Saturday, August 01, 2009

Game Picks - Saturday: August 1, 2009

A crappy 6-8 day to finish out what was a good month of July. The Fan finished the month at 203-155. Not too shabby but it kind of sucked that the last two days had to be so bad. Last night was difficult because so many teams didn't play their players that got traded. And some of those that didn't won anyway when you least expected it. The Pirates won for Pete's sake.

It's not August. Can you believe it? It really is true what they say that the older you get, the faster time seems to fly. Well, before time flies too fast and the Fan misses he Saturday morning tee time, here are your picks for today:

  • The Braves over the Dodgers: Got this one wrong yesterday as the Dodgers blanked the Braves. But Lowe should keep the Braves in the game.
  • The Bay Rays over the Royals: Niemann versus Chen. What do you think?
  • The Yankees over the White Sox: What is it with the Yankees and "Sox"?
  • The Nationals over the Pirates: Poor Adam Dunn has to feel like he is in purgatory.
  • The Red Sox over the Orioles: Beckett will win despite the fact that he is a different pitcher on the road than at home.
  • The Tigers over the Indians: Don't think that Sowers will throw two good games in a row.
  • The Rockies over the Reds: Homer Bailey was better last time out, but Jimenez will be better.
  • The Cubs over the Marlins: Why would Badenhop be starting?
  • The Astros over the Cardinals: Oh man! The Fan's main man, Wandy, against the Fan's other main man, Carpenter. Ack!
  • The Diamondbacks over the Mets: Scherzer was good last time out and he faces Oliver Perez, who walked like nineteen last time out.
  • The Twins over the Angels: Still can't predict the Twins. They are so erratic. They should be all over Saunders though.
  • The Rangers over the Mariners: Didn't' King Felix face the Ranger's Hunter last week?
  • The Giants over the Phillies: The Fan has been burned every time he has picked against Blanton, but golly, Lincecum is pitching...
  • The Blue Jays over the A's: Beane and Cecil. Kind of like that. Too bad Billy Ball has been a stinker this year.
  • The Padres over the Brewers: Mr. Richard is going to like pitching in that big ball park and in the National League.

Yesterday: 6-8
Week: 45-39

Trade Deadline Winners and Losers

The trading deadline finished with a fury as several teams, including all three contenders in the American League Central, attempted to upgrade their teams. Did they succeed? Some did. Some did partially. Others fumbled. Let's break it all down.

Winners: Twins, Red Sox, Marlins, Mariners.

Minnesota Twins: The Twins had two glaring weaknesses, pitching and offense from their middle infielders. They didn't do anything about their pitching, but they did pick up Orlando Cabrera from the Oakland A's for borderline prospects. While the Twins' middle infielders were slick with the glove, they couldn't hit a lick. Nick Punto was batting .208 with an OPS of .568. And this year was not that unusual for a guy with a career OPS of .643. Sure, he plays great defense and seemed to be a fixture on the nightly highlights. But the guy has to hit at least a little. Punto's counterpart, Alexi Casilla, was decent last year but, if possible, batted even worse than Punto. Casilla has an OPS of .448. Ouch. A team can't have two automatic outs in the same lineup every game it plays. Brandon Harris has seem growing playing time, but is not nearly as good in the field.

Cabrera, on the other hand is a proven major league shortstop. And at least he can hit a little. He has a lifetime BA of .274 and a lifetime OPS of .719. That, at least, is serviceable. And he is a proven glove even if he has slipped a little in that department this year. Put him on the artificial turf and the Baggie Dome and he should have little trouble. As a bonus, Cabrera has been hot lately and has fifteen hits in his last ten games.

Now if the Twins can pitch a little bit...

Boston Red Sox: The Red Sox were in the Halladay sweepstakes but wouldn't part with both Buckholz and Bard. Wise move. Slide Buckholz into the rotation in the second half and he might do just fine. And Bard has been sensational in the bullpen just as this writer predicted he would be during Spring Training. So even if the Red Sox did nothing, they would have been winners. But they didn't do nothing. They picked up Victor Martinez from Cleveland for the decent Masterson and a great prospect (Nick Hagadone). Martinez, who was very sad about leaving his beloved Indians, is the bat the Red Sox really need. The team has surprisingly struggled at the plate this year with production problems in centerfield, shortstop, DH and catcher. Martinez should catch every day but that won't happen because of loyalty (stupid but there it is) to Varitek. Varitek can't hold Martinez's equipment bag. But Varitek will get the occasional day off and Martinez will probably play first (moving Youkilis to third) and probably DH some too. The Red Sox have to get Martinez in there every day somehow and he will certainly help them.

