Saturday, April 06, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Saturday: April 6, 2013

Lessons learned over the past couple of days: Picking the Astros is problematic. Picking the Yankees has become problematic. Picking the Giants and the Diamondbacks has worked out really well. Friday was a decent day with the picks coming in at a 10-5 rate. The three day rally in picks has overcome a mediocre start. And above all else, it sure is good to have baseball back again.

I slept in this morning and am still a bit groggy, so let's get right to the picks:

  • The Blue Jays over the Red Sox: The Blue Jays are off to a tough start and their big pitching rotation has not been as sharp as hoped. The Red Sox, on the other hand, have gotten very good rotational pitching. All of that said, John Lackey did not look great this spring, is making his first start after missing a lot of time and J.A. Happ will be the improbably pitcher that gets the Blue Jays a win.
  • The Mets over the Marlins: Rickey Nolasco is the Marlins' most effective pitcher. But it is hard to beat Mrs. Jonathan Niese and her blue panties. The Mets with the win.
  • The Mariners over the White Sox: Dylan Axelrod had a good spring and seems to be a decent enough starter for the White Sox. Unfortunately for him, he pairs up against Felix Hernandez today. The Mariners are hitting a little better than in the past. Going with the Mariners and King Felix.
  • The Nationals over the Reds: The Reds jumped all over the Nationals yesterday, but those kinds of games are meaningless. Mike Leake starts for the Reds and the Nats should hit him often. Ross Detwiler is there for the beating too, but should be somewhat better than Leake. Nationals.
  • The Rangers over the Angels: Josh Hamilton is striking out at a rate of 42.1% and has one hit this season. Tommy Hanson has become an enigmatic pitcher who the Angels are counting on. Good luck with that. Matt Harrison is a solid starter despite getting cuffed around in his first start of the season.
  • The Tigers over the Yankees: The Yankees rushing Phil Hughes back into the rotation seems a bit of a panic move from this desk. He won't be able to pitch very deep in the game and then David Phelps, who was supposed to get the start will have to finish it. Add to all of this the fact that Max Scherzer has this big arm and could strike out twelve Yankees.
  • The Giants over the Cardinals: The Cardinals start one of their best young arms in Shelby Miller. So this is an exciting day for Cardinal fans. But picking young pitchers is always a problem and Ryan Vogelsong is a proven big league starter. The Giants are not hitting much though.
  • The Phillies over the Royals: How did you decide between Luis Mendoza of the Royals against John Lannon of the Phillies? It's not that Lannon has been a bad pitcher for the past couple of seasons. He hasn't. But he is too much of an unknown factor here. But Luis Mendoza has had such and up and down career that picking him just doesn't feel good despite that he had a good spring.
  • The Twins over the Orioles: There is no hotter entity right now than Chris Davis. His current RBI total outpaces many team totals at this point. It's crazy. Vance Worley did not have a good start in his debut for the Twins. He can't have fallen this far off of what was a promising start to his career, can he? Chris Tillman is the dicey part of the Orioles' rotation. Going with the Twins, though it is probably nuts.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Brewers: The D-backs have come out of the gate smoking. The Brewers? Not. Mike Fiers is not the guy to improve things for the Brewers as pitching has again been a problem. Is Patrick Corbin the next Wade Miley for the Diamondbacks? Could be.
  • The Braves over the Cubs: Julio Teheran had such a big spring, but it is so hard to forget what happened last year. The Braves look like one of the best teams in the early going despite B.J. Upton being zero for the season with a 67% strikeout rate. The Cubs counter with Carlos Villanueva and that should not go well at all.
  • The Astros over the Athletics: Yeah, I know. Revert back to the first paragraph, right? But Bartolo Colon? Come on. Seriously? Bud Norris has the only Astros win this season. Why can't he get another. Even if the Astros lose a hundred games, they still have to win sixty of them. This will be one of them.
  • The Padres over the Rockies: Yeah, this pick sounds stupid as the Rockies are off to a fast start. But the Rockies start Jon Garland, who hasn't started in the majors in two years. How can you safely pick him to win? In Colorado no less? The Padres start Tyson Ross, which really isn't any better. Can you say, "Bullpen game?"
  • The Dodgers over the Pirates: I can't pick against Clayton Kershaw. A.J. Burnett is capable of a big game. But Burnett over Kershaw? Nah. I can't do it.
And the Game of the Day!
  • The Bay Rays over the Indians: The Indians are a wildcard hopeful this season, but they have to figure out what they are going to do with their rotation. Trevor Bauer gets the start today and that simply does not feel good for a pick. Alex Cobb has been one big pleasant surprise since the Rays put him into the rotation last season. He'll have the Indians pounding the ball into the ground the entire game.

