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Gameday Thread, #138: 9/5 vs. Marlins

Claudio Vargas, RHP (10-9, 5.15)
Dontrelle Willis, LHP (9-10, 3.91)

Oh, this should be fun. I expect another object lesson on the wise use of resources from the Marlins today. With four weeks left, only one team has a realistic chance at the playoffs, at 14.7%. And it's not Arizona. No, despite the fact that Luis Gonzalez could cover 23/25ths of the Marlins' payroll this year, Baseball Prospectus rates the Diamondbacks post-season chances now as 0.27%. Call it one in four-hundred.

Admittedly, we were ranked 12th in the National League for payroll this year at $59.7m. And of the four teams with smaller payrolls, three have worse records (Milwaukee, Pittsburgh and Colorado). Washington are below AZ too, but are slightly higher ($63.1m). Then there's the Cubs...paying $94.4m, behind only the Dodgers and Mets, and are half a game off having the worst record in the league. "Well done! You must get up very early in the morning." :-) But the Marlins are phenomenal evidence that you need not spend to be successful. Okay, they're pulling no crowds at all in Florida, but if they get to the playoffs, there'll be a full house, even if nobody knows anyone's name except Willis and Cabrera.

And it's the former we get to face today, not an easy task - though you might have got long odds before the season, on the chances of Vargas having more wins when they met in September. Willis has been up and down all year: his monthly ERAs are 3.13, 6.45 (0-5 record!), 2.51, 5.52 and 2.63. Which means he should suck today, and for the rest of September. S'funny, I'm not relying on that, or the fact that Willis has only fourth-most wins for his team. He's a leftie with an ERA of 2.14 over his last three starts. Our main hope is he doesn't have his control, since he can walk a lot people - twice in August, he handed out five free passes in an outing.

And, for god's sake, Melvin: play the rookies. I'm going to keep harping on about it, until you start doing it... Should be around for this one, save a brief interruption on the exercise back. Still feeling the after-effects of the weed-whacking though: my right shoulder in particular. I may have to go on the DL, and then try a spot of gardening down in the lower levels as rehab.