Saturday, September 12, 2009

Game Picks - Saturday: September 12, 2009

Boy is this picker embarrassed. After making the picks yesterday, this picker went about his business and after quitting for the day, started the daily ritual of checking the box scores. None of the pitching match ups made sense. "That's not what was listed!" said the picker. After going back to the picks, it became obvious that this Fan looked at Saturday's match ups instead of Fridays. Duh!

Two things about that. First, the Fan will still take the game results against the picks that were made. Secondly, since the Fan already made the picks for Saturday's match ups, they will stay the same. Here they are:

- The Cubs over the Reds: Did you know that Wells is seventh in the NL in ERA+?

- The Yankees over the Orioles: Burnett was pretty good the last time out. The Yankees really need him to get it together.

- The Twins over the Athletics: Let's see, the Twins are starting a guy with the improbable name of Manship. That means that they should lose. So then they will win. Golly.

- The Braves over the Cardinals: Not high on either Lohse or Hudson at this point. But one of them has to win.

- The Phillies over the Mets: Moyer gets a start. Go old man, go!

- The Angels over the White Sox: Decent match up of Santana versus Danks. Going with Santana.

- The Marlins over the Nationals: One of those darned games when anything can happen. Anibal Sanchez can be brilliant or really stinky. The Nationals are starting an unknown named, Estrada.

- The Pirates over the Astros: Ohlendorf versus Moehler. Moehler will shout: "Ohlie Ohlie in come free!"
- The Royals over the Indians: The Royals just completed a Royal Flush over the Tigers go out and win their fourth in a row.
- The Tigers over the Blue Jays: Jackson should be better than Richmond. Are the Tigers the worst playoff team ever? Could be.
- The Red Sox over the Bay Rays: The Bay Rays always play the Sox tough, but Beckett has to get out of this funk he is in.
- The Rangers over the Mariners: The Rangers really can't lose any games the rest of the way, can they?
- The Brewers over the Diamondbacks: Another one of those, "Who knows?" games. Mulvey starts for the Diamondbacks. Who? Bush starts for Milwaukee. Yuck.
- The Dodgers over the Giants: Padilla keeps showing that nearly any AL pitcher can succeed in the NL.
- The Rockies over the Padres: Jiminez should blow through this game.

Yesterday: 8-4 (all of which goes to show that not knowing the match ups doesn't hurt)
Week: 44-36
Month: 84-67

Randy Wells - Obscure Baseball Player

Randy Wells is a rookie, so it's a bit unfair to expect most casual fans to know who he is. But despite his rookie status, the guy has been the Cubs best pitcher and is in the top five in the National League in ERA+. Pretty darn good for a guy who was drafted by the Cubs in the 38th round in a catcher.

Wells is 26 years old and has been in professional baseball for seven years. His year for the Cubs is totally unexpected and is a really neat story. His minor league numbers were decent enough. Nothing earth shattering, but good. The Blue Jays claimed him in the Rule V draft in 2008 because the Cubs didn't think enough of him to put him on the 40 man roster. In order to keep a Rule V pick, the claiming team has to keep the player in the majors the entire season. If they designate the player for assignment, he reverts back to his original team. The Blue Jays kept him for the entire 2008 Spring Training and he went with the club to Toronto. He made it into one game for the Blue Jays and pitched an inning in relief against the Red Sox and gave up a walk, but was otherwise unscathed. But the Blue Jays designated him. Doh!

So Wells went back to the Cubs AAA team where he went 10-4 with a 3.75 ERA. He got a call up from the Cubs and pitched in three games (all in relief) and threw 4.1 scoreless innings with a couple of walks and a strikeout. Nothing earth bending, right? But he finished the year with a big fat goose egg for an ERA.

Wells then started AAA again this year and started 3-0 with a 2.75 ERA there when Carlos Zambrano went down with an injury. The Cubs gave him a jingle and the rest is history.

Wells doesn't strike out a lot of people. His per nine innings rate is only 5.4. But he doesn't walk many either. For a young pitcher, he gets the ball over the plate. He's been a bit lucky has his BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play) is only .286, but he keeps his team in the game, keeps his pitch count down and throws more ground ball outs than anything else. His breakdown of results are as follows:

Strikeouts: 16%
Grounders: 40.6%
Fly balls: 27.6%
Line Drives: 15.2%
Walks: .67%

He's given up only 12 homers, so the figures appear to indicate that batters don't square the ball up very often against him. He has received no decisions on three games where he gave up two runs or less and four of his losses came when he gave up two runs or less. That's a bit unlucky too. Sixteen of his 22 starts have been quality starts and he has given up more than four runs only once all year. That's great pitching.

