Saturday, June 19, 2010

Youth on Parade

Spent the day traveling from Maine to Florida yesterday and thankfully, everything went smoothly and the Fan and his lovely wife are safely ensconced in what will be our home for the next three weeks. That meant that last evening, the Fan got to watch some Florida baseball which was conveniently provided by the interleague schedule that pitted the Marlins versus the Bay Rays on the Bay Rays' television telecast (the better of the two). It was a day that rookie, Sean Rodriguez, got a big hit with all his family in the stands. But that fact was ruined by the Marlins' uber-phenom, Mike Stanton, hitting his first major league homer...a bomb of a grand slam that tilted the game to the Marlins.

The grand slam was fairly amazing too. It was a 94 MPH fastball from Matt Garza on the outward part of the plate and about arm pit high. Stanton's swing was lightning quick and he turned on that pitch and deposited it in the left field seats. The Fan remembers thinking at the time that all the hype about this guy was accurate. Stanton also made a really great play in right field on a ball slicing away from him toward foul territory. His long lope made up a lot of ground getting to that ball.

But Florida baseball wasn't the only place where young phenoms strutted their stuff. In Pittsburgh, Cleveland's Carlos Santana went two for two plus two walks and he drove in a run. One of the hits was his fourth double (already). Unfortunately, on the other side of the field, Pedro Alvarez still doesn't have a hit since being called up by the Pirates (just their luck). Hopefully the team will stick with him and give him a chance.

Up in Chicago, the Cubs' Tyler Colvin had a big game going two for four with a walk. He scored two runs and drove in three. And he hit his eighth homer. He's now batting .312. His teammate, Starlin Castro, went one for three with a walk. His one hit was a double. Despite the phenom tandem, the Cubs lost mostly due to poor defense from Baker and Lee.

Up in New York, Ike Davis went one for four with an RBI in the Mets' win. Francisco Cervelli, not really in the phenom category, but a good young catcher, went two for four in a losing cause.

In Detroit, Brennan Boesch went 0 - 3 but did walk and scored a run in the Tigers' victory. He still has a 1.007 OPS. Pretty impressive debut!

Toronto's Brandon Morrow out dueled Barry Zito and kept the Blue Jays in the game long enough to scratch out three runs and win the game. Boston's 22 year old Felix Doubront overcame some early defensive lapses and earned his first major league win in his first big league start.

Texas had a good day for their young talent as Justin Smoak had a big day going two for five with the two hits being a homer and a double. He drove in four runs and scored two. He's started slowly, but he's going to be really good. Meanwhile, in the bullpen, young Darren O'Day pitched a perfect eigth inning and lowered his ERA as a reliever to 1.92 including a WHIP of 0.92.

In a battle of pitching phenoms, Baltimore's Brian Matusz pitched brilliantly for six innings but was matched pitch for pitch by San Diego's Wade LeBlanc. It became a battle of the bullpens and San Diego will win those every time while the Orioles will lose that every time. It went as predicted.

And last but not least, Stephen Strasburg put on another show. This time against the White Sox and not the lowly Pirates, Strasburg gave up a run on two hits in the first inning, but was brilliant the rest of the way. He pitched seven full innings while striking out ten batters and issued no walks. His WHIP after his first three big league starts? How about 0.78. Unfortunately, he got a no-decision as his team couldn't muster more than a run. His buddy and fellow first round pick, Drew Storen, pitched admirably for two innings but got the hard luck loss.

Everywhere you looked around baseball, young players were doing exciting things. It sure is a fun time to be a Fan, no?

Game Picks - Saturday: June 19, 2010

Eight correct, seven incorrect. Translation: blah. After flying most of June, this picker has now faced a losing day followed by a blah day. Worse yet, that darn Game of the Day feature. After finally getting the darn thing over .500, the feature has lost three straight. And that defies explanation. Grrrr. Things are just full of weird. Hammel is suddenly a great pitcher. The Brewers and Yankees can't hit. The Nationals can't win. The Bay Rays can't win. And the Phillies, who couldn't hit are now hitting like crazy. Ah baseball. Isn't it grand?

Saturday is another day to ride the tiger (and probably the Tigers) so here we go:

  • The Yankees over the Mets: Everything here points to a Mets' win. Their best pitcher is pitching. The Yankees aren't scoring. Ah, but the Yankees have one secret weapon: Phil Hughes.
  • The Cubs over the Angels: Think Lilly will shut down the Angels while the Cubs with a suddenly hot Lee, catch up with Weaver.
  • The Giants over the Blue Jays: Cain has been really good lately. The Jays counter with Litsch, who did not do very good in his first start of the year.
  • The Red Sox over the Dodgers: Just can't pick against the Red Sox these days. Plus, Padilla is starting and pitchers coming back from the DL are always dicey.
  • The Phillies over the Twins: The Twins are letting the Tigers catch up so we can have a race.
  • The Nationals over the White Sox: The Nats haven't won a game in forever and are due. Peavy is supposed to pitch for the White Sox but reports have indicated that he is hurting.
  • The Rangers over the Astros: The Rangers have been hitting like crazy since Hamilton got hot.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Tigers: Not feeling great about this pick but thinking that Jackson will have a big start.
  • The Royals over the Braves: Thinking that Greinke will build on his last outing, which was very good.
  • The Bay Rays over the Marlins: Niemann has been pretty unbeatable lately.
  • The Cardinals over the Athletics: Wainwright should be better than Sheets.
  • The Brewers over the Rockies: Francis is good, but the Brewers play different when Gallardo pitches.
  • The Padres over the Orioles: Richard over Millwood.
  • The Mariners over the Reds: The Reds face the Mariners' King Felix while the Reds feature a pitcher that hasn't been LeCure for anything.

And the Game of the Day:

  • The Indians over the Pirates: Those poor Pirates...

Yesterday: 8-7
Week: 45-30
Month: 137-88
Season: 574-418
Games of the Day: 30-31 For Pete's Sake!

