Baseball Toaster Bad Altitude
Astros 7, Rockies 1
2005-06-30 10:25
by Mark T.R. Donohue

Superior talent trumps momentum again as Roy Oswalt conquers Coors and Craig Biggio and his ridiculous elbow armor march into history. (Although as my friend Ali pointed out, what's the big deal about the "modern" HBP record when the pre-1900 one, Hughie Jennings' 287, is only 20 higher than Don Baylor's mark and easily within Biggio's reach?)

No real highlights for the Rockies in this one (Todd Helton and Brad Hawpe did have a single and an extra-base hit each), so let's not dwell long. Who's going where today? First I want to soapbox a moment. If you are a Yankees fan (AND WERE BORN OR LIVE WITHIN ONE DAY'S DRIVING DISTANCE OF NEW YORK), I understand you might feel some consternation about your team's lukewarm performance thus far. (If you're a Yankees fan from say, Seattle, you're a bad human being. Like Cowboys fans from Chicago. What is that?) You have every right to expect your team's management to do whatever they can to improve themselves, especially given their investment on the season thus far.

This does not mean, however, that you are entitled to the players you need to get better, no matter what Peter Gammons says. Like Mark Kotsay. Why would the A's trade Kotsay to the Yankees when a) they're playing better than New York is right now and b) the Yankees' one decent prospect is a third baseman? Likewise the Cubs and Preston Wilson. Well, if we can't have "Johnny" Cedeño, and we can't have Todd Wellemeyer, we're packing up our marbles and going home. We're not taking Joe Borowksi and Mike Fontenot just because you will it so.

I think both the Cubs and Yankees are making a misevaluation of where the market is and where it's going to be. At this point a lot more teams are buyers than sellers, and a lot more teams than either are simply standing pat. You'd imagine extremely profitable Washington ought to be able to brook a payroll increase. Baltimore's fans should tar and feather Peter Angelos if he doesn't pop open the checkbook soon. Toronto is allegedly about to experience a cash infusion. Atlanta certainly has enough talent to spring for a rent-a-player here or there. It would be unlike White Sox GM Kenny Williams to let the deadline go by without making a move or two just for the sake of stealing the Cubs' headlines for a second. Right now you have to be figuring he's trying to think of a way to move Carl Everett so he can reacquire him at the deadline for the third consecutive year. It's also tradition that the Mets make at least one shortsighted, boneheaded move a year. David Wright for Russ Ortiz!

My point is, as uncomfortable as it is watching the Rockies team as presently constituted, he who laughs last laughs loudest. Preston Wilson is actually having himself a nice little bounceback year (13 homers, .807 OPS). OK, maybe he is .219/.267/.396 on the road. (Out-of-town GMs, you didn't hear that from me!) Still, in the perception of many still he is a difference-maker, and the market for legitimate power-hitting guys who can play anywhere in the outfield isn't crammed. There's no Carlos Beltran out there this season, that's for certain. Colorado doesn't have to trade anybody. If no one is willing to deal them more than the value of two high draft picks, they should sit the thing out. It's not like it's going to drive away (any more of) the fanbase.

Speaking of Carlos Beltran, has there been a bigger "superstar" free agent bust this year than he? Yes, there has, and his name is Adrian Beltre. The third baseman hit a long ball for the Mariners last night in Oakland, but he's slugging .380 and has only six homers all year. Just for fun, here's a short list of third base regulars who make less than Beltre's $11 million: Morgan Ensberg ($450k, 20 homers), Brandon Inge ($1.35m, .299/.384/.464), Joe Randa ($2.15m, 12 homers). In fact, among 20 batting-title qualified ML third basemen, Beltre ranks 16th in OPS. Even Vinny Castilla and the much-maligned Joe Crede are having better years. Eric Chavez took the first six weeks of the year essentially off and has easily passed Beltre since. No point to this really, other than to make fun of the Mariners. Ha ha, they used to be good, wouldn't spend the money to put themselves over the top, and now they're stuck in a division with the filthy rich Angels and teams that produce cheap pitchers (A's) and hitters (Rangers) like they were tap water. I will say that their TV commercials, which feature players as hosts in a Home Shopping Network parody, are very funny.

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