Saturday, July 09, 2011

Game Picks - Saturday: July 9, 2011

On Saturday--or today by the time you read this--this game picker will be traveling back to Maine and leaving our Florida paradise. It's been a great three weeks and despite taking care of Mom and some R & R, no days were missed with the picks and some of the other daily articles have hit well and made their way to the home page of Yes, fans, this writers devotion to this game is front and center.

Since the car will be here in the morning at 5:30 for the ride to the airport and since the final destination of Portland, Maine is for 2:00 P.M, these picks will have to be determined early and time delayed for the morning. After arriving in Portland, there is a six hour drive north to get home. Yeesh. That's a long day.

In a true screw for the fans, the Yankees' rain out on Friday won't be made up on Saturday. The Yankees didn't want to play a traditional double header because of the gate. The Bay Rays didn't want to do a day/night double header for unknown reasons. Why wouldn't they? Because there is a day game on Sunday? Puhlease. So the game won't be made up until September 22. That means that Derek Jeter has only two games to get his two hits needed for 3,000 instead of three. Thanks Yankees. Thanks Bay Rays. You both suck.

So here for you devoted readers are Saturday's picks:

  • The Yankees over the Bay Rays: Like the Colon situation the other day, Price throws mostly fastballs. That could work for the Yankees at home. But...and this is a big but...A. J. Burnett is scheduled to pitch for the Yankees. Which would you rather skip? Burnett or Freddie Garcia? Tough choice, isn't it?
  • The Phillies over the Braves: Cliff Lee will give the Braves fits, especially as a lefty against that line up. Tommy Hanson is very, very good. But the nod goes to Lee.
  • The Twins over the White Sox: Brian Duensing seems to be back on his game. Going that direction instead of Mark Buehrle.
  • The Padres over the Dodgers: It seems much more likely for Aaron Harang to pitch well enough to win than for Rubby de la Rosa to do the same.
  • The Pirates over the Cubs: The pitching seems to even itself out with Ryan Dempster versus Kevin Correia. That being the case, pick the better team. Pittsburgh.
  • The Rockies over the Nationals: Jason Marquis was supposed to pitch Friday, but was held back a day. John Lannon took his place and got hit with a comebacker in the face. Karma will get Marquis. Ubaldo Jiminez with the win.
  • The Blue Jays over the Indians: Josh Tomlin is making a believer out of this picker. But...but...Brandon Morrow is a stud.
  • The Red Sox over the Orioles: This would be a great time for a win for the Orioles as they face John "Lacking" Lackey. But the Orioles are starting Alfredo Simon. The last time Simon started a game was 2009 and he blew out his elbow.
  • The Brewers over the Reds: It's simple. Shaun Marcum seems like a much better match up against the lefty-leaning Reds that Johnny Cueto does against the Brewers at home.
  • The Tigers over the Royals: Charlie Furbush? Yeah, why not against the Royals and Luke Hochevar.
  • The Cardinals over the Diamondbacks: Daniel Hudson is very good. When he is on, Chris Carpenter is better.
  • The Rangers over the Athletics: Brandon McCarthy was impressive his last time out. But it was against the Mariners. The Rangers aren't the Mariners. Colby Lewis with the win.
  • The Giants over the Mets: Chris Capuano is good. Tim Lincecum should be better. But he's been off his game of late. hmm...
  • The Mariners over the Angels: In Michael Pineda we trust. In Joel Pineiro we don't.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Marlins over the Astros: Hanley is hitting. Stanton is hitting. That's a potent combination. Throw in Ricky Nolasco and you have a good chance to beat Brett Myers.

That's the picks. Can't give you a daily tally since this was written before the Friday games were over. Pray for safe travels if that is your thing. And thank you.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Some Perhaps Meaningless 2011 Lists

Playing with's Play Index is like having your own sandbox. You can play all you want and interesting things just always seem to pop up. Here are a few interesting lists for 2011 just for the sake of play.

Most games in 2011 with at least two plate appearances with no hits, no walks and no HBP:

  • Dan Uggla - 30
  • Alexis Rios - 28
  • Yuniesky Betancourt - 27
  • Chone Figgins and Rajai Davis - 26

Last year's leaders - Brendan Ryan and Cesar Izturis with 51. All time leader (since 1919) - Hal Lanier (1968 Tigers) with 68.

Most games in 2011 with at least two plate appearances with two or more hits:

  • Jose Reyes - 43
  • Adrian Gonzalez - 38
  • Ichiro Suzuki - 36

Last year's leader: Ichiro Suzuki with 69.

Most games in 2011 with at least two plate appearances with two or more walks:

  • Jose Bautista - 20
  • Joey Votto - 18
  • Ian Kinsler - 14

Last  year's leader: Prince Fielder - 28

Most games in 2011 with at least two plate appearances with no walks. This one is interesting:

  • Adrian Beltre - 72
  • Michael Young - 71
  • Alcides Escobar - 71
  • Starlin Castro - 71

Last year's leaders - Alexei Ramirez and Yuniesky Betancourt with 130! Yuni is just behind the leaders this year.

Most games in 2011 with more than five total bases in the game:

  • Matt Kemp - 15
  • Curtis Granderson - 15
  • Richie Weeks - 14

Last year's leader: Josh Hamilton with 27.

Most games in 2011 with more than two plate appearances and at least one run scored:

  • Curtis Granderson - 52
  • Richie Weeks - 51
  • Ian Kinsler - 48

Last year's leader: Albert Pujols with 86.

Most games in 2011 with more than two plate appearances and no runs scored:
  • Omar Infante - 64
  • Cliff Pennington - 63
  • Casey McGehee - 63
  • Aurbrey Huff - 61

Last year's leader: Cesar Izturis with 111.

Most games in 2011 with two or more plate appearances and at least two strikeouts:
  • Drew Stubbs - 36
  • Adam Dunn - 34

Last year's leader: Mark Reynolds with 66. Dunn was in second last year too.

Most games in 2011 with two or more plate appearances and no strikeouts:
  • Juan Pierre - 61
  • Troy Tulowitzki - 60
  • Ichiro Suzuki - 60
Last year's leader: Juan Pierre - 116.