Friday, June 18, 2010

With Moyer, You Never Know

Figuring out how Jamie Moyer is going to pitch on any given start is like playing the slot machine. You can only hope you end up ahead more often than behind. The thing about Moyer is that he can surprise you and pitch brilliantly and the next start throw such a stinker that you wonder why he is still in the major leagues. And this is the reality Moyer has presented the Phillies for years now. Sure, he's a great story. Us old guys love the guy. But seriously, what do you get by starting Moyer every fifth day?

Moyer has won 42 games in the last three years. His ERA+ was over 100 in one of them. He finished last year at 86. This year, even after his gem against the Yankees, he's sitting at 86. So far this year, Moyer has made 13 starts. This is how they went with innings and earned runs:

Six innings - five runs
Six innings - five runs
Six innings - no runs
Six innings - four runs
Six innings - five runs
Nine innings - zero runs
Six and a third innings - four runs
Seven innings - two runs
Five innings - four runs
Six innings - one run
Nine innings - two runs
One inning - nine runs
Eight innings - two runs

So by counting them all up, Moyer has had five quality starts, one blow out and seven mediocre (at best) starts. So yes, Moyer is a great story. He's a 47 year old guy still pitching in the major leagues. But he isn't the most reliable pitcher around. If you go by WAR, he is currently 97th out of 110 starting pitchers who qualify.

But then again, he IS the oldest guy who has ever beaten the Yankees. Somewhere, Phil Neikro is smiling.

Game Picks - Friday: June 18, 2010

Oof. Four correct and seven incorrect. Not too much went right on Thursday night for this picker. A market correction was due after so many days of success. MLB will forever prove itself to be unpredictable. For a blogger who makes daily picks, it's the electronic equivilent of riding a wild horse. Some times you end up with a pretty sore butt.

But the Fan lives for the ride. So let's see what Friday looks like:

  • The Angels over the Cubs: The Fan wants to pick Carlos Silva to win. The Fan doesn't believe in Kazmire. But once in a while, all the right reasons lead to the wrong conclusion.
  • The Tigers over the Diamondbacks: Galarraga should beat the Diamondbacks who are in a serious tailspin.
  • The Yankees over the Mets: Takahashi could give the Yankees fits. But Vazquez should be better.
  • The Indians over the Pirates: The Pirates are in one of those stretches where it doesn't seem they will ever win another game.
  • The Twins over the Phillies: Man, the Phillies have a tough stretch of schedule. Blanton starts for the the Phils and he sure hasn't been good lately.
  • The Nationals over the White Sox: Can't see the White Sox hitting Strasburg. The White Sox are starting their best pitching prospect taking Peavy's turn.
  • The Giants over the Blue Jays: Zito should keep the Giants at bay long enough for the Giants to get to Morrow or the reliever that takes his place.
  • The Red Sox over the Dodgers: What a tough game to pick. Two young pitchers. Manny returns to Boston. Impossible to know what will happen.
  • The Braves over the Royals: Bannister and Lowe are both not picnics to count on, but the Braves are playing really well.
  • The Rangers over the Astros: Feldman is starting to figure it out. Wandy is still lost.
  • The Cardinals over the Athletics: Carpenter should beat Mazzaro. The Cards have to start hitting sooner or later.
  • The Brewers over the Rockies: The Rockies sure are spinning their wheels. The Brewers' wheels fell off a long time ago. But they should win this one.
  • The Orioles over the Padres: Matusz is too good a talent to not shine through sooner or later.
  • The Mariners over the Reds: Lee should out pitch Cueto. The question is if the Mariners will score enough to win.

And the Game of the Day

  • The Bay Rays over the Marlins: Garza should be better than Robertson.

Yesterday: 4-7
Week: 37-23
Month: 129-81
Season: 566-411
Games of the Day: 30-30

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Game Picks - Thursday: June 17, 2010

Ten correct. Five incorrect. Another good night for the ole' picker. There were a few duds. The Fan totally hates on A. J. Burnett. Can't stand that the Yankees trust this slightly better Oliver Perez-like guy. The Fan would trade him straight up for Ian Kennedy. Maybe the Yankees can package him in a deal for Rent-A-Lee. The Cards seemed like a good pick, but Vargas bamboozled them. What's with these suspect pitchers getting all jiggy with their starts lately? Leake finally leaked and lost his first game of the year. So his picks will have to be monitored more closely the rest of the way. And the worst news of all was that Joel Pineiro totally blew up his good start/bad start pattern and threw his second straight gem. His pattern was so clean and so easy to follow. Now he's going to be a pain the butt to figure out just like all the rest of the daily picks.

But 10-5 is nothing to sneeze at and the Fan should stop whining. Picking Talbot to finally find his BABIP luck going the other was semi-brilliant as he gave up more than a dozen hits Wednesday night.

One programming note: The Fan will be traveling the next two days and will be away from home for nearly a month. There should be no interruptions in posting, but you never know what happens when away from the comfort of home patterns.


- The Dodgers over the Reds: The Dodgers would seem to have the Reds' number and Manny Ramirez is starting to pop his bat again (like predicted here in a recent post). Ely gets the win.
- The Tigers over the Nationals: Atliano is not as good as his record. The Nationals haven't won a non-Strasburg game in quite a while.
- The Twins over the Rockies: What a match up! Ubaldo versus Liriano. Liriano has been the best pitcher in the AL this year and Ubaldo is due for a loss. But he'll still pitch well.
- The Athletics over the Cubs: Braden has dealt with a sore arm but Randy Wells isn't the same pitcher as last year. Going with the A's.
- The Diamondbacks over the Red Sox: Lackey hasn't been terrific and Haren can shut down anybody at any time.
- The Yankees over the Phillies: Pettitte isn't Burnett. Enough said.
- The Mets over the Indians: The Mets are on one serious roll and Dickey has been a fun part of that. He'll beat Westbrook.
- The White Sox over the Pirates: Love ya, Ohlendorf, but you got nobody behind you.
- The Braves over the Bay Rays: The Bay Rays are in their first mini-slump of the year as is today's starter, Shields. Hudson shuts them down.
- The Marlins over the Rangers: Why are the Rangers starting Nippert??

