Saturday, September 08, 2012

Game Picks - Saturday: September 8, 2012

September has really gotten off to a rocky start for the Game Picks. On the one hand, the Game of the Day feature has been correct six days in a row. But the rest of the picks have been gruesome. After a below .500 night last night, the week is in the red and the month is in the red. Of course, Aroldis Chapman blowing a save did not help. But that was just one of many surprises on the night.

There is only today to pull the week over the hump and to start repairing the monthly total as well. So Saturday is sort of big. The picks:
  • The Nationals over the Marlins: Hmm...the Marlins have been swinging the bats well lately and Mark Buehrle did win his last start and does neutralize some lefties like Harper and LaRoche. But the Nats are simply the better team. Mike Morse should do something and Ross Detwiler continues his wily ways.
  • The Braves over the Mets: The Mets might not score in this series. They have been shutout twice in a row already and today face Kris Medlen, the hottest pitcher in baseball. The Mets counter with Jeremy Hefner, who is not half bad.
  • The White Sox over the Royals: This pick is not a comfortable one. The White Sox just don't seem to be getting the job done. Chris Sale goes for them and has been fading a bit. That's to be expected as he is in uncharted territory with his innings. Bruce Chen is totally dependent on location and BABIP.
  • The Giants over the Dodgers: Despite the Dodgers' big time acquisitions, it does not seem like they are going to get there. Chris Capuano will not shut down the Giants' offense and Matt Cain at home is a pretty good pick.
  • The Pirates over the Cubs: Again, not a comfortable pick. It depends on if James McDonald is any good today and it has been an every other outing thing for him. His last one was lousy. Jeff Samardzija is making his last start of the year as he will be shut down after this one. He could very well hold down the Pirates.
  • The Yankees over the Orioles: Okay, so one win gives this picker a little hope again. But the Orioles just won't curl up and die either. C.C. Sabathia has to be an ace today. It's his turn to earn his money. He needs to keep the Orioles in the yard, which has been tough to do. Joe Saunders was great in his first start for the O's, but that can't last. It never does with Saunders.
  • The Twins over the Indians: This pick did not work out yesterday. The Twins just hit better than the Indians do. Cole De Vries was decent his last time out for the Twins and Zach McAllister has been going the wrong way for the Indians.
  • The Astros over the Reds: Yeah, this seems foolish, but hear it out. Bud Norris has lost like ten in a row. So that has to end some time. Bronson Arroyo has been on a hot streak. That has to end some time. The confluence of luck seems to surround this pick. Okay, this picker is probably an idiot. But whatever.
  • The Rangers over the Rays: Yu Darvish has been much better of late and he will need to be good today to make this pick come alive. Chris Archer is an inexperienced pitcher for the Rays and provided the Rangers don't strike out sixteen times again today, should get lit up a little bit.
  • The Red Sox over the Blue Jays: What the heck with this series. Both teams have been so bad and both teams need this season to get over so much. Daisuke Matsuzaka goes for the Red Sox and he could have a good game. Aaron Laffey goes for the Blue Jays and it is unlikely for him to have a good game.
  • The Cardinals over the Brewers: Many of this picker's friends will be gathering today as the UCB has a day at Busch Stadium. It would be nice for the Cardinals to win for them. Jake Westbrook over Mike Fiers.
  • The Padres over the Diamondbacks: What a nice match up of young pitchers! Casey Kelly goes against Wade Miley! Who wouldn't want to see that!? Going with Kelly as the Padres are on fire.
  • The Tigers over the Angels: Justin Verlander will have to be at his very best today to make this pick a reality. That is a tough lineup. C.J. Wilson will pitch against him and Wilson has had a mediocre season. But the Tigers' lineup is quite flawed.
  • The Athletics over the Mariners: Another great pitching match up. Hisashi Iwakuma has been brilliant in his last four starts. But so has Brett Anderson. This would be a great game to watch.
And the Game of the Day!
  • The Phillies over the Rockies: You would have to pick Cole Hamels over Tyler Chatwood just about any day of the week, right?
Yesterday: 6-9
Week: 39-41
Month: 45-51
Season: 1133-908
Games of the Day: 87-63

Friday, September 07, 2012

BBA Linkfest - generally topical

Welcome to another edition of the BBA Linkfest where we travel around the world to our general chapter members and catch up on some great reading. The regular season is heading down the home stretch and our writers are tearing the roof off the joint with their excellence. Click a link, post a comment and simply enjoy yourself for the biggest, baddest and best chapter of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance.

Let's start with some of our newest chapter members. Welcome and great to have you.

Hit More Line Drives bills itself as your one stop source for hitting instruction. And true to its mission statement, the site is chock full of tasty instructional information. But they also interview young players like in this post with one of the top Texas high school prospects.

Payoff Pitch is a promising site that gives really great breakdowns of things. For example, check out their breakdown of the Dodger's huge deal with the Red Sox.

