Major League Roundup

InsidethePark's Ian Levin takes you around the big leagues for the latest happenings from each team. Who's the hottest hitter in the majors right now? What pitcher is finding his groove in Minnesota? Who is the ace of St. Louis' staff this year? Find out right here, as you do every week, at InsidethePark.com.

Anaheim Angels: (Record: 41-34, Week: 4-3)
When you are Vladimir Guerrero and you post outstanding numbers year after year, you often have many great weeks such as this one. These past seven days, Guerrero has hit .440/.483/.920 with three home runs, nine runs and RBI and a stolen base. His numbers on the season are as impressive as ever and he is proving to be worth every cent the Angels are paying him.

Baltimore Orioles: (Record: 30-41, Week: 2-4)
David Newhan had been a journeyman minor leaguer for the most part during his career but was recently signed by the Orioles and given a chance to play. Since getting his chance, he has been on fire with two home runs, eight runs scored and a stolen base. He is hitting .448/.529/.724 and has played all of his games at third base, although he can play second base and shortstop as well. The Orioles may have found a diamond in the rough in Newhan.

Boston Red Sox: (Record: 42-32, Week: 3-3)
Another hot bat who was once an unexpected, pleasant surprise is David Ortiz. On the week Ortiz has four homers to go along with his nine RBI and eight runs scored. He is hitting a whopping .440/.500/1.040. He has been on a quest all season to prove his doubters wrong and his .304 average and 19 home runs should seal the deal that he is for real.

Chicago White Sox: (Record: 39-33, Week: 4-3)
In one of the two major trades this week, the White Sox picked up the best starter likely to be on the market, Freddy Garcia. The acquisition of Garcia is sure to be a good one for the short-term for the Sox as their starters have posted a sub-par 5.05 ERA this season. Garcia is immediately the starter with the best numbers on their staff. The price of Miguel Olivo, Jeremy Reed, and Michael Morse may be high, but if it helps their playoff push, it is worth it.

Cleveland Indians: (Record: 37-37, Week: 3-3)
Ben Broussard has struggled to live up to the hype that has been given to him but this week has shown that he has the talent and there still is promise there. Broussard hit two home runs during the week, giving him just three on the year. His 12 RBI make up one-third of his season total and his .450 average raised his season average to .261. If this hot streak earns him some more playing time, his confidence might soon begin to improve along with his numbers.

Detroit Tigers: (Record: 35-39, Week: 4-2)
It is nearly July and Ivan Rodriguez is still amazingly hitting .372. Rodriguez has been great all season, especially in June in which he has hit .481. He not only is leading the world in average but he has 10 homers, 18 doubles, 54 RBI, and 6 stolen bases. Pudge has played seven games at DH but that surely could not be the complete reason for this offensive outburst. Whatever the reason is, it is unlikely he can maintain this level but will still likely post one of the best seasons of his career.

Kansas City Royals: (Record: 28-44, Week: 2-4)
In the other big trade of the week, the Royals decided that 2004 was a lost season and traded outfielder Carlos Beltran in order to build for the future. In the trade, the Royals acquired John Buck, Mark Teahen, and Mike Wood. The three all could be regulars for the Royals as soon as next year. While they could have received players with more long-term upside, the Royals acquired a nice batch of safer players who are close to, if not already in the big leagues.

Minnesota Twins: (Record: 41-33, Week: 3-3)
As if there was ever a doubt… Johan Santana, after a rough start, is again looking like the ace that many project him as. In his last four starts, Santana has four wins and a 1.80 ERA. In 30 innings, he has 39 strikeouts against just two walks. His four consecutive impressive outings are more than he had all season prior to the streak. His peripherals have been extremely impressive and there is no reason to believe he can't keep it up. Expect Santana to be one of the top starters in the league from here on out.

New York Yankees: (Record: 47-26, Week: 4-2)
Speaking of teams that can use a starting pitcher, the Yankees missed out on two players they would have liked to acquire this week. Freddy Garcia was likely their primary target but with their weak farm system, they didn't have the chips necessary to trade for such a player. Their starting rotation has posted an ERA of 4.83 but if the numbers of Javier Vazquez are excluded, that number jumps over 5.00. They have the offense to win it all, but they will surely need another pitcher if they are to compete in the playoffs.

Oakland Athletics: (Record: 41-33, Week: 3-4)
The question is often raised, "Who is the best of ‘The Big Three' in Oakland?" Many will say Barry Zito because he is the most recognizable. Others will say Tim Hudson and although that's probably not right, you can't go wrong with him. My vote goes to the underrated Mark Mulder. Mulder does everything you can ask for in a starting pitcher; he goes deep into games and always keeps his team in the game. For the season, Mulder is 9-2 with a 2.76 ERA. Mulder is the best starter on the A's and perhaps the best in the AL.

