Saturday, June 23, 2012

Game Picks - Saturday: June 23, 2012

Yesterday was one of those days where finishing a perfectly flat .500 was a good thing (one game was rained out). After the Yankees, Reds, Nationals and Red Sox lost, it seemed like it was going to be a really bad night. It was a delightful surprise to wake up this morning to find that the day had climbed out of the hole that would have caused major damage to the tallies. The Red Sox were the Game of the Day though and that's the second straight incorrect pick there.

Saturday is the penultimate day of this round of interleague games as things get back to normal on Monday. This picker has had a pretty good run through the interleague session, so no complaints here. But watching AL pitchers bat is getting really, really old. Saturday's picks:

  • The Blue Jays over the Marlins: There is no way to rationally pick the Marlins these days. They have gone into the dumpster and you have to wonder how much more of a leash Ozzie is going to have. Picking against Josh Johnson isn't fun. But still. Brett Cecil goes for the Blue Jays.
  • The Cardinals over the Royals: Despite how the Cards have been playing, the Reds are allowing them to stay in the hunt. Still think this is the Cards' division to win. Adam Wainwright over Luis Mendoza.
  • The Rangers over the Rockies: Josh Outman reached his 75 pitch limit in the middle of the fifth inning last time out. That's why this whole thing is so stupid. Colby Lewis wins this one.
  • The Indians over the Astros: Dallas Keuchel bamboozled the Rangers for five innings in his first MLB start last time out, but he really doesn't look like he has the stuff to be successful consistently. Jeanmar Gomez should be the beneficiary of some run support.
  • The Pirates over the Tigers: Andrew McCutchen is becoming the best player in baseball and the Pirates are going to go as far as their pitching can take them. They can sniff first place the way the Reds have been going. Brad Lincoln will have to come up big though. He can do it. Max Scherzer is either great or not so great. Which will today be?
  • The Phillies over the Bay Rays: James Shields goes for the Bay Rays. He was supposed to pitch last night but the game was rained out. The game line is confusing. Cliff Lee was supposed to start last night and didn't. But Kyle Kendrick is listed today. The Phillies wouldn't skip Lee, would they? This pick is predicated on Lee pitching.
  • The Braves over the Red Sox: Franklin Morales is getting a second start? Seriously? Sure, he was pretty good in his first one. But still. Then again, the Red Sox can beat up on Carlos Delgado. Seriously screwy pick on this one.
  • The Dodgers over the Angels: Chis Capuano makes the difference in this pick as he should be able to slow down the Angels and allow the low-flying Dodger offense to steal a win. Seriously, Donny, you know this picker loves you. But Dee Gordon leading off is killing your team. Smarten up. Ervin Santana nearly threw a no-hitter his last time out.
  • The Brewers over the White Sox: Randy Wolf will keep the Brewers in this one long enough for his team to get to Dylan Axelrod.
  • The Yankees over the Mets: Ivan Nova is a winning machine. He gets his tenth win tonight as the Yankees pounce on Chris Young.
  • The Giants over the Athletics: The Giants got a big win last night in great come-from-behind fashion. That momentum should carry them over tonight as their best pitcher, Madison Bumgarner, gets the win over Tyson Ross.
  • The Orioles over the Nationals: Edwin Jackson is the weak link in the Nats' rotation and Wei-Yin Chen is the real deal for the Orioles. Bryce Harper has been quiet for a couple of weeks now though and is due.
  • The Mariners over the Padres: Jason Marquis and Felix Hernandez were both brilliant in their last starts. Which one was the fluke? We will find out tonight.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Cubs: Ian Kennedy will need to pitch a decent game but the D-backs offense has showed up bit in the last week and should hit Paul Maholm.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Reds over the Twins: Okay, so a lot of this post has been bashing the Reds. But Johnny Cueto has been a lock every time out and the Twins are starting Brian Duensing who has not been stretched out to start. Not a good combination for the Twins.

Yesterday: 7-7
Week: 43-30
Month: 168-124
Season: 566-465
Games of the Day: 47-30

Friday, June 22, 2012

The highest pitching game score of all time

The Game Score statistic was developed by Bill James as a way of giving pitchers a score for each game they pitch. A closer look at how the stat is calculated will be discussed later in this post. The statistic is a way to rate starting pitchers. The average starting pitching Game Score is 49 to 51 (depending on the year). This season's league average is 51. R.A. Dickey currently leads the majors with an average Game Score of 66.9. Matt Cain's perfect game rated a 101, one of the highest nine inning scores ever. This is the story of the two highest Game Scores ever recorded. They both happened in the same game.

The game occurred on May 1, 1920 between the Brooklyn Robins, who would later become the Dodgers, and the Boston Braves (now in Atlanta) at Braves Field in Boston. Attendance is recorded at just over four thousand souls.. The game was delayed until three o'clock because of rain and would later be called on account of darkness. It ended in a 1-1 tie after twenty-six innings, the longest game in major league history. Because the game ended in a tie, it was like it never happened. The statistics for the game counted, but the game did not. It would later be replayed to make sure each team had 154 games (with a winner and loser).

Baseball was different then. It was a game of contact. The average strikeout per nine rate in the majors that season was 2.9. Al Mamaux of the Robins led the majors with a 4.8 strikeout per nine rate that season. Did pitchers throw as hard as they do now? Doubtful. But one pitch was fast enough to fracture the skull of Ray Chapman whose death in that same 1920 would become the only major league fatality. But the idea was to pitch to contact. The Twins of today would have loved 1920. And true to form, each team in this 26-inning marathon only struck out seven times.

