Saturday, May 01, 2010
Those who oppose the new law have compared it to Nazi Germany and the badges that had to be worn by non-"Aryans." It's easy to see why that leap of reasoning has been made. Foreign nationals inside of Arizona will have to carry documentation showing they are legally in the state of Arizona. That the police and other law enforcement in the state could at any time ask for that documentation is indeed alarming. But the amendment states that the request for documentation can only be made now if some other break in the law is under suspicion or investigation. That makes things a little softer.
There are two things that are obvious by all of this. First, American farmers need foreign labor because we in America are just too lazy to do that kind of work. In the Fan's own agricultural county, where 8% of the population collects unemployment, Mexican workers are brought in to work the potato and broccoli fields. It's a sad statement on the kind of labor pool America has become. The second obvious thing is that illegal immigrants pose a serious risk to our economy and to our safety. Most of these illegal immigrants are hard-working folks just trying to survive and you can't blame them. But it takes just one illegal to bomb a building or a subway or a ball park. Plus, our tax dollars are strapped every day providing health care and other services to people and their children that are not in this country legally.
And so the problem with illegal entry to this country is an issue that needs constant vigil and smart legislation. On the other hand, our farmers need foreign labor to bring the crops in cheaply and efficiently. Both need to be accounted for and both need solid thinking processes.
The bottom line is that with the amendment in place to check on law enforcement's...umm...over-enthusiasm, this law seems fine to this observer. If you are in this country on a work visa, shouldn't you have documentation on you? If we are in a different country, don't we need to carry our passports and papers? Sure we do.
But you know as much as this Fan does that once an issue becomes a hot button issue, all kinds of folks start screaming from all sides without even having an idea what they are talking about. Pretty soon, the Hollywood star machine will kick in with their own protests that we are supposed to be so swayed by. There will be a call for MLB to move the All Star Game away from Arizona. But careful though needs to prevail here. Lord knows, that's asking a lot these days.
First, there was Cliff Lee, making his first start of the year after a long stint on the disabled list. He was the centerpiece of the big trade that brought Halladay to the Phillies and sent a bunch of prospects scattering in the wind. The Mariners seemed to get stiffed as Lee had a muscle that was the kind of injury that really messed him up three years ago. What would he have to offer when he finally did come back? The Fan has to admit his skepticism. But all Lee did was throw blanks for seven innings, gave up three hits and struck out eight.
Then there was Colby Lewis, which is an unbelievable story. The guy bounced around the majors and could never find himself. He won ten games for the Rangers way back early in his career despite an ERA over 6.00. In fact his career ERA was over 6.00 as the Rangers gave up on him and he bounced around through 2007. Finally, out of options and career choices, he went to Japan for two years. Two years! But that was the best thing that ever happened to him. He found discipline. He learned how to pound the strike zone and repeat his delivery. Now he is back with the Rangers after all those years and has single-handedly kept them relevant.
Last night, Lewis was awesome. Sure, it was against the Mariners, who can't hit very much. But Lewis was already 3-0 with a minuscule ERA coming into the game. So this wasn't exactly a fluke that he pitched nine innings of shut out ball giving up only three hits, a walk while striking out ten. He was masterful. And then he had to turn it over to the bullpen.
The Rangers' bullpen has been a scary place. They are on their second closer. And that bullpen flirted with disaster for at least two innings. Darren Oliver, who has been around since the dawn of the DH it seems, loaded the bases in the tenth in a third of a scary inning. But O'Day came in and got Sweeney to hit into a double play and that inning was over.
Francisco came in to pitch the tenth and showed the kind of reasons why he lost his closer role. He too gave up three base runners and loaded the bases, but he too escaped by striking out two batter to end the threat.
All this disaster-averting stuff gave the Rangers the time to finally break through against the Mariners' own good pitching. The Rangers found themselves with the good fortune to lead off the 12th inning with Elvis Andrus and Michael Young, two guys that accounted for four of the five Ranger hits in the game. True to form, Andrus singled and Young singled. Andrus went to third on Young's hit and then Young was able to scamper to second when Mariners' shortstop, Tuiasosopo botched the cut off throw. Josh Hamilton came up and Andrus scored on a wild pitch. Isn't that sad to have a game that is 0-0 after 11 innings broken up by a wild pitch? Hamilton was then intentionally walked and pinch hitter, Julio Borbon grounded weakly to third but Young scored on the play to make it 2-0.
Neftali Feliz then pitched a perfect inning to record his fourth save and probably the easiest one yet. It ended a stellar night of pitching for the Rangers and an exciting win in what was a great pitchers duel. And now for a couple of comments about these teams...
Vlad Guerrero played right field for the Rangers last night so Garko could DH. After last night's game, Garko is hitting a solid .100. Smoak, who was brought up to begin his career with much fanfare is hitting .130. Young Gentry was brought up because Murphy wasn't hitting and he isn't faring any better and is batting .125. Murphy pinch hit for him and of course, made an out and is now hitting .167. Josh Hamilton is not off to a great start and is batting .265. The Rangers have to find some offense from its outfield and soon. Hopefully Cruz won't be out that much longer.
Meanwhile, the Mariners' decision making is puzzling. Jack Wilson is never going to set the world on fire with his bat. But he makes contact and can do some things. Yeah, he's that scrappy kind of player that the Twins say Punto is, but only much better. Wouldn't you rather have him up with the bases loaded and one out rather than Mike Sweeney who was batting less than .200 at the time? That double play just killed the Mariners.
