Saturday, May 26, 2012

Game Picks - Saturday: May 26, 2012

Friday was not kind to a lonely old game picker and the night finished a pick under .500. And that is after the Tigers finally won a game. The Red Sox were not supposed to lose, but deserved it with that crap in the ninth inning. What was that, Bobby? Brandon Morrow was counted on for a big start and was absolutely awful. Terrible. Poor Ryan Dempster needs to be traded. He had another wonderful outing and lost, 1-0. Ian Kennedy again came up a- crapper. Clayton Kershaw lost to the Astros. That entire last sentence does not make any sense. It just was not a good day.

Saturday has to be better to end the week in the black. If not, it will be the second negative week in a row. We can't have that! So, bear down, William. Get this right! Saturday's picks:
  • The Tigers over the Twins: Are the Twins what the Tigers needed at this point in their so- far crummy season? Perhaps. Carl Pavano can pitch a decent game at times, but he should get a bit overwhelmed here against Detroit. Max Scherzer needs to be good though.
  • The Rangers over the Blue Jays: The Blue Jays are so confusing. Gosh, Josh, they are confusing. Henderson Alvarez is usually pretty solid, but look at that Morrow pick yesterday. Going with Colby Lewis at home.
  • The Royals over the Orioles: Felipe Paulino has already pitched shutout ball against the Yankees and Red Sox. If he doesn't against the Orioles, this picker will cry, "Discrimination!" Wei-Yin Chen has been great...until his last start.
  • The Yankees over the Athletics: The Yankees face old friend, Bartolo Colon. And Colon might have a good day. But he won't get the support he needs with CC Sabathia pitching.
  • The Nationals over the Braves: Normally, the pick would be the Braves here. But they aren't the same team without McCann and Chipper. Plus, Stephen Strasburg is pitching. Plus, Mike Minor is pitching and the way he's going, you'll have to put, "Leagues," after his name.
  • The White Sox over the Indians: Two good pitchers in Jake Peavy and Derek Lowe. Going with Peavy.
  • The Giants over the Marlins: Simply cannot pick against Madison Bumgarner. Mark Buehrle will bend enough for the Giants to win.
  • The Angels over the Mariners: Felix Hernandez bounced back well in his last start and is hard to discount. But all Jerome Williams does is win. Plus, Albert Pujols is Pujols again.
  • The Cubs over the Pirates: Paul Maholm will get all the runs that Dempster never gets. That's because Kevin Coreia simply isn't good enough to win on most nights.
  • The Reds over the Rockies: The Reds are about as confusing at the Blue Jays for this picker. They win four games in a row for like the first time in forever and then their best pitcher loses. Mike Leake has been brutal all season. Now, all of the sudden, he's good. Oy! Give him the W against Jeremy Guthrie.
  • The Cardinals over the Phillies: Any pick with Jaime Garcia attached to it is questionable. But the Cards should hit Kyle Kendrick hard and often. The Cards' fans are awful restless if Twitter is any indication. Settle down, folks. It will be fine.
  • The Red Sox over the Bay Rays: Which Josh Beckett shows up tonight? The beer and chicken, golfing one or the one that can occasionally be outstanding? And can the Red Sox hit David Price?
  • The Astros over the Dodgers: Isn't this Astros' season sort of amazing? Hasn't Bud Norris been sort of amazing? Hasn't Myers been great as a closer? Chad Billingsley is the loser in this one.
  • The Brewers over the Diamondbacks: Two great pitchers that are 5-1 with Zack Greinke and Wade Miley. One of them has to win.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Mets over the Padres: Clayton Richard was good his last time out despite this picker's harsh words for him. Sorry about that. But it is still not enough for the pick to go his way. The Mets win at home behind Johan Santana.

Yesterday: 7-8
Week: 32-33
Month: 171-161
Season: 360-310
Games of the Day: 38-20

Friday, May 25, 2012

Curt Schilling bloody socks employees

Amid reports that his employees have not been paid since April and that the state of Rhode Island wants their money back, Curt Schilling pulled the plug on his hundreds of employees by laying them off on the same day. Schilling's 38 Studios was supposed to be the coolest thing a former player had ever been associated with and made Schilling's larger-than-life persona all that much larger. Now it has all come crashing down and even for one of his harshest critics, there is no joy in the news.

As someone whose own business just folded and has also been part of the surprise layoff reality, there is no glee in this news. As an entrepreneur, Schilling had the opportunity to provide meaningful jobs in a country that no longer makes things. That dream is now dashed. For those hundreds of employees, there might be little hope to getting paid for the last month of their labor and now they are unemployed. In other words, this is a terrible story for them.