Starting pitchers of that day were expected to go the distance. As such, pitchers pitching well into a extra-innings game was not unusual. But this game on May 1, 1920 took that case to the extreme. Both starting pitchers, Joe Oeschger of the Braves and Leon Cadore of the Robins pitched all twenty-six innings!

These two pitchers were not Hall of Fame caliber pitchers. Both finished their careers with sub-.500 records. But the similarities do not end there. Both were born in Chicago, Illinois, within eight months of each other and went to high school and college out west. Oeschger went to high school and college in California and Cadore went to high school in Idaho and college in Washington. And yet, in 1920, they both pitched for East Coast teams and met on that fateful day to pitch in the longest game in major league history. Oh, and they both won fifteen games in 1920.

Both gave up a single run in the game. The Robins scored first in the top of the fifth on a single by Ivy Olson. Olson went 0-9 in the rest of his day's at bats. The Braves scored their run in the bottom of the sixth when Tony Boeckel's single scored Walton Cruise, who had a double, one of only two extra base hits the entire game. Both were hit by the Braves. The other double was by Hall of Fame shortstop, Rabbit Maranville. Maranville went 3-10 in the game and raised his average to .133. He was one of the few batters that would raise averages on this day. Charlie Pick of the Braves went without a hit in eleven at bats. And Chuck Ward of the Robins went 0-10.

By the time the game was called at 6:50 because of darkness, the two teams had combined for only 24 hits in 171 at bats. That is a .140 average for the game. Cadore gave up fifteen hits and five walks. Oeschger only gave up nine hits and four walks.

Some strange facts for the game:

  • The Robins would play the Phillies the next day and took a loss in thirteen innings. The day after that, they played the Braves again and lost in nineteen innings. They had played 58 innings in three day! And had nothing to show for it.
  • Despite allowing only one run in 26 innings in this game, Joe Oeschger would lead the National League that season in runs allowed and homers allowed.
  • Leon Cadore had a 2.62 ERA in 1920. Take away this one game, and his ERA was 2.87. The one game shaved 25 points off his ERA for the season.
  • Joe Oeschger's ERA for 1920 was 3.46. Take away this one game and his ERA would have been 3.76. So this one game shaved 30 points off his season ERA.
  • Both starting catchers were relieved part way through the game. The replacement catchers went a combined 1-13.
  • The 26 innings took only three hours and fifty minutes to play, about the average time of a typical AL East game of today.

And now for those Game Scores. Okay, here is how they work. Each starting pitcher starts out with 50 points. You add a point for each out or three points per inning. You add two points for each inning completed after the fourth inning. You add a point for each strikeout. Subtract two points for each hit and four points for each run allowed. But you only lose two points if the run is unearned and you subtract a point for each walk. Let's do the math together:

Joe Oeschger: 50 points to start. 78 points for his outs. 44 points for each inning beyond the fourth. 7 points for his strikeouts. Subtract two for each hit and four for the run allowed and four more for the four walks. That would be =(50+78+44+7) - (18+4+4) or 179-26 for a total Game Score of 153, the all time record for a single game.

Leon Cadore: 50 points to start, 78 points for 26 competed innings, 44 points for each inning beyond the fourth plus seven points for his strikeouts. Subtract 30 for the hits and 4 for the run and five more for the walks. That would be: =(50+78+7+44) - (30+4+5) or 179 - 39 for a 140 Game Score, the second highest all time.

The two pitching Game Scores from the longest game in major league history is a record that most certainly will never be broken. One of today's pitchers pitching 26 innings? Forget about it.

Game Picks - Friday: June 22, 2012

Thursday was a blah kind of picking day. Three right. Three wrong. Boooring. Oh, the games were good. Just the results were not. One of this picker's most faithful readers, Kryss, mentioned that the Game of the Day was correct ten days in a row. That streak came to an end yesterday. That makes the feature the Yankees of Game Pick features. But seriously, how can a pick for Clayton Kershaw be wrong for three straight picks? That never happened last year. And the Rockies proved that even terrible teams can win once in a while. It's just difficult to know when.

Friday puts all thirty teams back in action. Roy Oswalt and Jair Jurrjens are back from oblivion to pitch today. That will be interesting. But how do you pick them? A quick glance at the schedule brought a shudder. This will not be easy. The picks:

  • The Pirates over the Tigers: Tough game to pick and typical of how this day will go. A.J. Burnett has only had one bad start. The rest are all good. How will he do against some tough hitters like Cabrera and Fielder? And Doug Fister is good too. Ugh.
  • The Phillies over the Bay Rays: It has come to the point in Cliff Lee's season where you have to keep picking him until he wins. You can't keep a guy of his caliber down this long, can you? James Shields will have something to say about it though.
  • The Nationals over the Orioles: Tough game Number Three. Jordan Zimmermann has the stuff to shut any team down. Jason Hammel has been lights out at times. Both are good teams. Both are contenders. Isn't this fun?
  • The Reds over the Twins: The Twins are just not as good a team without Joe Mauer in the lineup. Nick Blackburn is always a scary proposition. The key is Homer Bailey and what kind of outing he will have.
  • The Yankees over the Mets: The Yankees love lefties and Jon Niese is one of those. They know how to wait him out too. Andy Pettitte will neutralize the powerful lefties in the Mets' lineup.
  • The Marlins over the Blue Jays: This pick has lots of reservations. Ricky Romero bends but doesn't break. Anibal Sanchez is on a losing streak. Both teams have been the most frustrating to pick all season.
  • The Indians over the Astros: Lucas Harrell has been allowing eight runs per nine innings in his last half dozen starts. He lives and dies with his fastball. The Indians love hitting fastballs. But Ubaldo Jimenez is no lock either.
  • The Rangers over the Rockies: This pick for Roy Oswalt is made with huge reservations. But the Rangers are home where they love to rake and the Rockies have a pitching staff that is fun to rake. Christian Friedrich goes for his 75 pitches today.
  • The White Sox over the Brewers: Going with the home team here as Chris Sale and Zack Greinke seem to cancel each other out.
  • The Cardinals over the Royals: Joe Kelly has been just so-so in his early work for the Cards. Vin Mazzaro has been surprisingly effective. But that last sentence just seems to be a fluke. Who knows.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Cubs: The D- backs' bats have come alive of late and Joe Saunders has been decent. Jeff Samardzija, unfortunately, has come back to the pack some after a very good season start.
  • The Angels over the Dodgers: The Dodgers have not hit in the last two weeks and their grip as the best NL team is loosening. Chad Billingsley drives this picker crazy. Dan Haren, the same.
  • The Padres over the Mariners: Clayton Richard is good at home and he is home this outing. Kevin Millwood has been a surprise if he stays healthy. This might be a 1-0 or 2-1 game.
  • The Athletics over the Giants: The Giants have lost most of Tim Lincecum's starts. He hasn't given any reason for optimism that will change. Jarrod Parker has been pitching very well.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Red Sox over the Braves: Been saying all season that if you think the Red Sox are dead, you have a surprise coming. Jon Lester needs to pitch well. And he should. And Jair Jurrjens will get treated rudely to the mad-at- the-world David Ortiz and company.

Yesterday: 3-3
Week: 36-23
Month: 158-117
Season: 559-458
Games of the Day: 47-29

Thursday, June 21, 2012

BBA Linkfest - Summer in general

Another Thursday means another round of links from the great writers of the General Chapter of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance. And since this is the first full day of summer (and a really hot one in the East), let this compiler summon you to summer fun from around the world. Please be a friend and click some links and leave some comments. It's great fun and you can do it in air conditioned settings.

MTD of Off Base Percentage is making his girlfriend jealous with all the attention he is giving Mike Trout. She looks like a keeper to this compiler. Step it up, my friend, step it up.

Old Time Family Baseball is having a really, REALLY good week with content. What a great site. This compiler's favorite and the post of the week goes to this wonderful piece on robots in baseball.

Mark Zell of the always reliable Pop Fly Boys, wonders about the 2012 Royals' pitching staff.

The Platoon Advantage has a great new feature called The Morning Cram Session. Except, when this compiler thinks of cram, it sounds like something Frodo ate in Morder. Anyway, the best one this week was a subject near and dear to this compiler's heart, the "mockery" that is now the Hall of Fame.

Replacement Level Baseball Blog has an excellent post on the dominance of the American League and how long it can last. 

You can forgive the owner of The Sports Banter for not posting recently. A beautiful new baby girl does kick the stuffing out of regular blogging. But his priorities are right and his recent post shows us what we've been dearly missing.

Much thanks goes to Sully of Sully Baseball for his great service of providing us with an updated list of each franchise's most recent no hitter. Super!

Jake Mastroianni of Through the Fence Baseball wonders if the Seattle Mariners should trade Felix Hernandez. 

The Nationals have it all backwards, says Mike Cardano of the X-Log. He makes a compelling case.

Wezen-ball once again opened his old site for his fiance to write another terrific piece, this one on Father's Day. Very touching. She might be as good as you, Larry.

In a piece that absolutely burned the soul of this compiler, Russ Blatt of 85% Sports tells why A.J. Burnett should be an All Star. 

Now that he has completed his move to the East Coast, the author of The Ball Caps Blog must now deal with Phillies Phanatics. Heh. Poor blighter.

Baseball Unrated has some reactions to the Roger Clemens' verdict.

Justin Jabs is taking eight weeks off from his Baseblog, but it is for a super cool and worthy job. Enjoy, Justin. We'll miss you.

Spencer Hendricks of Call to the Pen lauds the Royals' bullpen and rightly so. Timely and excellent post.

Mario Salvini of Che Palle! celebrates Matt Cain's perfect game.

Matt Whitener of Cheap.Seats.Please. has a very moving tribute post to Jack Buck. A must read.

This compiler loves Davey Johnson and managerial genius, Joe Maddon, has a long way to go to be as great a manager as Johnson has been. Supercooldude, TheNaturalMevs, is inspired enough too to create this great post over at Diamond Hoggers.

Dugout 24 has a post about a really cool event that happened at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City recently. Cool!

The OCP wrote a great piece about Phillies broadcaster, Chris Wheeler over at For Baseball Junkies.

Since we are on a broadcast frame of mine, how about an excellent post by Bill Ivie of Full Spectrum Baseball on how to fix the baseball booth?

The Baseball Index talks about the really sad news concerning Brandon Beachy. What a bummer.

