Saturday, August 04, 2012

Game Picks - Saturday: August 4, 2012

Friday was highly successful and it could not have come at a better time. With sixteen games being played, a great day with the picks could rescue a week that had two really bad days. And that is just what happened. Only four picks were incorrect. Those plucky Twins beat the Red Sox, 6-5. Justin Morneau and Jimmy Carroll each went 4-4 and Carroll drove in the winning run. The Marlins, behind Josh Johnson, won the second game of their double- header with the Nationals. A sweep was predicted. The White Sox never gave up after blowing a four-run lead and came back to beat the Angels. And R.A. Dickey lost a heart- breaker to the Padres as Clayton Richard pitched well and the Mets' defense let Dickey down. Those were the only four incorrect picks all day.

It would be nice to have another good day on Saturday to end the week looking like it was a good week. Here are Saturday's picks:
  • The Yankees over the Mariners: This could be a tough day for the Yankee hitters as Felix Hernandez already beat the Yankees his last time out. But that was in Seattle and this one is at the Stadium in the Bronx. Hiroki Kuroda needs to come up big for the Yankees. And my my my my Kuroda has been brilliant in day games this season.
  • The Athletics over the Blue Jays: Ricky Romero has not been good and that is putting it politely. On the other hand, A.J. Griffin has been very good, particularly at home in Oakland where this one is being played.
  • The Rangers over the Royals: Scott Feldman has slowly gotten better as the season has progressed. He should hold the Royals back enough so that the Rangers have time to dispatch with Will Smith. Smith has trouble with left-handed swingers so look for Josh Hamilton to do something big today.
  • The Phillies over the Diamondbacks: The feeling here is that Roy Halladay has been somewhat forgotten this season and he will have a great day and make people remember that he is the best pitcher of this generation. Joe Saunders will not get in the way of that happening.
  • The Tigers over the Indians: The Indians have become a sad bunch and simply aren't scaring anyone. Sure, Ubaldo Jimenez could have a big game. But Doug Fister will match him and the Tigers can win late if they need to.
  • The Nationals over the Marlins: Here is the thing: Mark Buehrle keeps his team in the game almost all of the time. But he will always give up three or four runs. The Marlins have trouble scoring three or four runs, and that is the problem. Jordan Zimmermann sure has a good season going.
  • The White Sox over the Angels: Tough pick here. Neither Gavin Floyd nor Ervin Santana are a joy to pick to win a ballgame. That being said, it will come down to the bullpens. The White Sox have a better pen than the Angels and hence the final decision on the pick.
  • The Rays over the Orioles: The bad news for the Orioles is that they never score many runs off of Jeremy Hellickson. The good news is that the Rays have trouble scoring runs and should struggle against Wei-Yin Chen. But the Rays always find a way to win these kinds of games.
  • The Astros over the Braves: This is the upset pick of the month and a scary one. Lucas Harrell has been good for the Astros but always loses. But this pick is based on it being Paul Maholm's first start for the Braves. The first start for any pitcher traded this season has been awful. Look it up. Not a gem in the lot.
  • The Red Sox over the Twins: Clay Buccholz has come on strong and is having a very good season. Too bad he has so little help in the rotation. Cole De Vries has been decent, but decent isn't usually good enough against the Red Sox' lineup.
  • The Pirates over the Reds: Wow, is this a tough pick! Both James McDonald and Mike Leake have struggled lately. Which one bounces back tonight? McDonald has the kind of stuff to overcome the small ballpark. Not sure Leake does. No clue on this one.
  • The Giants over the Rockies: Madison Bumgarner has decent numbers at Coors Field and decent is all the Giants will need here. Jeff Francis is a battler, but the Giants win this one.
  • The Padres over the Mets: Edinson Volquez is no picnic to pick to win a ballgame. But this picker can't see Jeremy Hefner winning a game for the Mets either. Going with the Padres.
  • The Dodgers over the Cubs: Chris Volstad is back for the Cubs after that team traded everyone else away. You have to feel bad for Volstad in how his career path has gone downhill. But picking games isn't about sympathy and neither is Clayton Kershaw, who was back to being dominant his last time out.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Cardinals over the Brewers: The Cardinals rarely lose to the Brewers in their home ballpark and today should not be any different. Adam Wainwright will have a good game and even if he doesn't, Mark Rogers will only go five or six innings for the Brewers and that terrible bullpen of theirs will have to get twelve outs. Good luck with that.

Yesterday: 12-4
Week: 44-38
Month: 24-17
Season: 866-703
Games of the Day: 65-50

Friday, August 03, 2012

The lowest pitching game score in 72 years

It happened on this date in 1998 in a game between the Yankees and the A's.

