Saturday, July 10, 2010

Buying and Selling

The Rangers have rung the opening bell on the trade season with Cliff Lee. What comes next? The answer to that question has much to do with finances as it has to do with available talent. More teams are not protecting their prospects as assets and there is less inclination to sacrifice them for a quick fix. The Rangers could sacrifice a few of those assets as they have more on the way. We'll see how that turns out. But what will the other contenders do?

  • The Yankees: The Yankees need relief help and a bat off the bench. Thames isn't the answer there. For relief, they could use a lefty. Biemel maybe? Don't expect the Yankees to make any major move though.
  • The Red Sox: The Red Sox may just let things play out and cut their losses for this season. They might not be willing to cut their best prospects for what might already be a season too far out of reach. Beckett will be back soon so they don't really need a starter. Pedroia will probably be back in a month, so they will wait. They already went out and got Cash to catch.
  • The Bay Rays: It would be hard to see them make any trades such as Carl Crawford as he is a big part of their offense. They could simply let him walk after the season and get the draft picks. B. J. Upton might tease some teams for a quality set up guy.
  • The Twins: The Twins are notoriously non-movers during the trade season. They could use a third baseman but it would be surprising to see them as that active.
  • The Tigers: The Tigers need catching help. Buck would be a good option from Toronto. Some insurance for Inge might be good too.
  • The White Sox: Kenny Williams is always a wild card in these times of the year. Usually he strikes often and early. He's been strangely quiet. The White Sox resurgence in the race complicates things.
  • The Angels: The Angels might just capitulate this season. They are too old and need pitching in the worst way. They have little leverage so it's hard to see them making moves. Don't be surprised if they get in the Carl Crawford sweepstakes after the season. They need to get younger.
  • The Braves: The Braves always have money trouble and can't take on salaries. They could use some bullpen help and another option at first base. Getting Heyward back would help a lot.
  • The Phillies: They need to get their own guys back. They need relief help. For some reason, though, the Fan feels that they might just let the season play out and work towards next year.
  • The Mets: The Mets have to think long and hard whether they are really a factor in the race this season. They are five back now and going backwards. They get Beltran back after the break. They desperately need a starter and a stud for the bullpen.
  • The Cardinals: The Cards need a starting pitcher but who? Oswalt? Can't see that happening. Can't see them standing pat either as they just aren't good enough right now.
  • The Reds: The Reds could use one more bat and seem to be a starter short themselves. They haven't been in this position in a while. How will they handle it?
  • The Dodgers: The Dodgers will be in play for Oswalt, but do they have enough prospects or money to get him? The Fan can see them trading Manny to someone who needs a bat if it will get them something they need.
  • The Padres: Speaking of someone who needs a bat...or three...They have depth in the bullpen they can offer perhaps.
  • The Giants: Don't think the Giants will be active. They signed Burrell and would seem likely to stand pat.
  • The Rockies: Could use some bullpen help but again, the Fan can't see them being overly engaged in any big trades.

It will be interesting to watch for the next three weeks to see what teams fall, what teams give up and what marginal contenders would sacrifice to give themselves a shot for the ring.

Game Picks - Saturday: July 10, 2010

Nine correct. Six incorrect. Picking games is fun. And to do so and be correct more often than incorrect is challenging. This picker attempts to be as scientific as possible but there is no end to factors that can be explored. Take the Bay Rays for example. Lately, the Bay Rays have been the juggernaut they were earlier in the season. The Fan did his due diligence but didn't find out this one fact that could have changed his pick: Going into Friday night, the Bay Rays had lost eight straight Friday games. That's right, they hadn't won a game on that day of the week in two months. If the Fan had that information on his fingertips yesterday when making picks, then he could have correctly picked the Bay Rays to lose on their ninth consecutive Friday. How weird is that?

And then you simply run into things that aren't fair. Rightly so, the Fan hardly ever picks the Yankees to lose. But they were supposed to face Cliff Lee on Friday so the pick went to Seattle since the Yankees hardly, if ever, beat Lee. But then Lee got traded during the day and that pick was totally blown out of the water. The Yankees won, 6-1. Oh well.

Saturday's picks:

  • The Blue Jays over the Red Sox: Morrow is really good. Lackey's ERA is close to five.
  • The Mets over the Braves: Haven't got a game in this series right yet. Pelfrey and Hudson equal themselves out so going with the home team.
  • The Dodgers over the Cubs: The Dodgers are so good at home and should tee off on Gorzelanny.
  • The Twins over the Tigers: Blackburn versus Bonderman. Bonderman is not having a good year (surprise!). Blackburn isn't either, but still manages to have a winning record.
  • The Phillies over the Reds: Have to go with Halladay here.
  • The White Sox over the Royals: Floyd keeps the good times rolling over Bannister.
  • The Astros over the Cardinals: Suppon versus Myers. Suppon will only go five innings and the Cards' bullpen is a mess.
  • The Brewers over the Pirates: What an awful game. Karstens versus Bush? Ugh. Blech.
  • The Bay Rays over the Indians: No way Garza loses to Laffey.
  • The Rangers over the Orioles: The Orioles are the comeback kings lately. But not today.
  • The Rockies over the Padres: Here they come folks. Sorry Padres' fans.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Marlins: Not feeling Roberston in this one. Ian Kennedy lost some steam last time out. But he should be better than Robertson.
  • The Athletics over the Angels: Sheets should out pitch Kazmir easily.
  • The Mariners over the Yankees: Unless they trade King Felix today too.

And the Game of the Day:

  • The Giants over the Nationals: Stammen is no Strasburg and Sanchez is really good for the Giants.

Yesterday: 9-6
Week: 46-37
Month: 66-58
Season: 725-555
Games of the Day: 42-40

Rangers Scale a Cliff

In certainly unexpected news, the Texas Rangers acquired Cliff Lee from the Seattle Mariners for Justin Smoak and three other minor league players, one of which is Blake Beavan, the Rangers 2007 first round draft pick. Most expected the Yankees to acquire Lee as the Yankees have the catching prospect the Mariners craved. But apparently that deal fell through and the Mariners traded with Texas.

For the Rangers, the move shows their commitment in winning this year. They were already well ahead and were the favorites to win the division anyway, but the move gives them an even greater chance for the division and a horse for the playoffs. But the price was stiff.

