Saturday, July 14, 2012

Game Picks - Saturday: July 14, 2012

The way the games started out last night, it appeared the picks were going to be a disaster. After the Blue Jays got beat, 1-0, by Justin Masterson and Alfonso Soriano blew away the Diamondbacks and the Orioles and Cardinals lost, the picks stood at, 1-5. The only correct pick was the Yankees and they had to come from behind to do it. But the night rallied and by the time it was all finished, the picks ended up, 8-7 with the Game of the Day coming up correct too. Phew!

There were a few lessons learned from the evening. One, the Orioles are in free-fall. Two, the Mets are sinking. Three, the Diamondbacks have become dysfunctional. And finally, we found out that the Rays' offense is really that bad. Let's see of Saturday's picks have learned anything:

  • The Yankees over the Angels: Let the national announcers go on barking about the Yankees lack of clutch hitting and short porches. They will just keep winning. To do so, Freddy Garcia will have to be at his best and the Yankees will have to get to Jerome Williams.
  • The Cubs over the Diamondbacks: Okay, lesson received in this one. The Cubbies are doing well after a horrid start. Ryan Dempster will again audition in front of a dozen scouts. He has been superb at home. Joe Saunders is coming back from the DL to start for the D- backs.
  • The Indians over the Blue Jays: Those Blue Jays will continue to outfox this picker. Today, Aaron Laffey goes for that team against a rejuvenated, Ubaldo Jimenez. That should be an easy pick, right? Nothing is ever that easy picking a Blue Jays game.
  • The Tigers over the Orioles: Here come the Tigers. Look out world. Max Scherzer has been on a roll and if he and Fister can back up Verlander, the Tigers have something cooking. The Orioles will start Wei-Yin Chen, who has been solid all season.
  • The Mets over the Braves: Okay, so this picker hasn't learned enough on this one as he has a soft spot for R.A. Dickey. Tommy Hanson had ten wins one other time at the All Star Break. He finished with eleven. Different year this year? We'll see.
  • The Cardinals over the Reds: Since Bill Ivie just became the new president of the BBA, the pick has to be for Kyle Lohse in his honor. Mike Leake has been pretty good despite his record. 
  • The Bay Rays over the Red Sox: Another lesson not learned. But c'mon, David Price has been lights out all season. Clay Buchholz is coming back from the disabled list. That is good news for the Red Sox long term, but who knows what to expect in his first outing back.
  • The White Sox over the Royals: There was a great line on Twitter last night. A Royals' supporter said (in paraphrase), "When the Royals drafted Luke Hochevar, he was expected to become the best Royals starter. Unfortunately, that is now true." Classic line. Love Twitter. Jake Peavy with the win.
  • The Twins over the Athletics: Still can't believe Liriano struck out all those A's and the Twins still lost. What the hay!? Two young pitchers in this one makes this unpredictable. Cole De Vries matches up with Tommy Milone. Both have looked really good. The Twins should have a better offense, so going that way.
  • The Brewers over the Pirates: The Pirates are running into a hot offense for the Brewers. Braun is going nuts. Kevin Correia will not be able to slow them down enough to overcome. Marco Estrada goes for the Brewers and the Pirates typically do not hit him very well.
  • The Rockies over the Phillies: The Phillies are just that bad. It is so hard to imagine. They are so bad. Vance Worley is the latest victim and Jeremy Guthrie will make the most of his 75 pitches.
  • The Giants over the Astros: This is not a pick for Tim Lincecum as much as it is a pick for the Giants' offense being better than the Astros'. Lucas Harrell will get little support.
  • The Dodgers over the Padres: With Kemp and Ethier back, so should the Dodgers be. The Padres can't score and Aaron Harang will keep it that way. Edinson Volquez will keep it close.
  • The Rangers over the Mariners: Yu Darvish has an ERA against the Mariners in two starts over eight. Seriously!?  He will improve that today immensely. The question will be if the Rangers can score against Felix Hernandez.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Nationals over the Marlins: The Nats are clearly the better team here. They are also better managed. And, geez, Gio Gonzalez is 12-3! That all adds up to a Nat's pick over Mark Buehrle.

