Tom Verducci's View

April 17, 2006
April 17, 2006

Table of Contents
April 17, 2006

SI Special Bonus Section: Golf Plus
SI Players: Life On and Off The Field
College Hockey
Pro Basketball
Horse Racing

Tom Verducci's View


This is an article from the April 17, 2006 issue Original Layout

The ban onamphetamines, which took effect this season, may bring back pitching gems suchas the no-hitter, the most recent of which was Randy Johnson's perfect game forArizona 23 months ago. The current drought is the majors' longest in 20 years.The AL hasn't had one since Derek Lowe turned the trick for Boston four yearsago this month, the league's longest dry spell since a span of five years, fivemonths from 1940 to '45.

"The ban onamphetamines will change the game this year," one NL general manager says."I'm especially thinking about those day games after night games on theroad, when teams face someone with electric stuff like Jake Peavy (right). Inthe past, guys would bean up to get their bodies to respond. Without thatstuff, I think you're going to see more high-strikeout games--16, 17, 18strikeouts."

Major LeagueBaseball tested about 60 players for performance-enhancing drugs in theoff-season (the maximum permitted by the joint agreement with the union), andnone of the tests came up positive, according to a source familiar with theresults. Those 60 players--representing 5% of the total number who are subjectto testing (anyone on a 40-man roster)--were given "hours" of advancenotice, the source says. Testers even traveled overseas, according to thesource, to establish that no player should assume he is off-limits. Still, the60 samples pale next to the 2,000 that the NFL collects in its off-season, andthe number should be increased in the next collective bargaining agreement.


It was a bad weekfor Rangers righthander R.A. Dickey (left). Last Thursday the 31-year-old tieda post-1900 record by giving up six homers (on only 32 swings) in a 10-6 lossto the Tigers. The next day he was shipped to the minors with an ERAreminiscent of Cy Young--or at least the year of Young's first win: 18.90.


•Already with astrike against him--he's working for a G.M. (Pat Gillick) who didn't hirehim--Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, off to a 1-5 start, will grease his exitif he foolishly continues to bat Aaron Rowand (career OBP: .337) as high assecond and monster slugger Ryan Howard (right) as far down as sixth, with DavidBell, a career .255 hitter, as Howard's protection.

•Seven activestarting pitchers are at least 40 or will get there this year: Jamie Moyer,Randy Johnson, Kenny Rogers, Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, Tim Wakefield and CurtSchilling. At week's end they were a combined 7-4 with a 3.35 ERA.

•All springDodgers closer Eric Gagne told concerned club officials that he felt fine, eventhough his velocity was lagging. But when he needed surgery last Friday toremove a nerve from his elbow--he's expected to miss two months--he confessedthat he had been pitching with discomfort. Former Devil Rays closer Danys Baezis 2 for 2 in save chances as Gagne's replacement.

Extra Mustard by Baseball Prospectus

IS THE TIGERS' POWERFUL START A SIGN OF BIG THINGS TOCOME? Detroit's 15 home runs in its first three games was not only unexpectedbut also unmatched in recent history. Since 1960 only one other team, the '98Mariners, slugged as many as 10 homers in its first three games. Five moreclubs hit nine: the '64 Cubs, the '80 and '96 Brewers, the '88 Mets and the2000 Cardinals. Those six teams continued to hammer the ball, with threehitting 200 or more homers. However, only three of the six finished the yearwith a winning record. The '96 Brewers are probably the team that best compareswith this season's Tigers: Like Detroit, Milwaukee had a slugging first baseman(John Jaha, 34 homers; Chris Shelton, five in his first four games of 2006), arotation that featured two pitchers age 24 or younger (Scott Karl and JeffD'Amico; Jeremy Bonderman and Justin Verlander) and a mustachioed scrapper inthe dugout (Phil Garner; Jim Leyland). Unfortunately, Tigers fans should note,the Brewers finished 80-82 that year--and haven't had a winning seasonsince.

• More from Tom Verducci and Baseball Prospectus