    Game Picks - Friday: July 8, 2011

    Thursday was a good day for the picks. Out of fourteen games, only four fell the wrong way. The Yankees looked totally dead against the Bay Rays and Jeff Niemann. As this picker feared, Colon throwing mostly fastballs early, fed right into the Bay Rays hands. Barry Zito either pitched wonderfully, or the Padres simply can't hit. Cory Luebke did his job but received no run support. Phil Humber had a rare bad start and that pick was again Pavanoed. The last incorrect pick was the hardest to take. The Blue Jays had a 4-0 lead going into the bottom of the ninth against the Indians. But the Blue Jays' bullpen totally ralphed and gave up five base runners and only one out. They all scored. Travis Hafner iced the game with a grand slam. What a way to lose.Without being considered a "hater," shouldn't it be time for the Blue Jays to be trying a different closer?

    Derek Jeter had one hit so he sits at 2,998. Let's hope he gets his two hits tonight because this Fan will be traveling all day Saturday. Here are Friday's picks:

    • The Phillies over the Braves: The Braves need to do well in this series but right away, they run into Roy Halladay. Halladay is not impossible to beat, but darn close to it. Brandon Beachy can make things interesting if he can hold the Phillies scoreless.
    • The Pirates over the Cubs: James McDonald against Rodrigo Lopez. Lopez was amazing his last time out, which begs the question as to why this Fan is so against him. But one good game against a whole slew of bad ones is too much history to ignore.
    • The Nationals over the Rockies: The Nats are coming off their worst loss of the year, blowing an 8-0 lead to the Cubs. Jason Marquis will need to be better than Jason Hammel in a battle of Jasons.
    • The Yankees over the Bay Rays: The Yankees should be better rested and Freddie Garcia's junk is just the kind of stuff that messes up the Bay Rays. Jeremy Hellickson has given up lots of homers lately.
    • The Blue Jays over the Indians: Mitch Talbot can't get past the fourth inning and the Blue Jays should score often. It's then a question of if Jo-Jo Reyes and the bullpen can hold back the Indians.
    • The Red Sox over the Orioles: The Orioles just can't get up these days and Zach Britton will be worn down by the patient Red Sox. Josh Beckett with the win.
    • The Marlins over the Astros: Javier Vazquez against Jordan Lyles. Yeah, pick 'em.
    • The Rangers over the Athletics: B. J. Wilson against Gio Gonzalez is a good match up. Feeling for Josh Hamilton right now. He has to be all kinds of messed up after that fan died.
    • The Reds over the Brewers: Not sure what is going on with Zack Greinke, but he hasn't been very good lately. Mike Leake is the Reds' good luck charm.
    • The Tigers over the Royals: Rick Porcello hasn't been very good. But he faces Kyle Davies. Yeah. That's what the Fan thought too.
    • The White Sox over the Twins: Nick Blackburn must be hurting because he's been awful his last two starts. Gavin Floyd with the win.
    • The Diamondbacks over the Cardinals: Ian Kennedy is the favored son in these here parts. Love the guy. That said, he better be on his game against this line up! Kyle Lohse goes for the Cardinals.
    • The Angels over the Mariners: Mike Trout makes his debut and the Angels get to Blake Beavans. Ervin Santana doesn't have to be great against the weak hitting Mariners.
    • The Padres over the Dodgers: This picker keeps waiting for Matt Latos to power up. It could be this game. Chad Billingsley is good at home though.

    And the Game of the Day!

    • The Giants over the Mets: The Mets aren't the same team without Jose Reyes. Ryan Vogelsong continues his happy tune against R. A. Dickey

    Yesterday: 10-4
    Week: 36-38
    Month: 53-48
    Season: 706-610
    Games of the Day: 63-36

    Thursday, July 07, 2011

    Wade Davis and Phil Hughes - Brothers from Different Mothers

    This writer can't help himself. For as long as both pitchers have been in the majors, the similarities between Wade Davis and Phil Hughes have seemed striking. And it isn't just their six foot, five inch frames they share either. A year apart in age, both fairly high draft picks, they both have short names and similar deliveries. Both have been expected by their respective clubs (Bay Rays and Yankees) to become aces in the rotation. Both have come up short of those expectations. Is this any more than a doddering thought from the imagination? Let's investigate.

    Phil Hughes, mostly from his time in the bullpen, has twice as many games in the majors than Davis. The difference is somewhat made up by Davis who has always been a starter. Davis has thrown 308 innings in his career compared to Hughes' 384.1. Both give up too many homers. Davis has a career 1.14 homers per nine innings pitched. Hughes is at 1.12. Both walk batters at nearly the same rate. Davis has a career walks per nine of 3.30 while Hughes is at 3.18. Hughes has a much higher career strikeout rate per nine innings but again, that's because of his relief work where he could pitch an inning and go all out.

    Both have similar fastball speeds. Last year, Davis averaged 92.4 mph on his fastball and Hughes was at 92.5. How similar is that? Both have lost velocity this year--Hughes more so, but last night was back to his previous rates of last year. Davis also features a two-seam fastball while Hughes has a cutter. Both have a curve. Davis has 6.1 inches of horizontal movement on his curve while Hughes has 6.4 inches of that movement. Both have change ups. Hughes has a bigger margin of difference between the speed of his change up to his fastball than Davis has. Again, Hughes has a cutter while Davis has a slider. Both are similar in speed and break.

    Phil Hughes has a .568 winning percentage as a starter and Davis has a .538 winning percentage. Davis has averaged 5.92 innings per start. Hughes, 5.45. Davis has a .283 BABIP as a starter, Hughes .291.  Here's a nice one. As a starter, opposing batters have a .754 OPS against Phil Hughes. It's .755 against Wade Davis.

    One major difference is in how they handle pitch counts. Hughes as a similar OPS against on every pitch count. But Davis gets hit harder as his pitch count grows. So there's a major difference. One way this difference manifests itself is in the first inning. Hughes has a much higher ERA in the first inning than Davis does. But both pitchers have similar fly ball to ground ball ratios. Hughes is at 1.23 for his career and Davis is 1.14 (in both cases, the fly balls outnumber the ground balls). Hughes has a 19.3 lifetime line drive percentage. Davis has a 19.1 lifetime line drive percentage.

