Baseball 101: When in doubt, blame a manager

August 20, 2001 10:46 PM
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Boston GM Dan Duquette had his reasons for firing manager Jimy Williams, and time will tell if it was the right move. Right now, it looks like garbage.

Williams was Manager of the Year in 1999 and kept the Red Sox in the thick of the pennant race this season with half his team injured. No, the recent slump appears a smoke screen. Williams and Duquette were at odds for quite some time and the dismissal was a low blow.

No Bull From Pen:

LaTroy Hawkins has lost his confidence as a closer and, worse, the Twins may have lost their patience. This month, Hawkins had a brutal 15.43 ERA in his first six outings with the opposition batting .520.

Hawkins has an 11.57 ERA and four saves since the All-Star break. Before the break, Hawkins had 23 saves and a 3.48 ERA. No thanks to Hawkins, Minnesota is just 3-9 against Cleveland and fell 3 1/2 games behind the Tribe at mid-week. The Twins have been outscored by the Tribe in the season series, 82-52. Minnesota manager Tom Kelly finally decided to pull Hawkins from the closer role. Veteran Todd Jones, acquired earlier this year from Detroit, was used in the ninth inning Saturday against Tampa Bay and picked up the save.

Say it ain’t So-sa: Welldeserved cudos to reliever Byung-Hyun Kim, who struck out Chicago Cubs slugger Sammy Sosa on consecutive nights to save victories for Arizona.

Trivial pursuit

Tony LaRussa rolled the dice and came up a winner. The Cardinals manager moved slumping slugger Mark McGwire down to the No. 6 in the batting order. McGwire responded with a 3-for-3 performance Sunday as the St. Louis won its 11th straight game...Ditto for Joe Torre. The Yankees skipper moved Derek Jeter to the leadoff spot. Jeter responded with four homers in six games and seven extra base hits in 15 first-inning at-bats...Atlanta has won four straight games for the first time since mid-June. And, you thought the Braves were done...The Anaheim Angels have crept into the crowded Wild Card picture, winning nine of their last 13 games...The Reds dropped to 18-43 at home with Saturday’s loss to the Milwaukee Brewers.

Major Medical

Minnesota and Los Angeles have fought the good fight all season, but the wheels are coming off for similar reasons. The Twins have lost ace right-hander Brad Radke (thumb) at least a month and are drifting further away from Cleveland in the AL Central. The Dodgers were thriving for awhile, but now almost their entire starting rotation has joined ace Kevin Brown on the DL. Chan Ho Park can’t do it alone. LA could float without Darren Dreifort, Andy Ashby and rookie Luke Prokopec, but vulture bettors will swoop down without Brown.

Money Market

The St. Louis Cardinals have suddenly become a player in the NL Central. The Cards gained $600 this past week at the betting window after posting their second 10-game winning streak of the year. Arizona also had a huge week in the wild NL West, while Minnesota took the single biggest drop in the weekly rates ”” $1,200. Seattle needs a winning week next week to eclipse the $4,000 barrier for the first time. Looks like a good bet.

Here is the latest list of losing high-priced favorites.

Sunday, August 12

Greg Maddux (—210) ”” Arizona 9, Atlanta 1

Monday, August 13

Kyle Lohse (—145) ”” Tampa Bay 5, Minnesota 1

Tuesday, August 14

Chan Ho Park (—190) ”” Montreal 4, Los Angeles 1

Troy Hudson (—180) ”” Toronto 6, Oakland 3

Wednesday, August 15

Barry Zito (-160) ”” Toronto 5, Oakland 2

Thursday, August 16

Eric Gagne (—200) ”” Montreal 7, Los Angeles 3

Friday, August 17

Rick Reed (-170) ”” Tampa Bay 9, Minnesota 4

Saturday, August 18

James Baldwin (—145) ”” NY Mets 5, Los Angeles 4

Who’s hot? St. Louis (+ 600) Arizona (+ 600), Baltimore (+ 225). Who’s not? Minnesota (-1220), Cincinnati (- 610), Florida (-525).

AUG 18

NL Money Line Record

Philadelphia  

+1360

San Francisco  

+1320

San Diego  

+1105

Chicago  

+955

Arizona  

+840

St. Louis  

+300

Los Angeles  

+295

Houston  

+140

Florida  

-560

Montreal  

-1040

Atlanta  

-1095

Cincinnati  

-1305

Milwaukee  

-1350

Pittsburgh  

-1730

NY Mets  

-1895

Colorado  

-3095

AL Money Line Record

Seattle  

+3990

Anaheim  

+1360

Oakland  

+520

NY Yankees  

+510

Minnesota  

+295

Chicago  

-415

Boston  

-440

Baltimore  

-635

Cleveland  

-695

Toronto  

-695

Kansas City  

-765

Detroit  

-940

Tampa Bay  

-1960

Texas  

-2040

 

(Based on $100 ML bets for each game of the season)

Darn Lefties

Kirk Rueter is never mentioned in discussing the premier lefty pitchers of the past 10 years, but the stats show otherwise. Rueter made his big league debut with Montreal in 1993 and went 8-0 with a 2.73 ERA.

The Illinois native was 25-12 in four seasons with the Expos until dealt to San Francisco in 1996. All “Captain Kirk” has done in six years is post a 68-43 record, including 12-7 this season. Rueter’s lifetime ERA is an unimpressive 4.20. For a pitcher with a stellar 93-55 mark, that’s remarkable.

In 216 starts, Rueter has just four complete games. He simply wins his outings through control. Rueter averages just over three walks and four strikeouts per nine innings. Rueter keeps the ball in play, the pitch count down and bettors’ wallets full of green.

You Make The Call

Mike Fichter makes our roll call list again, but for a different reason. Fichter was behind the plate for the Kansas City-Detroit brawl that saw Royals slugging first baseman Mike Sweeney draw a 10-game suspension. Sweeney asked Fichter to move the resin bag from a distracting spot on the mound.

Tigers pitcher Jeff Weaver took offense to that, said something to Sweeney and turned his back. Sweeney threw his batting helmet and rushed the mound.

Fichter has seen the ”˜over’ go 11-5 in his home plate assignments, still the best among all major league umpires. Ed Rapuano (16-8) and Derryl Cousins (18-10) are in a virtual tie for second among ”˜over’ umpires.

Chuck Meriwether (18-6) continues to lead ”˜under’ umpires with a success rate of 75 percent. Dan Iassogna leaped into second place and is the hottest ”˜under’ ump with an 18-8 mark, including six of his last eight plate assignments.

Over:

Fichter 11-5, Rapuano 16-8, Cousins 18-10, A. Fletcher 14-8, Gibson 15-9, Reynolds 15-9, Kulpa 16-10, Everitt 16-10, Schrieber 12-8.

Under:

Meriwether 18-6, Iassogna 18-8, Cuzzi 17-8. Miller 18-9, Marsh 14-6, J. Hirschbeck 16-8, Meals 16-8, Crawford 11-5, Cooper 14-8, M. Hirschbeck 15-9, Gorman 15-10.

(Statistics provided by Jim Feist National Sports Services, Inc., Las Vegas Sports Consultants and CNN-Sports Illustrated data.)