Posted: Wednesday May 28, 2003 11:31 AM
Updated: Wednesday May 28, 2003 11:31 AM
SI.com's Ryan Hunt takes a poke at answering a few baseball questions.
Will this be the last of the 300-game winners for awhile?
If Randy Johnson pitches to age 46 like Nolan Ryan, he'd still have to average 11 wins a season to reach 300.
Donald Miralle/Getty Images
It's easy to forget how exclusive the 300-win club really is, especially with the 500-homer club fast getting watered down like a light beer.
Think about it: It has been 13 years since Nolan Ryan became the last pitcher to win No. 300. In the same span, nine players have reached 3,000 hits and five have got to 500 homers. In all, there are only eight pitchers who started their careers after 1925 who made it to the magical 300 plateau.
But after Roger Clemens (sitting on 299) and Greg Maddux (on the cusp at 276), it may be another 13 years or so before 300 gets challenged again, about the time when 20-somethings such as Barry Zito and Mark Prior are nearing their 40s. But of the pitchers with more than 150 wins, who has the best shot? They all have question marks.
Pedro Martinez has been dominant, but his health and desire immediately come into play. Tom Glavine looked destined to follow Maddux, but joining the sad-sack Mets undoubtedly took some potential victories away. Randy Johnson will be 40 in September and he's still 75 wins shy. And Mike Mussina, assuming he wins at least 20 this season, still would have to average more than 16 wins in the next six seasons to get there when he turns 40.
It certainly takes a lot of variables to reach 300. Clemens has stayed remarkably healthy, making at least 29 starts in 15 of his past 17 seasons. Maddux has won 15 or more games in each of the past 15 seasons, and he'll need to do it again this season and next to become the first man since Steve Carlton to win 300 before turning 40.
So while marginal Hall of Fame talents like Fred McGriff continue to cheapen the meaning of 500, sit back and enjoy the pursuit of 300. You probably won't see it again for awhile.
Is Curt Schilling right?
Curt Schilling has a 1.96 ERA on the road. At home, it's 4.39. Coincidence? Schilling doesn't think so, and he has thousands of Questec pieces to prove it.
Schilling destroyed one of the now-famous Questec Umpire Evaluation System cameras -- used to grade umpires' strike-zone profiency -- at Arizona's Bank One Ballpark on Saturday after a loss to the Padres. Baseball is investigating the incident, which has made him an unlikely ally of the umpires in the fight against dreaded technology, and Schilling has even been told to "stop whining" by the commissioner's office.
But he has a point. Bank One Ballpark is one of only 13 major league stadiums that uses the device. And whether it's subconcious or not, umpires have openly admitted calling the game differently when the Questec is in use. So in its battle to eliminate strike-zone inconsistency and inaccuracy, baseball is creating more.
Maybe it should just take a cue from tennis and just get the beeping Cyclops contraption to call balls and strikes. But then who would Braves manager Bobby Cox get to argue with?
Where are the Devil Rays finding these guys?
Fifty games into the season, Tampa Bay already has been forced to use 10 different starters. The Rays have gone great lengths to unearth some of them. That's typical, considering arguably the most well-known hurler in Devil Rays history is Jim Morris, who pitched 15 innings from 1999-2000 before Hollywood turned his teacher-to-big leaguer tale into The Rookie.
Get ready for the sequel: The Pitching Coach.
Carlos Reyes made his first major league start in more than five years on Tuesday against Texas, giving up four runs in seven innings in a 4-2 loss to the potent Rangers. Reyes hasn't won a game since 2000. Jeremi Gonzalez, another pitcher the Rays picked out of the scrap heap, broke a five-year drought earlier this month.
Reyes' story is a bit more unique. Just last year, he was the pitching coach for the Idaho Falls Padres of the Rookie Pioneer League. This season, Reyes was leading the International League with a 1.19 ERA, compiling a 5-0 record with 39 strikeouts and only two walks in 53 innings. Now he finds himself trying to help right the worst pitching staff in baseball. At the very least, when Reyes gets in a jam, he can just talk to himself.
What has been the biggest blow to the Yankees' offense?
Forget Jeter's absence. Ignore Giambi's struggles. Hideki Matsui? Give him time to adjust. Two numbers come to mind concerning the Yankees' recent offensive woes: .455 and .397. They're the on-base percentages of Nick Johnson and Bernie Williams, both ranking in the top 15 in the AL hitters with at least 100 at-bats. So before busting out Tuesday in an 11-3 rout of the Red Sox, it was no coincidence that the Yankees' five-game losing streak coincided with Williams' trip to the DL. Already without Johnson in the lineup, the Yankees were swept by Toronto in a four-game series at Yankee Stadium for the first time, scoring just 10 runs in the series. That ought to get the Boss ready to make a move.
Is Kenny Lofton playing his way out of Pittsburgh?
Three months ago, Kenny Lofton couldn't get anything more than a $1 million deal from the Pirates. But one hot start and 25-game hitting streak and Lofton should make the 35-year-old centerfielder a wanted man again. Lofton, who hit .267 down the stretch for the Giants last season to help them reach the World Series, is hitting .312 with 10 steals in his first 46 games. He'd certainly make a nice addition to teams like the Phillies, where rookie Marlon Byrd is struggling, or the Yankees, who will be without Williams for 4-6 weeks.