Saturday, April 24, 2010

Tripping Through The Transactions

It's been a while since we tripped through the transaction wire in our own unique (and some say childish) way. But heck, life's about having fun and making the most of every day. So part of the Fan's fun is being silly. You can either come along for the ride or go on to more intelligent things. There will be no offense taken.

Here goes...

  • The Tigers lost Carlos Guillen (rhymes with, Again) and thought it was their Boesch bet to call up Brennan. He went 2 for 4 his first game up.
  • The Royals' Cruz took it on the Chen as Juan was released in favor of Bruce.
  • Since Manny will be on his fanny for 15 days, the Dodgers interrupted Xavier Paul's schooling in Albuquerque to take Manny's place.
  • An injury kicked Punto to the curb for fifteen days as he is Nicked up. He'll won't lose any hits during that span.
  • A roster move by the Oakland A's meant that Powell, the catcher, will Landon in Sacramento.
  • The Pirates' Argenis Diaz asked his manager why he was being sent down and the manager said, "Jakubauskas I said so."
  • The Bay Rays' Ben was the Zobrist member of his household after they learned about his lucrative extension.
  • The Rangers hope that where there's Smoak there's fire when they called up Justin. That solves the Chris Davis problem but now what about Murphy who is hitting .125 after a golden sombrero last night?
  • The Blue Jays gave Cecil a new beanie when he was called up.
  • The Phillies' pitcher has had Happier times than when J. A. had to go on the DL.
  • Angels' prospect, Cole, was a dizzy Gillespe when he learned he'd been called up.
  • The Fan thought it was a Pie in the sky when Felix was off to such a hot start. Now he's on the 60 day DL.
  • Pedro was sad when the Reds put him on waivers, but his Fairy Godmother said, "Viola" when she waved her magic wand and the Orioles signed him.
  • Ronald Belisario was activated by the Dodgers so he can pitch when he isn't making TV shows.
  • The Fan doesn't know how it happened, but Downs was up when the Giants promoted Matt.
  • And finally, when the Mets called up Ike Davis, they told Toby Stoner to straighten himself out in Buffalo.

Have a good weekend everybody.

Railing Against the System -

As those of you who follow this blog know, the Fan makes game picks every day of the season. Hey, somebody has to do it. Those picks are made possible (or more lazily) by going to which has this game thing where you can pick the games every day. They weight upsets more heavily on the scale, so if you correctly pick an upset, you can get like 2.7 points. If you pick the clear favorite (like the Twins beating the Royals), you only get like 0.3 points for the correct pick. But the kicker is, no matter what, you get -1 for an incorrect pick.

So say you pick fifteen MLB games and you have a good night and go 10-5 but all of the correct picks were games where the favored team wins. Your total point tally for the day could end up being in the minus column (10*0.3 < 5*-1). Which is pretty unfair to begin with.

The Fan has been having a good picking year to date with a record of 147-83. That's a .630 winning percentage or roughly what the Yankees did last year to win the pennant. But the highest the Fan has ever gotten on the list of BallHype pickers is second. The average finish is around fourth or sixth.

Meanwhile, they have this twerp over there named Thrabak who wins every week. He's on top this week for probably the sixth or seventh week in a row. What this dingdong does is wait until everyone else picks and then picks all the games that are less favored. So every week he picks only 43% of his picks correctly, but scores a bajillion points. Now isn't that stupid? Does this guy really feel great about himself being right 43% of the time?

Now it really doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things since BallHype doesn't give away any prizes for winning. But it's the point that counts. BallHype has a great site and its collection system of sports writing is a neat idea. But any gaming system that rewards losers rather than winners is a pooched gaming system. It's un-American. Wait! That's not right either. Because in America, you get more rewarded for being lazy than you do for working hard too. So maybe then BallHype is very American. And the Fan supposes that it more mirrors how gambling gaming systems work too. Don't know. Don't care.

Whatever it is, it's very annoying. The Fan wrote the site and complained and got a nice letter back stating that the game isn't changing. Fine. Don't change it. But it's still wrong.

Game Picks - Saturday: April 24, 2010

Darn that West Coast! This picker was tired last night and went to bed early (around 10) and when the alarm clock was set, the picks to that point were 8-2 and this picker went to sleep with a smile on his face. Imagine the surprise to wake up in the morning to see that all four left coast picks went sour while the Fan was sleeping! Joba jobbed the Yankees. Lincecum didn't have his best stuff but was still good enough to increase his record to 4-0. The Diamondbacks easily took care of Hamels and the Phillies and picking against Duchscherer and the Athletics was a particularly bad mistake.

Speaking of that mistake, the Indians couldn't have played a worse game. How so? They made three errors that accounted for five unearned runs, they hit into five double plays and they totally whiffed on offense. Yeah, that's a bad game. Oh yeah, Choo got picked off of first too. Ouch.

It's a good thing the Fan did go to bed, because there might have been a coronary watching the games going on. Texas did not start Feldman as expected because of the flu, so Harden started early and lasted 4.1 innings. But the Rangers held a pretty comfortable lead by 10 P.M. Little did the sleeping Fan know that Feliz would blow the save but still would get the win when Ni of the Tigers gave up his own run. By the way, the Fan may be childish, but every time he sees Ni's name in the box score, he audibly uses this quick, high pitched voice that sounds more like a sound effect and says, "NNNee.." Yeah, silly.

And that game wasn't the only one that would have been a nail-biter. The Red Sox bullpen almost blew their game as did the White Sox bullpen. In the White Sox game, Floyd was cruising along until the seventh inning and loaded the bases. Ozzie brought in J. J. Putz (which rhymes with Nuts) who promptly served up a grand slam to Lopez of all people. Nice. But the White Sox still won.

