Saturday, July 18, 2009

Game Picks - Saturday: July 18, 2009

This picker is on a semi-roll in somewhat unspectacular fashion. While correctly picking nine out of fifteen games, there was no excuse for getting the Oswalt game incorrect or this picker's continued insanity for picking the Orioles every day. Buckholtz wasn't spectacular for the Red Sox (he walked three and struck out three) but Romero didn't hold up for the Blue Jays. As for the Pittsburgh/San Francisco game, it lived up to the pitching duel aspect and became a battle of the bullpens for fourteen innings. The Fan can hardly be blamed for that. Lincecum was brilliant but so was Maholm.

Fifteen more big games are on tap for Saturday, so let's see what they bring:

  • The Yankees over the Tigers: Sabathia needs to come up big against Verlander for this pick to come off correctly. But the Yankees already dinged the hundred mile an hour fastball of Zumaya, so there you go.
  • The Red Sox over the Blue Jays: T'was silly picking against the Red Sox yesterday. The Blue Jays seem dispirited these days.
  • The Mets over the Braves: Santana has had plenty of rest. He'll win if the Mets score a run or two.
  • The White Sox over the Orioles: The Fan has got to stop the madness. Even if he does hate the White Sox.
  • The Angels over the Athletics: Weaver should be better than Mazzaro.
  • The Cubs over the Nationals: Riggelman won't get his first win in this game either.
  • The Pirates over the Giants: Really root for Zito as he continues to struggle, but can't pick for him either.
  • The Mariners over the Indians: How can the Indians keep throwing Ohka out there?
  • The Marlins over the Phillies: Josh Johnson and wishful thinking.
  • The Reds over the Brewers: When you have two struggling pitchers like Harang and Parra, go with the one with more experience.
  • The Bay Rays over the Royals: The Fan never picks against Greinke, but the Bay Rays are almost unstoppable now on offense.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Cardinals: Pujols is the eighth wonder of the world. Two more homers yesterday? But Haran is pitching.
  • The Rangers over the Twins: Got to stick with Feldman. It's all Josh's fault.
  • The Rockies over the Padres: The Padres have fallen into a deep funk and even Gonzalez can't hit.
  • The Dodgers over the Astros: Can't see Hampton stopping that lineup.

Yesterday: 9-6
Week: 25-13
Month: 88-72

Friday, July 17, 2009

Game Picks - Friday: July 17, 2009

Another somewhat successful night at picking Major League Baseball games. Of course there were only eight games, so it couldn't have gone too badly. The Nats over the Cubs was a stupid pick. And this picker should never have picked against Wandy. He's been a boon here all year (and for the Astros).

Tonight we get back to a full schedule. Nearly half the teams had four days off and should be raring to go. Every team's top of the rotation should lead things off, so it could be a night of aces. Here we go:

  • The Giants over the Pirates: Lincecum versus Maholm. Good matchup. Both teams struggle on offense.
  • The Cubs over the Nationals: Riggelman may never win a game with the Nats. Don't you just cringe when a team says its new manager is a "disciplinarian"?
  • The Mariners over the Indians: Huff has been decent. But Felix is king.
  • The Yankees over the Tigers: A. J. Burnett over a kid named French.
  • The Blue Jays over the Red Sox: Romero should beat a spot start by Buckholz which may be a showcase for a Halladay deal?
  • The Marlins over the Phillies: Nolasco has been fantastic of late, so will go with him over Hamels who has been ordinary.
  • The Brewers over the Reds: The Braunies should jump all over Arroyo.
  • The Braves over the Mets: Jurrjens over Pelfrey because the Braves at least have a major league team right now.
  • The Twins over the Rangers: Never feel good when Padilla starts. Get ready to duck, Twins.
  • The Bay Rays over the Royals: Shields should be slightly better than Bannister.
  • The Orioles over the White Sox: Really like this Berken kid.
  • The Cardinals over the Diamondbacks: Carpenter over Garland in a battle of "wily" veterans.
  • The Rockies over the Padres: Boy, Adrian Gonzalez is in a serious slump.
  • The Athletics over the Angels: Picking on Cahill to have a good night. Giambi is still batting under .200. Geez.
  • The Dodgers over the Astros: Super match up of Billingsley and Oswalt. Oswalt has been on fire, but the Dodgers are at home with their best pitcher on the mound.