Yesterday: 10-5
Week: 37-24
Month: 37-24
Games of the Day: 4-1

Friday, April 05, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Friday: April 5, 2013

Eric Stults, I apologize. I said some disparaging remarks about him starting for the Padres yesterday and I was all wrong as Stultz was brilliant. His effort beat that pick and the ding was well deserved on this end. Then again, the disparaging remarks made about Brett Myers starting for the Indians were right on point as he threw a nice game of batting practice for the Blue Jays who won their first game of the season. Overall the day ended up on the plus side but the Game of the Day feature took it's first beating of the season with Cliff Lee having a brilliant game against the Braves.

Andy Pettitte, as predicted, gave the Yankees a chance to win and they did. Mariano Rivera had his first save opportunity since his knee injury and was successful (if a bit shaky with a run allowed). And as predicted, Brandon Maurer did not have a good debut and A.J. Griffin was much better for the A's.

The first Friday of the season brings us back to a full slate of games. It's going to be a big and wonderful day of baseball. The picks:

  • The Yankees over the Tigers: The Yankees spoil the Tigers' home opener. Ivan Nova is a very important piece for the Yankees this season. If he pitches like last year, they are in bad shape. If he pitches like two years ago, then they will be better than anticipated. Doug Fister depends on location and keeping the batters off balance. When he does well, he's really good. If he is off, he is very easy to hit.
  • The Rangers over the Angels: Josh Hamilton returns to Texas for the first time in an Angels' uniform. He's off to a slow start thus far and has to face a lefty in Derek Holland. Holland gives much more comfort in this one than Jason Vargas does as the Angels' starter.
  • The Orioles over the Twins: The Twins took two of three from the Tigers over the weekend in surprising fashion. But the Orioles will beat up on Liam Hendriks and hope Jake Arrieta gives them a good outing too.
  • The Royals over the Phillies: Let me ask this to Royals fans. When you see the last name of, "Davis," as the starting pitcher, doesn't it give you the willies? But take comfort, it is not Kyle Davies, it is Wade Davis. Davis seems better suited out of the bullpen, but he can be a decent starter for the Royals. Kyle Kendricks is generally as good as his BABIP allows.
  • The Rockies over the Padres: The battle of the slop pitchers as Jason Marquis battles Jeff Francis. This could be ugly.
  • The Giants over the Cardinals: I cannot gauge the Cardinals yet. They have a very good lineup. But anyway, Barry Zito's playoff run in 2012 confused me about how good he is or isn't. I think he'll be better than Jake Westbrook.
  • The Blue Jays over the the Red Sox: I've been touting Josh Johnson all spring, so to pick against him would be pretty stupid, eh? Felix Doubrant can be tough, but his lefty offerings could be just what the Blue Jays are looking for too.
  • The Bay Rays over the Indians: The Indians are on the soft side of their rotation as Zach McAllister does not scare anyone. Matt Moore has not come out gangbusters in his career as predicted. But he will be better than McAllister.
  • The Mets over the Marlins: The Marlins may not win a game this season. Jeremy Hefner did not have a great spring, but he has a great arm and should be better than Alex Sanabia, who has done little in his big league career.
  • The Reds over the Nationals: This game will be fascinating to watch. What kind of pitcher will Dan Haren be for the Nationals? If he can muster up some of his old dominance, there will be no stopping this Nationals team. I am not feeling it though. Going with Homer Bailey.
  • The Braves over the Cubs: I have been a big booster of Scott Feldman for a long time. But when he finally got his shot in the rotation for the Rangers last year, he fizzled. Plus, the Braves have too much firepower. Mike Minor with the win for the Braves.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Brewers: Nobody believes in the season Wade Miley had last season. Projections all predict him to regress. But I still believe. We'll just have to see how it plays out. Kyle Lohse gets the start for the Brewers and with his late signing, you wonder and the lack of real reps he had this spring.
  • The Astros over the Athletics: What do you do with a Dan Straily / Brad Peacock match up? I don't know what to do with it. Give the pick to the home team and hope.
  • The White Sox over the Mariners: Blake Beavan got belted around in Arizona, but you cannot take that too much into consideration considering. Jose Quintana surprised a lot of people last season. I still don't know if I believe what he did. But he should beat Beavan who will take a few games to get over his shell shock.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Dodgers over the Pirates: Jonathan Sanchez had about as bad a 2012 as you can have and still stay in baseball. Which just goes to prove that if you throw from the left side, you will always get the benefit of the doubt. Speaking of doubt, I doubt he will beat Zack Greinke making his season debut.