The Red Sox also traded new acquisition, Adam LaRoche back home to Atlanta for Casey Kotchman. Kotchman has little power but is a good on-base guy and a slick fielder. He won't get much opportunity with the Red Sox though.

Florida Marlins: Wow! The Marlins made a move! The Marlins are a talented but free-swinging club and they acquired Nick Johnson and his .408 OBP to hit in front of Hanley Ramirez. The Johnson trade also moves Jorge Cantu to third base and finally ends the Bonifacio era. Of course, you have to keep your fingers crossed that Johnson won't get hurt again, but it was a risk worth taking and if Johnson can stay healthy, will really help this team and its wild card chances.

Seattle Mariners: The Mariners traded a 34 year old Jarrod Washburn to the Tigers for a 24 year old Luke French. Good deal for them. Add this to the Jack Wilson pick up and that's a good couple of days.

Losers: White Sox, Tigers, Yankees, Blue Jays.

White Sox: The White Sox finally got Jake Peavy. But will they get what they paid for? Doubtful. First, Peavy is currently on the DL and won't be ready to pitch until the end of August. Secondly, a lot of Peavy's success has come from pitching at the Padres home park, one of the best pitcher parks in baseball. He has a career 2.83 ERA at home but is 3.84 on the road. Take him out of San Diego and especially into the American League and it seems unlikely that he will as good a pitcher as he was as a Padre. And lastly, the White Sox gave up Clayton Richard who was helping the rotation right now (who will they replace him with?). He has shown flashes of being a pretty decent starter. The White Sox also gave up three other pitchers, the best of which is Aaron Poreda who has a 2.45 ERA in ten appearances along with 12 strikeouts in 11 innings. Adam Russell also was included and doesn't seem to the same upside as Poreda. This deal may help the White Sox in the long run, but it's a heck of a gamble.

Tigers: The Tigers on paper got a good deal by trading for Jarrod Washburn. But this Fan isn't buying it. Washburn is having a pretty lucky year so far as he has a very low batting average from balls put in play. That's partly luck and partly defense. But the guy is 34 and goes against what the Tigers were trying to do in getting younger and more athletic. Plus, they gave away a young pitcher named Luke French, who has done very well for the team and was only 24 years old. So even if this does work out, they get a 34 year old pitcher with a lot of baggage and lose a 24 year old pitcher with his whole career in front of him. Hmm... Plus, the Tigers didn't do anything about third base where Inge is really hurting and is questionable as far as his ability to help much further this year.

Yankees: While their bitter rivals, the Boston Red Sox, got a great bat and a great guy in Victor Martinez, the Yankees countered with Jerry Hairston, Jr.? Ugh! The guy is 32 and has a career BA of .259. What is he going to do for the Yankees? Do you want him playing instead of Melky? No. Swisher or Hinske? No. A-Rod? No. Jeter? No. Cano? No. Damon? No. And so it goes. The Yankees have always liked washed up infielders. Look at all their teams since 1996 and you'll find a washed up infielder.

The Yankees still have a hole in their rotation where Wang was supposed to be. Hughes is stuck in the bullpen the rest of the year. Do they really want Sergio Mitre taking the ball every fifth day? At least the Yankees weren't foolish in trading away all their young talent for Halladay, even if he is one of the best pitchers in baseball.

Blue Jays: It seems hard to fault J. P. Ricciardi for not trading Roy Halladay if he didn't get the deal he wanted. But it looks bad when his dangling of Halladay was so out there and he came up empty. He didn't get "wowed" but there were some pretty interesting packages presented to him. In the long run, it may turn out that he should have bit the bullet and taken one of them. Plus, the Blue Jays lost their best hitter and fielder in trading Scott Rolen. The word is that Rolen asked for the trade for personal reasons. But still, couldn't Rolen have fetched someone better than Edwin Encarnacion?

So So Deals: The Dodgers getting Sherrill. The Rockies getting Beimel. The Brewers getting Vargas.

It was a fun couple of days, wasn't it?

Friday, July 31, 2009

Ramirez and Ortiz Bombshell - A Dud

Just when the baseball hunger was enjoying a feast of last minute trades and speculation about trades, someone slipped some peas onto the Fan's plate with a story about Manny and David Ortiz being on the 2003 list of those who tested positive for substances. The first thought upon hearing the news was, "Yeah, okay, whatever." And it has come to that. As the names dribble into the public from that infamous list that was supposed to be kept a secret, not one name on there would be a surprise anymore. And more names will leak. It has become a game.

Many will note that Oritz became the Big Papi in 2003. Coincidence? He was just a struggling guy on the Minnesota Twins before that. Sure, maybe the stuff helped spur the "Big" in the Papi, but whatever stuff the guys were using, the stuff doesn't invent talent. It would be like saying that LSD made John Lennon. It might be valid to say that LSD enhanced Lennon to write such songs as Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds. But the talent was already there. See, that's the thing. Don't you think that A-Rod would have been a monster talent whether he ever used or not?