    Here are some other stats for comparison. They are all career numbers:
    • O-Swing - Hughes: 26.4 percent, Davis: 26.9 percent
    • First pitch strikes - Hughes 61.2 percent, Davis: 58.6 percent
    • HBP - Hughes: 10, Davis: 10
    • Homer to fly ball percentage - Hughes: 9.3, Davis: 9.0

    The pitchers seem much more similar than they are distinct. Did this writer cherry pick some stats? Sure. But there are enough cherries to prove a point. Both have lost velocity this year. Both have lost movement on their fastball this year. Both are experiencing lower swing and miss rates this year. Both seem to be regressing instead of improving. Again, both are young. Hughes is 25 and Davis is 26. Neither are as aggressive as it seems they should be. Neither are commanding on the mound or contain much presence on the hill. Hughes has much more as a reliever than a starter. Davis has no relief appearances. Both could still end up being very good starters in the future. But both right now seem to be a bit of a drag on their respective rotations. They have similar deliveries and builds. Davis and Hughes seem like two peas in the same pod, or if you will, two brothers from different mothers.

    And right now, that's not necessarily a good thing.

    Game Picks - Thursday: July 7, 2011

    Today is Mom's birthday and for the occasion, this picker had to get up at 5:30 to take her to an eye operation. Poor thing. This family doesn't do birthdays justice. She gets an eye operation on hers and this son got divorced on his over a decade ago. But the operation was a success and we are back. All of this preamble is to explain why the picks are a little late today.

    There will be scant discussion of yesterday's games. They went universally against this picker. The Yankees, Pirates, Blue Jays, Cardinals, Twins, Diamondbacks, Mariners, Phillies and Dodgers all lost when they were predicted to win. Despite the official Yankees' twitter feed's tweet that Phil Hughes was "solid" during his first start back, he was most certainly not solid. He only had two swings and misses in 85 pitches. That's not encouraging. Most Yankee fans were of the mind that Ivan Nova is the much better option in the rotation. The Cardinals, meanwhile, came all the way back from an 8-0 deficit after an abysmal start by Jake Westbrook to tie the game, but then lost in extra innings. The day was mostly like that repeated over and over again.

    And so the hole dug on Sunday and nearly filled on Monday and Tuesday was again dug into a trench on Wednesday. Even the month of July is in the red again. At least the Game of the Day feature keeps rolling on and is now 26 games over .500.

    Fourteen games are on the schedule for Thursday. Here are the picks:

    • The Braves over the Rockies: The Braves need to finish off the Rockies to set them up for their showdown this weekend against the Phillies. Again, the Rockies are without some of their best players. Tim Hudson faces  Juan Nicasio.
    • The Cubs over the Nationals: The Cubs are due for a win and so is Matt Garza, who pitched a complete game his last time out but lost. Livan Hernandez stands in their way.
    • The Yankees over the Bay Rays: Tough pick here as Colon throws all fastballs and the Bay Rays rake fastballs. But the Yankees should score their share against Jeff Niemann too.
    • The Blue Jays over the Indians: The Indians start prospect Zach McAllister, who has good minor league numbers. But going with Carlos Villanueva, a more known quantity and thus a safer pick.
    • The Red Sox over the Orioles: July has not been kind to the Orioles and Jake Arrieta goes for his tenth win but has been complaining about a sore elbow. Not good. The Red Sox go with Andrew Miller, who has pitched well thus far.
    • The Marlins over the Astros: A Brad Hand is worth two in a bush? Only if the Marlins have some patience with him, which they didn't have his last start. J. A. Happ goes for the Astros.
    • The Rangers over the Athletics: Rich Harden is known to the Rangers and though he pitched well in his first start, the Rangers should rake. Derek Holland goes for the Rangers.
    • The Brewers over the Reds: The gut says to pick the Reds, but their bullpen is shot and Homer Bailey isn't the most solid of starting pitchers. That said, neither is Chris Narveson. The deciding factor was that the Brewers are at home.
    • The Tigers over the Royals: Danny Duffy has been pitching better (somewhat), but the Tigers should score enough to give them a win. Max Scherzer again goes for his tenth win.
    • The White Sox over the Twins: Phil Humber seems a better pick here than Carl Pavano. Each team, though, gives off such mixed signals that any pick is difficult.
    • The Diamondbacks over the Cardinals: This Fan never thought he would be saying this, but Joe Saunders is pitching well. Blimey! He's been pitching better than Kyle McClellan has of late.
    • The Dodgers over the Mets: Yeah. Dillon Gee. But the Dodgers present Clayton Kershaw at home. How can you pick against that?
    • The Padres over the Giants: Two reasons for this pick. First, the Giants start Barry Zito. Secondly, Cory Luebke was really good his last outing.

    And the Game of the Day!

    • The Angels over the Mariners: Jared Weaver has been unbelievable in June and early July. Lights out unbelievable. Poor Doug Fister can't get any run support against lesser pitchers, never mind Weaver.

    Yesterday: 5-10
    Week: 26-34
    Month: 43-44
    Season: 696-606
    Games of the Day: 62-26

    Wednesday, July 06, 2011

    Best and Worst Base Runners of 2011

    Steve Slowinski, Editor-in-Chief of who also has his own site (as well as writing for SB Nation and Fangraphs!) was kind enough over on Twitter last night (@SteveSlow) to explain to this old writer how to find base running stats over at And it was fun to look at the leaders and losers in this category in Major League Baseball. As many have pointed out, with runs per game down in the past couple of years, there is more emphasis on base running as a means of scoring runs.

    It turns out that quantifying base running is far more difficult than it sounds. There are stolen bases and stolen base percentage. There are bases taken on hits (such as stretching a single into a double, etc.). There are base running events when on base (going from first to third on a single) and there is moving up a base on passed balls and wild pitches. That's complicated! This amateur won't even begin to try to explain all that. Fortunately, in this day and age of stats at our fingertips, others do that for us. All we have to do is know how to search and sort.

    First up is your best base runners so far in 2011 along with their base running score as listed by Fangraphs:

    1. Michael Bourn (Astros): Bourn is considered by many to be the fastest player in the majors. It would be fun to see Bourn in a race with Peter Bourjous, Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner. Score: 4.7.
    2. Elvis Andrus (Rangers): Andrus is very aggressive on the base paths and it works more often than not. Score 4.7.
    3. Alex Rios (White Sox): Rios is having a bad season. His WAR currently sits at -0.5. But he's still excelling on the base paths. And he must be really good on the bases as he only has six stolen bases. Score: 3.8
    4. Melky Cabrera (Royals): Another surprise. Add this up to the surprising season he is already having. His base running adds a lot to his WAR tally. Score: 3.5
    5. Drew Stubbs (Reds): His base running score really points out how much better a player he would be if he could cut down his strikeouts. His K's lead the National League. Score: 3.4
    6. Alex Gordon (Royals): We should call them the "Runnin' Royals" as Gordon is the second Royal on this list. Score: 3.4
    7. Curtis Granderson (Yankees): Granderson is not only hitting the snot out of the ball but he is using his speed and base running skills to have one of the best all around games in baseball this season. Score: 3.4

    It's surprising that Jose Reyes isn't higher on this list. He sits at 18th in the majors despite all those triples and stolen bases. Peter Bourjos, who can flat out fly is 15th. And Brett Gardner is 28th, a ranking that bespeaks those who say he is too tentative on the base paths at times.