Yesterday: 7-4
Week: 27-19
Month: 27-19
Games of the Day: 3-1

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Josh Johnson featured in Big Leagues Magazine article

The new issue of Big Leagues Magazine is out and features an article by your favorite Fan on Josh Johnson and how he is ready to rock for the Toronto Blue Jays. Also featured in the magazine is a chock full of articles by great writers, fantasy and prospect information and much more. There is an interview with MLB Radio's Mike Ferrin as just one of the exciting features this issue.

The magazine is holding an opening week subscription special that you might want to check out too. It's big, it's bold and it is beautiful. Big Leagues Magazine.

MLB Game Picks - Thursday: April 4, 2013

Blown saves played a big part in action yesterday that affected at least three games. They cost the Tigers, Cardinals and Orioles wins. The latter two helped the picks out and the most former cost a pick. That two to one ratio held true for the day and ten out of the fifteen picks were correct. There were two other blown saves during the contests, but both of those teams that blew saves still won the game.

The Yankees suffered yet another injury and another loss to open the season, 0-2. They are in danger of getting swept in their first series just like last year. Last year, they were able to recover and win 95 games. That scenario really seems a remote possibility this year.

It is "Getaway Day" in Major League Baseball. There are eleven games on the schedule today and eight of them are day games. Awesome. The picks:

  • The Reds over the Angels: This is not really a pick for Bronson Arroyo as he will either give up homers or have a decent game. This is an unsteady gaze at Joe Blanton starting for the Angels. On the one hand, he, from the National League, will know the Reds. But they will know him too.
  • The Pirates over the Cubs: James McDonald has a big league arm and high school command. If he ever figures out the latter, he'll be dangerous. He should be able to hold the Cubs down a bit and allow Travis Wood to get the win.
  • The Tigers over the Twins: Rick Porcello was dangled on the trade block all winter. The Tigers will be glad they kept him. Mike Pelfery had some nice moments for the Mets. But there weren't enough of them.
  • The Mets over the Padres: The Mets are going to wish the Padres stuck around a little longer. Today they face Eric Stultz, who doesn't strike out a lot of batters, walks a few too many and is good for a WHIP of around 1.5. That sounds promising. Dillon Gee goes for the Mets.
  • The Royals over the White Sox: The Royals should get a win today behind Arlo...ahem..Jeremy Guthrie. Gavin Floyd goes for the White Sox and did not have a good year in 2012. The Royals better hope Floyd is not due for a rebound.
  • The Orioles over the Bay Rays: This one could get to the bullpens early as Roberto Hernandez goes for the Rays against Miguel Gonzalez. Then again, Gonzalez was quite the surprise last season while the Rays seem quite capable of picking pitchers up and turning them around. So who knows.
  • The Athletics over the Mariners: Brandon continues to be the most popular name in baseball as another one in Brandon Maurer joins the ranks for the Mariners today. They are quite high on him, but frankly, I don't see why. The pick instead goes to A.J. Griffin, who had a nice debut season last year.
  • The Nationals over the Marlins: Another day for the Nats and another stud pitcher on the mound in Jordan Zimmermann. Man, what a rotation. The Marlins, meanwhile, counter with Wade LeBlanc, whose only shot is being a lefty and neutralizing lefties like Harper, Span and LaRoche. It still won't be enough.
  • The Yankees over the Red Sox: Unless Andy Pettitte gets hit with a baseball too, he has at least a chance to give the Yankees a win today over the Red Sox and newcomer, Ryan Dempster. It's not like Dempster is a slouch. He is not. But at least there is a chance.
  • The Blue Jays over the Indians: This is where the rotation gets sketchy for the Indians. Brett Myers just isn't a good starting pitcher and got belted all spring. Francona will give him a couple of starts before seeing that it is not going to work. The Blue Jays have Mark Buehrle on the mound and his success will depend on where his ground balls end up going.
And the Game of the Day!
  • The Braves over the Phillies: Obviously, there is no way that Kris Medlen can top or even duplicate what he did last year for the Braves. And he looked vulnerable this spring despite still racking up strikeouts and a low walk total. But he will beat the Phillies and Cliff Lee will give up a dinger or two to all those right-handed hitters on the Braves.

