Saturday, July 11, 2009

Why Are the Mets so Stupid?

It's bad enough the other team in New York goes out and picks up pitchers like Livan Hernandez and Tim Redding or thinks that Angel Pagan can still play. It's bad enough that they are missing most of their team to injury. If all that isn't bad enough, they then allow themselves to get hoodwinked by a team in their own division.

Do the Mets really think Jeff Francoeur is a better player than Ryan Church? They really think that? Francoeur has already done the unthinkable in losing Bobby Cox who hardly ever gives up on anybody. The guy has a 68 OPS+ for the year and an 89 for his career. One would think that the 68 is an anomaly with that kind of career mark (as bad as it is) except that Francoeur put up a 73 number last year in 652 plate appearances. A 71 OPS+ in his last 976 plate appearances would be a pretty good indication that Francoeur is not a very good player.

From all indications, Francoeur is a stubborn player who doesn't believe that a walk is anywhere near as good as a strikeout. He has been widely quoted as stating that all the new sabermetrics are a bunch of hooey. That kind of belief shows a guy who doesn't get that he has to improve all aspects of his game as a player if he expects any kind of longevity. He may not buy into sabermetrics, but just about every team in baseball now does. So who will win that contest?

And it's not just his offense. Francoeur has basically been given a two year bye in Atlanta because he once hit 29 homers in a season. he hasn't ever come close to that since, but at least he had positive numbers in the field. Until last season, that is. Last year he threw up a clunker and had a -14 RTOT. With virtually no offense, diminishing power and defense, exactly what kind of player did the Mets think they were getting?

And let's get this straight: The Mets need help on offense, so they trade a guy who is struggling compared to his career numbers but is still a better hitter than Francoeur? Ryan Church is having an off year at the plate (mostly because his manager hates him or something) and still has an OPS+ that is 20 points higher than Francoeur and is only one point less than Francoeur's lifetime OPS+. Umm...what were they thinking?

This observer could understand giving up on Daniel Murphy who has the same kind of numbers currently as Francoeur. But there is no way it seems correct that they went out and got a worse hitter than Church to help fix their injury-riddled offense.

The Braves are geniuses. Don't be surprised if Church doesn't blossom in Atlanta and don't be surprised if Francoeur becomes the latest Met to get booed into submission. The Fan is shaking his head in bewilderment...

Game Picks - Saturday: July 11, 2009

Yesterday was a sunny day no matter how you look at it. Except for the continued mystery of Joba Chamberlain, a stupid pick of the Rockies over Atlanta, a total meltdown by the Marlins and this picker's beany by Cecil, it was a very good day.

With another full day of games on tap, let's get right to the picks:

  • The Cubs over the Cardinals: Ted Lilly is the only Cubs pitcher with a chance against this hot team.
  • The Yankees over the Angels: Pettitte is due for a decent game and the Angels (though they didn't show it last night) are missing two-thirds of their outfield to injury.
  • The Bay Rays over the A's: Garza should have no problem against the meager hitting of the A's.
  • The Pirates over the Phillies: Taking a flier that Ohlendorf continues to pitch well.
  • The Astros over the Nationals: Mike Hampton might be a better hitter than anyone on the A's.
  • The Brewers over the Dodgers: Just can't see how Torre has more faith in Jeff Weaver than any man on earth ever should.
  • The Tigers over the Indians: In any perfect world, Galarraga should always beat Carl Pavano.
  • The Blue Jays over the Orioles: Sticking with the Fan's main man, Romero.
  • The Reds over the Mets: Santana pitching for the Mets should always be a lock. But with their offense, he has nearly a .500 record.
  • The Red Sox over the Royals: Meche isn't himself these days and even an iffy 42 year old, Smoltz should be able to push around the terrible hitting Royals.
  • The Twins over the White Sox: Is the Fan the only one worried about Joe Mauer's health if he participates in the Home Run Derby?
  • The Rockies over the Braves: Jason Marquis is pitching for the Rockies and that is Rule #1.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Marlins: Have no faith at all in Sean West, simply because he has no faith in himself.
  • The Giants over the Padres: Matt Cain should prevail in this one.
  • The Rangers over the Mariners. Andruw Jones should have a good day against Washburn.

