have to replace Drew’s bat, but their pitching staff is better now than it was last year.

Hudson: 3.64 FIP ERA; 2.58 G/F ratio; 4.9 K/9; 16 Win Shares (6 WSAA)
Smoltz: 2.75 FIP ERA; 1.41 G/F ratio; 9.4 K/9; 12 Win Shares (4WSAA)*
* in relief

Ortiz: 4.83 FIP ERA; 1.11 G/F/ ratio; 6.3 K/9; 11Win Shares (1 WSAA)
Wright: 3.31 FIP ERA; 1.30 G/F ratio; 7.7 K/9; 13 Win Shares (4 WSAA)

Smoltz’s numbers are a little off because he came out of the bullpen, but he’ll pitch at least as well as Jared Wright did. Meanwhile, Hudson is a massive upgrade on Russ Ortiz.

How good is Hudson going to be? Scary good. Hudson is just 29, entering his prime as a pitcher and I think he’ll be a great one: 20+ wins, sub-3.00 ERA good. His ERA spiked slightly in 2004, but Hudson had a sub-3.00 ERA playing in the American league in 2003 and 2002. That’s why I think Hudson’s going to be great in Atlanta, pitching in a pitcher’s park like Turner Field, playing with a decent defense behind him, and no longer having to face off with a DH.

Hudson is stingy with surrendering home runs and has a terrific strikeout-to-walk ratio:

HRs per 9 Innings / K-to-BB ratio
1999: 0.5 / 2.13
2000: 1.1 / 2.06
2001: 0.8 / 2.55
2002: 0.7 / 2.45
2003: 0.6 / 2.66
2004: 0.4 / 2.34

Will Hudson stay in Atlanta (he’s a free agent after the 2005 season)? I’d assume so. He’s from Alabama, so there is the hometown connection and the opportunity to play with a winning team. I think Phillies fans should get used to seeing Hudson plenty of times in the future. I expect him to win the 2005 NL Cy Young.

The Mess … er, Mets … One of the joys of being a Phillies fan is watching the Mets stumble and bumble their way to sub - .500 baseball despite being part of the New York market, despite having a consistently large payroll. The Phillies might be a dozen games out of first, but we usually accomplish that feat with a lot less money than our friends in Queens have. Over the years we’ve seen the late 1980s Mets-dynasty-in-the-making collapse, their post-2002 spending binge hangover and the waste of Mike Piazza squatting behind the plate. Schadenfraude is an emotion we have all felt … Back in the early 1960s reporters wanted to cover the horrible Mets because the Yankees made baseball too boring, too predictable, while the Mets were fun to watch in their mediocrity. Today there is nothing fun about the Mets annual free agent spending spree. The Mets are a train wreck. These guys are going to be bad, and they will be spectacular doing it … I am saying all of this in reference to the Mets decision to offer Pedro a four-year deal worth $53 million (as well as their deal with Kris Benson). When I heard of the deal on ESPNews yesterday I was shocked. And people think the Phillies over-paid for Lieber?

Pedro is a great pitcher, circa 1999 & 2000. I think the wear and tear on his arm is showing: last year his ERA jumped from 2.26 and 2.22 in ’02 & ’03 to 3.90 in 2004.

Look at how much Pedro’s WHIP and BAA spiked last year, compared to the rest of his career:

WHIP / BAA
1999: 0.92 / .205
2000: 0.74 / .167
2001: 0.93 / .199
2002: 0.92 / .198
2003: 1.04 / .215
2004: 1.17 / .238

Pedro allowed 26 home runs last year, up from 7 in 2003. I think these are ominous stats for Pedro. He’s losing his control, little by little. Wait until his gives up a 450-foot home run to Thome at Citizens and watch his control unravel. I can’t see how this contract won’t come back to bite New York, especially in 2007 and 2008. If they signed Pedro to win now, I think this gamble will come back and hurt them: they just don’t have the horses to challenge in 2005.

The Mets other big acquisition this offseason was getting Kris Benson signed. This is a pitcher with a career 4.28 ERA, .266 BAA and a 1.40 WHIP, all with an NL team. What in the heck were they thinking? I haven’t a clue. Benson is average. He’s a fourth starter at best … For the Mets sake I hope they sign Carlos Delgado, although with Beltre off to Seattle and Shawn Green on his way to Arizona, I think that the Dodgers will make an aggressive push now to sign Delgado.

The Nats. What a mess. Even when baseball tries to end the sad saga of the Expos, they can’t make it happen. Baseball in Washington D.C. looks fairly doomed (I can’t see the D.C. City Council put a deal into place by December 31), which is a shame. I can’t imagine another year or two of the pathetic sight of a few hundred fans cheering in a deserted stadium for a team bereft of talent. Let’s hope MLB makes D.C. baseball work, or ships the Nats out to a new, untapped market like San Antonio or Portland.

Or heck, even Las Vegas. Just get them out of Montreal.

Meanwhile the Phillies and Marlins have been quiet. Neither team is a contender in the Carlos Beltran sweepsteaks. Neither team have made significant changes to their makeup. The Marlins added Al Leiter. The Phillies added Jon Lieber and Kenny Lofton. Those are the moves of teams confident of their prospects for 2005 … or teams that have exhausted their checkbooks. At any rate this last week has been an interesting one. I don’t think any of us expected the Mets and Braves to upgrade as they have, so there is the very real possibility of a tight, four-team race for the NL East title in 2005. I had personally thought this was boiling down to a race between the Marlins and Phillies, but things are different. That was then. This is now.

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