It's funny how some times these great years happen by accident. If the Blue Jays had kept him, if Zambrano hadn't gotten hurt, if he had stayed a catcher, this year wouldn't have happened. That it has is a really cool story.

Here is a Quiz

Nicknames have always been a part of baseball. We have Pee Wee Reese and Babe Ruth as classic examples. For some reason, we don't expect our managers to have nicknames. But they do. Good examples would be Connie Mack and Buck Showalter. Mack's real first name was Cornelius. Buck's real first name is William. How many of you knew that?

So here is the quiz. Name these current major league managers from their real first names (sometimes the middle name is included). One will be really easy. The rest, not so much. The Fan will have the answers tomorrow.

Which current manager is:

  • Johnnie B.
  • Harry Ralston
  • Oswaldo
  • Thomas Brad
  • Wilbur (Wilbur??)
  • Clarence Edwin

This is an open book quiz. Good luck.

Hit Leaders For All Teams

A comment was made on a previous post on how amazing it is that no Yankee has ever had 3000 hits. But the Yankees aren't the only old franchise where that is the case. Fortunately, another blogger saved us all the trouble of finding out the leaders for all teams. Here is the link. Some interesting stuff here.

Let's forget about teams that are fairly recent in origin like the Diamondbacks, Marlins, Bay Rays, Rockies and others. And there are also those that were in the previous round of expansion teams like the Angels and the Padres. But the Padres have Gwynn and the Brewers have Yount and the Royals have Brett, so the Angels should have a guy with 3000 hits, but they don't. Garrett Anderson leads them with 2368. The Mets get special attention as their leader is Ed Kranepool, one of their first players. He had all of 1418 hits. Apparently, Mets' players don't stick around very long.

But those old teams? The Phillies? They have been around since the 1800's. They peak at 2234 (Mike Schmidt). The White Sox? They peak at 2749 (Luke Appling). The Cubs' leader is Ernie Banks with 2583. The Indians' leader, Nap Lajoie had 2046 with Cleveland. Minnesota, which used to be the Washington Senators, came close. Sam Rice had 2889.

So it appears that the Yankees never having a 3000 hit guy isn't that unusual. Their big stars walked a lot. A LOT. That reduced the number of hits they could get in a year and a career. That explains their situation. But those other old teams? Now those are probably examples of teams that just didn't keep guys around for that long. Ever.

It is an interesting list. And this Fan is sure glad that LoHud posted such a fun bit of information

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Tigers Aren't Very Good - And That is Scary

The Tigers lead the Minnesota Twins by five games and the White Sox by six. They are a virtual lock for the division title. And yet they aren't a very good team. They just got swept by the Royals, of all teams and they are 2-11 against the Red Sox and the Yankees. They are only 27-25 in the second half of the season and they project out to win 87 games by season's end. Hardly inspiring. But that makes them scary. Remember the Cardinals in 2006?

The Cardinals won the World Series in 2006 with a team that finished the regular season at 83-78. A big part of the reason is that their pitching got hot in the playoffs and they had a guy named Albert Pujols. The Tigers have a couple of guys in Verlander and Jackson who could be dominant in the playoffs and they have a guy named Miguel Cabrera.

Who knows if history can repeat itself, but seriously, the Tigers aren't a great team. In a fourteen team league, the Tigers are 11th in batting average, 10th in On Base Percentage, 11th in total bases. They have a catcher (who IS good at throwing out runners) who is batting .218 with a 62 OPS+. They have a pretty slick shortstop who has a 61 OPS+. They have a third baseman who can be spectacular at times with the glove, but whose arm is falling off and is batting .231. Aubrey Huff has done nothing since coming over from the Orioles. Ordonez has lost all his power and Granderson is having a bad year getting on base.