So anyway, it was a weird night in the good old MLB. The Fan should feel fortunate to have been slighly over .500. There was one rainout as the Marlins - Rockies game was postponed. With a blown mind and a hot cup of coffee, what do the Saturday games look like?

  • The Dodgers over the Nationals: This is an incredibly hard game to predict. The Dodgers look moribund and now Manny is on the DL. But Kershaw is pitching. The Nationals are over .500 (surprise!) and look pretty darn good, but Zimmerman is hurting. What to do??
  • The Padres over the Reds: Cueto was supposed to pitch yesterday according to the schedule the Fan looked at. But Arroyo pitched and got clobbered. Thanks for ruining THAT pick. Cueto is scheduled to pitch again today. Hey, you aren't going to fool the Fan twice with that bait and switch.
  • The Mets over the Braves: Despite Jurrjens pitching (which hasn't been a lock this year anyway) the Braves have gone cold. Heyward whiffed three times last night while the other uber-prospect, Ike Davis, hit his first MLB homer. Chipper Jones is a first-ballot HOFer, but he can't play third anymore.
  • The Athletics over the Indians: Carmona has been just this side if iffy. Anderson is a great pitcher. And right now, the Indians are playing bad baseball.
  • The Yankees over the Angels: You can't stop Pettitte, you can only hope to contain him.
  • The Marlins over the Rockies: The Fan thought that Nolasco would beat Smith yesterday when the game was rained out and still thinks the same will happen today.
  • The Blue Jays over the Bay Rays: Sticking with Romero who has done the Fan well so far.
  • The Astros over the Pirates: Not only have the Pirates been stinking up the joint lately, but they kicked every sports writer in the groin by bringing up Jakubauskas to pitch. Try typing that three times fast.
  • The Brewers over the Cubs: Ted Lilly makes his first start of the year and this Fan has a rule that he never picks a pitcher making his first start back from the DL, even if Davis is pitching for the Brewers.
  • The Royals over the Twins: Going with two straight upsets in the next two picks. Like Hochever here over Blackburn, which rhymes with heartburn.
  • The Orioles over the Red Sox: Matusz versus Lackey. Yeah. That's right, Matusz will win.
  • The Rangers over the Tigers: Apparently Feldman is done puking and will go ahead today and beat Dontrelle Willis.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Phillies: Make that three upsets in a row as Ian Kennedy will beat Figueroa.
  • The Marlins over the Rockies: Nate Roberston is really loving pitching in the National League.
  • The Giants over the Cardinals: Might as well finish with another upset as Barry Zito outpitches Mr. Wainwright.


  • The Mariners over the White Sox: Fister has been great. The White Sox counter with Freddie Garcia. ewww.

Yesterday: 8-6
Week: 44-21
Month: 147-83
Games of the Day: 3-4

Friday, April 23, 2010

Nelson Cruz Coming Into His Own

Some players are late starters who either don't figure it out until a little later in their careers or because they were never really given a chance. Nelson Cruz seems to be the latter and the former at the same time. It's hard to imagine, but for a guy who is going to turn 30 this year, Cruz has been playing professional ball for twelve years. Last year saw him break out with 32 homers with a fairly low batting average. But this year, the guy has been a monster so far.

The Rangers had to gasp on Wednesday night when Nelson Cruz had to leave the game early due to a hamstring problem. He's been their only consistent offensive threat and there he was grabbing the back of his leg. But he played Thursday night and had another big game including his fifth stolen base (with a perfect success rate) and a couple more hits. His line for the season now sits at: .327/.419/.827. Those are pretty eye-popping numbers. It's not likely he will end up that high when all is said and done, but he should easily beat the PECOTA projections of a .260 batting average with a .524 slugging percentage. Don't be surprised if he ends up at .280/.370/.550 for the season. He's off to that good a start.

Add all the offense together with the fact that he currently leads all right fielders in fielding UZR and the stolen bases and you have a really good package. The Rangers have always been an all-offense, no-pitching team. But that has reversed itself last year and this year. But don't blame Cruz. He contributed 32 homers last year and 40+ is not a stretch for this year. If Josh Hamilton can get going consistently, the Rangers' offense will be okay. Keep an eye on Cruz. He is one to watch and so far, he's been a pretty big secret.

Game Picks - Friday: April 23, 2010

Isn't it funny how as human beings we tend to focus more on what we do wrong than what we do right? On the surface, this picker had another good picking day yesterday but those three incorrect picks stick more in the craw than the correct picks. First, the Fan correctly picked that Livan would throw another good game. But Ubaldo was even better and so that pick was off. The Yankees can't win 162 games so occasionally, you have to pick the games they will lose. The Fan failed to do so last night and that was another incorrect pick. And finally, the Game of the Day pick was again a terrible pick as the Bay Rays had no trouble with Peavy and beat up on the hapless White Sox. But there were much more correct picks than incorrect ones including some upsets that worked out nicely. Some day...some day...this picker is going to have a perfect day. And just as likely, some day will be perfectly awful. [shiver] Okay, the Fan will stick with being very good and try to be happy.