The Brady Bunch Myth

Hey good readers, your humble Fan has a guest post over at Firebrand of the American League, a member of ESPN's Sweet Spot Network. The piece covers Bobby Valentine and the Red Sox from a slightly different (hopefully) angle. Go take a look (please):

Game Picks - Friday: August 3, 2012

Thursday was awful and it was the second time in four days that the picks really got schmucked. But you know what? We are not going to discuss it. It happened. It is part of the past. It is over. Let's move on.

There are sixteen big games on tap for today thanks in part to a double-header between the Miami Marlins and Washington Nationals in Washington. That is a lot of ballgames. But nobody is complaining about that! Here are Friday's picks:

  • The Nationals over the Marlins: Brad Hand is being called up by the Marlins to pitch this one. Hand was not awful in his starts last year with a 4.25 ERA, but he still went, 1-8. His ERA is 3.88 in Triple-A this season. John Lannon goes for the Nationals and he usually keeps his team in the game long enough to win. And then he'll get sent down again. Poor guy.
  • The Nationals over the Marlins: Gio Gonzalez and Josh Johnson seem to cancel each other out and when that is the case, look at the bullpens and look at who is the home team. The Nationals win the nod on all counts including a better offense.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Phillies: Dare this picker dip back into the Ian Kennedy pool? He is 3-0 in his last three starts and is starting to look like last year's version. The Phillies counter with their depleted lineup and Joe Blanton.
  • The Tigers over the Indians: These are the kinds of games the Tigers should always win. But that hasn't meant much this season. Anibal Sanchez again tries his luck with his new team. He should do better than his last time out with the Indians' lineup. Justin Masterson can be very good at times. Others, not so much.
  • The Yankees over the Mariners: Everything points to a Yankees win in this one. They are at home. They get Kevin Millwood again, who they have seen three times already this season. And C.C. Sabathia is on the mound. Sabathia has not pitched well and is not his ace-like self. He puts it together today.
  • The Bay Rays over the Orioles: The Orioles are the better hitting team, but Matt Moore is starting to look up to the hype set for him before the season. Moore should hold the Orioles down while the Rays score a few off of Tommy Hunter.
  • The Red Sox over the Twins: Felix Doubront should neutralize Mauer, Morneau and company long enough for the Red Sox to score four or five on Brian Duensing. The Twins won the first game of the series.
  • The Reds over the Pirates: The first game of this big series this weekend pits Wandy Rodriguez against Mat Latos. Latos should prevail at home and Wandy will give up at least one yard piece.
  • The Angels over the White Sox: The Angels had a tough series in Texas to overcome. Zack Greinke was brought over for just this reason. If he does his job, the Angels will take care of Philip Humber and win the game.
  • The Rangers over the Royals: The Rangers' arms have to be stiff after doing all that swinging against the Angels. But they should have enough bats left over to give Matt Harrison an easy win over poor Jeremy Guthrie.
  • The Cardinals over the Brewers: Randy Wolf and Joe Kelly isn't a match-up to light up a marquee. But the Cards are at home and should take care of the out of it Brewers.
  • The Giants over the Rockies: Jonathan Sanchez faces his former team. Should not matter though as Ryan Vogelsong should be good enough despite Coors to win.
  • The Mets over the Padres: R.A. Dickey gets a big ballpark to throw his knucker. He should be quite stingy with the runs and give the Mets the win despite Clayton Richard being good at home.
  • The Athletics over the Blue Jays: The A's have this inexhaustible well of young pitchers they can keep bringing up from the minors. Today it will be Dan Straily making his major league debut. He only leads the minors in strikeouts. That's all. Sheesh. Brett Cecil isn't having any fun.
  • The Dodgers over the Cubs: Chad Billingsley should win at home despite Jeff Samardzija pitching for the Cubs. Should is the operative word though.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Braves over the Astros: Those poor Astros. They have lost 28 times in their last 31 games. Ouch. Make it 29 of 32 as Tim Hudson gets his 100th win as a member of the Braves. Armando Galarraga won't have much to say about it either. Picking the Astros to lose for the Game of the Day is sort of like cheating.

Yesterday: 3-6
Week: 32-34
Month: 12-13
Season: 854-699
Games of the Day: 64-50

Thursday, August 02, 2012

BBA Linkfest - dog days in general

Hello! And welcome to another of our weekly edition of the BBA Linkfest where you are presented with links to the best writing around the General Chapter of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance. Why the heading? Not really sure to be honest with you. People always say that we are in the "Dog Days of August." The month is among this link compiler's favorites so it makes no sense. But since this is the first linkfest in August, that was what came to mind. One thing for sure, there are no dogs in these links. So click a lot and enjoy a lot.

Today we are going to start in the middle alphabetically in reverse order (whatever that means):

Let's start over at Full Spectrum Baseball and a great article by Gary Perilloux and his thoughts about the Great American Baseball Novel. 

Over at For Baseball Junkies, The OCP has a lengthy but enjoyable read on the Phillies' luxury tax. Excellent. 