Well, that does it. Now we get to see what happens. Have a great weekend everyone.

Yesterday: 5-3
Week: 16-7
Month: 88-72

Odds and Ends from Thursday Night

Ah! Baseball is back and it's already been interesting. It's possible that this Fan is a baseball dork. Can't help it. New things happen every day. Fresh games full of possibilities occur nightly and except for the slow Mondays and Thursdays, there are fifteen new reasons to find out what's going on every day.

The Fan's been watching the Yahoo MLB page while putting some hard cover books together. When there isn't time to watch a game, Yahoo does a clean job of refreshing constantly and showing what's going on. Some major sites don't even refresh. No names will be mentioned, but one of them has been featured here as having the worst webmasters in the known universe.

And even though there were only nine games scheduled, there was plenty to smile about and wonder about. Such as:

- As predicted here, the Home Run Derby champ did hit a homer off of Homer Bailey. It was just too good symmetry not to come true. Bailey was awful. He walked four and gave up six hits in five and a third.

- Jamie Moyer. Man. What can you say? The guy is just unfathomable. He pitched seven innings of shut out ball and only gave up one hit. One hit. The guy is almost as old as the Fan and couldn't knock over one of those arcade monkeys and yet he one-hits big leaguers for seven innings. How? The Fan keeps predicting against him and he keeps making the Fan look like a moron.

- Oliver Perez pitched for the Mets tonight against the Braves. He pitched six innings, gave up five hits and walked four and left with a 3-3 tie. In today's game of low pitcher expectation, that qualifies for a quality start, no? Seems rather pedantic to the Fan. But the Mets lost anyway since they can't hit with their AAA fill ins.

- Cliff Lee "scattered" nine hits over nine full innings to beat the Mariners. Immediately after the game, the Indians' GM's phone started ringing again and he kept saying no. The Fan noticed that Sizemore is back to leading off. Why? The guy is an RBI machine. Put in third in the order and leave him there for Pete's sake. Equally confusing is why the Mariners continue to bat Branyon second in the order. The guy is the big stud in that lineup. Why bat him second? By the way, not too many people have noticed that Travis Hafner has an OPS of .944. Isn't that Comeback Player of the Year stuff? Of course, he's only played in half of the Indians' games.

- The Cubbies got off to a good start for the second half with a good game from Harden. The Fan has to admit he didn't see that coming. Lannon pitched well again for the Nats but Harden was better. Adam Dunn did what he tends to do from time to time. He had four plate appearances and never hit the ball. He struck out three times and walked once.

The late games will have to wait until morning as the Fan is done tuckered out today.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Alex Rodriguez: Revisited

When Alex Rodriguez first came back to the Yankees after his hip surgery, he didn't start off very well. Writers all over the web sphere were writing how either his hip had destroyed his game or hinting (or flat out stating) that since he couldn't use PEDs now, he wasn't the same player. He has been all but forgotten in the daily grind of day to day baseball. But guess what? A-Rod has quietly started to build his numbers and they look darn close to his career norms. Oops.

In Rodriguez's last 28 days, his numbers look like this: .324/.467/.676. For those of you disbelievers, that's an OPS of 1.143. His year totals to date: .258/.411/.548. His current OPS for the year is .959, just .008 off his career mark. His OPS+ sits at 150 as apposed to his career OPS+ of 147.

And if you are thinking that his numbers are juiced (poor choice of a word there) because of the new Yankee Stadium, consider that his sOPS+ is higher on the road than at home. So it appears that Mr. Rodriguez is not near death as a player yet.

Alex Rodriguez is only seven homers behind the AL leader (Carlos Pena) who has played thirty more games. He is in the top 25 in the league in RBIs. He season projects out to 30 homers and 97 RBIs. Not bad for a guy who can't play without PEDs.

Wishful Thinking for the Second Half

Just about every baseball writer there is writes some kind of post or article concerning:

- First half surprises
- First half awards
- Second half predictions
- Second half things to look for
- Trades that will help teams in the second half...