Smoak was the 2008 number one pick and hadn't produced since his early call up this season. But that doesn't mean he's not still a terrific prospect. The Mariners had to like his patience at the plate and his potential power. Beavan is not a power pitcher, but he's shown terrific control and has only walked 1.4 batters per nine for his entire minor league career. He is 10-5 in Double A Fresno with a 2.78 ERA. He could be a decent number 3 or 4 starter. Baseball Prospectus doesn't rate Beavan among the Rangers top 15 prospects. Neither are the other two prospects in the deal (infielder Matt Lawson and pitcher Josh Lueke) rated highly.

But Smoak is definitely a high cost for a pitcher that is simply rented for half a season no matter how good he is. Lee is a free agent next year and who knows where he will land. But the Rangers wanted to win now and this is the price they paid.

Already, writers like Jeff Passan over at Yahoo Sports are aghast that the Yankees blew this opportunity. But the fact still remains that they held on to their top prospects and didn't feel like a rented Lee was worth such a high cost. The same thing happened with Santana and Phil Hughes is pitching wonderfully for the Yankees because they didn't trade him. The Yankees didn't get Santana for high prospects and instead got Sabathia as a free agent and kept their talent. They can do the same thing this off season with Lee if they choose.

The Yankees are probably a better team this year than last. Their rotation is deeper and guys like Cano, Gardner and Swisher are better. Granderson is an upgrade from Melky Cabrera and they probably made the right call when it came to Matsui. What the Yankees have now (especially if they pick up a reliever or two) is good enough to win it all if the luck goes their way. The Rangers really couldn't say that and thus the cost seemed worth it to them.

We'll have to see what kind of player Smoak turns out to be and how far the Rangers get this year before we can really rate this deal for the Rangers. As for the Yankees, this writer thinks they were smart to pass.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Youkilis Jobbed by All Star Vote

This writer has never been a member of the Kevin Youkilis fan club. But whether you like a player or not, you have to respect and admire the Boston first baseman's game. The guy is probably the most valuable player on that team. He's always on base, when he doesn't walk, he crushes the ball to all fields, he drives in runs, he plays good defense. He is consistent day in and day out. But he lost the fan vote for the final spot in the All Star vote to Nick Swisher.

Now, Swisher is having a fine season. He is one of the most valuable Yankees with his attitude, his hard work and his penchant for getting on base. But the numbers don't add up for him getting the nod over Youkilis. Youkilis currently has a WAR (wins over replacement) of 3.3. Swisher's sits at 2.8. Both valuable, but easily shown that Youkilis is more valuable. Many would also argue that Konerko should have been ahead of Swisher too. But Swisher is ahead of Konerko in WAR.

Youkilis has a problem. He is a first baseman. There are more valuable slugging first basemen than at any other position. The American League has Teixeira, Cabrera, Konerko, Morneau and Billy Butler. The Nationals League has Pujols, Votto (who thankfully was voted in), Adrian Gonzalez, Aubrey Huff (having a great year), Adam Dunn, Ryan Howard, Lance Berkman and Gaby Sanchez. It's easy for Youkilis to get lost in that shuffle.

But for his worth to the Red Sox and his consistency from year to year, Youkilis stands out. His WAR is currently tied for fourth among all major league first basemen. That's pretty exciting considering the list just put out there for you. And of that long list just mentioned, only four of those guys are the most important members of their team. Youkilis would be the fifth. Look at the Red Sox and tell this writer who is more important to the Red Sox than Youkilis? Nobody.

Is Swisher the most important member of his team? An important member, you betcha. But not THE most important. And Youkilis and his WAR are a little suspect in this writer's mind. He gets little love in the stats for his glove. Morneau gets more props for his glove than Youkilis and this Fan can't see that. It's too bad that the fielding stats are so hard to tangibly touch (like batting stats) where you can see it and breathe it. Fielding stats are nebulous and you have to take the compiler's word for it. But Youkilis seems like a better fielder than he is given credit for.

And one other thing. Youkilis, now 31, is actually getting better at the plate. His wOBA of .422 this year is the best of his career. He is fully matured and knows what he is doing at the plate. It's too bad the fans don't know what they are doing at the polls

Game Picks - Friday: July 9, 2010

Talk about weird! Every Thursday or any day where there are a bunch of day games and a bunch of night games and the same thing happens each time. All of the day games are correctly picked and all of the night games (except the Yankees) are incorrect. How is that possible? And because of that weird split that happens just about every time, this picker could only break even for the day. As the song says, "How bizarre, how bizarre."

The Fan should be afraid because with Friday, we go back to all night games:

  • The Phillies over the Reds: The Phillies showed last night that they aren't dead. They still have weapons. And those weapons will get to Leake and Blanton will hold the Reds down.
  • The Nationals over the Giants: Going with Strasburg over Cain. Okay, those first two picks are scary already.
  • The Tigers over the Twins: Being scientific on this one. Verlander has a 4.06 ERA lifetime versus the Twins. Liriano has a 4.41 ERA versus the Tigers for his career. Edge, Tigers at home.
  • The Blue Jays over the Red Sox: Lester versus Romano is a good match up. But the Blue Jays are better at home than the Red Sox, who are depleted, are on the road.
  • The Mets over the Braves: The Braves aren't good on the road. The Mets are good at home. Hanson has been erratic. Dickey is Dickey.
  • The Cardinals over the Astros: Just what the slumping Cardinals need. Wainwright wins his 13th.
  • The Orioles over the Rangers: Matusz has been very good lately. Feldman can't seem to find his sinker.
  • The Pirates over the Brewers: Doug Davis has been really awful. Maholm is only occasionally awful.
  • The White Sox over the Royals: Gut says Royals, but the head says White Sox. Hope Buehrle is on his game.
  • The Rockies over the Padres: De La Rosa versus Correia. The Rockies are only three back now. This is their big chance.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Marlins: The Marlins are playing terribly. Haran should shut the door for the D-Backs.
  • The Angels over the Athletics: Pineiro versus Mazzaro in a good match up. Toss up.
  • The Dodgers over the Cubs: Hard to pick against the Dodgers at home, especially against the Cubs. Lilly was banged around last time. Billingsley was good his last time out.
  • The Mariners over the Yankees: Cliff Lee owns the Yankees. Simply owns them. Posada will continue to ruin Hughes.