Yesterday: 8-7
Week: 17-15
Month: 73-60
Season: 705-576
Games of the Day: 54-40

Friday, July 13, 2012

Game Picks - Friday: July 13, 2012

Ahh! Meaningful baseball is back. After a couple of evenings of not knowing what to do, Friday evening will again be filled with scores and highlights. Bless you, baseball! There will be recaps to read instead of everyone's first half MVP stories. The division and wild card races will resume. Trade speculation will be rampant. Life will get back to normal. Heck, perhaps even Robinson Cano will get cheered or something.

Friday's picks:

  • The Diamondbacks over the Cubs: Baseball resumes with a day game at Wrigley. Perfect. If Paul Maholm is on, he can be very good. Ian Kennedy has been nowhere near as good as he was last season. But the D-backs are still the better team. Perhaps one day they will even play like one.
  • The Yankees over the Angels: This is a tough draw for the Yankees to resume their spiritual second half. Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo killed the Yankees in their last meeting. It will all depend on C.J. Wilson and  Hiroki Kuroda. Which one will be sharp? It will be interesting.
  • The Orioles over the Tigers: Doug Fister has been sort of a #facepalm this season. Jason Hammel should have been an All Star. Hammel's two-seam fastball will have the Tigers pounding the ball in the dirt. 
  • The Blue Jays over the Indians: Edwin Encarnacion has a new contract and will belt at least one long ball. Justin Masterson has not been very consistent. And Ricky Romero is usually solid at his home ballpark.
  • The Bay Rays over the Red Sox: Franklin Morales had to be a mirage in his early starts. The Yankees roughed him up a bit. The Rays do not have much of an offense, but if Jeremy Hellickson can hold down the Red Sox, the Rays should win.
  • The Cardinals over the Reds: These teams do not like each other. And this game will be a pitcher's duel. Mat Latos has been terrific and Adam Wainwright is rounding back into ace form. Going with the experience of Wainwright in this one.
  • The Nationals over the Marlins: Josh Johnson could be spectacular. Jordan Zimmermann will be solid. This could become a bullpen game and if so, the advantage goes to the Nats.
  • The Braves over the Mets: Tim Hudson always has a physical problem of some sort. But he is hard to pick against. Chris Young starts in place of the injured Dillon Gee and has been good since coming off the disabled list. This is an important series for both teams.
  • The Whtie Sox over the Royals: Jose Quintana has been incredible for the White Sox. You keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. But other than a rough outing against the Yankees, he's been great and has only given up three homers in eight starts. Bruce Chen is always capable of seven innings of bedevilment. But the White Sox are the better pick here.
  • The Twins over the Athletics: Will Francisco Liriano finally get traded? Will A.J. Griffin finally get a win to show for his good pitching? The Twins are a better offense, so going with that.
  • The Brewers over the Pirates: The picks have been going with James McDonald for game after game this season and it has paid off big time. But Zack Greinke at home is an entirely different story. The latter reality trumps the former.
  • The Phillies over the Rockies: Cliff Lee gets on a roll after winning his first game before the break. But he will have to pitch well at Coors Field. Christian Friedrich has been pretty good at times for a rookie on a bad ball club with a bad home situation.
  • The Dodgers over the Padres: Matt Kemp is back. Everyone hold your breath that he stays this time. Clayton Kershaw should beat Clayton Richard. But that's why they play the game.
  • The Rangers over the Mariners: Playing in that big ballpark in Seattle should hold the Rangers' offense down some. But the feeling here is that Derek Holland will enjoy that same reality and completely shut down the Mariners. Of course, that is not very hard to do. Kevin Millwood goes for the M's.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Giants over the Astros: Madison Bumgarner will have to get back to being spectacular after his rough last start before the beak. But that should happen against the Astros and Jordan Lyles will not be able to hold down the Giants.