And what are the Mariners going to do with their line up? Neither of their catchers are batting over .200 at this point. That's really bad. Bradley is hitting .200 and that's good compared to where he has been most of April. Figgins is just barely over .200. Griffey is too old. Sweeney is too old. Kotchman isn't very good. Only Ichiro is being Ichiro. The rest of this line up is just crappy. The Mariners were praised for making a lot of supposedly smart deals, but they aren't working out and the team just can't hit. It's going to be a tough season unless some of their veterans can start edging closer to their career norms.
So after having survived what could have been an extreme event, this picker is feeling really good about Saturday:
- The Diamondbacks over the Cubs: Did you ever watch a demolition derby and there was this one car that kept running despite looking more beat up than any other car? That's Carlos Silva of the Cubs. Sooner or later, it's got to stop running.
- The Angels over the Tigers: Kazmir should have a good game here, especially if he walks Miguel Cabrera three times.
- The Yankees over the White Sox: Vazquez. Hmm... Things aren't going well for him back with the Yankees. But still think he'll win...or they will.
- The Blue Jays over the Athletics: Being the third best team in the AL East isn't half bad these days. The A's miss Suzuki behind the plate...and beside it.
- The Braves over the Astros: All the sites are saying this is Hudson versus Wandy. But from what the Fan read, Wandy is going to skip a start because of his back. Going with the Braves.
- The Mets over the Phillies: Pick against Halladay? Are you nuts? But Pelfrey has a better ERA! And the Mets are on a serious roll.
- The Mariners over the Rangers: The Rangers can hit so much better than the Mariners. But it's King Felix's turn to pitch.
- The Rockies over the Giants: Just a feeling that the Rockies will jump all over Matt Cain and this kid, Rogers will pitch well.
- The Bay Rays over the Royals: Okay, the Royals have their win for the week and the Rays have their loss. Today will get back to normal as the Price will be right.
- The Twins over the Indians: Picking against an unknown kid named Manship would be like dissing your own sexual orientation if you were a male, wouldn't it?
- The Orioles over the Red Sox: How in the heck do you pick this game? Bergesen is scheduled for the Orioles with his 12+ ERA and Dice-K gets his first start back from the DL, which is dicey.
- The Nationals over the Marlins: Will probably live to regret this one. But Florida is a seriously bad team at home and Volstad is no picnic. Stammen was pretty good his last time out.
- The Brewers over the Padres: Gallardo is the only finger in the dike for the Brewers.
- The Dodgers over the Pirates: The Dodgers finally got off the schnide last night. Don't know who Monasterios is, but predicting he'll win. If this were a perfect world, wouldn't a guy with the name of Monastarios be a perfect pitcher for the Padres?
And the GAME OF THE DAY!
- The Reds over the Cardinals: Homer Bailey is going to have a good day and Kyle Lohse will not. It's that simple.
Last month: 200-126
Games of the Day: 8-7
Friday, April 30, 2010
Another day, another good picking result. This picker is going to be sad to see April go. It's been a really good month. The Fan was particularly proud of the Game of the Day pick as the Blue Jays and Romero did exactly as predicted. Awesome. The clunkers of the day? Really thought the Astros would win behind Oswalt. Ted Lilly was awful for the Cubs and that sunk the pick and down in Texas, Feldman pitched really well, but the defense kicked the ball around and the bullpen let the game get away. The Games of the Day is riding a four game winning streak which mercifully brought that feature back to .500.
Friday's games look like they'll shape up this way:
- The Cubs over the Diamondbacks: The D-backs are killing the ball lately, but this Fan hates betting against Randy Wells.
- The Red Sox over the Orioles: The Red Sox are on a mini-roll and the Orioles don't provide any kind of obstacle.
- The Yankees over the White Sox: The Yankees are back at home where they rarely lose and get served up a tasty helping of Freddie Garcia.
- The Indians over the Twins: BallHype has Blackburn pitching for the Twins but Yahoo has Slowey. Slowey is better. But we'll go with the Indians either way behind Carmona.
- The Angels over the Tigers: Pineiro goes for the Angels which gives them a good chance to win a game.
- The Athletics over the Blue Jays: Cahill makes his first start of the year for the A's. Morrow goes for the Blue Jays. He was good last time out. But...
- The Marlins over the Nationals: The Marlins jump all over old friend, Olsen, and feature Nolasco. That's a winning recipe.
- The Bay Rays over the Royals: Niemann versus Bannister isn't a bad match up. But the Bay Rays are unstoppable.
- The Astros over the Braves: The Braves are reeling but feature Hanson tonight. But the Astros counter with Wandy Rodriguez. Can't see the Braves hitting him. Heyward broke out of his slump yesterday though.
- The Cardinals over the Reds: Brad Penny versus Cueto. Sometimes wish that Duncan could work with Cueto for a week.
- The Padres over the Brewers: The pitching woes lately for the Brewers won't be helped by Mr. Bush.
- The Dodgers over the Pirates: The Fan would pick the Pirates right now over the Dodgers if any other pitcher than Morton was starting.
- The Rangers over the Mariners: Lee makes his first start of the year for the Mariners. This picker never picks a guy who makes his first start off the DL. It's been an effective rule of thumb.
- The Giants over the Rockies: Like Zito over Cook.
Games of the Day: 7-7
And the GAME OF THE DAY!
- The Mets over the Phillies: The Mets jump all over Kendrick and get a surprisingly good start from Niese.
