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Tom Verducci's View


First-yeargeneral manager Wayne Krivsky of the Reds made a risky move last week when hetraded two 26-year-old regulars, outfielder Austin Kearns and shortstop FelipeLopez, to get decent but unspectacular setup relievers Gary Majewski (left) andBill Bray from the Nationals. (The eight-player deal also brought shortstopRoyce Clayton, infielder Brendan Harris and pitching prospect Daryl Thompson toCincinnati and sent reliever Ryan Wagner to Washington.) The deal was soone-sided that one American League G.M. said, "I would have beenembarrassed to propose it." Krivsky knew the Reds wouldn't make thepostseason with the NL's worst bullpen (5.20 ERA through Sunday). Trouble is,he still might not get there after overpaying to fix it--not only have the Redslost offense, but their new relief pitchers won't make much of adifference.


The day beforethe All-Star Game, Major League Baseball asked Yankees righthander Mike Mussina(right) to replace White Sox starter Jose Contreras on the AL staff becauseContreras had pitched on Sunday and would not be available for the Tuesdaygame. Mussina declined, having already traveled to his Montoursville, Pa., home(though it was about a four-hour drive from Pittsburgh, the site of the game).He did offer a reasonable suggestion for future All-Star scheduling: play thegame on Wednesday, which would allow all selected pitchers to be available.Such timing also would move the Futures Game to Monday--avoiding a head-to-headbattle with the Sunday-night major league game for TV viewers--shift the HomeRun Derby to Tuesday and give all teams a four-day break. (Sixteen of the 30teams had four days off this year; the others had three.)


•If the Marinersstumble in the next two weeks, look for righthander Gil Meche (9-4, 3.87 ERA)to become a plum on the trade market.

•With its 3--2win in the All-Star Game, the AL earned home field advantage in the WorldSeries. Said White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski, "No doubt it's anadvantage. And for us, home field is huge because it means we have [DH] JimThome in the lineup for four games instead of three."

•Heard anycomplaints about B.J. Ryan's contract lately? At week's end Ryan (left), theBlue Jays' lefthanded closer, had permitted only three extra-base hits (twodoubles and a home run), none to lefthanders.

•Beginning on May9 the Yankees were scheduled to play 67 straight games and 81 of 84 in theEastern time zone before traveling to Texas on July 24.

by Baseball Prospectus

WHICH TEAM SHOULDBE A CONTENDER BUT IS OUT OF THE PLAYOFF RACE? The most accurate indicator of ateam's quality is not its actual season record but Baseball Prospectus'sThird-Order Record, which projects wins and losses through hitting and pitchingstats (with adjustments for strength of schedule). While the Mets and theTigers led their respective leagues in actual standings and Third-Order Record,the Indians were the biggest underachievers in the first half. According toThird-Order Record, Cleveland, which at week's end was 41--50 and 20 1/2 gamesout of first place in the AL Central, played well enough statistically to be51--40 and within striking distance of the division title. The 10-game gapbetween projected and actual records was partially the result of the Indians'having outscored opponents by 39 runs--which accounted for their strongThird-Order Record--while having a dismal 7--14 record in one-run games. Thepoor performance by their bullpen (second worst in the majors in saves) was thebiggest factor in that stat. Also, the AL Central has turned out to bebaseball's toughest division.

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