There was a lot of mud thrown at the state of Rhode Island in recent days and public opinion revolved around thoughts like, "If Rhode Island doesn't want Schilling's business, we do." But the state...the taxpayers...lent Schilling $75 million dollars. There might be little hope of getting that money back, more bad news for everyone involved. Schilling used payroll to make his last payment. That is what prompted the cryptic news stories we've been hearing lately and the anger toward the state itself. But, gosh, the state made a good faith loan and it needs to get its money back. You can question the sanity of the state in making that kind of speculative arrangement, but not the state's desire to get paid back.

As for Schilling, this is one of those cases were perhaps karma is bringing down one of the larger egos the game of baseball has produced. Schilling was all about the bombast and his strong opinions since he left the game have been oft reported. The game company he started was yet another feather in his famous cap that included championships in Arizona and Boston. Now, he is just another foundering business owner trying to avoid disaster. But disaster has already arrived.

No, there is no humor in this story. For sure, some will paint it that way because it is Schilling who is such a controversial figure. But hundreds of people and families are affected and taxpayers are left holding the bill for a dream that has seemingly died like a character in one of Studio 38's role-playing games. This is sad, folks. Very, very sad.

Game Picks - Friday: May 25, 2012

Yesterday was a crappy little short day. Only two of the picks were correct and fortunately, one of them was the Game of the Day. As for the Tigers...there are no words. They can't even win when Justin Verlander pitches. The Padres scored a week's worth of runs for them. The Phillies and Cardinals played a donnybrook with the wrong team coming out ahead. You just have to shake your head in amazement at Melky Cabrera. His one man wrecking crew ruined another pick and Dan Haren used the occasion to finally get his act together. You could have at least warned this picker, Dan.

Back to a full schedule on this Friday to start the Memorial Day Weekend. Here are Friday's picks:

  • The Cubs over the Pirates: The Cubs should really trade Ryan Dempster. The poor guy keeps pitching his heart out and can't buy a win. He gets the pick tonight in sympathy. Well, that and A.J. Burnett is pitching and who knows how THAT will go.
  • The Orioles over the Royals: Bruce Chen has won three straight. The Orioles have a good lineup to counteract him though. Jason Hammel looked like an ace earlier in the season, but problems with his knee have made him a mere mortal again.
  • The Reds over the Rockies: This is the first winning streak the Reds have had since 2010. And they are hot with the bats and on the mound. Johnny Cueto has been terrific. He is the pick over Christian Friedrich, who has been very good on the road.
  • The Mets over the Padres: The Padres will not score eleven runs again. Dillon Gee has been pretty good of late. Anthony Bass is a pretty good pitcher though.
  • The Marlins over the Giants: Tim Lincecum hasn't had his stuff all season. Josh Johnson is starting to put his stuff together. 
  • The Red Sox over the Bay Rays: Jon Lester is a bit of a puzzle to this picker. But let's say that he shuts down the Rays on offense. Does Alex Cobb have the stuff to shut down the Red Sox? Don't think so.
  • The Braves over the Nationals: Have no idea on this one. Ross Detwiler was great. Now he's not. Tim Hudson was hurt. Now he's not. Why do this every day? #facepalm
  • The Blue Jays over the Rangers: Brandon Morrow has been nearly unhittable. And he historically is even better on the road. Derek Holland lost to the Astros his last time out. That alone is worth a wet noodle.
  • The Indians over the White Sox: Jeanmar Gomez is hardly someone to hang a hat on, but the White Sox are stuck starting Jose Quintana since John Danks has to go on the disabled list.
  • The Tigers over the Twins: The Emoticon, Drew Smyly versus Anthony Swarzak. Do you remember that golf movie with Kevin Costner, when he had the lead in the tournament and in the worst ending for a movie of all time, stubbornly kept hitting balls into the water on the last hole? Yeah, that's this Fan picking the Tigers.
  • The Phillies over the Cards: Kept wanting to pick the Cards in this one. But dang, Cliff Lee has to show up here sooner or later. Look what Dan Haren did yesterday. Kyle Lohse could have something to say about the outcome though.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Brewers: Ian Kennedy has yet to string good outings together. He'll figure it out though and the D-backs get to Yovani Gallardo at home.
  • The Yankees over the Athletics: Ivan Nova over Tyson Ross seems kind of like a no- brainer. 
  • The Angels over the Mariners: The Mariners have taken over as the official toughest team to predict. Blake Beavan has been brutal to this picker all season. And who knows what Ervin Santana will do.

And the Game of the Day!

Yesterday: 2-5
Week: 25-25
Month: 164-153
Season: 353-302
Games of the Day: 28-20

Thursday, May 24, 2012

BBA Linkfest - Not generally interesting

Hello! And welcome to another week of links from around the General Chapter of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance. What is a general chapter? That is a sticking point here. The definition of general is, "Concerned with, applicable to, or affecting the whole or every member of a class or category." There is kind of a blah connotation to the word. In this case, it means that this chapter's writers do not cover a specific team or write about one aspect of baseball. We are generalists. But again, the word does these writers a disservice. There is nothing about these links you will find generally interesting. You will find it hugely interesting. Please click a link and leave a comment or two. Our terrific writers will appreciate that very much.

