Saturday, January 06, 2007

David Moraga vs Carlos Delgado

I just finished reading LT's excellent report card and in the ensuing comments I saw SweatyO, ie that guy has to get a better nickname if he keeps wanting to get referenced;) muse that Mattieu's Roy's presence in OT was MacT's trying to force Lowe's hand when it comes to addressing the blueline.

It's not the first time we've seen fans wonder aloud about such a matter and it brought me back once again to my beloved Expos, RIP, and to an occasion where a manager basically called out the front office with a tap of his left arm.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/MON/2000.shtml

The year was 2000 and the Expos thought they finally had a real owner in Jeffrey Loria. The budget was still pretty barebones but they were some good cheap young bats in the order, Vladdy-Rondell-Vidro-, and some good young arms in the rotation, ie Vazquez-Pavano and Hermanson as well even though we didn't know Dustin was offically on the downswing.

There was a little bit of hope going into the season though that the team might start to get a little closer to the .500 mark and that now that Loria was in town some of the kids might be able to stick around to their productive maturation and that if any pieces could be added, well we finally had the money to do so. And while it didn't create huge waves Loria thought he was improving the team when he authorized taking on the salaries of Lee Stevens and Hideki Irabu.

One guy who was less than convinced though was one Mr. Felipe Alou.

Alou was a guy who I grew up loving and wound up hating and looking back I think I was right about some of the hate and wrong about a lot of it. I think he'd pretty much thrown in the towel by the end of his Expos managerial career and in hindsight who could really blame him. His decisions became more curious by the year and you could never question him because under the kindly smile was a personality easily slighted and ultimately shaped by all the racism he'd faced as a young man and then further hardened by how many years he spent as merely a coach in the Expos minor league organization. I should've been able to understand that but at the time I was more fixated on some of his on the field decisions

In any case back to 2000 and after a 9-4 loss in Milwaukee on May 7th the Expos stood at a very surpriseing and pleasing 16-13 and that's where I'll begin my story.

The Expos came home for a 12 game stand and somewhere in the middle of that run and somewhere in the middle of a media-scrum Alou announced that no one should too excited about this start and that it could collapse at any time.

Not deep enough in the pen he said.

He really only had three options to use, ie Kline-Strickland-Telford, and the first guy was a lefty and the team's closer to boot so that really tied his hands when it came to the late innings and the old lefty vs lefty matchup. Somewhere Jesse Orosco was and is bobbing his head and still counting his money from said role. Rick Honeycutt and Tony Fossas didn't do too badly either. Felipe would finish by saying at the very least the Expos should try and find a situational lefty for him.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/p/pooleji02.shtml

Well, GM Jim Beattie was listening, or at least somewhat, because on May 19th he signed Jim Poole. Poole seemed like a nice enough guy but it had been four years since anyone would argue his merit and at the age of 34 Jim Poole was washed up.

Alou knew this and apparently privately seethed and to tell you the truth he didn't do a great job concealing it publicly either.

Jim Poole would be released on June 7th and that was just four days before we really saw just how pissed off Alou was with the bullpen situation.

The Expos were in Toronto for the first half of the Snowbirds Series and on a Sunday afternoon they were playing the rubber match when Alou made his stand.

http://www.thebaseballcube.com/players/M/David-Moraga.shtml

David Moraga was a 24 year old who'd been drafted seven years earlier yet he was still toiling in AA. His ERA was a respectable 3.41 but he was giving up nearly a hit per inning and his K/BB ratio was nothing to write home about. Yet the Expos had called him up and he was the latest southpaw option out of Alou's pen. The Expos had been off the previous Thursday and Kline had pitched on Saturday but not on Friday and here we go to the bottom of the 8th inning with the Expos trailing the Jays 3-2 and Guillermo Mota starting that particular inning.

I'll let this copy and paste from retrosheet.org take it from here:

BLUE JAYS 8TH: Stewart grounded out (shortstop to first); Bush
walked; Mondesi singled to right [Bush to second]; MORAGA
REPLACED MOTA (PITCHING); Delgado singled to right [Bush scored,
Mondesi to second]; Debut game for David Moraga; Moraga
threw a wild pitch [Mondesi to third, Delgado to second];
Fullmer walked; LIRA REPLACED MORAGA (PITCHING); Batista homered
[Mondesi scored, Delgado scored, Fullmer scored]; Cruz grounded
out (first unassisted); Gonzalez singled to left; A. Castillo
walked [Gonzalez to second]; SKRMETTA REPLACED LIRA (PITCHING);
Stewart flied to left; 5 R, 4 H, 0 E, 2 LOB. Expos 3, Blue Jays
8.