Our German affiliate, Dugout 24, has a post on the top ten MLB Twitter accounts. Cool.

Good buddy, TheNaturalMevs of Diamond Hoggers writes about when good things happen in a great baseball town.

Matt Whitener of Cheap.Seats.Please writes some interesting points about the impossible situation the Phillies found themselves in with Cole Hamels.

Spencer Hendricks of Call to the Pen writes that the West just got wilder. Indeed it did!

Chris Carelli of The Baseball Stance wrote an excellent article (just today in fact) on the effect the trade deadline has on teams. Excellent read.

Baseball Unrated features a post on the dramatic fall to earth of the Milwaukee Brewers. Let's hope it is a one year blip.

Has this compiler mentioned that Stevo-sama writes the best baseball recaps ever? Here is his latest awesomeness from The Baseball Enthusiast.

Eugene Tierney's Trade Deadline Tracker over at 85% Sports has been super cool to watch. Celebrate it now in all its completeness now that the deadline is over.

Leave it to Larry Granillo of Wezen-ball to be marrying a talented writer. She's been keeping his old site warm while he writes in other important places. This piece is so good! 

Scott Engell of the X-Log has a fantastic interview with David Wright. Love it!

Jed Rigney of Through the Fence Baseball wins the post of the week award this week with his rating of the trade deadline results on his "Baldwin Scale."  Brilliant.

Sully of Sully Baseball is agog at the walk off Athletics of Oakland.

Some of this compiler's favorite people were recently part of a new project with a really long and cool title. Replacement Level Baseball Blog participated and has some thoughts on the project.

Want to have some fun? Pop over to The Platoon Advantage and play a word association game with TCM.

Wanda Fischer wrote a great piece for The Pop Fly Boys on Casper Wells as the hometown boy. Great.

Old Time Family Baseball ponders the mystery of Josh Hamilton. Good luck figuring that one out.

Nik of Niktig's Baseball Blog sums up the needs of the contending teams.

Bernie Olshansky of MLB Reports tries to figure out if the Dodgers or Giants will win the NL West. It's going to be crazy, no?

Jonathan Mitchell of MLB Dirt has an excellent breakdown of the Ryan Dempster trade.

In a well-written piece, Peter Verniere tries to pin down his feelings on his team landing Francisco Liriano.

Left Field confirms his place among this compiler's favorite writers with this highly personal piece on a former Yankee captain. Well done, man.

Theo of Hot Corner Harbor has put a lot of work into thinking about what players playing today will be in the Hall of Fame some day. Here is the third part of this wonderful series.

Grubby Glove has done a fantastic job with a very cool mission.

Have a great week, everyone!

Game Picks - Thursday: August 2, 2012

After early day games yesterday, the picks stood at 4-0. The rest of the day did not go so well and only four more picks were correct over the course of the day. That was highly disappointing. Jon Niese out-dueled Matt Cain. Vance Worley did indeed get his act together after several bad starts. The picks worried about that with good reason. The Braves lost too. Seattle beat Toronto and the picks had it the other way around. The Royals beat the Indians in a series that could have anything happen. And Alex Cobb of the Rays pitched better than Jarrod Parker as the A's are cooling off. The bottom line ended up being a game over .500 and another loss for the Game of the Day. Boogers.

Thursday is a little on the light side as there are nine games on the schedule. At least a couple of them are day games, which is cool. Here are Thursday's picks:

  • The Reds over the Padres: If these two teams played a hundred games, the Reds should win 95 of them. Johnny Cueto is already a Cy Young Award candidate and is pitching in a big ballpark against a team not noted for their bats. That should go well. Ross Ohlendorf is always a wild card.
  • The Giants over the Mets: This series has been all Mets as either they have pitched really well or the Giants' bats have gone silent. The last game of the series gives the Mets, Barry Zito. That sounds good for the Mets, except they are pitching Chris Young. Tough one to call.
  • The Braves over the Marlins: The Braves have stumbled a bit in this series and Nathan Eovaldi is a pretty good pitcher for the Fish. The pick just feels better with Mike Minor instead.
  • The Red Sox over the Twins: Oh where have you gone, Jon Lester? Perhaps this will be the game you seem more like yourself. The Twins are raking pretty well, so time will tell. Sam Deduno had a great outing against the Indians. was the Indians.
  • The Rangers over the Angels: This game is so screwy to pick. First off, it will be Ryan Dempster's first start with the Rangers. How many big time traded pitchers won their first game out for their new team this season? None. The Angels counter with C.J. Wilson who hasn't fared too well against his old team. So which way do you go? After the way the Rangers kept after that game yesterday, you have to go with them.
  • The Indians over the Royals: This is completely an ugh pick. Cory Kluber is being called up to pitch for the Indians. Who the heck is that!? He has good numbers at Triple A. Bruce Chen will slow, slower, slowest you to death and sometimes to his own team.
  • The Cardinals over the Rockies: This series has been predictable as the Cards' two most soft-tossing starters bent but were rescued by their high-powered offense. Tonight, Lance Lynn will throw a bit harder but will probably need his team's bats to stay hot. Alex White was recalled from the minors to have another shot at the Coors. Way to set up the young man for failure.
  • The Blue Jays over the Athletics: The Blue Jays love fastballs. Bartolo Colon throws a lot of fastballs. Colon, or Shrek as he is called in our house, was decent his last time out. This game is all about how well Henderson Alvarez pitches. If Alvarez is good, the Blue Jays will win. If he isn't, they won't. 