Yesterday: 10-5
Week: 20-15
Month: 20-15
Games of the Day: 3-0

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Yu Darvish and the Twitter phenomenon

I follow 1,067 people on Twitter. Probably a thousand of them are baseball people making me pretty much a one-trick pony. I follow beat writers, baseball analysts, writers and fans. Following them all is hugely entertaining. Last night was a typical night on my timeline. Some were following the baseball games in their area, but it was a short schedule with only seven games on tap. Others were watching basketball and hockey. And then someone mentioned that Yu Darvish was perfect through six innings against the Astros. The next hour and a half was pretty close to Twitter nirvana.

Yu Darvish is still the Number Two trending topic on Twitter today. And I thought that Sunday night's first game of the season where the Rangers opened against the Astros in the latter team's American League debut was as pretty close to perfect as Twitter could get. After all, most of us were watching the same game and it was like all of us were in this same vortex all around the country. But as good as that was, nothing was like last night.

For an hour and a half, my timeline was full of corny "Yu" jokes, jokes at the expense of the Astros, jokes about Ron Washington's managerial style. You name it, it was said as we all flipped to the game to see if history would be made. After all, there have only been 21 perfect games in the history of Major League Baseball.

And Darvish has been a focus of attention ever since he went in the bidding zone before the 2012 season after some very flashy years pitching in Japan. Many picked him as the instant Rookie of the Year and possible Cy Young Award winner. But his 2012 was uneven and some struggles occurred along with some flashes of brilliance. Needless to say, he is an interesting player.

So when he finished six innings of perfect baseball, he instantly got everyone's attention. Darvish had never thrown a no-hitter in Japan and in this country, he had never even thrown a game where he did not walk anyone. So all of this was doubly interesting.

Then he finished the seventh without a blemish. Everyone was hanging on every pitch.

In the top of the eighth, the Rangers, already up, 3-0, rallied for a couple of runs. It was excruciating and people were rooting for the Rangers to make outs. The Astros made a mid-inning pitching change. Arrgh! Hurry up already!

Darvish started the eighth inning with a 3-2 count against Chris Carter. Uh oh. Don't walk him! Carter fouled off two hanging sliders. Whew! But then Carter swung at ball four on a tight slider just off the outside corner for the first out. Rick Ankiel looked like meat as he struck out meekly for the second out. It was Yu Davish's fourteenth and of the evening. His pitch count was climbing. But Justin Maxwell's silver hammer was silenced for the third out and my Twitter feed went nuts. Darvish was perfect through eight.

The Rangers rallied again in the top of the ninth! "Stop hitting!" I tweeted. Several people retweeted me. Rangers' fans and writers were imploring their team to make outs. We wanted to watch history.

Eventually, in what seemed like an eternity, the Rangers finally made their third out and we were three outs away. Houston's first batter, Jason Castro, grounded out to short. It was hit hard, but Elvis Andrus scooped it up easily and threw Castro out.  Two outs away.

On the next pitch (or so it seemed), Carlos Corporan grounded out to Ian Kinsler at second. This was perfect as Darvish did not have to use a lot of pitches to get the first two outs. We were now one out away from perfection and history.