There are several problems with this article. First--and the Fan's big pet peeve--the title wasn't capitalized. Okay, nobody does that anymore (grrr) but getting beyond that, the whole tone of the article was about teams we love to hate. If no teams finished with a negative number, then no teams are teams we love to hate. Sure, some teams are more popular than others (Oakland and San Francisco were the most liked for some reason) but the article said it plainly; no team finished with a negative number.
Each paragraph was filled with the hate word. "The Reds and the Astros rated higher than the Yankees on the hatred scale." No, they were less popular. Now sure, some votes had to be on the negative side to counterbalance the positive votes to result in a lower positive number. But every team in the majors has a positive result. Isn't that a good thing? Instead of focusing on the negative and sensationalizing it to make it a "hatred scale," shouldn't the focus be that overall, the major leagues have a positive sentiment ranking? Of course that's where the focus should be. But that doesn't get Fans to click the link.
What do these numbers tells us? Well, many of the teams on the lower end of the scale like the Red Sox, the Reds, the White Sox, the Dodgers, the Mets, the Astros and the Orioles and (the most hated) Indians should think about their results and from a public relations standpoint try to figure out how to better their image. After all, this is a branding conversation, is it not?
Why are the Yankees not among the lowest in sentiment ranking? One. the team has seen the repairing of the George Steinbrenner image. Too bad his health had to fail for it to happen. Another is that there are displaced New Yorkers everywhere. And lastly, their core players have handled their success with grace and dignity so despite the fact that many gnash their teeth at the Yankees success, it's hard to hate them. Plus, they've done a great job to build their brand.
One Cleveland blogger told a reporter that the Indians, "do a lot to alienate its fans." Again, that's a branding and PR problem. But even if the Indians are not doing their best at building their brand, they are not "hated." Not even close. And it's too bad that this kind of reporting happens all the time. Instead of just reporting the news, there is always a journalistic angle these days to find the worst way to paint whatever the news is. Information helps business to understand its market position and perception. Hopefully, the teams in the top ten "hated" (translate: least popular) teams will use this information as it is important...even if it's slanted in the most negative of ways.
Simply put, the man has had an incredible April. His current line with one day left in the month reads: .407/.444/.790. Woof. Plus, he's made only one error. He has eight homers, five doubles, has 17 RBIs and has scored 21 runs. Oh yeah, he has one triple too. That's a pretty good month. After last year's 205 hit season, it seems that Cano seems poised to shatter that this year and is headed for his best year yet.
There is only one small reservation in this story for this here Fan. You can't have a much better night than by going three for four with a double and two homers. Got it. Plus, the Fan also has the month of stats. But here is what concerns the Fan. Cano got all that done on seven pitches. In other words, he averaged 1.75 pitches per plate appearance. So far this year, he is averaging 3.39 pitches per plate appearance, which is 73rd in the league. The good news is that this is up from Cano's career average. But sooner or later, the pitchers are going to realize that their best bet is to pitch just off the strike zone and let Cano get himself out. This will bear watching. But in the mean time, Cano sure is having himself some fun, eh?
The second story of this game was A. J. Burnett. The Fan called this one right on the head on Thursday morning during the daily game picks post. The Fan was going to pick Matusz to win for the Orioles, and the kid pitched great (except for Cano) and gave up only three earned runs. But then the Fan remembered that Posada got hit in the knee on Wednesday and probably wouldn't play today and then announced that Burnett would have a great game. That's exactly what happened. And that's a problem.
Burnett bent over backwards all spring and said he had no problems throwing to Posada. The two were in tandem all during Spring Training. But facts are facts and Burnett just performs better when he's not throwing to Posada. And he's been good so far with a 3.20 ERA. His walks per nine up until tonight was 2.86 and his WHIP was 1.421. On Thursday night with Cervelli, he walked only one in eight innings and he had only four base runners in eight innings. But it's only one game right? And it could have happened with Posada. Well, maybe. But let's look at last year.
Last year, Burnett walked 4.22 batters per nine innings with Posada, 3.82 with Molina and 3.85 with Cervelli. His hits per nine innings with Posada were 9.45, 7.39 with Molina and 6.42 with Cervelli. His K/BB ratio with Posada was 1.72. With Molina it was 2.66 and with Cervelli, it was 2.50. The Fan doesn't think that's a coincidence.
So far this year, pitchers thowing to Cervelli have walked 3.00 per nine innings, while throwing to Posada, they've walked 3.62. The K/BB ratio with Cervelli is 2.31 and 2.00 with Posada. The hits per nine innings with Cervelli come to 6 per nine innings compared to 8.56 with Posada. The sample size is small and you have to factor in that the majority of Cervelli's starts have been with the big guy, Sabathia. Why is that by the way? And why hasn't that been a major news story? Posada caught Sabathia's first start and it's been Cervelli ever since. Hmm.
So okay, not much can be gained from this year's sample size. But let's look at last year. Walks per nine innings with Cervelli were 2.91. With Molina, it was 2.72. With Posada? 4.09. Cervelli's K/BB ratio was 2.58. Molina's was 3.35. Posada? 1.79. The most damning evidence? Pitchers throwing to Cervelli had a 3.43 ERA, 3.36 to Molina and a whopping 5.06 to Posada.
