January 27, 2005

Phila Killa

When the Marlins won the World Series in 2003, a trendy choice for NL MVP was leadoff slapster Juan Pierre.

Pierre has become the poster boy for productive leadoff men since becoming a Fish, and is often credited, along with No. 2 hitter Luis Castillo, as the keys to Florida's recent success.

They're important pieces no doubt, but the biggest NL East killer in Florida's outstanding lineup is third baseman Mike Lowell, the most dangerous and certainly the most underrated offensive weapon in the division.

Though his bones are becoming brittle with age, no divisional advisary has earned the respect of NL East pitchers more than Mike Lowell. And with the addition to Carlos Delgado, historically one of the best run producing first basemen of all time, the meat of Florida's lineup now includes Miguel Cabrera, Carlos Delgado and Mike Lowell, good enough for the best three, four, five hitters in the division.

It would be hard for Mike Lowell, the team's franchise player, to improve on the havoc he's already caused in the NL East. Though he faded late last season, against the Phillies, Lowell crushed the ball, posting a Bonds-like 1.130 OPS including 7 of his 27 home runs. His 18.2 runs created tied J.D. Drew for the most from division foes against the Phillies.

Comparatively, the heart of the Phillies order ā€“ Bobby Abreu, Jim Thome, and Pat Burrell ā€“ posted OPSs of .832, .854, and .768 respectively, with Abreu having the most runs created with 11.7. If the Phils want to beat the Marlins, they need to get better production from their big three.

The addition of Delgado moves one of the AL's best hitters onto a team that already hits the Phillies extremely well from top to bottom. Even shortstop Alex Gonzalez, who only seems to hit against the Phillies and Mets, had about as many runs created (10.6) in Phillies-Marlins games as Jim Thome (10.9).

With Delgado, the three, four, and five hitters will go right-left-right. Mid-summer four-game series will be marathons for visiting bullpens.

But it hardly matters with Lowell, who's good for a homer every 26 at bats against right-handers, one in 11 versus lefties. And with the game on the line, few hitters have been more clutch in recent years.

Off-season chaos meter:
In order of individual moves that will make the most difference in shaping the NL East, Iā€™d put Tim Hudson to the Braves first, followed closely by Delgado to Florida.

With Lowell hitting behind him, and with Pierre, Castillo and Cabrera ahead of him, Delgado could easily drive in 140 runs.


At 2:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you rank the Hudson acquisition first, and the Delgado acquisition second, where do you rank the Edwin Moreno signing?
-- Tom G

At 3:28 PM, Blogger Jason Weitzel said...

Actually, what a great idea for a new poll!


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