Jonathan Dyer of the X-Log has an interesting bit of advice to today's non-homer hitting batters. And truthfully, and mention of Wade Boggs seals a must read here.

Dan Kirby of Through the Fence Baseball has a great interview with one of the top baseball prospects out there, Joey Gallo. Terrific.

Sully over at Sully Baseball asks a question that is dear to this heart, why is Scott Podsednik allowed to wear Wade Boggs' number for the Red Sox. Here is this compiler's take on that question which was written more than a year ago.

In a fun and thorough read, Replacement Level Baseball Blog hands out All Star picks based on the first quarter of the season. The only complaint here is leaving out Derek Jeter. The guy is batting .348!

For a truly must read, you have to go to The Platoon Advantage and read TCM's research into Whitey Herzog's recent comments concerning tanking seasons for better draft picks. Superb.

Matthew Mahhafey of the Pop Fly Boys has a well thought out argument that the Cardinals are about to have a reality check. Great stuff, but this compiler respectfully disagrees.

Old Time Family Baseball has a perfect example of how the American League works. Still not sure that author approves though. Fun post.

Nik of Niktig's Baseball Blog lists this year's most valuable third basemen.

The always excellent MLB Reports had another full week of content. This compiler's favorite was a retrospective on the recently retired, Kerry Wood. Nice work from Bryan Sheehan.

This compiler still thinks Dylan Bundy sounds like a sitcom character name. But Jonathan Mitchell of MLB Dirt show us that he is a superb pitcher that is wasting his time in the minors.

Pverniere of Major League A**holes thinks the Cubs have hit bottom this season.

Left Field has a wonderful post on the author's memories romping around minor league parks. Loved this one! And a mention of the Portland Sea Dogs!

The Hall of Very Good has the amazing story of the fan who caught two home run balls. That guy should have played the lottery that night.

For reason number 1,347 of why Joe Maddon is one of the best managers ever, check out The Baseball Index to see a really cool lineup. Make sure you click on the picture to get the full effect.

Dennis Lawson has a super fun romp at the expense of Jamie Moyer's age over at Full Spectrum Baseball. Loved this.

In life, we are drawn sometimes to the bad boys. As a father of a teenaged girl, this compiler knows that danger. For Baseball Junkies has the bad boy All Star team.

Dugout 24 has the scoop on the most expensive baseball jersey of all time.

TheNaturalMevs of Diamond Hoggers has seen critical mass in Chapmania.

Curley Bender of the Crum-Bum Beat is going to miss Kerry Wood. Right there with you, Curley.

Matt Whitener of Cheap.Seats.Please. is cautiously optimistic in what he sees with the new owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

As is only right and terrific, Mario Salvini of Che Palle! celebrates Alex Liddi's grand slam.

Doug Wachter of Call to the Pen has a great take on the surprising Baltimore Orioles.

In what has become one of this compiler's must stops each week, Justin Jabs of Baseblog has his weekly Emma Award winner.

Baseball Unrated thinks this past week has been dominated by the umpires and that's never a good thing.

Happy Moe Thacker Day! Who? That's why this compiler adores the writing of Stevo-sama who comes up with such things at his The Baseball Enthusiast site.

The Ball Caps Blog, the newest member of the East Coast writers' club and sure to soon develop an East Coast bias links us to a terrific New York Times article. Glad he did.

And finally, ending on a really terrific note, Eugene Tierney of 85% Sports gives us the 2012 all-surprise All Star team. Loved it.

Have a great week, everyone!

Game Picks - Thursday: May 24, 2012

While yesterday's game picks ended over .500 for the day (barely), it was a disappointment. The day started pretty darned well and at one point stood at 6-2. The Mariners pick over the Rangers was brilliant as was the Red Sox over the Orioles. But the later games, which had been what has saved many a day lately, fell apart and the day ended with just two more correct picks out of seven. This picker is just sick of picking the Tigers only to have them lose game after game. And a pick against Wandy Rodriguez is insane these days.