Full Spectrum Baseball has been with us for a while now and they crank out great content every day. Now this is a post idea that hasn't been done before. Dennis Lawson explores the "All Expandables Team."

Jed Rigney of Through the Fence Baseball writes that the Baltimore Orioles have had a steady date with Lady Luck.

Sully of Sully Baseball writes that the Bobby Valentine joke is getting old.

The author of The Sports Banter hates his favorite team.

Replacement Level Baseball Blog wonders aloud how the Oakland Athletics keep winning.

The terrific Jason Wojciechowski of The Platoon Advantage wonders why the Dodgers would want more of Nick Coletti.

Jeremy Sickel of the Pop Fly Boys is ticked off at the Kansas City Royals about a prospect.

Totally loved this post as Old Time Family Baseball tries to get inside the head of Jhoulys Chacin on his infamous play.

MTD of Off Base Percentage apparently weathered the hurricane and wrote a happy birthday post...to himself. Yes, he is an only child. Oh! And happy birthday, ya lark.

Nik's latest power rankings are up on his site at Niktig's Baseball Blog.

Sam Evans of MLB Reports has a great preview of the upcoming World Baseball Classic.

Several members of the great MLB Dirt staff got together to give us a rundown on September call ups we should keep an eye on. Great stuff.

Are there really PED rumors swirling around A.J. Pierzynski? That's silly and Peter Verniere of MajorLeagueAholes.com tells us why.

It has mentioned here before, but the writer of Left Field is simply delicious to read. Check out his round up of the best players of the history of the Royals for example. But his post about Pawtucket is just about the best thing this compiler has read in a long time.

Theo's retired numbers series over at Hot Corner Harbor has been terrific from beginning to now. Check out the latest.

The Hall of Very Good reports on something that is absolutely unthinkable. It's...blasphemy. 

Grubby Glove has started a new series celebrating the 1962 New York Mets. Oh, man, this series is going to be tasty.

For Baseball Junkies compares this year's Blue Jays to their all-time team, which isn't fair and that's the point.

Dugout 24 calls the Dodgers' recent spending spree, "Hollywood's Moneyball II." That's pretty funny right there.

Over at Diamond Hoggers, TheNaturalMevs writes that he is watching the beginning of a legend.

Matt Whitener of Cheap.Seats.Please. writes about baseball's youth movement and then lists the 25 best players under the age of 25. Great read.

Mario Salvino of Che Palle! has a post about Michael Clarke Duncan and Disco Demolition Night. Potent mix there.

Lew Freedman of Call to the Pen fame writes that Brandon McCarthy is lucky to be alive. Agreed. Scary.

How far can the Nationals go without Stephen Strasburg? That is the question pondered by Christopher Carelli of The Baseball Stance.

Everyone has an opinion on the fiasco that is this year's Boston Red Sox. Here's one from Baseball Unrated.

Stevo-sama of The Baseball Enthusiast is back with another baseball game recapped. Nobody does it better.

What do you know, the author of The Ball Caps Blog is the same age as this compiler. No wonder this compiler likes him so much.

In this week's post of the week, Russ Blatt of 85% Sports went to see a game in the brand new Marlins Park and gives a thorough and enjoyable review.

Have a great week, everyone.

Game Picks - Friday: September 7, 2012

Okay, two things are clear after yesterday. First, these picks every day will go without the video. The audience has spoken. Understood. And it's okay. It was just an idea. Secondly, the only pick that was incorrect yesterday is the one that this picker wanted correct more than anything. Oh well. But there was an 80 percent correct rate and the Game of the Day was correct again. Life goes on.

