Saturday, October 23, 2010

A Fairy Tale World Series!

The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! With a 3-2 strikeout of Ryan Howard, Brian Wilson has written a new good vibration and the improbable has actually happened. The Davids beat the Goliaths. How many cliches can a Fan write in one paragraph! What a game. What an absolute gem of a game. And with one last pitch by the Giants' closer, the last of the behemoths has fallen to the ground. The Phillies will miss the World Series for the first time in three years.

In two days, we have seen two flawed teams take on two flawed champions and beat them. The Rangers overwhelmed the Yankees like some horde of Franks while the Giants set siege on the Phillies and stayed their ground until the Phillies' wall fell in. This is why baseball is the best sport on earth. This is why money doesn't buy titles. This is why a salary cap isn't needed. Because winning is a combination of talent, heart and pure unadulterated luck. Juan Uribe? Come on. That isn't a quirk of fate?

And so the Yankees and the Phillies will take their equipment home and ponder next year. Does Werth get signed? Do the Yankees get Lee? What happens with Jeter, Pettitte, Rivera and Girardi? None of that matters right now except to Reuben Amaro and Brian Cashman. All that matters right now is that we are getting the Rangers against the Giants in one of the quirkiest and oddest World Series in years. Already we can start pondering Lincecum versus Lee and Wilson versus Cain and on and on. Can the Giants do something nobody else has done in shutting down Josh Hamilton? We can ponder a Giant team that can't seem to hit and has few batters that scare anyone and yet have won two playoff series in convincing fashion.

These are all new story lines (except for Lee). Posey faces Molina, whose career in San Francisco was ended by the phenom. Can Feliz stay strong as the Rangers' closer? Is Brian Wilson the next Mariano Rivera? All the new story lines are astounding. This Fan is pumped!

And somewhere, some place, a voice is shouting, "The Giants win the pennant, the Giants win the pennant!" Unbelievable.

Game Picks - Saturday: October 23, 2010

One Cinderella team is in. Can the other make it in too? To do so, the Giants certainly would make it easier for themselves to get the win tonight. Giving the Phillies a Game Seven is asking for trouble. This Fan is greatly concerned though that the ball is in the hands of Jonathan Sanchez. It is too similar to handing the ball to Phil Hughes. Sanchez has better pure stuff than Hughes, but he can't always locate and if he starts getting high pitch counts, he'll be in trouble. But of the Big Three in the Phillies rotation, Oswalt is the most vulnerable. His little relief outing the other day couldn't have helped. And so...

- The Giants over the Phillies: We need to complete this Cinderella storyline on a positive note.

Yesterday: 0-1 Congrats, Rangers
Season: 1366-1048

What Derek Jeter Needs to Do

Derek Jeter just suffered through his worst offensive season of his career. He wasn't much better in the playoffs (though he faced great pitching). As he enters the twilight of his career, of course, this is a major concern for what he means to the Yankees experience. After watching the Captain for many of his at bats this year, this Fan is bold enough to make a few suggestions.

At his age, reaction time slows. That is natural in the course of events. With diminished reaction time and a slowing of his ability to react to what is being thrown his way, Jeter needs to simplify his approach. It would be similar to what Nick Swisher did this year. Swisher was very "noisy" in his approach with a lot of movement before the pitch. But staying "quieter," he had a better ability to approach his swing.

Derek Jeter has a wild waggle with his bat when he is hitting. If you watch, you'll notice that he not only waggles his bat during his set up, he also waggled the bat forward over his head and toward the pitcher just as the pitcher is starting to throw the ball. This is something that Jeter has always done as a timing mechanism and it has worked for him. But he no longer has the quickness to get away with it. He has to get the bat all the way back to the hitting position from in front of his body and then swing forward even as he is reacting to the location of the speed and location of the pitch. It's just too much to accomplish when his motor receptors are slower.

What Jeter needs to do is get quiet like Swisher, like Paul Molitor did late in his career, like Carl Yaztremski did at the end of his career. Doing so would give Jeter a more even approach to the pitch, keep him more balanced and give him more time to react to what is coming toward him.

One knock against Jeter is that he's not very coachable. While the Yankees' batting coach has had great repore with A-Rod, Swisher and Granderson, you never see Jeter talking to him. It's time to change that and have a couple more good seasons before wandering off into the Hall of Fame.