The appearences had been piling up for Kline but he'd had two days off in a row on Thurs-Fri and this was the the deciding game of a series and Delgado striding to the plate screamed for Kline's presnece. But this series was drawing more then the usual attention and Alou clearly and adriotly seized the stage.

Loria through Beattie never did address the lefty shortage in the pen and he'd clearly made his mind up pretty early regarding how much money he'd spend in Montreal. In hindsight it was the right baseball move not to give away anything significant in return for a lefty reliever because there were more holes on the '00 Expos than just the pen. But was that the reason why Beattie never budged?

And to bring it back to MacTavish, was playing Roy in OT his Moraga Moment? I don't think so because MacT's made a lot of curious moves this season but then again he always does when it comes to playing the kids and I'm sure Lowe has a hand in how some of the playing time is doled out.

You could assume that Loria didn't move in '00 for all the right reasons because he knew he couldn't make anywhere close to the ultimate difference in winning or losing. And maybe Lowe isn't jumping this year because he doesn't think this team has what to takes to win at least two rounds come springtime.

I will admit though that it is fun to speculate on MacT's motives and whether this was a tiny measure of mutinty.

As for the '07 Oilers? I'm guessing their season's dreams will be dashed after the last whistle blows on Jan 20th vs the Flames. There's no way this team wins a playoff series on the road and they need home-ice advantage like Felipe thought he needed another lefty.

18 Comments:

Blogger Slipper said...

I think it's more likely that MacTavish put the pairing out that had the strongest night on the ice, and then him and Lowe went out to prowl for some west coast ass candy after the game.

1/06/2007 1:55 pm  
Blogger SweatyO said...

Dennis,

Yeah, the nickname sucks, but giving up HBomb made a hell of a lot of money for a cancer charity, so I can live with it.

What I cannot live with is the current Oiler blueline. The rumor du jour is that Lowe's eyeing up Pitkanen (this came from both Pannacio or however you spell it at HockeyBuzz, but was first speculated by the dean of Canadian Hockey writers, Mr. Eric Duhatschek, earlier this week).

My guess is that it takes Lupul, Schremp AND Bergeron to get just Pitkanen, but six months ago, you couldn't touch that guy with a 10-foot pole. Apparently he's become the whipping boy, rightly or wrongly, in Philly, and that a change of scenery might be in order.

I'd forgive Lowe for EVERYTHING if he managed to pull it off. Pitkanen-Smid-Greene? The Oil would be set for 10 years on the backend.

1/06/2007 1:58 pm  
Blogger Showerhead said...

Or... in five years, the Oil would be set for ten years on the backend. Still attractive but you get my point.

1/07/2007 12:45 am  
Blogger Julian said...

Lupul Schremp and MAB? Yes please.

I've sorta started to look ahead to next year for the most part, and I'd imagine Lowe is as well. If we're gonna go trading picks and prospects for defense to make another run this year, they'd better be damn sure that the team is improved enough to make that run. We're running out of time on the season to see if a couple trades can really make that improvement, and if they happen at the deadline, that's probably too late.

I'm of the opinion that if some sort of trade for a dman doesn't happen by the end of January, Lowe has probably started looking ahead to next year.

1/07/2007 12:49 am  
Blogger Dennis-IOF said...

I'm of the belief that this team's going nowhere without home ice adv and for that to happen they'd better take three of the last four HTH games with Cgy. That means Lowe should rework this team by next Sat at the absolute latest.

I didn't check the Globe's hockey coverage this week so can someone give him the link to Eric D's piece? Also, Pannicco, sp? I guess that's Tim Pannicco, the Flyers beat writer? Pitkanen's one of those guys that Lowe says he wanted to draft and just today I was watching the Flyers/B's game and the Bos announcer said this year's Pitkanen isn't close to the one he saw last season. I don't know what to make of that but I just thought I'd throw it in there.

I don't think Philly has fuckall dmen in the pipe and I know they have nothing on the big club so they're gonna want a dman in return for Joni. MAB's production and contract would be attractive but if you're giving up both Lupul and RS then I'd be looking to give them Greene and I'd keep Bergeron.

1/07/2007 1:03 am  
Blogger SweatyO said...