Facts are facts. Teams win with pitching. The Yankees pitch better with Cervelli than with Posada. The numbers are right in front of us. Burnett's night on Thursday night was not a fluke. It wouldn't have happened with Posada behind the plate. It just wouldn't. The problem for the Yankees is that Posada is one of the "Core Four." He's a fixture and a borderline Hall of Famer. He's got a great clutch bat from both sides of the plate. But the best answer for the Yankees, if they were to fully admit it, would be to put Cervelli behind the plate and use Posada as the DH. Nick Johnson isn't doing that well anyway. Plain and simple, the Yankees pitch better to Cervelli and there is no getting around it.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
The problem is that Hoffman was so good last year at age 42. He posted his best batting average against since 1999. He tied his second best WHIP for his career. He gave up two homers all year and only blew four saves. So the Brewers have to ask themselves is if one chronological year for a guy that is unprecedented can really make this much of a difference? How they answer this question determines whether he keeps getting the ball or not.
Right now, he cannot make it happen. He has given up a run in six of his nine outings. He has blown four saves already. He has given up six homers already. His WHIP is double his career average. Teams are batting .357 against him. His ERA is 13.00. The numbers boggle the mind. This is Trevor Hoffman we are talking about. It has to be a slump right? He couldn't have fallen off a cliff this fast, could he?
Last year's splits don't help us any. Hoffman had a better ERA in the second half than he had in the first half despite being perfect in April and May (he had a bumpy June). So last year gives no indication of what is happening this year.
That, of course, is little comfort to the brass in Milwaukee. The Brewers have little in their rotation. When they have a lead with that rotation at the end of the game, they have to get the win. Losing four games after being ahead when they gave the ball to Hoffman is unacceptable on every level no matter who the closer is.
With the hole the Brewers have dug (with Hoffman's help unfortunately), they have little chance in being a factor in the division. They have small odds at the wild card. So it really won't hurt them terribly to give Hoffman a few more weeks to see if he can bounce back. If he doesn't, it may be the end of a long and classy career.
What was pretty cool about Wednesday was that for some teams it was a "get away" day and a handful of games were played during the day. And for once, for an east coast guy, all of the games were over by 11:00. Can't say that very often. That gives this Fan a little extra time to leisurely pick the Thursday games. And here they are:
- The Tigers over the Twins: This game is awful to pick since it's Pavana versus Willis. Anything can happen. The Twins line up is sort of lefty heavy, so going with the Tigers who should match up better with Pavano.
- The Cardinals over the Braves: Wainwright and Jurrjens should be a wash. But the Braves just aren't hitting and are having a dreadful week.
- The Rangers over the White Sox: The Fan is going to chalk up Feldman's last start to the flu. He should come up strong against the White Sox. Hamilton is starting to hit homers.
- The Cubs over the Diamondbacks: Lilly showed last time out that he was back full tilt.
- The Yankees over the Orioles: Was tempted to pick the Orioles with Matusz pitching and Burnett for the Yanks. But Posada got plunked on the kneecap and will probably sit, which means that Burnett will be better.
- The Bay Rays over the Royals: Like Hochever, but the Bay Rays may never lose again.
- The Astros over the Reds: Tipping the cap to Oswalt who has been helping his parents who were the victims of a tornado during the week.
- The Padres over the Brewers: The Brew Crew is in serious trouble with their pitching. It's snowballing too. LeBlanc goes for the Pads.
- The Dodgers over the Pirates: Kershaw rights the ship for the Dodgers who have had a really bad week.
And the GAME OF THE DAY!
- The Blue Jays over the Athletics: Two young stud pitchers with Duchscherer versus Romero. Romero has been fantastic so leaning towards him.
Games of the Day: 6-7
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
First, let's point to two old guys doing unbelievable things. Livan Hernandez has an ERA and a WHIP that match exactly at 0.87. That's hard to fathom. Hernandez has been a base hit machine over the last half a dozen years and he's only given up 19 in 31 innings? Maybe the old Cuban National has found something and maybe this will continue. But it's hard to believe. And what of his battery mate? Ivan Rodriguez is batting .400 with a .422 OBP. Remember, this is a guy who hasn't had on On Base Percentage over .300 since 2006. He hasn't changed much as he only has 3 walks over 60 at bats and he hasn't hit a homer yet. It's hard to believe that a 39 year old catcher won't go into a batting tailspin some time soon.
The Nationals need to get Ryan Zimmerman back. He's one of the best young players in the league and his absence puts Adam Kennedy in the line up full time. But hamstring pulls are unpredictable. Let's hope he can get back soon. Adam Dunn is starting to hit after a slow start. He still walks a lot and has a .375 OBP despite his low average and he is starting to hit the long ball again. He should reach his career norms.
Josh Willingham is a nice player and has a good, smart bat. He won't stay as high as he is, but he'll have a solid year. Nyger Morgan has actually under achieved to this point, so he can and should get better, which is one encouragement. Christian Guzman and Ian Desmond are pretty dead on for what you'd expect from them. Alberto Gonzalez has been a nice surprise and there is no way of knowing if he will be this good.
So over all at the plate, the Nationals are decent and though Pudge should come back to earth, they will score a decent amount of runs, especially if Zimmerman can stay in the line up.
The bullpen lacks depth at this point. Tyler Clippard has become a very good reliever. Now that he has cut down his walk rate and is still striking out more than nine per nine innings, he's a nice weapon in front of the amazing Matt Capps. Who would have thought this guy would be among the leaders in the league in saves? He had a brutal year for Pittsburgh last year after a decent one the year before, but he's been outstanding thus far. That will bear watching though as he just has never been THIS good before.
Elsewhere in the bullpen, Jesse English and Sean Burnett are decent enough, but Brian Bruney has been an aching disappointment. His wildness is just off the charts as he's walked 12 batters in 10 appearances. Bruney has never been a strike machine, but he's never been like this. If he continues to struggle, the Nationals will have to make some tough decisions.