And then Marwin Gonzalez stepped to the plate. Gonzalez is the only "Marwin" who has ever played Major League Baseball. Someone--I forget who--actually called it in the eighth inning that Gonzalez would break up the perfect game. I wish I could shoot that Nostradamus. Because sure enough, Darvish left a fastball a little up and out over the plate and Gonzalez hit the ball through Darvish's legs and past a diving Andrus and into center field.

My tweet, "Crap," said it all. All through the stands in Houston, fans had their hands over their heads in shock and disappointment. Some of those in my timeline exploded in anger--some in anguish. Some were happy.

For an hour an a half, we were all in this event together. That is the magic of this Twitter phenomenon. Fans and writers all over the country were tuned into the same event and shared it in real time through pixels on our screens. We live in a day an age where we can watch baseball, report on it and talk about it all at the same time. It is all mind-boggling.

Then, of course, we all abuzz after for some time to come. My lame tweet joke was, "It's pretty safe to say that none of us got our Darwish." Hey, it doesn't matter. We were all doing the same thing. We all had a collective blast. In the end, we were disappointed. But it was an evening we won't forget for a while.

Game Picks - Wednesday: April 3, 2013

Yu Darvish came as close as you can get to a perfect game and not get one. But the Game Picks did not come close to having a perfect night. The picks could have come out ahead at least but the night turned when Jake McGee had a horrible inning for the Rays and cost them the game in the seventh inning. Ah well. The picking season has had a mediocre start.

Today marks the first time this season where we have a full slate of fifteen games and everyone is in action. Now, the season has officially begun. Let's get right to the picks:

  • The White Sox over the Royals: The Royals had the best spring of anybody, but their hitting will lag for a bit after the giddy times in warm, dry Arizona. I have no faith in Ervin Santana, so the pick is with Jake Peavy and the White Sox.
  • The Rangers over the Astros: The Astros will get more hits off of Alexi Ogando than they did against Darvish, but it won't be enough as I think the Rangers will get some runs off of Philip Humber. My first impression from yesterday is that the Rangers have lost quite a bit on offense though.
  • The Tigers over the Twins: The Twins are not going to have a fun season. Kevin Correia is hardly the answer for their rotation. I always want to call him "Chick" Correia. Anyway, Anibal Sanchez bends but he does not usually break. Tigers win.
  • The Red Sox over the Yankees: The Red Sox have a much better team and I really like where Clay Buchholz is right now with a quicker tempo. The Sox will get to Hiroki Kuroda. The Yanks start, 0-2 and panic ensues.
  • The Cubs over the Pirates: Edwin Jackson has a good game. The Pirates' offense starts the season in a funk and Wandy Rodriguez only pitched five innings this spring (that I could find). He will barely go five, if that, and that is too many outs for the bullpen.
  • The Blue Jays over the Indians: It's amazing how far the stock of Ubaldo Jimenez has fallen since his 19-win season in Colorado. He had an awful season a year ago with no command. He cannot be picked until he shows something this season. Brandon Morrow, on the other hand, is a stud.
  • The Reds over the Angels: C.J. Wilson does not inspire confidence. But the Angels have a great lineup. Mat Latos will be dinged a bit. But the Reds prevail in a high scoring game.
  • The Bay Rays over the Orioles: Wei-yin Chen did not look good this spring but he had a decent season last year. But the Rays are not as helpless against left-handed pitchers as they have been in past seasons. Jeremy Hellickson will do his high-wire act for five innings and the Rays' bullpen will do better tonight of holding the lead.
  • The Phillies over the Braves: There has been a lot of concern about Roy Halladay this spring. His velocity is down. Nobody really knows if he is healthy. But it sure is hard to pick against a guy who has been among the best of his generation. And Paul Maholm has never inspired much confidence here.
  • The Mets over the Padres: Clayton Richard is completely a BABIP pitcher, so depending where the balls are hit well depend how successful he is. His numbers this spring were pretty awful, but that was in Arizona. Matt Harvey, on the other hand, is a blow-you-away stud whose success depends on keeping his pitch count down. The Mets start, 2-0.
  • The Rockies over the Brewers: The Brewers should get to Wily Peralta and then will need Juan Nicasio's fly balls to stay in the ballpark. If that happens, the Rockies win.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Cardinals: This one is tough. Lance Lynn is a big, powerful pitcher who has had spurts of greatness. Brandon McCarthy is the Twitter darling with the high ground ball rate. I'm guessing the Diamondbacks because of the home ballpark.
  • The Mariners over the Athletics: I think Tommy Milone being left-handed plays right into the strengths of the Mariners. He should get hit around pretty good. I'm not real confident over Joe Saunders who looked like a batting practice pitcher in Spring Training. But there it is.
  • The Dodgers over the Giants: Whatever happened to Tim Lincecum? Didn't he used to be a good pitcher? Didn't he win like back to back Cy Young Awards? Those days are long gone. Now he is a wish and a prayer for Giants fans whenever he pitches. Then again, he faces Josh Beckett whose fastball and better days are behind him.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Nationals over the Marlins: This one should be easy to pick and those are always the scary ones. Gio Gonzalez should easily be better than Kevin Slowey