Back to a full slate of games today and the picks go on as well. Friday's picks:
  • The Pirates over the Cubs: Feisty would be better for the Cubs on the field if it meant more competitive play. What does throwing at people do? A.J. Burnett should win this one. Travis Wood goes for the Cubs.
  • The Nationals over the Marlins: The penultimate start of the year for Stephen Strasburg. Enjoy it. Jacob Turner goes for the Marlins.
  • The Orioles over the Yankees: Yes, this picker has given up. Better to be pleasantly surprised than consistently disappointed. Wei-Yin Chen goes for the O's and Phil Hughes pitches for the Yankees.
  • The Braves over the Mets: So the Mets have six pitchers for a rotation, but not six guys who can hit in the lineup. Got it. Jon Niese is perpetually perplexing. Ooo! That was nice to say with the two "P" sounds. Paul Maholm has pitched well against the Mets if not against anyone else.
  • The Reds over the Astros: Lucas Harrell deserves more Rookie of the Year mentions than he has gotten. He leads all rookies in innings pitched and strikeouts. And he has a quarter of the Astros' wins. Unfortunaely, his team won't beat the Reds wether or not Homer Bailey is any good tonight.
  • The Bay Rays over the Rangers. Jeremy Hellickson has been very solid of late and Derek Holland has not pitched well against the Rays. The Rangers are in cruise control while the Rays are scratching and clawing.
  • The Red Sox over the Blue Jays: This picker keeps picking Felix Doubront despite the fact that he hasn't had a good start in like forever. But, Henderson Alvarez has been putrid for the Blue Jays over an extended period of time and can't survive to pitch into the sixth inning.
  • The Twins over the Indians: A battle of disappointing teams and a battle of nothing pitchers. This pick is unscientifically given to Liam Hendriks to finally win a game as the law of averages says he should. Jeanmar Gomez will get crushed by the Twins' offense.
  • The Royals over the White Sox: Still not feeling Francisco Liriano, especially when he threw 100 pitches in four innings the other day. Sheesh. Not that Luis Mendoza is always fun to pick either. The Royals have been playing better, but losing late. We'll see.
  • The Cardinals over the Brewers: The Cards are in the driver's seat for the wild card but they have to win some games. Fortunately, their starter, Kyle Lohse is 14-2 and even his last outing wasn't his fault since his defense behind him was full of holes. Yovani Gallardo got rocked his last time out and is not as safe a bet on the road as he is at home.
  • The Padres over the Diamondbacks: A real tough call here. Tyler Skaggs has been good, but usually only goes five innings. It's a crap shoot after he leaves the game. And fireballing, Andrew Cashner, goes for the Padres after coming off the disabled list from a lat muscle problem. He won't go more than five innings either.
  • The Tigers over the Angels: Two up and down teams play each other. Which one will be which tonight? The pick has to go with Max Scherzer whose stuff has been unbelievable lately. He has been more exciting to watch than Verlander of late. The Angels go with Ervin Santana who is still trying to salvage his season.
  • The Mariners over the Athletics: This is a really tough game to pick. Felix Hernandez is traditionally strong against the A's. But these are not the same A's. King Felix is at home and should thrive there. But he team can't hit very well and A.J. Griffin has been terrific this season. Tough, tough call.
  • The Giants over the Dodgers: The Dodgers really need this game. But Tim Lincecum will probably pitch well and the Giants will get to Josh Beckett. Mind you, there is not a lot of confidence to this pick.
And the Game of the Day!
  • The Phillies over the Rockies: Cliff Lee is the forgotten pitcher. He is still very good and his last few starts attest. But that still is a lot of money given to a guy who is 4-7. Jeff Francis goes for the Rockies and occasionally, his slop can get people out.
Yesterday: 4-1
Week: 33-32
Month: 39-42
Season: 1127-899
Games of the Day: 86-63

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Dan Uggla and the WAR question

Every time you look at the statistics for Dan Uggla, they look bad. Except he has those eighty walks, which leads the National League. His homers are down and thus his slugging percentage. His batting average is sitting at .208. His OPS+ is 92. His OPS ranks him 121 among 150 qualifying batters and his wRC+ ranks 119 out of 150. For a guy making $13 million this season, he does not, on the face of things, seem like he is earning it. But a lot depends on which stat site you look at.

Fangraphs.com has his WAR computed to 2.3, which compares favorably to last year's 2.4 fWAR even though his wOBA was nineteen points higher last year. Baseball-reference.com, however, gives him an rWAR of 1.6 so far this season, the same as last season. 1.6 compared to 2.4 does not seem all that significant until you translate that to dollars. Each "win" in the WAR component is worth a little over $4.5 million. If Uggla's play has been worth 2.3 fWAR as Fangraphs calculates it, then, Uggla's play has been worth $10.4 million. Baseball-reference.com, however, would come to a valuation of $7.23 million.

That is a pretty significant difference. If you go by Fangraphs, then Uggla has been a disappointment, but not a huge one. If you go by B-R, Uggla is not going to come close to earning what he is being paid.
The other sticky part of the equation is the fielding component of those valuations. Uggla has had serious negative values placed on his fielding by both stat sites for the last three seasons. Both sites are fairly consistent here that Uggla cost his team about thirty runs in the the three seasons prior to this one. But suddenly, both sites have his fielding in the slightly positive territory this season. Such a turn of his fielding metrics evens out his valuation from last year to this year.

When it comes to Uggla's fielding, he has suddenly found some range. His range factor and range factor per nine innings have been below league average for several years before this one. Suddenly, his range and range per nine are above league average and the highest of his career. He must have done some nice off-season work to improve in that area. To his credit, Uggla has made the fewest errors in his career this season and has gotten a lot of chances with his ground ball inducing pitching staff.

The walks are impressive. They take a terrible batting average and move up his on-base percentage all the way up to .337. But what this observer will never understand is why any pitcher would walk a guy like Uggla? He is in the same category as Dunn of the White Sox and Pena of the Bay Rays. All three have very low batting averages, a ton of strikeouts and a ton of walks. Why walk a guy like that? With Uggla, you have a 28 percent chance of striking him out if you pitch to him. That is far greater than any chance he has to hit a homer. Dunn has three times as many homers as Uggla, but the feeling is the same. Dunn is four times more likely to strikeout than hit one out of the park. Why don't pitchers take those odds?