And the Game of the Day:

  • The Bay Rays over the Indians: Shields over Carmona. Shouldn't be close.

Yesterday: 6-6
Week: 37-31
Month: 57-52
Season: 716-549
Games of the Day: 42-39

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Royals Doing Well Under Yost

Has anyone noticed that the Royals are over .500 since Ned Yost took over as manager? Yup, that's right, the Royals are 27-23 under Yost since he took over the club and have won ten of their last thirteen. Probably just as few have noticed that the Royals actually lead the American League in batting average this season. Who would have predicted that?

Whether it is a coincidence or Yost's influence, Zack Greinke is back to his old self the last couple of starts, Bruce Chen is 5-2 with a 3.51 ERA and the much maligned pitching staff has really held its own in the last fifteen games. In those fifteen games, the Royals have held their opponent to four runs or fewer twelve times. The pitching staff still has stats that put them near the bottom in the league in most categories, but there is no denying they are doing much better right now.

Another thing that Yost has done is given specific and defined roles to members in the bullpen and the trio of Tejada, Farnsworth and Soria have responded and get the job done more often than not. Victor Marte has also come into the bullpen and is doing a nice job. The bullpen getting squared away has allowed the starters to settle down and just pitch their games without having to worry about what happens after their six or seven innings are over.

The offense has been carried by two stars in Billy Butler and David DeJesus, both of whom have over one hundred hits at the half way point in the season. They also have a 140 and 136 OPS+ respectively. The nice thing about those two hitters is that they do not strike out much and walk almost as much as they strikeout. In fact the whole team doesn't strike out that often except for Jose Guillen, who despite his 72 strikeouts is having a fine season with 14 homers and 52 runs batted in.

The rest of the line up is weak. Betancourt at shortstop is really bad with a 77 OPS+ which mirrors his .285 OBP. That may have been one of the worst trades in history. Jason Kendall joins Betancourt with a 79 OPS+ but at least Kendall is posting his best OBP in many recent seasons but still with absolutely no pop (.313 SLG). And the over all team defense is still poor.

But still, the team is responding much better to Yost than they did to Trey Hillman and it is again fun to watch Royals' baseball.

Giving Credit Where Credit is Due

This space is devoted to being a Fan. As such, there can be some strong opinions from time to time. That's what fans do. And most fans have a couple of favorite whipping boys. This Fan has a couple as well. Lou Piniella is obviously one of them. Another favorite whipping boy has been Kyle Farnsworth. But the Fan has to come clean and accept that Mr. Farnsworth--who apparently you wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley--has been terrific this season.

Farnsworth is quietly posting his best ERA (1.98) and ERA+ (212) of his career. He's also compiled his lowest WHIP since 2005. Up until Wednesday night, his strikeout rate and his K/BB ratio have been much lower than his standards for his career, but that's okay if he's been effective. But Wednesday night he was downright overpowering as he struck out the side in one hitless inning to pick up his fifth Hold of the season.

With only half the season in the books, Farnsworth has already matched last year's innings pitched which means his manager has more confidence putting Farnsworth out there. Farnsworth is pitching in meaningful games and even has a 2-0 record. Most importantly, his home run per nine innings is at 0.5 so he is doing a much better job not giving up the big fly.

Hey, it's only fair that when a guy gets blasted in this space over and over to give him his due when he performs well. Farnsworth has been very good this year and that fact should be noted.

Game Picks - Thursday: July 8, 2010

Eight correct, seven incorrect. It's a lot easier to accept a mediocre day of picking after a great one than it is after a bad one. Of course, the Fan could pine about the blown saves by the Cardinals and the Mariners that could have swung the entire feel of the night if they hadn't happened. This picker also got burned by flip-flopping on the Reds - Mets game. It was one flip too many. The Cubs came through again and so did the White Sox. But the Fan didn't pick the White Sox, which was foolish in retrospect. Ah well. It was fun to watch Josh Johnson manhandle the Dodgers last night. Have watched him three times while in Florida and the pitcher is most impressive.

There are 12 games on the schedule today, which is pretty good for a getaway day. Five of the games are day games. The Fan loves day games. Here is how the games look:

  • The Astros over the Pirates: Once again, the Fan really wants to pick Ohlendorf, but will go with Oswalt instead due to the Pirates lack of offense.
  • The White Sox over the Angels: There is no stopping Ozzie and the gang. Danks over Santana.
  • The Giants over the Brewers: The Brewers have lost four straight. Today will make it five.
  • The Rockies over the Cardinals: Carpenter versus Ubaldo in what should be a good match up. But both pitchers have been roughed up a bit in their last three starts.
  • The Reds over the Phillies: Normally, this pick would look foolish, but not now with the way the Phillies are going.
  • The Padres over the Nationals: Latos has been remarkable in his last ten starts. Should be no different here.
  • The Twins over the Blue Jays: Didn't think the Blue Jays would win last night and they did. Don't think they will tonight. Will history repeat itself?
  • The Indians over the Bay Rays: The Indians will take advantage of an unsuspecting team flush from two victories over the Red Sox. Plus Wade Davis goes for the Rays.
  • The Rangers over the Orioles: Hunter has been great. The Rangers have been great. The Orioles are the Orioles. Enough said.
  • The Marlins over the Diamondbacks: The Marlins love playing on the road because they actually get an audience. Uggla is red hot.
  • The Cubs over the Dodgers: The Dodgers look a bit flat. The Cubs actually have a bit of momentum. Plus Wells has been doing well.

And the Game of the Day:

  • The Yankees over the Mariners: Pettitte versus Vargas. Teixeira and A-Rod back to normal. Oh yeah. This one should be a lock.

Yesterday: 8-7
Week: 31-25
Month: 51-46
Season: 710-543
Games of the Day: 41-39

Whipped Macha Latte

As a writer and a Fan, it is hard to sit here and make judgements that really aren't this writer's right to make. Plus, this electronic universe makes it far too easy to lose sight of the humanity behind the names we write about. It is far too easy to blithely make statements that if heeded, would cost a man his job. The Fan gets all that and pleads guilty. But even after thoughtful consideration of that guilt, the Fan simply would be remiss without stating one more time that the Cubs and the Brewers need a leadership change in the worst way.