You get the idea. It's an age-old tradition, mostly because there isn't much else to write about for three days during the All Star break. Hey, did you catch that, "Legends/Celebrity Softball" game? No. Didn't think so. Anyway, since we have to write something to fill the dead space between the schedule, the Fan might as well do the expected. Let's add a little twist to things though. What follows is a list of second half wishes followed by what will probably happen instead:

Wishful Thinking: The Brewers will win the National League Central. The Fan just digs the way Braun and Fielder relate to each other and do that cool boxing routine when one of them does something good.
What Will Probably Happen: The Cardinals will win the division. Grrrr...that LaRussa.

Wishful Thinking: The Marlins will win the National League East. After watching that team for two and a half weeks while on vacation in Florida, the Fan really enjoyed that team.
What Will Probably Happen: The Phillies will win the division. Grrrr...Hate that same old same old.

Wishful Thinking: The Twins will win the American League Central. Morneau and Mauer are just amazing players playing in a small market with a stadium that has baggies for outfield walls.
What Will Probably Happen: The Tigers will win the division. But that's pretty cool too because no one expected them to.

Wishful Thinking: Roy Halladay will win the Cy Young Award...while pitching the entire season for the Blue Jays.
What Will Probably Happen: Halladay gets traded to the Yankees for Joba Chamberlain and the Yankees top centerfield prospect.

Wishful Thinking: Pedro Martinez will come back with a swagger and win eight out of his ten starts.
What Will Probably Happen: He'll pitch eight games, go 3-3 with an ERA around 5.00 and then get hurt.

Wishful Thinking: The Dodgers will face the Red Sox in the World Series and Manny Ramirez will personally destroy his old team. Now that would be fun to watch.
What Will Probably Happen: The Dodgers will lose the NLCS and all the sanctimonious writers will say it's Manny's fault.

Wishful Thinking: Micah Owings will go on a run and win eight out of twelve while hitting six more homers.
What Will Probably Happen: He'll continue to pitch one good game and two bad ones and hit the occasional bomb.

Wishful Thinking: The Yankees face the Red Sox in the ALCS and purge the 2004 series from memory.
What Will Probably Happen: The Bay Rays overtake the Yankees for the wildcard and Girardi will get fired. Personally, this observer thinks Girardi has done a great job.

Wishful Thinking: Jeter will end the season at .320/.390/.480 with 200 hits, 100 runs scored and 15 homers.
What Will Probably Happen: He'll do exactly that and cement his HOF credentials.

Wishful Thinking: The Angels and Mariners will fade again and the Rangers will win the AL West. It would be so much fun to see a different team in the playoffs!
What Will Probably Happen: The Rangers will be the team that fades and those dang Halos will win the darn thing again.

Wishful Thinking: Albert Pujols will win the triple crown. He is such a cool guy and seems as great a guy as he is a player.
What Will Probably Happen: He'll lose out on one of the categories because everyone walks the guy now. Personally, that's crap and any manager who does that is cheating baseball and cheating the fans...and is a gigantic buck buck buck chicken.

Wishful Thinking: Carl Crawford steals 100 bases, the first guy to do it in decades.
What Will Probably Happen: He'll end up with 80 or something.

Wishful Thinking: Tim Wakefield will win 20 games this year.
What Will Probably Happen: He'll win 16 or so.

Wishful Thinking: We'll have plenty to talk about because MLB is always new and always exciting and we'll see things we've never seen before.
What Will Probably Happen: Exactly that because that's why we love this game.

Game Picks - Thursday: July 16, 2009

Yay! Baseball is back on Thursday with a partial slate of games. After three days rest, why do some teams need another day off?

Those three days were murder. Yes, the All Star game was mildly amusing and President Obama was jaunty and fun. Tim McCarver was unbearable as usual and it was stupid that Halladay had to bat in the second inning. The DH should be the rule for all All Star games. But all that is behind us now and we can look forward to a fun-filled second half. Weeee! Here we go!