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Phillies over the Nationals: Cole Hamels was awful his last time out. But it might have been a big contract hangover. That happens a lot. He should be better in this one and Ross Detwiler should give up a run or two more than him.

Yesterday: 8-7
Week: 29-28
Month: 8-7
Season: 851-693
Games of the Day: 64-49

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Have the Cardinals missed Pujols?

When Albert Pujols signed this past off-season with the Angels, the Cardinals responded by signing Carlos Beltran. The Beltran signing turned out to be a stroke of brilliance as the future Hall of Fame outfielder has had a great season. The Beltran signing also meant at the time that Lance Berkman would slide back to first where he is best suited and Berkman could deliver offense somewhat worthy of the numbers Pujols put up last season. But it hasn't turned out that way as Berkman missed most of this season with injuries. So that means, the Cardinals have really missed Pujols, right? Not exactly.

The Cardinals have had to piecemeal the position and no less than four players have played first base for the team more than twenty games apiece. They include Berkman (21 games), Matt Carpenter (33), Matt Adams (24) and Allen Craig (39). Frankly, the defense has suffered a bit. Pujols was a very good first baseman. But in this observer's opinion, part of his range metrics were due to him ranging way too far to his right to take balls the second basemen would have easily handled. The second base position for the Cardinals is rating higher this season with part of the territory going back to their hands. But overall, the Cardinals miss Pujols' fielding. But offense?

Yes, they miss him a little bit, mostly on the power side. here are the Cardinals' totals from the first base position last year and this year:

  • 2011 - .292/.367/.522, 38 homers, 32 doubles, no triples, 106 RBI, 113 runs scored.
  • 2012 - .291/.366/.499, 14 homers, 30 doubles, 5 triples, 67 RBI, 61 runs scored.

The 2012 season has 59 games remaining, or a little over a third to go. If you extrapolate those numbers for a full season, there should be 21 homers, 7 triples, 45 doubles, 102 RBI and 92 runs scored. There is less homer firepower, but the rest of the numbers hold their own. That slight loss has been made up in right field where Beltran and others account for an .888 OPS compared to last year's, .858. So overall, the loss of Pujols on offense for the Cardinals has not been as dramatic as you would think. In fact, it has been negligible.

The four players mentioned that have played the position have also played other positions. So the comparison is not exactly apples to apples. But those four players have accounted for 3.4 fWAR during this season. That compares to Pujuls' 5.1 of a season ago with again, a third of the season to go. The position should garner another win or so of fWAR over the rest of the season almost getting the team to where it was with Pujols.

If you add in the emergence of Craig, the fantastic season for Matt Holliday, the great seasons from Yadier Molina and David Freese and the addition of Beltran and this offense is every bit as good as the Pujols-led offense of a year ago. Of course, a year ago, the team won a World Series. They do not look good to repeat as of this writing. But you can't blame the offense that has more than made up for the loss of its former Hall of Fame first baseman.

Game Picks - Wednesday: August 1, 2012

The last day of July provided a bit of a bounce-back after that debacle of a Monday as the picks evened up the week. It was not a spectacular day with six incorrect out of fifteen. But, it was certainly better at least. The Yankees lost...again. Matt Harvey was great again for the Mets but his defense let him down and Tim Lincecum was better. The Angels got bombs from Mike Trout and two from Albert Pujols to sink Derek Holland and the Rangers. The Rays blew up Tommy Milone and James Shields gave up nothing. And Stephen Strasburg had a really bad day against the Phillies. And Justin Verlander lost...again. Those were the unexpected developments that helped keep the success lower than hoped.

