Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Pirates Bust Out

The Pittsburgh Pirates have scored 124 runs this season in 35 games or roughly 3.54 runs per game. Meanwhile, they have given up 217 runs or 6.2 runs a game. For those of you keeping score, that's a run differential of -93. That gives the Pirates a Pythagorean won-loss record of 9-26. But they are 15-20, which is remarkable considering their run differential. But they had fallen on hard times this week as they were shut out two games in a row and had scored one run in three games heading into Friday's game with the Cubs. It didn't look good for the Pirates.

But the Pirates have a secret weapon. They are 4-0 against the Cubs this year. And they did something this Fan has never recalled seeing. They had consecutive guys in their line up each get five hits in the game. How about these two lines for the night:

  • Andrew McCutchen: 5 5 5 2 1 0 with a homer, a double, a walk and a stolen base.
  • Garrett Jones: 6 2 5 5 0 1 with a homer and a double.

Let's see Braun and Fielder top THAT in the three/four hole in the line up! McCutchen in one game raised his batting average 26 points and his OPS 68 points. Garrett Jones raised his average 29 points and his OPS 72 points.

Though the Fan has never recalled back to back hitters collecting ten hits in a game, according to Baseball Musings, two guys on the same team have had five-hit games 21 times since 1957. The last time it was done was last year by the Texas Rangers when Ian Kinsler and Marlon Byrd had 11 hits between them on April 15 (the Fan has a short memory apparently). But Kinsler batted first and Byrd sixth. Ironically, Byrd participated in Friday night's game as the centerfielder for the Cubs.

Keep in mind that the Pirates have a -93 run differential this season. But against the Cubs, they have scored 28 runs and have given up 11. So against everyone else, the Pirates have a run differential of -110 but against the Cubs, they have a run differential of +17! The win also vaulted the Pirates over the Cubs in the standings so now the Pirates are in fourth in their division and the Cubs with their payroll, are in fifth. It's time for Piniella and Hendry to go, no?

Game Picks - Saturday: May 15, 2010

Oh man! That was an unbelievable night. The Rangers scored eight runs in the first three innings and lost. Guthrie, of all people, goes out and throws a gem. Alex Rodriguez, who has been somewhat silent at the plate, hits a big homer. The Cubs stupidity in the Zambrano-to-the-bullpen atrocity blew up in their faces. Gil (ga) Meche pitches like pre-Hillman after post-Hillman. Ortiz lasted only four innings for the Dodgers and they still won the game. Buehrle can't buy a win. And the Diamondbacks blew yet another save. It was just bloody awful. Unless you root for all those other teams that won, that is. In probably a bit of mercy, the Game of the Day was rained out.

So what's a Fan to do? Keep picking it seems:

  • The Cubs over the Pirates: Dempster is a solid starter. The Pirates won their game of the week.
  • The Yankees over the Twins: First, Pettitte is pitching against a predominantly lefty lineup. Second, he's really mad he was skipped a turn. Lastly, the Yankees are a different team at home.
  • The Rangers over the Blue Jays: Have to go with main man, Feldman, even though he isn't yet pitching like last year.
  • The Giants over the Astros: Lincecum should have no trouble with the sleepy Astros' line up even with Oswalt pitching for Houston.
  • The Phillies over the Brewers: Just like last year, the Phillies are much better on the road this year. Weird.
  • The Bay Rays over the Mariners: The Rays are in a bit of a funk, but Shields should beat Vargas.
  • The Orioles over the Indians: If the Indians can't beat Guthrie, they shouldn't beat Matusz.
  • The Red Sox over the Tigers: The Red Sox are starting to roll. Plus they get Willis today.
  • The Reds over the Cardinals: It seems folly to pick against Wainwright and the Cardinals (and it probably is), but Leake will keep them pounding things into the ground all day.
  • The Marlins over the Mets: Nate Robertson is really liking the National League.
  • The Braves over the Diamondbacks: The D-backs have to be a demoralized group at this point.
  • The White Sox over the Royals: Peavy has been outstanding his last few outings. Should be enough over Hochever.
  • The Nationals over the Rockies: Really liking this Atilana kid, especially facing Hammel.
  • The Padres over the Dodgers: Corriea wins one for his brother.
  • The Athletics over the Angels: Duchscherer has to be on his game though.


  • The Rockies over the Nationals: Same as yesterday: Ubaldo Jiminez over Livan Hernandez.

Yesterday: 6-8
Week: 39-35
Month: 96-89
Season: 296-214
Games of the Day: 13-15

Friday, May 14, 2010

Game Picks - Friday: May 14, 2010

Stuck in the middle in May. This is frustrating. Eight picks, four wins. Carpenter, Sabathia, King Felix and Chacin lost. Huh? Ryan Zimmerman single-handedly sunk Chacin with two homers accounting for five runs. Zim had six ribbies all together. The man is hot, hot HOT! Don't have any clue what is wrong with Felix Hernandez. He's just not the same this year. Sabathia's loss is a little more understandable. He pitched okay, but he was up against Verlander, who finally put it together. But Carpenter losing to Norris and the Astros? What's happened to the Cardinals' offense? Pujols hasn't been Pujols and nobody else is hitting either. And those Nationals just keep on winning even though they can't get their starter out of the fifth inning.

Worse yet is the Game of the Day feature. You have to understand that the game selected is what the Fan considers a sure thing. It's been streaky as can be. There was a five game losing streak. Then a five game winning streak. Now it's another five game losing streak. What is the Fan, the Royals?

Oh man. What's to do? Pick another day's games, that's what:

  • The Cubs over the Pirates: The Pirates are due for a win but they haven't scored in May it seems. Gorzelanny versus Burres. Ugly.
  • The Indians over the Orioles: Masterson versus Guthrie. Guthrie stays in the majors by feasting off of teams like the Indians. But Masterson's peripheral stats shout that he is bound to come up dominant some time.
  • The Red Sox over the Tigers: Buchholz versus Scherzer in a match up of two struggling youngsters. Think Buchholz will be better.
  • The Twins over the Yankees: The Yankees are reeling a bit and Liriano will put them further in their funk. Burnett goes for the Yankees.
  • The Rangers over the Blue Jays: Just think Harden will do better than Cecil. The Rangers are on a roll too...sort of.
  • The Marlins over the Mets: The Mets are 4-9 on the road. That won't get any better with Perez starting today.
  • The Cardinals over the Reds: Just a feeling that the Cards will dump their batting frustration out on Harang today. Garcia goes for the Cards. Another bonus point.
  • The Mariners over the Bay Rays: This pick seems crazy, but Fister has been really good and the Bay Rays aren't as dominant at home as they are on the road.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Braves: Ian Kennedy has pitched very well of late and the Braves just don't win when Kawakami starts
  • The Phillies over the Brewers: Not real keen on Jamie Moyer repeating his success, but not real keen on the Brewers without Braun even if Wolf is starting.
  • The White Sox over the Royals: Buehrle versus Meche. Meche is reason all by himself on why Hillman had to go.
  • The Padres over the Dodgers: Garland has been crazy great so far. The Dodgers are starting Ortiz. Ewww...
  • The Athletics over the Angels: It's more Braden theatre and Saunders goes for the Angels.
  • The Giants over the Astros: Like Wellemeyer's chances over Paulino. But the Astros just swept the Cardinals, so hmm...