Okay. The Fan realizes that he is painting defenses which means that there is some dirt still plugged in the filter. The steroid thing is not a good thing for baseball. And, like it or not, the fans don't care any more. It's like violence on TV. After a while, when you see another real murder on the six o'clock news, no one feels anything about it any more. There is no shock. There is no outrage. It just is. Two more big names are revealed? Yawn.

Most fans feel the same way that this Fan does. The game was dirty before 2003 and Jose Conseco was probably right in that 80% of the players before that time were using something. Canseco is also right in that sooner or later, some current Hall of Fame member (or two or three) will be named and then what?

When that happens, we will all just have to conclude that baseball had a problem and had to clean it up. The clean up has already changed the game. More emphasis on defense and less on the long ball has already been the theme. Guys won't be as effective into their late thirties as we've seen in the last fifteen or so years. You won't see guys like Gary Sheffield producing well right up to the age of 38. So be it. But there is nothing any of us can do about all those added benefits players enjoyed from juicing up until 2003. Nothing. It is what it is and it was what it was.

So yes, Manny and Ortiz are tarnished a bit. But look at the cheers Manny got when he came back after his suspension. The fans could care less. Well, most of them anyway. Many will point to the decline of David Ortiz in the last two years and say, "See?" But we don't know that the decline wasn't the natural decline of a big boned athlete that normally occurs anyway.

Nothing is surprising anymore. No name is too big a name. Each revelation is just more peas to pick out of the pot pie. Just test the hell out of the current players and chalk the past up to the past. Nothing any of us can do about it anyway.

Game Picks - Friday: July 31, 2009

Trading deadline day. The last day of July. Baseball is at its most active and interesting period of the season so far. What will unfold is as unpredictable as the games each night, as any of you could tell after watching this picker during this daily feature every day. It will be a day of wonder no matter what happens.

The picks were pretty successful yesterday. This picker was surprised that the Yankees showed so little offense against the White Sox. And it's official: The Fan has completely given up on Cueto. Every year he shows flashes of being the most dominant pitcher in the game. But nine times out of ten, he stinks up the joint. And his partner in crime, Volquez, is right there with him. How many sour picks has the Fan wasted on them anyway?

Today's picks are made with the current players these teams have on their roster. The Fan is not responsible for any bad picks caused by players traded during the day. Yeah, right.

  • The White Sox over the Yankees: Sergio Mitre. Ugh.
  • The Orioles over the Red Sox: Who knows who is going to close this game for the Orioles if it's close, but Guthrie is a better bet these days than Smoltz.
  • The Tigers over the Indians: The Indians might not have Victor Martinez by the time this game is played. Add that to the fact that Carmona is making his first start since his demotion to the minors and it looks good to pick the Tigers.
  • The Bay Rays over the Royals: The Bay Rays really needed a series against a weak team.
  • The Rangers over the Mariners: Vargas versus Padilla? Ick. One of them has to win though.
  • The Twins over the Angels: Blackburn should beat a struggling Santana.
  • The Phillies over the Giants: Cliff Lee has a successful debut for his new team.
  • The Brewers over the Padres: Would you believe that Gaudin has a better ERA than Looper? But Looper has won nine games and Gaudin, four.
  • The Cardinals over the Astros: Boggs is back for the Cardinals, and even though it's his first start back, the Cardinals chances of a big game against Moehler are strong.
  • The Braves over the Dodgers: Have to pick Hanson over Schmidt.
  • The Cubs over the Marlins: This pick is problematic. The Marlins are at home and starting Volstad, who has been excellent lately. But the Cubs and Harden are on a roll.
  • The Mets over the Diamondbacks: Hate picking the Mets to win when Livan is pitching...
  • The Rockies over the Reds: The 10-3 Cook versus a guy named, Lehr, making his season debut.
  • The Nationals over the Pirates: At least the Nats, who are terrible, still have all their guys. Who is left in Pittsburgh?

Yesterday: 8-4
Week: 39-31
Month: 195-147

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Game Picks - Thursday: July 30, 2009

This is a disclaimer that the pick for the Pirates yesterday was made before they traded the entire team away. Hehe. Actually, there are no excuses. Should have gone with Verlander as the Tigers jumped all over Feldman. Should have guessed that Trey Hillman would again fritter away a good Greinke outing with lousy relief choices. Should have known that Harang would get harangued. And this picker claims temporary insanity in picking the Nats over the Brewers. Of course, nobody saw Oakland beating Boston, so we'll take a bye on that one.