Week: 9-8
Month: 65-53
Season: 697-569
Games of the Day: 53-40

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Ten worst Yankees offensive seasons ever

Over at IIATMS:

Another silly season for Adam Dunn

A year after putting up one of the worst statistical seasons in the history of baseball, Adam Dunn was an All Star in 2012. Of course, Encarnacion of the Blue Jays should have been instead of Dunn, but anyway, Adam Dunn was an All Star. After the season Dunn had in 2011, perhaps no one would have expected such a thing to happen. But that does not mean that Dunn's season is pretty. In fact, his season is downright messy. For people who love looking at statistics, Adam Dunn's silly numbers will provide joy for years to come.

When is the last time an All Star was batting .208? But his 68 walks, 25 homers and 61 runs batted in look a whole lot better if you can close your eyes to the batting average. Dunn's wOBA of .367 is 99 points above where he ended up last season and is right in line with his career norm. His wRC+ of 129 is slightly above his career average and a full 70 points higher than last year.

It is pretty safe to say that Adam Dunn is going to be a candidate for Comeback Player of the Year. But again, his numbers are so weird! Dunn has played 84 games and has only 61 hits! 36 of those hits have been for extra bases. Dunn has as many homers at 25 as he has singles (also 25). Here is a good one for you: Of Dunn's 364 plate appearances, he has put the ball in play only 162 times. 202 of the others were either strikeouts or walks.

And the fun goes on an on. Dunn has an amazing line drive percentage of 24.2 percent. That is Votto-like. And yet he only has a BABIP of .265. That is pretty hard to do. Dunn's home run to fly ball rate is an incredible 34.2 percent. One out of every three fly balls he hits goes over the fence. 

And of course, there are the strikeouts. Adam Dunn is on pace to blow the strikeout record away. Few thought that anyone could give the record a serious run, but Dunn is on his way. He has struck out 134 times by the All Star Break. He is projected to strike out 231 times for the season. His strikeout rate is 36.8 percent. So for every 25 times Adam Dunn comes to the plate, he will strike out nine of them.

The question this observer has is why and how anyone would walk Adam Dunn? First of all, at six foot, six inches tall, he has one of the biggest strike zones in baseball. How could you miss it? Second of all, why would you? If you throw strikes to Adam Dunn, you have an eight in ten (or four in five) chance of getting him out. You have a 36.8 percent chance of striking him out. There is only a seven percent chance he will hit your offering for a homer. So why not take your chances?

All of Adam Dunn's value comes from his ability to hit homers and his ability to walk. Why pitchers walk him so much is a mystery. The homers will be hit. But the walks can be prevented. But as long as pitchers continue to walk him, Dunn will continue to defy convention as a guy who cannot seem to hit and yet slugs and on-base percentages you to death. He could hit over forty homers and strike out 240 times and still have an OPS of .850 or higher. 

Adam Dunn is about as unique a baseball player as we have seen in this generation. Of course, he can't field and he can't run. The fun is that in a full 62 percent of his plate appearances, he will either strikeout, walk, or hit a homer. Amazing. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Fan's response to the Cano thing

Game Picks - Wednesday: July 11, 2012

There was every intention to watch the All Star Game. But then Mike called and wanted to play nine holes of twilight golf and it was so nice out that the offer had to be accepted. So, after a quick nine that included four pars, the first inning was missed, and that was just as well because it looked to have been an ugly one. The television was turned on just in time to see Derek Jeter's hit. But then the daughter called. She is visiting her cousins in New Hampshire for a month. She talked an hour and Mike Trout's hit was missed and Chipper Jones'. Apparently Jones and Jeter, the two old men of the game, did not hit the ball very hard for their hits, but hits they were and that was perfect. All in all, it was a showcase for the National League and for the San Francisco Giants as Matt Cain, Buster Posey and Melky Cabrera were right in the thick of things. It was a total zonk for the American League which has now lost three of these things in a row. That does not bode well for the World Series again. And it also meant the sole pick for yesterday was again incorrect. Ah well. That's the way it goes.