The Fan thinks that Livan will have a decent year. He won't be as good as he is right now, but he'll be solid. That is a big leap of faith though. But he seems to have found a comfort zone and whatever he is doing is working. He's a very smart pitcher, so if he can physically get what his mind is telling him, there is no reason to believe he won't be at least moderately effective.
Atliano had a nice start in his debut, but his future success is a huge unknown. One thing that is known is that the other Nationals starters have been a mess. Marquis was awful before going on the DL. Mock has been slightly less than average. Stammen has been brutal as has Lannon. Olsen certainly isn't the answer as he proved last week. What the Nationals could use is one Stephen Strasburg. Judging from his minor league results thus far, he has nothing to gain from being down there. It's time to put him in the rotation and use guys like Stammen or Olsen to be ready for long relief as you limit Strasburg's innings.
Over all, the Nationals have had a nice run, but their run differential of 90/102 leads one to believe that they are still a sub-.500 team. It would be cool if that was different, but it doesn't seem likely.
All that is a preamble to having to admit that it was a bad day of picking for this Fan of baseball in all its unpredictable glory. At least the Game of the Day was right. Not much else was. The worst kicker of the night? Phil Hughes pitches great again. He gets two quick outs in the sixth inning but reaches 100 pitches. He gets pulled (the Fan would have given him one more batter) and the Yankees don't get another out until the game is beyond reach.
Oh well, Wednesday is another day and with a full pluck of confidence, here are today's picks:
- The Padres over the Marlins: The Marlins are all over the map. They either look like superheroes or superduds on any given night. They struck out 15 times last night. The way the Fan sees it, Nate Robertson is due for a fall and Correia has been pitching pretty well.
- The Pirates over the Brewers: Malholm is a good pitcher and the Brewers are countering with an unknown and untested Narveson.
- The Mets over the Dodgers: Josh Towers is pitching for the Dodgers? Really? That certainly should counter-effect any harm John Maine can do.
- The Mariners over the Royals: This game couldn't get worse to pick. Gil (ga) Meche has been bloody awful, which means he'll throw a gem (see Harang from yesterday).
- The Cubs over the Nationals: Atliano was really good in his debut, but Dempster might be the Cubs' best pitcher.
- The Rockies over the Diamondbacks: The D-backs are 2-6 on the road so far. Not good. And Benson can't be this good, can he?
- The Giants over the Phillies: One word: Lincecum.
- The Indians over the Angels: Westbrook gets his first win of the year. Santana gets his third loss.
- The Yankees over the Orioles: The Fan will take a Sabathia match up with Guthrie every night please.
- The Tigers over the Twins: Just like Scherzer over Baker. Think the kid will come up big tonight.
- The Athletics over the Bay Rays: Braden goes to 4-0 and yells at Longoria for stepping on the foul line.
- The Red Sox over the Blue Jays: The Sox get two breaks here. First, the Blue Jays don't do well with lefties (Lester) and secondly, they are throwing a lefty too in Cecil which means that Ortiz will sit.
- The Reds over the Astros: Leake hasn't leaked yet. Paulino is always scary.
- The Cardinals over the Braves: Really like Garcia. Don't trust Kawakami. Plus the Braves are in a serious batting slump.
And the GAME OF THE DAY!
- The Rangers over the White Sox: The Rangers will jump all over Peavy and Harden gets all juiced up facing such a patsy line up.
Yesterday: 7-9 Woof
Games of the Day: 5-7
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
- The Mets split with the Dodgers: The Mets will win the game with Santana pitching and lose the game with Perez pitching. Simple as that.
- The Yankees over the Orioles: Today is a big test for Phil Hughes. Sure he was fantastic last game out. But can he string good games together?
- The Twins over the Tigers: Liriano has been terrific. Verlander not so much.
- The Red Sox over the Blue Jays: Buchholz should be better in this game than Marcum. Both starters better last a long time after last night's bullpen-fest.
- The Marlins over the Padres: Tempted to pick Garland and the Pads, but Florida is too hot right now.
- The Athletics over the Bay Rays: This is the upset pick of the day. Ben Sheets pitches a strong game and Wade Davis exits early.
- The Astros over the Reds: The Reds are reeling a bit and Harang isn't going to help the cause any.
- The Nationals over the Cubs: Two of the Fans favorite whipping boys, Livan versus Gorzelanny. But Livan has been laughing at my face all season.
- The White Sox over the Rangers: Buehrle is due for a good game and Lewis is due for a bad one.
- The Brewers over the Pirates: As if things aren't bad enough for the Pirates, Burres starts tonight for them.
- The Royals over the Mariners: Greinke and the Royals better offense should best the Mariners and Snell.
- The Cardinals over the Braves: Lowe has been pretty poor so far. Carpenter is Carpenter.
- The Indians over the Angels: Talbot has been the Indians' best pitcher. Saunders is Saunders. But this is a scary pick because the Angels are hot right now.
- The Phillies over the Giants: Moyer versus Wellemeyer is no picnic either way. But the Phillies should out slug them.
And the GAME OF THE DAY!
- The Rockies over the Diamondbacks: Have to go with Ubaldo. Just have to. Even if Jackson is a strong pitcher.
Games of the Day: 4-7
Perhaps Ruben Amaro Jr., and his cohorts don't do their homework. Perhaps they don't value the valuation people out there. Perhaps they don't understand history, or perhaps they think they can beat history. The odds are that they will lose money on this deal. Or maybe they know something we don't and figure the National League will have the designated hitter by the time Howard gets too old to play the field effectively.