The Fan won't pick on the Cubs anymore in this space. Enough has been written here the point of nausea. The Cubs are a misshapen team poorly constructed with a manager that doesn't fit them with his personality. But the Brewers are a sad story because of how successful they have been in past years at building their fan base. They, along with the Twins, have been the major league success story. And after such success, it is heart-rending to see the team play with so little life and spirit.

The Brewers have now lost eight of their last twelve games. They have lost four in a row and have been out scored 34-5 in those four games. They are 15-20 in their own division. They have scored two runs or less in eight of their last twenty games despite being third in the league in runs scored this season. The team seems flat and often over matched.

Now their best pitcher, Gallardo, strained a muscle in his side and they can hardly afford to lose ANY pitching at this point. Naturally, pitching has been thin all season. The biggest criticism of the Brewers front office is that they didn't make any moves to strengthen their pitching. But even for a team with pitching that ranks third from last in the NL, when they do pitch well, the runs aren't there from the offense. And the offense has all kinds of nice players. Ten players on their roster have over a 100 OPS+ and their team OPS+ is 107, which is excellent considering that includes pitchers batting.

Ken Macha doesn't seem to have the right answers for this team. He has constantly changed the batting order and it has seemed odd that Trevor Hoffman has not been given the opportunity to pitch his way back into meaningful games.

The bottom line here is that the Brewers made wonderful strides in bringing people to the park. They have created a love affair with the city of Milwaukee. But Macha isn't inspiring the product to keep those people in the seats. The team seems directionally challenged and they need a change. Any change wouldn't matter for this season, but a positive change for the rest of the season could at least make this year's product entertaining for the remainder of the season and give hope for next year.

It's Time to Can the Home Run Derby

The Home Run Derby was a fun idea and it led to some fun memories. Josh Hamilton, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Bobby Abreu and a few others gave us thrills. But like any quirk idea, the novelty wears off after a while. Lately, it's become pretty much a joke.

Yesterday, Robinson Cano was going to try it. Today, he pulled out. Pujols doesn't want any part of it. Ryan Howard said no thanks. What is happening is that playing baseball is a business for these players and for their employers. A lot of money is invested in these players and these players have a lot invested in staying as healthy as possible. So other than a chance to become a home run hitting legend, there isn't any incentive in trying to become a Home Run Derby champion.

But even besides the fact that the best sluggers don't want to participate, the format is clunky and unwieldy. The darn thing takes forever with a lot of dead time filled up with announcers. The guy who hits the most homers doesn't always win (it's the round that counts) and the viewing public gets to watch a batter let a hundred pitches go by that don't meet homer-crushing specs.

The Home Run Derby is tired and it's time to put it to rest. It's still a lot more fun than a stupid celebrity softball game, but less so every year.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

NL West Worth Watching 2nd Half

The San Diego Padres have been a nice story thus far. We are almost at the All Star break and they are still in first place by three games. Their pitching has been phenomenal all season with the starting rotation as strong as the bullpen. But despite how strong they have been, the Dodgers, Rockies and Giants have hung in there and nobody in the division besides the Diamondbacks are out of this race.

It's funny how two of the teams try to win the same way and so do the other two teams. The Giants and Padres try to throw great pitching at you and hit just enough to support it and the Dodgers and the Rockies try to slug you to death and hope the pitching holds on long enough to win the games. It would seem over the long haul that pitching will hold the day, but pitchers get hurt easier than hitters and one or two injuries to either the Padres or the Giants could sink them.

The Padres need a bat or two. It seems impossible to think that their pitching will remain this good. Besides Garland, the rotation is comprised of all young guys who can falter as the innings pile up. Their amazing bullpen has started to crack a bit as Gregorsen gave up a homer last night to lose the game. It seems hard to imagine that their storybook season can keep going without improving their offense a bit.

The Rockies still seem to be the team with the best chance to make a run. They have some big studs in the rotation with Jiminez and Chacin. Francis, other than last night, has pitched well and Cook is serviceable. The offense will be there, especially at home. Their question marks will be if they can win enough on the road and if they can hit enough on the road. But this is a dangerous team with a swagger and they will be in the thick of things until the end of it. Their bullpen is not very good either.

The Dodgers are a puzzle. They have enough offense on paper, with or without Manny. The question is their bullpen and the bottom third of their batting order. As the Fan has written in this space before, Martin, Dewitt and Blake are rally killers. It seems a major mistake was made not keeping Orlando Hudson who is still a fine player but didn't gel with Torre for some reason. Torre is a factor in this race. He has a way of nursing his teams into the playoffs despite weaknesses. We'll see.

The Giants can make a run too. The combination of Cain, Sanchez and Lincecum are already top notch and can win any given match up. Last night, they got a big lift from Bumgarner who seems to be back and in great form. If Bumgarner stays that good, and they get enough offense from Posey, Sandoval and others, they can win three out of every four the rest of the season. It's not inconceivable. They could use some bullpen help though.

This race is far from over and four teams have a legitimate shot at making a run and taking over the division. Sure, everyone is rooting for the underdog Padres and if they can finish off this Cinderella season, it would be a wonderful story. But if the Fan were a betting man, he wouldn't put a big bet on that happening. It's going to be fun to watch and that's all you can ask for for the fan base of those four teams.

Game Picks - Wednesday: July 7, 2010

Twelve correct and three incorrect. This picker almost wants to cry. After a bad week of picking comes a shining ray of success. And how sweet it feels. In a single day, the week is back to positive numbers, the month is back to positive numbers. The Fan is basking in redemption. Even the Royals came through and won the Game of the Day ending that six day slide for that feature. Sadly, the Orioles had to blow another save to make that pick right. The Rockies had to score nine runs in the ninth inning to get the pick right. A-Rod had to single-handedly put the Yankees on his back to make that one right. The only three that were incorrect were the Padres, who were bound to lose some time, the Marlins, the most talented team that can't win and the White Sox, who are simply on an amazing run. But excuse the Fan a moment....YAY!