Seattle Mariners: (Record: 30-43, Week: 1-5)
After many years of outstanding play it appears that the run of the Seattle Mariners is about to come to an end… for now. The trade of Freddy Garcia was the first of a few expected deals that the Mariners hope help the team in the future. If the Garcia trade is any clue, that help will surely come. Jeremy Reed may have been enough for Garcia but the M's also managed to get their new starting catcher in Miguel Olivo and an intriguing prospect in Michael Morse. The M's may be out for now, but they'll be back.

Tampa Bay Devil Rays: (Record: 36-36, Week: 4-2)
When a team goes on a tear and wins 12 straight games, and 15 of 17, many players must be playing at their best at the same time and there must also be someone to ignite the team. Carl Crawford was that spark the team needed. During the streak, Crawford hit .363 and stole nine bases. He scored 20 runs and even drove in 15 with two home runs. At 22 years old, Crawford will be igniting offenses for a long time.

Texas Rangers: (Record: 42-30, Week: 5-1)
If someone told you that one of Javy Lopez, Mike Piazza, Ivan Rodriguez, or Rod Barajas would be leading all players in home runs hit as a catcher, who would you quickly eliminate from the running? Well, he's currently leading the league with 12 home runs. Mike Piazza has hit more but they have not all come as a catcher. Barajas has hit his 12 homers in just 144 at-bats. In his career entering this season he had just 11 homers in 509 at-bats. He is also hitting .285, which is higher than his career on-base percentage. Can anyone say "Breakout season?"

Toronto Blue Jays: (Record: 33-42, Week: 3-3)
After a slow start, Orlando Hudson has improved his play and is showing that he is the player the Blue Jays hoped they had. Hudson hit .250 in April and .273 in May but his .382 June average has brought his season average up to .284. His on-base percentage is up to .370 and has already hit seven home runs. His all-around solid play should make him a part of the core for the Jays for years to come.

Arizona Diamondbacks: (Record: 27-48, Week: 0-6)
Brandon Webb has been a disappointment this season but there is still time for him to turn it around. The problems have stemmed from his lack of command but in his most recent start he seems to have taken a step towards correcting it. He allowed just two walks in eight innings and kept the runs at a minimum. In his last four starts he has a 2.55 ERA and is sitting at 3.88 on the season. If the walks continue to decrease, the ERA will as well.

Atlanta Braves: (Record: 35-39, Week: 3-3)
Johnny Estrada was one of the best kept secrets in baseball entering the season but the Braves knew what they had. They knew they would be hurt by the loss of Javy Lopez but had Estrada waiting in the wings to soften the blow. Estrada has proved his worth by hitting .339 on the season with 44 RBI. He is 11 for his last 20 with six RBI. He may not have the power of Lopez but he can do everything else just as well.

Chicago Cubs: (Record: 41-34, Week: 2-4)
Expectations in Chicago were so high for Corey Patterson that his solid season has actually been a disappointment. Patterson is hitting .281 with nine home runs and nine stolen bases. He has the ability to greatly improve those numbers but he is on pace for a 20/20 season and there isn't anything wrong with that. Patterson has hit .316 in June and will likely end the season with an average around .300. That should make the city feel better.

Cincinnati Reds: (Record: 41-34, Week: 3-3)
Corey Lidle has been the model of inconsistency this season but recently he has shown signs of breaking out of that funk. He has allowed two runs in each of his last two starts while striking out a batter per inning. For the season he has a 5.05 ERA but his 1.29 WHIP says that the ERA is on its way down. Expect him to finish the year with an ERA around 4.50.

Colorado Rockies: (Record: 28-46, Week: 3-3)
Larry Walker missed nearly three months of the season so he needs to make up for lost time. In his first week since coming off the DL, Walker hit .389/.542/1.000 with three home runs. Amazingly, all three of the home runs came in the same game. Walker may not be able to stay healthy for the rest of the season but while he is in the lineup he will produce.

Florida Marlins: (Record: 40-35, Week: 3-3)
One of the best starting pitcher duos in the league comes from down in Florida and their last names both begin with the same letter. Nope, it's not Beckett and Burnett, it's Penny and Pavano. Brad Penny is 6-5 with a 2.65 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP while Carl Pavano is 9-2 with a 2.78 ERA and 1.05 WHIP. Both have outstanding peripherals and should have no problem maintaining sub-3.00 ERAs for the remainder of the season.

