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Thoughts for today

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             W  L  Pct   GB
Boston      56 45 .554   --
New York    53 46 .535  2.0
Baltimore   51 49 .510  4.5
Toronto     51 49 .510  4.5
Tampa Bay   36 66 .353 20.5

Thank God for the D-Rays, huh? Without their complete awfulness, we might be in danger of finishing last. Thankfully, I don't think even the Orioles can tank it that badly, no matter what.

Can this team regroup? I dunno. There are 62 games left to be played, but you cannot ignore the fact that every single month has been a regression. April was great, May was pretty good, June was pretty bad, July has stunk. They are getting progressively worse as the season wears on. There is a chance, and a very decent chance, that they can still win the division. Four and a half games back is not the end of the world. But there's no momentum and they just keep losing, and finding new and more exciting ways to do it.

July has been bottom of the barrel bad. Take a look at our four most important hitters, by month production this season. These are the guys that have really made a positive difference for us (I don't want to count or discount Javy Lopez's contributions, but he's been injured half of the season so it's not fair):

BRIAN ROBERTS
              AVG   OBP   SLG   HR
April        .379  .459  .726    8
May          .358  .440  .569    3
June         .356  .407  .534    2
July         .233  .330  .384    2

MIGUEL TEJADA
              AVG   OBP   SLG   HR
April        .347  .394  .684    8
May          .292  .333  .504    5
June         .330  .377  .631    6
July         .297  .340  .516    3

MELVIN MORA
              AVG   OBP   SLG   HR
April        .316  .371  .516    4
May          .283  .319  .487    6
June         .304  .395  .551    4
July         .301  .370  .422    2

RAFAEL PALMEIRO
              AVG   OBP   SLG   HR
April        .247  .298  .325    1
May          .302  .412  .558    6
June         .269  .317  .462    5
July         .301  .372  .534    5

You can make an argument here that so goes Brian Roberts, so go the Orioles. But everyone's production has dipped this month, except for Palmeiro, Javy Lopez and Sosa. Here's Sosa's by-months:

              AVG   OBP   SLG   HR
April        .281  .317  .469    4
May          .158  .292  .211    0
June         .208  .290  .406    5
July         .243  .341  .457    4

As you can see, Sosa's resurgence has been, uh, light. Resurgence Lite. It's a marked improvement, and his most productive month, but it brings to mind that thing in Little Big League, where the kid manager gets excited because the old guy gets a seeing-eye single, and he realizes there's something wrong when he's that fired up about something so minor. Bill James tells a similar story in the New Historical Baseball Abstract, about Lou Gehrig:

Gehrig said he reached the decision to end his consecutive-game streak on a road trip early in 1939, when he fielded a routine ground ball and flipped to the pitcher covering. Joe Gordon and Bill Dickey both slapped him on the back, said, "Nice play, big guy." They meant it well, but Gehrig was devastated. He realized he was being congratulated for making a routine play.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't be excited when Sosa looks like he might not be completely worthless to this team; I certainly am. But the improvement is that he's gotten to the same level of productive as many other mediocre major league players. And there's still something wrong there.

We're also approaching the trade deadline quickly, and the O's have yet to make any moves. None should really be expected until Saturday and Sunday, but we're in a position now where some of you are starting to wonder if, due to our tailspin, Angelos will see fit to do anything at all.

Now, it's a very valid question. And at first thought, my reaction was, "Who could blame him?" But I thought about it a little more, looked over those standings again, and my second thought was, "Well, this is exactly the time he should be making a couple of moves to upgrade this team." We're clearly showing we can't win the way we are, but we are not so bad or so far out of it that upgrades to the team can't or won't make any difference to where the club finishes.

Look, I still think that as God awful bad as it's gotten this month, we can still win. It will take help, but we can still win. One stereotype of a game between the O's and Rangers doesn't change that. We're no more cooked today than we were yesterday. When we're five under .500, or the Red Sox or Yankees start pulling away, we're probably cooked then. But neither has happened yet. You might as well keep the faith for as long as you can.