Okay, got that out of the system. Now for Wednesday's picks:

  • The Braves over the Phillies: Medlan over Moyer in the all alliterative match up. Moyer might be twice Medlan's age!
  • The Padres over the Nationals: Garland should beat Martin. What would the Nationals do without Livan?
  • The Tigers over the Orioles: Scherzer over Bergesen. Those poor Orioles...
  • The Twins over the Blue Jays: Slowey over Rzepczynski, making his season debut from the minors. If that guy becomes a regular major leaguer, it's going to be tough to learn how to spell that name.
  • The Mets over the Reds: Arroyo is on a roll, but so is Niese. If the two pitchers cancel themselves out, go with the home team and the Mets are really good at home.
  • The Bay Rays over the Red Sox: The Red Sox are like last year's Mets. Talk about a series of bad breaks (literally). And last night, Youkilis went lame.
  • The Pirates over the Astros: Going with McCutchen to pitch better than Moehler. Heaven help us.
  • The Rangers over the Indians: The Rangers are firing on all cylinders. Awesome to watch.
  • The Giants over the Brewers: Lincecum isn't the lock that he was, but Santana came through last night, so continuing with the aces.
  • The Angels over the White Sox: In an un-classic match up, it's Saunders versus Garcia. Ugh.
  • The Yankees over the Athletics: Was going to pick the A's, but then remembered that Cervelli is probably going to catch Burnett, which at least gives them a better chance.
  • The Cardinals over the Rockies: Last night's theatrics were last night. Garcia shuts them down.
  • The Cubs over the Diamondbacks: One of these bad teams has to win. Going with Dempster here.
  • The Mariners over the Royals: Going with Fister who is consistently good, over Davies who has been great and terrible.

And the Game of the Day:

  • The Marlins over the Dodgers: Josh Johnson blows the Dodgers into the Ethier.

Yesterday: 12-4
Week: 23-18
Month: 43-39
Season: 702-536
Games of the Day: 40-39

Carlos Gonzalez - New Rockies Star

The Rockies lost Troy Tulowitski a while back to injury and many thought that the Rockies would crumble without him. But the Rockies have another star in the making that few outside of Colorado have heard about. Carlos Gonzales is a 25 year old from Mexico who is emerging as a real star for the Rockies.

Gonzalez wasn't that highly rated as a prospect. He was seen as a fourth outfielder with a little pop and a decent glove. But every time he went up a level in the minors, he got better. After posting only a .794 OPS in two years at Double A ball, he then recorded a combined OPS of .911 in a little over 400 at bats in Triple A.

Gonzales got called up midway through the season last season and was a real nice surprise for the Rockies. In 89 games, he hit 34 extra base hits and finished the year with a 120 OPS+. Based on that performance he was handed a starting job this year and he has responded well. In the midst of his game on Tuesday night, he is averaging .299 with 14 homers and 54 runs batted in. His OPS is lower than last year and currently sits at 110. The biggest reason for that is that he is not as patient at the plate as he should be. He only has 15 walks in 319 plate appearances. He's also stolen 12 bases giving him an outside shot at 30/30.

Gonzales has played a little more than half of his games in center with the struggles and injuries to Dexter Fowler. But Fowler is starting to come around which moves Gonzales to left, which is just as well because Gonzales isn't the best center fielder around. He's competent, but it's not his best position. If Fowler comes alive, there is a bit of a logjam as Gonzales, Seth Smith and Hawpe all have promise. But Gonzales is the best of the trio and needs to be in the line up every night.

Gonzales is a budding star. He drives in runs, he hits with some pop and he hits for average. He needs to cut down on his strikeouts and walk more. If he can do those two things, he's going to be a really bright star for the Rockies for a long time.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

The Yankees Mess With Their Line Up

Joe Girardi, manager of the New York Yankees, mixed up his line up last night against the Athletics. He batted Brett Gardner in the first spot and Jeter second. The move seems to make sense in that besides Cano, Gardner has been the Yankees top on base guy from the ninth spot. The Yankees won the game 3-1 thanks to a nice performance by Vazquez with just enough runs off of Ben Sheets, who pitched well. But Gardner went 0-4. Here's why the Fan doesn't like it.

First, Gardner has been like the Yankees' secret weapon. In the ninth spot, he's like a second lead off batter and accounts for a lot of ribbies for Jeter, Swisher, Teixeira and A-Rod. Now you take that secret weapon and force him to the top of the line up where the pitcher will bear down on him more. Plus, Jeter is prone to the double-play ball as he hits a lot of grounders. So keeping Gardner in front of Jeter still keeps that in play.

It would have been better to either put Gardner in the seventh spot after Cervelli or keep him ninth where he's done so much damage. Jeter is bound to get hot here soon. He always does, so the Fan would leave him batting lead off. Granderson should bat ninth as his production doesn't rank anything higher than that. But if he does get on, he serves the speed value just the same as Gardner did.

We'll see how it all plays out as the manager is usually smarter than the writer. But one thing is nice and that is during Spring Training, we were all wondering if Gardner would get enough at bats to show what he can do. Not only has he gotten those at bats, but now he's become a quandary as to where to bat him.

Game Picks - Tuesday: July 6, 2010

Six correct and five incorrect. The Game of the Day pick was wrong for the sixth straight day. All the day games except one were correct (those darn Cubs!) but all the night games were wrong except one. The Fan simply cannot seem to put a good day together. So July is still in the tank. This week is still in the tank. And this picker is starting to get gun shy.

But the show must go on. Some wise person said that courage wasn't the lack of fear, it was performing in spite of it. With that in mind, here is Tuesday:

  • The Braves over the Phillies: Okay, the Braves couldn't beat Halladay. But they should beat Hamels, especially if Jurrjens throws well.
  • The Padres over the Nationals: Richard and company should squeak by Livan and his company.
  • The Tigers over the Orioles: Giving Galarraga and the red hot Tigers the nod here.
  • The Twins over the Blue Jays: Pavano gives the Fan indigestion, but he'll probably beat Litsch.
  • The Mets over the Reds: No match ups have been announced that the Fan could find, but it is Santana's turn. So we'll see.
  • The Bay Rays over the Red Sox: Stupid BallHype still lists Buchholz. Uh, hello? Niemann should take care of Doubront or whatever his name is.
  • The Astros over the Pirates: Two awful teams. The difference will be Wandy Rodriguez who is starting to pitch better.
  • The Rangers over the Indians: The Indians are playing better but the Rangers should take this one.
  • The Giants over the Brewers: The Giants are now only two games over .500. But Bumgarner is poised for a good game.
  • The Angels over the White Sox: Good match up with Weaver versus Peavy. Peavy has been hot, but Weaver is hotter.
  • The Rockies over the Cardinals: Francis should be better than Hawksworth. But not by much.
  • The Cubs over the Diamondbacks: Those darn Cubs continue to break the Fan's back. Silva versus Enright. Enright was good his first start. But Silva has been good all year. arrrggggghhh!
  • The Yankees over the Athletics: Sabathia should out duel Cahill in a really good match up.
  • The Marlins over the Dodgers: Volstad should be better than Padilla and the Marlins do play better on the road in front of people.