The picks for Friday shape up thusly:

  • The Nationals over the Dodgers: Isn't it ironic that Joe Torre has more horses in the Kentucky Derby than in his rotation? Tonight it will be Haeger versus a guy named Luis Atilano, who was called up to take Marquis' spot in the rotation. Atilano is a former 2003 first round pick. He isn't a big power pitcher (according to his minor league stats) but he throws strikes.
  • The Mets over the Braves: Maine has got to get it together and a struggling Atlanta offense is a good place to do it. Ike Davis watch: two more hits last night. Heyward is in a bit of a slump.
  • The Reds over the Padres: Tough pick here as Cueto versus Correia could go either way.
  • The Red Sox over the Orioles: Lester needed a match up like the Orioles in the worst way. Ortiz has sat two straight games. hmm...
  • The Bay Rays over the Blue Jays: The Bay Rays win the battle of the "Ays." Brent (Beanie and) Cecil was called up to pitch for the Blue Jays, but Garza is now an ace so it won't matter.
  • The Astros over the Pirates: The Pirates just lost a 20-0 game. Maholm is a nice pitcher but Oswalt will be better.
  • The Rangers over the Tigers: The Rangers finally picked up a W last night. They have Feldman pitching tonight. Hamilton is showing signs of life. Nelson Cruz is turning into a superstar.
  • The Cubs over the Brewers: Dempster is consistent and should beat Suppon who is making his first start of the year. Blech.
  • The White Sox over the Mariners: Floyd is better than Rowland-Smith so that will make the difference as neither team can hit.
  • The Twins over the Royals: Pavano versus Meche. Yeesh. Not a fun game to pick.
  • The Marlins over the Rockies: Great match up of Nolasco versus Smith. Going with Nolasco since he did the Fan so well last time out.
  • The Phillies over the Diamondbacks: Hamels versus Benson isn't even a fair fight.
  • The Indians over the Athletics: Westbrook versus Duchscherer seems to favor the A's, but this picker is predicting an upset.
  • The Yankees over the Angels: A. J. Burnett has burned this picker twice. Will it be three times if the Fan predicts him to win? It hasn't worked the other way around.

And in the GAME of the DAY!

  • The Cardinals over the Giants: Garcia versus Lincecum is a very intriguing match up. Garcia has been the biggest surprise this year so here's predicting the Cards win the game something like 3-2.

Yesterday: 7-3
Week: 38-25
Month: 139-77
Games of the Day: 3-4

Surpised Braden Didn't Piss on the Mound

Okay, this story is sort of dumbfounding. It seems that in the middle of a rare Yankee loss that featured a triple play and another good outing from an up and coming pitcher named Dallas Braden, Alex Rodriguez (who always seems to be in the middle of this type of story) was the front end of a double play ball that ended the Yankees' inning. After being forced out at second, A-Rod jogged toward his position at third. That's when Dallas Braden, that up and coming pitcher, let him have it.

It seems Braden felt that A-Rod had broken some sort of unwritten rule earlier (after a foul ball when A-Rod crossed the mound on the way back to first), that apparently states that the batting team will not step on the pitching mound while the other team is occupying it. Well, okay. The Fan has been watching the game for more than four decades and has never heard that one before. So Braden gets all pissed off (you can read the story and find the video link here) and starts barking to A-Rod. The video clearly shows Braden's lips saying something to the effect of, "Stay off my @#@@#% mound." A-Rod can be clearly seen looking at Braden as if to say, "Whuh?"

Then Braden kicks a bunch of stuff in the dugout and throws his glove and stuff. Rob Neyer's take on the whole thing was that the Yankees will just shrug that stuff off because they are too good not to, but the A's should be really impressed with the fire of the young 26 year old pitcher. Well, okay again. Mr. Neyer is usually someone who is dead on with stuff, but this is just silly.

First of all, what the heck is the big deal? It's akin to the Fan yelling at the Fan's wife for hanging one of her shirts on his side of the closet. That would be kind of goofy, no?

Secondly, Braden may be good and he may be staking a claim in the league, but he's clearly nothing more than a mere babe in the woods as far as the major leagues go. He doesn't have the juice or the status to be challenging an established player on his own team let alone a superstar like A-Rod. The Fan may be cited here for favoritism, but the reaction would have been the same if it was any other team or any other player that Braden lit into.

Perhaps if the Fan was the captain of the Yankees, he would have his entire team cross the mound the next time they face Braden. But that would be kind of childish. So would hitting another Oakland batter just because Braden got upset about such a stupid little thing. The best course for the Yankees would be to ignore it an go about their business being the overpaid brutes of the AL East. Yeah, that's the best call.

As for the A's, is this something that fires the A's up like Mr. Neyer would suggest? If the Fan was playing for the A's, the reaction here would be, "WTF Braden?" Or similarly, "Oh that's good, Braden, the Yankees aren't already good enough, you have to give them extra motivation?"

The Fan loves his little dog. He's a cute little thing that has become the mascot of our home and he's like our child. Every day, the Fan takes him for several walks around the yard to do his thing. Every time the dog sniffs something he isn't sure about, he pees on that spot just to say that it's his. Now this is quite stupid really because for one, he's a small little dog and if a moose or a bear or a dear or any other dog wants to blunder through the yard, the Fan's little dog isn't going to be able to do anything about it. It's a dumb instinctual thing. But he's a dog. And dog's are stupid. Braden has basically done the same thing here. It's just a pitching mound for gosh sakes. Get over yourself.

Who knows, the Fan could be out in left field somewhere and not know there is really some sort of unwritten code about this sort of thing. Perhaps if the Fan learns that such a thing exists, then Braden would have some sort of beef. But then again, even if there was an unwritten code, the Fan thinks much of those codes are silly or stupid anyway. A-Rod probably wasn't even thinking about what he was doing. We all know that these adults are playing a child's game. But that doesn't mean they have to act like they are one.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Zambrano Just the Latest Stupid Cubs' Decision

The big news out of Chicago the last couple of days is that Lou Piniella has pushed Carlos Zambrano to the bullpen. While this is shocking news isolated from all other Cubs' events of the past couple of seasons, taken in context with all the other stories and the news makes perfect sense. Zambrano will become the highest paid setup man in baseball and Piniella? Well, perhaps he'll feel better about himself for "sending the team a message."