What the Fan Would Have Done

Let's face it, any conjecture or second guessing concerning last night's game between the Yankees and Rangers is a moot point. The Rangers won and are going to the World Series. They deserve it and this Fan is very happy for them and their fans. But if the Fan had been Joe Girardi for a day, this is what would have been different:


Hughes - three innings
Sabathia - an inning
Burnett - an inning
Chamberlain - an inning
Wood - an inning or two
Rivera - an inning or two

Offense: Anybody in the world other than Thames at DH. Golson would have been a nice choice for some speed and a quick bat. He could have played right with Swisher at DH.

Asking Phil Hughes to get through that line up more than once was just too much for the youngster. He didn't match up well with their line up and the Yankees paid for it when it all broke down in the fifth. If Girardi had set up his game the way the Fan outlined it, he could have told Hughes to pretend it was a relief outing and to give it all he had for three innings and then take a shower. Sabathia could have come in for an inning when lefties were heavy and Burnett could have given you one solid inning. It just might have worked.

Against right handed pitching, Thames has no discipline on the breaking stuff outside. He looked like a heftier Soriano. He had no chance to contribute in that game against Lewis.

Again, it is all a moot point. The horses are out of the barn...and they are wearing Rangers uniforms.

The Rangers Win the Pennant

Congratulations to the Texas Rangers and their fans for beating the New York Yankees and advancing to the World Series. They out played the Yankees on every level, came back from a brutal Game One loss and showed the kind of heart and talent that deserves to represent the American League in the ultimate showdown called the World Series. One has to smile for the Rangers' fans. They have to be in heaven right now. Enjoy it. Enjoy every minute of it.

And how about Colby Lewis! The MVP of the series went to Josh Hamilton and you really can't quibble with that decision. He showed why he is the best player in baseball right now. But Colby Lewis won two games in convincing fashion, the only Rangers' starter that can make that claim. He pitched deep into two gems and totally shut down the Yankees lefty leaning lineup. He was fantastic. The Yankees managed only three hits in the clincher and that's how they became the ex-champs.

All credit is due to the Rangers, the players and Nolan Ryan and his staff. Cinderella is going to the ball and that is the kind of story that Major League Baseball can relish and share with the world.

And this weekend, we'll find out who they are going to play!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Game Picks - Friday: October 22, 2010

Is it just the Fan or does the playoffs this year seem just as long as the NHL playoffs? If you are a baseball fan, it probably doesn't matter because more baseball is always a good thing. But geez, it's 35 degrees here in northern Maine and it is October 22. Fortunately for us, the snow hasn't started flying yet and a few of our trees still have colored leaves hanging on for dear life. The Giants' defense left them out of a big celebration as they had a chance to bury the Phillies. But two big errors led to a three run inning and with Halladay versus the weak-hitting Giants, that was just something the Giants couldn't afford. While it is a bit hypocritical for this horizontally challenged writer to state, Mr. Panda really needs to address his issue in the off season or a terribly promising career could go right down the food blender. It's probably not kind to mention that his play in that three-run fiasco looked like a sumo wrestler trying to chase down a chicken.

This Fan has to admit that the last paragraph might be a result of sour grapes as the play led to a bad pick. And when you only have one pick to make, a bad one looks pretty ugly standing all by itself. Friday again features only one pick.

- The Yankees over the Rangers: There are really three scenarios that could happen in this game. The first is that Hughes is again terrible, the Rangers then feast on the underbelly of the Yankees' bullpen and win the game. The second is that Hughes is great and the Yankees score five runs on Lewis. The third is that Hughes has a bad start, Moseley again saves the day and the Yankees score five runs off of Lewis.

Yesterday: 0-1
Month: 39-32
Season: 1366-1047

It's Almost Midnight, Cinderella

In the minds of many baseball fans around the country, the thought of both the Yankees and Phillies not making it to the World Series is delicious. First, as a country, there is something about our make up that roots for the underdog. And both teams with 3-2 records in the championship seasons were certainly underdogs coming into this post season. The Phillies have been in the last two World Series. The Yankees are the Yankees and the reigning champs. The Rangers and the Giants both improbably took commanding 3-1 series leads. But these two Cinderella teams couldn't put the ugly stepsisters away in Game 5. The clock is getting towards midnight in a hurry.

If the Phillies and Yankees can manage to stay alive and win Game Six in their respective series, Game Seven will be a crap shoot where anything can happen. And let's face it, if only one of the Cinderella teams make it to the World Series, it won't nearly be as good a story. If the Yankees and Phillies can get to a Game Seven, they will have Hamels and Pettitte, two of the most experienced post season pitchers ever.