Today has a pretty good schedule for a Thursday. Let's see what we have here:

  • The Mets over the Rockies: Same match up as yesterday: Santana versus Hammel. Santana should still win (the game was rained out yesterday).
  • The Reds over the Padres: Cueto should win. Doesn't mean he will, but he should.
  • The Royals over the Orioles: Hochever struck out 13 last time out. Maybe he's turned the corner. Maybe the Fan is an idiot because Hillman will figure out how to lose the game.
  • The Red Sox over the Athletics: Lester shouldn't lose to Gi Gonzalez, should he?
  • The Brewers over the Nationals: Gallardo versus some kid named Martin. Should be a safe pick.
  • The Cubs over the Astros: Say goodnight, Houston, as your chance has passed.
  • The Marlins over the Braves: Hmm...Interesting game. Vander Hurk has been good. Vazquez always keeps the Braves in the game. Hanley Ramirez makes the difference.
  • The Rockies over the Mets: De La Rosa should beat the phenom-in-waiting, Niese.
  • The Rangers over the Mariners: This game couldn't be any uglier with Holland versus Garret Olsen. Ugh.
  • The Yankees over the White Sox: Will stay on the Yankee bandwagon since they've been so hot.
  • The Dodgers over the Cardinals: Tough loss for the Dodgers last night, but Lohse hasn't been right for quite a while.
  • The Giants over the Phillies: Sanchez versus Lopez in a game of uninspiring pitchers, no-hitter notwithstanding.

Yesterday: 6-8
Week: 31-27
Month: 187-143

Wow! What a Day! Trades Aplenty

If you are a baseball fan, today was cool. Really cool. There were trades all over the place and big surprises. One of the big surprises was that Roy Halladay was not among those traded. But the biggest surprise of the day was bigger than the Cliff Lee to the Phillies. Not bigger in impact because the Phillies got themselves a heck of a pitcher. The bigger surprise was that the Pirates gutted their middle infield.

We'll get to Cliff Lee in a minute. What the Pirates have done is stunning. They have now traded their starting center fielder (McLouth), left fielder (Nyger Morgan), first baseman, second baseman, shortstop and a pitcher with a lot of talent that has been a bit lost lately. If you look at their line up for Wednesday, you still see one of the LaRoche brothers, McCutchen and who? Who? Who? and Who? Predictably, they got three hits against the Giants and went scoreless leaving Zack Duke to go back to his hotel room scratching his head.

The Pirates haven't been a good team for a very long time. Pitching has been a problem for a long time. But when you looked at some of their veteran players, they seemed like nice parts. Jack Wilson has been a Fan favorite for a long time. Sure he has a 79 lifetime OPS+. But the guy is a wizard at shortstop and hearkens back to the Mark Belangers of the world. Freddie Sanchez won a batting title and he and Wilson made some of the prettiest double plays in all of baseball.

McLouth has turned into a heck of a player and has really been a stabilizing force for the Braves. And Morgan has been unreal since joining the Nationals. His OPS+ with the Nats is 139! And it seems he has been on the fielding highlights every night of the week.

But now most of them are gone. McCutchen has a chance to be a really good player. The jury is still out on the younger LaRoche they still have. The pitching has come around a lot this year and the defense was ranked number one in the National League.

But still, the team was more competitive in the early going this year than in previous years and even with the slippage, have a higher winning percentage than last year. So it seemed they were making progress. They stressed defense and starting pitching and for the most part, they succeeded in that plan. But now they have pulled it all down and have gotten a bunch of talented prospects and dumped a lot of salary, though Rob Neyer showed that Wilson and Sanchez were underpaid by quite a bit.

If the Fan was a Pirate fan, there would be a lot of head scratching right about now. Wilson will certainly help the Mariners who haven't had a good shortstop since a guy named A-Rod played there. Sanchez will certainly help the Giants. LaRoche seems to be a pretty good fit in Fenway. Ian Snell showed promise early in his career and a fresh start could help him. McLouth will be helping the Braves for a long time to come. Hinske is already helping the Yankees in a part time role and we've already talked about Morgan.

Time will tell if this will pan out for the Pirates in the long haul, but for the short term, they are decimated.

Just two weeks ago, Mark Shapiro said that Cliff Lee would not be traded. So imagine the surprise when baseball Fans everywhere saw on the Web that Lee was heading to Philadelphia, who tired in their interaction with the Blue Jays over Halladay. Lee had a tough start this year, but he has been brilliant since and his 3.14 ERA belies his sub-.500 won-loss record. Carrasco will be a nice player for the Indians, but this had to be a salary issue for Cleveland who have lost 6,000 fans per game since 2007. It's an ugly epitaph for what has been a lost season for the Indians who still might trade their leader and catcher/first baseman, Victor Martinez.