Just about every valuation site around puts Howard's value at about $20 million last year. He was terrific last year. And so if he is worth $20 million in the prime of his career, how is he going to be worth $25 million when he is 37 years old? He won't. It's not like he's at a skill position on the field and can move to first when he is older. He's already there. And though he has improved, he isn't a great first baseman and he won't be when he's 34, 35, 36 and 37.
Plus his size and body structure will work against him. It's happened to every player of his type before. There is about an eight year window of peak performance and then that body starts to get too slow to get itself around on a fastball or around the bases. It happened to Cecil Fielder. It happened to Richie Sexton. It's happening to David Ortiz. It will happen to Ryan Howard too.
Here are the dirty projections. According to Baseball Prospectus, Howard should be worth in total over the extension period (2012 - 2017) about $54.5 million. That means that the Phillies overpaid Howard by a staggering $200 million over the life of the extension. Wow. And they will pay Howard no less than $10 million in 2018 even if they buy him out.
The Fan understands that the Phillies are drawing really well and are making a lot of money. The Fan also understands the need for the Phillies to keep a good thing going and keep their core players. But they already had Howard tied up through the end of next year. By then he'll be 32 and you could get a gauge on what kind of player he was going to continue to be. Or you let him walk and sign another big slugger to take his place, preferably a younger one.
This move flies in the face of all logic. Howard's agent said it really well in the linked article from Yahoo Sports: "This is a very good contract for him..." Well yeah, more power to him. If they offered him that much money, good for him for signing. But geez Louise, this is a bad deal for the Phillies, if not for the next three years, for sure in the years after that.
You might as well get some random thoughts that this stubborn brain has rambling around.
- Man. Talk about lack of respect. Yovani Gallardo went 2 for 2 at the plate with a walk and three RBI and they still pinch hit for him.
- Between Gallardo and Gregg Zaun, they had 8 RBIs between them. How unlikely is that? A pitcher and a 60 year old catcher? Speaking of Zaun, why the heck does his first name have two G's?
- In the span of seven days, the Pirates have lost a 20-0 game and a 17-3 game. Ouch.
- The Red Sox and the Blue Jays battled to prove which has the worst bullpen. The Blue Jays won by a hair. Which means they lost.
- Josh Beckett got blasted. There's got to be something wrong with him. He's been way off his game.
- The Red Sox have played 20 games now and Okajima and Bard have pitched in 11 of them. Papelbon and Schoeneweis have pitched in 10. If this keeps up, will Francona start getting a Torre-like reputation?
- In a weird day for old friends, Brian Bruney walked in the winning run for the Nationals and Phil Coke got the win for the Tigers.
- There has been no let up for Austin Jackson. He's now batting .325. Great start to his career thus far.
- Josh Johnson went 3 for 4 with three RBI to go along with his 12 K's and a complete game. Not a bad night's work.
- Jason Heyward is 0 for his last 15 at bats with six strikeouts. There will be better days.
- Colby Rasmus is up to .315 and now has 6 homers. Nice.
- Melky Cabrera went 2 for 4 and threw out a runner from left. But he's still only hitting .174.
- Bobby Abreu has been on fire lately and his power is back all of the sudden.
- How bad is Seattle's offense when they can only manage one hit off of Kyle Davies? And Bruce Chen got the save for Kansas City. Weird.
- Why can't Sanchez throw strikes? He pitched great again tonight but could only go five innings because of walking five batters. Between he and Kershaw, don't know which is more frustrating.
- The LaRoche brothers are both batting well. Who saw that coming?
- Joe Girardi admitted a bad gaffe by starting to intentionally walk Morales the other night and then changed his mind after the first pitch. Morales then hit a three run homer. Pretty embarrassing.
Okay, the Fan just yawned for about ten straight minutes. Go to bed, Stupid!
Monday, April 26, 2010
The Red Sox:
Overview: The Red Sox have a losing record at home which is unheard of. They have a losing record against the AL East. They are only .500 on the road. The pitching, supposedly a strength, has been rocked. Their defense, which they focused on in the off season, has been porous. Their catchers have not shot to throw anyone out stealing. Are they going to turn it around?
The Positive: Kevin Youkilis is back in the hitting zone we are accustomed to after a slow start. He is an amazing force in that line up and can beat you in so many ways. Dustin Pedroia is off to a good start and is hitting for power more reminiscent of 2008 than 2009. Hermida has been a nice surprise and has a very positive OPS+ thus far. Varitek has been hitting extremely well after several down years. Clay Buchholz has shown solid improvement and maturity and has been their best starting pitcher. Schoeneweis has been very solid in relief.
The Negatives: David Ortiz and J. D. Drew have a combine 48 OPS+. Between the two of them, they have been striking out at a 33% clip. Beckett and Lester have been ineffective thus far, though Lester did have a better outing last time. The bullpen, a supposed strength, has walked far too many batters and has blown several leads. Papelbon, while still impressive most of the time, has walked seven in ten innings of work and has a 1.50 WHIP. The team as a whole is walking batters at a clip of 4.1 per nine innings.