Many teams get a well-earned rest today and for once, it is a light schedule. This picker cannot ever remember another season where so many games were played with so few off days. Here are the picks for the games that are scheduled:

  • The Tigers over the Indians: Yeah, what was just said in the first paragraph? Yeah, crazy, right? But it is Justin Verlander! You have to pick Justin Verlander! Of course, with the way the Tigers are going, Justin Masterson will blank the Tigers and the game will go into extra innings. Geez.
  • The Reds over the Braves: Maybe the Reds found something in the Bronx this week. They carried it forward to yesterday and beat the Braves in a tight game. Homer Bailey looked good against the Yankees. Can he string two good games in a row? Randall Delgado goes for the Braves and that instills little confidence to throw the pick that way.
  • The Mets over the Padres: What the heck to do with this game? Eric Stults goes for the Padres against Jeremy Hefner for the Mets. Yes, that's right. What would you do? Let's go with the team that has the better offense.
  • The Marlins over the Giants: Another confusing game. Both Ryan Vogelsong and Anibal Sanchez are pitching really well. Let's go with a Marlins' win on a Giancarlo Stanton dinger.
  • The Cardinals over the Phillies: It is Joe Blanton versus Jake Westbrook. Any inclination that Westbrook gives up hits will be mitigated by the Phillies' poor offense. Blanton was a lock earlier this season but had a bad outing his last time out and faces a tough Cardinal lineup.
  • The Mariners over the Angels: Another tough pick. Dan Haren is 1-5 and that seems incredible. But he has not been that great and gets no run support. It's not like the Mariners are big hitters or anything. And this picker has been burned often this season picking against Jason Vargas.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The White Sox over the Twins: Philip Humber should get the win here as the Twins start some young, hometown kid named Cole De Vries. His Triple-A numbers do not look pretty.

Yesterday: 8-7
Week: 31-27
Month: 170-155
Season: 359-305

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Can we get excited over Wainwright's performance?

At first blush, Adam Wainwright had his best start of the 2012 season while pitching a complete game shutout. This was the kind of start that gives hope that Wainwright is starting to return to form following his season lost to ligament reconstruction surgery on his elbow. He only allowed four hits, two of them doubles, walked only one batter and struck out nine. The nine strikeouts were a season high. And his 87 game score as calculated by was the best of all pitchers last night and easily the best of his season. After recording game scores of 25 and 40 the previous two starts, is this a sign that Wainwright is all the way back?

This observer is not so sure. First of all, the performance was against the San Diego Padres. That team from southern California is 15th of 16 National League teams in batting average and on-base percentage and dead last in slugging. The Padres are also second in the NL in strikeouts. So Wainwright's offerings were a little like using a hand grenade to wipe out little toy soldiers. Frankly, with a team OPS of .625, the Padres are making most pitchers look awfully good. The Padres swung at eleven of Wainwright's offerings outside the strike zone (see chart below from Brooks Baseball).

But we can hang one hat on Wainwright's outing: His velocity. All of his pitches have been down in velocity this year compared to where he was in 2010. His fastball had been a full two MPH slower than two years ago. That is to be expected from someone coming back from that kind of injury. But last night, after averaging 89.7 MPH for the season on his fastball, Wainwright was consistently over 90 the entire game. He threw three pitches over 92 MPH and averaged 90.72 on his four-seam fastballs and 90.54 on his two-seam version. His cutter averaged 88.2 MPH last night after averaging only 86 MPH for the season with that pitch. And the cutter was his most effective pitch generating four strikeouts.

The conclusion is mixed. It is extremely dangerous to make any solid conclusions based on one outing against a very bad offensive team. But, at the same time, the up-tick in velocity is a welcome sign and perhaps means that Wainwright's arm strength is building and he can be more successful in his following starts. Wainwright, to this point, has been the weakest link in the Cardinals' rotation. This former All Star returning to form would make the Cardinals all the more tougher to beat in the National League Central Division.

Game Picks - Wednesday: May 23, 2012

Tuesday was a decent day, though early, things did not appear that way. Picking the wrong side of the Tampa Bay, Cleveland and Baltimore wins started the day off at 3-5. But nearly all of the late games and picks were correct which saved the day. See, Nicholi? Picking the Rangers has no relation to them winning or not. The Yankees finally won a game, but it was a nail-biter, right to the end. Adam Wainwright's performance was huge for the Cardinals and great news for their fans. The Dodgers pick was only correct because of a total, embarrassing meltdown by the Diamondbacks' bullpen. That crew pitched three innings and gave up seven runs. Brutal.

Wednesday is another full day of games and the last one before most teams finally get a breather on Thursday. All these games are great fun for fans, but it sure must be a grind for the players. Six of Wednesday's games are during the day. Love that. Here are Wednesday's picks:

  • The Red Sox over the Orioles: Yes, the pick makes little sense. Daniel Bard has been less than spectacular as a starter. Yes, the Orioles are pretty much having their way with everyone. But sometimes, you just have to go with what the gut says. Jake Arrieta goes for the Orioles.
  • The Mets over the Pirates: The pick here is that Jon Niese rebounds from his awful start in Toronto and handcuffs the light-hitting Pirates while the Mets squeeze out a few runs against Charlie Morton.
  • The Giants over the Brewers: For the first time in forever, Barry Zito was picked to win a game without any reservations here. Marco Estrada goes for the Brewers. The Melkman is up to .360 and Buster Posey is quietly having a very good comeback season.
  • The Bay Rays over the Blue Jays: A pick for the Blue Jays would just be wishful thinking here. James Shields will shut them down and Ricky Romero will get dinged up for a few runs.
  • The Angels over the Athletics: The A's are melting and Jered Weaver gets the benefits. Jarrod Parker will try to keep it close, but his mates can't score. At all.
  • The Mariners over the Rangers: Who is this Kevin Millwood and what have you done with the real one? This picker loves Scott Feldman, but he is being asked to join the rotation without the benefit of being stretched out.
  • The Tigers over the Indians: Can this picker ask what has happened to the Tigers this season? How strange is this? Doug Fister hasn't won a game yet. The Tigers are hitting like a collective Brandon Inge. What is the story? Perhaps Zach McAllister can help pitching for the Indians.
  • The Yankees over the Royals: Andy Pettitte should have a good day over the lefty- leaning lineup (nice alliterative there) of the Royals. Meanwhile, the Royals have thought better of starting Luis Mendoza (why?) and brought up Will Smith to pitch because he is left- handed. Didn't the Royals get the memo that the Yankees like left-handed pitching? And besides, shouldn't Will Smith make his debut on July 4?
  • The Phillies over the Nationals: The only times the Phillies win these days is when Cole Hamels pitches. Which is a double-edged sword in that every time he wins, he gets more expensive after the season. The enigma, Edwin Jackson goes for the Nats.
  • The Braves over the Reds: Tommy Hanson is on a nice little roll and Bronson Arroyo is feisty more than he is effective.
  • The Marlins over the Rockies: The Marlins might be the hottest team in baseball right now. Carlo Zambrano has been terrific and poor Alex White hasn't won a game all season.
  • The Cubs over the Astros: The Astros have done well to take the first two games of this series and they have their best pitcher in Wandy Rodriguez on the mound. But Jeff Samardzija has been terrific and will shut the Astros down.
  • The Twins over the White Sox: Whoa. Did this picker just pick the Twins to win? Feeling shaky. But all Scott Diamond does is win. Chris Sale was decent his last time out. 
  • The Dodgers over the Diamondbacks: The Dodgers stomp on Joe Saunders and tell the D-backs that this is their year. Ted Lilly hasn't lost a game this season.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Cardinals over the Padres: Lance Lynn finally lost a game last time out, but gets the Padres to start a new streak going. The combo of Beltran and Holliday has been terrific for the Cards. Jeff Suppan gets the start for the Padres and has been surprisingly effective. But the Cards know who he is.

Yesterday: 9-6
Week: 23-20
Month; 162-148
Season: 351-297
Games of the Day: 27-20

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

This is the story about a man named Jed

The Red Sox should never make trades with the Houston Astros. In what might be the beantowner's second worst trade since Bagwell, the team from Boston sent Jed Lowrie and Kyle Weiland for Mark Melancon. And sure, Melancon did have a severe meltdown early for the Red Sox, but he's pitching really well at Triple A and he can still help the team from Boston. Even so,the Astros got a steal. Jed Lowrie is currently the third best shortstop in baseball according to Fangraphs, behind only the miracle rebirth of Furcal and the consistently good Andrus.

To be fair to the Red Sox, Mike Aviles, the guy the Red Sox chose over Lowrie is currently ranked the fourth best shortstop, right behind Lowrie. But the only thing keeping them close is the obscure base running ranking. Aviles is given 1.9 runs for his efforts on the base paths while Lowrie is given a negative rating there. But at this point, if you take away that metric, Lowrie is having a far better season than Aviles. And the Red Sox can't be happy with Aviles' current 3.8 percent walk rate.

It seems hard to understand, in hindsight, why the Red Sox would have given up on Lowrie. Yes, he had trouble staying healthy the last couple of years, he was a former Number One draft pick for that team back in 2005. But before that, he seemed exactly the kind of player the Red Sox covet. His minor league on-base percentage was over .380 and though last year did not pan out in 341 plate appearances for the Red Sox, those 88 games were the first regular playing time Lowrie had received in his young career. And he's always had a decent slugging percentage for a shortstop too.

But that's all a moot point as Jed Lowrie has moved on and now plays shortstop for the Astros. And much like his team, led by manager, Brad Mills, Lowrie personifies that hard-working, never-say-die attitude this over-achieving Astros team has displayed thus far. And sure, both the Astros and Lowrie could sink like a stone as the season wears on, but the view here is that Lowrie's season is the real deal.