Yesterday: 3-4
Week: 10-10
Month: 10-10
Games of the Day: 2-0

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Game Picks - Tuesday: April 2, 2013

Monday gave us our first semi-full day of Major League Baseball and it was delicious. Only having all thirty teams in action would have been better. But it was fun nonetheless. How did the Game Picks fare during this first big day of action? was a mixed bag. Half the picks were correct and half were incorrect. Not a great start, but it is a better start than the Yankees, Rangers and Cardinals have made.

Speaking of the Yankees, I knew they would lose. C.C. Sabathia is never good against the Red Sox and has a history of being pretty terrible on Opening Day. And picking against old man-crush, Ian Kennedy, was a mistake as he had a good day against the Cardinals.

But Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper had big days and the Nationals began their season of high expectations on a bright note. The Cubs beat A.J. Burnett as Jeff Samardzija was untouchable. That pick went sour. Felix Hernandez and Clayton Kershaw both threw nothing but zeroes to make those picks come out on top. But so did Chris Sale who out-dueled James Shields for a 1-0 win. I had it in reverse. But I did predict a tough adjustment for the Royals, who hit so well in Arizona, which can be a mirage.

Opening Day, like any other day in baseball, is a day where anything can happen and did with wild games in Atlanta and Milwaukee. The former was an incorrect pick while the latter was correct. The Mets, which I picked, scored eleven runs. The Mets!?

There are seven games on today's schedule. The Orioles, Blue Jays, Indians and Rays will all play their first games today. Only one of the games is a day game. Here are Tuesday's picks:

  • The Rays over the Orioles: David Price is one of the best and ace's dominated yesterday. The Orioles counter with Jason Hammel, which shows you the one big difference of these two AL East competitors. Many experts are still picking the Rays to win the AL East. We'll see.
  • The Blue Jays over the Indians: The Indians--or most of them anyway--have never seen R.A. Dickey pitch. They are in for a tough day. Justin Masterson, a ground ball pitcher to the extreme, will need to have a good BABIP day. The Blue Jays should win.
  • The Brewers over the Rockies: This is a game where anything can happen. You have a pitching match up of Jorge de la Rosa against Marco Estrada. Yeah, go ahead and pick that for me, will you? The pick goes to the home team, Brewers.
  • The Cardinals over the Diamondbacks: This is another tough game to gauge. Jaime Garcia had a good spring after a tough season a year ago and goes for the Cardinals. Trevor Cahill goes for the Diamondbacks.
  • The Mariners over the Athletics: This should be another low scoring game. Hisashi Iwakuma was a big surprise last season and had a good spring considering it was pitched in Arizona. He should keep the A's quiet. Jarrod Parker had a bad spring and got lit up in Arizona, but that should change in Oakland.
  • The Dodgers over the Giants: Dodgers' starter, Hyun-Kin Ryu, is a total mystery to me. It looks like he was tough during the spring, but I have no idea about him at all. Madison Bumgarner is a great pitcher and had a great spring, but still going with the Dodgers in this one.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Rangers over the Astros: Yu Darvish puts the Rangers back on track and the Rangers should hit Lucas Harrell to the tune of three or four runs. That should be enough behind Darvish to win this one.

