Saturday, May 11, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Saturday: May 11, 2013

I have never had a perfect game picking day. Going 15-0 would be like bowling a 300 or hitting a hole in one. It would be the ultimate. Yesterday's picks came about as close as I have ever gotten. There were only two incorrect picks. The Dodgers lost to the Marlins after taking a quick 3-0 lead on Jose Fernandez. But Fernandez never allowed another run and the Dodgers could not make the lead stick. Even more egregious was the 6-0 lead the Twins had on the Orioles as late as the fifth inning and a 6-3 lead after six. But the bullpen gave up six runs and blew the game. That is how close I cam to a perfect day. Man.

A day like that changes the whole complexion of the month of May, which started out really slow and instantly propelled the week into a very good one. Let's see if I can keep it going.

Saturday's picks:

  • The Mets over the Pirates: Jonathon Niese is not a bad pick by himself. But then the Pirates are starting Francisco Liriano, fresh from a stint in the minors. However, Liriano has looked great at Triple-A with a very high strikeout rate and a minuscule walk rate. Maybe the Pirates have found something and maybe this pick is going to look bad.
  • The Red Sox over the Blue Jays: It really feels like the Blue Jays have no shot in this one. Mark Buehrle has not had a single highlight game for the team and Clay Buchholz, tanning spray or no tanning spray, has simply been awesome.
  • The Cardinals over the Rockies: The Rockies go from Shelby Miller, who was about as untouchable as it gets last night, to Adam Wainwright who will make it seem like you can hit him, but usually cannot. Jhoulys Chacin better be very, very good for the Rockies to have a chance in this one.
  • The Giants over the Braves: It was sort of a blow for the Braves to have such a bad start from their ace yesterday. Paul Maholm can have a good BABIP day, but he is not an ace. Madison Bumgarner, on the other hand, is an ace despite the fact that he was roughed up a little in his last start. He will be good at home.
  • The Reds over the Brewers: Hiram Burgos is only the seventh Hiram to ever play in the big leagues. It is such an old fashioned name. The last Hiram in baseball? That would be Kyle Davies. Kyle was his middle name. Let's hope Burgos has a better career than that. But Hiram should be out-pitched today by Mat Latos.
  • The Padres over the Bay Rays: Yeah, this is a flyer. If you think Hiram is a funny name, how about Burch Smith? Smith is making his Major League debut after lighting up Double-A ball. His minors numbers show terrific control and big strikeout numbers. That is why I am taking a flyer on this one. Plus, I never feel too great about Jeremy Hellickson.
  • The Tigers over the Indians: Justin Verlander has not seemed as dominant this season. In fact, he has been rather quiet. And Ubaldo Jimenez has been much better of late. But seriously, there is no way you can pick the Indians here, right? It might happen, but you cannot pick it that way.
  • The Angels over the White Sox: Don't look now, but the Angels have won two in a row! Woo! Can they make it three? There is a chance, yeah. Jerome Williams can get hot and shut the White Sox down as they pound the ball into the ground. Or, he could be terrible and then the terrible Angels' bullpen will get involved. Life is a crap shoot. Carlos Quintana goes for the White Sox.
  • The Orioles over the Twins: No, I am not too keen on picking an inexperienced pitcher in Steve Johnson. But on the bright side, Johnson was a perfect 4-0 in 2012. His numbers in the minors this season show better control while maintaining his strikeout rate. I still like him better than Vance Worley who has not pitched well for the Twins.
  • The Royals over the Yankees: Royals fans have started hanging their heads a bit as the Royals have hit a rough patch. But those rough patches will not last as long this year with better pitching in the rotation. James Shields is a big time pitcher and he can do well against this rag-tag Yankees lineup. Andy Pettitte has had cutter troubles his last couple of outings and has been banged around a bit.
  • The Rangers over the Astros: Nelson Cruz is hitting bombs again and Erik Bedard is quite capable of throwing bombs. Yu Darvish should be the difference in this one.
  • The Phillies over the Diamondbacks: Cliff Lee is no longer an elite pitcher. But he is still capable of putting up zeroes and having a good game. Him pitching seems to give the Phillies their best chance to win. Trevor Cahill has been better of late, but he is not as good as Cliff Lee.
  • The Dodgers over the Marlins: Gosh, the Dodgers sure have been disappointing. Their gazillion-dollar budget is falling flatter than a pancake. But it has not been the fault of Hyun-Jin Ryu who has pitched well for them. I like his chances better than Kevin Slowey's.
  • The Mariners over the Athletics: The A's have gone on a bad streak and give the Mariners a chance in this one. A lot will depend on how good Brandon Maurer is today. Maurer has had good games and bad games, so is hard to predict. Jarrod Parker has not had any good days.

And the Game of the Day!
  • The Nationals over the Cubs: The good news is that Edwin Jackson will not have to move every season like he has been and has a home for three seasons. The bad news is the Cubs fans will have to sit through his starts for those three seasons. Jackson is 0-5 and has pitched badly. Is he capable of a good game? Certainly. Will today be that day? Well...Stephen Strasburg is pitching and the Nats never score for him.