Why is that the view? Because you can't fake patience at the plate. That is a skill that is not prone to slumps. And this year, Jed Lowrie is only swinging at 21.1 percent of pitches out of the strike zone (according to Pitch/FX, Fangraphs has him at 16 percent). Lowrie's career rate at that metric is 21.4 percent, so this is who he is. His 10.8 percent walk rate can actually go higher as the season progresses.

And Lowrie puts the ball in play. He only has a 5.6 swinging strike rate, which is very low. And his BABIP is .304, which is perfectly reasonable. There seems to be no reason not to believe that he can't keep his average in the .280 range and improve slightly on his current .365 on-base percentage. Lowrie is a switch hitter, so he won't get lost in match up battle late in the game and his power thus far is not a surprise to someone who has watched a lot of Red Sox games over the years. His seven homers has already eclipsed his last season totals for the Red Sox.

Lowrie leads the Astros in OPS and is playing his position at short in solid fashion. His was the exact kind of deal the Astros need to make in the coming seasons to fix a long-term lack of drafting and player acquisition problem that has plagued the Astros. If this deal is any indication of the new team in place in Houston, then they are off to a great start. As for the Red Sox, well...the deal wasn't quite as bad as that Bagwell thing.

Game Picks - Tuesday: May 22, 2012

Well, what do you know, a day in the black. It wasn't a superb picking performance and the Game of the Day lost. The Yankees lost...AGAIN! The wrong ace was picked in the Mariners - Rangers game. The Mets bullpen wrecked yet another pick. But, after so many losing days, this picker will take what he can get. That Astros pick was pretty sweet, wasn't it. And so was the pick for the A's behind Tommy Milone.

Perhaps the picks can get on a bit of a roll here. Perhaps the dark days are over. Perhaps the Yankees will win a game. Perhaps there is pie in the sky and the moon is made of Swiss cheese. Tuesday's picks:

  • The Red Sox over the Orioles: The death of the Boston Red Sox was announced prematurely. You never give up on a team with this much talent. Felix Doubront beats Brian Matusz today in the battle of youngsters.
  • The Tigers over the Indians: Rick Porcello has to pitch well for this pick to happen and Ubaldo Jimenez has to have one of his wild nights. But, the Tigers have to shake themselves out of this rut sooner or later.
  • The Yankees over the Royals: This picker is going to keep picking the Yankees until they actually win a game. It is an act of stubbornness beyond logic. Phil Hughes comes up big and the Yankees finally break out with runs against Luke Hochevar.
  • The Pirates over the Mets: R.A. Dickey is tough to pick against. He is having one heck of a season. But at least his offerings give the Pirates a chance to hit the ball. Plus, James McDonald is one of the top young guns in the game today.
  • The Nationals over the Phillies: No, it is probably not smart to pick against Roy Halladay. But the Phillies' offense is putrid and Jordan Zimmermann will keep it that way. The Nats need three runs to win. It's doable.
  • The Braves over the Reds: Brandon Beachy has been impeccable. The Reds lineup is top-heavy with strikeout, anxious hitters that Beachy can exploit. The Braves win if they score a few runs off of Matt Latos.
  • The Marlins over the Rockies: The Marlins are showing a lot of spirit these days and the Rockies are simply an awful road team. In the battle of rhyming pitchers, Juan Nicasio loses to Ricky Nolasco.
  • The Blue Jays over the Bay Rays: Have a feeling this series is going to vex this picker the entire way. Thought Hellickson would win. He didn't. Don't think Matt Moore will win. He probably will then. Drew Hutchison needs to have a big outing to make this come true.
  • The Astros over the Cubs: J.A. Happ has been fouling up picks all season with decent start after decent start. His last start against the Brewers was more than decent. So let's pick him, shall we? The Cubs starting Travis Wood, who is replacing the awful Chris Volstad, doesn't offer much hope.
  • The Giants over the Brewers: Shauan Marcum is dealing with a tender ribcage muscle, but thinks he will be alright. That definitely scares this pick away from him. Matt Cain with the win.
  • The Cardinals over the Padres: Can you imagine Tony La Russa playing all those young kids? No, this picker can't either. Two questionable pitchers go in this one with Edinson Volquez and Adam Wainwright. Since those two cancel each other out, going with the better offense.
  • The Dodgers over the Diamondbacks: The Dodgers just keep winning. And Aaron Harang has been good of late. The Diamondback's season is slipping away and Trevor Cahill isn't helping.
  • The Angels over the Athletics: This isn't an endorsement for the Angels as that team stinks. Sorry, they do. But C.J. Wilson should beat Graham Godfrey, shouldn't he?
  • The Rangers over the Mariners: Matt Harrison will benefit from pitching in Seattle and the Rangers will hit Hector Noesi like they did the first time they faced him.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The White Sox over the Twins: Gavin Floyd was not very good his last start, but has had a good season. PJ Walters isn't awful, but is homer prone.