And the Game of the Day

- The Astros over the Royals: The experienced Myers squares up against Leruw making his first start of the season.

Yesterday: 10-5
Week: 33-16
Month: 125-74
Season: 562-405
Games of the Day: 30-29 this feature is here to keep the Fan humble...

The Fan's Official All Star Ballot

This Fan does not stuff ballot boxes. It's unseemly. This Fan takes the vote seriously and would never vote for a player because he is a favorite or because he is a legend. The Fan believes that the All Star starters should be those players having the best season this season, not last season or this decade. And so it's time to vote. Well, it is about a week early as the best vote is right before the deadline occurs because after all, a lot can happen in a week and it's best to wait as long as possible to make sure the best players this year start the game. But two things lead to turning in "this ballot" now. First, the Fan is leaving for nearly a month and will have to rely on a cellular internet card and the trusty laptop to stay on top of things. The second reason for the one week "rush" is the Fan's new status as a member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA) which has a deadline for turning these things in.

First, some criteria. In the past, before the Fan got himself educated (and it's still in process), this vote would come from the traditional batting and pitching stats: Batting Average, Homers, Runs Batted In, Strikeouts, Wins. But it's a new world with new information that, as far as the Fan can tell, gives the truest picture yet of a player's performance and how that translates to the value provided.

The Fan has to admit that the most critical new component of those measurements is fielding stats which are not universally embraced and are not yet a perfect science. The most striking example of how critical those value comparisons are when it comes to defense is when picking the American League first baseman. Justin Morneau and Kevin Youkilis are nearly dead even in offensive proficiency. But defensive metrics rate the year they are having defensively very differently. Morneau is having a banner year in the field. Youkilis, again, according to the metrics we have at our disposal, is far behind him this year in defense thus almost solely accounting for the $3.5 million difference in their respective Value. Of course that's controversial. But until someone can poke great big holes in these fielding metrics, they are what we have to go by.

The Fan's Official All Star Ballot is based solely on the Value of performance this year as calculated by and Most of their WAR ratings are right in line, but a few players have pretty different swings. In those cases, the Fan split the difference between the two sites. Rarely did it matter between the top choice and the second place finisher. The ratings were based on games played through Tuesday night. One other note: The outfield is selected by position and not by the blob outfield selection the real All Star Ballot presents. This really hurt Andres Torres of the Giants because he's played all outfield positions equally and hasn't settled in one static place. The blog works him better than the Fan's criteria. The same can be said for Brett Gardner.

So without further boring ado, here is the Fan's Official All Star Ballot:

American League:

- First base: Justin Morneau. WAR - 4.1. Value - $16.3 million.
Second place finisher: Kevin Youkilis. WAR 3.1. Value - $12.3 million.
- Second base: Robinson Cano. No surprise here. WAR - 3.8. Value - $15.3 million
Second place finisher: Orlando Hudson. WAR - 2.1. Value - $8.4 million
- Shortstop: Derek Jeter. WAR - 2.0. Value - $8.1 million
Second place finisher: Marco Scutaro: WAR - 1.7. Value - $7.0 million
Comment: Scutaro has been steadily gaining on Jeter and could very well catch him by the time the voting deadline ends.
- Third base: Evan Longoria. WAR - 3.1. Value - $12.4 million
Second place finisher: Adrian Beltre: WAR - 2.8. Value - $11.3 million
- Left Field: Carl Crawford. WAR - 2.5. Value - $11.4 million
Second place finisher: Josh Hamilton: WAR - 2.0. Value - $7.9 million
Comment: If Hamilton hadn't gotten injured and lost so much playing time, he might be the leader here.
- Center Field: Alex Rios. WAR - 3.7. Value - $13.5
Second place finisher: Vernon Wells (now that's ironic). WAR - 2.1. Value - $8.3 million
- Right Field: Shin Soo Choo. WAR - 2.4. Value - $9.6 million
Second place finisher: Ichiro Suzuki. WAR - 2.3. Value - $9.3 million
Comment: One of the closest races of them all.
- Catcher: Joe Mauer. WAR - 1.9. Value - $7.4 million
Second place finisher: Victor Martinez. WAR - 1.5. Value - $6.1 million
- Starting Pitcher: Francisco Liriano. WAR - 3.5. Value - $13.9 million
Second place finisher: Cliff Lee. WAR - 3.0. Value - $12 million
- Relief Pitcher: Joel Zumaya. WAR - 1.2. Value - $4.8 million
Second place finisher: Matt Thornton. WAR - 1.1. Value $4.5 million
Comment: Unlike the NL, no AL closers were close to the top of the list.

National League

- First base: Albert Pujols. WAR - 2.6. Value - $10.5 million
Second place finisher: Joey Votto. WAR - 2.5. Value - $9.9 million.
Comment: Pujols just overtook Votto this week.
- Second base: Chase Utley. WAR - 2.4. Value - $9.6 million
Second place finisher: Brandon Phillips. WAR - 2.3. Value - $9.3 million
Comment: Utley just overtook Phillips this week.
- Shortstop: Troy Tulowitzki. WAR - 2.2. Value - $8.6 million
Second place finisher: Hanley Ramirez. WAR - 2.1. Value - $8.5
Comment: Defense puts Tulo on top.
- Third base: Ryan Zimmerman. WAR - 3.0. Value - $11.9 million
Second place finisher: David Wright. WAR - 2.5. Value - $10 million
- Left field: Josh Willingham. WAR - 2.5. Value - $10.1 million
Second place finisher: Matt Holliday. WAR - 1.9. Value - $7.7 million
- Center field: Marlon Byrd. WAR - 12.1. Value - $12.1 million
Second place finisher: Colby Rasmus. WAR - 2.0. Value - $8.1 million
- Right field: Ryan Ludwick. WAR - 2.3. Value - $9.2 million
Second place finisher: Jason Heyward. WAR - 1.8. Value - $7.0 million
- Catcher: Brian McCann. WAR - 1.7. Value - $6.8 million
Second place finisher: Russell Martin. WAR - 1.3. Value - $5.2 million
- Starting pitcher: Roy Halladay. WAR - 3.5. Value - $13.9 million
Second place finisher: Josh Johnson. WAR - 3.0. Value $12 million
Comment: These numbers don't make sense when it comes to Ubaldo Jiminez, who only rates as third best.
- Relief pitcher: Jonathan Broxton. WAR - 1.8. Value - $7.8 million
Second place finisher: Luke Gregerson. WAR 1.4. Value - $5.7

That's the way the numbers look to this Fan. Whether you disagree or agree (either one is perfectly fine), vote smart. Do your homework and make the best selection you can.