The pitching is somewhat of a better story. With Verlander, Porcello and Jackson, the Tigers have two studs and a third guy who is better than league average. In a five game series, that's enough really. In a World Series, it gets a bit dicey after those three. Galarraga can't seem to get it together and Jarrod Washburn isn't really that good. They have a decent enough bullpen by today's standards as long as Zach Minor never gets into another game. Rodney is a bit of a question mark as a closer. His 1.37 WHIP and his 4.7 walks per nine innings are pretty scary. He's not a guy who strikes out a batter an inning either. So he's a bit of a liability overall.

The Tigers are a decent fielding team. They are fifth in the league in defensive efficiency despite being league average for fielding percentage. They are good at throwing out runners as mentioned earlier and they have a very good fielding infield in Inge, Polanco and Everett.

It just doesn't seem like a team that can compete with the likes of the Angels, Yankees and Red Sox. Pitch around Cabrera and the rest of the batters can't hurt you very much. Verlander and Jackson are great, but they don't seem to have killer instincts. But again, if you think back to the Cardinals of 2006, all that becomes pretty scary come time for the post season.

Game Picks - Friday: September 11, 2009

How easy is it for us human beings to put to the back of our minds the pain of the past. This picker did not even realize what day it was until typing the heading for this post. A lot has happened since that event. The President who got us through that crisis has been disgraced as an idiot. This writer just hopes that the web of protection he created to stop future incidents is vigilant. We may have forgotten, but the danger is just as real today as it was then. The Fan lifts his coffee mug and salutes and remembers those good people we lost eight years ago today.

Apologies if that was a bit of a downer for those of you who just wanted to watch the Fan bungle through another day of picks. Thursday was an off day for more than half the teams, but the Fan was slightly above .500 for the games that were played. While correctly picking the Nationals to beat the Phillies, this picker failed to see the Royals sweeping the Tigers. Really? Nor did this picker expect Oswalt to blow up the joint. The Fan did expect the Twins to confound as usual. The Fan hates the Twins. They are impossible to predict. Impossible.

And so it is Friday and we are back to a full slate of games. Let's see what we got here:

  • The Cubs over the Reds: Did you know that Wells is seventh in the NL in ERA+?
  • The Yankees over the Orioles: Burnett was pretty good the last time out. The Yankees really need him to get it together.
  • The Twins over the Athletics: Let's see, the Twins are starting a guy with the improbable name of Manship. That means that they should lose. So then they will win. Golly.
  • The Braves over the Cardinals: Not high on either Lohse or Hudson at this point. But one of them has to win.
  • The Phillies over the Mets: Moyer gets a start. Go old man, go!
  • The Angels over the White Sox: Decent match up of Santana versus Danks. Going with Santana.
  • The Marlins over the Nationals: One of those darned games when anything can happen. Anibal Sanchez can be brilliant or really stinky. The Nationals are starting an unknown named, Estrada.
  • The Pirates over the Astros: Ohlendorf versus Moehler. Moehler will shout: "Ohlie Ohlie in come free!"
  • The Royals over the Indians: The Royals just completed a Royal Flush over the Tigers go out and win their fourth in a row.
  • The Tigers over the Blue Jays: Jackson should be better than Richmond. Are the Tigers the worst playoff team ever? Could be.
  • The Red Sox over the Bay Rays: The Bay Rays always play the Sox tough, but Beckett has to get out of this funk he is in.
  • The Rangers over the Mariners: The Rangers really can't lose any games the rest of the way, can they?
  • The Brewers over the Diamondbacks: Another one of those, "Who knows?" games. Mulvey starts for the Diamondbacks. Who? Bush starts for Milwaukee. Yuck.
  • The Dodgers over the Giants: Padilla keeps showing that nearly any AL pitcher can succeed in the NL.
  • The Rockies over the Padres: Jiminez should blow through this game.

Yesterday: 4-3
Week: 36-32
Month: 76-63

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Game Picks - Thursday: September 10, 2009

We all survived that 9/9/9 thing and lived to tell about it. The funny thing is that this picker had to write a check yesterday and forgot what the date was. Duh! That's almost as bad as the former employee who one day in this picker's office asked him what day Easter fell on that year. Duh! All of which is as funny as the time this picker and his former wife were in the video store. The game picker was looking at movies and picked up Gettysburg. The former wife looked over to see and asked the family's famous question: "Gettysburg? What's that about?" She is a great lady, but that wasn't one of her best moments. Hehe.