Yesterday: 6-6
Week:  7-6
Month:  7-6
Season: 7-6
Games of the Day: 1-0

Monday, April 01, 2013

Game Picks - Monday: April 1, 2013

Major League Baseball has this Opening Day thing all wrong. On Opening Day of the season, every team should be in action. It should be one grand celebration across the land. Instead, there are twelve games today after one last night and the Orioles, Blue Jays, Rays and Indians do not even play their first game until tomorrow. Plus, two of the games will be at night on the West Coast so that most of the country will be in bed before they start. This needs to be fixed, Bud Selig. Not only should Opening Day include baseball for all fans and all of the games should be day games, but it should be brought to Congress to make a national holiday so that we can all stay home and bask it in.

Ah well. We make do with what we have. The very first Game Pick of the season was successful as the Astros won their first game in their new league. As also predicted, the loss for the Rangers sent their Twitter followers into a tizzy and already Ron Washington should be fired, Ian Kinsler should be traded and Derek Lowe will never recover.

The second day of Opening Day picks:

  • The Yankees over the Red Sox: I don't think the Yankees will really win. Sabathia never pitches well against Boston and the Yankees' patchwork offense has more holes than a mobster on Valentine's Day. But they are the Yankees, man. C.C. Sabathia over Jon Lester. Mariano Rivera with the save.
  • The Nationals over the Marlins: Two teams heading in different directions. Ricky Nolasco is capable of a good start. Juan Pierre, if he gets on base, could be a problem. But the pick is with Stephen Strasburg and the Nationals to begin their assault on the NL East.
  • The Pirates over the Cubs: A.J. Burnett gets off to a fast start, Russell Martin hits a homer (Yankee fans gnash their teeth) and Jeff Samardzija gets the hard luck loss.
  • The Brewers and the Rockies: If Jhoulys Chacin is your Opening Day starter, that is a bit of a problem, no? Yovani Gallardo is a notoriously slow starter, but he should get the win for the Brewers at home.
  • The Reds over the Angels: I give this game to the Reds because the game is in Cincinnati and already an American League team must go without the DH. Jered Weaver will get tagged for at least one homer in that little ballpark and Johnny Cueto will prove that last year was not a one time thing.
  • The Tigers over the Twins: Vance Worley might be the best starting pitcher the Twins have had in a couple of years, but he faces Justin Verlander. And even though the Twins start out at home, it will be with a loss. The Tigers still seem a bit creaky to me, but they will hit.
  • The Royals over the White Sox: Chris Sale was outstanding last year and despite the fact that he looks like he will break at any second, he should be the White Sox' best pitcher again this year. But when was the last time the Royals got to start the season with a pitcher as good as James Shields?
  • The Dodgers over the Giants: Right out of the chute, the big rich upstart Dodgers face the World Champion Giants. Fascinating. So too is the match up of Clayton Kershaw versus Matt Cain. The Dodgers are at home, so the pick has to go that way.
  • The Phillies over the Braves: This is one non-home game pick. The Phillies are pitching Cole Hamels and since he is my Cy Young Award pick for 2013, I have to go with him over the venerable Tim Hudson. One of the Uptons will homer though.
  • The Mariners over the Athletics: Okay all you hitters that enjoyed the warm Arizona air. Welcome to Oakland where your bats turn to sawdust. This will be a pitchers' duel between Felix Hernandez and Brett Anderson. The last bullpen standing will win.
  • The Cardinals over the Diamondbacks: I still don't understand what the Diamondbacks are doing. It was defense that won them the division two seasons ago and they traded most of it away. Ian Kennedy needs good defense as he is a BABIP pitcher. Going with Adam Wainwright and the Cardinals to win.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Mets over the Padres: Jon Niese's wife will be wearing her blue panties, so he has to win The Mets and Yankees both opening at home is interesting. Edinson Volquez is the Padres' Opening Day starter!? Umm...

Yesterday: 1-0
This week: 1-0
April: 1-0
Season: 1-0

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Why Jose Reyes will be the AL MVP in 2013

The fans in Toronto are really excited, and why shouldn't they be? For the first time in many years, the Blue Jays have some dynamic talent on the field and in the starting rotation. The American League East is wide open as every team has holes. The key to it all, from this office chair, is Jose Reyes. If Reyes stays healthy and has a good season, he will be the fire that lights up the rest of the Blue Jays lineup. If that happens, he could very well win the American League Most Valuable Player Award.