But the Cinderella teams are still in good shape at the moment. Colby Lewis versus Phil Hughes is pretty much a wash. Lewis allows the Yankees to field their best line up including Berkman batting from his good side. The Rangers love the fastball, which is Phil Hughes' best pitch and they certainly got to Hughes the first time around. The Giants get Oswalt in Game Six. Oswalt is very good, but he is not as good as Hamels or Halladay. Sanchez is the same as Hughes. If he is on, he is lights out. But he has to find the plate regularly to win.

Both the Rangers and the Giants have to win Game Six. Teams like the Phillies and the Yankees are too experienced and have too long a history to risk a Game Seven. All the pressure right now is on the old teams. A Game Seven erases that and puts the pressure on the two Cinderella teams not to blow what was once a promising scenario. Despite top dogs like Lee and Cain ready for that eventuality, again, anything can happen, especially if the teams can get beyond the starters and it becomes a bullpen game.

Just about everyone besides fans in Philly and New York will be thrilled at a World Series that features the Rangers and the Giants. That would truly be the glass slipper event of the season. But these ugly stepsisters aren't going to roll easily and unlike the movie, there is always a possibility for the bad guys to win in the end.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Fan Message to His Fans

Hi Folks, First, this Fan really appreciates your continued visits. And that appreciation necessitates an explanation of a few of the changes you may have noticed to the site. The Flagrant Fan is now a member of the family of blog sites. As such, their widget now appears on the site as well as a well placed link below the heading of this blog. Pretty soon, that network will start using this site for some of their ads. This decision was made for the following two reasons:

1. plays with the big boys and girls of the world when it comes to blog sites. This site has been around since 2003 and though some gains have been made in visit rates, the growth has been fairly static. Part of that is because the Fan hasn't had any affiliations in the past and part of it is that the site is about the MLB in general and not specific to one team. A few months ago, the Fan joined the BBA and that has helped. Joining with should help even more. They are now owned by FoxSports and this kind of exposure can be obvious.

2. Your Flagrant Fan puts a lot of time into this site. There have been almost 600 posts this year alone. Many of the posts are fairly long. That's a lot of work and it's always been done because of the passion the writer has for Major League Baseball. But after a while, a writer has to ask, "What's in this for me?" And that's the point exactly. Yardbarker will put a few bucks here and there into the Fan's pocket and that will certainly help.

The Fan hopes you understand. It is hoped that the ads don't get in your way or take away from your experience here. It is to share with friends that this site has always been about. If you get annoyed, feel free to let the Fan know. It may not change things, but at least you will be heard.

Thank you again for your support and the Fan hopes you will keep coming around for a long, long time.


For an inaugural vote, it wasn’t much of a contest.

Tampa Bay closer Rafael Soriano and San Francisco closer Brian Wilson handily won the Baseball Blogger Alliance’s first-ever Goose Gossage Award, handed out to the best reliever in each league. Soriano and Wilson, besides leading their teams to the postseason, posted numbers that well-distanced themselves from their competition in the minds of the voters.

Soriano, who captured fourteen first place votes in route to an overall total of 94 points, posted a 1.73 ERA and converted 45 saves in 48 chances. Soriano also had a 0.80 WHIP and struck out 57 in 62.1 innings pitched. He easily outdistanced Kansas City reliever Joakim Soria, who received 48 points.

In the National League, Wilson accumulated seventeen first place votes and 104 points overall after his season in which he piled up 48 saves (in 53 chances) with a 1.81 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP. Wilson also struck out 93 in just 74.2 innings. He outpaced San Diego closer Heath Bell, who lagged behind with 52 points.

While the BBA has named all of their post-season awards after greats of the game, Gossage gave his blessing to do so earlier in the year, inspiring the rest of the awards to be renamed as well.

The complete voting results are as follows (first place votes in parenthesis):

American League

Rafael Soriano, Tampa Bay (14) 94

Joakim Soria, Kansas City (4) 48

Mariano Rivera, New York (1) 23

Joaquin Benoit, Tampa Bay (3) 19

Neftali Feliz, Texas 12

Matt Thornton, Chicago (1) 9

Daniel Bard, Boston 1

Jonathan Papelbon, Boston 1

National League

Brian Wilson, San Francisco (17) 104

Heath Bell, San Diego (2) 52

Carlos Marmol, Chicago (5) 41

Billy Wagner, Atlanta 19

Arthur Rhodes, Cincinnati (1) 5

Hong-Chih Kuo, Los Angeles 2

Matt Belisle, Colorado 1

Jonny Venters, Atlanta 1

The Baseball Bloggers Alliance was formed in the fall of 2009 to encourage cooperation and collaboration between baseball bloggers of all major league teams as well as those that follow baseball more generally. As of this writing, the organization consists of 234 blogs spanning all 30 major league squads as well as general baseball writing.