After a spectacular Tuesday, Wednesday went right back to mediocrity which is majorly frustrating. It's just baseball and it is beyond picking to know what is going to happen. Since any particular night is like the lottery, the Fan has as much chance at going a perfect 15-0 as he has winning that lottery. And you can try to be scientific, but it's problematic at best to rely on probabilities.

And so, like that old lottery wheel, we will now watch what spills out of that old wheel for Thursday in a light schedule of only seven games:

  • The Twins over the Blue Jays: Because it's just crazy. Pavano helped the Twins win last night. It's frigging rediculous.
  • The Tigers over the Royals: Jarrod Washburn versus Lenny DiNardo, who hasn't pitched in the majors since August 10th of last year.
  • The Rockies over the Reds: Because somebody has to win the game that Contreras and Kip Wells are starting. Golly...
  • The Nationals over the Phillies: Because the Fan is a nut who likes to pick Livan Hernandez.
  • The Marlins over the Mets: Another crap shoot of West versus Parnell. When in doubt, go with the team with more talent.
  • The Astros over the Braves: Because the Astros will score three runs against Lowe while the Braves don't versus Oswalt.
  • The Angels over the Mariners: The darned Angels are going to win the AL West. sigh...

Yesterday: 7-8
Week: 32-29
Month: 72-60

The Vultures

A lot has gone right for the Yankees this year. Okay, that was the understatement of the year. After obtaining Teixeira, Sabathia and Burnett in the off-season, they were the odds-on favorite to win the A. L. East (this writer predicted Boston). But a 91-50 explosion wasn't expected. That is especially so since the starting pitching has been kind of a train-wreck with the exception of Sabathia and Pettitte. Thank goodness the Yankees have the Vultures.

For as long as the Fan has been a fan, he has heard the term, "Vulture," for any relief pitcher who steals a win from a starter. For example, Hoyt Wilhelm, the Hall of Fame knuckleballer, was 15-3 in 71 relief appearances in 1952. That's a vulture. Stealing a win is probably not giving the relief pitcher justice. Sure, some relievers blow saves and then get the win. Now that's a true vulture. But a vulture can also come into a game in long relief when a starter falters or gets hurt or something and then get the win when his team rallies back. To do that, the vulture has to keep the other team at bay so his team can score that comeback victory. The venerable Jamie Moyer has two vulture wins this season by coming in after early rain delays and pitching four or five innings.

But the Yankees lead the league in vulture wins. And it isn't even close. Yankee starters have accounted for 53 of the Yankees' 91 wins. That's only 58%. The relievers have all the rest. The most amazing vultures of the Yankees are the trio of Brian Bruney, Alfredo Aceves and Jonathan Albaladejo. Between those three guys, they have a record of 19-2. Aceves, who has been the clean up man for Joba Chamberlain since the "Rules" have been in place, is 10-1 all by himself.

The funny thing is that Albaladejo and Bruney have been rather un-extraordinary. Both have WHIPs over 1.5 and yet they are a combined 9-1. Aceves has been great and his 1.03 WHIP testifies to that. But still, those three pitchers have a .904 winning percentage. To put that in perspective, that's a few points higher than the 25-3 season that Ron Guidry had in his best year.

Those three guys have 21% of the Yankees' wins. Their 19 wins are one less than the Royals' 2, 3 and 4 starters have in 70 starts! Yup. They are the Vultures. Now you have another reason to hate the Yankees.

And congrats to Derek Jeter for tying Lou Gehrig for the top spot in hits in Yankee history.

Wandy Rodriguez - Obscure Baseball Player

Face it. Since Biggio and Bagwell left, the Astros get little attention these days. Everyone knows about Roy Oswalt as he is a holdover from those days. The same with Lance Berkman as he is the last remaining "Killer Bee." The Astros have muddled around the middle of the pack most of the year, had a little run a month ago and then watched as the Cardinals got Holliday and roared into overdrive. Because of this middle of the pack thing the Astros have going the past few years, few people have noticed that Oswalt isn't even the ace of that staff anymore. Wandy Rodriguez is.

Wandy Rodriguez? And yeah, that's his given name, Wandy. Wandy Fulton Rodriguez. He's a little lefty from the Dominican Republic who has toiled in the National League now for five years. In every one of those years, he has improved his ERA+. This year, his ERA+ is a phenomenal 148 and that was before another sensational game Wednesday night. Another game that saw him get a no decision. That's part of Wandy's problem this year.