    The other thing to note is that, other than Granderson, the walk percentage for the other six guys on this list are all less than nine percent. In Cabrera and Andrus' cases, both are under six percent. If only these guys could walk more, imagine what damage they could do!

    And now for the worst base runners of 2011:

    1. Paul Konerko (White Sox): While Konerko's offensive numbers are overlooked in baseball, he is a really bad base runner and is rated far and above all others in base running ineptitude. Since he's also not a good fielder, his WAR is never as high as you would think it should be. Score: -7.3
    2. Casey McGehee (Brewers): McGehee's stock as a player has really taken a hit this season. While he is trying to pull every pitch, his average, on base percentage and slugging have all taken hits. Plus, he's a lousy base runner. Score: -4.7
    3. Brett Wallace (Astros): Wallace is hitting well and getting on base well. His power numbers are unexpectedly low. But he's a lousy fielder and a lousy base runner. Score: -3.8
    4. Bobby Abreu (Angels): The Fan doesn't get this one. Abreu always steals bases, even now that he's 86 years old, he steals bases. But he must not do anything else well on the base paths. Score: -3.7
    5. Aramis Ramirez (Cubs): Ramirez is hitting better lately. But his base running is substandard. Score: -3.6

    Some other surprisingly bad base runners: Nick Swisher (-3.2), Andre Ethier (-3.2) and Austin Jackson (-2.7). That gives Jackson the trifecta for why he shouldn't be leading off. He's not a good base runner, he doesn't get on base and he strikes out too much.

    The worst base runner last year was Adam LaRoche, who had a score of -8.4. Konerko is certainly in line to better (?) that score. Elvis Andrus was the best base runner of 2011 with a score of 8.2. Paul Konerko is the worst base runner for the last five years (2006 to present) with a scary score of -32.3, a full seven points worse than Prince Fielder. Chone Figgins has the best base running score over the last five years at 31.8 followed by Juan Pierre at 24.9.

    Game Picks - Wednesday: July 6, 2011

    Yesterday was a pretty good day and that horrible Sunday to start the week is almost made up. Our time here in Florida is almost up too. It will be hard to leave Mom. She's at that age where there is constant worry about how she will be when no one is here.

    As for yesterday's games, the only laughable pick (in retrospect) was the Marlins over the Phillies. Geez, how stupid can the Fan be? The Fish are now 5-26 since June 1 and this picker expected them to win? Right. Stupid.  This picker also refused to pick the Royals and they won. Zach Duke won for the Diamondbacks. Never would have seen that coming. Dan Haren out-pitched Justin Verlander. Put two aces out there and anything can happen. Scott Baker got hurt. Capps almost blew the save, but Glen Perkins came in and got Johnny Damon on a really close play at first to get a win for the Twins over the Bay Rays. The Fan had the Bay Rays. And Tim Stauffer bit the Fan in a Padres win over the picked Giants. Stauffer got 14 ground ball outs. Typical for him.

    The week is almost out of the hole. Wednesday has fifteen more games for us:

    • The Twins over the Bay Rays: The feeling here is that all those lefty bats for the Twins will get to Wade Davis and that Francisco Liriano will pitch good enough to win.
    • The Diamondbacks over the Brewers: The Brewers have fallen on hard times lately. Their starters, including Yovani Gallardo, aren't getting it done and when they do, the bullpen fails. Josh Collmenter will need to be better than he has been lately.
    • The Royals over the White Sox: Bruce Chen can keep the Royals in the game long enough for the young hitters to get some runs off of Edwin Jackson.
    • The Angels over the Tigers: The Tigers seriously confuse the heck out of this picker. Are they a contender or not? Brad Penny gets beat by Tyler Chatwood.
    • The Mariners over the Athletics: Jason Vargas has been very good. Guillermo Moscoso looks great at times. Neither team can hit. Going with the Mariners in a toss up.
    • The Nationals over the Cubs: This Fan still thinks the bullpen arms for the Nationals are going to fall off one of these days. But Tom Gorzelanny gets the nod here over Randy Wells.
    • The Pirates over the Astros: Poor Bud Norris. He's just drowning on this team. The Pirates are such a nice story. It's hard to pick against them despite the disbelief that pitchers like Charlie Morton are pitching this well.
    • The Yankees over the Indians: This pick is far from a lock. Phil Hughes is making his first start back from the DL and frankly, if he can pitch as well as the deposed Ivan Nova did, it would be a surprise. Justin Masterson gets another hard luck loss.
    • The Phillies over the Marlins: Yeah, yeah, Kyle Kendrick is starting and yeah, Anibal Sanches is good. But picking the Marlins has been such a dead end for this picker that it just can't be done anymore.
    • The Blue Jays over the Red Sox: The Blue Jays were robbed last night as that play at the plate that ended the game was a bad call. Tim Wakefield will get hit and Ricky Romero rises to the occasion.
    • The Rangers over the Orioles: Alexi Ogando looks to be back on track. Jeremy Guthrie needs to pitch well enough to get the Orioles some good prospects in a trade. Yes, it's come to that.
    • The Cardinals over the Reds: Having Albert Pujols back means Berkman goes back to the outfield, weakening the defense. But the Reds simply can't beat the Cards in St. Louis. Jake Westbrook over Bronson Arroyo.
    • The Dodgers over the Mets: Hiroki Kuroda is a really good pitcher that is going to get traded. Jonathan Niese is a sometimes really good pitcher. Hard to pick the Dodgers these days though.
    • The Giants over the Padres: Madison Bumgarner shouldn't have any trouble picking up his fifth win. Dustin Moseley had a good run, but he's losing games consistently.

    And the Game of the Day!

    • The Braves over the Rockies: Key injuries for the Rockies help Jair Jurrjens pick up his 12th win while Aaron Cook won't fool many of the Braves' hitters. Freddie Freeman is really hot.