The WAR question raises a problem. Either Dan Uggla is having a season close to the value the Braves are paying him, or, he is having a bad season and won't come close to earning his salary. That is a large swing in realities. And it is just as improbable that his fielding has made such leaps and bounds that he has gone from well below standard to above league average.

From an objective look at Dan Uggla's season, he is not having a good one. At the age of 32, he is not playing nearly as well as he did just two seasons ago. Unfortunately, how poor a season he is having is a question that differs depending on who you ask.

Game Picks - Thursday: September 6, 2012

The Baltimore Orioles lost and the New York Yankees won. Both of those picks were wrong. Both were also unexpected. Though the Orioles did face Brandon Morrow and he is a good pitcher. Those two games put the Game Picks in scramble mode and once again finished at a maudlin, 8-7. The week and the month are still in the red. The Giants and the Dodgers continue to confound this picker as those teams' games have been incorrect all week. The Mariners over the Red Sox was correctly picked but it was surprising how low scoring that game was.

There are only five games on the Thursday schedule. That is as light a day in Major League Baseball as we have seen in many a day. Two of the games are early afternoon games. Thursday's picks:
  • The Marlins over the Brewers: Marco Estrada has won two in a row and his team has won all four of his last four starts. But the picks is for the Marlins at home on the 50/50 chance that Josh Johnson actually brings his "A" stuff to the hill today at home.
  • The Nationals over the Cubs: Jordan Zimmermann got blown out against the Cardinals. But the Cubs aren't the Cardinals. Justin Germano has lost his last three starts. Did you see how many homers the Nats hit yesterday?
  • The Yankees over the Orioles: The Yankees' win yesterday was huge. They were down. They were out. And suddenly, they won a ballgame. David Phelps is going to need to pitch really well today in this game to win. But the Yankees can always hope to jump on a perhaps rusty Jason Hammel who is coming off the disabled list to pitch this game.
  • The Rangers over the Royals: The Royals have given the Rangers their money's worth this week. But the Rangers have split the series. The Royals pitch the enigmatic, Luke Hochevar, who you never know what to expect. The Rangers start Scott Feldman, who has not been that great for them this season. The Rangers should still win. They are simply a better team.
And the Game of the Day!
  • The Braves over the Rockies: Tim Hudson did not pitch well his last time out against the Phillies and said himself that his game was flat. Look for him to bounce back today and throw a stunner of a game. Jhoulys Chacin has looked good for the Rockies since he came back from a shoulder problem.
Yesterday: 8-7
Week: 29-31
Month: 35-41
Season: 1123-898
Games of the Day: 85-63
 
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Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Dewayne Wise confuses PITCHf/x

Dewayne Wise has now pitched twice this season. While that is already unusual for a position player, doing so for two different teams is even more unusual. And the funniest part of such occurrances is that they completely baffles PITCHf/x. Here's how:
 
If you go to Wise's Fangraphs.com page, you can click on his pitching statistics They show that in two appearances on the mound, Wise has pitched one and two-thirds innings. He has allowed no runs with one hit and one walk allowed. His ERA, of course, is zero, but his FIP is 4.91. Those are all easy to verify in cement. But PITCHf/x had trouble figuring out what he was throwing.
 
According to Fangraphs' own data, Wise threw 85.7 percent fastballs and 14.3 percent change ups. The site also lists the data from PITCHf/x and that data says that Wise has thrown 5.3 percent fastballs and 94.7 percent change ups. This writer is not sure what you think of such things, but this observer finds that data discord hilarious.
 
According to PITCHf/x, Wise has averaged 81.6 MPH with his fastball and 75.5 MPH with his change up. Fangraphs averages his fastball at 79.8 percent and his change up at 65.5 MPH. Needless to say, Wise probably did not throw two different types of pitches. Most likely he was just chucking and ducking and trying not to embarrass himself.

Game Picks - Wednesday: September 5, 2012

An 8-7 record for the Game Picks on Tuesday is not going to get the month and the week out of its deep hole. But at least it was not a disaster like the day before. Success and failure seemed to go by region. For example, In games played by AL East teams, the picks were 3-0. In games played by NL West teams, the picks were 0-3. That is weird. The picks weren't helped by a Rangers' loss. But then again, it was mentioned that Jeremy Guthrie could elevate the Royals if he pitched well. Should have picked him. The Red Sox ended their losing streak. So that was picked correctly.