Thursday's picks:

  • The Nationals over the Cubs: The Cubs second half starts with a thud as Lannon out guns Harden.
  • The Indians over the Mariners: Lee pitches for all those scouts again.
  • The Braves over the Mets: Uh oh! Don't look now, but Perez is back for the Mets. Duck!
  • The Brewers over the Reds: The Home Run Derby champ bats against Homer Bailey? Can it be more fitting?
  • The Marlins over the Phillies: Moyer is like Wakefield. How? Why? How long?
  • The Rockies over the Padres: Cook should be all over the weak-hitting Pads.
  • The Angels over the A's: Santana should be better than Braden. Does anyone remember Braden Theatres?
  • The Dodgers over the Astros: Hate to pick against Wandy, but the Dodgers are at home and they rarely lose there.

Sunday: 11-4
Week: 11-4
Month: 83-69

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Hate the All Star Break

Major League Baseball's All Star Game is probably the best of its type. The NBA All Star Game is also very good, but the NFL "Pro Bowl" sucks. Even so, this writer hates the All Star Break for several reasons. First, it puts a halt for three days on the season and the Fan goes into serious withdrawals. Second, the game itself is usually anti-climatic. It's fun seeing all those stars together and then the big build up comes from the announcers and then the game itself is played and it's usually the pitchers dominating and a low scoring game.

The Home Run Derby that comes the day before the game is now somewhat tainted. It started with the exploits of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa and it now seems to symbolize all that went wrong with baseball and the mess we are now left with. Sure, there are still fun moments like Josh Hamilton last year. But by and large, it's a pretty boring affair with far too many commercials and too much talking by the announcers to cover up the fact that the batter is mostly letting pitches go or hitting line drives that fall short of the fence. And man, don't you hate those awful interviews after each turn? The only positive is that some lucky American gets to win a house. Are they still doing that? And do they still play those gawd-awful celebrity softball games after? Now those were cheesy.

For the Fan, the All Star Break is something to get through and not something to look forward to. It's like a visit to Grandma's when you are a kid. "Man, let's just get this over with!" The Futures Game would be more exciting to this writer if he was better versed on the prospects. So add up the entire package and all it means is that for three days, the Fan can't make any picks, has no box scores to pore through, no rundown of the previous day on Josh's site, no Royals lament from Posnanski, no hair pulling from eyebleaf's site. It's just three days to endure until we get back to the fun that is the daily baseball odyssey toward the playoffs.

Game Picks - Sunday: July 12, 2009

Well that didn't take long. The week's picks took a dive faster than a Yankee pitcher against the Angels' lineup. Faster even than Nick Johnson's and Adam Dunn's homers went back to back against the Astros. The one question that remains is why this picker had to lose everything gained in one lousy day? Can you say crushed? Yup. Crushed.

So it is with some trepidation and with a bit of a sheepish feeling that the Fan presents to you Sunday's picks:

  • The Cubs over the Cardinals: Kyle Lohse is coming back from missing a few starts. That's always a red flag and Rule #2.
  • The Tigers over the Indians: Verlander versus Tomo Ohka. How could this go wrong?
  • The Reds over the Mets: Shouldn't have picked against Santana yesterday.
  • The Phillies over the Pirates: Happ should be better than Vazquez. What happened to the Pirates rotation?
  • The Orioles over the Blue Jays: Who and what exactly is a Rzepczynski?
  • The Red Sox over the Royals: Yes, the Royals might have a chance pitching Chen against Beckett. Sure they do.
  • The Bay Rays over the A's: Don't know how the A's won yesterday, but the odds are against them doing it twice in a row.
  • The Nationals over the Astros: Zimmermann should be better than Moehler.
  • The Dodgers over the Brewers: Good match up with Kershaw against Gallardo.
  • The Twins over the White Sox: The Fan refuses to believe that the creaky White Sox are better than the Twins.
  • The Rockies over the Braves: Braves' rookie, Medlen, isn't as good as Hanson.
  • The Yankees over the Angels: Sabathia needs to right this ship.
  • The Giants over the Padres: Zito should beat Correia.
  • The Marlins over the Diamondbacks: Josh Johnson should over power the snake hides.
  • The Mariners over the Rangers: So the Rangers can beat the Angels but not the Mariners?
  • The Cardinals over the Cubs: The second half of the day/night double-header and on national TV.

Yesterday: 5-10
Week: 51-47
Month: 72-65