Outlook: The Red Sox rotation is filled with smart, experienced starters who have had success in the past. There is no reason to doubt that they will rebound. Bard, Okijama and Papelbon will round into shape as a very good triad of relievers. It remains to be seen if Drew and Ortiz will come back strong. The feeling one gets is that the Red Sox are starting to lose faith in Ortiz but have no doubts about Drew. We'll see. The team needs Ellsbury back and for role players like Cameron and Beltre to hit more. This observer feels that replacing Wakefield in the rotation with Dice-K is a mistake. Wakefield is solid and his value is diminished in the bullpen. Dice-K is too big a risk right now. Scuturo looks more like a number eight hitter than a leadoff guy. If Ellsbury isn't back soon, they will have to make some decisions there. Overall, the team doesn't look like it can hang with the Bay Rays and the Yankees and will finish third. But this is a proud and dangerous team.
The Los Angeles Dodgers:
Overview: The Dodger are playing terrible on the road (4-8) and have played .500 ball in their last ten games. The team had hoped that Padilla would be a good pitcher for them this year but he hasn't been and now he is on the DL. Their other starters strike out a lot of guys but walk way too many along the way. Other than Broxton, the bullpen has been a complete mess. The team is hitting well, but can be shut down in far too many games, which is a mystery. And their defense has been the second worst in the league so far.
The Positives: Kemp and Ethier have been terrific and is one of the best one/two punches in the league. Russell Martin has bounced back offensively after a down year. Furcal is hitting well and getting on base consistently. Casey Blake has been a nice surprise at the plate so far too. Kershaw has pitched deeper into the game his last two starts. Kuroda has been an effective starter.
The Negatives: Manny has missed too many games. When he plays, he hits. When he doesn't, then we get Garret Anderson, who can't do anything at the plate. DeWitt has only one extra base hit all season (a double) and is slugging .283. Ouch. Loney is hitting for average, but has no homers and a .400 slugging percentage. The Dodgers' starting rotation is shaky at best. If they could throw more strikes, they could be a lot more dangerous. Broxton has only had one save opportunity. That's unbelievable. Haeger is getting his big chance, but can't find the strike zone consistently.
Outlook: This doesn't look like a team that can maintain a hot streak with their pitching and defense. They can hit enough but not consistently enough. So they either lose low scoring games or win with a blowout. They need to win more low scoring games. Nobody is running away with the West, so if Manny can get back and if they can at least pitch decently, they can still contend.
The Red Sox and Dodgers have certainly underwhelmed to this point. The Red Sox problem is that they have dug a deep hole and the two top teams in their division are super strong. The Dodgers have stayed close enough to the top despite their 8-10 record that they can still put a winning streak together and make it interesting. The Fan wouldn't bet against either team, but wouldn't bet for either one on the other hand.
- The Dodgers over the Mets: Here's the thing: The Dodgers are a mess right now. They, along with the Red Sox are the two "contenders" that are in serious trouble. But the Mets are starting Perez.
- The Blue Jays over the Red Sox: This seems like a stupid pick. Beckett versus Eveland. But Eveland has been very good and Beckett has just been so-so.
- The Cubs over the Nationals: After blasting the Cubs in this space numerous times, the Cubs got all huffy and have been on a bit of a roll. Silva continues his improbable run of success against the Nationals.
- The Tigers over the Rangers: Just don't trust Harrison as a starter for the Rangers. Bonderson isn't any picnic for the Tigers either. The Tigers are batting very well though.
- The Brewers over the Pirates: The heart wants to pick Zach Duke to win, but the Pirates just find too many ways to lose.
- The Mariners over the Royals: King Felix makes this one a lock.
- The Braves over the Cardinals: Both of these teams are in a batting funk of late. But Hudson seems a better bet than Lohse.
- The Diamondbacks over the Rockies: The combination of Haren and the way the Diamondbacks have been pounding the ball put this pick over the top.
- The Angels over the Indians: Like Huff a lot for Cleveland, but the Indians have been a poor road team and they face a hot Jared Weaver.
- The Marlins over the Padres: Like Latos a lot, but like Josh Johnson even more.
And the GAME OF THE DAY!
- The Giants over the Phillies: This really is a game of the day. Two stud pitchers: Halladay versus Sanchez. The Phillies are good on the road. The Giants are good at home. Going with Sanchez and his ability to shut down the Phillies' lineup.
Games of the Day: 3-7
Sunday, April 25, 2010
- The Padres over the Reds: The Padres have won like nine straight. So the trick here is to figure out when the streak ends. With Richard pitching against Bailey, today shouldn't be the day.
- The Dodgers over the Nationals: Slightly endorsing Billingsley over Olsen.
- The Red Sox over the Orioles: The Orioles had their chance last night and threw it away. They won't get another chance.
- The Bay Rays over the Blue Jays: Really thought the Jays would win yesterday. Think they can win today too if Morrow is as good as last time. But he probably won't be.
- The Astros over the Pirates: The Fan would have to be on serious crack to pick Morton and the Pirates.
- The White Sox over the Mariners: Danks should be better than Vargas, right?
- The Cubs over the Brewers: Hedging on the "don't pick against Randy Wells" thing. But he should beat Bush.
- The Twins over the Royals: Like the Orioles, the Royals had their chance last night. Blew it. See ya.
- The Rangers over the Tigers: Lewis has been a revelation.
- The Yankees over the Angels: Vazquez was a little better last time. The Yankees like hitting lefties and usually do well against Kazmir.
- The Giants over the Cardinals: How about Zito last night!! Cain is inspired by the effort and goes out and wins.
- The Athletics over the Indians: Masterson just can't seem to put it together.
- The Phillies over the Diamondbacks: Kendrick was much better last time out.
- The Rockies over the Marlins: De La Rosa will be too much for the Marlins and Rockies will hit Volstad.
And in the GAME OF THE DAY!