Josh Hamilton Again a Force in Texas

Last year was a tough year for those who had rooted so hard for Josh Hamilton to continue to inspire us. We all know his story. The gifted young phenom who threw it all away to drugs that almost killed him. The salvation, both spiritually and athletically that started when the Reds took a flier on him in 2007 and were rewarded by a Hamilton who responded with a 134 OPS+ in 90 games that year. He became an inspiration and an icon of hope for millions of families who have dealt with addiction issues that, unless you've lived through them, crippled and maim like no other family issue. Yes, last year was tough. It was not only the degradation of performance in which a Hamilton that ruled the leaderboards for almost all of 2008, became fairly pathetic at the plate when he could physically play. But it wasn't only that, it was the crushing blow that his us when it was revealed that he got caught in a night of revelry and debauchery. Oh God, no. Not Josh Hamilton.

We don't know where Hamilton currently is in his struggles with the never ending demons that push and shove and try to destroy anyone who tries to overcome them. It's not something that is talked about or written about, at least to this writer's knowledge. But we do know that after some early season injuries and after a slow start, Hamilton is again hitting like 2008 and is once again a force at the plate for the Rangers. We'll take what we can get.

Hamilton went four for five on Wednesday night while hitting his sixteenth homer and driving in his 48th runner. The 29 year old outfielder has gotten a hit in 22 of his last 24 games including the last 12 straight. Eleven of those games were multiple hit games. In those 24 games, he's gone 41 for 113 (a .363 pace) with nine homers and 25 runs driven in. He's raised his average from .268 to .323 and his current line stands at .323/.371/.594 good for a whopping OPS of .965. With the absence of Nelson Cruz, Hamilton has filled the gap and been amazing.

But rooting for Hamilton has its drawbacks. It's a pins and needles feeling of hoping for the best and dreading the worst. May all of our dreams yet hold true.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Freddie Sanchez Is a Good Player

Freddie Sanchez, who was born in Hollywood, has never really been in the spotlight. He doesn't hit for power. He doesn't steal bases. But the guy sure knows how to hit. His trouble the last few years has been staying healthy. Combine that with the expectations he created with his outlier year in 2006 when he led the league in batting and clubbed 53 doubles and the player isn't often appreciated. This year is no different.

Sanchez again missed some time early this year, but has been playing regularly and is a part of the Giants' surge these past couple of weeks. He's now batting .337 with a .400 On Base Percentage and is producing runs. He still doesn't hit for power (no homers and only a few doubles) and his slugging percentage is a paltry .400, but the guy is a pest with runners on base.

But not only is Sanchez hitting well, he's also having a very good year in the field. Playing second base is really his second best position. He was a terrific third baseman but his history at second has been historically in the negative numbers stat-wise. But this year he is in the positive numbers and is playing really well.

The Giants have long been considered challenged at the plate to go along with a strong rotation of starters. But they have assembled a good line up this year after some experimentation. Andres Torres is having a sensational year. Sanchez follows him and is among the leaders in batting. Aubrey Huff is batting around .300 and is over .900 in OPS. Juan Uribe has an .843 OPS as a shortstop. Burrell has stepped in and is hitting well. Buster Posey has done nothing but hit since he was called up and Pablo Sandoval is one of the better hitters in the game. Add in Eli Whiteside, who is playing more than Molina these days and has a .880 OPS and you have a solid line up from top to bottom.

The Giants are going to be in the NL West race until the end. They have the pitching and now they have a good line up and they are formidable in that division.

Game Picks - Wednesday: June 16, 2010

Ten correct and five incorrect. Pretty good, especially in interleague play. And the Game of the Day pick was correct again. That makes that feature two games over .500. The Fan feels dizzy. This picker is particularly proud of the Orioles pick. But really, the team had to win some time. Less proud was the whooping the Dodgers put on the Reds or the blown save that cost the Marlins pick. Nunez had been so good too. Oh well, at least that result meant another game in the standings for the Rangers, which is fun. Sabathia hopefully quieted some naysayers with his performance against the Phillies last night. He had one bad inning and even that inning could have been different if with the bases loaded, Teixeira had gone home with his throw to get the speedy Ryan Howard instead of inexplicably throwing to second. All in all it was a good night. The Fan even got the Lakers pick right over the Celtics.

June has been a good month. The picks are 45 games over .500 for the month, which is highly welcome after a lukewarm May. Hopefully, Wednesday's picks can add to the bounty:

- The Giants over the Orioles: The Orioles must hate Guthrie. Why else would he get to face every single ace the other team has each and every start? This time it's Lincecum.
- The Blue Jays over the Padres: Like Romero over Correia.
- The Brewers over the Angels: The Fan told you the Brewers were going on a hot streak. Plus Pineiro pitched great last time out so should be terrible this time.
- The Mets over the Indians: The stats clearly show Talbot being extremely lucky this season. His luck will catch up with him. Plus, Wright is on a tear.
- The Tigers over the Nationals: The trouble with Strasburg's timing is that the rest of the team is starting to sink. Livan will get beat by Verlander.
- The Yankees over the Phillies: Don't think that Moyer can beat the Yankees. Not sure if Burnett can beat the Phillies though. Hmmm...
- The White Sox over the Pirates: Danks should have no trouble beating Zach Duke and the punchless Pirates.
- The Reds over the Dodgers: The Reds can't seem to lose when Leake pitches. Have to go with that until that fact changes.
- The Red Sox over the Diamondbacks: Lester all the way here with the Red Sox putting some mash on Rodrigo Lopez.
- The Braves over the Bay Rays: Hanson should power the Braves to a win as the Bay Rays will counter with Wade Davis who has waded up to his waist in trouble lately.
- The Rangers over the Marlins: Hunter has been great out of the chute for the Rangers. Look for that to continue over the Marlins and Annibal Sanchez.
- The Athletics over the Cubs: The Fan is sorry, but Piniella really needs to go.
- The Twins over the Rockies: The Twins are awesome at home so that overcomes a match up of Home Run Baker versus young armed, Chacin.
- The Astros over the Royals: The Royals made the Fan look silly last night with ten runs against Paulino. But Roy Oswalt isn't Paulino.