There are no picks today, just the results from yesterday. There will be no game picks post tomorrow as there are no games scheduled. So let this old picker take this opportunity to again thank those of you who visit this feature every day. See you again on Friday.

Yesterday; 0-1
Week: 9-8
Month: 65-53
Season: 697-569
Games of the Day: 53-40

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Game Picks - Tuesday: July 10, 2012

The early part of the Home Run Derby was sort of fun. The interviews during some of the performances were irritating. Seeing the home run balls splash in the fountain was fun. But the fun quickly wore off and there were some strong opinions of what happened late in the first round. It seems that since this picker has a particular team affiliation, any opinions here about what happened are not allowed. So we will leave it there. Let's just say the program was turned off and a rerun of Antique Roadshow was watched instead.

The odds were long on picking a winner. And those odds certainly worked against the pick. But that is okay. Being wrong was expected. It will count as a loss on the tally and that is fine. Today, the pick is for the winner of the All Star Game. The National League has won two years in a row. But those games began with power arms. This year will be different, hence the pick:

  • The American League over the National League: The American League appears to have the stronger lineup. Matt Cain is a great pitcher. But he does not have blow-you-away stuff. Justin Verlander, on the other hand, has that kind of stuff. Here is a guess at how it will  go. The AL will score two or three runs in the first two innings. The NL will score a run or two off of Jered Weaver and Verlander. The AL will score a run against R.A. Dickey. The final score will be something like, 5-2. Enjoy.

Yesterday: 0-1
Week: 9-7
Month: 65-52
Season: 697-568
Games of the Day: 53-40

Monday, July 09, 2012

Oakland Oaks and Joe "Migraine" Magrane

Spending an afternoon watching the MLB Network's MLB Tonight (which just made this sentence an oxymoron) can make a viewer very restless. If Mitch Williams is one of the "analysts," then it is not watchable. Dan Plesac is slightly better. One of the worst but slightly above those two dudes just mentioned, is Joe "Migraine" Magrane, the former pitcher for the Cardinals and others. Magrane comes off as sort of a better-than-you kind of guy. He does have a pretty daughter that can sing though. But anyway, in the course of an hour, Magrane's Sunday performance was cheer-worthy and cringe-worthy all at the same time. And both happened during the same "Look in" during the late innings of a game between the Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics.

First the cheer-worthy. The game featured throwback uniforms. And since the Mariners do not have any history to throw back to, they decided on wearing uniforms from notable Pacific Coast League minor league teams. The Oakland A's became the Oakland Oaks and the Mariners became the Washington Raniers. Frankly, throwback uniform days bring no joy from this long-time watcher of games. They often confuse the viewer until you can figure out which team is which and once that is navigated, you then have to figure out which player is which.

Again, this is less of a problem if the team has some actual history to it. And sometimes the ploy can be enjoyable such as seeing the Royals' powder-blue again. But when a team has no history, then the ploy is downright stupid. And this observer's opinion still stands. The entire goal of throwback uniforms is to increase the number of merchandising options there are in the MLB store.

So armed with those feelings in mind, Magrane became a hero of sorts because he called out the practice during the "Look in." He clearly showed his disdain for the practice and then covered himself slightly by saying his opinions were not those of the network he worked for. The moment was cheer-worthy.

But during the same "Look-in," Magrane undid all the positive. The Mariners and Athletics were locked in a 1-1 battle, which is all too typical in their match-ups. The Mariners wasted another great pitching performance from Felix Hernandez and the game went into extra innings. The "Look in" captured the drama of the bottom of the tenth inning.

In that half inning, Cliff Pennington started the inning with a single off of action-figure confab, Brandon League. Charlie Furbush was brought in to face Coco Crisp. Now there is a name- dropper's delight. Anyway, in almost predictable fashion, Crisp was asked to sacrifice the runner to second. MLB Tonight host, Ahmed Fareed, immediately said that he did not like the move. Magrane's rebuke of Fareed was immediate and pointed. He said something like, "You've got to get the runner to second and have two shots at bringing the run home."

