Saturday, April 09, 2011

Losing Manny is Our Loss

For those of us that thought the Bay Rays' signing of Manny Ramirez was brilliant, we're looking pretty stupid today, no? The announcement was shocking and stark and for many, it was a day of victory. There will be no moralizing here. There are enough writers who probably cheat on their taxes that will salivate over this story and lace their articles with sarcasm concerning the slugger's "slinking" from the game. No, there are no judgments here. For one, what will Manny care with what one more writer says? He's got eighteen seasons in of doing what he loved to do. He has two World Series rings, twenty-nine post season homers and he made well over $200 million for his career. What will he care? So go ahead, moralist writers. Knock yourselves out. Have fun. You've been waiting for this moment. For those of us who love to follow baseball and to watch it, this day is a huge loss.

Why? Because for better or worse--and we usually got equal doses of both--Manny Ramirez was the most entertaining player of our era. He was a lightning bolt of either hate or love, antipathy or adoration. His swing was the most vicious we've ever witnessed. His smarts as a batter unquestioned. And this Fan doesn't care what he put into his body. There is nothing he could ingest that would make him that talented. Yeah, it could make him stronger and it could make him recover from ailments, but it couldn't help him hit a hurtling fastball or a wicked curve. There was art to his at bats and those are now gone forever.

He was our baseball clown. His adventures in the outfield only compounded the thrill of any game in which he participated. His dreads were an added dimension unlike any other player in the game. For most of his career, you didn't want to be gone to the bathroom, concession stand or kitchen when Manny was coming to the plate. His were the most anticipated at bats of the day. His presence in the Red Sox line up made David Ortiz Big Papi. Both now are clouded with the same PED questions. But while it lasted, those two sluggers back to back made all those Yankee-Red Sox match ups more fun than at any time in the rivalry's history. He brought the Indians to the World Series twice. Where have those Indians been since?

He was a unique talent and a magician with the bat we won't soon see again. He has Hall of Fame numbers, but will never see the inside of the Hall. No, the writers who have the votes in this day and age are too busy being our Puritans. Their white-washed sepulchers will continue to hide their inner selves. Manny Ramirez was no saint and he will never be pictured in this space as such. He was a man-child prone to tantrums and emotional roller-coasters. He never stayed happy for long and his play suffered when he wanted more money. Those facts are all well documented.

But this Fan never worshiped Manny Ramirez. It was simply a blast to see what the heck he would do on any given day. There are no judgments here. There is only a bit of grief that the story is over. The most entertaining player of our era is gone. We are the ones who lose here. But it sure was fun while it lasted.

Game Picks - Saturday: April 9, 2010

For Pete's sake! How can you correctly pick the Red Sox first win, the Bay Rays first win, the Braves over the Phillies and Cliff Lee, and the Blue Jays over the Athletics and still only end up a game over .500 for the day? It has been an incredibly difficult assignment to have any kind of success picking games thus far this season. Take the Game of the Day feature for example. That's supposed to be the slam dunk pick. That's the pick that should be the easiest to get right based on match ups and other factors. Yet, that feature is on a four day losing streak. This picker has become the Houston Astros of picking. Ugh! To top it off, one game was suspended in the ninth inning and the other was rained out.

So let's try this again, shall we? The Fan needs a huge day just to avoid finishing in the red for this week. For better or worse, here are Saturday's picks:

  • The Yankees over the Red Sox: Buchholz doesn't have a good history versus the Yankees. Nova is pitching with a lot of confidence. The bullpens will get lots of play in this game. Yankees.
  • The Braves over the Phillies: Life is just Beachy for the Braves today as they face Roy Oswalt. Beachy has a good history against the Phillies and started the year very well. 
  • The Royals over the Tigers: Funny how these picks are shaping up. First, this picker thinks what should happen and then has to also wonder what will happen. The Royals start Chen who should throw beach balls to the eyes of the Tigers. (eyes of the Tigers? heh). But the Tigers start Phil Coke. hmm.. Royals.
  • The Orioles split with the Tigers: The Orioles under Britton win the first game and the Rangers win the second game with Harrison over Arrieta, who should get smacked around by the Rangers. The second game will probably end about one o'clock in the morning.
  • The Pirates over the Rockies: Greg Reynolds is making his first major league start since 2008. That was three years ago! The Pirates start Morton, who could succeed after both teams played for six hours last night.
  • The Astros over the Marlins: How do you pick this game!? The Marlins will probably not have Hanley Ramirez in the line up and both Vazquez and Norris looked like batting practice pitchers their first outings. Good luck.
  • The Brewers over the Cubs: This Fan likes Narveson's chances over Garza at home. Braun and Fielder should provide homers off of the homer-prone Garza.
  • The Athletics over the Twins: Gio Gonzalez is great. Blackburn has had a good spring. The A's are due for a win.
  • The Mets over the Nationals: The Fan lauded the Mets' signing of Capuano, so has to support him in his first start of the year. The Nationals counter with Gorzelanny, who can be pretty good at times. Man, this is tough.
  • The Reds over the Diamondbacks: The D-backs are playing pretty good ball and Drew is back. But Arroyo won last time out despite being weak from mono. Got to go with someone that determined.
  • The Dodgers over the Padres: The two teams will first finish their suspended game which could change yesterday's results. Then the main event takes place with Kuroda out-pitching Moseley.
  • The Indians over the Mariners: The Indians won't have another ten run inning, but they should score enough off Fister (one of the more unfortunate names in baseball) to allow Masterson to drive the Mariners into ground ball heaven.
  • The Giants over the Cardinals: A fantastic pitching match up with Cain versus Jaime Garcia. Garcia pitched a shutout last time out. But the Cardinals aren't hitting. So the Giants should eke out a win.

And the Game of the Day (ugh! Come on feature! Snap out of it!)

  • The Blue Jays over the Angels: The Angels put Kazmir on the disabled list with a sore back (suuuure). Matt Palmer was just as bad in his earlier incarnations in the majors. Cecil with the win.

Yesterday: 7-6 pending the outcome of the Dodger/Padres game
Week: 33-37  [[hanging head]]
Month: 51-50
Season: 51-50
Games of the Day: 3-6

Friday, April 08, 2011

A Real Early Look at Fielding in MLB

A few days ago, there was a post in this space on how it appeared (at least early on) that offense had returned from a down year in 2010. One of the observations on how the error rate was up provoked a comment (thank you!) about fielding this year and how it appeared to be suffering around the league. Being of the curious sort anyway, a look was made to see how accurate that statement was. Again, it's early, but so far, it seems that fielding around baseball is pretty much the same as last year.