Yesterday: 10-5
Week: 46-37
Month: 67-55

Friday, July 10, 2009

Philly Fans Get Victorino Into the All Star Game

Shane Victorino is a good player having a good season. His OPS is .838 and he plays really good defense. But is he better than Pablo Sandoval this year? Not even close. Sandoval has an OPS of .940, a full .102 higher than Victorino. But Philadelphia has a larger fan base than San Francisco does and thus, in the "Vote for the Last Man" thing, Victorino gets the last spot in the All Star Game.

The fan vote is touted as something that gets fans into the game. It is touted as empowering fans to have a voice in who they want to see. But from this Fan's perspective, Giant fans want to see Sandoval in the game as much as Philly fans want to see Victorino. The problem is that there are more Philly fans than there are San Francisco fans.

The fan vote, both in this instance and in the vote for the starters will always heavily favor the larger markets. And as long as this game is going to be selected as it is, there will always be a large number of Red Sox and Yankees and Mets and Phillies because those are large and emphatic fan bases. For all the good intentions of MLB, the fan vote doesn't work and hasn't for a long time.

Is David Ortiz Back?

The first third of the season showed a brutally awful David Ortiz who after sixty games was batting .178 with no homers. He looked lost and he looked slow. It was so bad that it became almost a spectator sport to see how long the really bad could be. But watching Baseball Tonight on ESPN regularly, we have seen a resurgence of the Big Papi as he is hitting the ball for power more often and the analysts on ESPN's highlight show have talked about how Ortiz is again hitting the fastball. But is he all the way back?

The numbers show he is better, but then again, it's hard to be much worse than .178. But he has hardly been the David Ortiz of old either. For all the talk, he's still only batting .250 in his last ten games. He is slugging at a .555 clip for the ten games and that is a hearty number. But if he is suddenly "hot" again, that slugging isn't THAT hot. Not as hot as when he was slugging .621 for entire seasons in the not too distant past.

The good news is that Ortiz is striking out far less. His rate is 17% for the last ten games compared to the 25% for the year and 21% of his career. The bad news is that his walks are down. The last ten games pretty much mirror the rest of the season where he is striking out twice for every one walk (6 Ks and 3 Ws the last ten games). In the past, his ratio was always around one to one.

Ortiz is now at .731 for an OPS and it's a good bet that it could probably reach .800 by the end of the season. He is definitely better than he was earlier in the season, but he is not the David Ortiz of the past, despite his improvement.

Game Picks - Friday: July 10, 2009

In golfing terminology, yesterday's picks were a shank. The Red Sox lost to the Royals? The Yankees won a game where a reliever started? And to finish it all off, the Braves and the Diamondbacks both had bullpens that nuked their games.

Ah well, it's a sunny day in Maine and it's supposed to hit 80 today. It's okay. The sun inspired these shiny new picks:

  • The Cardinals over the Cubs: In another week, this race might be over. The Cardinals look like the best team in the division.
  • The Phillies over the Pirates: Have been picking Zack Duke game after game and he never gets any runs. So the Fan will pick against him today.
  • The Orioles over the Blue Jays: Would love to pick the Blue Jays, but not when Cecil is pitching.
  • The Tigers over the Indians: Jackson is pitching for Detroit and that should be enough. He shouldn't have been on the All Star squad though.
  • The Reds over the Mets: Even a wounded pitcher like Arroyo should beat this AAA lineup.
  • The Red Sox over the Royals: Lester over Bannister.
  • The Bay Rays over the A's: The Bay Rays are playing lights out and can't catch the Yankees and the Red Sox.
  • The Astros over the Nationals: Oswalt has been really good lately.
  • The Dodgers over the Brewers: Billingsley and company should beat Looper.
  • The Twins over the White Sox: The Twins would be in first place if they didn't go Oh for the Yankees.
  • The Rockies over the Braves: Lowe's sinker won't sink in Mile High country.
  • The Marlins over the Diamondbacks: Nolasco has been terrific since coming back from the minors.
  • The Yankees over the Angels: Does anyone understand how far the Yankees would be ahead of this division if they played even .400 ball against the Red Sox?
  • The Rangers over the Mariners: Somehow, Feldman always seems to win.
  • The Padres over the Giants: The Pads should beat the Giant's fifth starter.