The BBA is organized under a similar structure as the Baseball Writers of America, where blogs that follow the same team are combined into “chapters” and only two votes from the chapter on an award are counted. The blog chapters that are focused on general baseball were allowed two votes as well, which they could use both on the same league or split between the two leagues.

Chapters generally followed one of two methods when casting their ballot. Either representatives of the chapter were given the ballots for voting or a “group ballot” was posted, accounting for both of their votes.

Ballots are posted on the respective blogs and tabulated on a 5-3-1 point scale for first, second and third. In the interest of transparency, links are given below for the ballots. Chapter affiliation is in parenthesis. Those chapters that decided on the group method are noted with an asterisk.

American League

Camden Crazies (Baltimore)*

Boston Red Thoughts (Boston)*

The Tribe Daily (Cleveland)*

Motor City Bengals (Detroit)

Detroit Tigers Scorecard Blog (Detroit)

One Royal Way (Kansas City)*

Twinkie Talk (Minnesota)

Over The Baggy (Minnesota)

Bronx Baseball Daily (New York)*

Contract Year (Oakland)

Jeff’s Mariners Fan Blog (Seattle)

Baseball Is My Boyfriend (Texas)*

The Blue Jay Hunter (Toronto)

Advanced Fantasy Baseball (Fantasy)*

Misc. Baseball (History)*

Victoria Seals Baseball Blog (Other)*

Blogging From The Bleachers (General)*

National League

Prose and Ivy (Chicago)*

Reds Fan Central (Cincinnati)

Marlins Diehards (Florida)

Marlin Maniac (Florida)

Feeling Dodger Blue (Los Angeles)

The Brewers Bar (Milwaukee)*

The Eddie Kranepool Society (New York)*

Dugger’s Corner (Philadelphia)

Raise The Jolly Roger (Pittsburgh)*

RetroSimba (St. Louis)

Fungoes (St. Louis)

Friar Forecast (San Diego)*

22gigantes (San Francisco)*

Advanced Fantasy Baseball (Fantasy)*

Misc. Baseball (History)*

Ron Kaplan’s Baseball Bookshelf (Miscellaneous)*

Victoria Seals Baseball Blog (Other)*

Blogging From The Bleachers (General)*

The official website of the BBA is located at The BBA can be found on Twitter by the handle @baseballblogs and by the hashmark #bbba. Members of the BBA may be heard at Blog Talk Radio every Tuesday night with their call-in show, BBA Baseball Talk, which may also be downloaded as a podcast from iTunes. For more information, contact Daniel Shoptaw at

Note from the Fan: Completely disagree with the NL vote. Should have been Marmol

Cubs Shouldn't Employ Sandberg

Yesterday in this space, it was written that the Cubs did the correct thing in giving Mike Quade the chance to show that the Cubs' record during his interim period was not a fluke. Now there are rumblings that Ryne Sandberg may be given a coaching assignment for the big league team. That would be a huge mistake and completely unfair to Quade. Naturally, Quade was lukewarm to the idea and who could blame him. The absolute last thing a new boss needs is to have the guy he beat out for the job sitting in his own dugout.

This is Business 101 folks. It's called the Glass Ceiling. When a prospect in your business organization rises to his highest possible ceiling and then tries and fails to go to the next level, the only option is to dismiss that candidate. If you don't, you have unhappiness all around.

Sandberg could be a saint about the whole thing and handle it with class and elan. That's been Sandberg's MO for most of his career. But why risk it? Why give Quade that level of discomfort? Why give the fans of Chicago a reason to chant if things don't go well? No, you can't do that to Quade. It would undo all the positives you created with the decision in the first place. And in Business 101, you don't re-employ Sandberg back in the minors either. There is no logical choice but to dismiss him and wish him well.

We all will wish Sandberg well and hope that he gets a chance to manage at the big league level. But we all wish for it in another organization.

Game Picks - Thursday: October 21, 2010

Those of us fortunate enough to stay up late and are not cable customers in NYC got to see about as entertaining a baseball game as you are ever going to see. The game went back and forth all night as both teams gave it their best shot. In the end, the Giants outlasted their opponent and took a huge 3-1 lead in the NLCS. If Lincecum can duplicate his game against the Phillies in a rematch with Halladay, this series could be over without going back to Philadelphia.

And that is exactly what this Fan is going to pick:

- The Giants earned the NL title, ending both the Phillies reign and capping a most improbable season. Lincecum and Halladay are both great and perhaps this becomes a battle of the bullpens. But the Giants win.