His won/loss record is 13-9. While that seems pretty good, it is another reason why wins and losses do not measure a pitcher. According to Baseball Prospectus, his season translates to a 19-10 season (if taken out over the full season). He's not going to finish close to that. Rodriguez has had three bad starts this year where he deserved to lose. So if you subtract those from his 29 starts, you have 26 starts remaining. Of those 26 starts, he has given up two runs or less 20 times. That's pretty amazing. The only trouble is that the Astros lost five of those 20 starts and Rodriguez got a no decision in five others. With any kind of luck, he should have 18 wins right now.

Let's look at some of Wandy Rodriguez's stats for 2009. After Wednesday night's no decision, Wandy has thrown 182.2 innings and has given up only 161 hits. He's struck out 180 batters and has walked 59. That's good for an excellent 3.05/1 strikeout to walk ratio. The amazing thing about Rodriguez is that his strikeouts per nine innings have increased dramatically after his first two years. In those first two years, the rates were 5.6 and 6.5. Since then it's been: 7.8, 8.6 and 8.4. So he has increased his strikeouts while decreasing his walks per nine innings.

And let's not forget that he's a left-hander that happens to pitch in Houston for half of his games in a ball park that has a left field porch that is easily reachable. And yet, his OPS against at home is .600 compared to .777 on the road. He kills lefty batters and they have a .506 OPS against him. But he's not doing shabby against righties either as they are only batting .256 against him. Righties, however, have hit 17 of the 19 homers he's given up this year.

Wandy Rodriguez currently ranks eighth in the National League among starter ERA+. The names ahead of him are guys like Carpenter, Lincecum, Haran, Cain and Wainwright. That's pretty good company for a guy who most people (except for fantasy players) wouldn't even peg as the Astros' best starter.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

On the Nines

With today's date being what it is, it seems logical to play with that a little bit. That's the great thing about having a blog. It's like having your own sandbox. And so here is a little "Nine" play to honor the date.


There are currently fifteen pitchers in the majors with nine wins: Barry Zito, Jarrod Washburn, Chris Volstad, James Shields, Matt Scherzer, Brad Penny, Matt Palmer, John Lackey, David Huff, Rich Harden, Tommy Hanson, Jon Garland, Johnny Cueto, Joe Blanton and Nick Blackburn. But Matt Scherzer is the only one who is a perfect 9-9.

Seven pitchers have hit nine batters this year: Jeff Suppon, Matt Scherzer (hmm...), Kevin Millwood, A. J. Burnett, Tim Wakefield (who has also yielded only nine homers), Jamie Moyer and Ubaldo Jiminez. Wakefield and Moyer's HBP shouldn't count as they don't hurt anyway.

Five pitchers have thrown nine wild pitches: Luke Hochever, Ryan Dempster, Mike McDougal (in only 44 innings), Clayton Kershaw and Tim Lincecum.

Kyle Lohse and Matt Palmer (him again!) have given up exactly 99 hits.


Gerald Laird of the Detroit Tigers has given up nine passed balls. Second in the majors.

Fifteen players have nine errors. And nine is the league average for all players: Ryan Raburn, Mike Lowell, Alberto Gonzalez, Michael Young, Mark DeRosa, Ian Stewart, Kelly Johnson, Casey Blake, Jack Wilson (who had to make two to get there last night), Asdrubal Cabrera, Luis Castillo (including that pop up that cost them the game), Erick Aybar, Miguel Montero, Billy Butler and Albert Pujols.

Jeff Baker, a part time second and third baseman has 99 assists.

Landon Powell, a catcher for the Oakland Athletics, gets a special award. When he's caught games this year, nine base runners have been successful stealing and he's thrown out the other nine.


Ten players have been thrown out nine times when attempting to steal: David Wright, Denard Span, Mark Reynalds, Brandon Phillips, Hunter Pence, Kosuke Fukodome (in 15 attempts!), Dexter Fowler, Jacoby Ellsbury, Emilio Bonafacio and Clint Barmes.

Six players have nine triples: Stephen Drew, Angel Pagan (who knew?), David DeJesus, Jacoby Ellsbury, Dexter Fowler (those two showed up in the last list) and Denard Span (so did he).