  • The Rockies over the Nationals: Okay...haven't picked against Livan all year. But tonight he faces Ubaldo.

Yesterday: 4-4
Week: 33-27
Month: 90-81
Season: 290-208
Games of the Day: 13-15 grrrr

Time to Raise the Mounds Again?

In the past couple of weeks we've seen a perfect game, and two one-hitters. Doesn't it seem like there have been more good pitching performances than usual? Nobody outside if Konerko is really hitting a lot of homers. Is pitching back? It's early yet and a part of a year doesn't tell a tale that won't really be finished until October, but the numbers do suggest that pitching is stronger this year than in a long time. Or, the hitters are not hitting as well. What do the numbers show?

The Fan is glad you asked:

In 2010:

  • Runs per game (4.5) are down to their lowest levels since 1992.
  • Hits per game (8.72) are down to their lowest levels since 1992.
  • Home runs per nine innings is under 1.00 for the first time since 1993.
  • Batting averages (.256) are at their lowest point since 1992.
  • Strike outs are at an all time high (7.08).
  • On Base Percentage is at its lowest since 2002.
  • Slugging percentage is at its lowest point since 1993.
  • OPS is at its lowest since (you guessed it) 1992.

Now it's sure as shooting that a lot of people will say that these numbers reflect a new game after the game was cleaned up from PEDs. But that is saying that pitchers didn't take PEDs like hitters did. Mr. Pettitte, Mr. Clemens and others will beg to differ. A lack of PEDs would be the easiest answer, but there are two points about that. First, how do we know that nobody is using? We don't. Second, if 80% of the league was using and logic dictates that the users would be equal between pitchers and batters, shouldn't they level themselves out? Believe what you want, but this Fan doesn't think that's the answer.

Possible factors could include:

  • The trend of teams going with cheaper young players versus older but marginal experienced players.
  • Better leveraging of data on hitting tendencies employed by teams who now regularly hire sabermatricians.
  • The blind eye to high strikeout levels by batters putting less balls in play.
  • Less aggressiveness at the plate as teams focus on On Base Percentage and lengthening at bats.
  • The loss of the high strike which means that a hanging breaking ball is taken for a ball instead of hit for a homer.
  • The revolution of the cut fastball. It seems everyone is throwing one now.
  • Better grooming of young pitchers and Joba-like rules for them.
  • Increased focus on defense.
  • A combination of all of the above?

The Fan isn't a great math guy and proving any of the theories above would take an extraordinary amount of work. But the main fact is that offenses aren't what they used to be or pitchers are better than they used to be. Or maybe Bud Selig has secretly inserted deader baseballs to prove he's cleaned up the game. Who knows. Only one fifth of the season has been completed and a lot can change between now and the end of the season. Perhaps as the weather heats up, so will the offenses. The Fan will keep checking from time to time to see how it all plays out. And if any great sabermatic articles appear that shed any light on the topic, the Fan will pass them on your way.

We Won't Have Trey Hillman to Kick Around Anymore

Nothing was more obvious in baseball than the need for Trey Hillman to lose his job. That's a sad and inhumane statement. But that's the job he signed on for. This particular writer is very sensitive to people losing their jobs because this writer knows what it feels like. But really, this had to happen. Hillman just seemed to have this perfect knack for making the wrong choice in nearly every game he managed.

Hillman seems very well respected by his players and his bosses. Tributes to him were given by Brian Bannister among others. That shows Hillman is a first class guy. There is no doubting that he is. From all accounts, he gave 100% every day and to every game. He never mistreated his players or disrespected them. From the outset it was clear that he is good with ballplayers and a good man. But the results weren't there. And that's the bottom line.

It's also clear that Dayton Moore, the Royals' general manager adored the guy. He was a basket case in his press conference Thursday. He was obviously distraught. But Moore is also aware of the bottom line and the weight of failure was just too much to keep the blade from coming down on Hillman's tough neck.

Clearly, either Hillman was unfailingly unlucky or he just misjudged things all the time. This space has at least a half a dozen tirades about moves Hillman made this year and last. Other writers (much better than this one) like Posnanski and Rany had much longer lists and much more pointed diatribes.

Everything Hillman did worked out wrong. It was uncanny. He didn't bring Soria in when he should and the Royals would lose. Or he would bring him in one out too late or one out too early and the Royals would lose. He would bunt in the worst circumstances. It was surreal at times. If it was bad luck, then that needed to be exorcised. If it was simply bad judgement, then the source of that judgement had to go.

But also make no mistake here. Hillman is just a small piece of the blame here. He didn't bring in Guillen or Mike Jacobs or Farnsworth or Rick Ankiel or the dozens of other roster moves that made little sense. It wasn't Hillman that preached On Base Percentage and then went out and hired players who had a history of not getting on base. Hillman paid the price of those bad personnel decisions because his players could never overcome his bad decisions. Lots of managers make mistakes, but a lot of times, their teams bail them out of those mistakes because they are good enough to. Hillman never had that luxury.

Dayton Moore seems to be excellent at developing young players and the Royals are in much better shape than say the Astros because their minor leagues are stacked with talent. But Moore seems utterly terrible at rounding out his roster with players that can give the team a chance to win. If Moore really liked Hillman that much, he should have shared the blame because there is plenty to go around.

And while the Fan is at it, Ned Yost? Oh please. That's the best you could do? Ned Yost? Man. Valentine is out there. All kinds of better choices are out there than Ned Yost. The Fan wouldn't even want to be led by a guy named Ned. So let's see, their last two managers were a Trey and a Ned. The Fan knows you think this is crazy, but there is power in a name. Torre. LaRussa. Valentine. Strong names. Maybe it's because they are Italian. But names give heft to a person. Ned? Trey? Come on. Next thing you know, they will hire a manager named Dayton.

Update: Told you.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Phenom Report Card

This has been the year of the phenom so far as several teams have their top prospects on the 25 man rosters. It's been exciting to watch in most cases and a bit disappointing in others. And Strasburg hasn't even arrived yet. He threw six no-hit innings yesterday so perhaps it's just a matter of time now. Mid-May seems a good time to get a report card of how these new hopes are doing. Hopefully, the Fan won't leave any out.