The first baseball game this compiler ever saw live was at Shea Stadium when Dad took us. We sat right behind home plate and it was Bob Veale of the Pirates versus the Mets. Veale sure was mean looking. Ed Kranepool hit a homer to win the game. And thus, those memories have a supreme soft spot for this piece by  Grubby Glove remembering that stadium. Thanks for the memories, friend.

The Hall of Very Good is having a major anniversary celebration! As part of the fun, the site has been opened up to guest writers to create HOVG Heroes. Loved this one by Dean Hybl on Boog Powell. Loved Boog Powell!!

Theo has a superb post over at Hot Corner Harbor on Roger Clemens, the verdict and the Hall of Fame. Must read.

Hmm...a Hall of Fame inner circle. Who would you put there? Left Field gives his list. What would yours look like?

Pverniere of was not a big fan of the panic button pushed by the White Sox this week. Don't blame him.

Jonathan Mitchell of MLB Dirt has great analysis on what Colby Rasmus is doing correctly these days. The post has great charts and everything. Awesomeness.

Bill Veeck was one of the most fascinating stories of baseball history. Therefore, Jonathan Hacohen's amazing and wonderfully written review of a new book on the subject is most welcome. MLB Reports.

And finally, Nik of Niktig's Baseball Blog wonders who will close now that Valverde is on the shelf.

Have a great week, everyone!

Game Picks - Thursday: June 21, 2012

Another baseball day, another decent day of picks. The overall season record went a hundred games over .500 which is a milestone. The Game of the Day feature is on a serious roll. And the weekly and monthly totals are very healthy. This interleague picking season has gone really well. Yesterday would have been better if the Pirates had won. Those tricksters have been defeating the picks daily by winning. So they were picked and poof. No win. The Cardinals won and that was not expected against the Tigers at home. But perhaps the dumbest pick of the day came in picking against Jered Weaver. How does that pick look in hindsight? Pretty hilarious. The best pick of the day was picking the A's over the Dodgers. Looked like a genius on that one.

Thursday is a sleepy day in baseball. There are only six games on the schedule as the rest of the teams have the day off. But here are the picks for what games we have:

  • The Cardinals over the Tigers: The Tigers get a spot start from Jacob Turner who is an unknown quantity. He should have been the fifth starter out of Spring Training but then hurt his shoulder. That is when Drew Smyly (The Emoticon) took over. Now Smyly is on the DL and Turner gets his shot. But he faces a really tough offense and Kyle Lohse usually wins.
  • The Phillies over the Rockies: Will Jeff Francis even make it to his 75-pitch allotment? He hasn't looked good so far. But saying that, today he'll throw a beauty. That's the way picking goes. Vance Worley is a better choice for this one.
  • The Pirates over the Twins: Come on, Pirates! Stop messing with this picker. James McDonald is a dominant arm and should have his way with the Twins. Liam Hendriks is not having any fun in the major leagues for the Twins.
  • The Nationals over the Bay Rays: Gio Gonzalez, if he is on, should shut down the Bay Rays' offense and neutralizes guys like Pena and Joyce. Joyce might be hurt anyway. Not sure. But anyway, Matt Moore could put a wrinkle in this pick as he has looked mighty good of late. Great match up. Great series.
  • The Red Sox over the Marlins: Carlos Zambrano has gone completely downhill in the last month. The Red Sox will have their dancing shoes on for this one. The one problem is that Daisuke Matzusaka is pitching and hasn't won a game yet. He should today though.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Dodgers over the Athletics: You have to go with Clayton Kershaw even though he hasn't been all there all season. He has too much talent. Travis Blackley hopes to give the A's a chance to win and looked good against the Padres his last time out.

Yesterday: 9-6
Week: 33-20
Month: 155-114
Season: 556-455
Games of the Day: 47-28

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Rockies' new plan is...well...stupid

The Colorado Rockies are not a good baseball team. In fact, they are downright awful. As much as we enjoyed the story of a 49 year old pitcher making their starting rotation out of Spring Training, that should have given us some sort of clue that this was going to be a rough season. Moyer was jettisoned after ten starts and a 5.70 ERA to go along with his 1.7+ WHIP. But none of their starters have been any better. Now, they have announced a new plan: a four man rotation (which isn't the weird part) and a 75 pitch limit. Whuh?

So what this means is that the bullpen, supposedly a Rockies' strength, is going to be required to get at least twelve outs a game. Are they going to need fifteen pitchers to make this work? And how does that fix a Troy Tulowitzki-less defense that is last of all thirty teams in defensive efficiency? Preventing runs is not only the purview of the pitchers. And limiting the exposure of mediocre pitchers is not going to change the fact that their home ballpark will always be a problem.

How much of a problem? Consider that the Rockies have an ERA of 4.70 on the road. That's not great. But then bring those same pitchers to Coors Field and they have an ERA of 5.91 at home. The team has given up 31 homers on the road and 52 at home. Teams are batting .278 against this pitching staff on the road and .313 at Coors. They just don't have the right pitchers for that park...if there is such a thing. What Jorge De La Rosa (sorely missed) and Ubaldo Jimenez at least seemed to prove was that Coors Field requires power arms as power does not always depend on movement to succeed.

It also has not helped that Juan Nicasio and Jhoulys Chacin--two pitchers who have at least a fighting chance to pitch well--have been hurt. Will this current strategy change when those two return? The linked article from Troy Renck, the very fine beat writer for the Denver Post, listed the reaction from some of the pitchers such as Jeremy Guthrie and Jeff Francis as a positive. Jim Tracy seems to inspire that kind of loyalty. But a good player manager aside, you still need talent to win. And the Rockies do not have that kind of pitching talent. At least, not in that ballpark.