Nine players have been hit by pitches nine times: Nyjer Morgan, Fernando Tatis, Willie Harris, Matt Diaz, Milton Bradley, Marlon Byrd, Paul Konerko, Russell Branyon and Carlos Pena (the last of which ended his season). Of these nine, three have also hit into nine double plays: Byrd, Bradley and Morgan.

Corey Hart and Mike Napoli have played in 99 games.

Troy Tulowitzki, Orlando Cabrera and Nick Markakis have all hit nine sacrifice flies.

Eight players have put down nine sacrifice bunts. Only three of them are not pitchers: Denard Span (there's that guy again), Martin Prado and Nick Punto.

Only one player has only nine walks with more than 300 at bats: Delmon Young. He owns this year's distinction as the hardest man in baseball to walk.

Have a great nine nine nine day everybody.

Game Picks - Wednesday: September 9, 2009

Uh oh. Nine Nine Nine. Is such an alignment a good thing or a bad thing? Stay safe out there. Or enjoy something wonderful. Whichever it is, we won't pass this way again for a thousand years and the scores of these games or this game picker won't matter much then. Okay, got that existential moment over with. Now on to the business at hand.

This has been a crazy picking week. The picks have gone from the depths of woe to a glorious high. Yesterday wiped out a bad week completely and zooks, it could have been even better if this picker knew BEFORE the picks that Lincecum wasn't going to pitch. And of course, the Twins continue to mess with the Fan's head. The Royals inexplicably won. And King Felix was done in by two Jack Wilson errors. It's a good thing the Mariners traded for Wilson for his defense. That came in handy.

So we have another full slate of games. Hopefully, today will go as well as yesterday:

  • The Rangers over the Indians: Is Feldman pitching? Check. Is he on the road? Check. Pencil it in.
  • The Cubs over the Pirates: Those poor Pirates. At least McCutchen is in a good battle for Rookie of the Year.
  • The Cardinals over the Brewers: Wainwright looks like a great bet over Suppon.
  • The Padres over the Giants: The Giants are sinking and Zito won't be able to right the ship.
  • The Phillies over the Nationals: Lee has thrown two bad games in a row. Don't think it will be three against the Nationals.
  • The Bay Rays over the Yankees: This Joba thing isn't working out too well.
  • The Blue Jays over the Twins: Halladay versus Pavano. Now there is a contrast eh?
  • The Mets over the Marlins: Have been burned by this Misch guy twice now. Not touching that hot burner again.
  • The Orioles over the Red Sox: With Byrd in hand, got the Orioles in a bush.
  • The Astros over the Braves: Great match up of Wandy versus Hanson. If Wandy hadn't thrown those three bad games in the middle of the season, he'd be a Cy Young candidate.
  • The Tigers over the Royals: Verlander should have an easy time of it.
  • The Athletics over the White Sox: Just because it is fun to pick against the pale hose.
  • The Reds over the Rockies: The Reds hung in there against a good pitcher yesterday and have Arroyo pitching today.
  • The Mariners over the Angels: Probably a stupid pick, but Snell has been winning and that makes people stupid.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Dodgers: Garland versus Haran. Got to go with Haran.

Yesterday: 12-4
Week: 25-21
Month: 65-52

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Game Picks - Tuesday: September 8, 2009

Yikes! Totally forgot about today's game picks. Fortunately, there were no early afternoon games, so there is still time. Sheesh!

Today's picks:

  • The Rangers over the Indians: Rained out yesterday, same match ups today. Same pick.
  • The Cubs over the Pirates: Dempster versus Duke. The Pirates never score any runs for Duke. He's the best pitcher in the NL with a losing record.
  • The Phillies over the Nationals: The Pedro ride continues.
  • The Yankees over the Bay Rays: Yeah, Gaudin is starting. But there is no stopping the inevitable.
  • The Twins over the Blue Jays: Toss up. But had to pick one team over the other, right?
  • The Marlins over the Mets: Pretty sad when Vanden Hurk looks like a better pick than a Mets' pitcher. Redding in particular.
  • The Red Sox over the Orioles: Buckholz over Hernandez. Have you noticed that Ortiz isn't hitting again?
  • The Cardinals over the Brewers: Smoltz is a shaky pick against the Bruisers.
  • The Braves over the Astros: Vazquez should beat Paulino.
  • The Tigers over the Royals: Porcello versus Bruce Chen? Get real.
  • The Athletics over the White Sox: Tomko can't do it again, can he?
  • The Rangers over the Indians: The Rangers in a Laffey.
  • The Rockies over the Reds: The Reds finally lose a game with Maloney starting for them.
  • The Dodgers over the Diamondbcks: Billingsley should beat Buckner.
  • The Mariners over the Angels: Kazmir gets Felix Hernandez. Isn't he lucky?
  • The Giants over the Padres: Lincecum hasn't won for a while. He's due.