Last year, the accumulated MLB league average for fielding percentage was .983. So far this year, the league average is .983 (numbers culled from So nothing has changed there. Last year, the league average for defensive efficiency was .691. This year, the league average for fielding efficiency is .693. That shows a small increase in fielding efficiency in 2011's smaller sample size than what occurred a year ago. Fangraphs doesn't have their 2011 UZR or RngR posted yet, so we'll have to go with that.

A couple of interesting notes while looking at the early stats:

  • The Orioles rate on the top of the list so far this year in defensive efficiency after finishing slightly below league average last year.
  • The Yankees and Athletics came in second and third (respectively) in defensive efficiency last year. This year, the Yankees are in the middle of the pack and the Athletics are below average.
  • The Cardinals are pretty much where they were last year and perhaps a little better. That's a surprise.
  • The Mets are at the bottom of the list in fielding efficiency. The Astros are next to last.
  • Neither Chicago team is fielding very well as they rank 27th and 28th in the league in defensive efficiency.
  • You can't blame Boston's slow start to its defense. They are first in fielding percentage and sixth in efficiency.
  • The Giants' fielding efficiency was .707 last year. It's down to .669 this year.

Again, it's very early, but it may seem that the defense isn't as good around baseball as it was last year. But the numbers say otherwise.

The Swisher Slide: A Non-Controversy and Rebuttal

An unfortunate accident happened during the game between the Twins and the Yankees. The Twins spent a lot of money to bring over a Japanese player named, Tsuyoshi Nishioka, and yesterday, that player broke his leg. The injury was the result of Nick Swisher sliding into second base to try to break up a double play. This writer was watching the game on the MLB Network when the incident occurred and it was just like a thousand other plays the Fan has seen in over fifty years of watching baseball. The only thing odd about the play is that most infielders jump to avoid the runner. Nishioka just stood there and got hit hard in the legs. The decision and technique would cost him most of his first season.

Dave Gershman, a writer over at Beyond the Box Score much admired here, called the slide by Swisher "dirty." Based on what? If the play was dirty, wouldn't the Twins' players have been upset? Wouldn't Nishioki have been upset? Wouldn't his manager have been upset? According to this article in the New York Times, Nishioki said himself that he should have gotten out of the way. Twins' manager, Ron Gardenhire, said it was a clean play. And if players and managers who have played the game their whole lives had nothing bad to say about the play, why would Gershman?

Mr. Gershman goes on to wonder why fans, media and the like called the play clean. Because it was. It wasn't any different than a thousand other slides into second base to try to break up a double play. Swisher wasn't Ty Cobb with his spikes flying into the player. It was Swisher's job to try to disrupt the relay throw just like it is for every other base runner in that same situation.

Gershman then goes on to wonder if the reaction would have been different if the person who broke his leg was Jeter. What does that mean? First, is he implying that since it was a Japanese player, there was no reaction? Or is the writer implying that the Yankees get special treatment by the press and by fans? If either of those thoughts were on the great writer's mind, they are baseless.

Let's take this back to last year on a similar play where the base runner got hurt instead of the fielder. Justin Morneau was barreling into second trying to claim the same bag Swisher was. The fielder jumped, as most fielders do and in the process, his knee hit Morneau in the head and gave Morneau a concussion that knocked the Twins' first baseman out of the rest of the season. Since Morneau got hurt, then using Mr. Gershman's reasoning, it must have been a dirty play by the fielder.

Base runners trying to take out the middle infielder or catcher (on a bang, bang play at the plate) are part of the game. It is expected of the base runners to try to disrupt the fielder to save an out and prolong the inning. It's been that way for over a hundred years. We don't need rule changes and we don't need to call these plays dirty when they aren't. These plays happen all the time and in most cases, both the runner and the fielder walk away without incident. Unfortunately, this time one of the players didn't. Mr. Gershman wondered whether Swisher was trying to hurt Nishioka. Not a chance. That never entered his mind. All that was on his mind was disrupting the play so that the runner behind him would be safe. That is baseball.

Game Picks - Friday: April 8, 2011

The wacky world of this early baseball season continues to confound the daily game picks. Yesterday, with Lester and Price pitching, both the Red Sox and Bay Rays figured to end their losing streaks. They both lost. Josh Johnson was again brilliant as predicted, but the Marlins kicked the ball around to the tune of three unearned runs and wasted his effort. Paul Maholm fell apart after a first great start and the Pirates lost. Well, at least the Astros DID break their losing streak.

There are only two days left in this week and the picks have to be good to at least break even this week!

  • The Red Sox over the Yankees: Several factors point to a Red Sox win. First, they are finally home with their opener this afternoon. Two, they usually hit Phil Hughes pretty well and lastly, they are simply due for a win. Lackey goes for the Red Sox.
  • The Tigers over the Royals: The Tigers also have their home opener today. Scherzer over Davies. Scherzer will have to be on his game though as the Tigers' bullpen is a mess.
  • The Twins over the Athletics: The Twins open at home with Carl Pavano. The Athletics are struggling offensively and won't give Anderson enough runs to work with.
  • The Mets over the Nationals: Zimmerman has been quiet so far, which doesn't help Zimmermann, who pitched well his first time out but still got the loss. R. A. Dickey still continues to confound oppositions.
  • The Cardinals over the Giants: Both teams have struggled out of the gate. Going with Westbrook over Sanchez, but not overly filled with confidence as the Giants are home.
  • The Rockies over the Pirates: Ohlendorf pitched pretty well his first start, but he can't seem to get wins. De La Rosa looks fabulous early this season.
  • The Astros over the Marlins: The Marlins have to be the most unpredictable team on the planet. Nolasco starts in Houston against Wandy Rodriguez. Wandy's always been the Fan's man.
  • The Orioles over the Rangers: The Rangers are due for a loss. Colby Lewis has a career ERA against the Orioles of over 6.00. Britton is a young lefty that should shut down the Rangers' attack.
  • The Braves over the Phillies: Great pitching match up of Cliff Lee versus Tim Hudson. Going with Hudson at home.
  • The Cubs over the Brewers: Zambrano wasn't exactly sharp his first time out. But neither was Wolf. Going with Zambrano and the Cubs.
  • The Rays over the White Sox: The Fan doesn't have any choice but to keep picking the Bay Rays until they win. Shields looks much better this year. He wins over Danks in Chicago.
  • The Reds over the Diamondbacks: Have to go with Wood over Kennedy. Though the Red have to lose some time this year.
  • The Dodgers over the Padres: The pitching match up seems even with Lilly versus Richard. Going with the Dodgers' better offense in San Diego.
  • The Blue Jays over the Angels: Riding the Drabek wave and Jose Bautista should be back in the line up tonight. Santana goes for the Angels at home.