Only four of the fifteen games today are the getaway, daytime events. But day baseball is still day baseball. Love it! Wednesday's picks:
  • The Phillies over the Reds: Until proven otherwise, the pick will always have to be Roy Halladay. He is the best pitcher of our generation. Mike Leake goes for the Reds. This game is on super early.
  • The Cardinals over the Mets: In this battle of team aces, the pick has to go with Adam Wainwright at home over R.A. Dickey. Hey! Did you see that Chris Carpenter was throwing off the mound yesterday? Very cool.
  • The White Sox over the Twins: Yes, the Twins had fun yesterday. But Jake Peavy should be a big stingier than what the White Sox put out there yesterday. And besides, P.J. Walters does not inspire gobs of confidence.
  • The Athletics over the Angels: Tough one here. Dan Haren said he felt like himself again after his last outing. That's a good sign for the Angels. But Brandon McCarthy can get himself some ground balls. Very tough game to pick.
  • The Nationals over the Cubs: This pick isn't as sure as yesterdays as Chris Volstad has won two in a row. But Gio Gonzalez--IF he is on his game--should win this one.
  • The Tigers over the Indians: Gosh. The Tigers are baffling. Doug Fister hasn't been the bomb like last year. But he was much better his last time out. Ubaldo Jimenez always seems to lose. But the picks said the same thing about Masterson yesterday. Man.
  • The Pirates over the Astros: Fernando Abad is probably never going to get a pick here. Let's be clear about that. Kevin Correia is not inspiring either. But the Pirates are the better team. They just have to play like it.
  • The Orioles over the Blue Jays: Would love to pick the Blue Jays behind Brandon Morrow. But picking against the Orioles has cost this picker about 50 picks so far this season. Miguel Gonzalez just keeps on winning.
  • The Braves over the Rockies: Mike Minor? Well, okay. Not thrilled with that pick. But not thrilled with picking Alex White either, though White should be better outside of Coors.
  • The Marlins over the Brewers: The Brewers are starting some kid named Wily Peralta. His minor league numbers are not inspiring.  The Marlins go with Nathan Eovaldi, who is due for a win.
  • The Rays over the Yankees: As depressing as it seems, the Yankees may never win another game. They have their best pitcher on the mound today in Hiroki Kuroda, but those Rays are just Yankee killers. And the Yankees can't hit for...well...you know what and have to face Matt Moore.
  • The Mariners over the Red Sox: Can someone explain to this picker how the Red Sox can keep throwing AaRon Cook out there every fifth day? Golly, what a joke. Kevin Millwood goes for the Mariners.
  • The Dodgers over the Padres: Both pitchers are about the same production wise in Clayton Richard and Aaron Harang. They are BABIP pitchers where anything can happen. Going with the hometown Dodgers.
  • The Giants over the Diamondbacks: After thinking that Ryan Vogelsong was a lock at home yesterday, thinking Madison Bumgarner is a lock there too seems less of a fixture. But, geez, Bumgarner has only lost three games. Trevor Cahill goes for the D-backs.
And the Game of the Day!
  • The Rangers over the Royals: Ryan Dempster is starting to get the hang of the American League thing. And Everett Teaford for the Royals is an offensive explosion waiting to happen.
Yesterday: 8-7
Week: 21-24
Month: 27-34
Season: 1115-891
Games of the Day: 84-63
 
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Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Game Picks - Tuesday: September 4, 2012

Remember that old Batman television show? Remember how in the fight scenes, they always had those comic strip call outs that said, "Oof," and "Wham!"? Imagine how fun it would be if all those call outs accompanied every single incorrect pick from Labor Day. It would be epic! And it would take the sting off of one of the worst picking days in Game Picks history. Only four picks were correct. That's right, four. It took the Dodgers eleven innings to make that pick correct. The Braves behind the amazing Kris Medlen was a correct pick (and the Game of the Day pick). The Rangers behind Yu Darvish and a gazillion homers off of Bruce Chen was correct and Ricky Nolasco and the Marlins came in a winner. Everything else? Wrong. Nice try. Boink! Kappow!