For the Phillies and the Giants, they have certainly solidified those teams for the final stretch with the additions of Lee and Sanchez respectively.

We have two more days until the end of the trading deadline and, if today was any indication, it could be a fun couple of days.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Muddy American League Central

The only thing we know for sure about the American League Central is that the wildcard will not come from that division. The word, "Central," means in the middle and all three contenders in that division are certainly living up to that name. The Twins at .500 and the leading Tigers and White Sox are only five games above that mark. All three have their limitations and their problems. So who is going to win the darn thing? The heck if this writer has any idea. Let's look first at some rankings of each team in certain categories among the 14 American League teams:

Batting Average: Tigers (11), White Sox (9), Twins (5). Edge Twins.
OBP: Tigers (10), White Sox (8), Twins (6). Edge Twins.
Slugging: Tigers (11), White Sox (9), Twins (8). Slight edge, Twins.

The Tigers are not hitting well, obviously. The White Sox are mediocre except for their ability to hit home runs. If they didn't have power, they would be lost. The Twins have a slight edge on offense.

Now some pitching ranks:

Hits allowed: Tigers (2), White Sox (5), Twins (11). Tigers have a big edge. Oof for the Twins.
Earned runs allowed: Tigers (2), White Sox (5), Twins (11). Same as above!
Walks allowed: Tigers (13), White Sox (5), Twins (1). Not surprising as the Twins stress this more than any other team in baseball.

The Twins are the only team of the three with a .500 record in one run games. They are also at .500 in "blowout" games. They have had 13 positive blowouts and 13 negative blowouts. The Tigers and White Sox are below .500 in one run games and the Tigers have had 11 blowout wins versus 14 blowout losses. The White Sox have 12 blowout wins and 17 (!) blowout losses.

In fielding percentage, the Twins are second in the league, the White Sox twelfth and the Tigers seventh. The White Sox are third in the division in defensive efficiency. The Twins are second. The Tigers rank first in the division in defensive efficiency.

Baseball Prospectus is currently ranking the White Sox to finish 85-77, the Twins, 82-80 and the Tigers, 80-82. This Fan doesn't believe the Tigers will end that badly or the White Sox will end that good. 82 or 83 wins will probably win the division. Who it will be is a total crap shoot. The Twins don't seem to have enough pitching, but they find a way somehow. The Tigers should be better than they are offensively, and perhaps will start to get there. The White Sox are fighting each other in the dugout and are the oldest team. Each team has its stars.

Who knows. It isn't pretty, but it's still pretty exciting.

Game Picks - Wednesday: July 29, 2009

Mediocrity. Most contenders in the American League Central are contending for the title with mediocrity, but that's not what this picker is hoping for. After a couple of weeks riding high, the games the last couple of nights have confounded logic and left the picker feel woozy and shaken.

After all, who would think that C. C. Sabathia is the only Yankee pitcher who can't seem to win consistently (defense and his own lack of location let him down last night). Who would think that a 6-2 lead in the sixth inning wouldn't be held by the Boston bullpen? Would would have known that Scott Downs would blow his fourth game in the last week and a half? And finally, who would have guessed that Mark Buehrle would set a major league record for consecutive outs with 45 and be perfect for five plus innings and then lose the game?

Ah well, that's baseball and why we tune in every night to see what's going on. Tonight, the Fan will be tuning in to the following games:

  • The Cubs over the Astros: The Astros are on life support with Berkman out and now Oswalt.
  • The Angels over the Indians: Really thought the Indians would win last night with Huff, but his manager left him in one inning too long.
  • The Pirates over the Giants: Zack Duke wins the duel with Matt Cain.
  • The Blue Jays over the Mariners: Roy Halladay is still with the Blue Jays, thus another win.
  • The Royals over the Orioles: Greinke against a kid named Tillman.
  • The Yankees over the Blue Jays: Chamberlain has been very good lately. The Yankees handle Garza pretty well.
  • The Reds over the Padres: Harang has been terrible lately, but is facing a kid named Latos.
  • The Mets over the Rockies: Not sure about Santana lately. But picking him here.
  • The Marlins over the Braves: Josh Johnson versus Kawakami. Should be Johnson, right?
  • The Red Sox over the A's: Last night notwithstanding, the A's should never win a game against the Red Sox.
  • The Nationals over the Brewers: Parra has been terrible and the Brewers are sliding fast.
  • The Rangers over the Tigers: Verlander is going for the Tigers, but have to stick with the Feldman.
  • The Twins over the White Sox: Who can figure out these crazy teams?
  • The Cardinals over the Dodgers: Love Kershaw, but the Cardinals are unstoppable at this point.
  • The Phillies over the Diamondbacks: The D-backs had their one shot last night with Haren and couldn't get it done.