Yesterday: 8-5
Week: 14-14
Month: 153-142
Season: 342-291
Games of the Day: 27-19

Monday, May 21, 2012

Game Picks - Monday: May 21, 2012

Sunday was yet another bad day here for the Game Picks. It is a bit like a reverse King Midas. Everything this picker touches lately turns to dust. Oh well. Things have to get better soon. After all, doing these picks everyday for three and a half years have never seen a picking slump like this one. At least the Game of the Day feature has been on a four game winning streak.

There are thirteen games on the schedule today. Only four teams have the day off. This run of games has been pretty amazing. Teams have got to be gassed as all of them have been playing endless days with very few off days. That's great for fans, but the players have to be dragging a bit.

Monday's picks:

  • The Red Sox over the Orioles: The Red Sox are starting to put things together and it all starts with the pitching. Clay Buchholz has been much better of late. And you know the Red Sox are going to hit. Tommy Hunter will try to slow them down. He won't.
  • The Yankees over the Royals: It is May 21, and so far, the Yankees are a .500 team. Sooner or later, this team is going to break out and have a run. And it all starts with Hiroki Kuroda who must get his act together, keep the ball in the park and give the team some solid innings. Felipe Paulino is a tough pitcher though.
  • The Mets over the Pirates: Sooner or later, Johan Santana will start reaping the benefits of his good pitching. But he keeps getting tough assignments, like today against Erik Bedard.
  • The Nationals over the Phillies: Two teams that struggle at the plate and have to win with pitching. The match up today of Gio Gonzalez versus Kyle Kendrick does not favor the Phillies.
  • The Braves over the Reds: The Reds are fresh off of beating the Yankees two out of three and return home for this series against the Braves. But they have their weakest pitching link on the mound in Mike Leake. Mike Minor has also been the weak link for the Braves. Something has to give.
  • The Marlins over the Rockies: An aged left-hander in Jamie Moyer against a middle- aged lefty in Mark Buehrle. There will be a lot of slop thrown at the plate today!
  • The Bay Rays over the Blue Jays: Jeremy Hellickson wins this first battle of the "Ays." Kyle Drabek pitched well against the Yankees, but Hellickson is better.
  • The Astros over the Cubs: Bud Norris is one of the hottest pitchers in the game right now. He'll beat the hard luck Matt Garza, who never gets run support.
  • The Giants over the Brewers: Madison Bumgarner is still the bomb. He just shouldn't pitch in Arizona. He will shut the Giants down and the Giants will eke out some runs on Randy Wolf.
  • The Cardinals over the Padres: Clayton Richard outside of Petco Field is always scary. Jaime Garcia needs to follow his last good outing with another one. Yonder Alonso is swinging a hot bat, but he doesn't have much help in that lineup.
  • The Dodgers over the Diamondbacks: The first thought was that Chris Capuano might struggle in the favorable hitting atmosphere of Arizona. But then the thought of placing a pick in the hands of Patrick Corbin didn't sound right.
  • The Athletics over the Angels: A very tough game to pick. Jerome Williams is 4-1 and just seems to find a way to win. But Tommy Milone is 3-0 in that Oakland ballpark with less than a run given up per game.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Rangers over the Mariners: This would have been a great match up between Felix Hernandez and Yu Darvish if this was the King Felix from two years ago. But he's lost velocity and he's getting hit. Darvish just wins.

Yesterday: 6-9
Week: 6-9
Month: 145-137
Season: 334-286
Games of the Day: 27-18

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Who is laughing at Melky Cabrera now?

When the San Francisco Giants traded Jonathan Sanchez and Ryan Verdugo to the Royals for Melky Cabrera on November 7, 2011, we all tittered. Yes, we all said, Cabrera was surprisingly good last season at 4.1 fWAR, but it was an outlier. It was a career season for a guy who just is not that good a player. ZiPS projections agreed and predicted Cabrera would have a 1.9 WAR season. Who is laughing now? Could it be that we were all wrong? It certainly looks that way as Cabrera's play has already garnered 1.4 fWAR in just 39 games for the Giants. If the season were to end now, Cabrera has already earned his $6 million price tag.

The Giants get a lot of flak for their front office and a lot of the criticism has been earned. The Aubrey Huff contract was stupid. But give credit where credit is due. Melky Cabrera has been a steal for the Giants and Jonathan Sanchez has been awful for the Royals. After a 201 hit season in 2011, Cabrera already has 53 this season and has a triple slash line of: .331/.379/.475, good for a 142 OPS+. He is still not a great outfielder, but he is holding his own and his defense has been neutral thus far.