Lou Pinella has had some success as a manager. His Mariners' teams of the past were legendary. But he has also thrown in the Tampa Bay years and from this faraway perch, Piniella simply hasn't handled the Cubs properly. His handling of the Bradley fiasco of a year ago was simply awful. Sure, Bradley brought a lot of it on himself, but Piniella didn't exactly help the cause. Piniella also hasn't handled Soriano very well either. First he let him lead off for far too long before the weight became so heavy that it nearly snapped the Cubs' necks and then he ineffectively deals with Soriano's occiasional lack of effort. And now we have Zambrano.

Zambrano doesn't seem like that bad a guy. He's sort of a Hispanic Joba Chamberlain with more success. He just has a lot of passion and he wears his emotions on his sleeve. Apparently, this has worn down Piniella's last nerve, which is ironic since Piniella was the same kind of player and then manager. It's funny that the manager cannot tolerate the same kind of behavior he himself exhibited countless times in his career.

First, let's take a look at the context. Ted Lilly is due to come off the disabled list. Gorzelanny, the epitome of an MLB journeyman is pitching well so far. Dempster is pitching well. Randy Wells in untouchable. Carlos Silva has been some sort of miracle and Zambrano has an ERA+ of 65. Add to that equation that the Cubs' bullpen has been just short of a disaster thus far and Zambrano is the odd man out, or the right man in the bullpen. Depends on how you look at it.

But here's the problem. There is no guarantee that Lilly will be effective out of the gate. There is no history to support Gorzelanny and Silva continuing their remarkable success. Marmol seems solid as the closer. Sean Marshall can be dominant and should be just fine as the set up guy. Russell is adequate and those should be your close game guys. Grabow is useful three out of every fourth outings. It's that fourth one that seems quite ugly. But limit him to LOOGY events for the most part and some mop up duty and he should be just fine. Why would you need Zambrano out there? Long relief is a mess. But how often would that be a problem?

Zambrano is a horse. He is a wild stallion at times and so he might run into some fences here and there, but the guy goes out there every year and gives you 200+ decent innings. Why mess with that? Why not start Lilly in the bullpen and earn his way back into the rotation after seeing how Gorzelanny and Silva fare down the road? If this is really about performance, we are only talking about one terrible start by Zambrano to open the season. He's been decent since and still leads the team in strikeouts. He'll be fine. Just give him the ball 32 times and he'll be good in 24 of them. That's all you can ask.

But no, that's not Piniella. That would make sense and he's more into being intense than into making sense. And the root word for, "intense" is "tense." And no better word describes the current mood of the Cubs after two years of drama. The Rockies learned last year what can happen when you replace a tense situation with a feel good guy like Jim Tracy. This Fan really feels like the Cubs need the same sort of breath of fresh air. The two problems here seem to be that Jim Hendry has no feel for building a winner and the talent that he has assembled can't take flight with the drama they are exposed to all the time.

Bring in a feel good guy who just lets the guys go out there and play and see what happens. It can't be any worse than the current results. While you're at it, bring up Sam Fuld and let him lead off and play every day and sit Fukodome. That way you have a feel good vibe for the whole team with Fuld's excitement and spunk giving a spark at the top of the line up.

What is obvious is that the Cubs in their current state are going nowhere. They are playing tighter than a kettle drum (ack! a hackneyed cliche!) and drama seems to follow them wherever they go. It's time for a change. In fact, it's long overdue.

The Phillies Couldn't Ask for More From Halladay

Roy Halladay has made four starts for the Phillies and he's won them all. Not only has he won them all, but he has finished two of those games and is averaging eight and a third innings per start. So far he has a 8/1 strikeout to walk ratio as he's walked only three batters in four games. His WHIP currently stands at 0.88. He's only given up one homer. Oh yeah, he's also batting .200: Pretty good for a former AL pitcher.

Could the Phillies have asked for anything more? Sure, Halladay needs to keep this up all season for the Phillies. But history indicates that he can and probably will. Is the National League this much worse than the American League where Halladay was always great, but never like this? It's like Halladay is playing in a sandbox with a bigger tractor than anyone else. It sure is fun to watch.

Game Picks - Thursday: April 22, 2010

It always seems amazing how much bullpens can play havoc on picking games. Last night was a prime example. This picker ended up having a mediocre night* though it was still above .500. But blown saves by the Marlins and the Angels and an implosion by the Rockies bullpen meant that this picker had virtually predicted the outcome exactly the way it should have been and things went exactly according to plan...until the closer or reliever came in. Turn those three games into wins and the Fan has another great night. But then again, how stupid was it to pick against Roy Halladay? So there really is no getting off the hook there.

*Posnanski asterisk: The Fan once used "Mediocre" in a prayer and his son, then a young boy, interrupted his father and asked earnestly, "What's the middle of an egg have to do with anything?"