And the Game of the Day

- The Cardinals over the Mariners: Garcia has no offense to face and the Cardinals will jump all over Vargas.

Yesterday: 10-5
Week: 23-11
Month: 115-69
Season: 552-400
Games of the Day: 31-29

Vesting Magglio Ordonez

With nearly 40% of the season in the books and a long 60% to go, there has been little ink about Magglio Ordonez this season after much hoopla about the Tigers letting him vest for his unbelievably high salary. In fact, there has been little ink at all about Ordonez. Maybe it might be difficult for some to perhaps admit that he's going to be worth his salary this season.

We all remember his out of mind season in 2007. That season Ordonez has 214 hits including 54 doubles and 28 homers. He drove in 139 runs and scored 116. Perhaps not surprisingly, it was his only year in recent years where his fielding stats were in the positive numbers. Ordonez wasn't as good in 2008 but then again, who could be? He still hit .317 and put up a 126 OPS+. And his fielding fell again into the negative numbers that had been prevalent for a while for him.

2009 was not a good year for Ordonez. He still hit .310, but his power numbers all but vanished and he ended the season with an OPS+ of 109. Sure, that's better than league average, but wasn't close to being worth $17 million. His fielding was also less effective. So the Tigers got a lot of flack for allowing him enough games played to vest his contract for 2010 at $18 million. "Ouch!" said everyone. "What are they thinking?" said the rest. But from the Tigers' perspective, they were fighting for a playoff spot, a fight they lost on the last day of the season. It's hard to fault the team for putting what they thought were their best players on the field. It sure did cost them a bundle though for what ended up being a futile goal.

But this year, Ordonez is having his best season since 2007. He went 3 for 4 on Tuesday night to raise his average to .320. After hitting only nine homers last year good for 50 RBIs, he's already hit eight homers this year and has already driven in 41. His OPS+ is a healthy 135 and according to, his current WAR sits at 2.2 and his value produced to this point is $9 million. Remember that we've only played 40% of the season. So at his current pace, he will easily make his contract pay for itself.

And whether it's his health or for some other reason, Ordonez is back doing well in the field. All his numbers are in the positive and he is among the leaders for right fielders in efficiency. Plus, he's already thrown out six base runners.

Time will tell if Ordonez will keep this current pace. But he's protected well by the monster of Miguel Cabrera and Boesch is doing great as well. It doesn't seem beyond any stretch of imagination that Ordonez can finish as well as he sits right now. His health needs to stay good, which is always a concern when a player is 36 years old. But as of right now, he's playing terrific baseball.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Kevin Frandsen Off to a Hot Start

There has been a lot of ink for some hot prospects that have been called up this year in the majors. There is Ike Davis and Carlos Santana and Mike Stanton and Buster Posey and of course, Stephen Strasburg. But what about Kevin Frandsen? Who? Yeah, that is about par for the course for the San Jose native who was called up by the Angels 17 games ago after the Red Sox gave up on him and put him on waivers.

Frandsen has never been high on anyone's scouting report. He wasn't drafted until the 12th round back in 2004. But he burned through the minors and then got to the majors as early as 2006. He also got looks in 2007, 2008 and 2009 for the Giants but never stuck. A major injury (achilles tendon) in 2008 really set him back and he lost the entire year except for one at bat for the Giants in the last game of the season.

But Fandsen has always performed well in the minors and his career line there is .314/.377/.446. He's not a great fielding third baseman, but he gets on base and gives you solid play. The Angels started the year with Brandon Wood at third and the poor kid just withered. Wood has a .168 OBP and his OPS+ is an amazingly low 2. Maicer Izturis wasn't the answer as he posted an 89 OPS+ so the Angels had nothing to lose by trying Frandsen. And boy has he ever delivered!

Frandsen has participated in 17 games but has only started 14 of them. In those 14 games, he's had five multi-hit games and has hit safely in 11 of them and has reached base in 12 of them. He's batting .370 with an OBP of .408. The Angels have won nine of those fourteen games.

Give the Angels credit for thinking outside of the box in plucking Frandsen from the Red Sox trash heap. It was a move necessitated by having no one else in their organization to play third and they have won themselves some games by giving Frandsen an opportunity. He is making the most of it so far.

Game Picks - Tuesday: June 15, 2010

Four wins and no losses. It's not the dream day of 15-0, but it's like a baby dream. It seems these short schedule days always seem to go well. Perhaps this picker does better when he has less to concentrate on.

Oh, one other note before we get to Tuesday's picks: The Fan usually bases his picks on's Game Picks site and once again, that has come to bite the Fan in the butt. The problem is that they often get the starting pitchers all screwed up and the Fan has been too lazy to check other sites for who is REALLY pitching. Well, Alan, a faithful reader, called the Fan out on this yesterday and rightly so. The Fan has to do better at being accurate and pledges to do better.