Yesterday: 2-0
Month: 39-31
Season: 1366-1046

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Still an Uphill Battle

The New York Yankees stayed alive in the American League Championship Series thanks to some timely hitting by the now-Teixeira-less Yankees and untimely hitting by the Texas Rangers. How untimely? The Rangers accumulated 13 hits, hit into two double plays, had two stolen bases and had another guy picked off. And they still managed to leave eight men on base as a team.

C. C. Sabathia got the win but once again, he has looked far from dominating. Sabathia gave up a homer to the weak hitting Treanor and somehow, despite giving up eleven hits in six innings, only allowed two runs. Yankee fans will call that a gutsy performance. Rangers fans and sabermetric folks will call it a lucky performance. This fan will split the difference and call it a darned lucky, gutsy performance. Series pest, Michael Young hit into a double play in the first inning, and Sabathia later induced Josh Hamilton to hit into another one to end another rally. Later in the game, Sabathia was on the ropes and the Rangers had the bases loaded and a big inning could have gotten the Rangers back in the game, but something strange happened. Well, nothing happened and that was strange.

Again the bases were loaded and it was the sixth inning (Sabathia's last) with one out. Curiously, Ron Washington let Treanor hit for himself. Treanor was only starting because he is C. J. Wilson's personal caddy and yes, Treanor had already hit a homer in the game. But all you have to do is look at Treanor's overall stats to know the homer was a fluke. Washington had to pinch hit for him there. Wilson was already KOed from the game, so there was no reason to keep him in there. Sure, there is an old saw about not pinch hitting for the catcher because if your backup gets hurt, you are stuck. But this is the playoffs! You can't worry about old saws, can you?

But Treanor did bat for himself and weakly tapped out to A-Rod, who gladly traded an out for a run. Moreland then struck out to end the inning. To this observer, that was a huge gaffe by Washington. Somebody had to pinch hit for Treanor in that situation. It was a big break for the Yankees.

They got another big break in the seventh inning which again involved Kerry Wood getting an improbable out due to poor Rangers base running. Andrus ricocheted a hit off of Wood for a lead off single. Wood did his best A. J. Barnett impression and threw a wild pitch (not that Posada is going to block anything) which sent Andrus to second. All Yankee-dom groaned. Not again with the bullpen. But inexplicably, Andrus got all loosey-goosey at second and Wood whirled and threw to Jeter. Andrus was a dead duck as Jeter ran him down. Wood then pitched a brilliant rest of the seventh and eighth to give the ball to Mo. That was huge too.

Rivera gave up another hit to Moreland who likes breaking his bat off of the great reliever because the ball always finds a hole somehow. But that was all as Rivera did his thing in a non-save situation.

And so the Yankees stayed alive. But it doesn't get any more fun from here. They have to face the Rangers in their home park and there is no guarantee in the next game as Hughes gets the ball. We all know what happened last time, so that isn't a pleasant possibility. And if Hughes does happen to win, they get Lee in Game Seven. It's a heck of a long shot, but as long as you aren't dead, you have hope.

It looks like Cruz hurt his hammy again, so it's possible that he could join Teixeira among the missing. This Fan liked seeing Berkman in the game. He gives you all those years of success to fall back on. The Fan can't think of a better guy up when you need a run than Berkman.

The Cubs Do The Right Thing

The heading of this post may come back to haunt this writer if the Cubs fall on their faces in 2011, but if they play like they did under Quade down the stretch, they could contend again for the first time in a while with Quade shedding his interim status. Quade certainly proved the Fan's near daily rants about Lou Piniella being the wrong guy for that team. As soon as they shed their fiery and cantankerous old manager, the team took off under Quade. All the players raved about him and several said he should get the job. The Cubs listened and signed him to a two year contract.

The move, of course, snubs their former Hall of Fame second baseman, Ryne Sandberg, who had paid his dues in the minors and seemed the heir apparent. The decision had to be a huge blow to Sandberg and it is not many teams that would have picked over him in that type of situation. He lost the job to a guy without his pedigree as a fan favorite and a favored son. This observer would bet money that Sandberg will leave the organization to get where he wants to go. And who would blame him?

In effect, the Cubs rewarded a loyal soldier who stepped up when his troops were under heavy fire and got the players to respond and thrive at the end of the season. The team believes that the Cubs at the end of the season were the true picture of the Cubs talent and wanted to go with the guy who started them in the right direction. It absolutely makes sense. The decision may or may not work out, but it was the right decision in a tough spot. That is not a sentence that usually is typed concerning the Cubs in their recent history.