The Rockies have tried ten different guys in the starting rotation thus far. They have used twenty-one pitchers overall. That is a staggering lack of continuity. At least a four man rotation would hope to give you some of that continuity, but which four will it be? It won't be Jeremy Guthrie, who has been sent to the bullpen. The rest are young guys like Christian Friedrich, Alex White and Josh Outman. Those young guys have never pitched every fourth day...not in the minors, not in the majors. Is there a risk doing that to young arms? In light of that, you can understand the pitch limit, but even so, isn't this risky?

So what are the alternatives? They could scour the earth for pitchers. Livan Hernandez is out there. Ben Sheets has been holding workouts for teams to see. Find someone who can help this team. Secondly, find a way to limit walks. Only the Cubs have walked more batters in the majors this season than the Rockies. The last thing this staff needs is to allow free base runners. And while they are at it, how about calling for less intentional walks, Mr. Tracy? Only one other team has intentionally walked more batters. The last thing the Rockies staff needs is more base runners. Take your chances with pitching to opposing batters in those situations.

But again, can you ever field a decent pitching staff in Coors Field? It can be better than this one, yes. But that ballpark in that air will never be a benefit to the Rockies. How do you fix that problem? You can't. But this move seems desperate and a bit ridiculous. That bullpen is already overworked due to poor starting pitching. Now you are institutionalizing their overuse. This is not going to be pretty. But then again, it has been ugly all season.

Game Picks - Wednesday: June 20, 2012

Tuesday was not a bad picking day. There were some surprises. Asdrubal Cabrera hitting a walkoff on Aroldis Chapman was one. The Oakland A's getting great work from Brandon McCarthy was another. The Cubs win over the White Sox was surprising and the Pirates should have been picked. Luke Hochevar continues to baffle and Daniel Hudson was creamed. But again, it's not a bad day when you can correctly pick the end of the Yankees' winning streak and a bunch of other picks go the right way.

Among the full slate of games today, there are four day games on this getaway day. Sweet. Wednesday's picks:

  • The Yankees over the Braves: The Braves had to do everything right to beat the Yankees yesterday and they did. Neither pitcher in the game inspires a 100% vote of confidence as it is Tommy Hanson versus Phil Hughes. The Yankees have some trouble with power pitchers. It will depend on how well Hughes does the second time around with the Braves' lineup.
  • The Royals over the Astros: Bruce Chen has been awful of late. But this is the kind of game he should win. Jordan Lyles goes for the Astros.
  • The Brewers over the Blue Jays: With Jose Bautista and Colby Rasmus being as hot as they are, the pick would seem to swing to the Blue Jays, but they have yet to announce a starting pitcher and their rotation is decimated. Yovani Gallardo goes for the Brewers.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Mariners: Trever Cahill slows down some hot Mariner hitters and Jason Vargas allows three or more runs to the Diamondbacks.
  • The Indians over the Reds: Have picked the Reds twice in a row in this series. That hasn't worked out too well. So let's go with a good performance from Justin Masterson and the Indians hit a dinger or two off of Bronson Arroyo.
  • The Phillies over the Rockies: Joe Blanton had a great start to the season and has since leveled off to mediocrity. But he just has to pitch a decent game as the Phillies should hit Alex White around pretty good.
  • The Pirates over the Twins: This picker is tired of picking against the Pirates and paying for it. So let's go the other way. Erik Bedard isn't great, but he's better at home. Francisco Liriano is the wild card. You never know how he will  do.
  • The Tigers over the Cardinals: Not feeling either Rick Porcello or Jake Westbrook in this one. So going with the hotter Tigers as they are also the home team.
  • The Nationals over the Bay Rays: The Rays get a taste of their own medicine as they face a strong young pitcher in Stephen Strasburg. The schedule lists Jeremy Hellickson as the Rays starter, but he just went on the DL, didn't he? The Rays will have to summon someone from the minors to pitch this game.
  • The Orioles over the Mets: The Orioles are starting to sag a bit. But Brian Matusz should succeed against the Mets who are seriously undermined by left-handed pitching that neutralizes Ike Davis and Lucas Duda. Dillon Gee will keep the Mets in the game.
  • The Red Sox over the Marlins: The Marlins made a mistake by hiring Ozzie Guillen. He simply isn't the right guy for this group of players. Felix Doubront has been great this season. Ricky Nolasco will get hit by the Red Sox.
  • The Cubs over the White Sox: What the heck, if you can't beat them, join them. Randy Wells gets another shot at the Cubs' rotation, his 746th shot, that is. But Gavin Floyd has looked terrible this season.
  • The Athletics over the Dodgers: Whenever Nathan Eolvaldi pitches, the Dodgers can't hit. Tommy Milone is a good source of that continuing as he is great at the Coliseum.
  • The Giants over the Angels: Ryan Vogelsong shuts down the hot Angel bats and Jered Weaver struggles on his return from the disabled list.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Rangers over the Padres: Yu Darvish seemed to reclaim his stud status with his last outing and the Padres have never seen him. Anthony Bass is not pitching very well.