Last night: 7-8
Week: 25-19
Month: 181-135

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Garko Traded to the Giants

It's hard to be excited for Giants' fans concerning their recent acquisition of Ryan Garko from the Cleveland Indians. That is, at least, until you consider just how bad the Giants' offense has been this year.

Garko is a slight bit better than a league average hitter. His career OPS+ of 109 is an indication that he has occasional power and gets the occasional walk. He is also a below league average fielder (negative RTOTs despite higher than league average range factors).

But the Giants are terrible at the plate. They are currently 27th in the majors on offense, last in the National League in two categories and next to last in four others. Garko will replace Travis Ishkawa who is currently sporting a 90 OPS+ and has a career 94 OPS+ in 332 at bats. Garko can do better than that and any help in the Giants' offense at this point can't hurt.

The Giants still have a good shot at the wildcard and have the pitching to stay in there. A little more offense will certainly make that road a little easier.

Arroyo Going to the Yankees?

Could Bronson Arroyo be heading to the Yankees? He is according to this report. Not sure Arroyo would fare well against the big boys of the American League East, but he does seem to be a better alternative to Sergio Mitre. Let's just hope that if this does happen that the Yankees don't give up on prospects that could help the team down the road.

This Fan doesn't think losing prospects and spending a lot of money for a fifth starter makes a heck of a lot of sense. Mitre would pitch nearly as effectively and if you can win half your games with you fifth starter, that's all you can ask for. Arroyo is signed for another couple of years and what would the Yankees do with him next year when Phil Hughes is pegged as the fifth starter next year and Wang will be back?

The Mess in New York

The New York Mets can't seem to get a break. First, they lose half their team to injury. Next, they have a controversy over Director of Player Development, Tony Bernazard, that plays out for four days in the New York papers and then, when Omar Minaya does a press conference to announce that he was firing Bernazard, Minaya totally blows it by making accusations at the New York writer that broke the story. It wasn't pretty.

First, to be fair, Bernazard is being chopped to pieces by the media. Deserved or not, his life in baseball could be destroyed by this situation. That's always a sad thing for a lifelong baseball man. But the guy does seem to have an anger management problem and it seems strangely like 'roid rage. Bernazard is a former player so that latter could be a possibility. Whatever the case, it appears by all accounts that firing him was the correct action.

But Minaya used the occasion to dis the guy who broke the story. Minaya should have been humble and contrite concerning Bernazard's actions. After all, Bernazard was Minaya's guy. But instead, he comes off as arrogant and defensive and round-house punches the writer with words. What an idiot!

Perhaps Joe Posnanski and Bill Simmons are right in that all baseball executives should hire Common Sense Advisers. Any PR guy in their slowest moments would have been able to tell Minaya he was going to make a huge mistake by turning this around on the writer. It was the worst possible outcome of the press conference. Minaya couldn't have handled it worse if he tried it again a thousand times.

The Fan just can't see Minaya surviving this. Everything is in an uproar and Minaya's management style is under fire anyway. The Mets' ownership has to see this for the public relations fiasco that it is and cut Minaya loose. There doesn't seem to be any other course of action.

Game Picks - Tuesday: July 28, 2009

Did you see that play last night where a ball was hit on a line to the outfielder who slid to catch it only to have the ball ricochet (one of the best words in the English language) off his shin fifteen feet forward? Did you see that second baseman dive to catch it before it hit the ground? Amazing play. The Fan can't remember the players or even the game because it was before bedtime and the Fan saw it on Baseball Tonight. The play was awesome except that the ump blew the call and said it hit the ground. Plus, there was another blown call at the plate where once again a runner was called out though clearly the catcher was late with the tag. Replay folks. Replay. Enough!

The Fan finished in fifth over at despite finishing the week (the site's week runs from Tuesday to Monday for some reason) at 61-40. The Fan is now 157 games over .500 for the year and has -.4 total points for the season. What a total whack of a system they have. For being 19 games over .500 for the week, the fan received 12.7 points. Some other guy went 48-49 and picked up 5.2 points. What crap. That site has a widget for putting results on your site, but no way does this Fan want to sully this site with that bull feces.