Yesterday: 4-8
Week: 36-32
Month: 57-50

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Game Picks - Thursday: July 9, 2009

Egads! What a long day that was! This picker and his wife started at the West Palm Beach airport at 6:00 A. M. and got into Portland, Maine at 4:00 in the afternoon. After a six and a half hour drive north, the destination was reached. But it's good to be home and Maine smells and looks great.

The picks were fairly successful during all of that and that's a happy circumstance. Let's see what today's games bring.

  • The Blue Jays over the Bay Rays: The Bay Rays have skunked the Blue Jays all year. But maybe Halladay can at least salvage one game here.
  • The Twins over the Yankees: The Yankees are starting Aceves and Liriano has been good lately.
  • The Brewers over the Cardinals: The match up of Pineiro versus Parra seems to favor the Cards, but that was the case last night and the Brewers won.
  • The Indians over the White Sox: Huff versus Richard. Don't like either pick, but somebody has to win!
  • The Reds over the Phillies: Caution! Sentimental Pick as Owings is pitching for the Reds.
  • The Dodgers over the Mets: Wolf over Livan.
  • The Red Sox over the Royals: Hochever has been pretty good lately, but a patient team like the Red Sox will murder him.
  • The Nationals over the Astros: Lannon is the Nats' best pitcher. Ortiz is the Astros' worst.
  • The Braves over the Rockies: Hoping that Hanson is better than Cook. This will happen if Hanson throws strikes.
  • The Marlins over the Diamondbacks: The Marlins already beat this team once without its best player in the lineup.
  • The Rangers over the Mariners: Hunter gets his second big league win over King Felix, who will get mashed around by the Rangers' offense.
  • The Giants over the Padres: Lincecum. Is there anything more to say?

Yesterday: 9-6
Week: 32-24
Month: 53-42

Hopefully tonight, the Fan will get back into the regular posting groove. Thank for your patience.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Game Picks - Wednesday: July 8, 2009

It's a travel day on Wednesday and this picker will be in the air and on the road from early morning to late at night. Not wanting to deprive loyal readers with these daily, head-scratching picks. There won't be any results from Tuesday, but that may be a good thing.

Here are Wednesday's pick:

  • The Astros over the Pirates: Wandy Rodriguez seems back on track. So the Fan is back in his corner.
  • The Braves over the Cubs: Kawakami versus rookie, Hart. Whodat?
  • The Rockies over the Nationals: De La Rosa versus Detwiler, who doesn't exactly inspire confidence.
  • The Padres over the Diamondbacks: Gaudin has seemed pretty good lately.
  • The Marlins over the Giants: Interesting match up here. Volstad has been really good for the Marlins lately. The Big Sadowski has been impressive for the Giants.
  • The Orioles over the Mariners: Have you noticed that this picker seems to pick the Orioles almost every night? What's with that?
  • The Reds over the Phillies: Homer Bailey was very good last time out. Can he do it two starts in a row?
  • The Royals over the Tigers: Greinke!
  • The Blue Jays over the Bay Rays: In the continuing battle of the "Ays," Tallet should come back from his last, less than steller outing.
  • The Dodgers over the Mets: Kuroda versus Perez. Perez in his first start back. That's Rule #3.
  • The Red Sox over the Athletics: Wakefield wins #11.
  • The Cardinals over the Brewers: Does it seem like the Cardinals seem ready to put this division away?
  • The Yankees over the Twins: Burnett is starting to earn his money.
  • The White Sox over the Indians: Contreras seems to have found a new life.
  • The Rangers over the Angels: Because the Fan is rooting for the Rangers to end the Angels' division reign.