Jason Heyward: Heyward continues to impress and despite a muscle problem in his leg that kept him out a while, he is among the league leaders in Runs Batted In and Runs Scored. His .431 OBP, 1.044 OPS and 177 OPS+ are all big numbers. As a left-handed batter, he is holding his own against left-handed pitching with a .917 OPS and a .400 OBP. His fielding has been just south of league average in right field, but that should improve as he gets more comfortable. No assists yet in the outfield. Heyward was batting most of the year in the sixth position in the batting order. But the last two games has featured him batting third and he's responded really well to that with two great games. Heyward has certainly lived up to the hype. Grade A+

Starlin Castro: Hey, it's only been six games so far. Hardly fair to give a report card on such a small sample size. But the bottom line here is that he's been Sterling Starlin at the plate and Starvin' Starlin in the field. You can't ask for more at the dish as Castro has shown that he can hit major league pitching. He currently sports a nifty 167 OPS+ and most impressively, he's only struck out twice. He's got a triple, a homer and a double among his eight hits. Defensively, he's really struggled. His five errors in six games are alarming and already that total is the fifth highest error total in the league. He made 39 errors in the minors last year in only 119 games so his defense is a work in progress, to put it at its most kind. Grade B+

Mike Leake: Who needs the minor leagues? Last year, Leake was pitching college ball. This year, he's 3-0 with the Reds with a 3.10 ERA. He's pitched very well with a WHIP thus far of 1.205. He's given up only three homers which is the fewest among the Reds' starters plus he is batting over .300. Not a bad start for the young guy. There are a few areas of concern. He's been a bit lucky so far with a .257 BABIP and his walk rate is a bit high at 3.8 per 9. His K/BB ratio is at 1.65 and you'd like to see that over 2 in time. He's off to a great start, but those latter numbers bear watching. I has to be exciting though for Reds' fans with Leake, Bailey and Cueto all being 24 years of age or younger and Aroldis Chapman on the way. Grade B+

Cleveland's Young Pitching Rotation: Huff (25), Masterson (25), Carmona (26) and Talbot (26) are not really young enough to be phenoms but they are still all young. Carmona and Talbot have had success in the wins column and both have walked more than they have struck out. That's a bit worrisome. Talbot has thrown two stinkers in a row. Huff hasn't shown last year's success, but he's been better of late. He pitches to contact and how he does is totally dependent on his BABIP rate. The one mystery has been Masterson. He seems to have an uncanny ability to have his contacts falling in for hits. His strikeouts per nine and his K/BB ratio are out of this world though. So he still has a world of promise. He just needs to find a way for the balls put in play to find their way into somebody's mitt. Grade C

Jhoulys Chacin: Two starts don't make a career, but man is he off to a great start. No homers allowed, a 3.2 K/BB ratio, 16 Ks in 15.1 innings all add up to overpowering. When De La Rosa comes off the disabled list, there is no way in the world this guy should go back to the minors. He's not going to maintain a WHIP of 0.783 all year, but he's been awesome so far. Grade A+

Austin Jackson: Everybody keeps waiting for him to come back to earth, but it is mid-May and he's still batting .354 with an OPS+ of 137. His 27 runs scored and his 51 hits lead the American League but so does his 42 strikeouts. He's 2 for his last 12 at bats so he's having his first rough patch of the season. His BABIP is what most people cite as their problem with his performance thus far and they are right as it is an obscene .495. There is no way he can maintain that. Jackson's fielding stats are below league average so far. After watching a few of his games, he looks smooth enough out there and gets to balls quickly. But the numbers don't add up to what the eyes are seeing. Grade A

Ike Davis: The Mets have been a different team since Davis arrived on the scene. The numbers he has put up thus far have been steady if not spectacular. His .405 OBP and his 136 OPS+ are certainly impressive enough. He has struck out 19 times in 21 games, but that is part of his MO, so as long as he produces, the K's are tolerated. His BABIP is a bit high at .354 suggesting he will come down a bit in average, but not alarmingly so. He's not hitting well in high leverage situations which needs to be improved upon. As far as his fielding, he's not elite, but he's made three great plays and he's a darn sight improvement over Tatis, Jacobs or Murphy. Grade B+

Kyle Blanks: Killer Kyle has not gotten untracked yet for the Padres. As well as they are playing, if he can get going, how good can they be? His OBP of .311 is fairly impressive for a guy batting .180, but it's hard to ignore that 180 after 106 at bats. He's struck out 41 times in 28 games and really needs to have some of his other counting stats justify that Mark Reynolds-like whiff total. His fielding in left has been okay which is all you can ask of a left fielder. Blanks needs to stop shooting blanks and soon. Grade D

Matt Latos: Matt Latos has pitched far better than his 2-3 record indicates. His K/BB ratio is great. His WHIP is 1.194 which leads all Padres' starters. His problem thus far has been homers as he has given up seven so far. But over all, you can't ask much more from a 22 year old starter. Grade A.

David Freese: Can you call Freese a phenom when he is 27 years old? Maybe. He was drafted only four years ago and is a solid part of the Cardinals' line up. All his numbers are above average including his .321 average and .400 OBP. He doesn't strike out at an alarming rate and his 22 RBIs are impressive indeed. As you could expect from all those runs driven in, he's batting really, really well in high leverage situations with a 1.081 OPS in those instances. That's terrific. As a right handed batter, he kills lefty pitching and is just okay against righties. His BABIP is slightly elevated at .386 so he could come down a bit in average over the long haul. His fielding has been solid at third. No problems there. Grade A.

Wade Davis: David came up last year so he might be a year beyond phenom-dom. But at 24 and a former top prospect, the Fan will include him in this list. It's hard to fault anything Davis has done in his six starts this year. His 3.12 ERA is solid. He's only given up three homers in 34 innings which is excellent. His 7.1 hits per nine innings is also excellent. The only thing holding Davis back is his control. His 4.8 walks per nine is too high and leads to an early high pitch count which gets him out of games far too soon. He's averaging just over five innings per start thus far as a result. But still, if this is the fifth guy in your rotation, that's pretty sweet stuff. Grade B.

Justin Smoak: Just a few weeks into his rookie campaign, it would be easy to dwell on Smoak's .194 batting average after 19 games. But the feeling here is that he's been on the unlucky side. His batting average on ground balls, for example is .000. That won't continue. He's shown great discipline at the plate with 12 walks in 19 games and only 11 strikeouts. He's already hit four homers and his OPS+ is over league average despite his average. His fielding at first has been excellent thus far too. Mr. Smoak will be just fine. Just give him some time and watch him fly. Grade B-

Travis Snider: Snider is only 22 and has already playing in his third season for the Blue Jays. This is the first time though where he is playing every day and his numbers are encouraging despite an early .232 batting average. His 112 OPS+ is already above league average and is simply going to go up as the year goes along. His strikeout rate (while a bit high) is lower than last year. His walk rate is higher and his .267 BABIP indicates he hasn't been lucky to this point. Snider had an awful April but his OPS has been 1.054 in May. Mark the Fan's words, Snider is going to be great. He'll never be great in the field. But there are worse right fielders... Grade B

Did the Fan leave anyone out? These guys above have been tremendously fun to watch and as the season progresses, it will be super interesting to see how these players develop.