And the Game of the Day

  • The Royals over the Mariners: Can you believe it? The Fan is so desperate for a win here he's going with Greinke over Bedard making his season debut.

Yesterday: 6-5
Week: 11-15
Month: 31-36
Season: 690-533
Games of the Day: 39-39

B. J. Upton Isn't Happy

B. J. Upton was going to be the next big star. He was the Jason Heyward of a few years ago. The Bay Rays (then the Devil Rays) made him their first pick (second overall). He showed promise in the high minors and then with a 136 OPS+ in 2007 with 24 homers and 22 stolen bases. But since then, his batting average has dropped every season. He had a horrible season last season with a 79 OPS+ and this year, his OPS+ is 93. What happened?

Well, to this observer, who has had the opportunity to watch a lot of Florida baseball, Upton has lost confidence and lacks the every day concentration and discipline to succeed. His manager, Joe Maddon, has shown the patience of Job with this guy. The Fan happens to think that Maddon is one five best managers in baseball. Maddon, after allowing Upton to get 626 unproductive plate appearances last year, has started to sit Upton in favor of other options.

One can appreciate Maddon's dilemma. You look at Upton and see his talent, the kind of talent the team invested highly in and it would be difficult to give up on him. If Upton could only turn the corner, what a magnificent player he could be. But Maddon is also trying to win a division and get his team back to the playoffs and has to put the players on the field that have the best chance to get him there. And right now, Upton isn't one of those guys.

If you look at it from Upton's point of view, you can feel for him too. Here's a guy who was always the best player on his team. He was even the best on his team in the minor leagues. Suddenly, it doesn't come as easy as it did. He struggles. He pouts. He loses interest. He gets defensive. Upton is in a position he's never faced his whole life.

But let's face it. It isn't Maddon's job to rescue Upton's status and career. It's Upton's job to rescue his own career. He seems like a decent guy and one hopes that he can figure it out. But he also has to understand that he hasn't produced and Maddon is certainly justified in sitting the guy. Upton has to handle this correctly and look in the mirror and understand that it is up to him to turn things around and earn back his career and playing time. Complaining to the media is an immature act and not the right way to go about things. But if you put yourself in Upton's shoes, you can understand it and give him a pass.

The bottom line is that Upton's career is at a crossroads and if he doesn't start producing, he's going to have a lot more cause to complain about his playing time.

Reading by the Pool

One of the best parts of these yearly trips to Mom's in Florida is the time it affords to catch up on reading. With a new business and with life in general, there isn't time to read which is still one of the Fan's favorite activities. Besides the two novels that were just fine, several baseball books have happily passed the time. Here are some thoughts they provoked.

The first of the books poured through was a ten year old book from Joe Garagiola. It was an enjoyable read though some of the old catcher's humor can be hokey. But if nothing else, the book brought to mind all the wonderful years Garagiola partnered with Curt Gowdy and then Vin Scully on the Saturday games of the week. How much better those guys were than anything we have now. Garagiola was like an old friend when he did the broadcast. He made you smile, but he also taught you a lot about the game. And since he wasn't a Hall of Fame player, he didn't have a chip on his shoulder like so many of today's color guys (ahem Joe Morgan).

It was personally disappointing when Garagiola used his baseball broadcasting career to springboard to NBC's Today show and then game shows that he hosted. It seemed demeaning for a baseball guy. But in retrospect, the guy was trying to make a living and you can't blame him. But one thing is for sure, after listening to several games with Ken Harrelson and Steve Stone for WGN or Tommy Hutton for the Marlins, Garagiola's broadcasts are sorely missed.

Next up was another older book by Fay Vincent. It had to be an older book because the guy is dead isn't he? Whoa. Better look that up. Oops! He's alive and the book was from 2007. Anyway, Vincent compiled a fascinating book where several players from the 1930s and 1940s who told their own story much like an oral history. To hear (read) those stories from those old-time players was a joy.

After that was the Larry Tye book, Satchel Paige: The Life and Times of an American Legend. This 2009 book was a much anticipated read and it did not disappoint. Growing up in the 60s and 70s, Satchel was still a mythic legend. he pitched that one game in 1965 when he was 59 years old (he pitched three shutout innings!) but that was before the days of instant highlights and recap shows and Internet feeds. So most of us never saw it. In fact, the Fan went to to see if any old footage existed there on old Satchel and there was only one really short clip which didn't really give you the idea of how good he was.

Tye did a solid job of telling a complete story about Paige without sugar-coating his personal weaknesses or over-hyping his accomplishments. The story made the reader wish he could be transported back in time to see one of those games when Satchel Paige was the best pitcher in America who didn't get a shot at the major leagues until he was 42 years old.

The author also accomplished his mission of emphasizing that Satchel Paige made what happened with Jackie Robinson in 1947 possible. Tye showed us how Paige had elevated the Negro Leagues to a degree that in many cases, their games were out drawing the major leagues. Robinson's legacy was as much about economics for Branch Rickey as it was about advancing black players.

The one stumbling block concerning the book is that Tye spend hundreds of pages showing how Paige overcame the prejudice and awfulness of his times. But twice in Tye's description of Paige, he exposed his own inner prejudices. One time, Tye described Paige's arms as hanging below his knees (they did not) and another time states that it seemed that Paige's hands dragged on the ground when he walked. The Fan doesn't know about you, but those two descriptions are demeaning and almost compromised everything Tye was trying to accomplish.

All in all, though, Satchel Paige is a tremendous read and highly recommended.

Next up, the Fan is about a third of the way through James S. Hirsch's, Willie Mays: The Life and Times. It's another fascinating book and the Fan is just up to 1951 and Willie's rookie season. The contrast between Paige and Mays is striking. Paige made his own way and used his talent and his legend to make more money than many of the great white players of his day. Mays was born at the right time where he only had to play in the Negro Leagues for two years and could showcase his talents in the majors at a young age. The Fan can't wait to read the rest of it.