Tuesday's picks:

- The Pirates over the White Sox: This is probably a stupid pick, but Lincoln is one of the Pirates best prospects and even though he didn't fare well his first outing, perhaps he'll show his promise in this one. Freddie Garcia goes for the White Sox.
- The Indians over the Mets: Another upset? Fan? Okay, here's the thing, Santana hasn't been invincible and Masterson has been terrific lately. The offenses are about the same so going with the hotter pitcher.
- The Tigers over the Nationals: Lannon has not pitched well. But then again, neither has Scherzer. But at least Scherzer has the ability to pitch well. Not sure that Lannon does.
- The Yankees over the Phillies: This is an awesome match up of Halladay versus Sabathia. The Fan thinks that Sabathia will rise up and throw goose eggs and the Yankees will eek out a win.
- The Reds over the Dodgers: The pitching match up of Kuroda versus Harang is pretty much a wash. What tips the scale here is the Reds playing so well at home and the Dodgers being weak on the road.
- The Red Sox over the Diamondbacks: Buchholz had a blip on what has been a good year last time out. Should rebound this time out. The Red Sox will get to Ian Kennedy.
- The Bay Rays over the Braves: Kawakami still can't buy a win. Price has bought many wins for the Bay Rays.
- The Marlins over the Rangers: The Rangers face the Marlins' best pitcher in Josh Johnson while the Rangers have to put Vlad in the field.
- The Athletics over the Cubs: This is an odd interleague match up, eh? Like Cahill over Zambrano.
- The Astros over the Royals: Isn't in unbelievable that the Fan is picking Paulino for the second straight time?
- The Cardinals over the Mariners: Jeff Suppan gets the start. Duncan does his magic and Suppon wins and the Brewers gnash their teeth for all the money they wasted.
- The Brewers over the Angels: The Brewers big game yesterday is going to propel them on a roll. Just watch.
- The Padres over the Blue Jays: Great match up of young pitchers in Latos versus Cecil. Latos has more power so going with him at home.
- The Orioles over the Giants: The Orioles are due for a win and throw young Arrieta out there against a AAA pitcher named Martinez.

And the Game of the Day:

- The Twins over the Rockies: This game should be a lock as the Twins are great at home unless the Fan gets Pavanoed again.

Yesterday: 4-0
Week: 13-6
Month: 105-64
Season: 542-395
Games of the Day: 30-29 Excuse the Fan for fainting...

Working the Math on the Granderson Deal

About 39% of the season has been completed and it seemed time to take a look at where we stand on the big trade that sent Granderson to the Yankees for Austin Jackson with Ian Kennedy going to the Diamondbacks as part of the three part deal. The Fan wants to preface this conversation with two things. First, the Fan is going to attempt to use math to figure this out. Thirty years ago, that would have been a good idea. But at the Fan's age, the math has to be suspected. Secondly, the Fan isn't going to discuss the Arizona side of the deal but will only consider two things, how did this deal affect the Yankees and the Tigers. Oh, one other thing. The Fan is also going to consider Damon signing with the Tigers opening a spot for Gardner as a trade: Gardner for Damon. Seems to make sense anyway.

So here's how it looks to date:

The Yankees' side:

Curtis Granderson will make 5.5 million this year. His current WAR gives him a current value this season of 3.9 million. With 61% of the season to go, his projected value for the season would be 10.02 million. But Granderson missed a big chunk of time. So you have to figure that in to the year's projection. If Granderson had played without missing any time, his current value would be 6.3 million. So, to give him an accurate year projection, he would be worth 13.79 million (16.19-(6.3-3.9)). Got that?

Brett Gardner will make .425 million this year and has a current value of 6.4 million giving him a year's projection of 16.45 million. The Fan doesn't see any reason why his current performance will diminish over the season. In fact, if he loses any at the plate, he'll gain it in the field where he should improve as the season goes along.

Chan Ho Park. Chan Ho Park? Yeah, the Fan is submitting that Park is Phil Coke's replacement. Yeah, he isn't a lefty, but he covers pretty much the same role that Coke did. Park is making 1.2 million this year and his current value comes to a negative number. Due to a poor start and some time lost, he's sitting with a value of -1.9 million. But Park has been decent of late and if he gets into his 2009 groove, he should finish around 3 million in value or about half of what he was worth last year. That wasn't exactly scientific, but it is what it is.

The Tigers' side

Austin Jackson is making the minimum this season or $400,000. His current value sits at 7.6 million which projects to a season value of 19.83 million. Many believe he will come down quite a bit at the plate as the season progresses, but though he has been in a slump of late that seems to bear out that belief, we'll keep the year's projection as is for now. This is just a first look, right? We'll update this as the year goes along.

Johnny Damon is making 8.0 million this season and so far has a value of 5.9. That should give him a yearly projection of 15.40 million. There are two comments about this. First, Damon is now pretty much a full time DH. Boesch is playing left most days. So part of Damon's current value comes from time played in left, where he has a 1.0 rating as a fielder. This tempted the Fan to devalue Damon's projection, but perhaps the Tigers will figure out that Damon is actually a better fielder (as of now) than Boesch who is scoring in the negative numbers in value. Plus, Damon really hasn't had one of his hot streaks at the plate yet. So the Fan will leave the projection as is.

Phil Coke is making .425 million this year and is sitting with a current value of 1.5 million. That gives him a yearly projection of 3.9 million. That sounds reasonable.

To recap all of this, the Yankees tab for the three players listed is 7.15 million in salary this year. Detroit's tab for the three players listed is 8.83 million. The Yankees dollar projection for the year (based on what the Fan hopes is good math) is 33.24 million or 4.64 million in value for every million spent. Detroit's projected value for the three players is 39.14 million or 4.43 million of value for every million spent.

This trade is much closer than it appears for this season. The Yankees are getting better value for the dollars spent, but the Tigers are getting the higher total value. This, of course, gets blown all to hell when Granderson's salary increases next year and Austin Jackson is still making just a few bucks over base. But for this year, at first glance, the trade is working out for both teams and buck for buck is pretty close. We will certainly revisit this from time to time.

The other wildcard here is the loss of Ian Kennedy to the Diamonbacks. Kennedy is making .435 million and is sitting at a value of 2.8 million, giving him a projection of 7.09 million for the year. If you throw him together with the Tigers' former Yankees, then the value per million spent jumps to 4.99 million and way past the value the Yankees are currently paying per million. But the Fan is pretty sure the Yankees are just as happy with Phil Hughes as their starter instead of Kennedy, right?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Holds and Saves

The Cardinals - Diamondbacks game on Sunday was a perfect example of how screwed up the Holds, Saves and Blown Saves are calculated. One pitcher, Chad Qualls, probably the games most unreliable closer at this point in time, actually blew a save opportunity, but got a Hold and the guy who took his place, Esmerling Vasquez, came in and saved the game for the Diamondbacks, but got a blown save. Here's how it happened...