Game Picks - Thursday: May 13, 2010

The muddling of May continues as this picker can't seem to get rolling this month. Yesterday featured a multitude of games, thanks in part to rain outs on Tuesday. At least the day ended up a couple of games over the .500 mark but that is hardly consolation as the Game of the Day was wrong for the third day in a row. That feature is now in the hole, which is pretty remarkable in itself as those picks are considered by this picker to be mortal locks. Once again, this picker picked the Royals to win. Why? Greinke is pitching today so he'll probably do it again. The second game of the Phillies - Rockies game was rained out. The make up of that game has not yet been determined.

Thursday has a pretty good slate of games. So it's a fresh new chance to get a roll started:

  • The Yankees over the Tigers: A good one here as Sabathia goes against Verlander. Should be a fun game to watch whatever happens.
  • The Mariners over the Orioles: King Felix has been a bit of a mystery so far. But he should beat Millwood and the Orioles.
  • The Cardinals over the Astros: This picker looked pretty good picking the Astros yesterday. But the combination of Carpenter pitching for the Cardinals and Norris pitching for the Astros means the Astros have no shot today.
  • The Rangers over the Athletics: The Rangers are gellin' on offense as Hamilton is hitting and Smoak hit a homer yesterday. Cruz will be back soon too.
  • The Royals over the Indians: [sigh] Why does the Fan do this? Greinke has to get a win the way he's pitching.
  • The Padres over the Giants: The Padres are remarkable and it's been a lot of fun seeing them put this start together. The Giants are right on their heels though.
  • The Marlins over the Mets: Santana versus Josh Johnson. Could be a good pitching duel or the Marlins could get to Santana early.


  • The Rockies over the Nationals: Chacin has been lights out in his two starts thus far.

Yesterday: 9-7
Week: 29-24
Month: 86-77
Season: 286-204
Games of the Day: 13-14

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Game Picks - Wednesday: May 12, 2010

Another May day, another stab at mediocrity. Man. This is like the sky being grey for twelve straight days. Can't we sing, "Blue sky, shining on me. Nothing but blue sky..." This picker needs a shining moment. A breakthrough. A powerful dead-on day to restore the juices and put some zest into these morning picks. Come on, Fan! You can do it! Think! Concentrate!

Okay, Coach. I'm ready. Put me in there. [running hard to the position]:

  • The Yankees over the Tigers: Hughes versus Porcello. This pick is as much the pick of a Fan as it is the pick for a guy with a 4-0, sub 2.00 ERA.
  • The Yankees over the Tigers: This is as much a pick for Vazquez to put away his Yankee demons as it is about Bonderman being a pretty sucky pitcher.
  • The Reds over the Pirates: The Pirates have scored one run and had four total hits in their last two games. Can you say, "Team Slump." Team Slump. Yes.
  • The Mets over the Nationals: The Fan would have bats in his Pelfrey if he didn't pick the Mets in this game.
  • The Brewers over the Braves: Heyward batting third makes the Braves a very different team. But Gallardo is pitching for the Brewers.
  • The Twins over the White Sox: The Fan has picked Pavano and Livan to win about six straight times. Insane.
  • The Red Sox over the Blue Jays: The Fan's delirious hope that the Blue Jays could finish in the standings above the Red Sox was just smoke in the mist.
  • The Cubs over the Marlins: The Fan just hates these games. The Marlins are all over the map with pitchers who could twirl no-hitters or twelve-hitters just as easily against a Cubs team that should fire Hendry and Piniella and features a starter like Carlos Silva. Games like this just kill a guy.
  • The Phillies over the Rockies: Same pick as yesterday's rained out game. Except now Halladay has an extra day's rest.
  • The Bay Rays over the Angels: This pick only works if Price doesn't let the Angels' batters just stand there and get walks. Weaver has been really good, so beware.
  • The Orioles over the Mariners: Bergesen has had two good starts in a row. Rowland-Smith has never had two good starts.
  • The Rangers over the Athletics: Putting this game's fate in the hands of Mr. Holland's Opus.
  • The Royals over the Indians: Suddenly Davies has two good starts in a row. Plus, the Royals have to win at least one game a week, no?
  • The Astros over the Cardinals: Has the Fan lost his mind? No. But Wandy is a better pitcher right now than Lohse.
  • The Rockies over the Phillies: It suddenly occurred that when picking these day night double headers to make up rain outs, the Fan could always predict a split without mentioning the pitchers. That way, if the teams split the double header, both picks would automatically be right because you wouldn't know the difference. Too bad the Fan wasn't sleazy. Sigh. Moyer will lose after his feel-good last outing.
  • The Dodgers over the Diamondbacks: The Dodgers are starting to mash now that Manny is back.


  • The Giants over the Padres: Think Cain will be better than Richard.

Yesterday: 6-7
Week: 20-17 blah blah BLAH!
Month: 77-70 ditto
Season: 277-197
Games of the Day: 13-13

Who Is That?

Every year another season comes in Major League Baseball. Well...that was profound...Anyway, another season brings another set of 25 major leaguers for each of 30 teams. Of course, many of those players are the same as last year. But the shake up of players on 25 man rosters is pretty continuous and after over 40 years of box score watching, a lot of those names get lost in the mix. Quite frequently, the Fan is looking at a box score and says (usually audibly), "Who is that?" So tonight, the Fan decided to see who those anonymous guys are. Looks like you are coming along for the ride.

Boone Logan: Who? How is it that this guy has pitched 172 times over the course of five years and the Fan never heard of him until just recently? He was a 2oth round draft pick in the 2002 draft out of high school in San Antonio, Texas and he's a lefty. In those 172 appearances, he's only pitched 133 innings, which qualifies him as a LOOGY. At 25 years of age, he's probably one of the youngest LOOGYs around. He hasn't been particularly effective with a career ERA+ of 81. In fact, this year with the Yankees is his only appearance on the plus side of that statistic. But don't get overwhelmed by that, his WHIP this year is over 2 and he's walked six guys in just 5.1 innings of work. So now we both know who Boone Logan is.

Oh! Just a digression for a minute. Did any of you watch the Tigers - Yankees Monday night? Did you see the way Gerald Laird threw back to the pitcher? It looks like he has a yip and has to double clutch to throw the ball back to the pitcher. Did anyone notice that?