Baseball books are such fun because they connect the present game with its historic past. The tomes, when well done, flesh out legends so they are more tangible. When really well done, the past comes alive and you can almost taste it.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Biggest All Star Slights

The All Star rosters were announced yesterday and only two more picks are outstanding. The fans get to pick one more guy from each league. But to this point, as there always is, there were several injustices done to players who are performing worthy of an All Star nod. Joey Votto is the biggest one. But he still has a chance to make it with the fan voting. It should have to come to that.

First of all, Joey Votto should have been voted in ahead of Albert Pujols. Sure everyone knows Pujols and his Hall of Fame resume. But Votto has out played him this year. He leads the NL in OPS and OPS+. Not Pujols. It's a snub of major proportions. Then Charlie Manuel picks his guy, Ryan Howard, who isn't even close to Votto in stats. Terrible. And so Votto has to rely on the fans pick to get in. Want to bet he doesn't get picked?

The same is true for Kevin Youkilis. He is fourth in the AL in OPS. Without him, the Red Sox are totally toast. But he gets no love in the All Star department. While it's true that this Fan really dislikes Youkilis, he deserves to be in the game. He has a better chance to be voted in by the fans as he is one of the five the fans can vote for. But still. A-Rod is a HOFer, but Youkilis should have gotten in and not A-Rod.

Matt Latos should be in the All Star game and not Lincecum. Lincecum has not been his usual self and Latos has been amazing. Even more amazing, not one pitcher from the Padres made it to the All Star game. How can that happen when the Padres lead the National League in wins and the Padres lead all of baseball in ERA and bullpen ERA? Astounding.

Brennan Boesch should have been voted in. He is batting over .340 and has a slugging percentage over .600. How could he be slighted?

Miguel Olivo has been the best catcher in the National League this year. But Yadier Molina gets all the fan attention and then Brian McCann gets the reserve nod. This Fan doesn't have a problem with McCann on the team, but Olivo should be there instead of Molina.

How could Matt Capps get the All Star nod over Billy Wagner? It's not like the Nationals needed a representative. Zimmerman, who should be starting at third instead of Wright, was already selected. Capps gives up more hits than innings pitched. His saves are an adventure. Wagner is in his retirement year and is still the elite closer in the NL.

Felix Hernandez has better stats in every category than C. C. Sabathia. And yet he doesn't make the team. If C. C. can't go because of the Sunday rule, then Girardi shouldn't pick Pettitte, he should pick Hernandez.

Luck or Design?

The Blue Jays threw three Yankees out at the plate on Sunday. They hit three homers against Phil Hughes (because Posada was catching). The kept Robinson Cano hitless and struck him out twice. They made Curtis Granderson look like a left-hand hitting Soriano (maybe he is). Young starter, Brandon Morrow, struck out seven in six innings and walked only one. The Blue Jays caused only the second blown save of the year for Mariano Rivera after Rivera had gone sixteen outings in a row without giving up a run. And they lost.

Morrow has to be wondering what he has to do. He pitched great. He benefited from some amazingly bad third base coaching by the Yankees. Though saying that, the Blue Jays arms really gunned down those runners. The throws had to be perfect and each time they were. Thanks to Posada's catching, the great Phil Hughes (who also had a bad outing the last time he was caught by Posada) gave up three homers and Morrow was sitting pretty with a 5-3 lead. The Yankees wouldn't even have three runs if it wasn't for a dumb fielding play by Lyle Overpaid. The first baseman fielded a bunt with men on first and second and somehow thought he could throw out Brett Gardner at third. Big mistake. But still, Morrow had a two run lead and was pitching great.

In the sixth inning, Morrow had a runner on base with two outs and induced Gardner to hit a can of corn to centerfield. End of inning right? Oops. Nope. DeWayne Wise, who had hit a three run homer off of Hughes and had thrown out two of those runners at the plate, settled under it and suddenly started acting like a July 4th firework was heading right for his head. He ducked in the sun. The ball clanked off the back of his glove. Wise hit the ground and Gardner flew around the bases for an inside the park home run. The camera panned to Morrow who was incredulous. The worst thing about the whole thing was now he wasn't going to get a win AND those two runs which weren't his fault are earned runs and go against his ERA. Poor guy.

So now the score is tied 5-5 and in the seventh inning, Cito Gaston brings in Camp to replace Morrow. Camp has retired the first batter he has faced in an inning a league leading 85% of the time. His first batter is Derek Jeter, who is in a terrible slump. Of course, Jeter promptly singles. Swisher then singles just out of the reach of second baseman, McDonald's dive attempt. Teixeira doubles in Jeter. Swisher stopped at third (the only smart call by the third base coach all day). Camp got A-Rod to strike out and Cervelli is up with the bases loaded and one out (Cano was intentionally walked). Cervelli hits a foul pop to right field, medium depth. Bautista catches the ball, hits the wall and still manages to throw out Swisher at the plate trying to score on a tag play. 6-5.

The Blue Jays get three dink hits as the great Mariano Rivera fell victim to some BABIP leavening and tied the score. The hardest hit ball of the inning came with two out and runners on first and third after the Blue Jays had tied the score. A-Rod made a great play to stab the screamer and just barely threw out Wise at second for the force. Frasor easily took care of the Yankees in the ninth. On to extra innings.

In the top of the 10th, the Yankees brought in Roberston, who has been simply awful this year. Not just a little awful, but unbelievably awful. Robertson promptly gave up a single to Bautista and a walk to Lind. First and second with no out. The Fan was thinking that it's over at that point. Gaston, who if nothing else, always paints by the numbers, asked Edwin Encarnacion to bunt. First off, wasn't Encarnacion let go a week or two ago? How is he back? Encarnacion didn't look happy but made his attempt. He popped it to third. Everyone thought that A-Rod was going to catch it. Lind didn't run from first. Encarnacion didn't bother to run at all. A-Rod smartly let it drop and threw out Lind at second and Encarnacion was thrown out at first. Geez. Not a good moment. Robertson walked Lyle Overpaid intentionally because everyone knows that Molina can't hit. Gaston could not pinch hit for him because he already used Buck as a pinch hitter earlier (not too bright). Molina struck out and that was it.