What are you going to do? As mom would have asked, "Did you do your best?" Yes, Mom. "Then that's all you can do." Right, Mom. Oh well. Perhaps Tuesday will be better. The picks:
  • The Tigers over the Indians: Are not the Tigers the most frustrating team of 2012? They sweep the White Sox to get a share of first place and then lose to the Indians. Doh! Rick Porcello over Justin Masterson, whose last name is starting to become a bit of an oxymoron.
  • The Pirates over the Astros: The Pirates are sinking fast and it might be too late to right the ship. Whoa! Lots of cliches in that sentence. Anyway, Wandy Rodriguez beats his old team and Jordan Lyles again pitches quality innings for nor real benefit.
  • The Orioles over the Blue Jays: You win, Orioles. After weeks and months of treating you like some guy that crashed the party, it is time to admit that you are the party. Zach Britton over Carlos Villanueva. Another thing to finally realize. As bad as the Red Sox have been, the Blue Jays have been worse.
  • The Braves over the Rockies: Tommy Hanson, to be frank, has stunk up the joint since his return from the DL. But he can give up four or five and win this one as the Braves should score against Drew Pomeranz and whatever relievers pitch after his 75 pitches are done. And no, this picker cannot help himself by picking a fight over that stupid Rockies' plan any chance he can get.
  • The Marlins over the Brewers: Shaun Marcum has not been impressive since his stint on the DL. Wade LeBlanc isn't sweet peaches and cream either, but that is the pick.
  • The Rays over the Yankees: Sweet mother, the Yankees can't seem to catch a break or get themselves straightened out. Timing is everything and they sure picked a bad time to tank. Freddy Garcia? Ugh. Nope. Going with Alex Cobb.
  • The Reds over the Phillies: The Phillies might come in over .500 yet this season. Kyle Kendrick has been pretty darned good in the rotation. But Mat Latos has stud stuff and can shut down any lineup.
  • The Twins over the White Sox: Jose Quintana seems to be running out of gas. Is it just this guy's observation, but does anyone try to protect the arms of Hispanic pitchers? Anyway, Scott Diamond got himself suspended. Scott Diamond? That mild-mannered guy? Anyway, he wins.
  • The Rangers over the Royals: There is some slight hesitation making this pick due to the fact that Jeremy Guthrie can pitch (on occasion). But, nah. The Texas Rangers will win behind Matt Harrison.
  • The Mets over the Cardinals: Matt Harvey has only a start or three left before he is shut down for the season. Boy, has he been good. Let's see how he does with a big boy lineup though. Jaime Garcia goes for the Cards. He hasn't set the world on fire since coming back from the DL.
  • The Angels over the Athletics: This was the pick that should have been made yesterday and wasn't. Okay. Got it. Zack Greinke over Jarrod Parker.
  • The Red Sox over the Mariners: Losing streak and win streaks suck for a game picker. Will the streak keep going? Will it end? How long to ride the bandwagon? Hate them! Jon Lester breaks up the losing streak with a good effort and Blake Beavan keeps the M's in the game until late.
  • The Dodgers over the Padres: Eric Stults is one hot pitcher. But he is facing Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw has to be the pick, especially after the gut wrenching loss the Padres had yesterday.
  • The Giants over the Diamondbacks: It is so hard to pick against man-crush, Ian Kennedy. And Kennedy was masterful over the Dodgers in his last outing. But the Giants almost always win in games started by Ryan Vogelsong.
And the Game of the Day!
  • The Nationals over the Cubs: Is anyone else tired of the Stephen Strasburg debate? How about the fact that with less than a month to go, the Nats are six and a half games clear of the Braves? How about celebrating the rest of the team a little bit? Edwin Jackson over Chris Rusin.
Yesterday: 4-11  Wham!
Week: 13-17    Crash!
Month: 19-27   Oof!
Season: 1107-884
Games of the Day: 93-63
 
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Monday, September 03, 2012

Game Picks - Labor Day (Monday): September 3, 2012

Once again, the picks labored yesterday (pun intended and Happy Labor Day). It was a struggle to get to nine correct picks for the day. The new month is still a pick in the red. Two cataclysmic blown saves occurred. One helped the picks (Papelbon) and one hurt the picks (Putz). Or was it the other way around? Can't remember. Anyway, at least Justin Verlander made the Game of the Day correct and put the picks over the top. We officially have a dog race in the AL Central. The AL East is mighty tight as well as the Yankees are missing a third of their regular lineup and keep losing.