Dennis:

First off, here's the link to Duhatschek's piece:

http://www.globesports.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20070105.wsptduha5/GSStory/GlobeSportsHockey/home

Second, here's a blurb from Jim Matheson's Hockey World column in the Journal this morning. Say what you want about Matty, but the guy still gets more insider info than any other Edmonton media member:

OILERS' BIG FINNISH? Memo to the Oilers: The Flyers are growing a tad antsy with Finnish defenceman Joni Pitkanen, who is in his third NHL season but still struggling with consistency. They're not sure if he's going to be a stud puck-mover or Janne Niinimaa, who looked like a star when he was a kid in Philadelphia but levelled off. The Oilers badly wanted to draft Pitkanen in 2002, offering Mike Grier and their first-round draft pick to Tampa to move to No. 4, but the Lightning worked a deal with Philly instead, giving up Ruslan Fedotenko and two draft picks. The Oilers have never lost interest in Pitkanen, even if his decisions with the puck have left the Flyers exasperated at times. They would like a defenseman to replace him, but they also need wingers.

My guess is that they're going to want one of Lupul/Torres, one of Smid/Greene, and some sort of prospect or depth forward (Schremp/Winchester).

If Lowe could manage to make the acquisition without giving up any of Torres (the Oilers forwards are soft enough already - I think he's got to be hung on to, at least until we KNOW what's happening with Smyth), Greene or Smid, he'd look like a genious. It would almost make up for his inaptitude at properly addressing our blueline concerns after July 3rd last summer.

1/07/2007 10:24 am  
Blogger SweatyO said...

Ok, I suck using the HTML tags...that link didn't work.

Here it is in just text to copy-and-paste to your internet browser of choice:

http://www.globesports.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20070105.wsptduha5/GSStory/GlobeSportsHockey/home

1/07/2007 10:26 am  
Blogger SweatyO said...

Oh yeah, and I think I mis-spelled genius. Oh, the irony...

1/07/2007 10:26 am  
Blogger Scarlett said...

I'd be shocked to see Smid traded, the team has a serious hard-on for him.

1/07/2007 10:55 am  
Blogger SweatyO said...

Yeah, well, they've got a bigger hard-on for Pitkanen...have for a long time.

Pitkanen's also 2 full NHL seasons ahead of Smid in his development curve. And he looks to have superior skills in the offensive department.

If Philly wanted Lupul and Smid, I'd hope Lowe swallowed his pride and did the deal, for the short AND long-term good of this team. Smid looks to be a solid #2 defenseman with limited offensive capabilities (he doesn't have the shot to run an NHL PP effectively, IMO).

Pitkanen, on the other hand, when he's on, he looks like a meaner version of Niklas Lidstrom out there....

1/07/2007 10:57 am  
Blogger Showerhead said...

"Yeah, well, they've got a bigger hard-on for Pitkanen...have for a long time." - Hmm, after four hours I believe you're supposed to call your doctor...

For some reason, last year's Joni Pitkanen led NHL regular D-men at 1.68 ESP/hr. Was he really that good? How does a player go from top of the heap in one offensive context to average in an even more offensive one?

Pitkanen is a guy who has been hyped for a long time but who I personally haven't seen play all that much more than Gretzky has seen Rory Fitzpatrick. All these rumours suddenly have me interested.

1/07/2007 1:15 pm  
Blogger PDO said...

"Yeah, well, they've got a bigger hard-on for Pitkanen...have for a long time." - Hmm, after four hours I believe you're supposed to call your doctor...

I suppose the lack of blood flow in Kevin Lowe's brain explains the Pronger trade.

For some reason, last year's Joni Pitkanen led NHL regular D-men at 1.68 ESP/hr. Was he really that good? How does a player go from top of the heap in one offensive context to average in an even more offensive one?

Hunch: Check how many points he had that Peter Forsberg was involved in.

Over at HF one of the guys who claims to have media connections is saying Raffi/MAB/Blue Chipper or First, or Lupul and a pick.

Lupul and a pick for Pitkanen and I might actually sleep at night.

1/07/2007 1:35 pm  
Blogger Showerhead said...

Hunch: Check how many points he had that Peter Forsberg was involved in.
Without having the savvy to do so, I can simply comment that if this were the case then he'd either be playing a lot more with Forsberg at ES than on the PP or Forsberg's PP relative to ES production was similarly average.