Think good thoughts for the Fan tomorrow on his travels. Thanks!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Game Picks - Tuesday: July 7, 2009

Our last day in Florida. We head back to our home in Maine tomorrow and it's time. Back to our own bed and our flower gardens, our golf course...and well...back to work. But it has been nice here in Paradise and overall, the picks haven't been awful. They just haven't been great either. Who knows, with any luck, we'll get to watch one more Marlins' game tonight before we go.

Today's picks:

  • The Phillies over the Reds: Will the Phillies have anything left after last night's 22-1 performance. This pick thinks they will.
  • The Tigers over the Royals: Verlander versus Chen seems like the mismatch of the century.
  • The Blue Jays over the Bay Rays: The Fan doesn't really think this will happen. Just hoping it does.
  • The Dodgers over the Mets: Pelfrey has been good lately, but will the Mets score any runs?
  • The Red Sox over the A's: The A's surprised yesterday by beating the Red Sox. Don't think they will beat Beckett.
  • The Braves over the Cubs: The Cubs are heating up. But Vazquez will cool them off and Dempster is due to be Dempster sooner or later.
  • The Brewers over the Cardinals: Like Gallardo's chances over the Cards.
  • The Pirates over the Astros: Continue to believe in Maholm even though he hasn't been good lately.
  • The Yankees over the Twins: Sabathia goes for the Yankees and Baker has given up a lot of homers this year. Not a good thing in Yankee Stadium.
  • The White Sox over the Indians: Like Buerhle over Sowers.
  • The Nationals over the Rockies: Like Zimmermann over Hammel.
  • The Padres over the Diamondbacks: The Padres are just a better team when the pitchers stack up as equal.
  • The Anges over the Rangers: The Rangers use this series to put first time starter, Nippert, out there? What are they, nuts?
  • The Orioles over the Mariners: Bedard is back, but what will he last, five innings? Then it's the Mariner bullpen. Ugh.
  • The Marlins over the Giants: Josh Johnson should be better than Barry Zito.

There you have it. Have a great Tuesday.

Yesterday: 5-6
Week: 15-11
Month: 36-29

Vazquez and Halladay

Two of the most dominant pitchers in either league are among the rumors being bandied about in the trade market. According to, the Brewers are interested in Vazquez and would have to part with either Gamel or Alcedes Escobar. The same report states that Blue Jays GM, J. P. Ricciardi said, "We have to be open to anything." And that includes Halladay.

Let's start with the Brewers. Gamel hasn't shown anything in his brief stint with the Brewers to show that he should be untouchable. If the Brewers could get a pitcher such as Vazquez, this sidewalk GM would trade Gamel in a heartbeat. The Braves need offense. The Brewers already have two of the best offensive stars in the game. They need pitching. This deal would make great sense for both clubs, especially since Hanson is working out nicely.

On the other hand, Ricciardi would be really stupid to let Halladay get away. It's not just that he is one of the best pitchers in the American League. He is a legend and a hero up in Toronto for a franchise that is struggling to fill seats. What do you say to your fan base if you are trading away your fans' brightest hero? Okay, he's expensive. But what is the cost of losing him?

The Fan does miss the good old days when trades were made to improve both clubs instead of being a vehicle to save money. Any trade the Blue Jays were to make with Halladay would be a salary dump, no matter how anyone else wants to look at it. To trade a B-level major leaguer for prospects makes sense. To trace a true ace for prospects that may never make anything of themselves is stupid. Names like Dukes and Pie litter the field like shrapnel from those kinds of hopes.

Vazquez for Gamel? Heck yeah. Halladay for anybody or any mess of anybodys? No way!

Should Doug Melvin Be Mad?

In a story that surfaced on Monday, Ryan Braun spouted off about the state of his team, his pitching staff and what Braun thinks General Manager, Doug Melvin, should do about it. The story goes on to state that Bob Melvin was angry over the comments. So the question is: Should Melvin be mad?

Unfortunately, we have to fall back on the problem with blogging: This blogger doesn't have access to any previous interactions with Braun and Melvin concerning the team. The Fan doesn't know if Braun had talked to Melvin and found no satisfaction in the conversation. The Fan doesn't know if Braun has a leadership role in the Brewers' clubhouse which would give him a right to discuss the state of the team.