And the Game of the Day

  • The Mariners over the Indians: The Indians had to travel yesterday across the country for the game. Carrasco offers no inspiration and Vargas is a good pitcher for the Mariners.

Yesterday: 4-5
Week: 26-31
Month: 44-44
Season: 44-44
Games of the Day: 3-5

Thursday, April 07, 2011

One Troubling Statistic for the Orioles

After yesterday's post about not getting all excited about early results for teams and batters, this post is going to seem a bit contradictory. So let's just call this a trend to watch for and not something to get excited about. Fair? Okay. One statistic that is troubling for the fast start of the Baltimore Orioles is the team's total lack of patience at the plate. The team is off to a fast start in large part because of their pitching and run prevention. As a team, they are only batting .217. But you don't worry about that because the team will hit. Heck, the Red Sox are batting .190 as a team. You can't get all hysterical over that. But the Orioles walk rate is troubling to say the least.

As a team, the Orioles have only walked eight times in 170 plate appearances. That works out to a 4.7 percent walk rate overall. That's like having Bengie Molina playing every position. The figure is nearly half of the 8.4 percent league average. They have the fewest walks in the majors so far. The league average was 8.5 last year. A team's batting is still a small sample size at the moment and there are all kinds of factors involved in the results. But walks are a more controllable issue and the low walk total, even in such a small sample size, shows an approach trend that doesn't favor the Orioles' long term success.

What makes it even more troubling is that the Orioles have had this problem for a while. Last year, only the Astros walked fewer times than the Orioles (the Astros are still weak in the area and have one more team walk than the Orioles). And while the Orioles have some new players in the line up this year with Mark Reynolds, J. J. Hardy and Vladimir Guerrero, nothing has really changed from a year ago.

If anything, those players should have helped the situation, but that's not how it's working so far. Mark Reynolds, who is well known for his strikeouts, also walks a lot. He hasn't taken a single walk yet this year. Vladimir Guerrero at times in his career looked like a more patient hitter, but those numbers are deceiving because he was walked intentionally so much in his younger career. Guerrero only walked 35 times last year. He hasn't taken a walk yet this year either. J. J. Hardy has a walk rate over 12 percent currently, so you can't blame him.

The Orioles have only used ten different batters so far this year. Of those ten, five of them have yet to take a walk: Felix Pie, Reynolds, Adam Jones, Vlad and Luke Scott. Pie has never been known for his patience and has a .305 lifetime on base percentage. Adam Jones walked only 23 times last year in 621 plate appearances. So history isn't on the side of him improving in that area. Luke Scott usually walks about ten percent of the time but he has been hurt and has only been to the plate seven times.

Much has been made about the Orioles having the kind of hitting that can compete in the American League East this season. But that assessment has been mistaken. The Bay Rays, Yankees and Red Sox will all walk somewhere in the area of nine percent of the time. The Orioles will fall far short of that by not only their current trend but by the history of their players.

The bottom line here, at least for this observer is that the Orioles might pitch like the big boys, perhaps even hit with the big boys, but if they can't walk like the big boys, they won't stay with the big boys.

Game Picks - Thursday: April 7, 2011

What does this feature have in common with the Bay Rays and Red Sox? All three started 0-5. Then it was 1-6. By the time the dust had settled, the day finished at 6-8 (Yanks were rained out). Geez Louise, this has been tough sledding early on. Things are especially difficult when winning streaks and losing streaks are taking place and one has to pick when those events will end. After all, even the best teams will lose thirty percent of the time and the worst teams will win the same percentage.

Surprisingly for a Thursday, there are ten games on the schedule. Most of them are day games, so we should know soon enough whether these picks can get on track and pull this week out. Here's a look at today's picks:

  • The Red Sox over the Indians: Jon Lester ends the misery ride of the Red Sox and out pitches Carmona. This game starts at 12:05 ET! And it's not even Patriots Day.
  • The Astros over the Reds: Myers should give up less runs than Sam LeCure, who hasn't been built up to start and might pitch only three or four innings.
  • The Blue Jays over the Athletics: The Blue Jays have kept winning despite Bautista taking care of personal business and now their shortstop got hit in the head. But Romero will still beat Cahill.
  • The Yankees over the Twins: Burnett starts to make believers while Liriano is still trying to get untracked and get out of Gardenhire's inexplicable doghouse.
  • The Pirates over the Rockies: Maholm was very good his first time out, The Rockies have to play on the road for the first time and counter with Rogers making his starting debut. None of that seems to add up to a win for the Rockies.
  • The Bay Rays over the White Sox: David Price lifts the Bay Rays on his shoulders and shuts down the Dunn-less White Sox. The Bay Rays win their first game.
  • The Orioles over the Tigers: The Orioles should jump all over Brad Penny giving them enough runs for whatever Tillman does or how many homers Cabrera hits.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Marlins over the Nationals: Josh Johnson versus John Lannan is a mismatch. Johnson has never lost to the Nationals in seven career decisions against them.

Yesterday: 6-8
Week: 22-26
Month: 40-39
Season: 40-39
Games of the Day: 3-4

Emotional Reactions to First Week in the Age of Social Media

Whether teams realize it or not, team blogs and Facebook groups and Twitter fans need to become a part of every team's marketing plan. The most dynamic and popular of the team sites should be given team credentials. This is a great opportunity for teams to build fan interest that is of itself a dollars and cents issue. But the same social media that has exploded around us also makes things difficult for teams when they don't start well. It used to be that every city had two or three newspaper outlets and a few television stations to worry about. Those outlets couldn't produce opinion until the following day after a game or at best, a short spot on the eleven o'clock news. Now there are thousands of bloggers and tweeters that can drive things into a frenzy in a matter of moments. Every play is scrutinized, every manager decision second-guessed and every writer is looking for angle and another member of the audience. And then it all gets scrutinized on the MLB Network twenty-four hours a day.

That can make it crushing when teams like the Red Sox, the Cardinals, the Bay Rays and other teams that were expected to do well stumble out of the gate. Tony LaRussa blew up at his post game news conference on Wednesday night. There is already a major squawk about New York Yankees' reliever, Rafael Soriano, not being available to answer questions after he blew the Yankees win on Tuesday. Madden already feels the need to protect Manny Ramirez.

While scanning Twitter on Wednesday night, even Jon Heyman, supposedly a respected journalist for Sports Illustrated, gets caught up in the immediacy of social media and says things like the Red Sox pre-season hype went to their heads. The age we live in has brought about such immediacy that every game of a 162 game season becomes a do or die event.