Yesterday: 8-7
Week: 13-17
Month: 53-48

Jason Kubel - Obscure Baseball Player

Those wacky Twins of Minnesota have been alternatively flirting with contending and disaster all season long. Trust this Fan on that one as trying to figure out in the nightly game picks what they are going to do has been impossible. If you asked one hundred casual baseball fans (who don't play fantasy baseball) to name a few of the Twins' players, they would all come up with Joe Mauer, this year's MVP (anyone else would be stupid), Justin Morneau (the perennial all star first baseman), probably Joe Nathan and maybe Cuddyer because he has been there forever. But Mauer and Morneau have a third musketeer in that lineup. His name is Jason Kubel.

The Twins are rarely on national television. So people aren't as familiar with their every day players like they are with the Yankee or Red Sox players. Kubel has never made an all star team and as far as this Fan has seen, he rarely if ever makes it to a national news media outlet either. But the some time outfielder and nearly full time DH is fourth in the American League in OPS+ with 145 and happens to be ahead of Morneau (who is fifth). That's pretty heady stuff for a guy who doesn't get a lot of notice.

Just like all the obscure players in this mini-series, we have to do the obligatory check of Wiki to see who the guy is. From his page, we know that he is 27 and bats left and throws right. He was born in South Dakota of all places and was drafted by the Twins in the 12th round during the 2000 draft. The 12th round! His Wiki page (here) tells us his nickname is, "Wolfman." It also tells us that he did well in his cup of coffee in 2004 but hurt his knee and missed all of 2005. For the rest of what Wiki tells us, you'll have to look him up as there is no sense in plagiarizing for the sake of a longer post.

His stats show us that he is getting better and better every year at the plate. His OPS+ numbers have improved every year since he came back from his lost year: 72, 109, 118 and his current 145. The biggest improvement at the plate this year has been his walk total. He has been much more patient and already has more walks than last year with a month to go. After batting .272 and .273 the last two years with identical .335 OBP tallies, his line this year is a spiffy: .306/.380/.537. His splits indicate that he doesn't fare well against lefties as his .672 OPS against them testifies. As such, he does get pulled in the lineup when lefties start for the other teams. But against righties, he hits them all, whether they are fastball pitchers or junk ballers.

The splits also indicate that most of his homers have been to centerfield, which is pretty impressive since he has hit 22 of them and 13 of those have gone to centerfield. He is also very impressive when he leads off an inning, which is interesting.

Kubel is a liability in the field. His RTOT scores are terrible out there. But the caveat is that he seems to hit better when he is in the field rather than as a DH. His OPS as a DH is .200 points lower as a DH than when he is in the field. His Wiki page said Kubel has a strong arm and we'll have to take their word for it. He doesn't have a large amount of assists despite that fact.

Jason Kubel seems to be coming into his own as a hitter and he is approaching what should be his peak years. Along with Mauer and Morneau, any starting pitcher has a tough task getting through the middle of the Twins' lineup. And when the pitcher gets past Morneau, Kubel is no small consolation prize. And that's the way it should be for a few years to come.

The Brewers' Walk Off Celebration

There is much to do going on about the Brewers' celebration the other day after Prince Fielder hit a walk off homer in the 12th inning against the Giants. In what had to be a planned celebration, Fielder jumped on home plate (much like everyone is doing now) and all of his teammates (including old guys like Jason Kendell and Trevor Hoffman) fell down from the shock wave. Guys around baseball such as Torii Hunter and others have condemned the display as did the guys on MLB-TV's highlight show. This Fan's opinion is that Hunter and others should just lighten up a bit.

