Monday, July 21, 2008

Weekend Miscellany

It was an interesting weekend in baseball. First, the Rays have gone 2-8 over their last ten games, but found themselves back in first place in the AL East this morning because the Red Sox got swept over the weekend by the Anaheim Angels. Don't look now, but as both Boston and Tampa struggle, the Yankees are making headway in the division, having gone 7-3 in their last ten and pulling to 4.5 games out. This should make for an interesting stretch run.

There was also a trade over the weekend. The San Francisco Giants traded Ray Durham to Milwaukee for two prospects. The prospects weren't premium ones, but they might be useful down the road. One is pitcher Steve Hammond, who is left handed and strikes a good percentage of batters out, so that will probably earn him some play at some point. The other is outfielder Darren Ford, who profiles as a pinch runner/defensive replacement/fourth or fifth outfielder at the big league level. These guys aren't top prospects, but they are a bit more than organizational filler, too.

Durham could make a significant difference for the Brewers. For all of his tools and promise, Rickie Weeks has not performed as a major league second baseman. Durham is almost old enough to be Weeks' father, but he's putting up a line of .293/.385/.414 compared to Weeks' .216/.326/.365. The Brewers don't have too many weak spots in their lineup, but if they platoon Durham and Weeks (they are almost perfectly suited for this - Durham is significantly better against right handers and Weeks is much better against lefties) they will have filled the biggest weak spot admirably.

There is also a three team race in the NL East, with the Mets pulling into a tie with the Phillies and the Marlins hanging around a half game back. It should be fascinating to watch the Mets down the stretch because the media will mention their second half collapse last year at every turn.

Also, Oakland has gone 3-6 since trading Rich Harden and has now fallen nine games back of Anaheim in the AL West.

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