Chris Carpenter started for the Cardinals and got a "quality start" (another discussion we need to have) by pitching six innings while giving up three runs. In what is really rare for Carpenter, he had trouble with his command and walked five batters which caused him to have to exit earlier than normal for him. His replacement, Dennys (does Denny have multiple personalities?) Reyes, gave up two more runs in a third of an inning to give the D-Backs a 5-2 lead heading into the top of the ninth.

Edwin Jackson started for the D-backs and held the Cardinals to only two runs, but he too walked on the wild side and threw 115 pitches in six and a third innings. That meant that the porous D-Backs' bullpen needed to get seven outs to win the game. That's a scary thought. Heilman came in and gave up three hits in an inning and a third, but didn't give up any runs (give that man a Hold!) and then closer, Qualls, took over in the ninth.

Lopez was the first batter and he doubled. Rasmus then hit a slow comebacker to Qualls and the pitcher threw badly to first for an error and made it first and third with no outs. Pujols singled and Lopez scored and the score was then 5-3 with sill nobody out. Matt Holliday just missed a homer and flew out to deep center. Rasmus tagged and went to third. Randy Winn--picked up by the Cards after the Yankees dumped him--singled to drive in Rasmus. Pujols went to third on the hit to again make it first and third with only one out. The score was then 5-4.

Here is where it gets messed up. A. J. Hinch had seen enough of Qualls and called for Esmerling Vazquez to get the Diamondbacks out of that mess. Vazquez then threw a wild pitch which allowed Pujols to score and the game was tied. Remember now that Qualls left the game while the Diamondbacks were still officially ahead in the game. So since the Diamondbacks never actually relinquished the lead while Qualls was in the game and eventually went on to win the game, Qualls blew the lead but was still credited with a Hold. All the runners that scored were guys he put on base. We won't even talk about the unearned run he received because of his own error.* Vazquez had one misguided pitch that went astray and allowed Qualls' last base runner to score. Qualls still got his Hold and Vazquez, who still at that point hadn't actually recorded a single at bat against, is lumped with a blown save. But Vazquez did his job and ended the threat by getting a ground out and a line out to end the inning.

*Posnanski asterisk ripoff: The Fan still thinks it's ridiculous that a pitcher is not given an "earned" run when the error was his. He certainly earned the run by making the error, right? It just doesn't make sense.

At least Vazquez got a win for his job well done as Chris Young hit a walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth to win the game. But here's the thing. The casual fan and the general manager using the stats at contract time will look at this box score and see Esmerling Vazquez with a blown save and a win. That usually happens when a guy blows the lead but then his team rallies back to win the game. The implication here is that Vazquez didn't do his job and simply got the win because his teammates saved his butt. But he did save the game. It was Qualls that blew the lead, but again, the casual fan and Qualls' agent and contract time will point to this event as successful, because Qualls got the Hold, which means that he held the other team from getting the tying or winning run. But he didn't do that.

Put this in the same category as the reliever that gets a Save when he comes into a game with a three run lead, gives up two runs, but records three outs so his team wins. That wasn't a Save. That was a Whew! The Fan recommends that we modify the Save rules so that such events can't be considered Saves and create a new category called Whews!

And these scenarios are the exact reason why the stats of Saves, Blown Saves and Holds are discounted by sabermetric people everywhere. The Fan thinks those relief appearances that preserve wins should get positive statistics. It's just too bad the rules are so screwy that it takes away from what is a very tough job to do.

Game Picks - Monday: June 14, 2010

Nine correct and six incorrect. A positive day but not an overwhelmingly convincing one. At least the Fan passed his kidney stone. There is nothing quite as heartwarming as straining one's pee to look for a needle in a pee-stack. TMI? Probably. But the Fan was fully ready to make the day's trauma available for an excuse if the day went really poorly. Consider yourselves spared.

We finally have ourselves a real, honest to goodness, typical Monday with only four games scheduled. Here are the few, the proud and the Mariners:

- The Cardinals over the Mariners: Speaking of those bad boys, the Mariners are starting Luke French, fresh from the minors against Dudley Do-Wainwright. Wainwright will prevail. By the way, for those of you curious about name origins, a "Wain" was (according to Wikipedia)"a type of horse-drawn, load-carrying vehicle, used for agricultural purposes rather than transporting people." Thus a Wainwright would be a person that wrought (or made) those wagons. Now you know.
- The Brewers over the Angels: The Angels, fresh off their stirring sweep of the Dodgers, have a letdown against Wolf and the Brewers.
- The Blue Jays over the Padres: The Fan would pick the Padres if any of their regular starters was starting. Instead it's a guy named Sanchez. Marcum goes for the Jays.

And the Game of the Day (one of the four had to be it):

- The Giants over the Orioles: Not only have the Orioles lost a gazillion games in a row, but then they had to fly from New York to San Francisco without a day off to play the Giants. Those poor sad sacks.

Yesterday: 9-6
Week: 9-6
Month: 101-64
Season: 538-395
Games of the Day: 29-29

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Game Picks - Sunday: June 13, 2010

Last night was interesting to say the least. When this game picker went to bed, the pick tally was at seven wins and three losses. Then at 2:30 in the morning, this picker woke up with this incredible pain in the lower right side. Trying to figure out what was going on and trying to get the mind off the pain, the picker then went to look at the scores and found out that only one more win occurred and four more losses. It was about a draw to which circumstance hurt the most. Not really of course as the latter is just a game and the former was a real scare. A trip to the emergency room revealed a kidney stone and pain pills were dispensed and a warning to forgo the usual Sunday session of golf. That meant three things that were a downright bummer.

But the good news is that the stone had passed from the kidney and is sitting in the bladder waiting for the right moment to be birthed and cast out of the body. And, the instruction to take it easy also means that there is nothing standing in the way of enjoying a full slate of baseball games.