Paul Janish: Who? Was looking at the Reds' box score the other day and saw this Janish guy and couldn't remember ever seeing his name before. He's in his third year as the Reds' utility infielder. He's playing well this year in 22 plate appearances, he's batting .300 with a .964 OPS. But looking at his previous stats, that's probably kind of fluky as he has a career line in 400+ at bats of .211/.294/.311. That's not very pretty. He's a 28 year old, drafted in the fifth round of the 2004 amateur draft. One thing his stats do show is that he's an excellent shortstop with great range with a runs-over-replacement-player sitting at 13 in just 82 games. He's another Texas kid from Cyress Creek. Now you know.

Nate Schierholtz: The Fan had actually heard of this player before but didn't know much about him. Actually, the interest stems from his last name. But his Wiki page doesn't give any indication that he's any relation to the baseball executive. Anyway, this Giants' player has played parts of four seasons with the San Francisco team, but he's still in the "prospect" category. That ship might be arriving this year as he is batting .351 with a .949 OPS in 74 at bats. It doesn't look like he gets to play much against lefty pitchers which doesn't seem to match his success rate against them. His OPS against lefties is 1.001 for his career. His OPS against righties is .697. Strange. Schierholtz is 26 and was born in Reno, Nevada but played high school ball in California at the same school as Randy Winn. From the looks of things, the Giants should just put in in the line up every day and let him hit. And, he's a good right fielder with a good arm. He had ten assists last year in limited duty.

Everth Cabrera: Who? Let's unearth Everth. He's a shortstop for the Padres, which doesn't exactly help him become a household name. This is his second season. He played in 103 games for the Padres last year and came in just below league average in OPS+ (98). It looks like he has good plate awareness with 46 walks in 103 games. He has little power but did hit 8 triples and stole 25 bases, so he's fast. He was born in Nicaragua and is only 24 years old. He hasn't hit much at all this year but was slowed down by a hamstring injury. He made 23 errors last year which wasn't good and his range at short is just above league average. Never heard of him until recently.

Rusty Ryal: The Fan's baseball skills must be rusty as this guy's name has never passed this writer's consciousness. Who the heck is Rusty Ryal? He is listed as the Diamondbacks' utility player and he's 27 years old from Oklahoma. He's a former 14th round draft pick so he's already beaten some tough odds. This is his second year and 97 plate appearances isn't much of a stat total. But he had a 136 OPS+ last year and a 152 OPS+ this year. So why isn't he playing more? He's played 13 games at second base and isn't very good there. He's played 15 games at first base and is barely tolerable there. And he's played five games in left field and seems to be pretty good there in a super small sample size. He had an .821 OPS in the minors which is so-so. But he hit his share of homers (67 in five seasons). He's hit four homers in the majors which means he'd hit about 16 to 20 full time. At this point, he's a marginal player that has his uses. But at least the Fan knows who he is now.

We'll do this some more from time to time. The feeling here is that if the Fan's curious, you might be too.

Johnny Cueto Pitches a Perfect Game - Almost

Sure, it was the Pittsburgh Pirates he faced, but Johnny Cueto showed a bit of the magic that everyone in the world has been expecting forever. He pitched a complete game one hitter and faced the minimum 27 batters on just 102 pitches. The only hit he gave up was to Ronny Cedeno who was promptly thrown out trying to steal (which probably wasn't a good idea).

Cueto has been one of those guys who at times just seems to have overpowering stuff and makes you wonder why he isn't more successful. And again, this performance against the lowly Pirates can't get you too excited. But still, it's a one-hitter with no walks and eight strikeouts. Against any major league team, that's pretty impressive stuff.

The key now is if Cueto can pull off a string of good performances. That certainly hasn't been his MO in the past. He looks great, he looks terrible. He looks great. He looks terrible. Well, he hasn't looked that great in a very long time. So this is good. Time will tell if it was a happy good or just a Pittsburgh Pirates good.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Game Picks - Tuesday: May 11, 2010

It was just another night without distinction in a month of mediocrity. Sure, this picker finished above .500 for the day, but just barely. But on the other hand, the games were really difficult to pick yesterday. The Yankees, Red Sox, Tigers and Blue Jays were all featuring starters that were not among their best. So choosing two of those four were dicey. Turns out both were wrong. But, not choosing Hanson to win was kind of stupid. Never thought the Braves would score that many runs. The Fan can hardly be blamed for the Rays losing another game. That's three losses out of their last four games. Pineiro pitched great and then Fuentes blew the save big time but the Bay Rays gave the game back in extra innings. Oh well.

So we move to Tuesday. Are the games any easier to pick? We'll see:

  • The Reds over the Pirates: Cueto versus Morton. Well this one isn't. Cueto is always a crap shoot. Morton has had one effective start out of six. Ugh.
  • The Mariners over the Orioles: Lee gets his first win of the season for the Mariners.
  • The Yankees over the Tigers: Vazquez gets off the booby pit and pitches well. Watched the Yankees the last two games and people will look at the last week and say Jeter is in a slump. Sure he is hitless in his last five games, but he's hit the ball on the screws at least six times in the last two days. He'll be fine.
  • The Mets over the Nationals: Olsen was fantastic his last time out after this Fan predicted he wouldn't be. So then logic would dictate that the Fan should pick Olsen this time. But it never works that way.
  • The Blue Jays over the Red Sox: Simply have more faith in Eveland than in Dice-K who really should change his nickname to Dicey-K.
  • The Cubs over the Marlins: This one seems impossible to pick. Nolasco should be great for the Marlins, but hasn't been. Wells has shown signs of last season's success but also thrown some clunkers. Hanley Ramirez is hot. Soriano is hot. Yeesh. Good luck with this one.
  • The Rangers over the Athletics: Cahill was great last time. But Lewis has been great all season.
  • The Braves over the Brewers: Already like the match up of Hudson over Bush. But then Braun will probably be out since he was plunked by Hanson in the elbow last night.
  • The Indians over the Royals: The battle of the also-rans pits Westbrook versus Bannister. Flip a coin. Today isn't any easier than yesterday.
  • The Cardinals over the Astros: The Astros don't have any chance at all against the Cardinals. None.
  • The Phillies over the Rockies: And the Rockies have no chance against Halliday. None.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Dodgers: Haren versus Ely doesn't seem like a fair fight either.
  • The Bay Rays over the Angels: Kazmir goes against his old team and will have some incentive. But don't think he'll win even if he pitches well.
  • The Giants over the Padres: This picker has been burned too many times picking against Zito.


  • The Twins over the White Sox: Really like Slowey for the Twins, especially against Garcia.