What is known is that that Braun is the best over all player on that team (all due respect to Fielder). The best player on the team does have some consideration on what goes on around him. But if he is the quiet type in the clubhouse and is trying to rouse his team suddenly with his outburst, then it's out of line.

Here is the bottom line to this writer based on what little information is available. First, Doug Melvin should be big enough and secure enough in his position to not get riled by what a "dumb player" has to say. The Fan has been in business for a long time. Employees should never be ridiculed for stating what's on their mind. On the other hand, as a manager of people, the Fan never wanted to be disrespected by an employee because it erodes the respect level the others have for the manager.

This situation is borderline. What Braun is quoted as saying is not really a direct disrespect of Melvin. He actually says that he knows Melvin is trying to better the team. He just hopes it happens quickly. He never said that Melvin was a turkey because he wasn't doing anything. So in this case, Braun didn't disrespect Melvin. Certainly, if Braun had never discussed this privately with Melvin, then it would have been better for Braun to go to Melvin privately to discuss his concerns. But even so, with no disrespect really shown, then Melvin should have just laughed it off. It would have been the bigger move.

As for Braun calling out his teammates, again, that depends on whether Braun has a leadership role in the clubhouse. If he does not, he's out of line. If he does, then this is not that bad a deal. But again, he would have been better served, even if he was a leader, to call out his teammates in the clubhouse and not in the paper.

The most likely scenario is that Braun was frustrated by the loss and spouted off, which was dutifully captured in a story by the writers who overheard what Braun said. In the old days, the writer never would have reported Braun's statements. But if Braun spouted off in the heat of a moment of frustration, then he needs to apologize to his teammates. Again, he did not openly disrespect his general manger and owes Melvin nothing.

Monday, July 06, 2009

All Star Rosters: Fans Blow It Again

So the Fan turned on Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN to catch two of the most exciting teams in the American League: Texas and Tampa Bay. To lead up to the event, the Fan watched the Baseball Tonight lead in, one of the most enjoyable such episodes of the week. The Baseball Tonight crew spent much of the broadcast introducing and then discussing the selections for the All Star Game. Topic covered. But then the SNB crew (minus Jon Miller for some reason) figured the topic wasn't covered enough and the exciting match up wasn't good enough so they spent much of the early part of the game discussing the picks. Fortunately, by the fourth inning or so, they ran out of breath and started talking about the game at hand.

Oh well, as long as they brought the topic up...again...let the Fan state unequivocally that the fans have proven over and over that they don't deserve the right to pick the All Star teams' starters. All Star voting is about as fair as the voting for the American Idol. Any time you can pack a ballot, any time you can have teams with high attendance and interest dominate the selections, you have a problem. Let's look at the starters in the American League.

  • Catcher: Joe Mauer. Okay, this is the right pick.
  • First base: Mark Teixeira. Teixeira has been everything the Yankees hoped, but Justin Morneau is having the best year of all the AL first basement. And it's not even close.
  • Second base: Dustin Pedroia. A typical example of ballot stuffing. The only correct starter here is Aaron Hill of Toronto. Look at the numbers. Again, it's not even close.
  • Shortstop: Derek Jeter. If Bartlett of the Bay Rays hadn't missed so much time, he would be the pick, but Jeter is the right pick.
  • Third base: Evan Longoria: No argument with that pick.
  • OF: Ichiro Suzuki. He is hitting .370, but if you look at the big picture and including slugging and OPS, Crawford is a better pick.
  • OF: Jason Bay: Well, okay. If you like RBI as the most important stat, okay.
  • OF: Josh Hamilton. What!? He hasn't even played all year. This is a glaring, idiotic example of what happens when the fans pick. Torii Hunter should be the starting center fielder.

Now the National League.