    Yesterday: 9-6
    Week: 21-24
    Month: 38-34
    Season: 691-592
    Games of the Day: 61-36

    Tuesday, July 05, 2011

    Drew Your Own Conclusions

    Yesterday, this writer had a Twitter discussion with Steve Michaels (@djstevem) of fame about Carlos Beltran and J. D. Drew. Steve drew a circle around both Beltran and Drew as classic busts for long-term signings. This writer had already debunked the Beltran as bust myth at this site and sent Steve a link to that article. Steve tweeted back that he didn't care what the numbers said, his eyes told him Beltran was a bust. Well, that will get Steve a one-way ticket to the sabermetric Hall of Shame but his point is understandable. Then we discussed J. D. Drew, who Steve comically called, "Nancy." After having such a conversation, this writer figured it would be best to take a look at Drew's contract and performance before coming to any kind of conclusion--hence this post.

    J. D. Drew has been an iconoclastic figure since the start of his career. He famously dissed the Phillies who drafted him in the first round of the 1997 draft. Little did Drew know that the Phillies would later become a powerhouse in the National League. Drew sat out a year and played in an independent league to prove his point. The following year, he was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals, again in the first round. This time he signed. Without playing much time in the minors, Drew was with the Cardinals to stay and played for them for most of six seasons. He was good but never spectacular. He never really played full time and topped out at 496 plate appearances for that team in 2002.

    After missing a bunch of time in 2003 and with free agency looming a year away, the Cardinals traded Drew to the Atlanta Braves along with Eli Marrero for Ray King and Jason Marquis. He had a terrific 2004 in his walk year for the Braves. For the first time, he played an injury-free season and compiled 645 plate appearances, still his most ever in a season. Between his 157 OPS+ that season and his career high 116 walks. He used that season to get himself a big contract from the Los Angeles Dodgers.

    His first year with the Dodgers, Drew missed a lot of time and only compiled 311 plate appearances, but his second year there, he put in a full season and it was a good one. In his first two years in LA, he got paid $21 million and his play was worth around $25.5. Not bad. But then he did something that burned his bridges there too. His contract had an opt-out clause and Drew opted out. That was his right per the contract, but it didn't make him any friends among Dodger fans. He was a free agent again and this time, the Red Sox came calling. They signed him for five years at $70 million. This is the contract that Steve Michaels has a problem with.

    His first season with the Red Sox (2007), he could best be called a cog in a great wheel that won the World Series. He earned only $7.6 million of his $14 million contract, but the team won the World Series and he had a great post season. So be it for the Red Sox Nation to complain, right?

    His next two seasons in Boston became a sabermetric delight. His numbers didn't seem all that spectacular. But he did all those things the saberists love. He walked a lot, he had enough power to get over .500 in slugging both seasons and his defense was rated above the norm. Drew became the darling of those who advance stats as the only true way to value a player. He was touted as living proof of a guy that doesn't seem all that special, but the numbers say otherwise. His 2008 season garnered a value of $18.4 million and his 2009 season came in at $22.5 million. Both seasons were well over the $14 million he was earning.

    And this is where the disconnect comes in. If you watched Drew play like this author has for many, many games, he often seems lackadaisical. He often doesn't seem to give a damn. Surprisingly, one stat Bill James came up with called wins probability added (WPA) didn't rate Drew highly with all his Red Sox seasons coming in with the lowest ratings since the second year of his career. Again, there is a disconnect of sorts there. And in a fan base that is fanatical about their Red Sox, Drew is hated by a large segment of that fan base. Why?

    That fan base of the Red Sox Nation views Drew as a player who doesn't come through in big moments and often seems to get phantom injuries. He is seen as a whiner and complainer with an excuse for everything. Drew famously blamed his tough start and plunging walk totals of 2010 on the umpires changing the strike zone. As for not coming through in big moments, his OPS in high leverage situations for his career is .870 compared to .877 for his career OPS. That's really not bad and belies that reputation.

    Drew did slip last year. As mentioned, his walk rate slipped and his slash line was its lowest since 2002. He ended up earning $9.9 of his $14 million salary. This year has been worse. Drew, at 36 now, has been in and out of the line up and has, in half a season, only earned $1 million of his still hefty $14 million in salary. If Drew comes on in the second half, he might earned as much as three or four million dollars more. Let's say he does. Then in his five years, his play would have earned about $63 of his $70 million contract. Yeah, that's a bit of a bust, but not terrible compared to some.

    So what do we make of Drew's career? He'll finish in the .870s in OPS for his career. His fielding has always rated well. He got on base a lot. But he missed a lot of games along the way and never really compiled elite numbers you would have hoped for a former #1 pick. Is his career largely understood and largely unappreciated? Or has his career been a bust? It depends a lot on who you ask. At the very least, he's been well over average in benefit over his career. It's difficult to say the Red Sox win the 2007 championship without him or that the Braves would have been in the playoffs in 2004 without him. He is a player that fit the Red Sox business model of high walks and good defense. But there may never have been a less loved ball playler. Draw your own conclusions.

    UPDATE** After reading the post, Steve Michaels made a good point. Drew has never been liked in Boston because he took the place (and uniform number) of fan favorite and "dirt dog" Trot Nixon, a beloved figure in Boston. Great point.

    Game Picks - Tuesday: July 5, 2011

    See? We get rid of interleague play and immediately, this picker has a good day. It wasn't quite good enough to totally fix what happened on Sunday, but it was a start at digging out of that deep hole. The Game of the Day feature was wrong as this picker felt what the entire fantasy baseball world has felt all along with Tim Lincecum. What's up with him? A miscue on a foul ball between Brett Gardner and Alex Rodriguez got A. J. Burnett all futzed up and he blew the game in his futzedness. The Angels should have been picked against the Tigers but weren't. That one is on this picker. And Ricky Nolasco pitched great against the Phillies as predicted but the Marlins couldn't do anything with Vance Worley. Finally, David Price wasn't the ace he was supposed to be. Brian Duensing was instead.

    But other than those failures, the day went really well. The Blue Jays did beat John Lackey and the Red Sox. The Cardinals did squeak by on another fabulous performance by Chris Carpenter. The Pirates, Nationals, Diamondbacks and Mariners (behind Michael Pineda) all won as predicted. The Rangers, White Sox and Braves all won as called. So it was a good day. The fireworks were great. The company was great and the food was excellent. A perfect day in paradise.