Yesterday: 5-4
Week: 14-10
Month: 71-63
Season: 271-190
Games of the Day: 13-12

Braden and Etiquette Can't Seem to Separate

Turns out the Fan was prophetic after all. According to Big League Stew, Evan Longoria DID try to bunt his way on in the fifth inning during Braden's fantastic perfect game. This time, Braden isn't at the center of the debate, but "Duk" comes out and says that Longoria's attempt wasn't kosher. In the fifth inning?

Although the Athletics were up 4-0 at the time, the game was by no means out of hand. An offense like the Bay Rays can score four runs in a heart beat. And let's face it, this is going to be a long season and one win could mean a lot in the American League East. The Yankees are right on the Bay Rays' tail. Boston and even the Blue Jays are not even close to being out of the race. Both the Twins and the Tigers are playing well and a wild card in the AL East is not written in stone. Despite what Braden had going, in the fifth inning, a bunt attempt to get things started is not an etiquette thing. It's a strategic thing.

It's all a moot point of course, because as it all worked out, the bunt attempt went foul and Braden got his game of glory. But what about this etiquette thing? This Fan still wonders about the big deal of celebrating a homer or a big strikeout by a reliever or a guy running across the mound. Of all the things in the world to worry about, should those really be so important?

As Duk himself pointed out, when is it poor etiquette to bunt? If the lead off batter of the game attempts to bunt his way on, is that poor etiquette as the game is a perfect game at that point too? Is it okay in the third inning? The fifth? The seventh? It would seem to this observer that if the score was something like 8-0 in the seventh or eighth inning and the pitcher is throwing a no-no or a perfect game, then a bunt seems unseemly. But 4-0 in the fifth? No, the Fan can't buy that. The Bay Rays are trying to win a division here.

And it's funny how this thing seems to always center on Braden. Well, he brought a bit of that on himself. At least he isn't the one screaming this time. Thank goodness. But anyway, the good news is that Braden got his history and it was a great mother's day gift for him and the Oakland fans. Let it be.

Mr. Griffey. Please Retire

It was written in this space just last year that bringing Ken Griffey Jr. back to Seattle for a swan song was a very good idea not only for him but for the Mariners' fans. The idea though at the time was that Griffey would play a little, share one last year in a Mariner uniform and call it a career. But he came back for another year. It was one year too many.

You really can't rake Griffey on the decision. What ball player wants to end a period of his life that has been so much fun? What ball player wants to face the great unknown when forty years of his life has been only focused on one thing? The Fan puts this one on the Mariners. They should have looked at his performance last year and politely told him that it was a marvelous experience, enjoy the rest of your life.

The whole news story out today about Griffey sleeping in the clubhouse when he could have pinch hit the other day is not really the problem here. Okay, it looks bad on the surface. It's an embarrassing situation for the Mariners and for Griffey. But it's really just a stupid thing that happened. The Fan has felt this way long before that news story. This post comes from every sad cringe that occurs when Griffey's name is searched in a box score as the "Left on Base" category grows deeper and the outs pile up. It's time for Griffey to go out into that good night and let people remember him for the star that he was.

Griffey won't be the first HOF player who stayed too long. Willie Mays was the most famous. Tom Seaver stayed too long. Greg Maddux probably played one season too many as did Tom Glavine. It's happened before and it will happen again. It's not really the player's fault as mentioned earlier. They are probably the last judge in the world on where they are in their career. It really is a general manager and a manager's call and they have to be smart enough and tough enough to turn back a legend and tell him that he's done and if he disagrees, apologies, but we're trying to win games and have to do what's best for or team.

But perhaps this embarrassing situation will tip the scales (Egads! Another cliche!) and help Griffey to make the decision he needs to make or at least help the Mariners at a team force him to make that decision. The Fan has loved Griffey his entire career. He has brought pure joy to baseball from the time he was a kid until last year. Let us Fans remember those times and those joys and not this sad going-through-the-motions type thing that Griffey's last season has seemed to become.

It's Finally Happened

Yes, everyone now knows that the Starlin Castro era has begun in Chicago. And everyone knows that he drove in six runs in his first game in the major leagues. He's hitting a solid .286 and sure as shooting, the young man will have his good days and his bad days.

But one thing escaped this Fan's notice until just yesterday. And it was only a matter of time before this happened. But (correct the Fan if he's wrong) Castro is the first player born in the 1990s to play in the majors. Ugh! Now that's got to make you feel old.

Castro was born March 24, 1990. He is twenty years old. 1990 was when this Fan moved to northern Maine. It doesn't seem that long ago. This Fan is living in his seventh decade: 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s, 10s. Castro is only a babe in this world. And he has the whole world in front of him.

It had to happen sooner or later. It's funny how this hurts much more than another birthday.

Monday, May 10, 2010

2010 is the Year of Andre Ethier

Andre Ethier has been a really good player since he broke into the majors in 2006. Each year he got a little better and a little better and last year, he seemed to break through, at least on "counting" stats like homers and RBIs. His 132 OPS+ last year tied 2008 as the best of his career. But this year, he's on a totally different planet and right now, he looks like one of the best players in the National League.

Ethier currently leads the league in homers, ribbies, batting average, slugging percentage and OPS+. He's already had several walk off hits to win games this year. What is totally amazing is his performance in high leverage situations. In those at bats, his line reads: .440/.462/.770. Wow.

The only knock on Ethier is that he isn't that great a right fielder. He has a good arm and his assists have always been quite impressive. But his range and his efficiency are below league standard.

But the way he is raking? Who cares.

Game Picks - Monday: May 10, 2010

Okay. This picker will fully admit it. After days of needling, Dallas Braden's pitching told this picker to shut his trap. Got it. Much congratulations on the perfect game. You're still a punk. But congrats. Truth is, he has the makings of a great pitcher. And he probably will be. The Bay Rays are one of the best offenses in baseball and they were totally shut down. So yeah. Message received. There was one kernel of truth in the needling though. Longoria should have bunted for a base hit in the first. Of course, his gem did mess up the Game of the Day. But at least the rest of the day was in the positive column.

Before we get to Monday's picks, can this Fan vent a minute? Sure. Go for it. This Fan just can't stand A. J. Burnett as a pitcher. It seems he's a fun guy that helps loosen up the Yankees. But his pitching drives the Fan stark raving crazy. Take the Ortiz at bat where Ortiz hit the double that started the big inning. He had Ortiz all set up for the curve. He got the first strike with a curve. Then threw a couple of good fastballs and one last curve would have buckled Ortiz like a bad tent. Instead, he threw him a fastball right in the sweet spot. Second example. Beltre came up right after Ortiz's double and Burnett made him look totally stupid with a curve ball. But then he threw nothing but fastballs after that and Beltre drove in two runs. Burnett is one of those pitchers that has no brain at all for pitching. He totally relies on his talent but if he just had a little bit of a pitcher's mentality, he'd be amazing. Instead, he is as reliable as the Italian army. Okay. Rant over.