For Pete's sake, why is there always such a conservative backlash against entertaining celebrations? Owens in football has more fines and penalties from celebrations in the end zone than he has teams played for. It's fun, for crying out loud. Look, if it shows up the other team, the other team can take care of business the next time the teams meet.

And why should it show up the other team? They lost, right? The loss is already being showed up, isn't it? The Brewers have had a disappointing season. Picked to contend, they have fallen in the standings and south of the .500 mark. Yet their fans have continued to show up in nice fat numbers. Why not give them a thrill? Why is it bad for them to be entertained? Why is it a crime for the Brewers to express themselves in a silly and fun way? The game was over. The Fan can see it being a problem if the game wasn't over. But it was over. And it was over in dramatic fashion. They were happy. It was team building. It was fun.

The Fan is tired of people who take life way too seriously. We only pass this way once folks (unless the far eastern religions are right). Why not have a little fun and just smile when other people have fun. It's just a stinking game.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Game Picks - Monday: September 7, 2009

So this game picker decided to take a day off on Sunday. A true day off and the first one in many, many months. After all, it is Labor Day weekend, right? So like any good former Catholic, this picker paid for his transgression as the picks went way south. Way...way south.

But life is all about balancing the scales. If one has to measure a day of much needed rest versus a day of really, really bad picks, then the scales would probably even out. The Fan will take the penance and face the hole that has been dug and climb slowly out of it, correct pick by correct pick.

Here is what Labor Day looks like:

  • The Cubs over the Pirates: Lilly versus McCutchen. No, not the centerfielder, another McCutchen.
  • The Yankees over the Bay Rays: Now that the Yankees have taken a few days off (it must be nice to just rest your players with that big a lead), Sabathia gets back to business in shutting down the Bay Rays.
  • The Twins over the Blue Jays: Trying opposite psychology. The Twin lose when they should win and vice versa. With Manship pitching, they should lose. But they'll win.
  • The Phillies over the Astros: Happ continues to try to seal Rookie of the Year.
  • The Cardinals over the Brewers: Carpenter is simply amazing.
  • The Red Sox over the White Sox: The Red Sox have almost settled the wild card race.
  • The Angels over the Royals: The Angels have now won 2000 straight games against the Royals in a row.
  • The Reds over the Rockies: The Reds are the hottest team in baseball for some reason.
  • The Dodgers over the Diamondbacks: Keep waiting for Padilla to get real. But not yet.
  • The Padres over the Giants: Richard will keep making the White Sox look stupid for trading him.
  • The Rangers over the Indians: Carrasco is supposed to be the next big thing. But so was Sowers, remember?
  • The Yankees over the Bay Rays: Second game of the twi-night thingamabob. Same results as the first.

Yesterday: 5-10
Week: 5-10
Month: 45-41

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Game Picks - Sunday: September 6, 2009

If all the games had been played during the day, this picker would have been fine. 5-1 during the day games, the final tally limped in at 8-7. Blah.

But Sunday is another day and the sun is shining so with a sunny attitude, here are today's picks:

  • The Twins over the Indians: Holy cow, a Twins pick went right yesterday!
  • The Yankees over the Blue Jays: The Yankees win despite Mitre.
  • The Cubs over the Mets: The Cubs nearly always win when Wells is pitching.
  • The Cardinals over the Pirates: Pineiro should beat Maholm.
  • The Marlins over the Nats: Tough game because Sanchez does build much for confidence.
  • The Reds over the Braves: The Reds have won a bunch in a row and Cueto looked great last time.
  • The Rangers over the Orioles: The Rangers win despite a Holland start.
  • The Tigers over the Bay Rays: Jackson should win this game despite a start by the next big thing for the Bay Rays: Wade Davis.
  • The Phillies over the Astros: Hamels rights the ship.
  • The Brewers over the Giants: Patient teams like the Brewers will allow Sanchez to walk people.
  • The Red Sox over the White Sox: Lester rights this ship.
  • The Royals over the Angels: Because this picker never picks Saunders.
  • The Rockies over the Diamondbacks: De La Rosa gets strikes for every syllable.
  • The Mariners over the A's: Fister wins again.
  • The Dodgers over the Padres: At what point do we start worrying about the Dodgers' offense?

Yesterday: 8-7
Week: 51-47
Month: 40-31