Yesterday: 9-6
Week: 24-14
Month; 146-108
Season: 547-449
Games of the Day: 46-28

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Disabled List All Star Team

Great players on the disabled list is a terrible thing. Oh, it may aid your favorite team if the star of the opposing team cannot play, but for the most part, it deprives baseball fans of seeing the best talent on the field. In some cases like Grady Sizemore, it deprives fans of seeing how great a career could have been. Injuries are the bane of baseball. For pitchers, there are the dreaded shoulder or elbow problems. But just as prevalent these days are upper body muscle strains. Knee injuries are the worst for position players but hamstring and other body pulls are right up there with them. To give you an idea of what we are missing, the following list is an All Star team made up of great players currently on the disabled list. We miss you guys.

And these are just the best players currently on the disabled list. There are many more either young or exciting players that fans around the majors are missing. It is a shame, really. A fact of life, but a darn shame.

Game Picks - Tuesday: June 19, 2012

This game picker did a lot around the house yesterday and despite going to bed early, this old man was feeling it and overslept. So the picks are late today. Sorry about that. But it was a good day yesterday as the picks went 7-2. The only two blemishes were understandable. The Indians - Reds game came down to which team would score more runs and the wrong team did. The other incorrect pick was the Astros over the Royals. And the question there was: Why did the Royals' manager leave Louis Coleman out there to die?

Tuesday brings us back to a full slate of games. The picks:

  • The Braves over the Yankees: All streaks have to end some time. This seems like the day the Yankees will lose. Tim Hudson will silence the Yankee bats and Hiroki Kuroda will give up a couple of homers.
  • The Reds over the Indians: A real tough game to call. Mike Leake and Josh Tomlin are both just as capable at throwing good games as of throwing clunkers. It could be a 3-2 game just as easily as another 10-9 game.
  • The Phillies over the Rockies: Cole Hamels continues his march toward a big contract and Josh Outman continues to make his last name a baseball oxymoron. The Rockies are not a good road team.
  • The Twins over the Pirates: Scott Diamond bounces back from his bad start against the Phillies while Kevin Correia gives up enough runs for the Twins to take the game.
  • The Tigers over the Cardinals: A real terrific match up of Lance Lynn and Justin Verlander. The feeling here is that Verlander is going to be amped up to show the youngster who the better pitcher really is and will completely shut the Cardinals down. Lynn is great but won't be able to match Verlander.
  • The Bay Rays over the Nationals: David Price should be able to shut down the Nats' lineup and the Rays will find a way to score a few off of Chien-Ming Wang.
  • The Mets over the Orioles: Johan Santana is great at Citi Field and should hold the Orioles down. Tommy Hunter is doing okay for the Orioles but Ike Davis, now looking a lot like the real Ike Davis, will be a factor.
  • The Astros over the Royals: Going with some great deal of hesitance with Wandy Rodriguez in this one over Luke Hochevar, the most confusing pitcher in baseball.
  • The White Sox over the Cubs: Jake Peavy seems like the best pick at U.S. Cellular Field even though the Cubs' offense is hot. Travis Wood is a lefty that could give the White Sox some problems. But the White Sox win.
  • The Blue Jays over the Brewers: How can you pick a game where the Blue Jays are pitching a minor league pitcher, Jesse Chavez, and the Brewers don't even know yet who is going to pitch? Hate games with a TBO!
  • The Diamondbacks over the Mariners: The Mariners go again with Erasmo Ramirez (ugh) while the Diamondbacks pitch Daniel Hudson. Hudson has to be the pick here.
  • The Dodgers over the Athletics: Brandon McCarthy goes for the A's despite being shut down a couple of times already this season with shoulder pain. That does not bode well for picking the A's. Meanwhile, Aaron Harang is a pitcher built for big ballparks and The Coliseum is certainly that.
  • The Angels over the Giants: The match up of C.J. Wilson against Barry Zito seems to favor Wilson. But Zito can always have a surprisingly good game. Doubtful though.
  • The Rangers over the Padres: Are you kidding? A pick for Scott Feldman? Is this picker out of his mind? Maybe. But the Rangers score more runs against Edinson Volquez

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Red Sox over the Marlins: A little home cooking for the Red Sox should do the trick here, especially with the way Clay Buchholz has been pitching. Mark Buehrle will yield enough runs to swing this one the Red Sox way.

Yesterday: 7-2
Week: 15-8
Month: 137-102
Season: 539-443  really want to get to 100 games over!
Games of the Day: 45-28

Monday, June 18, 2012

Hall of Very Good knows anniversaries

The Hall of Very Good baseball blog is celebrating an anniversary and doing so in style. In the interest of promoting great stuff for the Fan's readers, here are some links and the press release:

It seems like just yesterday that I took a discussion I had with a buddy about Albert Belle and banged out a quick opinion piece on his Hall of Fame credentials.  Now, five years and more than 1300 posts later, The Hall of Very Good™ is set to celebrate its birthday in style.

And you’re all invited…free of charge!
Beginning Monday, June 18, we (yes, “we”…more on that later) are kicking off the month long “HOVG Heroes” series.  What exactly is “HOVGHeroes”?  It’s funny that I suggested you asked…let me lay it out for you.

From the time you hit the site next Monday through the Friday leading up to the Hall of Fame induction ceremony July 22 in Cooperstown , you’ll be greeted, daily, with a new, different, original post hitting The Hall of Very Good™.  And the nature of these pieces is simple…to shed light on those players that haven’t been invited to join the immortals in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Sound familiar?  It should.  The very notion of a “Hall of Very Good” is something I started doing five years ago and now, I’ve got a few dozen of my favorite people contributing original pieces where they share the stories of their favorite players.