Here are Sunday's picks:

  • The Nationals over the Indians: Strasburg still seems like a shaky pick. After all, he's made one fantastic start in his brief career. But Huff hasn't been pitching well at all. So be it.
  • The Tigers over the Pirates: The Pirates were leading the entire game on Saturday only to lose it at the end. That's as close as they will get to winning a game in this series. Galarraga over Karstens.
  • The Yankees over the Astros: Phil Hughes will beat Moehler. The Yankees can smell the top spot in the AL East after trailing Tampa all year.
  • The Royals over the Reds: This is the day that Greinke will get his first win of the year. The scales are tipped since Carlos Silva lost his first game of the season (even though he pitched great again).
  • The Mets over the Orioles: The Orioles are now 22 games out of first place. Can you imagine just how far away that is? Pelfrey gets the win.
  • The Red Sox over the Phillies: The Phillies haven't hit a knuckleballer all year. Today will continue that trend.
  • The Bay Rays over the Marlins: This has been a great series so far with lots of drama and offense.
  • The Twins over the Braves: Slowey will shut the Braves down long enough for the Twins to get to Medlan.
  • The Rangers over the Brewers: The Fan feels bad about being heartless, but Macha just has to get fired. He just has to.
  • The Rockies over the Blue Jays: Just can't feel good about Jesse Litsch's first start of the year. Francis will win.
  • The Mariners over the Padres: This is another manager death watch. But King Felix will shut the Padres down.
  • The Giants over the Athletics: Matt Cain has been sublime of late. Mazzaro was good last time out, but Cain will out pitch him.
  • The Cardinals over the Diamondbacks: If I were a Carpenter, and you were an Addy, would you carry me anyway, would you have my shut out.
  • The Dodgers over the Angels: The Angels have had their way with the Dodgers all series. The Dodgers need to win this one.

And the Game of the Day:

  • The Cubs over the White Sox: Lilly over Floyd.

Yesterday: 8-7
Last Week: 56-41
Month: 92-58
Season: 529-389
Games of the Day: 28-29 - Why oh why can't the Fan get this feature over .500?

Indians Giving Hope

There are bad teams that seem to be going nowhere and then there is the Indians. The Indians certainly seemed moribund the first two months of the season. They finished April with nine wins against thirteen losses and followed that up with an even worse June when they won only nine games and lost eighteen. They were ridiculed (did you see that video by one of the local media?) and for a time were considered worse than the Royals. But the Indians are on a bit of a roll and have won six of their last nine and there is a slight ray of hope.

Carlos Santana, their best prospect, and a catcher, was called up this week and on Saturday night, he hit his first homer and drove in three. Russell Branyon, after a slow start, is starting to mash the ball. Austin Kearns--featured in this space within the last week or two--is a nice surprise. Choo is one of the best players in the game. And Travis Hafner, though not what he once was, is at least better than league average and gives you a good at bat nearly every time up. Andy Marte and Shelley Duncan have given them some decent production filling in here and there.

But the recent surge is about pitching. Three fifths of their rotation is comprised of sinkerball pitchers: Westbrook, Masterson and Carmona. Those kinds of pitchers have to be able to repeat their delivery and get their pitches to sink. Masterson was horrible to start the year, but give the Indians credit because they stuck with him despite we doubters and he has responded with four straight good starts. The last two were particularly impressive. Carmona pitched really well against the Nationals on Saturday night. Westbrook is solid. But the real hero of the rotation so far has been Mitch Talbot. But that is a little scary as he has been pretty lucky so far.

Talbot only has a 1.1 to 1 K/BB ratio and he is walking over three batters per nine innings. With a BABIP against of only .268, expect a regression for Talbot the rest of the way. But Talbot can be a decent fourth or fifth guy along with David Huff, another pitcher who was successful in the past mostly due to luck. Luck caught up with him this year and he hasn't pitched well at all. But again, if your front three can give you a chance to win every time out and you can squeak out a few wins with the bottom of the rotation, the Indians should win their share of series the rest of the way out.

Not that the team isn't without problems. Jhonny Peralta is a decent fielding third baseman, but he's all over the place at the plate. He's had three years over league average in batting stats and four years under. That kind of inconsistency has led to a career OPS+ of 100...exactly league average. You want power from your corner infielders and Peralta isn't consistent enough.

Grady Sizemore can't get on the field and stay there. And it looks like he may need another surgery. That's a big loss and pretty much toasts him for the second year in a row. It's a shame, because he really is a great player when he is healthy. The loss of Asdrubal Cabrera recently is another big setback. Cabrera is an up and coming player and it is hoped he can get back on the field soon. Jason Donald is a pretty good back up guy, but he's not good enough to play every day at short.

Second base is also a big problem. Mark Grudzielanek was recently let go after delivering a 70 OPS+ in 116 at bats. Grudzielanek has thirty hits before he was released and each and every one of them was a single. Wow! His replacement has been Luis Valbuena. Valbuena had two decent seasons in the high minors with impressive OBPs but it hasn't translated to the majors. In 604 major league plate appearances, Valbuena has put up this ugly line: .231/.297/.372. That's not going to help much if that continues.

The bullpen also started very, very poorly. And that is pretty much and understatement. Kerry Wood hasn't been great since his return, but he's saved some games lately and at least he gives one more layer of depth to a real thin and real dangerous bullpen (dangerous to the Indians that is).

Unfortunately, there isn't much in the way of help behind Santana in the minors. They have drafted and signed some good young arms, but they are not close to being ready. Only Lonnie Chisenhall is close to being ready and he's played third in the minors and is blocked by Peralta. Wonder if he can play second? He was drafted as a shortstop, so maybe...

The Indians have no chance of catching the Twins, but they could very well catch the White Sox (who they have beaten regularly this season) and that wouldn't be half bad. Can they play .500 ball the rest of the way out? Probably not. But a 7-5 start to June (even figuring in their helplessness against Galarraga in that infamous game) is a heck of a lot better and more hopeful then May.