Ever have one of those days where the entire day seemed uphill? Where everything you picked up or tried to pick up ended on the floor and every job you attempted had to be done twice or three times to get correct? Yeah. It's been one of those days. Not sure what this post will do to correct things. Surely moods aren't the best moods to write posts from. Heck, that was a lousy sentence with poor construction. See?
As long as things seem more of the dark cloud variety today rather than the silver lining, this post might as well focus on some negative things. Some of them this space predicted long ago and some were just so surprising that it would have been impossible to predict. Either way, there is no joy in reporting on them. They just are what they are.
Let's start with the Cubs. Harden pitched another game on Wednesday and bears no resemblance to the pitcher he has always been before. He lasted all of three innings, walked three and gave up five hits. Granted, the Cubs played shoddy defense behind him and maybe that is the most telling thing about the Harden this year and last. But that can't completely explain how last year he was a combined 10-2 in 25 starts with a WHIP around 1 and 96 hits in 148 innings. This year, he has the same 25 starts and his WHIP is around 1.3 and he's given up 117 hits in 138 innings. That's still pretty impressive except that he only gave up eleven homers last year and has given up 23 this year. Plus, he's only averaged about five and a half innings a start.
For a while, it seemed that by the time Milton Bradley finished the season, his stats would be fairly respectable. But he has gone into another tailspin and is now likely to finish the season below .400 in slugging percentage and below .800 in OPS. Hardly what the Cubs were hoping for. He did manage to play his 123rd game Wednesday night, so that, at least, exceeded expectations.
What about Geovany Soto? He was one of the best catchers in the game last year. This year, he's just a shell of that and his stats in almost every category (except errors) are down this year.
When it is all said and done, it just seems like Lou Piniella is not the right guy for that team. Sure, he has a right to be upset and disgusted with the likes of Bradley and Zambrano. But that's the nature of today's players. Pineilla is a throw back to another era, and people aren't the same as they were then.
There are three teams that fielded starting line ups Wednesday night that did not include a .300 hitter. Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Baltimore. Is there something wrong with the water in that middle section of the country?
The Fan was feeling a little sorry for Mike Hampton today after it was learned that he had surgery to repair a completely torn rotator cuff and will miss all of next year. After all, the guy has tried really hard to compete and just can't stay healthy enough to do so. Then the Fan remembered all the money Hampton has made in the game of baseball and the sympathy went out the window. Hey, that's just the way the mood is today.
Speaking of health, Josh Hamilton will probably miss the rest of the year now. If you could have put Hamilton's numbers of a year ago on this year's Rangers team, how many more wins would the Rangers have? Would they still be in the race? As it is, the Rangers have died and Hamilton's season was stillborn from the start. It's hard to root against Hamilton who overcame so much to have a career again in baseball. His fragile health and his embarrassing bar fiasco have put an end to what was a pretty baseball story. Maybe next year.
Jimmy Rollins had an OBP of .287 the first half and .292 the second half. His second half has been more productive as his slugging percentage went from .355 the first half to .490 the second half. But even so, he has only walked ten times in the second half. Ten times. Can the Phillies really get away with a lead off batter in the playoffs who gets on base that seldom?
Earlier in the season, the Fan said that Jason Varitek was done. Comments were to the contrary as he started the year hitting some homers and stuff. But come on. His average is down to .213 and has particularly tanked since Victor Martinez came over from the Indians. He has had a brutal year with base runners stealing all over the place. Varitek's OPS and OPS+ are up slightly from a year ago, but slightly better than awful is still pretty bad.
And yeah, David Ortiz has hit 24 homers and his OPS the second half is .841 but he is still only batting .251 the second half. He is going to finish the season 30 points below last year in average, 40 points below last year's OBP, 50 points below last year's slugging percentage, 100 points behind last year's OPS and at least 25 points below last year's OPS+. And last year was a down year. Just to put things in perspective, Nick Swisher has a better OPS this season than Ortiz.
Incentive clauses are in the news these days. Magglio Ordonez reached enough at bats to automatically pick up his $18 million in salary next year. That's a lot of tamales for what is now a singles hitter. Kevin Millwood's next start will guarantee him $12 million next year. There is a lot of call for the Rangers to shut him down for the rest of the year. They can't. If they did, they would lose to the union and it will cost them that much anyway. And yeah, $12 million is a lot of money for a league average pitcher this year (his best in quite a while too).