Houston Astros: (Record: 39-36, Week: 4-3)
It's easier to find a good arm out of the bullpen than a superstar in the outfield as the trading deadline approaches. That's the theory in Houston, and I'm a believer. The Astros decided to give up their closer to acquire the best player on the market, Carlos Beltran. If the Astros are able to pick up a good arm to replace Octavio Dotel, not much pitching is lost compared to the huge offensive and defensive gain from Beltran.

Los Angeles Dodgers: (Record: 38-35, Week: 1-6)
There is no doubt that Scott Rolen has been the best third baseman (and probably the best player) in the National League this season. However, in a tough battle for second place with Mike Lowell and Adrian Beltre, Beltre likely comes out on top. Beltre is hitting .323/.351/.579 on the season and has already hit 19 home runs. On the week he is hitting .444 with three homers and 10 RBI. Amazingly, he is just 24 years old and may be ready to blossom into the player many predict he can be.

Milwaukee Brewers: (Record: 38-34, Week: 3-3)
One of the pleasant surprises for the Brewers this season has been Doug Davis. Davis has started 17 games and posted a 3.34 ERA. With a 1.32 WHIP, he won't likely maintain that ERA but he can still post a solid number. In his last two starts, both coming this past week, he was 2-0 with a 2.70 ERA. In those starts he posted a 1.35 WHIP again showing that he is a little lucky. The ERA will rise soon, but he will still likely post the best season of his career.

Montreal Expos: (Record: 25-48, Week: 3-3)
What we have seen from Tony Armas Jr. in his last two starts is likely similar to what we'll see from him for the rest of the year. In one start Armas lasted just four innings and allowed six runs. In the other start, however, he threw six shutout innings and struck out seven. Coming off of an arm injury, it will take time for Armas to regain his form consistently but next season he may be ready to pick up where he left off.

New York Mets: (Record: 36-38, Week: 2-4)
This space is usually reserved for major leaguers but this week I will make an exception and include one soon to be major leaguer. David Wright is simply unstoppable. After hitting .363/.467/.619 with 37 extra-base hits and 20 stolen bases in 223 at-bats in Double-A, he was promoted to Triple-A and he hasn't missed a step. He is hitting .347/.400/.735 with 11 extra-base hits and a stolen base in just 49 at-bats. If he doesn't claim the job by the end of the season, he will be the starting third baseman for the Mets on opening day 2005.

Philadelphia Phillies: (Record: 38-35, Week: 2-4)
There is no major leaguer currently hotter than Jim Thome. He is on a power tear that has rarely been seen in the history of the game. He had three home runs this past week, five the week before, and four the week before that. He is slugging .720 on the season and has an OPS well over 1.100. He is sure to cool off soon but he may be leading the league by 10 home runs before he does so.

Pittsburgh Pirates: (Record: 29-43, Week: 3-4)
Speaking of players on fire, Jason Bay is making up for lost time in a big way. Like Thome, he had three home runs this past week. He also had three the week before and is up to nine on the season. His season line is very impressive at .291/.359/.598. When he first returned from the DL he did not play as much as he should have but with the way he has been hitting, there is no way he can be kept out of the lineup.

San Diego Padres: (Record: 39-35, Week: 5-1)
Adam Eaton is another pitcher with a high ERA considering his very solid WHIP. At 1.18, his WHIP would suggest an ERA in the low-3.00s but it actually sits at 4.50. He is just 4-7 on the season but as you know, that is completely influenced by run-support. He is posting a 3:1 K:BB ratio and that combined with his low WHIP would suggest good things are coming soon.

San Francisco Giants: (Record: 43-33, Week: 6-1)
The numbers that Barry Bonds puts up are truly amazing. If it were up to me, he wouldn't be walked virtually every time he comes to the plate but that is how most managers have decided to go after him and the outcome is astounding. Bonds has 109 walks, six more than Jack Wilson, the league's hit leader, has hits. If Bonds plays in the same number of games as last season, 130, he's on pace to walk 215 times. He has already been walked intentionally 57 times compared to 61 last season. His OBP is .612! Is this really the best way to attack him? I really doubt it.

St. Louis Cardinals: (Record: 46-29, Week: 5-1)
Chris Carpenter is among the surprises in the league and unlike a few others, he is likely to keep it up. He is 8-2 with a 3.61 ERA and with just 19 walks against 75 strikeouts and a 1.10 WHIP, he is likely to keep it up. His numbers are better than any other Cardinal pitcher, including Matt Morris, across the board. If not for him, the Cards may not be in first place.

Stat of the week:
Larry Walker on June 25 in Cleveland:
4-4, 4 R, 5 RBI, 3 HR, 2 BB, and an outfield assist.

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