You know, sometimes we try to get too cute with our analysis. Sometimes we dig too hard to be able to say “I told you so.” We look at splits, park effects and try to decide who has been lucky or unlucky as a means to help predict future performance. And sometimes we are right. Others we are wrong. But more often than we care to admit, we were not right or wrong based on our analysis. What happened simply happened, and if it corroborated with what we said would happen, we say “I told you so.” And if we are wrong, we blame it on sample size.
With that as a backdrop, here is what I think will happen with some of the players in the National League with new home digs for the final couple of months. And while it is true that in a small sample of 2 months, anything can happen (pardon the American League reference but ask Brennan Boesch), but we do need to make decisions on what we think will likely happen. Just beware, I am not about to uncover any hidden gems that will propel you to your league title. In fact, the sagest advice I will offer is not to get too cute in your analysis for the final couple of months. Here is what I mean.
MIGUEL TEJADA, San Diego: Declining skills, evaporating power, no speed, limited defensive acumen, moving to a park where fly balls go to die, Tejada is worthless as a Padre, right? I’m not going to lie; he’s not going to win you a championship. But if you are running Alex Cora or Wilson Valdez out there as your middle infielder in deep leagues, Tejada is an upgrade. Don’t get hung up on the negatives, he is better than what you have. Don’t look up the PETCO park effect and determine how much the little pop Tejada has will be further diminished. Be happy he will run into a homer or two, knock in some runs and score a few. He helps plug a lineup hole for about 1/3rd of the season.
JAKE WESTBROOK, St. Louis: He doesn’t whiff many hitters, how useful can he be in just 10 or 12 starts? Very useful, if you are replacing a reliever and need a boost in strikeouts. In deep leagues, you may be replacing someone like Sergio Romo or Peter Moylan, a decent middle reliever. Westbrook is fanning close to 6 per 9 innings, which should translate to 50 or 60 more strikeouts for the season, more than doubling what you will receive from your middle reliever. Those 30 or 40 strikeouts will come in handy, and it should not come at the expense of your ratios, as Westbrook and his ground-ball tendencies should excel in St. Louis. Add in the chance of a few extra wins and the non-sexy Westbrook suddenly is a solid boost to an NL-only pitching staff.
BRETT WALLACE, Houston: Wallace is an example of a “look at me” type of player. I am not talking about the player, but rather the analyst who wants to demonstrate he reads what others say about Minor Leaguers and suggest Wallace is the sleeper National League pickup of the deadline deals. And as alluded to in the introduction, they may be right. Anything can happen in two months and Wallace has a strong pedigree. He has power and hit close to or over .300 the past two seasons on the farm. But his contact rate is less than 80% and his walk rate is lower than 10%, so he may struggle. In addition, his BABIP in the minors was never below .337, which is not likely to carry over to the Majors. So as cool as it may be to let everyone know you read John Sickels and subscribe to Baseball America, temper your expectations for the Astros new first baseman.
ROY OSWALT, Philadelphia: yes, Oswalt moves from a neutral park to one where pop ups clear the fence, but Oswalt has pitched in enough hitter’s parks to know how to get the job done. I am more concerned that he sustain his new-found strikeout rate than I am he starts giving up more homers.
SCOTT PODSEDNIK, Los Angeles Dodgers: The speedster showed a little pop while with the White Sox, which most will suggest will disappear. But the truth is Dodger Stadium is not as unfavorable to homers as many perceive, especially for slash line drive hitters such as Podsednik.
RYAN LUDWICK, San Diego: Yes, PETCO is really big, but in a two-month period, it may cost Ludwick only a couple of homers. He’s basically the same player he was in St. Louis.
RICK ANKIEL, St. Louis: He won’t play full-time, sitting against southpaws and he still will struggle staying on the field. I know they play different positions, but if they were both going to be my utility, I’d rather have Miguel Tejada than Ankiel