The Cubs will need a lot to go right in 2011. They will need continuing improvement from their young players and their older players need to play to their career standards. That's not asking a lot though and Chicago could have something to root for which all Chicago fans have ever asked for. Good for the Cubs. Good for Quade. Well done.

Game Picks - Wednesday: October 20, 2010

The Texas Rangers are in the cat seat and they deserve to be where they are. They have the world's best player, the world's hottest pitcher and a bunch of other very good players and they have out classed the Yankees at every level. They seem to be the team of destiny this year and good for them. They have the Yankees right where they had the Tampa Bay Rays. Even if the Yankees come back like the Bay Rays did, they still have Cliff Lee at the end. That's a pretty good situation for them.

On the other side of the coin, the surprising Giants have a match up in their favor with Bumgarner versus Blanton. Blanton has pitched well down the stretch, but he's just a middle-of-the-road pitcher. Bumgarner is an up and coming stud whose stuff could shut down the Phillies yet again. Young pitchers like Hughes and Sanchez haven't fared well in the championship series, but Bumgarner seems to be different.

And so...

- The Giants over the Phillies: Bumgarner gets the job done and the Giants score at least three off of Blanton.

- The Yankees over the Rangers: Sabathia gives the Yankees slight hope, but it won't be enough in the end.

Yesterday: 1-1

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Game Picks - Tuesday: October 19, 2010

Another day, another bad pick. To think that the Fan started the playoffs on an 8-0 run. Now the results have gone the other way and bad picks have been the story five of the last six games. It's time to start a new run. The following is what the Fan thinks will happen today, not necessarily what the Fan hopes happens today:

  • The Rangers over the Yankees: The Rangers have out-moxied the Yankees at every turn for the last two days. There is no reason to think it won't happen for another day. Hunter over Burnett.
  • The Phillies over the Giants: Cole Hamels is a big time pitcher. Matt Cain is a good pitcher. The Phillies are a big time offense. The Giants have an okay offense. Enough said.

Yesterday: 0-1

Yankee Wipe Out

In a game that couldn't have gone any worse for the Yankees, Cliff Lee once again dominated the Yankees with an unbelievable display of bravura. He must have a voodoo doll hanging in his locker with the Yankees uniform displayed prominently. How else can you explain all those 90 to 91 MPH fastballs that went right down the heart of the plate that the Yankees either swung through or watched go by harmlessly for strikes? Jeter swung through at least five fastballs down the middle including the third strike of two of his strikeouts. Brent Gardner stood there as three straight hittable fastballs went over the plate without ever swinging. Granderson didn't swing at fastballs over the plate and then swung at curves in the dirt. If the Yankees had any kind of plan in this game against Lee, it was either a lousy plan or executed terribly. Thames was useless. Wouldn't you rather take a chance with Berkman, a proven run producer than Thames? Screw the split stats. Take the veteran. It was the worst game the Yankees have ever had at the plate. Give Lee the credit, but hang a gigantic goat over the entire New York dugout.

Pettitte was brilliant except for a short porch tennis serve by Josh Hamilton in the first inning. Pettitte pitched the kind of game that only the greatest starter in the history of the post season can pitch. But it was all for naught as the Yankees couldn't hit Lee if they had 100 innings. They better sign the guy next year because they certainly can't hit him. Kerry Wood was great in the eighth, but then the Yankee bullpen looked like some kind of slow pitch softball league in the ninth.

At least for the Yankees, they got blown out in a game they never had a chance to win. They face another lefty tomorrow in Wilson and it will be interesting to see if Girardi makes any kind of move. Berkman instead of Thames would be a good place to start. Even Posada at DH would make sense since Cervelli will probably catch Burnett. The Yankees sure don't seem to have much other hope this series. If they lose with Burnett, they are toast.

There was one turning point in the game. Gardner got on first and Lee obviously was bothered by him, so much so that he got in a 2-0 hole with Jeter. Then Lee hung a slider that Jeter should have mashed but didn't. With the count 2-1, Gardner took off and Jeter took a strike right down the middle to let him run. That was huge because Gardner on second didn't bother Lee as much as when he was on first. Lee knew that Gardner couldn't risk stealing third and just bore down and did his usual laser surgery on the helpless Yankees. A hit and run or something would have have had a better chance in that situation.

Again, you have to give Cliff Lee all the props for the game he pitched. But this writer has to think that any other pitcher in the league throws that game and the Yankee heads are in a different place and would have mashed. But the Yankees were helpless and now they are almost hopeless.