We were right about one thing. Cabrera is not going to hit eighteen homers this season like he did a year ago for the Royals. But he has hit nine doubles and four triples so we are not talking about a Bonifacio here. His BABIP is a bit high at .373. But it was high a year ago at .332. So while there is some room for regression, maybe it won't be as much as we thought. ZiPS has already adjusted its initial WAR projection from the original 1.9 to 3.3. That would still be an excellent season for the Giants. 

There is one area of concern though. While Cabrera is hitting his share of line drives (20.1 percent), he is hitting more ground balls than ever before in his career. After a career ground ball percentage of 49 percent with each previous season not deviating much from that base line, that rate for Cabrera is up to a Jeter-like 60.1 percent. His career ground ball to fly ball ratio of 1.56 is up to 2.53 this year. This ground ball rate does throw up a caution flag that Cabrera cannot continue his current pace.

And Cabrera has been bothered a bit lately with a sore toe. A lot of Cabrera's game revolves around his running and though he isn't the swiftest guy in baseball, he does hustle down the line and a sore toe hurts his chances on those ground balls.

But as of right now, many of us so called experts are eating a little crow when it comes to Melky Cabrera. Perhaps he is a lot better than we've all thought he was. And if so, perhaps the Giants' front office can get something right after all.

Game Picks - Sunday: May 20, 2012

Remember yesterday? Remember when this picker was talking about how a great day of picking on Friday had reversed all the losses of a miserable week? And that a positive Saturday could actually put the week in the black? Pfffft. Nada. Nope. Instead it was a total crash and burn and ended up being one of the worst days ever around here. The week was ruined. The reputation sullied. Awful. Gosh.

Despite the urge to pack up the computer and forget about it, the picks must go on. Here are Sunday's picks. Follow them at your own risk:
  • The Yankees over the Reds: These two teams are about as slippery to pick as any two teams in baseball right now. Win one. Lose one. Win one. Lose one. The Yankees are in a hitting funk and even make guys like Homer Bailey look good. So how will they do against a really good pitcher like Johnny Cueto? The pick is for the Yankees because of C.C. Sabathia at home.
  • The Indians over the Marlins: Tough game to pick. Josh Johnson finally won a game for the first time in a long, long time. But it was against the weak hitting Pirates. Derek Lowe is throwing all sinkers and is having a great season.
  • The Tigers over the Pirates: What the heck is up with the Tigers? How disappointed does their owner have to be after shelling out all that money? Max Scherzer over Kevin Corriea. Both pitchers are struggling.
  • The Blue Jays over the Mets: The Blue Jays have shut down the Mets all weekend. Henderson Alvarez should make it another shut down day. Dillon Gee goes for the Mets.
  • The Nationals over the Orioles: This pick has the most chance of being wrong. Stephen Strasburg is the pick. But Wei-Yin Chen hasn't lost this season and pitches well every time out. 
  • The Phillies over the Red Sox: Cliff Lee can't keep going winless with a 1.95 ERA, can he? Josh Beckett was terrific his last time out. This might become a battle of the bullpens. Will David Ortiz play first against the lefty?
  • The Bay Rays over the Braves: Yes, Tim Hudson is good. Yes, he will induce about 20 ground balls. Jack Wilson will field half of those. But David Price will shut down the Braves.
  • The Rangers over the Astros: What is it about these Astros? Everyone makes fun of them and they keep knocking off the big boys of baseball. The Rangers should win today though because Jordan Lyles gives up the long ball and that's what the Rangers do: hit long balls. Colby Lewis better not give up any himself.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Royals: Nathan Adcock is a replacement for the replacement, who himself got hurt. That is not a good recipe for winning a game. Wade Miley has been very good for the D-backs.
  • The White Sox over the Cubs: Two pitchers that have been pitching well in Jake Peavy and Paul Maholm. There will be lots of ground balls in this game. Whichever team wins the BABIP on those grounders, wins.
  • The Rockies over the Mariners: Blake Beavan at Coors is a pretty frightening thought. Jeremy Guthrie is hard to pick in that ball park too, but one of them has to win.
  • The Angels over the Padres: The desire is to pick the Padres in this one. But the reality is that they shouldn't win this one. Ervin Santana has been better of late and Anthony Bass should keep the Padres in the game.
  • The Giants over the Athletics: Tim Lincecum gets a break by facing the worst offense in baseball. Bartolo Colon has had a tough May.
  • The Cardinals over the Dodgers: This is one of those games that gives you heartburn. Chad Billingsley has been awful his last two starts, but is a good pitcher. Kyle Lohse has been great this year, but it's not believable. Aw heck, who knows.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Brewers over the Twins: The Brewers can't get going. And the lowly Twins have won four of five. But Zack Greinke is pitching. That should push the win to the Brewers over Jason Marquis, who could be DFA'd if he doesn't start pitching better.

Yesterday: 4-11  oof
Last week: 49-56  Booo!
Month: 139-128
Season: 328-277
Games of the Day: 26-18