This is the perfect opportunity to intimate that the sacrifice bunt is hated in this space. Absolutely hated. And thus articles like this, written by Dave Cameron are heroic in nature. So Fareed is this site's kind of guy. But Magrane used the moment to put on his "I-played-the-game-so-I-am- smarter-than-you" hat and used the occasion to scold Fareed. Boy did Magrane look stupid a moment later.

Crisp did get the bunt down, but it was too much to the pitcher, who threw a perfect strike to second to get the lead runner. Fareed even gloated a little. Magrane gargled something about execution. But anyway, the poor-hitting A's had just traded base runners and gave the Mariners a free out. Crisp complicated the move even further when he was picked off just seconds later.

The sacrifice attempt blunted what could have been a game-ending rally. And sure enough, after the failure of the sacrifice and the pick-off, Furbush walked two batters and threw a wild pitch. But with runners on second and third, the A's only had one out to play with and Jonny Gomes struck out.

The A's did win the game in the thirteenth inning. In that inning, the lead-off batter again singled. But this time,  Josh Reddick wasn't asked to sacrifice and hit a double to win the game.

For Magrane and the A's, the game was the best and worst of the analyst and the team. Magrane--always imperious--used that for good with the uniform comment but abused it with his rebuke and the old saws of baseball strategy. The A's almost worked themselves out of a chance to win but later were allowed to redeem themselves to win the game because the Mariners cannot hit to save themselves.

Game Picks - Monday: July 9, 2012

This game picker is a man obsessed. This Game of the Day feature is starting to become a big issue. To refresh your memory, every game is picked every day. But the pick that seems the most likely to be correct is selected as the Game of the Day. Seven days ago, the record stood at twenty games over .500 at, 53-33. Seven days in a row now, the pick has been wrong. So even though the body of picks have gone 21-10 the last two days, all that matters is that Game of the Day pick. And right now it's going about as well as the Phillies.

Oh, and speaking of the Phillies, they lost again today for their tenth loss in eleven games. The pick bucked the trend and looked for a Phillies victory. Wrong again, big boy. There were other failures. The Nationals' meltdown in the late innings messed up that pick. Oh yes, and Brad Mills. Not the manager. The pitcher. Brad Mills. Yesterday's picks made fun of him starting for the Angels.Who is laughing now? The maddening Athletics and Mariners' series finished on the wrong side despite Felix Hernandez's heroics. Terrible offenses on those teams.

So, you might be asking why there is a Game Picks column today when there are no games. Good question. For one, yesterday's results had to be reported. Secondly, this picker thought it would be fun to pick the winner of the Home Run Derby. Perhaps this is an artificial means of stirring interest in an non-stirring event for this observer. But whatever. And the kicker is, the pick has only a one in eight chance of being correct. Those sure beat the 50/50 odds of a regular game pick.

So the thought process goes like this. First, nobody from the National League is going to win the derby. Most of them are first timers except for Matt Kemp, who really should not be risking his health to participate. So the winner has to be from the American League. Mark Trumbo is a first-timer and though he could hit the moon with his bat, big and young guys like him never do well. Joey Bautista has an excellent shot at it. Prince Fielder is doing this for the fourth time. He has the experience and knows what to expect. And of course, Robinson Cano won it last year. So that is three guys with a real shot at winning.

And the pick goes to: Robinson Cano.

Yesterday: 9-6
Week: 9-6
Month: 65-51
Season: 697-567
Games of the Day: 53-40   grrrr

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Game Picks - Sunday: July 8, 2012

Was that fair? Yesterday's post indicated that the Game of the Day feature was on a five day losing streak. So after carefully considering which game was the best lock for being correct, the feature settled on Zack Greinke and the Brewers. You probably heard how that went. Greinke faced two batters, the second of which grounded to first. Greinke raced over and took the throw and thought he beat the runner. But the umpire called the runner safe. Greinke threw the ball down in disgust and was promptly thrown out of the game. Of course, with 27 outs to be recorded by the Brewers' bullpen (not their strong suit), the Brewers lost and now the feature has a six game losing streak. Never mind that the day went 12-4 otherwise. It is that one thing that will stick in the craw all day.