Forsberg's 6.6 PPP/hr puts him in the top 5 of 05/06 players who played regular PP minutes so that rules out one option.

Who were Philadelphia's main D-men last year? If Pitkanen was second unit then things make more sense but he led Philadelphia's defense in PPTOI.

So I still don't understand.

Over at HF one of the guys who claims to have media connections is saying Raffi/MAB/Blue Chipper or First, or Lupul and a pick.

Lupul and a pick for Pitkanen and I might actually sleep at night.


That asking price does not immediately pain me which makes me wonder if Philadelphia would do it. Trading players so soon after you acquired them is rare though, and rarer still when they have family ties to the team I imagine, so as much as Lupul and a pick sounds nice I doubt that's how things would unfold.

1/07/2007 2:06 pm  
Blogger PDO said...

I don't have the savvy to check either, sadly.

Without having the savvy to do so, I can simply comment that if this were the case then he'd either be playing a lot more with Forsberg at ES than on the PP or Forsberg's PP relative to ES production was similarly average.

Forsberg's 6.6 PPP/hr puts him in the top 5 of 05/06 players who played regular PP minutes so that rules out one option.

Who were Philadelphia's main D-men last year? If Pitkanen was second unit then things make more sense but he led Philadelphia's defense in PPTOI.


I'm not sure how the PP time relates if we're talking his ES production? I'm just assuming that they spent a lot of time together at ES, and that'd explain the big ES numbers. Might be completely wrong, and like I said.. I can't check it, but maybe Vic could help us out here?

That asking price does not immediately pain me which makes me wonder if Philadelphia would do it. Trading players so soon after you acquired them is rare though, and rarer still when they have family ties to the team I imagine, so as much as Lupul and a pick sounds nice I doubt that's how things would unfold.

Well, I can see Philly being very high on Torres. He's a maniac who can score goals - how could they not love him?

Joffrey and a pick though? That seems like a dream. I'd rather not trade Raffi and get rid of Joffrey and give his dollars to Raffi. Add in that we could add a legitimate defenseman in doing so... if Lupul and a pick for Pitkanen is available, I think that's a trade Lowe *HAS* to make.

- PDO

1/07/2007 2:14 pm  
Blogger Showerhead said...

"I'm not sure how the PP time relates if we're talking his ES production? I'm just assuming that they spent a lot of time together at ES, and that'd explain the big ES numbers. Might be completely wrong, and like I said.. I can't check it, but maybe Vic could help us out here?"

What I'm going for is that Pitkanen's ES production wasn't just high, it put him at the top of the league for D. This could be helped by playing an obscene amount of icetime with Forsberg, yes, but Joni also played an obscene amount of time with Forsberg on the powerplay and his rate was a much more average one. At first I thought perhaps Forsberg himself was more of an ES dynamo than a PP one but it turns out he's both.

Help?

1/07/2007 2:21 pm  
Blogger PDO said...


What I'm going for is that Pitkanen's ES production wasn't just high, it put him at the top of the league for D. This could be helped by playing an obscene amount of icetime with Forsberg, yes, but Joni also played an obscene amount of time with Forsberg on the powerplay and his rate was a much more average one. At first I thought perhaps Forsberg himself was more of an ES dynamo than a PP one but it turns out he's both.

Help?


Healthy Foppa is still the best player in the league.

I don't know how Philly worked their PP, but from watching Forsberg he works it off the halfboards, but unlike an Ales Hemsky he works the puck to the slot or towards the corner and gets a miniature cycle going so he can drive the puck to the net.

My guess would be that due to this, Joni wasn't helped a lot on the PP by playing with Forsberg, however if he was playing at Evens with Forsberg, he'd be a lot more likely to get the 2nd assist on all of the Gagne goals that were scored on the rush.

Just seems like playing with a guy like Forsberg would bloat everyones point totals, including the defensemens. Forsberg is rarely trapped in his own end, and when he is it usually results in a rush the other way.

Logical, no?

- PDO

1/07/2007 2:36 pm  
Blogger Showerhead said...

The difference being systemic would make sense for sure, though if you've seen even one post-lockout Flyer game you've seen one more than I have.

1/07/2007 3:27 pm  
Blogger Art Vandelay said...

Also from today's Jim Matheson column: "Hockey is a game played on ice...The puck is black...[Rival GM] would gladly trade [underperforming star player] to the Oilers for [random sack of Oiler s***]...."

1/08/2007 1:14 am  

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