David Purcey came in to pitch for the Blue Jays in the bottom of the tenth. Purcey has pitched well this year. His WHIP was under 1 and his batting average against was around .160. But he walked Cano, which is very hard to do. Cervelli put down a perfect sacrifice but Granderson, who looks totally lost, struck out. But then Purcey walked Gardner and Marcus Thames, who hasn't hit in weeks and just back from the DL, hit a flare to center and the game was over.

So many who watched this game would say that the Blue Jays were unlucky in this game. Many will say that the Yankees are the luckiest team in all of baseball. But is it luck? Or was the Yankees win simply a combination of one manager making more mistakes than another and one team not performing when it mattered? This Fan believes the latter is that case. Cito Gaston appears to be managing on cruise control on his way to his consultant gig at the end of the year. The Blue Jays made critical mistakes at critical times. This Fan was sad for them.

Game Picks - Monday: July 5, 2010

Despite faithful reader, Alan's, encouragement, this picker has lost his way. The eeny-meany picking method would be working better than this current method. The Pirates beat the Red Sox while the Pirates beat the Phillies? What? The Blue Jays have the Yankees on the ropes twice and lose a ball in the sun for the second straight day? Gallardo gets hurt in the early innings (like the Fan could have predicted that!). At least he got that hit the Fan predicted before he left. Ted Lilly suddenly sucks? The Rockies leave 155 men on base and still win? Billingsley suddenly pitches like an ace? The Marlins actually hold on to a lead? What the heck, man!

So that brings the Fan to today. The Marlins and Yankees both had to leave the east coast and both play in California without a day of rest. How will that affect them? The Braves have their most ineffective pitcher pitching against the great Halladay. But the Phillies can't hit. What does the Fan do? Oh heck. Talking about it won't help. Might as well just plunge in:

  • The Tigers over the Orioles: Millwood can give you a decent game. Oliver is a complete mystery starting for the Tigers. Who the heck knows...
  • The Giants over the Brewers: Sanchez over Bush. Another pick fraught with danger.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Cubs: Gorzelanny? Ian Kennedy? The Cubs offense? Crap.
  • The Phillies over the Braves: Halladay better hope the Phillies score a few off Lowe.
  • The White Sox over the Angels: Kazmir? Is it possible for him to pitch good? Floyd? Geez.
  • The Mets over the Reds: The Reds are killing the Fan. But Pelfrey is better than Harang. Ugh.
  • The Bay Rays over the Red Sox: The Bay Rays seem to be over their funk. Garza should be good. But this is the Red Sox...
  • The Rangers over the Indians: A known Laffey who hasn't been good against an unknown Beltre. What to do? Go with the better team.
  • The Dodgers over the Marlins: The long flight over the country will hurt the Marlins. Ely should win.
  • The Yankees over the Athletics: Same long flight, but the Yankees should squeak by with Vazquez, especially with Posada hurt.

And the Game of the Day:

  • The Mariners over the Royals: King Felix was unhittable last time out.

Yesterday: 5-10 golly...
Week: 5-10 must that be typed twice?
Month: 25-31 embarrassing
Season: 684-528
Games of the Day: 39-38 fifth straight loss

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Independence Day

Somewhere along the line, Independence Day became Barbecue Day or Reunion Day or Fireworks Day or Will Smith Movie Day. While all those things are okay in and of themselves, it loses a little sight of how important this day is in our history. Major League Baseball is doing its part and is having all its players where white hats with red and blue lettering. Those hats will go on sale on and the proceeds will go to help veterans. That's a good thing too. Except we are not celebrating veterans and their great sacrifices for our country. Memorial Day is for that. No, July 4th is a day to celebrate this day in history when a group of men in Philadelphia declared independence from Britain and started us down a road that has never been traveled before. To this day, the United States of America stands for freedom and independence.

This country hasn't traveled this road perfectly. At times we have lost our way. Heck, we may be a bit lost right now. But this Fan loves this country and is proud to be an American. That great document, penned mostly by Thomas Jefferson became the Declaration of Independence. It was a statement full of risk and guaranteed each person who signed certain death if the struggle for that independence failed. Those men believed in those ideals and we need to remember them and embrace what they declared all those years ago.

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

Game Picks - Sunday: July 4, 2010

July is starting to tick me off. But it started the last week of June, this current malaise the picker finds himself in. First, there were four straight losing days. Then the last two days have been one lousy game over .500. For one of the few times all year, this picker ended a week in negative figures. July is still a game under .500. The Game of the Day feature has lost five days in a row.

The Cubs seem to be the symbol of this current streak. They taunt the Fan and tease him. Let's face it, the Cubs are lousy and need a face lift. But what the heck! When they are picked to win, they lose. When they are picked to lose, they win. It's enough to drive you crazy.

Well, July 4th is here with a full Sunday of games. The Fan expects nothing but fireworks!

  • The Indians over the Athletics: Mazzaro has two straight quality starts, but in the last one, he walked six batters. Carmona can be great or can also be awful. Awful pick.
  • The Mariners over the Tigers: Cliff Lee has been unbeatable for two months now.
  • The Blue Jays over the Yankees: Morrow has really come on in the past month and a half. Phil Hughes has struggled since Posada got back behind the plate.
  • The Mets over the Nationals: Have no faith in Takahashi, but then again, the Mets are a better team.
  • The Red Sox over the Orioles: The Red Sox sure look hard to beat these days.
  • The Bay Rays over the Twins: Shields is more consistent than Blackburn.
  • The Brewers over the Cardinals: Gallardo out duels Wainwright and gets a hit or two in the process.
  • The Cubs over the Reds: Lilly should be the favorite over Leake. But that will probably be wrong again.
  • The Giants over the Rockies: Cain over Hammel
  • The Astros over the Padres: LeBlanc is the hard luck loser for the Padres. Myers is a fighter.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Dodgers: Simply feel that Haran has a better chance to pitch well than Billingsley does.
  • The Braves over the Marlins: Hudson is awesome this year. The Marlins only chance is a shutout by Nolasco.
  • The White Sox over the Rangers: Feldman has lost his sinker and is not pitching well at all. Sad.
  • The Angels over the Royals: Pineiro should have no trouble here.

And the Game of the Day:

  • The Phillies over the Pirates: Blanton over Karstens. Funny how some teams keep throwing a pitcher up there over and over who has no chance to win.

Yesterday: 8-7
Last Week: 45-52
Month: 20-21
Season: 679-518
Games of the Day: 39-37