How can people already be writing off the Boston Red Sox? Again, this age we live in allows baseball people the ability to look stuff up immediately such as that no team that has started 0-5 has ever made the playoffs. After five games, is that really a reality just because it's never happened before? It's only five games. Sure, a part of our human nature is to have some glee when a team goes out and tries to buy a pennant only to start on their caboose, but come on! The Red Sox weren't supposed to beat the Yankees in 2004 when they were down three games to zip either. That's why you play the games. It isn't what happens after five games, it's what happens after 162.

After picking up a lot of friends who follow the St. Louis Cardinals, it's wryly amusing to see how flustered they are by the lack of Cardinal offense. Albert Pujols has a ten year history to look at, not just six games. Is he going to be batting under .100 a week from now, never mind a month or two from now? It's just a few games! Of course, Tony LaRussa's reaction was a little over the top. He's got to know the age we live in. Heck, he's on Twitter himself. But the man has a point. How can people be questioning the offensive make up of his team after just six games?

The Giants were in fourth place last year on July 15th. They won the whole kitten caboodle. So why then is there such panic with a 2-4 start? They have some of the best pitching in baseball. Six games tell us nothing, especially in a division where nobody is going to run away and hide.

All of this emotional roller-coasting is one reason why this space has been avoiding stories on players having good starts or bad starts. Those stories would sound blindingly stupid by August when the landscape will be completely different. As a passionate fan, it would be easy to get all excited or worried about players based on their results out of the gate. But history has to temper the immediate reactions. Sure, maybe we can start to look at trends. Sure, we can begin to wonder if the Rangers and Reds are going to be the best teams in their respective leagues. But both teams can just as easily lose five games in a row next week. If they start like the Tigers did in 1984, well then that's pretty interesting. But even those Tigers stumbled in the second half and limped into the playoffs. They won a hundred plus games, but they didn't set any records or anything.

The rational thing to do is to keep reminding yourself that it's still early. Baseball has entertainment value over the course of a long season and at most, results at this time of year should be looked on with interest and amusement. But to make bold statements or to get hopes up too high or down too low is premature. And teams need to simply smile when faced with stupid questions based on such small sample sizes. Let's just watch and see what happens, shall we?

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Game Picks - Wednesday: April 6, 2011

Several good things happened with yesterday's picks. Gallardo was brilliant for the Brewers. The Mets beat the Phillies as predicted here. The Padres got the win over the Giants. But just as many things went wrong. Soriano blew a four run lead and ruined a brilliant Sabathia start to ruin the Yankees. The Red Sox lost again. The Royals keep winning. The Bay Rays keep losing. Times are confusing and a .500 record with the picks is the result.

Let's see if Wednesday's games can break open the logjam:

  • The Bay Rays over the Angels: Haran pitched really well his first time out but so did Hellickson. Going with the Bay Rays at home as they are due for a win.
  • The Cardinals over the Pirates: It's always difficult to pick against Mr. Carpenter, especially when opposed by Mr. Correia.
  • The Mariners over the Rangers: King Felix over the king of Twitter, C. J. Wilson.
  • The Royals over the White Sox: Going to ride this Royals' wave for a little while. Francis was very good his first outing and should be better than Buehrle.
  • The Cubs over the Diamondbacks: Dempster started poorly last time, but he should bounce back and beat Galarraga.
  • The Dodgers over the Rockies: Yeah, this pick was wrong yesterday, but Billingsley should be better than Hammel.
  • The Giants over the Padres: Love what we're seeing from the Padres, but they face Lincecum today and offer only Stauffer.
  • The Red Sox over the Indians: Isn't it ironic that Matsuzaka is going to get the Red Sox first win? Talbot starts for the Indians, hence this pick.
  • The Tigers over the Orioles: Verlander will strike out ten batters while putting the Orioles' winning streak to pasture. Bergesen goes for the Orioles.
  • The Yankees over the Twins: Pavano always pitches tough against the Yankees, but they got lucky last night and the Yankees somehow get a win with Garcia starting.
  • The Phillies over the Mets: Blanton had a very good spring. Pelfrey got whacked around in his first start. More of the same today.
  • The Blue Jays over the Athletics: The Blue Jays have something going on up there in Toronto. The fans are excited and it's making a difference. Litsch versus Braden.
  • The Reds over the Astros: This picker is going to be completely wrong about the NL Central. The Reds look unbeatable. Volquez over Figueroa.
  • The Marlins over the Nationals: Volstad comes up big and the Marlins get enough runs to beat Livan.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Braves over the Brewers: Minor goes for the Braves. The Brewers haven't even announced their starting pitcher yet. That can't be good.

Yesterday: 7-7
Week: 16-18
Month: 34-31
Season: 34-31
Games of the Day: 3-3

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

The Seven Worst Starting Pitchers Ever

Several teams including the Red Sox and Tigers have really struggled out of the gate with their starting pitching. And since it's way too early to make anything of that fact, it did get this writer thinking about starting pitching and how bad it can get. This led to a Play Index search on and the following criteria was used:

  • More than 200 career starts
  • An ERA+ of 90 or less
  • An ERA above 4.90

Once that list was obtained, the search came up with seven starting pitchers. The Fan then separated those seven by WAR to get a ranking of those seven. Now to be sure, the Fan isn't sure if this is the proper criteria for making this list. For one, all seven of the pitchers found pitched from 1993 on. Does that mean that our current era has produced some of the worst starting pitchers of all time? Hmm... The Fan doesn't know. If the criteria is only 200 or more career starts and an ERA over 5.00, then we still get all modern pitchers (six of them). If we just search for 200 or more career starts and an ERA+ of less than or equal to 85, then we only get four pitchers and we finally get a guy from before our present times. We'll talk about him later.

Why 200 starts? Well, anyone can be bad enough for a short enough period of time to qualify for such a list. But 200 starts means that a guy was really bad, but managed to be really bad for a long period of time. You figure 200 starts is about seven full seasons of pitching, right? But feel free to do your own search and come up with your own list. We can compare numbers and come to a conclusion together. That would be kind of fun, wouldn't it?

Anyway, here are the Flagrant Fan's seven worst pitchers ever.

7. Sidney Ponson.  Ponson started 278 games in 298 total appearances over his twelve year career that ended in 2009. He pitched for the Orioles, Yankees, Royals, Twins, Giants, Cardinals and Rangers. His final record was 91-113 with a career 5.03 ERA and a career ERA+ of 90. He had two good years in 2002 and 2003 which skew his statistics some and gave him the highest career WAR on our list (9.3). But after 2003, he was brutal. After 2003, he never had a WHIP lower than 1.60. he gave up 10.1 hits per nine innings for his career, 3.1 walks, 1.1 homers per nine innings and had a career 1.69 strikeout to walk ratio. During his entire career, all you ever heard was that Ponson had a great arm. Despite some early success, that great arm never led to good starting pitching.