It is nice to have a Monday holiday as that means today is like a bonus Sunday with a bunch of day games. Nice! Here are today's Labor Day picks:
  • The Cubs over the Nationals: Let's start with an upset pick. Jeff Samardzija can shut down any lineup if he is on and Ross Detwiler has not had good success (SSS) against the Cubs. This might be an incredibly stupid pick, but this picker is feeling it.
  • The Tigers over the Indians: The Tigers better not let down after their big sweep in Chicago. Fortunately, they are playing a team that is flatter than a coin left on the railroad track in the Cleveland Indians. Anibal Sanchez faces Corey Kluber, who hasn't won a game yet.
  • The Blue Jays over the Orioles: Another upset pick. Uh oh. Joe Saunders makes his first start for the O's and that does not excite this picker at all. J.A. Happ could have a good outing here and hold the Orioles down and win a battle of baseball birds.
  • The Marlins over the Brewers: Oh great. Two of the hardest teams to predict are playing each other. Mommy! Ricky Nolasco should be the difference here as two of his three starts recently have been complete games. But Mike Fiers has been good too. Ugh.
  • The Yankees over the Rays: Completely biased and helpless pick. James Shields either pitches a gem against the Yankees historically, or he gets hit hard early. There is no in between. C.C. Sabathia has not been a shut down ace for most of this season. A-Rod might be back today.
  • The Reds over the Phillies: Johnny Cueto is gunning for the Cy Young Award this season and this pick is based on that pitcher. If he lives up to that billing, he should beat Tyler Cloyd who is making his second major league start.
  • The Pirates over the Astros: This is an interesting game. Edgar Gonzalez has been a bit of a sensation in the Mexican Leagues and easily handled his one Triple-A start. And Jeff Locke is a fireball thrower who is a hope for the Pirates' future. Very fascinating!
  • The Rangers over the Royals: If this match up of Yu Darvish versus Bruce Chen were to come up a hundred times during the year, the pick would always be the Rangers. But again, anything can happen in a game and usually does.
  • The Mets over the Cardinals: Another upset pick! Colin McHugh was spectacular in his Mets' debut. Can he repeat it against a great hitting team? Can Joe Kelly continue to avoid disaster with his WHIP? We'll find out today.
  • The Athletics over the Angels: There was in internal debate on this one as it could go either way. Tommy Milone has been good and had a good outing last time out. C.J. Wilson just won for the first time in eleven tries and still gave up three runs in six innings. Who knows.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Giants: Barry Zito simply cannot be trusted. Patrick Corbin was great until his manager left him in one inning too many last time out.
  • The Red Sox over the Mariners: There have been some rumors floating around that Valentine will be fired today. It would not be surprising, but it still isn't his fault. The team is what is is and the results are deserved with this team's current talent level. Despite what happens, Clay Buchholz should win this game with a great effort over Jason Vargas.
  • The Twins over the White Sox: Heavens! Another upset pick. The White Sox are starting a rookie, Hector Santiago and the Twins will go with Samuel Deduno. Deduno at least has some frame of reference to go by and it hasn't been half bad. The White Sox need to rebound after that series, but it might not be today.
  • The Dodgers over the Padres: The Padres have been hot and newcomers like Andrew Werner have been one of the reasons. For this pick to be correct, Joe Blanton needs to hold the Padres to a run, which is quite doable. Don't you want to call Andrew, "Pop Werner," whenever you see his name?
And the Game of the Day!
  • The Braves over the Rockies: Kris Medlen has been outstanding for the Braves and should not have trouble with the away-from-home version of the Rockies. Tyler Chatwood might be decent for his 75 pitches, and then what?

Yesterday: 9-6
Week: 9-6
Month: 15-16
Season: 1103-873
Games of the Day: 82-63

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Pence or Victorino? Which team got a better deal?

A month has gone by now since the Phillies traded away two thirds of their outfield to competing clubs in the National League West. The Giants picked up Hunter Pence and the Dodgers got Shane Victorino. From a birdseye view, neither team got a competitive edge with those two deals. In fact, they look remarkably similar in their unremarkable play. The one difference is that Victorino is an out and out free agent at the end of 2012 while Pence has a final year of arbitration pending. But judging from how slow Pence has started for the Giants, that might not be a win either.
 
One factor to take into account for both players is that they had a nice home ballpark to play in at Philadelphia. Both the Giants and Dodgers play in more pitcher friendly parks. Oddly enough, both players are slightly more successful in their new homes than they are on the road so far with their new clubs. Even that is no great shakes and two teams desperately hoping for an offensive boost, neither got one.
 
Pence has had a good week. Even so, in 30 games with the Giants, Pence's triple slash line sits at .233/.292/.362. On the plus side, he has driven in 22 runs in those 30 games with a couple of homers. The Giants had to have hoped Pence would have had a bigger impact. When Pence was in a similar situation last year when he went from the Astros to the Phillies, he had an OPS of .954 down the stretch.
 
Similarly, Victorino, in his 28 games with the Dodgers, his slash line is .248/.307/.342. Pence has a five point lead in OPS, so that is a virtual dead heat. Victorino does not have the runs batted in though but has played much better in the field. According to baseball-reference.com, Victorino' play has been worth 0.4 rWAR with the Dodgers, while Pence has been worth 0.2 rWAR for the Giants. Both have a higher than average BABIP for their new teams, so it's not like they have been unlucky.
 
Both players have had disappointing seasons relative to their results a season ago and their career norms. Victorino is a full 140 points of last year's OPS with the Phillies and 65 points off his career OPS. Pence is 117 points below last year's OPS and 64 points off his career mark.
 
When you take a closer look at Hunter Pence's batted ball and plate discipline stats, there is nothing noticeably different. The one area that jumps out at you is his contact rate and swinging strike rate. His contact rate is the lowest of his career at 72.7 percent. That is off significantly from his career 77.1 percent. His swinging strike rate is 12.8 percent, also the highest of his career (11.4 percent) and significantly higher than his last two seasons. Pence has always had positive numbers against the fastball and positive numbers the last couple of seasons against the slider. Both pitches against him this year have a negative value.
 
Shane Victorino's batted ball data is also within his career norms with the one exception that his homer to fly ball rate is off quite a bit. He is slightly less patient at the plate. But nothing else is out of line for him as far as plate discipline goes. Like Pence, his is having a lot of problems with the fastball this year unlike other years. He is also struggling with the change up.
 
As you can see, neither the Dodgers or the Giants have gained an appreciable advantage with their choice of former Phillies' outfielders. If you had to give an edge to anyone for their trade deadline deals, the team that seemed to make the best deal with the struggling outfielders was the Phillies.