- The Mets will again take out the Braves: Pelfrey has been awesome so far and the Mets will scratch a few runs off of Hanson.
Last Week: 51-40
Games of the Week: 3-6 Ugh!
The Orioles basically had the Red Sox pinned down on a fine performance by young sensation, Matusz. And it was 4-1 Orioles going into the seventh inning. Matusz was up to 90+ pitches at that point. You're only going to allow him 100 or so, so the decision was to either start him the seventh inning and let him get an out or two or take him out after six. Personally, the move seemed to be to take him out after the sixth. But, okay, he started the seventh.
Matusz walked Bill Hall. That would have prompted a hook right there. But Matusz faced another batter and Hermida singled and then it was first and third with no outs. Matusz was at 102 pitches and the manager had no choice but to lift him. Granted, the Orioles don't have much of a bullpen. There aren't a lot of good choices out there. But the choice was made and this Fan immediately starts screaming, "NOT ALBERS!" But incredibly, that's the choice. There are four basic problems with this choice: First, he's right handed which gave Ortiz the opportunity to pinch hit. Second, he walks a lot of people. Not just a few, a LOT. Is that what you want with the bases already two thirds full? Third, he gives up a lot of hits. Lastly, the guy has nothing in his arsenal to put anybody away.
So, yes, Ortiz came up, but he struck out. The manager is a genius, right? Wrong. Scuturo came up and blasted a three run homer and the game was tied. Does the manager realize his mistake at that point while the game is still manageable? Nope. He left lame-duck Albers out there. Pedroia doubled. Martinez walked. THEN he pulled Albers. Mickolio then came in and gave up a three run homer to Youkilis. Ballgame. Sure, the Orioles scored a couple to make it a squeaker, but the Red Sox won a game they had no business winning.
What should the manager have done? Why not Hendrickson? He's a lefty, he strikes people out. He throws strikes. Sure Hendrickson pitched a third of an inning the night before, but still. Castillo would have been a better choice. Albers was the last person in the world that should have been in that game. The Orioles have now won two games all year. It's time to put that manager to rest if this is the best game strategy he can come up with.
Now let's move to the Kansas City - Minnesota game. The basic problem here starts from the Royals' roster. They have decided that they need thirteen pitchers. Thirteen! Because of that, there are only four position players on the bench. One is the extra catcher. You can't use him. So that leaves three. This roster inequity completely led to the downfall of the Royals in this game. Let's recap it.
The Royals built an early lead but the Twins are a good hitting club and though young Hochever pitched admirably, the Twins kept pecking away at the lead. By the start of the seventh inning, it's 6-4. Hochever started the seventh and got two quick outs but then Mauer hit a double to bring up Morneau. Hochever is now at 100 pitches and his manager decided to pull him in favor of LOOGY Parrish. Understandable. First, you try to save your pitcher's young arm and secondly, you don't want the young guy to put the tying run on and jeopardize his win that he's worked hard for. Plus, a lefty/lefty matchup is desirable and Parrish has been pretty good so far this year. Except it didn't work out.
Morneau blasted a homer and the score was tied. Parrish walked the next two guys but Rupe came in and got the last out to keep it tied. The game went into extra innings and Soria pitched two brilliant innings but the Royals, who had last ups, can't score. Then in the top of the eleventh, the Royals brought in Bruce Chen, just called up from the minors. Chen was not effective and put some guys on base. Tejada, who has had a terrible year thus far came in and kept the Twins to just a sac fly to put the Twins up by a run.
The Twins have been getting fine closing work by Rauch with Nathan on the shelf. He'd been perfect so far this year. But he wasn't perfect on this night. Butler started off the bottom of the eleventh with a single. The Royals put in Bloomquist to run for him. Sounds reasonable, but remember, there aren't very many people left in the dugout. More on that in a minute. Guillen doubled and the pinch runner paid off as Bloomquist scored all the way from first. Tie game. Pena then ran for Guillen. Down another guy. Gallaspo just missed his pitch and flew out to deep center and Pena easily made it to third. So you have a guy 90 feet from home with one out. 90 feet from winning the game. The only problem was the guy coming up to hit.
The next batter's name was Mitch Maier. Why is he in the game? Because he ran for Ankiel way back in the fifth inning. When you have a short roster of batters, why do you replace a guy like Ankiel in the fifth inning? Because he had a quad strain, that's why. So literally, there is nobody to hit for Maier who was already one for fifteen for the year. Bloomquist was already used. Pena was already used. There is nobody but the catcher and you can't use him. Predictably, Maier popped up and there were two outs. Kendell walked, which is a surprise, and Gordon was the last hope. But he grounded weakly to second and the inning, and the chance was done. But the Royals weren't done being stupid.
The Fan has mentioned that Tejada has been terrible this year. The Royals were lucky enough that he pitched two uneventful thirds of an inning in the eleventh. Seriously, if you are a manager, what are the chances that Tejada is going to have two good innings in a row? Exactly. None. Tejada didn't get anyone out in the 12th. By the time they got Hughes in there to safely get three outs, the Twins had scored two runs and that was that. Oh, the Royals got a runner on in the bottom half of the 12th and then there was a horrible call at second on a force out that wasn't, but it's all moot, the game was over.
The Orioles and Royals both had managers that mishandled the situations of the game and the Royals fell into a squeeze of their own making by misshaping their roster that left them with no bench. Losing teams lose most of the time because they don't have the horses they need to win. That's certainly true of both the Royals and the Orioles. But you can't blame the horses in this case. The blame falls squarely on the jockeys.