Here is why it can happen:

Batted ball data from 2012 shows that Jose Reyes hit more ground balls in 2012 than he has since his 2005 season. While his line drive percentage has remained constant, his ground ball to fly ball ratio rose to 1.43 while with the Marlins. Perhaps because of the ground balls and perhaps because of data positioning, his BABIP was lower in 2012 than his career average.

It seems likely, considering his batted ball stats since 2007, that his ground ball rate will drop to previous levels. And even if his ground ball rate stays the same, since Rogers Centre has artificial turf, that same ground ball rate gives him a chance to raise his BABIP.

The turf can also increase his production of doubles and triples. Reyes has hit double-digit triples in seven of his last eight seasons. There is no reason why that will not continue in 2013. Most projection systems give him double-digits in triples but on the lower end of the scale. He could beat those projections. Reyes usually finishes with 30 or more doubles in a season. With the turf, that could increase to 40 with not too much difficulty. Add in ten or more homers and he should better his career .440 slugging percentage.

The quality of the hitters behind Reyes might just be the best he has ever played with. Melky Cabrera, PEDs or no PEDs, has really turned his career around and is a solid number two hitter who will allow Reyes to continue to steal bases with abandon. Reyes has stolen 79 bases in the last two combined seasons.

After Cabrera comes Jose Bautista. Bautista has the best plate discipline on the team and, though there is some concern from his wrist injury, he has to be figured being a dangerous hitter with a pile of walks. After Bautista comes Edwin Encarnacion, who became the Bautista of 2012 as he blossomed into one of the best combination power hitters and on-base guy in the American League last year.

That top four can rival a lot of lineups around baseball. If they all perform, there is no reason Jose Reyes cannot score 110 runs or more.

Reyes has fallen off somewhat in his fielding statistics. Fangraphs rates him at a little more than three runs below average for the past two seasons. is even harder on him at 17 runs below average for 2012. The turf at home can do two things. It can give him truer balls to field helping him a bit, or it can cause more balls to zip right by him thus causing him problems with his range scores.

But say he has a good season in the field and can play at least league average in the field. Then, all of his offensive rankings will add positively to his WAR total with a positional boost from playing shortstop.

Sure, this sounds like a lot of "ifs." But if Jose Reyes stays healthy, and if he has a good season in the field, Jose Reyes could be the spark that ignites the Blue Jays with his personality and his bat and legs. He seems to be in a perfect fit with the Blue Jays and the timing seems just right for him to have a big year. He is this site's predicted choice for the MVP in 2013.

Game Picks - Sunday: March 31, 2013

It is Sunday morning and the sun is shining. Upon awakening, there were two chocolate bunnies on the kitchen counter--one hollow and the other solid. It is Easter and it is the first day of baseball season. Can any day be more perfect?

The first day of baseball season also means the first Game Picks post of the season. For those of you new to the site, each day of the season, a prediction is made on which team will win each game. This is not a gambling feature. There are no point spreads, there are no Vegas odds. Lord knows, it is hard enough just predicting which team will win.

This feature goes back four years. Or is it five? It started because a faithful reader asked for it. Not a single game has been missed for the past three years making this the Lou Gehrig of prediction features.

The success rate is traditionally around 58%. That does not sound like a great success rate, but go ahead and try it someday and see how accurate you are. The old saying is true: On any given day and in any given game, anything can happen.

A new year's baseball season begins and a new Game Picks season starts as well. Here we go!

Sunday's pick:
  • The Astros over the Rangers: Welcome to the American League, Astros! Your first assignment? The Texas Rangers. The Rangers have been predicted here to win the AL West over the Angels and  the A's simply because of their pitching. This is an "on any given day" pick. A team has to win its inaugural game in a new league right? Besides, Rangers fans are already full of angst if Twitter is any indication, so we might as well start the season with some hand wringing. Besides, the Astros are the home team and Bud Norris could have a good day over Matt Harrison.