    Perhaps the rest of the week's deficit can be made up on Tuesday:

    • The Nationals over the Cubs: Holy cow! What a terrible game to start off with. First, 38-year old, Ramon Ortiz, will get the start for the Cubs. Yeah, believe it. It's been over a year since he pitched in the majors. The Nationals aren't sure of their starter but it will most likely be Ross Detwiler. Talk about the bottom of the pitching barrel.
    • The Pirates over the Astros: Picking against Wandy Rodriguez wasn't a good idea last time out. But the Astros simply can't support him very well. And Jeff Karstens has been as good as Wandy since the beginning of June.
    • The Yankees over the Indians: C. C. Sabathia has been on a very good roll and the Yankees have a score to settle with Carlos Carrasco. It won't be easy though as the guy is very good.
    • The Cardinals over the Reds: Jaime Garcia has been on a bit of a bad streak and has given up five runs in both of his last two outings. He'll tighten it up and home and the Cardinals will wait out Edinson Volquez and make him throw strikes.
    • The Braves over the Rockies: No Tulo. No CarGo. No chance. Derek Lowe over Jhoulys Chacin, who was knocked around in his last start.
    • The Marlins over the Phillies: Stupidity the second day in a row? Well, yeah. Chris Volstad has been on a min-roll and the Marlins should match up well against the lefty, Cole Hamels. Yeah, it's probably dumb again.
    • The Red Sox over the Blue Jays: The heart wants to pick the Blue Jays, but Jon Lester? But with Travis Snider back and Jose Bautista loving lefties? Perhaps. Brett Cecil should get hit around by the Red Sox though.
    • The Brewers over the Diamondbacks: The D-backs simply do not give up in any game and overcame Zach Duke's last bad outing. A lot will depend on how deep Randy Wolf can go in the game as the Brewers' bullpen is toast.
    • The White Sox over the Royals: Felipe Paulino still hasn't won this season and faces Jake Peavy. White Sox all the way in this one.
    • The Bay Rays over the Twins: Tough game to call. The Rays are good on the road as is their starter, James Shields. The Twins start Scott Baker, who has been very good. Tough game to pick:
    • The Tigers over the Angels: Another tough match up of Dan Haren versus Justin Verlander. Verlander should come out on top.
    • The Mariners over the Athletics: Felix Hernandez wasn't great his last time out. Trevor Cahill has one good start in his last five. Two excellent pitchers struggling. Pick 'em.
    • The Mets over the Dodgers: Ted Lilly's elbow is bothering him. That can't be good. Mike Pelfrey is solid and should win.
    • The Giants over the Padres: Matt Cain won't allow any Padres to score while the amazingly tough luck of Tim Stauffer continues.

    And the Game of the Day!

    • The Rangers over the Orioles: The Orioles lack of pitching depth is starting to kill them. Mitch Atkins pitched ineffectively for the Cubs last year and has never started a major league game. Not good. Matt Harrison with the win. 

    Yesterday: 10-5
    Week: 12-18
    Month: 29-28
    Season: 682-586
    Games of the Day: 60-36

    Monday, July 04, 2011

    Remaking Travis Snider

    When Travis Snider was sent to the minors by the Toronto Blue Jays after just twenty-five games, it was a shock. For a player many consider to be the "Franchise," it was an ignoble way to exile the still 23 year old outfielder. Many of this writer's blogging buddies from up Toronto way were less shocked. According to those astute observers, Snider seemed lost at the plate and had lost any idea of what he was doing. This writer simply thought it was an early season slump that could have been waited out. Time will tell which side of the coin was correct. What does seem evident judging from the minor league numbers is that Snider is ready to come back to the majors and was recalled today. The Jays DFed Juan Rivera, so Blue Jays fans won't have him to kick around anymore.

    It's hard not to be impressed by what Travis Snider did in Las Vegas in the Triple A. His slash line there was .333/.403/.488. But if you look deeper at the numbers he put up there, a question is raised as to what the Blue Jays hoped to accomplish there. There seemed to be a lessening of emphasis on Snider's prodigious power and more of an emphasis on contact.

    As any Blue Jays' fan can tell you, Snider has unbelievable power. He's hit some amazing shots in his early career. But with a new manager in town, one that spent the last few seasons of his career in the Boston organization, Snider's 26 percent strikeout rate combined with a six percent walk rate didn't cut it with the new regime. The Red Sox meme has been to wear out pitchers with high pitch counts and extra base runners. That philosophy has flown in the face of the Blue Jay way, which is to be aggressive and drive the ball. Snider's early career resembled the latter and not the former.

    But in the minors this year, that all seemed to change. The homers were way down. Snider only hit two while in Las Vegas in 226 plate appearances. But his strikeout rate plummeted from his normal 26 to 29 percent to 16.4 percent. Is that a short sample fluke or a concentrated effort to change Snider's approach? This observer believes it's the latter. Lower strikeouts, a higher walk rate, lower home run rate and higher doubles rate seem to indicate a shift in Snider's approach and a concerted effort to give Snider better tools to succeed at the major league level.

    And this approach makes sense to this writer. Kevin Youkilis was first a walk/contact machine before he started hitting for power too. Ben Zobrist is another example where you make contact first and get on base and the power will come organically. Before them, George Brett was the perfect example. The first order of business is to make sure Travis Snider can consistently produce at the major league level and then worry about how many of his balls travel out of the park. With Snider's power, those numbers will come as he gets comfortable and gets to produce on a regular basis.

    Blue Jay fans have waited a long time for Travis Snider to become the kind of player they have been salivating about. He's been a hero for a long time and his Twitter handle of @lunchboxhero45 shows  the kind of kid Snider is. He works hard and wants to succeed. That makes him a player to root for with hope that he makes it and succeeds. It is hoped the Blue Jays are patient with him if he doesn't produce right away. Snider has all the makings of a great major league hitter. He just needs to find his groove. Perhaps the Blue Jays have now given him the tools to do just that.

    Game Picks - Monday: July 4, 2011

    The last day of interleague play went out with a bang. But not the right kind of bang. It was more like an atom bomb. Never in the history of this daily feature has a day gone so completely wrong. It's stunning. It was so bad that laughing seems to be the only way to confront it. The entire day consisted of one moment of amazement after another. The Yankees had a lead going into the ninth. Mo blew it. Ayala and Ramiro Pena stomped on it until the pick was dead. The Giants held a lead with Ryan Vogelsong on the mound heading into the seventh inning. It was one too many innings for the guy. The Tigers tied it and then the Giants' bullpen, that vaunted and powerful bullpen, gave up the farm.