Trying to calm down over here so there is some sanity to Monday's picks. Taking a deep breath. Okay. Let's do it:

  • The Reds over the Pirates: Ohlendorf is one of the Fan's favorites, but there is a rule here that a pitcher making his first start coming off the disabled list is never picked for the win. It's a solid rule.
  • The Yankees over the Tigers: Doiks! Mitre versus Willis? How are you supposed to pick that?
  • The Nationals over the Mets: The Nats are now tied with the Mets for second place in the NL East. How do you like that? Atliano will make sure they pull ahead by a game.
  • The Blue Jays over the Red Sox: This pick only happens if Morrow throws strikes. If he doesn't. Man...the Fan doesn't even want to think about it.
  • The Marlins over the Cubs: These picks today are awful! Robertson versus Lilly. It's another dadburn toss up. The Marlins haven't won in an awfully long time. They are totally due.
  • The Brewers over the Braves: Watched the Braves today and they are really struggling. Chipper is out (so what else is new). Heyward is still out. They don't field well. They don't hit. They just looked terrible.
  • The Dodgers over the Diamondbacks: Torn on this one too. The Dodgers still look flat. But Billingsley tilts this one in the Dodgers' favor.
  • The Bay Rays over the Angels: Mad at being no-hit on Sunday, the Bay Rays jump all over Pineiro. Plus Hunter has a leg problem (knees).


  • The Phillies over the Rockies: The Rockies are really scuffling and now Tulo is out with a groin (this season's favorite injury it seems). Plus Kendrick and Moyer are in an interesting battle for the fifth spot in the rotation.

Yesterday: 9-6
Week: 9-6
Month: 66-59
Season: 266-186
Games of the Day: 12-12

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Game Picks - Sunday: May 9, 2010

Oy! This picker now has three sub-.500 days out of the last four. As soon as Liriano got banged around by the Orioles in the first game of a double-header, this Fan knew he was in trouble. The day was exemplified by the Game of the Day. This was a game that should have been a lock. Instead, the Cubs took their biggest drubbing of the season. Oh man, that was brutal. The entire month of May so far is barely over .500. The Fan has GOT to turn it around!

So let's start today with a full slate of Sunday games:

  • The Tigers over the Indians: Scherzer really hasn't pitched well and Talbot was really good early but not last time out. Have to go with the better team.
  • The Reds over the Cubs: Haven't lost yet picking Leake. Hope today isn't the first time.
  • The Giants over the Mets: Lincecum looks like a lock over Perez.
  • The Phillies over the Braves: Hamels versus Kawakami. Thus ends the Braves' one game winning streak.
  • The Cardinals over the Pirates: Why aren't the Cardinals hitting? This has to stop right now.
  • The Nationals over the Marlins: Livan still has a WHIP under 1. Is this Fan eating crow about that or what?
  • The Astros over the Padres: Oswalt has to win some time. Might as well be today.
  • The Blue Jays over the White Sox: Gavin Floyd has not been good. Marcum is very good. Konerko is hurting.
  • The Orioles over the Twins: Matusz is a good lefty and the Twins are a lefty group of hitters. Sounds good.
  • The Rangers over the Royals: Still believe in Feldman even though he hasn't given the Fan any reason to do so.
  • The Rockies over the Dodgers: Ubaldo the Magnificent!
  • The Brewers over the Diamondbacks. The Brewers may be tired after scoring 17 runs last night. But Kennedy is due for a clunker.
  • The Angels over the Mariners: Are the Mariners the worst hitting team this side of the Astros or what?
  • The Yankees over the Red Sox: This game totally hinges on whether Cervelli catches Burnett or if Posada wins out and gets to catch him. Maybe Posada will DH.


  • The Bay Rays over the Athletics: Shields gets the win while Braden starts yelling at Longoria for breaking up his no-hitter with a bunt single in the first inning. Braden then throws his glove in the dugout and it's his fastest pitch of the day.

Yesterday: 7-9
Last week: 53-42
Month: 57-53
Season: 257-180 It used to look so pretty...
Games of the Day: 12-11

The Vulture Does It Again

Alfredo Aceves is the Vulture. He has pitched parts of three seasons for the Yankees and after picking up the win on Saturday, his won-loss record stands at 14-1. Last year, Aceves kept coming in with the score either tied or the Yankees behind just in time to see the Yankees rally for the win. He ended up 10-1. This writer has an idea that his manager is starting to see the uncanny ability Aceves has to pick up wins and absolutely fed him one on Saturday. How so you ask?

The game with Boston started innocently enough with Sabathia pitching against Buchholz. Each pitcher is currently or supposedly the best pitcher on his team. Buchholz got nicked for two runs in the top of the third and Sabathia gave the runs right back in the bottom of the third plus one for good measure when he gave up homers to McDonald and Martinez. The Yankees are to much for Buchholz and score another un in the fourth to tie the game up and then three in the top of the fifth to pull ahead 6-3. Sabathia gets the first two outs in the bottom of the fifth...and then the umpire called for the tarp and a 90 minute rain delay stops things cold.

Poor Sabathia. He was one out away from a guaranteed win. If he had just been given a chance to get one more out in the fifth before the delay, it would have been his game. When the rain delay was over, was there any other pitcher that was going to go in there for the Yankees other than Aceves? Heck no. This set up was perfect for the Vulture. All he had to do was get an out and the game was his. Unbelievable.

Turns out that Aceves got three outs. He probably would have been asked to get more, but his back stiffened up on him with two strikes to Hermida. And Aceves was done for the day and maybe for a while. Add one more wounded player for the Yankees. And the funny thing was, the Vulture got a little taste of his own medicine. Since he couldn't finish off Hermida, Logan came in for the Yankees and finished the strikeout of Hermida so Logan got credit for the K.

Let's take a little trip to the Vulture's dinner palate for the last three years:


The legend of the Vulture had not yet been born. He finished the season at 1-0 but his only win was a seven inning masterpiece start.


The Legend Begins!

He won his first three games in May in just five games.