So, anyway, Thursday is another day with a pretty good slate of games considering it's a travel day. Let's see if we can't do better today:

  • The Brewers over the Pirates: Braun is absolutely killing the ball, Wolf is pitching and the Pirates are reeling. All that adds up to a Brew Crew victory.
  • The Indians over the Twins: Talbot has been good so far for the Indians. Baker has been struggling for the Twins. The Indians salvage one game of the series.
  • The Yankees over the Athletics: Braden has been really good but so has Sabathia. The Yankees aren't even clicking on all cylinders yet and are still 11-3.
  • The Nationals over the Rockies: Yeah, the Fan knows. But after getting burned twice in row by Livan, call him sensitive to put his finger in that light socket again.
  • The Mets over the Cubs: Santana versus Gorzelanny. Enough said.
  • The Reds over the Dodgers: This seems like a dumb pick, but sticking with Leake over Padilla. Manny is back and is killing the ball. Hmmm...
  • The Braves over the Phillies: Lowe gives up four runs a game. Moyer gives up five. That math adds up for the Braves.
  • The Rangers over the Red Sox: The poor Rangers are 0 for the American League East. But Lewis will beat Buchholz.
  • The Marlins over the Astros: The Fan isn't exactly excited to pick Sanchez to win for the Marlins, but would be even less excited to pick Paulino.
  • The Tigers over the Angels: In Verlander we trust. In Saunders we do not.

And the GAME OF THE DAY (whose idea was this?)

  • The White Sox over the Bay Rays: Peavy rises to the occasion and beats one Mr. Shields.

Yesterday: 8-7
Week: 31-22
Month: 132-74
Games of the Day: 3-3

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sanchez Gaining on Lincecum

Managers all over baseball would love to have a top four starting rotation like the Giants have. And who would have guessed that Matt Cain would be the fourth best of the bunch? Barry Zito has been great so far and Lincecum has been...well Lincecum. But the biggest pleasant surprise so far for the Giants has been Jonathan Sanchez. He lost a heart breaker to the Padres last night but still pitched a heck of a game. At this point in the season, Sanchez has almost been as good as the ace.

Look at the ERA+ and WHIP of the top four:

Lincecum: 521, 0.800
Zito: 252, 0.879
Sanchez: 252, 0.983
Cain: 122, 1.125

Wow! If they Giants could start getting some good starts from Wellemeyer, then this rotation could be one for the ages. But the most pleasant surprise has been Sanchez. We all know he had that no-hitter and thus the talent to be this good. But he was erratic. He'd have great outings and then he would have stinkers. All of his outings this year have been very good and that consistency seems to indicate that he has come into his own as one of the elite pitchers in the National League.

Sanchez is averaging 12.6 strikeouts per nine innings and his 27 K's tops even Lincecum. The only difference between the two is their walk rates. Lincecum has only walked three guys in 20 innings whereas Sanchez has walked eight in 19.1. If Sanchez could knock down that 3.7 walks per nine inning rate, he would really be a monster.

But that walk rate is significantly better than last year's and his career rate. Last year, Sanchez walked 4.8 batters per nine innings and his career total is 4.6. So that's a vast improvement. That improvement has led to his best K/BB ratio of his career at 3.32. And he hasn't given up a homer in his three starts which is great. Last year Sanchez gave up 19 dingers and if you walk a couple and then give up a homer, you are down three runs before you knew what happened. Walking less means less stress and less mistakes.

His high walk rates meant that Sanchez has pretty much been a five inning pitcher. He averaged 5.09 innings per start last year. His average this year is well over six innings per start. That makes a huge difference in his results and is just one more step to being a really top notch starter.

It doesn't really matter that the Giants can't hit very much. The pitching staff makes the Giants relevant. The great turnaround by Zito and the vast improvement of Sanchez means the Giants can make a run at the National League West, where the teams seems to be wallowing a bit thus far. If you were to ever get this rotation in a playoff situation, they could be very dangerous.

It will be fun to watch if Sanchez can continue to build on what has been a great start to his season. He always had the talent. And now he is starting to get out of the way of it.

Game Picks - Wednesday: April 21, 2010

Back to the winning ways last night with ten wins out of fifteen picks. Nailed the Game of the Day too. Two of the five bad picks were bullpen losses (Marlins, Rangers). But Philadelphia's bullpen aided that Atlanta pick, so it all works out even in the end. Latos was brilliant for the Padres (their third straight gem by a young guy). The other wrong picks were cases of formerly bad pitchers pitching great (Kendrick was one of them). So all in all, the Fan is happy to be back on the winning side again.

Today's games are full of danger, but the Fan is no scaredy cat!

  • The Royals over the Blue Jays: A tip of the cap to Vernon Wells who is mashing the ball. But Greinke should win sooner or later.
  • The Padres over the Giants: Garland should be inspired by the young guys in front of him. Wellemeyer has been real shaky so far.
  • The Pirates over the Brewers: Zach Duke has been really good so far this year, so giving him the nod over Gallardo.
  • The Rockies over the Nationals: What? You thought the Fan was going to pick all upsets in one day? Nah.
  • The Mets over the Cubs: This one is a puzzle. Perez was much better for the Mets last time out. Carlos Silva has been miraculously good for the Cubs. So who to choose? Both could be awful. Both could be great. Ugh.
  • The Reds over the Dodgers: Arroyo is so unpredictable. Kuroda is too for the Dodgers. Another Ugh game. Going with the Reds at home.
  • The Red Sox over the Rangers: Did you see where the Red Sox pulled Papi after he went 0-3 with two K's last night? They put Lowell in there, he walked twice and the Red Sox won. Hmm..
  • The Marlins over the Astros: Berkman is back and he contributed to the Astros' win last night, but he faces Josh Johnson tonight.
  • The Twins over the Indians: Liriano goes for the Twins. Huff is listed for the Indians, but the Fan thought he read that he was going to miss a start? No wait, that was Happ. No difference, the Twins win.
  • The Bay Rays over the White Sox: Wade Davis over Buehrle.
  • The Cardinals over the Diamondbacks: Last night was supposed to be a pitcher's duel. Instead it was a slugfest. Tonight will be the pitcher's duel with Carpenter defeating Jackson.
  • The Yankees over the Athletics: The Yankee juggernaut continues with Hughes picking up his second win at the expense of Ben Sheets.
  • The Angels over the Tigers: The Angels are rebounding nicely lately (grrr) and should continue with another win over the Tigers as Weaver beats Bonderman.
  • The Mariners over the Orioles: Felix Hernandez versus Millwood looks like a mismatch, but it will be a close game.


