This and That

Jerry Hairston
Earlier this season, I mentioned that Jerry Hairston Jr. is a terrific defensive second baseman and that the O's pitchers will probably seem much better than they are because of his glove.  It's been a month since he went down and I thought it'd be interesting to see if there's been a difference in their performance without him.  So here are the Orioles' starting pitchers and their numbers before and after Hairston was injured.

Name Before ERA
After ERA
Before WHIP
After WHIP

Not that this is conclusive, but it is interesting that nearly the entire starting staff has taken a significant hit since his injury.  There are a several factors that could have contributed to these numbers - the bullpen performance, the weather, run support, etc.  Lopez is the only pitcher who has fared better since Hairston's injury, but he has only had 2 starts in that time.  The others have averaged four.  And frankly, it's hard to imagine anyone pitching worse than Lopez did coming out of the gate, so there was bound to be some improvement.  What will be really interesting is if the starters improve as significantly once Hairston returns.

Kelvim Escobar
People who are expressing surprise at how effective Kelvim Escobar has been in the rotation this year haven't paid too much attention to his most recent history as a starter.  For most of his career, he had been switched back and forth from starter to bullpen with mixed success.  After a mid-season switch back to the rotation in 2001, he emerged as a potential ace.  Through 11 starts, he had allowed just 3 home runs in 68 innings, had a 3.18 ERA, a 1.147 WHIP and was striking out nearly 8 batters per 9 innings.  

But in September, he began experiencing numbness in his pitching hand after a few innings each start, so the Blue Jays sat him down.  The fear was that he had an aneurysm in his arm or shoulder because his symptoms were similar to what David Cone and Woody Williams had experienced before aneurysms had been diagnosed in their cases.  After much testing, no such threat was found.  Still, the Jays thought it was the wiser choice to shut him down for the rest of the season and move him back to the bullpen the following year.

So far this season, there has been no recurrence of the numbness, so as long as there are no hand or arm troubles, expect him to continue to pitch dominating baseball.  In fact, it would not be at all surprising for Escobar to challenge Roy Halladay as the best starter the Jays have in the second half this season.

Jeremy Giambi
It's clear that Jeremy Giambi is not going to get enough consecutive at bats to get out of his current funk.  Grady Little started him 3 straight games for the first time this season last week, then promptly benched him for the Philly series (except for one pinch hit appearance) and the series opener with Detroit.  I can't necessarily fault him for going with the hot hitting David Ortiz and Kevin Millar at this point in the season, but what I do fault him for is not trying to get Giambi out of his funk back in April instead of playing Shea Hillenbrand as much as he did.  Despite hitting just .173, Giambi has gotten on base just as frequently as Hillenbrand.  That point is moot now, so the best thing the Red Sox can do is send Giambi to AAA where he can get enough regular at bats to get out of his funk and possibly help the team in the last two months of the season.  That, or try to trade him for some pitching help.  He's doing nobody any good where he is and it's highly unlikely he will hit his way out of this hole with such sporadic opportunity.  

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