    And it continued all day. Cliff Lee held the lead. That's a lock right? Three home runs later, Lee was the loser. The Braves had a 4-2 lead late in the game. Scott Proctor came in. He saw Buck Showalter in the other dugout and must have thought he was Joe Torre. He got all shaky. When the dust settled, the lead was gone and so was the pick. Zack Greinke wasn't great, but he left the game with the lead. Zach Braddock and Kameron Loe made sure it didn't hold up and another pick was dead. C. J. Wilson had the lead heading into the eighth inning. He got an out but allowed a base runner. He was pulled. By the time Darren Oliver, Mark Lowe and some amazingly bad defense got the next two outs, the game was lost.

    There were six picks lost in the bullpens and by shoddy defense. That's enough to sink any day of picking. But it didn't stop there. The Royals decided to go crazy at last and feasted and scored ten runs on the Rockies' bullpen. said that Jordan Zimmermann was going to start for Washington. He didn't. Jason Marquis did. The Pirates won in a romp.  Ian Kennedy didn't have it on Sunday and Gio Gonzalez did. Clay Billingsley had the lead late in the game but gave up three runs in the eighth. Ball game. Kyle Lohse couldn't stop the Bay Rays. Another bad pick.

    The day was brutal. It was sad. It was funny. It was historic. The good news is that interleague play is dead. Ding dong the thing is dead. And the Fan has the rest of the week to clean up the mess. But it's a rather large mess. Here are your Independence Day picks. Enjoy the holiday:

    • The Nationals over the Cubs: Oh sure, now Jordan Zimmermann is going to start. Just a day late. He shouldn't have trouble winning against Casey Coleman.
    • The Pirates over the Astros: Brett Myers and Paul Maholm have been two of the hard luck pitchers all year. But Maholm still pitches for the better team.
    • The Blue Jays over the Red Sox: Brandon Morrow has been on a roll. He'll need to pound the strike zone against the walk-loving Red Sox though. John Lackey simply isn't having a good season.
    • The Bay Rays over the Twins: The lefty, David Price, should neutralize the Twins' line up while the Bay Rays hit well on the road and should get to Brian Duensing.
    • The Mariners over the Athletics: Two reasons for this pick. Number one, Michael Pineda has been terrific. Number two, Brandon McCarthy is starting after a long stint on the disabled list.
    • The Diamondbacks over the Brewers: It's hard to pick against the Brewers at home, especially with Shaun Marcum on the mound. But the D-backs start Daniel Hudson and he hasn't lost a decision in his last nine outings. The D-backs' bullpen needs to hold it though.
    • The Marlins over the Phillies: Say what!? Well, Ricky Nolasco threw a shutout his last time out and Vance Worley can be had by the hot Marlins' line up.
    • The Cardinals over the Reds: Chris Carpenter is on a roll and is back to being the guy we all expect him to be. Johnny Cueto is great too, but this is Carpenter's game.
    • The Yankees over the Indians: Josh Tomlin continues to defy logic. There is no logic ever for A. J. Burnett. Derek Jeter is back. The Yankees find a way.
    • The Braves over the Rockies: The Braves at home. The Rockies on the road. Ubaldo Jiminez has been inconsistent. Tommy Hanson has been great. It all seems to add up to a Braves win.
    • The White Sox over the Royals: Well, the Royals had a one game winning streak. Mark Buehrle ends that against Jeff Francis. Adam Dunn gets to play again. Is that a good thing though?
    • The Rangers over the Orioles: The Orioles haven't even announced a pitcher yet. That can't be good. Colby Lewis is a scary pick for the Rangers though.
    • The Tigers over the Angels: The Angels are remarkably resilient for a terrible team. How do they do it? Joel Pineiro starts for them and Charlie Furbush has the funniest name in baseball. But he's not funny to face.
    • The Mets over the Dodgers: If Jose Reyes doesn't play, that's not good for the Mets. But Chris Capuano should shut down the Dodgers and the Mets should get to Rubby de la Rosa.

    And the Game of the Day!

    • The Giants over the Padres: Clayton Richard isn't often very good. Tim Lincecum isn't often very bad.

    Yesterday: 2-13  holy cow that was bad.
    Week: 2-13  and it's fair that has to be typed twice!
    Month: 19-23  ugh
    Season: 672-581  finally, a positive number
    Games of the Day: 60-35

    Sunday, July 03, 2011

    Chone Figgins and History

    Chone Figgins used to be a pretty good player, right? He had a good season or two with the Angels and those Angels were blasted when they allowed Figgins to get away. Now the Angels look like geniuses. Figgins has been so bad since coming to the Seattle Mariners, that it's getting to the side of historic. Since 1961 (the last fifty years), only fifteen players have had more than 250 at bats and finished the season with an OPS (on base percentage plus slugging percentage) lower than .480. Figgins is sitting at .478 for the season.

    Fifteen players seems like a lot. But not when you consider that seven of them compiled their sub-.480 OPS seasons in 1968--that famous year of the pitcher. Two others performed the feat the year before in 1967. So that means that only six players since that 1968 season have compiled worse offensive numbers than Chone Figgins. Who were they?

    Rob Picciolo was a rookie for the Oakland Athletics in 1977 when he played 148 games for that team and compiled 446 plate appearances. He ended up with only 84 hits and nine walks for the season and finished with a .477 OPS and a 31 OPS+. Incredibly, Picciolo was allowed to participate in eight more seasons after that as a utility player. He ended up with a -4.4 WAR for his career. Yeesh.

    John Shelby performed the feat in 1989 for the Dodgers. Shelby was a player with a similar game to Figgins except he was an outfielder. But he ran a little bit and had four above-league average seasons prior to 1989 but it all fell apart. Shelby just couldn't do anything in 1989 and finished with a .466 OPS in 371 plate appearances. The bad news for the Mariners? Shelby never really recovered and would have two more terrible seasons before leaving the game.

    Mario Mendoza became famous for all the wrong reasons. There aren't too many baseball fans that haven't heard the term, "Mendoza Line." That sobriquet began in 1979 when Mendoza compiled 401 plate appearances for the (yup) Seattle Mariners and hit a non-robust .198. To this day, if a batter such as Chone Figgins or Dan Uggla bat below .200, they are considered below the "Mendoza Line."  Mendoza managed to play three more seasons after that historic season and finished his career with a 41 OPS+ and a career WAR of -4.7.