Wednesday is getaway day as six of the fifteen games will be played this afternoon. Except for that leading to a light Thursday, days games are the bomb. So here are today's getaway picks:

  • The Yankees over the Orioles: Might as well keep picking the Yankees until they win a freakin' game. Phil Hughes goes for the Yankees and must...MUST...keep the ball in the yard. Zach Britton has an abominable history against the Yankees, but that doesn't seem to mean anything during this particular Yankee funk.
  • The White Sox over the Twins: Scott Diamond is that Twins' best pitcher. He is not an ace, however and can be had at times. Plus, he faces Jake Peavy, a pretty good pitcher in his own right. The White Sox continue to surprise.
  • The Brewers over the Astros: Mike Fiers has been decent and the Astros don't have much left of their original offense. Jordan Lyles has been decent but golly, he's had no chance with this team.
  • The Pirates over the Cubs: Jeff Karstens has held his own this season and has a rebuilt offense around him. The Cubs are decimated for now and Travis Wood was a home run allowing machine his last time out against the Cardinals.
  • The Dodgers over the Diamondbacks: Barney Fife...uh..check that...Stephen Fife is the fifth member of the Dodgers' rotation after nothing happened by the trade deadline. Not that this development is necessarily a bad thing. Fife is not going to blow you away, but depends on contact. Fortunately for him, the D-backs are bringing up Patrick Corbin from the minors to face him.
  • The Athletics over the Rays: Is the A's hot streak over? Do the Rays have their number? Can the Rays keep putting up some runs with that offense? Jarrod Parker and Alex Cobb will provide the answers. And as you can tell by this pick rationale, this picker has no clue how it will turn out.
  • The Nationals over the Phillies: Vance Worley has struggled over his last five starts. This pick is counting on that to continue. If it doesn't, well, heck. Edwin Jackson is not the most fun to depend on for the win, but he hasn't been half bad this season.
  • The Tigers over the Red Sox: The Sox are on a roll, but AaRon Cook depends on contact turning into outs. When they don't, he is in trouble. Rick Porcello needs to have a big game or the Tigers are going to continue to spin their wheels in one of the most frustrating seasons ever.
  • The Reds over the Padres: Yeah, Kip Wells has won two games more than anyone expected, but seriously? Bronson Arroyo is never a fun pick either as he runs hot and cold and when he is cold, it gets ugly.
  • The Rangers over the Angels: Yu Darvish has been a huge disappointment this season. But he can go a long way to make up for it with a big performance here against the surging Angels. Garrett Richards is filling in for Dan Haren and that could go well for the Angels. Big game.
  • The Indians over the Royals: Zach McAllister over Luis Mendoza and sadly, that is all there is to say about this game of teams going nowhere.
  • The Cardinals over the Rockies: Drew Pomeranz never gets any runs scored for him. Jake Westbrook is again scary to pick in Coors Field. But the Cards can out-slug anyone if the game gets out of hand.
  • The Blue Jays over the Mariners: Blake Beavan has won three straight starts but Carlos Villanueva has not lost a decision this season. Six trumps three. But the Mariners have been playing well and the Blue Jays have not.
  • The Giants over the Mets: The Mets are a long way from home and their season has tanked. All that is left is the long ride home. Matt Cain over Jon Niese.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Braves over the Marlins: Wade LeBlanc? Uh, no thanks. Ben Sheets? Yes, please. Even if you aren't a Braves fan, you have to be rooting for Ben Sheets. What a cool story.

Yesterday: 9-6
Week: 21-21
July final: 211-170
Season: 843-686
Games of the Day: 64-48

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Game Picks - Tuesday: July 31, 2012

Holy crap! Yesterday was bad. Very bad. Two picks limped in. Two. It was an amazing day in this picker's ineptitude. None of the first place teams won that played. David Price couldn't get the Rays a win. The Cubs were saying goodbye to players the entire game and still scored fourteen runs and beat the Pirates. The Padres scored eleven runs. The Astros blew a late lead and for once, the Brewers' bullpen didn't blow it right back. Roy Oswalt was a stupid, stupid pick. The Mets beat the sloppy Giants despite a Madison Bumgarner start. It was bad--very, very bad.

The month can't end like this! The week can't stay in negative territory. This picker won't have it! With fierce determination, here are Tuesday's picks:

  • The Yankees over the Orioles: Okay, Yankees, enough of these one-run losses. Time to get going again. Chris Tillman has been pitching good. But he should be no match for Ivan Nova. Come on, Nova. Concentrate on every pitch. You've got this. Enough already. Of course, it doesn't help that the Yankees are losing a player a day to injury. But still.
  • The Nationals over the Phillies: Cliff Lee is scheduled to start. Will he still be on the team by tonight? Will it make any difference with Stephen Strasburg pitching?
  • The Tigers over the Red Sox: Justin Verlander will be on the Tigers tonight. Will Josh Beckett, the scheduled Red Sox starter still be on his team? We will know in a few short hours. Either way, Verlander shuts them down.
  • The Braves over the Marlins: Kris Medlin is scheduled to start for the Braves. But will Paul Maholm slide in here instead? It shouldn't matter either way as the Marlins are dead in the water of their fish tanks. Ricky Nolasco goes for the fish.
  • The Reds over the Padres: Jason Marquis has put it together lately and the Padres put up eleven runs yesterday. Homer Bailey has been outstanding though and the Reds should win this one.
  • The Rangers over the Angels: Jered Weaver is an ace. Got that. But the Rangers hit him hard already once this season. Derek Holland has ace-like stuff and every once in a while is unstoppable. Tonight will be one of those nights.
  • The Pirates over the Cubs: Who thought that Ryan Dempster would still be on the Cubs by now? Heck, he might not be by tonight, but who knows. A.J. Burnett will win either way. Travis Snider is a nice pick up for the Buccos.
  • The White Sox over the Twins: Francisco Liriano makes his first start for the White Sox against who? Why, his old team of course. Perhaps he has a bone to pick heading into this one. The Twins counter with Nick Heartburn...uh...Nick Blackburn.
  • The Royals over the Indians: The Indians are the only team in the AL playing worse right now than the Royals, so the Royals have a chance in this one. Luke Hochevar pitches well and Derek Lowe gives up enough for the Royals to win.
  • The Cardinals over the Rockies: Here was the thought process in this one: Kyle Lohse at Coors? Ugh. But the Cardinals could put up a bunch of runs. Jeff Francis has been the Rockies' best pitcher. Ugh. He could win this. But everything has gone wrong lately, so pick against yourself and pick the Cards. This job is fun, right?
  • The Athletics over the Rays: It looks like James Shields is staying with the Rays, so he will make his start. But heck, those A's are hot. And Tommy Milone is killer at home. The Rays will have trouble scoring.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Dodgers: Chris Capuano has been cracking big time of late. The D'backs are a hot offense. Not a good combination. Wade Miley in a big ballpark like the one in Chavez Ravine sounds more appetizing.
  • The Mariners over the Blue Jays: The Mariners are rolling. Though they traded away some pieces yesterday. Jason Vargas has been very good. Aaron Laffey has been sort of a pleasant surprise after making fun of him earlier in the season. But he doesn't win this one.
  • The Mets over the Giants: Matt Harvey! Harvey gets his second start against a Giants' offense that has been sputtering a bit. Tim Lincecum goes for the Giants and that is a crap shoot...has been all season.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Brewers over the Astros: Yovani Gallardo is supposed to be a good pitcher, right? Supposed to be is still a scary thought. Fortunately for the Brewers, Dallas Keuchel is going for the Astros and he has been struggling big time.

Yesterday: 2-10   ouch!
Week: 12-15
Month: 202-164
Season: 834-680

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Dodgers' big weekend

The Los Angeles Dodgers headed into this past weekend's series with the Giants in bad shape. They had just lost three of four to the Cardinals and were forced to give Stephen Fife an emergency start to start the series in San Francisco against Cain on Friday. Already three games back after a terrible June and a mediocre July, the Giants could have built a commanding lead. The three game series would feature the Giants' best two pitchers in Cain and Vogelsong. Fife would be followed by Chad Billingsley who had been an enigma all season and then Clayton Kershaw who had struggled in his last couple of outings. No, things did not look promising for the Dodgers.

Fife, a twenty-five year old former third-round draft pick, had been a winner his last two seasons in the minors. But his stats there were not overwhelming. His walk rate was a bit too high, his strikeout rate a bit too low and his hits per nine not encouraging. And the Giants scored a second inning run to take a 1-0 lead in that first game of the series. Fife was fortunate it was not more. Two singles wrapped around a walk led to only one run scored on a ground out and then Theriot hit a hard liner that James Loney snared in a nice play to keep it at one run.

Meanwhile, Cain was cruising along through the first four innings. He retired the side in order in the first, worked around a two-out single in the second and singles in each of the third and fourth innings. It seemed a typical Cain game and a long day for the Dodgers. Cain then got the first two outs in the fifth. And then a little magic happened.

Stephen Fife began his minor league career as a member of the Red Sox' organization. As such, he never had to hit in his first three years in the minors. The Red Sox then included Fife in the Bedard trade and Fife had shown no innate ability to hit while in the Dodgers' system as his .369 OPS as a batter attests. Throw all that out the window as he recorded his first major league hit against a great pitcher like Cain and it was a double to boot.

Fife would score on another double by Hairston, who himself scored on a single by Ellis and Fife and the Dodgers had a 2-1 lead. They would stretch the lead to 3-1 with a sixth inning single by Loney to score Andre Ethier.

Stephen Fife would go on to pitch six and a third innings and only allowed the one run. He only struck out two and walked three, but he left the Dodgers in good shape, which was a surprise all on its own. But Fife would not get the victory as Ronald Belisario blew the lead in the eighth as he gave up three hits and two runs. The game seemed to tip in the favor of the Giants as it headed into extra innings.

In the top of the tenth, the Giants had Romo on the mound, one of the most effective relief pitchers on the planet. Romo got the first two outs in the inning with ground outs. But then he walked Ethier. Hanley Ramirez had recently come over from the Marlins in a big, though much debated trade. Ramirez had been zero for four in the game to that point. Romo hung a slider, something he almost never does, and Ramirez blasted it for a two-run homer to give the Dodgers a two run lead.