Late Edit: Hunter is starting for Texas and not Wilson

Monday, October 18, 2010

Neftali Feliz and Buster Posey Win BBA Rookie Award

The Baseball Bloggers Alliance has announced its annual awards for the best rookies in both leagues and this writer would be surprised if the baseball writers follow the same pattern. For the second year in a row, a closer is going to win the award in the American League. Buster Posey won in the NL, which is an understandable choice over Jason Heyward...understandable but not without controversy. But let's focus on the AL award for now. As the Fan was saying, this is the second year in a row that a closer won the award. And you can try to convince the Fan all you want that this is the correct choice. But it's not. It wasn't last year and it isn't this year. For the same reasons a closer should never win the Cy Young Award or the BBA equivalent, a closer should never beat out a position player or a starting pitcher for this kind of an award. The body of work just doesn't cut it. Here's how.

First, Feliz pitched a grand total of 69.1 innings. It doesn't matter how many guys he struck out or how many saves he recorded, he still only pitched 69.1 innings or roughly 4.8% of his team's total innings. His WAR or Wins Above Replacement came to 2.4. Compare that to Brian Matusz as just one example. Matusz pitched 175.2 innings or roughly 12% of his team's total. His WAR was 3.1. How about Danny Valencia? The Twins' third baseman only played half a season, but managed to get in 709 innings or 45% of his team's innings. He had a 2.5 WAR. And the Fan hasn't even gotten to the big guys yet. Austin Jackson, everyone's favorite before he cooled off a little, played in 1256 innings or 86% of his team's innings and he recorded a 2.5 WAR. His offensive WAR was 2.9 and he got dinged -0.4 points for his defense (which is questionable in this writer's mind). All of those guys had a higher Wins Above Replacement than Feliz.

Yes, Neftali Feliz had a wonderful rookie campaign just like Andrew Bailey did the year before. But those years weren't the most valuable among their rookie peers. They couldn't be. The difference between a closer and either a starting pitcher and an everyday player is the difference between a Hershey's Kiss and a bowl full of chocolate butter-frosting. That's just the way it is. But it isn't. Because people still get overly impressed with closers.

Here is the press release via BBA:


The battle for the Willie Mays Award, given by the Baseball Bloggers Alliance to the top rookie in each division, turned out to be a two-man affair in both leagues, with Texas Rangers closer Neftali Feliz and San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey finishing solidly ahead of their closest competition, Detroit Tigers outfielder Austin Jackson and Atlanta Braves outfielder Jason Heyward, respectively.

Feliz posted a 2.73 ERA and a 0.88 WHIP while tallying 40 saves and helping Texas into the postseason for the first time since 1999. Feliz only blew three save opportunities while fashioning a 3.94 strikeout to walk ratio.

Feliz garnered eighteen first-place votes and 102 points overall, finishing 22 points ahead of Jackson, who received six nods at the top of the ballot.

Posey did not begin the season in the major leagues, but did so much with his time in San Francisco that voters selected him as the National League’s top rookie. Posey hit .305 and slugged .505 in just 108 games, tallying 18 home runs and 67 RBI after his callup at the end of May. Posey’s offense helped San Francisco make up ground and eventually pass San Diego for the divisional crown.

Posey received 103 total points, including fifteen first-place selections, to outpace Heyward by 17 points. Heyward received ten first-place votes for his work in helping Atlanta secure the National League Wild Card.

The complete voting results are as follows (first place votes in parenthesis):

American League

Neftali Feliz, Texas (18) 102

Austin Jackson, Detroit (6) 78

Danny Valencia, Minnesota 16

Brian Matusz, Baltimore (1) 12

Brennan Boesch, Detroit 11

Wade Davis, Tampa Bay 3

John Jaso, Tampa Bay 3

National League

Buster Posey, San Francisco (15) 103

Jason Heyward, Atlanta (10) 86

Jaime Garcia, St. Louis 20

Starlin Castro, Chicago 7

Ike Davis, New York 7

Gaby Sanchez, Florida (1) 6

Tyler Colvin, Chicago 2

Mike Stanton, Florida 2

Neil Walker, Pittsburgh 2

The Baseball Bloggers Alliance was formed in the fall of 2009 to encourage cooperation and collaboration between baseball bloggers of all major league teams as well as those that follow baseball more generally. As of this writing, the organization consists of 233blogs spanning all 30 major league squads as well as general baseball writing.

The BBA is organized under a similar structure as the Baseball Writers of America, where blogs that follow the same team are combined into “chapters” and only two votes from the chapter on an award are counted. The blog chapters that are focused on general baseball were allowed two votes as well, which they could use both on the same league or split between the two leagues.

Chapters generally followed one of two methods when casting their ballot. Either representatives of the chapter were given the ballots for voting or a “group ballot” was posted, accounting for both of their votes.