6. Jason Johnson. Johnson pitched eleven years starting in 1997 and he was done by 2008. He pitched for the Orioles, Devil Rays, Tigers, Pirates, Red Sox, Dodgers, Reds and Indians. Yeah, these guys moved around a lot. Johnson made 221 career starts out of his 255 career appearances. He had a career record of 56-100 with an ERA of 4.99 and an ERA+ of 89. Those numbers are despite two slightly above league average seasons for the Orioles. His career WHIP was 1.488, he gave up 1.2 homers per nine innings and over ten hits per nine. He had a 1.63 strikeout to walk ratio. Despite several seasons with more than 30 starts, he never won more than ten games in a season.  He did somehow manage to build a career WAR of 4.9 mostly because of those two decent seasons.

5. Jose Lima. You knew this was coming, didn't you? Lima had a 21 win season and a 16 win season, but he was so bad in just about every other season that his career numbers were off the charts. Lima made 238 starts out of a career 348 appearances covering parts of 13 seasons. He pitched for the Astros, Tigers, Royals, Mets and Dodgers. His career home runs per nine innings was a whopping 1.5 and he gave up over ten hits per nine innings. His career ERA was 5.26 and his career ERA+ was 85. When Lima-time was good, it was a lot of fun. When it was bad, it was really, really bad.

4. Glendon Rusch. Rusch finished with the same career WAR of 3.2 as Lima, so you can probably call that a tie. Rusch pitched for the Royals, Cubs, Mets, Rockies, Brewers and Padres. He had two pretty good seasons, one with the Mets and another with the Cubs. But the rest were pretty bad. He started 220 games in his 342 appearances and finished with a career record of 67-99 with a 5.04 ERA and an ERA+ of 88. Like Lima, Rusch gave up a lot of homers and a lot of hits with his career WHIP of 1.484. He had pretty good control and not a bad strikeout rate, but they never added up to success. Six of his twelve season resulted in a negative WAR for the season.

3. Adam Eaton. You probably figured he was coming too. Eaton was a first round draft pick for the Phillies at one time and he pitched during ten seasons for the Padres, Rangers, Phillies, Orioles and Rockies. 201 of his 209 lifetime appearances were starts and he finished with a 4.94 ERA and an 84 ERA+.  The ERA was no doubt helped by years in San Diego in a pitchers' park. Eaton walked a lot of guys, gave up a lot of hits and homers. He did manage to somehow finish with a winning record of 71-68. But his career WAR tells the story with a lump sum of 1.5 spread over ten years. And for that, he made over $26 million in his career. Nice.

2. Jimmy Haynes. Jimmy Wayne Haynes pitched ten year in the big leagues for the Athletics, the Reds, the Orioles and the Brewers from 1995 to 2004. Yes, the Orioles appear a lot on this list. Haynes had a run of 30+ starts for five straight seasons though he was never any good in any of them. He went 63-89 in 203 starts and 227 appearances. His career ERA was a whopping 5.37 and his career ERA+ was 83. Haynes' career WHIP pretty much says it all: 1.632. Wow. And that factors in that he had two years at league average and once won 15 games for the Reds. He finished with a 1.1 accumulated WAR to show for his ten seasons. Five of his seasons were in the red when it came to WAR.

1. Jason Bere.  Bere comes in first place in our list of worst starting pitchers ever. Bere actually started with a bang for the White Sox in 1993 and 1994. In 1993, he went 12-5 in 24 starts and came in third in Rookie of the Year voting. The following year, he made 24 more starts and went 12-2!  Both years, he finished with an ERA+ of over 120. So how then do you get from there to a career ERA+ of 86? It wasn't easy. Right after his 12-2 season, he went 8-15 with an ERA of 7.19. He missed most of the year after that with health problems and never really recovered. His true problem was control  He walked over five batters per nine innings for his career. It turned into a very strange career. He had a winning record of 71-65 and yet his career ERA was 5.14. His career WHIP was over 1.5. And after an eleven year career, Bere had the grand total of 0.3 accumulated WAR. That's not much to show for 201 career starts and 207 total appearances.

Honorable mention: Our one old-timer on the list: Herm Wehmeier. He pitched from 1945 to 1958 and started 240 games out of his 361 appearances. He finished his career with an 84 ERA+ and a record of 92-108. He walked more batters in his career than he struck out and led the league in walks three out of four seasons. Wehmeier didn't match all the criteria on our list, but he was one heck of a not-very-good pitcher.

Offense is Back in 2011

We heard a lot about last year being the "Year of the Pitcher" in Major League Baseball. The numbers bear out that 2010 was a very good year for pitching. The majors earned run average of 4.04 was the lowest number of earned runs per game since 1992. The home run per nine inning rate was its lowest since 1993. After a hundred and four games are in the books for 2011, several of the key numbers have bounced back to near 2009 levels.

The earned run average in 2011 is back up to 4.23 or more in line with 2009's 4.28. Last year was the first time in the history of the game (why didn't we hear more about this?) that strikeouts per game rose to over seven. Strikeout rates have risen dramatically over the years. In 1988, the strikeout rate was 5.56. It has risen gradually from there to its peak in 2010 at 7.06. That's a 27 percent increase over time. This year, the strikeout rate has shrunk back below seven and sits at 6.96.

As most people know, homer rates have risen dramatically since 1993. The homer rate was never over one per game until 1987 when it peaked at 1.06. The rate shrunk quite a bit in the few years after 1987 and then blew up in 1994. The rate has been over one ever since. That is until 2010 when the rate shrunk under one for the first time since 1993. This year, it's back to 1.14 and if the trend continued, would be the highest since the year 2000.

Surprisingly (or not since it's being stressed so much), the walk rate is down to its lowest level since 2005. And who knows if this is a factor of it being early in the season or what, but the Intentional Walk rate is down to its lowest level since the stat has been counted in 1955 and it's not even close. Most years, the rate sits anywhere from .25 to .29 per nine innings. The current figure is .17.

What might not be helping the pitching is defense. The current error rate in the majors is the highest rate since 1989.

So yes, the numbers did show that pitching had its best showing in 2010 than it has for a very long time. But so far this year, the offense is back in charge and other than walk rates, the batters are back in business in 2011. It's still very early, but that's how the trends look so far.