  • Catcher: Yadier Molina. The National League catchers are currently pretty pathetic. Molina is the best of the bad with a .727 OPS.
  • First base: Albert Pujols. Well duh.
  • Second base: Chase Utley. The correct choice.
  • Shortstop: Hanley Ramirez. Thank goodness. Rollins was leading for a while.
  • Third base: David Wright. Pablo Sandoval is having the better year.
  • OF: Carlos Beltran. He's been on the DL. Will be for another month. Come on! Should have been Brad Hawpe.
  • OF: Raul Ibanez. See above. Should be Justin Upton.
  • OF: Ryan Braun. Yay! They got one out of three correct.

We won't even get to the rest of the rosters or the pitchers. That's another kettle of fish. The point is that the fans, bless their hearts, don't get it right. Here's a good thought. Why not put a bunch of folks from Baseball Prospectus, FanGraphs, THT and together on a panel and have them pick the best 33 players in each league? Don't even talk to the Fan about having the players or the writers or the managers make the picks. The Fan will politely point you to the Gold Glove awards for how well that works.

Whatever would work should be what is used. The Fan vote doesn't work.

Game Picks - Monday: July 6, 2009

Sunday was a good day for this picker. Didn't expect Randy Johnson's shoulder to fall off. Should have known the Reds wouldn't sweep the Cardinals. Should have seen the Orioles' bullpen falling apart. But over all, can't be too unhappy about the results.

Here are Monday's picks in a short schedule:

  • The Blue Jays over the Yankees: Romero is really good. Pettitte is really average.
  • The Braves over the Cubs: This picker always goes with Jurrjens.
  • The Reds over the Phillies: Cueto has the stuff to stuff the Phillies...IF he throws strikes.
  • The Tigers over the Royals: See Joe Posnanski's blog to understand how Meche has been abused by his manager.
  • The Red Sox over the Athletics: Smoltz wins his first for the Red Sox.
  • The Astros over the Pirates: The Astros are playing well. The Pirates are not.
  • The Rockies over the Nationals: The Marquis! Can't pick against him.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Padres: Garland pitches for the scouts.
  • The Rangers over the Angels: This Rangers team is growing on this writer big time.
  • The Orioles over the Mariners: The Orioles jump all over Washburn.
  • The Giants over the Marlins: Cain over Sean West. Have watched West pitch a few times now and the guy has talent, but he doesn't have grit.

Have a good week, everyone!

Yesterday: 10=5
Week: 10-5
Month: 31-23

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Game Picks - Sunday: July 5, 2009

The weather here in Florida was gorgeous for July 4th and we didn't even get our normal afternoon rain. Hope you all had a nice day and got a chance to do something fun. As for the picks, there was a mixed back and the day ended slightly in the red. But in the grand scheme of things, there are worse things in life.

Another full slate of holiday weekend games today and here are the picks:

  • The Indians over the Athletics: The Fan has gotten this pick wrong all weekend. So either the Indians finish the sweep or finish off this picker. One or the other.
  • The Yankees over the Blue Jays: Chamberlain should pick off Cecil.
  • The Pirates over the Marlins: Ohlendorf has confounded this picker and beat some really good pitchers in his last two starts. Guess we'll have to pick him over Nolasco.
  • The Cardinals over the Reds: Carpenter should beat Arroyo.
  • The Phillies over the Mets: Santana has looked human the last two weeks. And this picker can't seem to get a Met pick correctly.
  • The Braves over the Nationals: Derek Lowe has been a mystery lately, but he should beat Olsen.
  • The Red Sox over the Mariners: Lester should be a lock over Morrow.
  • The Twins over the Tigers: The Twins have hung tough against the Tigers and need this game badly to start making a move.
  • The Royals over the White Sox: Oh what the heck, let's give a pick to Bannister and the Royals.
  • The Cubs over the Brewers: Ted Lilly stops the bleeding.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Rockies: Dan Haran has been the best pitcher in the National League this side of Lincecum.
  • The Orioles over the Angels: Just because the Fan wants it to be so.
  • The Dodgers over the Padres: Billingsley should win this game.
  • The Giants over the Astros: The Giants are starting to hit. If that continues, they are scary.
  • The Rangers over the Bay Rays: Great match up of Feldman and Garza. Giving the edge to Feldman at home.

Yesterday: 7-8
Week: 46-38
Month: 28-26