Anyway, we have games to pick and the Fan's therapy session seems to be getting in the way, so we better get to the games:

  • The Yankees over the Bay Rays: Sabathia should win this one. It's so weird to watch these games and see the Yankees having fun in the dugout. Weird.
  • The Royals over the Orioles: Going with the experience of Bannister over the ineffective rookie, Berken.
  • The Reds over the Padres: Arroyo over Correia. Isn't Bronson Arroyo one of the cooler names in baseball?
  • The Braves over the Marlins: In one of the most intriguing match ups of the year, Jurrgens should get a slight edge over Nolasco. Both have been outstanding.
  • The Mets over the Rockies: Two things: First, the Mets have been playing inspired baseball of late despite their lack of talent on the field. Second, Marquis has a blister the size of Texas on his throwing hand.
  • The Red Sox over the Athletics: Buckholz wins the battle of phenoms against Mazzaro.
  • The Astros over the Cubs: Got to give Oswalt the nod in a big divisional game.
  • The Nationals over the Brewers: The Brewers have tanked lately and are starting Villanueva tonight. Uh oh.
  • The Rangers over the Tigers: French is pitching for the Tigers and this picker still can't speak French.
  • The White Sox over the Twins: Really wanted to pick the Twins in this one as there could be a let down game for Buehrle. But the Twins just can't seem to get it going.
  • The Cardinals over the Dodgers: Wainwright has been great lately and Billingsley has had a bad month. This is a bad patch the Dodgers are going through.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Phillies: A battle of aces of Hamel versus Haran. Haran is the better ace.
  • The Indians over the Angels: Just like the way the Indians are playing lately. Huff has shown signs of being pretty good.
  • The Blue Jays over the Mariners: Washburn has only given up two runs in his last four starts, but the Blue Jays hit lefties well and will put an end to that run.
  • The Giants over the Pirates: Zito is pitching for the Giants. So this could be a good pick or it could be a really ugly pick. One never knows with Zito.

Yesterday: 8-6
Week: 18-11
Month: 174-127

Monday, July 27, 2009

Game Picks - Monday: July 27, 2009

It seems the picker is back on track. It wasn't exactly a Hall of Fame performance but it certainly was a lot better than the day before. This picker was listening to some vintage George Harrison the other day and his song, "All Things Must Pass," certainly resonates. There are good times and there are bad times. It's just a question of remembering that things change and whatever condition we are facing currently will pass and we will be facing new conditions tomorrow. Take that to heart Royals fans. And take heed to that, Yankee fans.

It's nice to have almost a full slate of games on a Monday. Let's get to them:

  • The Cardinals over the Dodgers: Can't pick against Chris Carpenter against Randy Wolf, no matter how good the Dodgers are.
  • The Orioles over the Royals: Just can't pick a team that can't hit and that sends Chen out there to start.
  • The Yankees over the Bay Rays: The Bay Rays got to Burnett last time. He will get them this time.
  • The Reds over the Padres: A battle of two struggling teams. Have to pick one of them.
  • The Rockies over the Mets: Have to go with Jiminez over Perez.
  • The Red Sox over the Athletics: Beckett.
  • The Brewers over the Nationals: Stammen was good last time, but the Brewers are in need of victories.
  • The Astros over the Cubs: Good match up of Wandy Rodriguez versus Zambrano. Got to stick with Wandy.
  • The Rangers over the Tigers: Tough series to call. The Rangers are more desperate at this point.
  • The White Sox over the Twins: Just can't figure out this Twins team. Just totally confused.
  • The Phillies over the Diamondbacks: Have been punished enough this season picking against Moyer.
  • The Anges over the Indians: Another Pavano experience.
  • The Blue Jays over the Mariners: Hate to pick against King Felix, but Romero is pitching and that evens things out, giving the better offense of the Blue Jays the win.
  • The Giants over the Pirates: Rematch of Lincecum versus Maholm that went ten innings as a 1-1 game last time.

Yesterday: 10-5
Week: 10-5
Month: 166-121

Hall of Fame Moments

A while back, this blog had a little fun with Rickey Henderson and what his Hall of Fame speech might be like. The Fan is happy to say that Henderson was great. His speech was humble, touching, funny here and there and though he doesn't speak real well, spoke with an honest eloquence that seemed to hit the right notes.

The biggest surprise from Henderson's speech was his accolades for Billy Martin. All we know about Martin was the buffoonery that he and Steinbrenner reveled in. But the man had his moments as a manager and he apparently made a big impression on Henderson.

The funniest moment of Henderson's speech was him relating that he used to wait outside the Oakland ball park waiting for Reggie Jackson. But Jackson would never sign his autograph and instead, gave Henderson a pen with Jackson's name on it. Funny stuff.

Jim Rice was Jim Rice. Not nearly the player that Henderson was, Rice was also not nearly as humble. He made a point of slapping the media one last time and made it understood that they were the ones who made him wait for fifteen years.