Game Picks - Tuesday: April 5, 2011

So, okay. The Brewers are still winless. The Orioles still haven't lost a game and the Cardinals are kind of flat at the moment. Is it any wonder that this week isn't going so well for a game picker? Those facts make the 3-3 record for the day somewhat reasonable. Are the Pirates and Orioles this good? The Fan remembers asking the same question about the Nationals last year when they got off to a great start. Time will tell. It's refreshing when perennially bad teams do well. It's great for the game. It's just not great for picking games.

But we carry on because the Fan is stubbornly persistent. Here's a look at Tuesday's games which involve a fourteen games and twenty-eight of the 30 teams.(that's weird):

  • The Cubs over the Diamondbacks: Kind of a scary match up here between Enright and Cashner. Going with the hometown Cubs with no confidence whatsoever.
  • The Padres over the Giants: The Padres are always a confusing pick. But the Fan predicted a big bounce back year for Harang and he gets the start, so the Fan is backed into a corner to pick him to win. Bumgarner goes for the Giants.
  • The Rays over the Angels: The Angels just might be the worst team in the AL West. Weaver is great, but that doesn't guarantee a win. Going with Niemann and the Bay Rays.
  • The Yankees over the Twins: Sabathia over Duensing. Enough said.
  • The Mets over the Phillies: This is my upset special for the day. Chris Young was a wise pick up and he'll get the W for the Mets over Hamels, the forgotten ace.
  • The Athletics over the Blue Jays: This pick isn't so much a wealth of confidence in Brandon McCarthy as it is a total lack of confidence in Jo-Jo Reyes.
  • The Reds over the Astros: Leake has struggled since the middle of last year. But the Reds' offense has been killer. lists Happ as Houston's starter, but the Fan thought he was hurt. We'll just have to see.
  • The Marlins over the Nationals: Anibal Sanchez has become a very good pitcher. Marquis is too much of a risk to pick here.
  • The Mariners over the Rangers: The Rangers aren't going to win 162 games. Plus, the Fan always roots for rookie debuts. Michael Pineda's start might be the most anticipated one since Strasberg. Plus, the Rangers are starting Alexi Ogando. Hmm...
  • The Brewers over the Braves: In the reverse logic of the Rangers, the Brewers aren't going to lose 162 games. Gallardo over Lowe.
  • The White Sox over the Royals: Gavin Floyd over Luke Hochevar.
  • The Cardinals over the Pirates: John McDonald versus Kyle McClellan. Loved the way McClellan threw all spring. Cards have to hit some day.
  • The Dodgers over the Rockies: Kershaw looks like the best pitcher in the NL right now. Chacin won't be able to match the zeros. 

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Red Sox over the Indians: No Boston fans, the team isn't going to hell in a handbasket. Beckett will still have his bad inning but the Red Sox will win, especially with Tomlin pitching for the Indians.

Yesterday: 3-3
Week: 9-11
Month: 27-24
Season: 27-24
Games of the Day: 3-2

Monday, April 04, 2011

Some Observations- ESPN and Sunday Night Baseball

Sunday night's contest between the Dodgers and the Giants was hugely entertaining. Barry Zito started for the Giants and Hiroki Kuroda started for the Dodgers. Zito looked downright batting practice poor in the beginning and the Dodgers built a quick 3-0 lead. He wasn't helped by a miscue in right by poor Aubrey Huff (more on him later).  But the Giants bounced back to tie the game as Zito got tougher to hit and Burrell and Sandoval hit bombs. All of this was ably called by the trio of announcers calling the game. The Fan would rate Orel Hershiser as very good. Bobby Valentine was pretty good and this Fan doesn't enjoy Dan Shulman at all.

Let's start with Shulman. His conversational voice is pleasant enough, if lacking a little in charm. But when a big play happens and his voice goes louder, he takes on this cartoonish voice that does not sound natural. It's not like a natural voice that gets louder. It's a lounder voice that gets more Dudley Dooright-like. The Fan definitely missed Jon Miller. Miller's voice is so entertaining and his excitement level was so natural, that Shulman paled in comparison.

It was awkward when Shulman and ESPN had to show Miller, who was working the game for his local station, and pay him homage. Shulman was properly respectful to Miller as his predecessor and said a lot of nice things, but it did seem like an awkward moment.

Dan Shulman does do a nice job of conversationally engaging his analysts by asking good questions. He often asked questions that the Fan wanted to ask and that was very good. But Jon Miller was the best. When the Fan thinks back of all the major network play-by-play guys over the years, Miller is right on top.

Hershiser began doing the games for ESPN last year and has seemed to come into his own as an analyst. Last year, he seemed to be like a kid baiting Joe Morgan and fighting for airspace. He's much more relaxed now and at times his honesty is brutal and refreshing. He has kind of a smarmy delivery though which can get annoying at times. This was never more evident than when Tommy Lasorda joined the broadcast for a half inning. It's obvious that Hershiser feels his career success was due to his former manager and that in itself is touching. But it's not as if Lasorda doesn't have a large enough head as it is. Valentine was also doting on Lasorda, but more as a peer than as a "son" of Lasorda.

Orel still puts himself and his pitching too much into the conversation. The Fan hates when ex-players do that in the booth. But it has to be hard to avoid.

Bobby Valentine is still feeling his way in these broadcasts. You can feel him searching for his spots. There is a bit of self-consciousness in his tone. He works best on feeding off of Hershiser and the fact that both are formerly tied to the Dodgers organization gives them a natural bond. The chemistry between the two is fine and there does not appear to be any tension there. Valentine was properly respectful of the managers in the dugout and at times did a nice job of helping us know what they would be thinking.

The team's best moments were of brutal honesty when early in the game they discussed how helpless Barry Zito was. They were also instructive on how Zito's lack of ability to miss bats is hampered by less than stellar defense. The roasting of Aubrey Huff was the proper mix of honestly stating Huff's inadequacy out in right field, but also stating that it's wasn't Huff's fault because he really didn't belong out there. Another great moment of honesty was Valentine roasting the pitching choice of Jonathan Broxton throwing a slider to Aaron Rowand when it was obvious Rowand couldn't catch up to the fastball. Rowand's homer shouldn't have happened and Valentine told us all about it. So they told it like it was without tearing down the player.

Their best moment came when they properly roasted Miguel Tejada for swinging at the first pitch on a non-strike after the relief pitcher had just walked two straight guys, one bringing in a run. It was a terrible at bat for Tejada and Hershiser and Valentine were all over it. Hershiser then gave a concise observation about the pitch being in the middle of the plate but low and out of the strike zone. It was a brilliant moment.