  • May 16 - Came in the eleventh inning of a tie game against Minnesota at home. The Yankees score in the bottom of the eleventh. 1-0
  • May 17 - Two days in a row! He came in a tie game in the top of the tenth against the same Minnesota. The Yankees scored in the bottom of the tenth. 2-0
  • May 21 - At home against the Orioles. Top of the first inning, Joba Chamberlain got the start, but only pitched two thirds of an inning and is pulled. Must have gotten hurt. Aceves came in and pitched the next three and a third innings. The Yankees pull ahead while he's pitching and Aceves gets another W. 3-0
  • May 26 - The only blemish on Aceves' career. Joba again got the start and gave up three runs in four innings. The Joba Rules were in effect and Joba reached his pitch limit due to wildness. Enter Aceves with a golden opportunity to vulture another win. The Yankees indeed rallied but Aceves gave up three runs and is tagged with the loss. His only loss of his career. 3-1.
  • June 7 - It was another Joba start, but he pitched well that time and went six innings, giving up only three runs. But the Yankees managed only one run against Garza. Enter Aceves to pitch the seventh and eighth. The Yankees scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth off of Balfour and the Yankees won. 4-1.
  • June 25 - Interleague game against the Braves at Atlanta. Andy Pettitte got the start but threw 95 ineffective pitches in three and two thirds of an inning and gave up three runs. Perfect opportunity for Aceves and he came in and pitched two and a third innings. Meanwhile, the Yankees gnawed Derek Lowe to the tune of six runs and then scored two more off of Boone Logan, who now pitches for them. 5-1.
  • July 30 - Orioles at home. Hernandez and Pettitte were both masterful. But niether team could break a 1-1 tie. Pettitte starts the eighth inning and gets one out. Phil Coke got the final two outs of the eighth and the first out of the ninth and it was still 1-1. Aceves got the final two outs of the ninth. The Yankees score in the bottom of the ninth to win the game. 6-1.
  • August 5 - At Toronto. One of the most thrilling match ups in history as Sergio Mitre started against Marc (Pat, can I buy a vowel please) Rzepczynski. Both were ineffective. Mitre lasted four and a third inning and is pulled after he gave up his tenth base runner. In came Aceves and pitched two innings. He gave up a run on a homer, but the Yankees surged ahead during that time and won the game. 7-1.
  • August 19 - At Oakland. Chad Gaudin got the start (and the Yankees won the pennant?). He only gave up one hit and no runs in four and a third innings of work. But he also walked five. After his fifth walk, Girardi had seen enough and brought Aceves in. The Yankees were ahead 3-0 at the time. Aceves pitched two and a third innings and gave up another homer and two runs. But was given the victory as the Yankees stayed ahead the whole game. 8-1.
  • August 30 - At home against the White Sox in another Joba start. Joba pitched three innings and gave up two runs. But was ahead 3-2. But it was that Joba Rules thing again and he was done. Aceves came in and pitched three scoreless innings. Meanwhile, the Yankees were taking batting practice off of Freddie Garcia and friends and made it a laugher. 9-1.
  • September 3 - At Toronto in another Gaudin start. Gaudin floundered around for three and two thirds innings giving up three runs on eight base runners. For one final vulture of the season, Aceves came in and pitched two and a third innings. Meanwhile, the Yankees were single-handedly ruining Ricky Romero's ERA for the season after he had pitched so well. Yankees win. 10-1.


The Legend Continues!

  • April 6 - At Boston. Burnett went five innings and gave up four runs, two of which were earned. Lester gave up four runs too, all earned. Aceves came in to a game tied 4-4 and pitched two scoreless innings (the sixth and the seventh). In the top of the eighth, the Yankees scratch out two runs in the top of the eighth thanks in part to a Scutaro error. Joba got the hold. Rivera got the save. Aceves got the win. 1-0.
  • April 30 - At home against the White Sox. Pettitte pitched six innings but left with the game tied 4-4. Who else would you want in there other than Aceves? Right. Aceves pitched a scoreless inning. The Yankees scored two in the bottom of the seventh. Marte and Joba got the holds and Rivera got the save. Aceves vultured the win. 2-0.
  • May 8 - You started this post with this one. 3-0.

It's an amazing thing. Sure, Aceves had to pitch pretty darn well to be in those positions, but still. That's a lot of luck. A LOT of luck. But heck, it sure does work.

The Catchers are Banging

If nothing else, these last eight days have been the time of the catcher. Offensive mashing by those who handle the tools of ignorance (Egads! a cliche!) have been happening all over baseball. This Fan has watched decades of baseball and can't remember a week like it. Ever.

We of course have to start with the Blue Jays and one John Buck. Buck has hit 78 career homers in 2005 at bats or roughly one homer per 26 at bats. In his last ten games, he's hit seven and has eight for the season in 89 at bats or one homer per 11.5 at bats. In those last ten games, he has a three homer game and a two homer game. Buck now has 22 hits on the season. Eight have been homers and eight have been doubles. That's 54 total bases in just 22 hits or 2.45 total bases per hit. Amazing.

The Mets are having fun with their catchers too. Henry Blanco has seven hits in his last fifteen at bats and raised his average to .300. He also hit the game winning (and walk off) homer on Saturday. His partner, Rod Barajas, who caught for Toronto, if you'll remember, had two homers on Friday to give him nine for the year in just 82 at bats. Once again, here is a catcher that has averaged one homer per 26 at bats currently going at a clip of one homer per 9 at bats this year.

Stories in the New York papers stated that Jorge Posada pleaded with Joe Girardi to get in the line up in Saturday's games. Who can blame him. Girardi mumbled something about giving Posada's calf another day, but secretly, he was riding Cervelli as long as he could ride him. And who could blame him? Cervelli has batted safely eight times in his last thirteen at bats and is batting a guady .395. Want to bet that a bunch of Yankees are calling Jorge, Mr. Pipp?

The Twins are the only team in history that has a catcher that has won three batting titles. He's got another shot this year as Mauer is in the high .300's. But he got hurt. No problem. Wilson Ramos came up from the minors and got seven hits in his first nine at bats in the majors. Butera didn't want to be left out so he got two RBIs in the nightcap of the double header on Saturday.

How about Ivan Rodriguez? He had to go 0-4 on Friday to cool his average to .383. That's the first time he's been under .400 all season!

Carlos Ruiz for the Phillies has six hits in his last twelve at bats and is now batting .317.

John Jaso is getting more playing time for the Bay Rays because he is hitting .314 with a .977 OPS.

How about the Giants? Bengie Molina has thirteen hits in his last eleven games and is batting .325. Their back up catcher? Eli Whiteside is batting .385 with an OPS of 1.200. Sheesh.

Want more? Ryan Hanigan is batting .409 for the Reds and had five RBIs on Saturday and now has fifteen RBIs in 17 games. Geovany Soto went hitless on Saturday but is still hitting .349 with an OPS over 1 and before Saturday had six hits in his last ten at bats. Jason Jaramillo had three hits for the Pirates Saturday and is now batting .280. Yadier Molina went hitless on Saturday but is still hitting .304 and before Saturday had ten hits in his last fifteen at bats. Jason Kendell has been starting for the Royals nearly every game and is batting a healthy .291 with a .377 OBP.

There are still some teams struggling at catcher like the Rangers and the Mariners. But over all, it's been an amazing offensive run by catchers around the majors.