Rice did acknowledge those who helped him along the way, but you can tell he is a proud man. And proud men don't acknowledge that any mistakes were made along the way. Proud men don't admit that his treatment of the media was unkind and disrespectful. He tried to explain it away by saying that he wouldn't answer questions about his teammates. But that gives short shrift to what was a long standing distance to those who helped sell tickets for the team.

The Fan is at peace with Rice's enshrinement. It's hard to put his career into perspective with the way the game is played today. Certainly, those who claim he was the most feared hitter in baseball were a bit bloated in those opinions. But he was fairly dominant for a decade and he's in, so we'll leave it there.

Joe Gordan's daughter's speech was touching. It's hard to feel much about a player who died so long ago and who played in the 1940s. But her speech made this writer glad for her and her family that her dad was recognized.

It is difficult to acknowledge Tony Kubek for his award. The Fan has said it before and will say it one last time: It is hard to accept such an award from a guy who walked away from the game after one of the early labor disputes. Sure, the game was in trouble. Sure, it was upsetting to have work stoppages. But walk away? And never come back? And then accept an award for the Hall of Fame as a broadcaster? No, it doesn't ring right and it seemed others were much more deserving.

The Fan was a bit tweaked by Rice when he acknowledged Henderson and Gordan but made a point of Kubek and others getting a different honor. No, Mr. Rice, it's the same honor. They are in the Hall of Fame now. The same Hall of Fame as you. Get over yourself.

One last comment about the day. Well, maybe two. The Hall of Fame is special because it is a collection of the best of baseball over the years. We are all a part of this game that we love and the Hall of Fame celebrates and honors those that played the best, wrote the best, managed the best and was the best in the front office. It celebrates the people we were honored enough to watch over the years. This writer has to admit being a bit choked up over the Henderson induction and speech. The guy was a big part of the Fan's baseball past. Not always loved, but always respected and appreciated. And that's what the Hall of Fame is for the Fan: an appreciation of the past and how much fun it was to watch it unfold.

And as a post script: Can't they find a sculpture for those plaques that can at least make the players on the plaque look a little like the actual players? If you showed the biggest die hard baseball fan twenty plaques and covered up the names, the Fan bets that the die hard wouldn't be able to identify 75% of them. They are that bad. Terrible.

Congrats, Henderson, Rice, Gordan, Kubek. Thanks for the memories.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Game Picks - Sunday: July 26, 2009

As Saturday baseball unfolded, it felt like a campy old Batman episode. Not the movies, those dark and serious takes on the comic book character were nothing like the television show of decades ago. As Batman and Robin took on various bad guys, text would fill the screen like: OOF! and POW! and WHAM! Those were yesterday's picks. And like most of Batman's' villains, the Fan was left in a heaped pile on the floor. Gone was the wonderful week. Gone was the lead at (now eighth). Gone was the feeling that the Fan started to know what he was doing.

That's the thing about baseball. You just never know what is going to happen. Who knew that the Yankees were going to give half their regulars the day off yesterday? Watching the game, it looked like a day off. There was no fire there at all until it was too late. And Girardi really blew it with his bullpen choice and how long he left Pettitte stay in there. For the Reds, Cueto again showed that he can't be consistent enough to harness his great stuff. The Mariners actually scored ten runs. The Mets scored nine. It was a bloodbath.

But life goes on. Perhaps Sunday will bring back the good feelings:

  • The Yankees over the A's: The Yankees should win despite starting Mitre.
  • The Bay Rays over the Blue Jays: Those poor Blue Jays.
  • The Cardinals over the Phillies: Wellemeyer needs to pitch a decent game.
  • The Nationals over the Padres: Lannon is pitching. The Nats winning yesterday was the final nail in the day's coffin.
  • The Orioles over the Red Sox: It appears that the Jon Smoltz experiment is a wash.
  • The Braves over the Brewers: The Brewers are resiliant, but so are the Braves. Lowe should beat Looper.
  • The Mets over the Astros: What a match up! Livan versus Moehler! Harken back to the Fan's earlier post this week to figure this one out!
  • The Rangers over the Royals: Millwood should beat Ponson. Why isn't Josh Hamilton hitting? Come on, Josh! Get going!
  • The Cubs over the Reds: Alas, the Owings' bandwagon has a wheel fallen off.
  • The Rockies over the Giants: Cook beats the Big Sadowski.
  • The Angels over the Twins: It is official. The Fan has officially given up on the Twins.
  • The Marlins over the Dodgers: The Fan has to be right about one of these games after picking them all wrong throughout the series.
  • The Pirates over the Diamondbacks: Just because one of the bad teams has to win.
  • The Indians over the Mariners: Oh sure, now the Indians play well!
  • The Tigers over the White Sox: The Tigers get out the brooms to finish off the sweep.

Yesterday: 4-11 POW!
Week: 59-38
Month: 156-116