  • The Braves over the Phillies: What? The Fan can't pick the same two teams for the game of the day in two consecutive days? It's Hudson versus Halladay in a fantastic match up. The Fan is feeling Hudson and Halladay isn't going to win them all, is he?

Yesterday: 10 - 5
Week: 23-15
Month: 124-66
Games of the Day: 3-2

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Game Picks - Tuesday: April 20, 2010

A day like Monday was bound to happen sooner or later. After so many positive days in a row, there had to be a clunker coming. And Monday was certainly a clunker (except for the game of the day). The one saving grace was that it was a short schedule, so it could have been a lot worse. But this picker was done in by a great pitching performance by Stammen for the Nationals, another one by Piniero and the game changing call up of one Ike Davis. The latter was almost worth the negative pick.

Tuesday needs to be a rebound day with a full slate of games. Here goes:

  • The Brewers over the Pirates: It isn't any fun to start off with this one. Bush versus Morton. Oy.
  • The Rockies over the Nationals: Scott Olsen is back for the Nationals against De La Rosa. The Fan never picks a guy making his season debut from the minors.
  • The Blue Jays over the Royals: Scary pick here as the Blue Jays have started stumbling a bit of late. But Eveland has been great so far. Yeah, that makes it scary too.
  • The Mets over the Cubs: New times in New York with Ike Davis in town. Pelfrey has been outstanding. Zambrano has not been.
  • The Reds over the Dodgers: Manny isn't playing. Loney is slumping and Torre will still pull Billingsley before the sixth inning because he doesn't believe in him.
  • The Braves over the Phillies: Two young pitchers in Hanson versus Kendrick. Kendrick needs a good start and will probably have one. But Hanson is really good.
  • The Rangers over the Red Sox: The Rangers have to be cursing the schedule maker with a series in Boston after getting swept by the Yankees. But Lewis has been really good so far and the Red Sox counter with Wakefield.
  • The Marlins over the Astros: Volstad versus Myers is pretty much a wash, so taking the Marlins' offense over the Astros'.
  • The Indians over the Twins: In the upset of the day, young Masterson takes a step up and Slowey has a clunker start after a couple of good ones.
  • The Bay Rays over the White Sox: What does it say about the Bay Rays when David Price is probably their worst starter?
  • The Diamondbacks over the Cardinals: Going with Haren over Lohse in a pitching duel.
  • The Yankees over the Athletics: Vazquez should fare better away from Yankee Stadium and all those boos.
  • The Tigers over the Angels: Kazmir has been awful so far. Porcello goes for the Tigers.
  • The Mariners over the Orioles: Vargas starts for the Mariners. Ugh. But they should win anyway.


  • The Padres over the Giants: The Padres have had two great starts by young guys in a row with LeBlanc and Richard. Those things are catchy and Latos will continue the good times against a weak-hitting Giants team. Sanchez starts for the Giants which could be the only monkey wrench in this pick.

Yesterday: 3-5
Week: 13-10
Month: 114-61
Games of the Day: 2-2

The Ike Davis Era Begins?

The Fan hasn't been this excited for a long time. Every Spring Training baseball renews itself and as that short, wonderful preseason unfolds, Fans latch on to certain players. Jason Heyward? Check. Aroldis Chapman? Check. Stephen Strasburg? Check. Ike Davis? Check. Wait! Who? Before getting educated, all the Fan knew was that the Mets had this kid that simply pounded the heck out of the ball all spring. It was severely disappointing when he was sent down near the end of Spring Training. Well, give the Mets credit because unlike the Cubs who can't see the stone that hit them on the nose, the Mets saw that first base was a mess and pulled the trigger.

So Ike Davis started at first base on Monday night for the Mets. Never mind that this unexpected development seriously crippled the Fan's pick for this game, but Davis changed the dynamic of this game and of the Mets. Heck, it may just be for a night and Davis could struggle. But for a night, it was magic. Davis went two for four and collected his first two major league hits. One drove in a run in the inning that the Mets broke open the game. Plus, he played first base without incident, fielding his only play and catching all those infielder's throws.

Davis is a 23 year old kid from Endina, Minnesota. He was drafted by the then Devil Rays in the 18th round as a high school player, but he went on to college instead. That paid off big time as the Mets drafted him in the first round of the 2008 draft and he signed for a million and a half. His minor league stats show a guy with developing power and good patience at the plate. His performance did not drop off as he was promoted higher and higher in the Mets' system. Then he got major playing time in Spring Training and seemed to get one or more hits every game he played. He became a favorite box score target. And then he was sent down.

As you may or may not have noticed, the Mets have had problems at first base since Carlos Delgado lost his health. Last year, the Mets tried to make a first baseman out of Dan Murphy, a bad-fielding outfielder. Murphy learned on the job at first and at times it showed. Of course, you can never take away that play Murphy made over there last year that was last year's top Web Gem (trademark ESPN - just so we get that covered). But his batting line of .266/.313/.427 really isn't the kind of production you want from a first baseman, a position that usually means a crusher. And from Murphy's minor league stats, there were no indications that he was going to get any better.