Ballots are posted on the respective blogs and tabulated on a 5-3-1 point scale for first, second and third. In the interest of transparency, links are given below for the ballots. Chapter affiliation is in parenthesis. Those chapters that decided on the group method are noted with an asterisk.

American League

Camden Crazies (Baltimore)*

Boston Red Thoughts (Boston)*

The Tribe Daily (Cleveland)*

Detroit Tigers Scorecard (Detroit)

Switch Hitting Pitchers (Detroit)

One Royal Way (Kansas City)

Seth Speaks (Minnesota)

Twins Target (Minnesota)

Bronx Baseball Daily (New York)*

Contract Year (Oakland)

Rise of the Rays (Tampa Bay)

Tampa Bay Rays News (Tampa Bay)

Baseball Is My Boyfriend (Texas)*

The Blue Jay Hunter (Toronto)

500 Level Fan (Toronto)

Advanced Fantasy Baseball (Fantasy)*

Misc. Baseball (History)*

Victoria Seals Baseball Blog (Other)*

Blogging From The Bleachers (General)*

National League

Prose and Ivy (Chicago)*

Cincinnati Reds Blog (Cincinnati)

Marlin Maniac (Florida)

Marlins Diehards (Florida)

Feeling Dodger Blue (Los Angeles)

Bernie’s Crew (Milwaukee)*

Brewers Bar (Milwaukee)*

The Eddie Kranepool Society (New York)*

Dugger’s Corner (Philadelphia)

Phighting On (Philadelphia)

Where Have You Gone, Andy Van Slyke? (Pittsburgh)*

i70 Baseball (St. Louis)

Pitchers Hit Eighth (St. Louis)

Friar Forecast (San Diego)*

22gigantes (San Francisco)*

Advanced Fantasy Baseball (Fantasy)*

Misc. Baseball (History)*

Victoria Seals Baseball Blog (Other)*

Blogging From The Bleachers (General)*

Ron Kaplan’s Baseball Bookshelf (Miscellaneous)*

Ballots that were unofficial or helped make up their chapter ballot:

Bottom Line Sox (Boston)

Raise the Jolly Roger (Pittsburgh)

The Crazy Crabbers (San Francisco)

Stan Musial’s Stance (St. Louis--unofficial)

Prior Winners

2009: Andrew Bailey, Oakland; Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh

The official website of the BBA is located at The BBA can be found on Twitter by the handle @baseballblogs and by the hashmark #bbba. Members of the BBA may be heard at Blog Talk Radio every Tuesday night with their call-in show, BBA Baseball Talk, which may also be downloaded as a podcast from iTunes. For more information, contact Daniel Shoptaw at

Game Picks - Monday: October 18, 2010

Picking the Phillies to lose two in a row at their home place was stupid. Expecting a young stud pitcher to shut them down was stupid. Picking against Roy Oswalt, who forced this move to a contender just so he could have a game like Sunday's was stupid. Guilty as charged. The Fan committed the cardinal sin of picking, and that is getting swept up in a moment. Baseball isn't like other sports where momentum matters much in the playoffs. Yeah, a team can get a big win, but tomorrow is another game and the score starts out 0-0. The Phillies have been to too many of these rodeos to cave to a game like Game 1. Stupid.

Now for Monday's game:

- The Yankees over the Rangers: Yes, Cliff Lee is pitching. Yes, he is perfect so far in post season play. But he is not going against Hughes or Burnett or even Sabathia. He is going against Andy Pettitte. Yes, Pettitte is 38 years old. Yes, Cliff Lee is better than Andy Pettitte. But Andy Pettitte will not panic. He will not get rattled. Andy Pettitte will hold base runners closer. Andy Pettite has won 19 post season games. If he can hold the Rangers to a run or two, he'll win his 20th tonight.

Yesterday: 0-1
Week: 0-1
Month: 36-29
Season: 1363-1044

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Game Picks - Sunday: October 17, 2010

This picker took it on the chin yesterday and rightly so. The Texas Rangers told the world they should not be underestimated and the Giants' power arms might just cancel out the Phillies' big three. Now, unlike the easy to predict division series, the championship series could go either way. The ALCS is a 50/50 proposition right now and this Fan personally thinks that if the Phillies don't beat Sanchez today, they could be in a real bad position.

Today's one pick:

- The Giants over the Phillies: Sanchez should overpower the Phillies and the Giants get just enough offense on Oswalt to win the game.

Yesterday: 0-2
Last week: 4-4
Month: 36-28
Season: 1363-1043