    Argenis Antonio "Angel" Salazar played five years in the big leagues and joins our list for his 1987 season with the Kansas City Royals. That season, his slash line was .205/.219/.246 in 332 plate appearances. His 23 OPS+ that season ranks among the worst for that many plate appearances in a season. Salazar finished his career after one more year and had a lifetime OPS+ of 36 and a WAR of -1.8. Yikes.

    Doug Flynn might be one of the worst players in the last fifty years who got to play more than ten seasons. The infielder played for Mets, Expos, Reds, Rangers and Tigers. In 1977, Flynn was given a combined 333 plate appearances between the Reds and Mets and finished that season with an amazingly bad .445 OPS. The sick thing is that the Mets gave Flynn 1,152 plate appearances AFTER that season! He responded with two more seasons under .600 in OPS and his OPS+ in those two seasons was 61 and 62. How? Why? Flynn finished his career with a WAR of -12.1. In nine of his last eleven seasons, Flynn had an OPS+ of 70 or less.

    That leaves us with Luis Gomez, another "utility" infielder who in 1980 was given 307 plate appearances by the Atlanta Braves. His .451 OPS that season is the absolute worst for any player in the last 50 years with more than 250 at bats. Gomez is another one of those players that somehow managed to stick around for eight years despite a 40 lifetime OPS+ and a career WAR of -5.2.

    So this is the kind of company that Chone Figgins is keeping. The Mariners have to keep playing him because he is making $9 million this season and will make that kind of money right through 2013.  Figgins has been on base all of 64 times in 70 games. His walks have dried up and so has his ability to steal bases as he's been thrown out six times in fifteen attempts. Last season, Figgins had a sub-standard season, but even that season is looking grandiose compared to this one.

    Chone Figgins bounced back some in the second half last season and he will probably come back a bit in this second half. But this is not the player the Mariners thought they were getting and as we have seen, if the season ended tomorrow, Figgins would have the seventh worst OPS since 1979 for players with more than 250 at bats. It's been mind-boggling to say the least.

    Game Picks - Sunday: July 3, 2011

    Only an extra game on the schedule kept this picker from yet another day at one game over .500. But even two games over .500 is hardly a referendum on great picking. And once again, there was a fast start out of the gate and the picks were at 6-1 until limping through the West Coast. Did this picker really pick the Mets to beat the Yankees? Gee, what happened there? Heh. Don't you love double meanings?

    It's not that there weren't a few really good picks. Picking the Nats and Pirates to split a double-header was both practical and smart. The Mariners once again failed to score any runs for Doug Fister as predicted...the poor blighter. Fister pitched a complete game and only gave up a run. It was one too many. The Red Sox made the Game of the Day feature continue its month long romp. That feature is now 26 games over .500! The Indians again beat the Reds as predicted. Those Reds are snake bit against their Ohio neighbors. Tim Hudson continued to smash his interleague reputation, which was a good pick. Phil Humber blanked hard-luck, Matt Garza, and the Cubs as predicted. Humber sure has been terrific.

    But every good pick was countered by a bad one. Tony LaRussa left Kyle McClellan in there one inning too many. Ball game. The Twins had their game all wrapped up but their closer, Matt Capps, was allowed to blow his sixth save of the season. He was brutal and Gardenhire just left him in there to lose it. The Marlins swamped the Rangers as Hanley Ramirez hit two homers. Joe Saunders was better than Josh Outman and that pick went south. And the Fan learned one more lesson. The only time the Angels are guaranteed to win is when the other team pitches their ace. The Angels are the ace-busters.

    Sunday is the last day of interleague! Yay! Let's finish it with a bang:

    • The Giants over the Tigers: Just when you think the Tigers are on the move, they turn into the tiger cubs again. Rick Porcello has been awful of late. Ryan Vogelsong continues his magical journey.
    • The Phillies over the Blue Jays: Caught in the middle here thinking that Cliff Lee has to come to earth sooner or later. The overriding feeling in the gut though is that it won't be today. Jo-Jo Reyes with another loss.
    • The Reds over the Indians: We'll give the Reds this game as Mike Leake has been much better than Mitch Talbot.
    • The Yankees over the Mets: Terry Collins was complaining (read: Whining) about interleague and having to face the Yankees all the time. Get over it. Sheesh. What a pansy. The Yankees finish the sweep with Freddie Garcia probably not having to face Jose Reyes. Dickey with the loss.
    • The Braves over the Orioles: This picker has been burned so many times picking against Brandon Beachy, this pick is the equivalent to not putting a hand on the burner. Zach Britton with the loss.
    • The Nationals over the Pirates: Hey, if Justin Masterson can finally break through and get some run support, so can Jordan Zimmermann. Love this kid. He's got a tough customer in Kevin Correia though.
    • The Cardinals over the Bay Rays: This picker believes in Kyle Lohse. Jeremy Hellickson is no slouch either. So this pick isn't without a bit of perspiration.
    • The Red Sox over the Astros: There's no way that Josh Beckett should lose to Jordan Lyles. Then why is this pick so frightening?
    • The Brewers over the Twins: Zack Greinke had a chat with his manager over some comments and the quick hook last week. He'll take any lingering anger off on the Twins who counter with Nick Blackburn, who was indeed burned his last time out.
    • The Rockies over the Royals: Nope. Not picking the Royals ever again. Well, at least for a while. Jason Hammel was good his last time out. Luke Hochevar can be good at times.
    • The Diamondbacks over the Athletics: Could be a stupid pick based on the man-crush the Fan has on Ian Kennedy. Gio Gonzalez is a heck of a pitcher too. Oh well. The pick stands.
    • The Padres over the Mariners: The Mariners start Blake Beavan, one of the pieces they got in the Cliff Lee deal with the Rangers. The young pitcher faces Matt Latos, who has already been where Beavan wants to go.
    • The Rangers over the Marlins: Yes, Hanley Ramirez is hot and that makes the Marlins' offense better. But they face C. J. Wilson, the ace of the Rangers. It won't help that Javier Vazquez starts for the Fish. Though Vazquez had found some velocity in his last half a dozen outings.
    • The Dodgers over the Angels: The Angels don't score when Ervin Santana pitches. The Dodgers score in bunches when Clay Billingsley pitches. Interesting game.

    And the Game of the Day!

    • The White Sox over the Cubs: This one should be easy. Gavin Floyd against Rodrigo Lopez? Seriously? Juan Pierre is sort of on a hot streak, which is what he always does to keep his job every year.

    Yesterday: 9-7
    Last Week: 50-44
    Month: 17-14
    Season: 670-568
    Games of the Day: 60-34