Murphy started the season hurt (thus all the Davis at bats in the spring) and the Mets brought in Mike Jacobs, a guy they had drafted several years earlier. Poor Jacobs didn't get much of a look/see and did not produce in seven games at first. But in MLB, you've got to produce to stay and the problem for Jacobs is that his start in those seven games pretty much matched what he did last year for the Royals. The Mets tried to platoon Jacobs with Tatis, who is about 68 years old now and that wasn't working either. So the Mets had nothing to lose and everything to gain by seeing what Davis could do.

From the scouting reports, Davis isn't yet a polished first baseman, but he shows promise of being a good fielder there. The reports indicate that he has soft hands, is left-handed (a big plus for a first baseman) and has a huge wing span and good footwork. The question will be if he can make the adjustments on a daily basis as the National League learns any flaws in his approach at the plate. But heck, the Mets had to give this a try and you have to commend them for giving him a chance.

Ike Davis is a big kid at 6' 4" and looks like a first baseman. That's certainly different from the last Ike Davis who played in the majors. That Ike Davis was 5' 6" and played sixty years ago for three years, two of them with the Chicago White Sox. That little Ike Davis never did hit a major league homer and in his last year in the big leagues had the distinction of making 53 errors at short for those White Sox. Hey, this Ike Davis can't do any worse than that!

And so the Ike Davis era in New York may have started on Monday night. Time will be the determining factor. But for the first night of that era, you couldn't have asked for much more.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Two Weeks Worth of Questions

The first two weeks of the MLB 2010 season are nearly in the books and while we always talk about small sample sizes, the first two weeks have raised plenty of questions around the majors. For anyone who watches closely, trends do develop early and some continue from last season. Let's take a look around and raise those questions. Feel free to answer them any way you like.

The Cubs: How long can the Cubs afford to keep Theriot in the lead off spot? His .343 OBP last year was barely passable for that spot and he is off to a terrible start this year. How long do they put up with Soriano and his slower bat and clanking hands in left field? How long do the new owners keep Hendry around as GM? How can they continue to run Marmol out there each and every day. The guy needs a rest once in a while.

The Astros: Will Berkman be of any help this year? And if he is, will it make any difference? The Astros pitch decently, but their offense is woeful.

The Rangers: How long will they stick with Murphy when he isn't even hitting the weight of an American gymnast? Especially with Smoak in the wings. Doesn't it make sense for the time being to drop Hamilton in the batting order?

The Yankees: With his first homer today, is it a good bet that Teixeira's batting average will stay below .200? Can Pettitte be this good all season?

The White Sox: When will the White Sox realize that the team they constructed for Ozzie doesn't work? And when they do realize it, what can they do about it?

The Indians: When will people realize how good a player Choo is? And when they do, will they keep pitching to him when nobody else in the line up is hitting?

The Angels: How long do they stick with the Wood experiment at third base? Has Bobby Abreu finally gotten too old?

The Blue Jays: When will they end the madness with Overbay? The guy just isn't good enough. Will the bottom two thirds of the batting order get any better? Right now it's bloody awful.

The Nationals: What the heck is up with Marquis? He didn't get ANYBODY out in Sunday's start. Has Adam Dunn reached Richie Sexton stage? He sure looks like a faded Richie Sexton lately. Will Ivan Rodriguez really have this good of an offensive year?

The Brewers: Can they get any quality starts out of anyone not named Wolf? Is Greg Zaun the best they can do as a catcher?

The Rockies: Can they hang close until they get Street back? Their closer is killing them. Is Seth Smith good enough to be their cleanup guy?

The Braves: Will either Melky Cabrera or McLouth hit? Neither one of them right now is a viable hitter in their lineup. How good will Jason Heyward be once he really knows how to hit? Troy Glaus was great in Spring Training. Since then? Not so great. Will he help them at all?

The Cincinnati Reds: Will Bruce's two-homer game finally get him going? Or is he just never going to be a good MLB hitter? Why would anyone ever pitch to Votto when he is the only guy in that line up that can hit? Don't the Reds' bench players get mad when Owings pinch hits and they don't?

The Pittsburgh Pirates: Why did the Fan suddenly start typing out the entire team name? Was Jones just a fluke last year? Should anyone worry about his slow start?

The Florida Marlins: Is Nate Robertson going to stay this good? Is Cochlan going to stay this bad? Isn't Badenhop one of the most useful pitchers in the National League?

Phillies: Raul Ibanez hit .232/.326/.448 in the second half last season. Will he be even that good this year? How is Juan Castro still playing MLB at the age of 38 when he has a lifetime OPS of .603?

Bay Rays: Which is the real Dioner Navarro, the one in 2008 or the one in 2009? The 2010 version looks a lot like the 2009 version. How good could this team be with a real DH?

Red Sox: How long do they stick with Ortiz? What's up with Lester? Mike Cameron and J. D. Drew look slow and old. Will the warmer weather wake them up? When will Youkilis start hitting like Youkilis? Will Francona burn out Schoeneweis? He's pitching like every day.

Royals: Is Jose Guillen going to get comeback player of the year? He's looked great so far. Who is a bigger mystery, Bruce in Cincinnati or Gordon in Kansas City? Where can we buy whatever Podsednik is drinking?

Twins: Can't the Twins find any third basemen that can hit? Will Thome supplant Kubel as the DH sooner or later? Is there any more pitcher more difficult to predict than Pavano?

Oakland A's: Will Edwar Ramirez thrive now that he is away from the Yankees since he was their favorite chew toy? Will they keep pitching this well? And if they do, will they hit enough to have it matter?