Kenly Jansen made it interesting in the bottom of the tenth with two hits allowed, but he struck out two and held on. The Dodgers had improbably taken the first game of the series.

Chad Billingsley would start the second game against Zito. Zito had accumulated a surprisingly effective season up until that point. Billingsley, however, had been somewhat of a disappointment. Billingsley had lost five straight after losing his last three starts in June and his first two in July. He was then shut down for a couple of weeks and his record stood at, 4-9.

But Billingsley came back with a good game against the Cardinals in the only game the Dodgers won in that series and he was terrific on Saturday. He gave up no Giant runs while the Dodgers jumped all over Zito and two relievers to roll to a 10-0 win and pulled within a game of the Giants.

Clayton Kershaw finished the Giants off with a dominating complete game shutout and the Dodgers chipped away at Vogelsong and took the last game, 4-0. The sweep--in San Francisco--tied the Dodgers with the Giants in the standings.

The Dodgers, after a big start to the season had built a huge lead in the standings only to see it whither away. Coming into this series down three games in the standings to the Giants, two losses would have really set them back. Instead, the Dodgers are back from the zombie-dead and are tied in the standings with those Giants. The Dodgers are back and this is going to be an exciting run down to the finish line.

Game Picks - Monday: July 30, 2012

Sunday was a good day. Even the prediction of the predictions was dead on. Here is a quote from yesterday's post: "For Sunday, the goal is to get a Game of the Day pick correct and get ten correct picks." Well, there were ten correct picks and for the first time in what seems like a week, the Game of the Day pick was correct.

Of the five incorrect picks, the Cardinals are, of course, the most frustrating. They again could not beat the Cubs. While this picker is happy for the Astros who finally won a game, it blew that pick. The total ineptness of the Indians should have been noted in the picks and wasn't. The Orioles finally ended the A's streak and the pitching of Chen should have been the pick but again, wasn't. The biggest surprise of the weekend was the Dodgers totally taking care of the Giants this weekend. They beat both Cain and Vogelsong which is very impressive. If only the picks had been smart enough to see that coming.

There are twelve games on the schedule today. Again, not bad for a Monday. Some big divisional games are on tap too. Here are Monday's picks:

  • The Rangers over the Angels: First we had the 75 pitch thing in Colorado. Now we have the 15 out rule for Ervin Santana. What? This pick isn't thrilled about picking Roy Oswalt, but that is the pick today.
  • The Yankees over the Orioles: A battle of fifth starters as Freddy Garcia goes against Miguel Gonzalez. Neither pick seems appetizing. The pick is for the home team Yankees.
  • The Tigers over the Red Sox: After beating the Yankees two out of three, the Red Sox are in a bit of a danger of a let down in the first game against the Tigers. Clay Buchholz has been great, but he's not as good at home and he has had problems with the Tigers before. Max Scherzer has been blazing lately. He must have good control this game.
  • The Braves over the Marlins: Mark Buehrle will always keep his team in the game. But the Braves will score more runs than the Marlins and that is the pick here. Tommy Hanson is worrisome though.
  • The Reds over the Padres: Winning or losing streaks are always hard to deal with here for this picker. Both have to end some time. The question is always, when? It should not be today. Mike Leake seems like a better pick than Edinson Volquez, though Volquez has been better of late.
  • The Pirates over the Cubs: The Cubs are sure having fun being spoilers and today could be no different. This picker is just not comfortable going with Justin Germano as the starter. Erik Bedard isn't that much of a lock either, but at least he is a known quantity.
  • The White Sox over the Twins: Cole De Vries hasn't been half bad for the Twins and the Twins are playing good baseball right now. But this should be Jose Quintana's game to win and the White Sox are playing well too.
  • The Astros over the Brewers: The Astros are going to win two games in a row! Bud Norris will be better than Marco Estrada and even if he isn't, the Brewers' bullpen will blow it anyway.
  • The Bay Rays over the Athletics: A.J. Griffin has been a revelation for the A's. But David Price has been so dominant and so good this season, he has to be the pick in every game he pitches.
  • The Dodgers over the Diamondbacks: Trevor Cahill goes for the Diamondbacks and he simply hasn't been great for them all season. A lot of wasted picks have gone his way this season. Not that Aaron Harang is great to pick either, but he's usually reliable at home.
  • The Mariners over the Blue Jays: This is as much a pick against Ricky Romero as it is a pick for the Mariners, who have been hot lately. Romero has been getting blasted and it is wondered here if he is hiding an injury. Hisashi Iwakuma is solid enough when he throws strikes and doesn't try to get too cute.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Giants over the Mets: Madison Bumgarner at home? Yes, please. Jeremy Hefner was good against the Nationals his last time out. But that seems the exception rather than the norm. The Giants at home and the Mets far from home is the pick.