There were some curious moments. One in particular stuck out and left the Fan gasping for more information. Shulman, or somebody made a point about the flexibility the Giants have in their line up construction. Tejada has bounced all over the line up so far. But then Bobby Valentine says that the Giants do a great job with that and praised the Giants players for their lack of egos concerning their flexibility. He then contrasted that with the Red Sox. What did he mean? What does he know about the players on the Red Sox? Was he talking about the Red Sox having players with too much ego? We'll never know. If you are going to open that kind of can of worms, at least let us in on the tease.

It is clear that Hershiser and Valentine offer far more to the table than Joe Morgan. Their insight is sharper and more clear. They don't hold back where Morgan was loathe to berate a play or a player. They come off as far less egotistical than Morgan.

But Shulman is a big step down from Jon Miller. Miller always showed us his own passion for the game and allowed us to get swept up in the emotional roller-coaster that is any kind of game. Shulman does not have the same kind of passion, does not have the same timbre in his voice and does not sound natural in big moments.

The Dodgers and Giants gave us a great game. And for the most part, the announcing team added a lot of fun to the telecast. It's not perfect, but overall, without Morgan, it's a lot juicier for the average fan and for the more devoted Fan of Major League Baseball.

Why Phil Hughes Struggled

Is there something wrong with Phil Hughes arm or shoulder or delivery? In his performance on Sunday against the Detroit Tigers, Hughes had no bite on his pitches. His fastball was without zip and was often flat, he seemed to throw way too many cut fastballs and his velocity shrunk as the game went along. Those were the observations that this Fan made while watching the game. But did PitchF/X back up those observations? They did indeed.

Last year, Phil Hughes threw the cutter 16.4 percent of the time. Last night according to PitchF/X, he threw it 41.1 percent of the time. So Hughes has either fallen in love with that pitch or he had no confidence in his regular four-seam fastball. He threw 40 regular fastballs and 37 cutters. He mixed in only ten curves and only three change-ups.

And to be sure, he did not have a good fastball. The average speed of his fastball was only 89.1 MPH, topping out at 91.5 MPH. But that only tells part of the story. He threw 90 pitches and the last time he hit 90 MPH was on his 57th pitch. So he didn't have his usual velocity and he lost it further as the game went along.

His cutter seems to be his favorite new toy and frankly, it's not Mariano-like. He was getting less than a inch of horizontal movement on the pitch, which is less than fanciful to say the least. And its average speed was only 83.5 MPH.

Compare these results to his April 21, 2010 start last year when his fastball averaged 92.5 MPH and his cutter at 88.1 MPH. Those are significant drops in velocity and take him from being snarky fast to freakin' hittable. Phil Hughes missed only two bats in 90 pitches. That's correct. Tiger batters only swung and missed twice out of  90 pitches Hughes threw.

Obviously that's not going to get it done. The Yankees say they aren't worried. Hughes said he isn't worried. Perhaps we'll have to take them at their word. But it sure seems suspicious and it certainly bears watching.

Game Picks - Monday: April 4, 2011

Sunday wasn't a good day for this game picker. Before the early dust had settled, the Fan was in an 0-5 hole. Then it was 1-6 and the Fan looked like a Vazquez fastball. Yes, Vazquez was one of those awful picks that one learns to regret. But he was one of many. The snow-out in Colorado didn't help. What do they think they are doing out there in Colorado? Do they think they are in Maine or something? But, back to Sunday: After the way things started, the Fan was fortunate to end up with six correct picks. It could have been far uglier than that. Thank goodness Miguel Tejada doesn't know enough to lay off a bad pitch after a relief pitcher has just walked in a run.

Monday has a light schedule with only six games on tap. Here's how they look:

  • The Brewers over the Braves: Could the Brewers' season have started any worse? Monday features a match up between Narveson and newcomer, Brandon Beachy. All signs point to the Braves in this one. Narveson didn't have a good spring and he allows way too many base runners. Beachy had a great spring and consistently strikes out a batter an inning. But the Brewers have to win this game. So going with that.
  • The Tigers over the Orioles: Just like the Brewers having to win a game sooner or later, the Orioles have to lose one sooner or later. They have their best chance of doing that with Arrieta on the mound. The Tigers counter with Porcello, which seems like the better bet.
  • The Yankees over the Twins: The Yankees hardly ever lose to the Twins. The Twins start that fabulous Baker boy, who should be Home Run Baker in the Bronx. Ivan Nova needs to show his spring wasn't a fluke and that he deserves to be the fourth starter. He has to do better than Hughes did on Sunday. That was brutal. More on that tomorrow.
  • The Rangers over the Mariners: Would like to root for Erik Bedard, but this Fan just can't see him beating the Rangers, who should overcome whatever runs that young Holland gives up.
  • The Cardinals over the Pirates: The Cardinals got a W on Sunday (finally), and Kyle Lohse had a terrific spring. The Fan has to pick him keeping Bob Netherton in mind while doing so. Bob has a terrific blog over there and is probably Lohse's biggest supporter.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Cubs over the Diamondbacks: Randy Wells had a great spring. Saunders had a spring that made him look like a softball pitcher. And yeah, a career that has done the same. Cubs win easy.

Yesterday: 6-8
Week: 6-8
Month: 24-21
Season: 24-21
Games of the Day: 2-2

Just a reminder: This isn't a betting feature. While some may come here for that purpose, this is strictly for fun and the Fan would hate actual money to be lost because of these little old picks.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Does Flexibility like Prado and Zobrist Really Help?

Peter Gammons wrote an article over at that basically says that players that are flexible should be rewarded for their flexibility and that this flexibility should be trained in the minor leagues. The article just doesn't sit right. The obvious examples used were Martin Prado of the Braves, Ben Zobrist of the Bay Rays as well as several other members of the Bay Rays' team. The Fan is fully cognizant that this writer isn't great at coming up with answers. But perhaps there is some value in raising the question for others to answer. Does flexibility really help a team and a player?

Let's take a guy like Martin Prado. The value in Prado's flexibility is not that he can field so many positions. His value lies in the fact that he is a productive hitter. Prado hasn't scored that well in defensive metrics for any of the multiple positions he has played. gave Prado a -0.8 dWAR in 2010. That's not a good score at all. So would Prado's value be the same if he just played one position instead of five? That question will be answered this year if Chipper Jones stays healthy and Prado remains in left field.

Another example Gammons uses is Ben Zobrist. Zobrist played seven different positions in 2010. His defensive metrics were only on the positive side for fielding in right field and first base. All his other positions ended up in negative defensive statistics. And Zobrist did not have near the same kind of offensive season in 2010 that he did in 2009. And so the question has to be asked if Zobrist would be more valuable in one place than in seven?