Alas, with the All Star Break, today is the last day of games until Friday. Whatever will this picker do with his time? Not watch the Home Run Derby, that's for sure. With one last gasp before the break, here are today's picks:

  • The Tigers over the Royals: Max Scherzer is finally starting to put it together. That is good news for the Tigers. But it is not good news for the Royals and Everett Teaford, who has been respectable for his team as a starter.
  • The Bay Rays over the Indians: More of a pick for James Shields than anything else. He is not as good as last year, but good enough to be the Indians. Zach McAllister has been good for the Indians since joining the rotation. The Rays should score three or four off of him though.
  • The Mets over the Cubs: Jonathon Niese is a very good pitcher. Ryan Dempster was having a great season until he got hurt. The Cubs still want to trade him and will hope he will resume his great first half. Which pitcher cracks first?
  • The Phillies over the Braves: The team from Philadelphia sneaks out a win to end this series. Vance Worley will bounce back from his bad start and Jair Jurrjens' gaudy ERA since returning from the minors cannot be backed up by a good FIP.
  • The Nationals over the Rockies: Every day, the Nationals throw a quality pitcher at you. What a great job Rizzo has done with that team. Today it is Jordan Zimmermann's turn. Jeremy Guthrie will probably keep the Rockies in the game.
  • The Pirates over the Giants: The first place Pirates. Kinda like the sound of that. A.J. Burnett bounces back from his last start and Tim Lincecum will have that one inning that will keep people scratching their heads.
  • The Brewers over the Astros: Oh yeah, this is a fun game to pick. Where the Brewers' starter is supposed to be on the schedule is a big fat, TBO. So who will it be? Will Greinke come back and pitch? Not with the All Star thing coming up. Jordan Lyles goes for the Astros and will lose to somebody.
  • The Blue Jays over the White Sox: Dylan Axelrod will pitch in three days rest so Chris Sale can be fresh for the All Star Game. Does anyone else see something wrong with that picture? Excuse this Fan, White Sox brass, but this game counts. Brett Cecil goes for the Blue Jays. Always wanted to write a recap for Cecil if he happened to hit someone with a pitch. Then the headline could be, "Beanie and Cecil."
  • The Cardinals over the Marlins: Joe Kelly never gives up more than three runs a start. The Cardinals average scoring four runs a game. That is a pretty good recipe for this pick. Enigma: Anibal Sanchez will go for the Marlins who have lost Giancarlo Stanton.
  • The Orioles over the Angels: Wei-Lyn Chen is just a darn good pitcher. And he faces Brad Mills. That's right. That Brad Mills.
  • The Reds over the Padres: Johnny Cueto will win his tenth game and thumb his nose at Tony La Russa for not picking him in the All Star Game. Jason Marquis might keep it close.
  • The Mariners over the Athletics: Can we put an end to this series already? Sheesh, Felix Hernandez will pitch great. Bartolo Colon will either be great or awful as he knows no middle ground.
  • The Rangers over the Twins: Was not a fan of the Rangers signing Roy Oswalt. And his results have borne that out. But the Rangers have still won two of those three starts. And Cole De Vries does not do it for this picker.
  • The Yankees over the Red Sox: A lot depends on Jon Lester. Ivan Nova will pitch a good game. If the Yankees can get to Lester early, they will win. If not and Lester gets on a roll, then this pick will look stupid.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Dodgers over the Diamondbacks: Okay. Trevor Bauer is not impressing this picker very much and he can't get along with his catcher. Guess which one will win that battle. That's right. Miguel Montero. Chris Capuano gets the win.

Yesterday: 12-4
Last week: 56-45
Month: 56-45
Season: 688-561
Games of the Day: 53-39