Orioles: Can Angelos stay patient enough through these hard times to allow McPhail to stick with the plan? Does anybody else think Angelos looks like he is made out of rock? Will the Orioles stop messing around and just pick a cleanup hitter?

Padres: Can the Pads keep playing .500 with two Hairstons? If they stay relevant, will they keep Heath Bell and Adrian Gonzalez? Was LeBlanc a steal or what?

Diamondbacks: Has Heilman blown more leads in the last four years than anyone in baseball? Why does he keep getting the ball? Was Sunday's start for Kennedy a sign of things to come?

Giants: Don't you feel good for Barry Zito? Don't you always cringe and hope that Lincecum doesn't fly apart at all his joints?

Dodgers: Why isn't Manny playing? As a big Fan of Manny, is this the only Fan that doesn't think he cares very much this year? Why does Garrett Anderson have a job? Why does Torre have a special place in his heart for Jeff Weaver?

Detroit Tigers: Don't you just love Austin Jackson so far? Why didn't the Tigers pick up Felipe Lopez? They could have used him. Is Phil Coke cool or what?

Seattle Mariners: Eric Byrnes every day? Really? Milton Bradley - done forever? Will Adam Moore hit? He's making Kojima look good.

Cardinals: How long will the Colby Rasmus experiment go on? Will they have any competition in their division at all?

New York Mets: Why won't they let that Ike Davis play first? You know, the one that murdered the ball all spring? What did they see in Alex Cora? Gary Matthews Jr.? When will Beltran get back? UPDATE: Read a story on that Davis is going to get a call up.

Well, those are the Fan's questions. Got any answers?

Game Picks - Monday: April 19, 2010

Another solid day for this game picker. A couple of nice upset picks made things go along nicely. The only blot on the day was the pick of the day. That game was going along perfectly until the Rockies brought in the closer. And then that was the end of that. Monday is a short schedule which are always kind of boring. But there are still a few games to pick and they all look rather frightful:

  • The Rockies over the Nationals: Stammen has been pitching batting practice so far this year. Cook goes for the Rockies.
  • The Royals over the Blue Jays: Hate making this pick because of the Royals' bullpen, but this Fan has no faith at all in Morrow. The Royals will score some runs, Bannister will keep them in the game. After that is a crap shoot.
  • The Cubs over the Mets: Never pick against Randy Wells.
  • The Cardinals over the Diamondbacks: Brad Penny won't walk anyone. Can't say that about Lopez.
  • The Giants over the Padres: The Giants lost a tough one on Manny's pinch homer. But Cain should be better than Richard.
  • The Tigers over the Angels: Piniero was great last time out and the Tigers are going with Willis. That means the Angels should win. But such a pick usually backfires. Counting on that.
  • The Mariners over the Orioles: Fister was very good last time out. Bergesen hasn't been good for a lot of last times out.


  • The Bay Rays over the Red Sox: It's Patriot's Day in Boston which means the marathon and an 11 A.M. start to this baseball game. Lackey goes for the Red Sox and normally that would be a solid pick but he threw his worst start of the year last year against the Bay Rays. Niemann gets the start for the Bay Rays. But the Red Sox look flat right now. Going with the Bay Rays to finish the sweep.

Yesterday: 10-5
Week: 10-5
Month: 111-56
Games of the Day: 1-2 [grumble]

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Game Picks - Sunday: April 18, 2010

Another week ended successfully on Saturday and Saturday included quite a few upset picks too. We had our first no-hitter of the season (Yay! Ubaldo!). The Mets and the Cardinals had to play 20 innings for that pick to be right. Thanks for the effort, guys! Heck, even the pick of the day came out almost perfect. Should get an extra point for that. Total it up and this picker went at a .625 clip for the week and the year's batting average stands at .677. Pretty heady stuff.

And so we start another week. What does Sunday have in store for us?

  • The Indians over the White Sox: Going with Carmona over Floyd. Let's hope Carmona doesn't walk the building.
  • The Yankees over the Rangers: Not picking the Rangers over the Yankees until proven otherwise.
  • The Blue Jays over the Angels: Santana could throw a good game, but Romero is a pitcher this Fan really likes for the Blue Jays.
  • The Reds over the Pirates: Arroyo is always an adventurous pick, but going for him.
  • The Phillies over the Marlins: Hamels isn't what he once was, but he's a known entity. Robertson is not.
  • The Brewers over the Nationals: Davis verses Marquis. Marquis has started the season poorly. Of course, that could mean a good start today. But probably not.
  • The Bay Rays over the Red Sox: Garza and the Bay Rays keep showing Boston they are the better team.
  • The Twins over the Royals: Pavano is winning the Fan over. What is this world coming to?
  • The Astros over the Cubs: Wandy! What does it say about the Cubs that they make the Astros look good?
  • The Padres over the Diamondbacks: As much as this Fan would love old friend, Ian Kennedy, to pitch well, he hasn't yet.
  • The Orioles over the Athletics: A match up of two of the brightest young pitchers in the American League: Matusz and Anderson. This picker thinks Matusz will be brilliant today.
  • The Dodgers over the Giants: Kershaw versus Zito. Tough pick to call. The Dodgers look sleepy.
  • The Tigers over the Mariners: Like Scherzer over Snell. Though Ichiro is starting to be Ichiro again.
  • The Cardinals over the Mets: Wainwright over Maine. Both managers better hope they get long outings from these two guys after 20 innings yesterday.


  • The Rockies over the Braves: Don't know who Smith is, but Jurrjens hasn't been good so far. He can't be right at this point.

Yesterday: 10-5
Last Week: 50-30
Month: 101-49
Game of the Day: 1-1