Yesterday: 10-5
Week: 10-5
Month: 200-154
Season: 832-670
Games of the Day: 63-47

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Game Picks - Sunday: July 29, 2012

One week ends, the month is nearly over and once again, the Yankees can't get Pedro Ciriaco out. Just another day in baseball land. Over at It's About the Money, Stupid the other day, this picker wrote a piece wondering why Curtis Granderson's defensive metrics were so awful. Yesterday's game between the Yankees and the Red Sox, won by Ciriaco on a terrible misread by Granderson in center drew a picture that even this picker couldn't miss. Well, geez. Not only was the play added on top of Granderson's three strikeouts on the day, but it was also the Game of the Day. So, yeah, Granderson is sort of in the doghouse over here.

The rest of the day went okay. It wasn't a great day, but it wasn't a stinker either. The first two picks of the day were wrong with the Cubs and Blue Jays winning and the day looked like it was going to be a disaster. But the rest of the games went pretty much according to plan. For Sunday, the goal is to get a Game of the Day pick correct and get ten correct picks. Let's do this:

  • The Tigers over the Blue Jays: The Tigers were supposed to be taking over the AL Central. Instead, they've looked stupid against the Blue Jays. Today should be a win with Doug Fister facing a struggling Brett Cecil. But then again, you would expect Verlander to have won too, right?
  • The Marlins over the Padres: Josh Johnson has been so stinking frustrating this season that he is simply maddening. So he finally has his stuff together in his last outing and what happens? He cuts his middle finger and has to leave the game. Doh! What is it with this guy? Let's try picking him again because this picker is a glutton for punishment. Oh yeah, Clayton Richard goes for the Padres. Oh. By the way. Was watching highlights the other day and Richard came up and the highlight package announcer called him Richard, pronounced just like the first name. Being close to the Canadian border, this picker always called him Rishaard, like the French pronunciation. This picker may be wrong, but Rishaard is way cooler.
  • The Oakland Athletics over the Orioles: You have to stick with the A's until this remarkable streak is over. It has to end soon. But for now, you go with the hot hand of Travis Blackley over Wei-Lyn Chen.
  • The Braves over the Phillies: The Braves did what they had to do and put the Phillies away for two straight days. The Phillies are now officially dead. And it matters little that Roy Halladay starts today. He goes against Tim Hudson, who has been terrific.
  • The Pirates over the Astros: If life was fair, Lucas Harrell would be receiving a much better fate. He pitches well outing after outing and never wins. That will continue today as he is out-dueled by James McDonald.
  • The Indians over the Twins: Terrible game to pick. The Twins have been clubbing the Indians all weekend. But they start Brian Duensing who is 1-6 and has been uninspiring to say the least. The Indians start the always baffling Ubaldo Jimenez. Who knows.
  • The Cardinals over the Cubs: So how many times is this picker going to pick against Paul Maholm before finally coming to sense? Apparently never. You can't pick against Adam Wainwright. You just can't.
  • The Reds over the Rockies: Jonathan Sanchez, eh? No thanks. Let's go with Mat Latos instead though Coors will be an adventure for him.
  • The Bay Rays over the Angels: Okay, so the Angels got Zack Greinke and he will start today. But the Angels negated the positive energy of the move by putting Vernon Wells back in the starting lineup after his DL stint was up. Why would you do that? Because of money? Duh! No! That is a sunk cost. Keep him on the bench where he belongs or find another obscure injury to put him on the DL again. Jeremy Hellickson with the win.
  • The Giants over the Dodgers: Great match-up on paper between Ryan Vogelsong and Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw hasn't been impressing lately as he has had command issues. And Vogelsong is just downright impossible to beat at home.
  • The Mariners over the Royals: Would a sweep by the Mariners be enough to get rid of Ned Yost? Probably not. But it should. Felix Hernandez over Will Smith.
  • The Mets over the Diamondbacks: This pick caused this picker constipation. R.A. Dickey is going and will his knuckler knuckle in the air of Arizona? Can Joe Saunders continue to be effective? This pick doesn't feel right, but it feels wrong the other way too. Hate that.
  • The Rangers over the White Sox: Scott Feldman has won four in a row and was impressive his last time out. Gavin Floyd can be a bit of a mess at times and is only a game removed from the disabled list.
  • The Red Sox over the Yankees: Do not like the match-up of Hiroki Kuroda against the Red Sox. They will hit him. And Kuroda is better in the daytime and of course, this game has to be the one night game because ESPN would pee on themselves without either the Yankees or the Red Sox on their telecast. Felix Doubront goes for the Red Sox.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Nationals over the Brewers: Since the Brewers have thrown in the towel and jettisoned Zack Greinke, his place has been taken by a guy named Mark Rogers whose minor league numbers are far from impressive. Gio Gonzalez should win this one.

Yesterday: 9-6
Last week: 51-45
Month: 190-149
Season: 822-665
Games of the Day: 62-47