Keeping myself entertained…

I was going to subject you to another Toronto Blue Jays whine and sheesh party-slash-snarkfest where I come up with a multitude of indescribably painful ways J.P. Ricciardi could meet his end…

…as Blue Jays general manager.

Maybe later.

With the Jays pretty much dead, buried, decomposed, saponified, exhumed and displayed in a museum dealing with man’s inhumanity to man I thought none of you would be the least bit curious about what still interests me about the 2008 season.

Of course, writing about what doesn’t interest you is what I have been doing in my almost four years here, so let’s keep it going.

Although I haven’t written about them much, my Phillies phandom remains intact, but I don’t get as many games as I would like and prefer not to analyze what is going on there without a lot more firsthand observation. There are some things I would love to point out nevertheless:

Over his last 14 starts, this starting pitcher is averaging over 6.1 IP per start with a BB/9 of 2.9, a K/9 of 6.6 (for a better than 2:1 K/BB ratio) and is 8-3 with a 3.20 ERA. In 2008, he is 10-6, 3.79 ERA (118 ERA+). Not bad for a man pushing 46—in fact, since the season he turned 30 years old (after being unemployed the previous season) Jamie Moyer is 206-130, 3.99 ERA and since expansion is fourth in games started, fourth in wins and ninth in innings pitched (since the season he turned 30).

It’ll be interesting to see how long he keeps this up, given another season or two of 10 wins and league average-ish ERA, and I’m willing to bet he’ll get some serious Hall of Fame attention from the Veterans Committee. Let’s face it, not too many pitchers have almost seven times as many wins after age 30 than they did before then. Regardless, a fun guy to keep following.

While still on the Phillies: As most of you know, prognostication is not a strength of mine. So, when I do get one right I like to point it out. When Ryan Howard was still mired in an early-season slump in mid May, I was asked about it on The Mike Gill Show, and I stated that it wouldn’t last much longer.

Since then, Howard is hitting .274/.355/.566 with 23 home runs, demonstrating that even a blind squirrel can find the odd nut.

Speaking of overcoming slow starts, nothing has made me happier than seeing the return of Carlos Delgado’s slugging ways. He’s hitting .289/.365/.553 with 20 home runs since the beginning of May, and he really heat up beginning with the double header against the Yankees in late June (.354/.438/.724; 12 HR). I thought the drive to see the first product of the Blue Jays’ system to hit 500 home runs was stalled, but it appears it has found new life.

I’m also finding myself following the Detroit Tigers’ fortunes more and more. They were my AL team before 1977 and I have always enjoyed checking in with them when possible. Even 1987 couldn’t drive the tiger stripes from me completely. However, a degree of Stockholm Syndrome has set in again after repeated appearances on WMKT 1270 AM in Michigan since 2006.

Ever since I said the Tigers were a rising power in spring 2006 and they went on to win the AL flag I have become a lucky charm of sorts. This season, they had me on after their 0-7 start and they went 14-8 to get within 1.5 games of the lead. They skidded to 24-36 in early June, and they had me on again, and the Tigers ripped off 18 wins in 22 games. After losing four-in-a-row (including a sweep by Tampa Bay) they now want me to come on again on Thursday morning. I have been saying all year that they’ll be in it come September and despite being seven back, I still feel that way.

They have struggled over their last 10 (3-7), and losing two of three against the White Sox (they could have swept save for two blown saves by Todd Jones and Joel Zumaya) didn’t help, but that’s the only ground they lost over that stretch. They’re still hitting well (.286/.348/.454), but the pitching hit a rough patch (6.45 ERA) due to too many walks (BB/9 of 4.96) and home runs allowed (1.79 HR/9) over the last 10 contests.

Their front three of Kenny Rogers, Justin Verlander and Nate Robertson went 0-4, 11.71 ERA in their six turns averaging fewer than five innings per start. While Zack Miner and Armando Galarraga fared a little better (2-1, 3.42 ERA), they averaged fewer than six innings per turn which shifted a large workload onto the bullpen. Todd Jones blew another big save against a team ahead of the Tigers in the standings, Joel Zumaya likewise. Fernando Rodney and Kyle Farnsworth teamed up to give the Rays a win in 10 innings.

A rough skid, nothing to worry about.

It’s funny, they’re in a similar situation to the Blue Jays, but I think the Tigers can pull it out, whereas the Jays are done thanks to nobody being willing to give the remains of J.P. Ricciardi a decent burial. The Astros will offer the Jays Lance Berkman, Carlos Lee and cash for the Blue Jays’ batting tee and its impressive .092 BAA the last two years and an autographed, unmarked like-new Brad Wilkerson game bat only to have Ricciardi turn it down because Berkman doesn’t like back bacon, and Lee thinks “eh” is the first letter of the alphabet and the fans wouldn’t be happy if such ignorant savages were placed on the roster. Besides, Wilkerson has had the bat for years and keeps it around for sentimental reasons.

A final note on the AL Central: I’m wondering how long the Twins can keep up their insane situational hitting. They’re batting .277/.335/.409 this year but .317/.387/.464 with runners in scoring position. I have been expecting that to cool all season but it’s early August and here we are!

Finally, it is fun watching the fortunes of both Florida teams. I have been regularly corresponding with a Rays fan who obviously is enjoying the team’s first taste of success. He reminds me of how I felt in 1981 and 1985 with the Expos and Blue Jays. Despite my dumping on David Samson and Jeffrey Loria, that’s where my animus towards the Marlins ends. I remain a huge fan of Larry Beinfest’s acumen, and who cannot love an infield with an evenly distributed 93 home runs (in a pitcher’s park no less) with almost two months left to play?

Yeah, I’m still going to enjoy the final two months of the season and there’s nothing J.P. Ricciardi can do to stop me so NYAH!

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