The Bay Rays as a rule get high marks for their flexibility. But you have to notice that their most valuable players last year stayed in one position: Carl Crawford and Evan Longoria. Both were among the best with the glove in the league for their positions and both were near the top of the league in WAR. All those guys they have that move around so much didn't fare nearly as well.

There has been a lot of talk in recent years about practice. The Fan can't recall the number, but the theories say that you have to take a certain amount of reps at any given task to master it. Can you do that when you are playing 40 games at second, 30 games at third, 20 games at first and the rest of the time in the outfield? And after a while, does all the concentration it takes to play all those positions take away some of the edge when batting? The Fan doesn't know, but again, poses the questions. It just doesn't sit right though.

Reid Brignac is a brilliant shortstop. If you leave him alone at short for 155 games, he's going to come close to leading the league in defensive metrics. Does playing the flexibility card and sitting Brignac in certain situations (against lefties for one) help the team or hurt it? You end up with fifty games with a lessor fielder at short (such as Rodriguez or whomever). Brignac will never learn how to hit against lefties without the reps and so you might not get as much value from him due to the flexibility carte blanche that is given Joe Maddon. It seems to this observer that the most value Brignac can bring is to put him at short every game and take your chances.

It will be interesting to see where this trend goes. The players obviously don't like it. Bill Hall went to Houston because he was tired of playing all over the field. Sean Rodriguez of the Bay Rays has said he wants to play just one position. And who can blame them? There is something to be said for the comfort of staying in one place and getting the reps there every day.

The Fan has raised the questions. Make of it what you will. Hopefully someone with analytic chops will take hold of them and give us an intelligent answer that the Fan can't. The gut--that faultiest of all organs--says that it hurts a team and a player more than it helps them. What say you?

Matt Cain Continues to Confuse the System

Matt Cain got the Giants going yesterday with a flawless performance while the Giants' bats came alive to put together a 10-0 win over the Dodgers. It's not surprising that Cain is the guy who gets the Giants on the board this year. He'll never get the love that Tim Lincecum gets with all those strikeouts. Cain only struck out three batters in his six innings of scoreless work. But he only gave up five hits too. He walked none. The performance continued his excellence through last season's playoffs and World Series when he didn't give up a run.

Cain continues to confound the analysts. This guy over at said not to draft him in your fantasy league. They are starting to catch on a bit though. But it's been slow in coming. Here are some interesting tidbits concerning Cain:

  • Cain has had only one season where his FIP was lower than his actual ERA. He's never had a season where his xFIP has been lower than his actual ERA.
  • Cains wins above replacement (WAR) only ranked him 30th in the majors last years. Guys who finished ahead of him with no where near as good a record and ERA were: Greinke, Gavin Floyd, Anibal Sanchez, Chad Billingsley, Colby Lewis and Hiroki Kuroda. Would you rather have any of those guys on your team over Cain? Well, maybe Greinke.
  • Matt Cain's BABIP for his career is .266. Can anyone be that lucky for that long?
  • Matt Cain's Home run to Fly ball percentage for his career is only 7 percent. He has the 11th best stat in that category over the last three years.

There is no doubt that analysts are trying to figure out what makes Cain so successful. A good example is this Fangraphs article found here. The Fan isn't smart enough to lead the way in telling you why Cain does so well. The only point of this post is to tell you that this guy has put up over 1,000 quality innings in the last five years and there is no way the Giants win the World Series without him. After a spring concern with a sore elbow, Cain has come out in 2011 and has thrown another gem. And his big win got the Giants off the bubble.

The Fan can't tell you why Cain is so good. But the Fan can tell you that the guy is money.

Game Picks - Sunday: April 3, 2011

For the first time this season, all thirty major league teams were in action. It was a good test for the Fantom Prognosticator and the results were mostly positive. It surprised this picker that the Cardinals lost again and that the Royals won again. It was a shock that Tommy Hanson didn't have much to show for his efforts. And the Fan should have certainly seen an uprising occurring for the Giants in the third game of their series with the Dodgers. But those six wrong picks were overcome with nine correct picks, the best of which was a Mets win over the Marlins.

As we head into Sunday, the first official week of the season concludes and the first full week of the season begins. There is another full slate of games today and it should be a beautiful day of baseball. Isn't this great!?

  • The White Sox over the Indians: The White Sox have already won the first two games and they finally get to their best pitcher today (Danks). The only chance the Indians have is a good performance by Masterson. Not buying that.
  • The Yankees over the Tigers: The Yankees have started their season on a mission it seems. Today they get Scherzer. Phil Hughes should get the win.
  • The Blue Jays over the Twins: The Blue Jays are simply destroying the Twins who have come out flat and empty. Brett Cecil is yet another reliable starter and the Twins counter with Blackburn.
  • The Brewers over the Reds: It looks like the Fan will keep picking this until it is true. Wolf over Arroyo who might be weak from having mono.
  • The Marlins over the Mets: Vazquez goes for the Marlins and he'll continue what is the wackiest current career of all MLB pitchers. The Mets counter with knuckleballer, Dickey.
  • The Braves over the Nationals: Jordan Zimmermann had a great spring and the Fan is rooting for him. But Hudson and the Braves will overcome yesterday's loss and win the game.
  • The Phillies over the Astros: Don't you think that Roy Oswalt will be pumped for this game? Yeah, he should be. Norris gets hit around a bit for Houston.
  • The Bay Rays over the Orioles: Everything screams to pick an Orioles' sweep. But Wade Davis will have something to say about that. Britton gets the start for the Orioles and though a great prospect, will be overcome in this game.
  • The Red Sox over the Rangers: Now we start to get into the softer side of the Rangers rotation with Harrison on the mound for the Rangers. The Red Sox have their second best pitcher (maybe first best!) in Clay Buchholz.
  • The Royals over the Angels: Sorry. The Fan can't pick any game that Kazmir starts. Just can't. Chen with the win.
  • The Cardinals over the Padres: Dustin Moseley is starting for the Padres? Going with Jaime Garcia and the Cards to get their first win of the season.
  • The Rockies over the Diamondbacks: One word for the Rockies win: Saunders. Ugh. Chacin with the win.
  • The Athletics over the Mariners: Gio Gonzalez might be the best of Oakland's starters. He beats Fister. 
  • The Dodgers over the Giants: Yeah, the Giants romped last night. But they throw Barry Zito out there today. That car accident couldn't have helped. Kuroda goes for the Dodgers.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Cubs over the Pirates: When was the last time that Ohlendorf won a game? Exactly. Garza gets the win for the Cubs.

Yesterday: 9-6
Last week: 18-13
Month: 18-13
Season: 18-13
Games of the Day: 2-1