And I’ll tell you this…it was easy to get people to take part.

I’ll be releasing some of the names via The Hall of Very Good™ Facebook page and Twitter account throughout the upcoming week and I can assure you this…each contributor has their own unique style.  These aren’t people who you haven’t heard of either.  In the mix are guys who you’ve seen, heard and read on a national level.  And since I was fortunate enough to be the Baseball Bloggers Alliance’s first general baseball blog…you know I had to partner up with some of its most creative writers as well.

But the star studded list of contributors isn’t even the best part about “HOVG Heroes”.

At the conclusion of this series, we’ll actually be inducting someone into The Hall of Very Good™.  Yes, five weeks from now, there will be, officially, an inaugural member of The Hall of Very Good™.

Who is it?  You’ll know the week of July 16.

“Hall of Fame Chatter, Milestones and Musings”…it’s what The Hall of Very Good™ has been about since day one and with the help of countless individuals, it’s what it will continue to be about.
Many congrats on the milestone and may many more years of happy blogging be realized.

Should the Red Sox go for Garza or Dempster?

The Boston Red Sox are in a strange place this season. They find themselves in last place in a competitive American League East division. The Orioles, Rays and Yankees all look strong and are on top of them. But despite their erratic play, the Red Sox remain only four games behind the wild card leading Orioles and there are two wild cards spots available this season. The Red Sox have to quickly assess if they are contenders or if this is a transition season and look to long-term goals.

That assessment could decide if the Red Sox go after players at the trade deadline or divest themselves of some of their own high profile players. In a season where rampant speculation on the trade of Kevin Youkilis exists side by side with speculation about possibly going after Matt Garza or Ryan Dempster. Even if the Red Sox decide they are contenders, both moves could happen. The Cubs, of course, will not want Youkilis. It seems his best days are behind him, though he could benefit a lot of contenders around baseball who are weak at third base.

If the Red Sox do decide they can still compete this season, they have little pitching help in the minors to draw on. The Pawtucket Red Sox, the team's Triple-A affiliate, are chock full of outcasts signed as fillers and fliers. Among all of the starters at Pawtucket, only one is a semi-prospect and that is Alex Wilson. The rest are of the likes of Billy Buckner, Brandon Duckworth, Justin Germano, Doug Mathis and Tony Pena. Hardly an inspiring bunch.

The Red Sox have three spots in the rotation that can be considered solid, Felix Doubront, Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester. Daisuke Matsuzaka has made two outings coming back from elbow reconstruction surgery and has shown that he could possibly work out. Josh Beckett has shoulder problems that have landed him on the disabled list. It is unknown at this point how effective Beckett will be the rest of the season or how often he can be counted on to pitch. Daniel Bard seems like a failed experiment and is currently residing in Pawtucket.

And thus, another starter would possibly be helpful to this team. But what if Beckett does come back strong in a couple of weeks and Dice-K pitches well, what would you then do with Garza or Dempster? The more this team is studied, the more it seems that it is much better than it has performed thus far. Adrian Gonzalez is not having a good season. Put him back at first base and leave him there. Trade Youkilis. Get some help back with Jacoby Ellsbury and this team seems very competitive.

The bullpen has actually worked out quite well for the Red Sox. They are perhaps overused and overexposed at times. But Alfredo Aceves is solid. Vincente Padilla is better than expected. Scott Atchison and Matt Albers have been effective. So what does this team need then? It appears to need little.

The overwhelming thought here is that besides trading Youkilis, the Red Sox should stand pat and if they do need another pitcher, Justin Germano seems like the safest bet from Pawtucket. He has good control and is pitching well in Triple-A. Theo Epstein knows the Red Sox system better than anyone and there isn't a whole lot there to get back for Garza or Dempster. And of what there is, the Red Sox will not want to part easily with it.

The Red Sox have to be considered as outside the odds on competing this season. But they are better than they have played and as the Yankees have shown, a hot couple of weeks can change things in a hurry. Either the Red Sox will continue to spin along with mediocrity or they will put it all together and compete. Either way, it doesn't seem that they would need anything to accomplish both possible outcomes.

Game Picks - Monday: June 18, 2012

The Father's Day Game Picks edition was just barely above a wash. But considering the day itself with a fun round of golf, perfect weather and two phone calls from the kids, it was still a perfect day here at the top of Maine. And besides, nothing that happened in the picks could match the kind of bad day that Jim Furyk had yesterday. Poor blighter.

Interleague play keeps rolling along. What is this, the third week now? Must be. Anyway, Monday is a travel day for quite a few teams or an off day depending how you look at it. But, there are still nine games on the schedule and that is not bad. Here are Monday's picks:

  • The Yankees over the Braves: Until this streak ends, you simply have to keep picking the Yankees. C.C. Sabathia is the ace and though he hasn't pitched like one lately, that is still the case. Mike Minor pitched his best game ever against the Yankees last time. So perhaps it will be interesting.
  • The Reds over the Indians: Mat Latos is pitching really well. Derek Lowe has fallen on some hard times. The Indians' lineup is spotting and inconsistent. The only hesitation with this pick is the fact that the Indians are at home.
  • The Mets over the Orioles: Jake Arrieta pitched really well his last time out but hasn't had a good season overall. And this picker picked against ten-game winner, R.A. Dickey last time and that was a dumb mistake that won't be repeated.
  • The Royals over the Astros: The Royals are really playing well of late. But this pitching match up is for the birds. Jonathan Sanchez (Ugh) goes for the Royals against J.A. Happ who has been really bad over his last four starts.
  • The Cubs over the White Sox: In any other game, this pick would be for the White Sox, but the White Sox are starting Zach Stewart, who has been in the bullpen and ineffective doing that. Matt Garza has a chance to win at least for the Cubs.
  • The Brewers over the Blue Jays: Henerson Alvarez has turned into a home run producing machine this season. The Brewers have some guys who can hit the ball out. The Brewers also play really tough at home. Going with them and Randy Wolf.
  • The Giants over the Angels: It's difficult to pick against Jerome Williams. But the pick has to go for Matt Cain. The caveat is that no pitcher that has pitched a no-hitter or perfect game this season has had a good outing the next time out. Cain seems built to buck that trend.
  • The Rangers over the Padres: Matt Harrison was just featured here this week in praise. So it would be sort of stupid to pick against him, wouldn't it? Jason Marquis goes for the Padres who are at home. The Rangers lose a bat in the lineup, but have plenty more.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Diamondbacks over the Mariners: Wade Miley his having a nice season and should win at home. Hector Noesi has often pitched well but lost. Noesi has sometimes pitched really badly and lost too. Either way, he loses.

Yesterday: 8-7
Week: 8-7
Month: 130-100
Season: 532-441
Games of the Day: 44-28

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Game Picks - Sunday: June 17, 2012

Yesterday's picks were off to a delightful 5-0 start and after the Yankees won in extra innings, it seemed it was going to be a great day. Wrong. The picks then finished with a 2-8 flourish to sink the day into the red. What went wrong? Well...lots. It did not take the Marlins a thousand games to beat the Rays. But it did take fifteen innings. Ervin Santana, who couldn't buy a good start this season for all his facial hair, pitched a one-hitter. Tim Lincecum fooled this picker again. The Athletics rallied against the usually reliable Padres' bullpen.  Chad Billingsley and Philip Humber each had a bad inning. But the White Sox scored one more run. And then there was A.J. Burnett.

Even with the down day, the week ended with a nice tally and the month is up nicely. The Game of the Day feature is on a four-day roll. Sunday puts a cap on the weekend's series. Let's see if the picks can end them in style too: The picks:

  • The Tigers over the Rockies: Something weird is happening. Picking the Tigers hasn't been awful lately. What's with that? Max Scherzer over Jeremy Guthrie.
  • The Indians over the Pirates: This pick did not work out yesterday. Jeanmar Gomez doesn't inspire much confidence. But then again, neither does Brad Lincoln.
  • The Blue Jays over the Phillies: The Phillies just keep sinking. Kyle Kendrick is still in the rotation and that doesn't help. Brett Cecil is back from Hades to pitch for the Blue Jays. Welcome back to the real world, son.
  • The Orioles over the Braves: This pick burned yesterday when the Braves were picked. Those Orioles are good! Wei-Yin Chen has been solid for them as well. Randall Delgado is a different story for the Braves.
  • The Yankees over the Nationals: It is all about symmetry. The Yankees win their ninth in a row while Ivan Nova wins his ninth. The sweep will be the third in a row and Edwin Jackson is 3-3. See? It's all numerology.
  • The Marlins over the Bay Rays: The Marlins broke the hex yesterday. Josh Johnson slices up a weak lineup and the Marlins get to Alex Cobb.
  • The Brewers over the Twins: Nick Blackburn has a 7.68 ERA. Zack Greinke has a 2.97 ERA. Isn't that reason enough for this pick?
  • The Cardinals over the Royals: Luis Mendoza had a great game last time out and still did not win. With the Cardinals' lineup, don't expect Mendoza's day to go quite as well this time out. Adam Wainwright has picked up in velocity in his last two starts and his results are improving.
  • The Rangers over the Astros: This pick isn't so much a ringing endorsement of Colby Lewis. More so, it's skepticism concerning some kid named, Dallas Kuechel, making his major league debut for the Astros. The kid started the year in Double-A.
  • The Angels over the Diamondbacks: This picker needs to stop picking with his heart with Ian Kennedy. He just hasn't been that good this season. Garrett Richards has been good in his first two starts.
  • The Athletics over the Padres: Uh...somebody has to win. Bartolo Colon and Clayton Richard. You could pick this either way. The last two picks have featured pitchers named, Richards, and Richard. Strange.
  • The Dodgers over the White Sox: Chris Capuano should hold the White Sox down with lots of strikeouts. But Jose Quintana has been pretty darned good for the White Sox.
  • The Giants over the Mariners: Felix Hernandez simply isn't right. Whether it is his back or something else. This isn't the same guy. Madison Bumgarner, on the other hand, has been terrific.
  • The Cubs over the Red Sox: This could be one butt-ugly game as the Red Sox are forced to start Franklin Morales. That's right, Franklin Morales. The Cubs Paul Maholm could get creamed by the Red Sox lineup too. Yikes. The fans in the stand better duck and take cover.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Reds over the Mets: Johnny Cueto has been pretty much a lock to pick. And the feeling here is that Joey Votto is going to do something special against Chris Young, the pitching version.

Yesterday: 7-8
Last week: 52-38
Month: 122-93
Season: 524-434
Games of the Day: 43-28