Game Picks - Sunday: September 2, 2012

The week ended badly yesterday on a brutal Saturday for the Game Picks. The picks started 3-0 and then 4-1 during the day and then went 2-9 in a bloody evening. The lame finish put a tepid spin on the week that after 95 games predicted, the week ended up just three games over the .500 mark. Not good. And the Game of the Day feature is back to struggling too. Once again, it goes to show that you cannot predict baseball. All you can do is guess and ride the wind.

Perhaps Sunday will be a better day. What is left of Isaac will be pushing up the Ohio Valley and affect Indiana and Illinois today. That makes the Cubs game a bit iffy, but since Chicago is further north, perhaps they will get the game in today. Other than that, it should be full blazes on the rest of the schedule. Sunday's picks:
  • The Yankees over the Orioles: Holy cow, the hits on the Yankees' lineup keep coming. Now Curtis Granderson is out with a leg muscle strain. The Yankees are without Granderson, Teixeira and A-Rod. That is a big chunk of their offense. The difference maker in the game could be Phil Hughes, who is starting to arrive as a dominant and reliable pitcher for the Yankees. He is facing a tough pitcher though in Chris Tillman who made the White Sox look bad in his last start. Which pitcher will be better?
  • The Rangers over the Indians: Did you realize that the Rangers' lead in the AL West is down to three games over the Oakland A's? The Rangers are just sort of spinning around and not playing great baseball. Tim Holland needs to have a good outing after his team's loss yesterday. Zach McAllister is a decent pitcher for the Indians.
  • The Bay Rays over the Blue Jays: David Price is the difference in this game. Despite a rough outing last time, Price remains one of the premier pitchers in the American League. Ricky Romero righted his ship a bit in his last outing against the Yankees. So it looks like another low scoring game.
  • The Marlins over the Mets: Mark Buehrle has been exactly for the Marlins as he's been for his whole career. Never spectacular, he'll give up his three or four runs a game, but never more. His wins and losses all depend on his team scoring four or five runs and they should against Chris Young.
  • The Nationals over the Cardinals: Did you see that play with Bryce Harper yesterday? The kid is fearless. Stephen Stasburg had a bad outing last time. But don't let that lull you into thinking he is not going to be good today. If anyone can silence the Cards' big bats, he can. Jake Westbrook? Not so much.
  • The Reds over the Astros: The Astros stole a game yesterday. Lucas Harrell was fantastic. Can Bud Norris be as good today? The Reds are too good a hitting team to have that happen two days in a row. Bronson Arroyo has quietly built a decent season after his awful one last year.
  • The Twins over the Royals: Esmerling Vazquez has never started a major league game. Luis Mendoza has perhaps started too many major league games.
  • The Brewers over the Pirates: Yovani Gallardo has been terrific for the last month, especially at home where he is today. The Pirates' lineup is not exactly awe-inspiring which should also help him. But James McDonald came up big last time out and could do so again today. So this pick is a tough one.
  • The Giants over the Cubs: Matt Cain should win this one as he has a clear ability advantage over Travis Wood. But again, that's why you play the game.
  • The Padres over the Rockies: Very tough game to decipher. Casey Kelly was great in his first start, but how will he do in Coors Field for the first time? Jeff Francis is a known entity at least and you would expect him to years from three to five runs in the game.
  • The Athletics over the Red Sox: That Red Sox pick yesterday was stupid. Ugh! Can't believe that was the pick! The Red Sox are as down as a team can be. And now Pedroia is yelling at Aceves in the open? Geez. But when it comes to baseball, Brett Anderson has been nearly unhittable since he came back from the DL. Boy, does he look good. Daisuke Matsuzaka looked good in his first outing back.
  • The Angels over the Mariners: This picker really likes Hisashi Iwakuma as a pitcher for the Mariners. But not against Jered Weaver, who is a great, great pitcher despite being completely unlikeable.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Dodgers: As good as Wade Miley has been, consider that he has been this good pitching half his games in the dry air of Arizona! How good will be be in Dodgers Stadium? Chris Capuano's season has faded in the second half.
  • The Braves over the Phillies: MLB.com lists Cliff Lee pitching for the Phillies. Uh, hello! He pitched Saturday. It can't be Lee and it can't be Halladay. Will it be Cole Hamels? If so, this pick is in trouble. Paul Maholm goes for the Braves, who really need a win.
And the Game of the Day!
  • The Tigers over the White Sox: For the first time in a long time, the Game of the Day is also the most important game of the day. The Tigers are only one game behind the White Sox now and a win here will make things very interesting. Justin Verlander is a nice ace to have in such a game. Chris Sale has been great this season too, but he did not look so good in his last outing.
Yesterday: 6-10
Last week: 49-46
Month: 6-10
Season: 1094-867
Games of the Day: 81-63