Yesterday: 13-2
Week: 52-26
Month: 78-52
Season: 307-216
Games of the Day: 28-11

Friday, May 10, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Friday: May 10, 2013

Thursday was a pretty good day. I did not expect the Mets to win. Ryan Vogelsong was winning and then suddenly blew up for the Giants. Dan Haren was not great for the Nationals, but he was better than Doug Fister was. But other than those three picks, all went well. After a two-game slide, the Game of the Day feature came back with a correct pick. After a really tough start, May is starting to look better. All is well with the world.

The coolest pick of the day was predicting that Mark Reynolds would hit a bomb against Bartolo Colon. Here is what he did.

A nice full schedule tonight if the weather cooperates. Here are the picks:

  • The Nationals over the Cubs: Both Jeff Samardzija and Ross Detwiler have pitched really well this season and yet are a combined 2-7. In fact, despite his 1-4 record, Samardzija has been one of the best pitchers in the National League. But the pick still has to go to the Nationals because Detwiler is a lefty and the Cubs have a whopping .270 on-base percentage against left-handed starters.
  • The Tigers over the Indians: The Indians have played much better baseball in the last two weeks. But I cannot see them doing much against Max Scherzer who is mowing batters down right and left. Corey Kluber did not have a good outing his last time out. Remember to say his name three times with the Muppets' Chef voice.
  • The Reds over the Brewers: I like Yovani Gallardo as a pitcher. But not at the Great American Ballpark. Many experts do not believe in Tony Cingrani's hot start as a big league pitcher. But he is the pick just the same.
  • The Pirates over the Mets: Let's try this again. It did not work out so well last night. I just cannot pick the Mets when Shaun Marcum is pitching. Wandy Rodriguez will again neutralize Lucas Duda and Ike Davis.
  • The Bay Rays over the Padres: This is a tough one. Edinson Volquez has actually looked quite good lately. I still like Alex Cobb for the Rays. The Rays' bullpen has frayed early on. Both teams are offensively challenged to a degree. Tough one.
  • The Angels over the White Sox: This is easily the hardest pick of the season. Both teams are scuffling. The Angels have not even announced who will pitch tonight. Perhaps even they do not know. Dylan Axelrod is scheduled for the White Sox, but a TBO might be better there. Ouch. That was not nice of me to say. The Angels because of their lineup.
  • The Twins over the Orioles: This is the upset pick of the day. I like the way Mike Pelfrey is throwing and the Twins are playing much better defense this season than last. Jason Hammel is 5-1 for the Orioles and I just do not get it. I think I am totally blind to him.
  • The Yankees over the Royals: There was a time when I thought Phil Hughes and Wade Davis were the same pitcher. In fact, I even asked if anyone had ever seen them at the same time to prove they were different people. Well, tonight will prove once and for all to me that they are different people because they will face each other. I love the way Phil Hughes is throwing lately.
  • The Rangers over the Astros: I have no confidence at all in Dallas Keuchel who is making his first start. He has simply never shown he can get big league hitters out. Alexi Ogando, on the other hand, can get big league hitters out. The Astros only have a few of those.
  • The Cardinals over the Rockies: I just wrote about Jon Garland for the next issue of Big Leagues Magazine, so I am hoping Garland pitches well long enough for the article to be interesting. Heh. But this is a serious test for him facing a much better lineup by the Cardinals. Besides, I think Shelby Miller would have won anyway.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Phillies: Tyler Cloyd has good minor league numbers over six seasons in the Phillies farm system. But has not yet translated that to the majors. And his season this year at Triple-A seemed shaky. Ian Kennedy is up and down in the first halves of his season and then finishes strong.
  • The Dodgers over the Marlins: A really tough pick! Jose Fernandez was brilliant his last time out and should benefit pitching in spacious Dodgers Stadium.  But you never know with young pitchers from outing to outing. Matt Magill has a big time arm and misses a lot of bats. But he walks too many people. This one is really hard to judge.
  • The Mariners over the Athletics: Hisashi Iwakuma is my go-to guy. He rarely steers me wrong. But Dan Straily has looked impressive at times too. Neither team is hitting well. I have to go with Iwakuma.
  • The Giants over the Braves: Matt Cain finally looked like Matt Cain in his last outing. He faces the Braves' great Tim Hudson. So it should be a low-scoring, great game. Just the kind of game the Giants always win.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Red Sox over the Blue Jays: The Blue Jays are going with the ancient Ramon Ortiz. Seriously! Jon Lester should win this one easily. But how many times has that statement bit me in the butt?

Yesterday: 7-3
Week: 39-24
Month: 65-50
Season: 294-214
Games of the Day: 27-11

Thursday, May 09, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Thursday: May 9, 2013

Yesterday's pick started off 8-0 and I was like, whoa. I was thinking that the day could be historic. But then the Red Sox could not get any Twins out. And somehow, the Yankees beat the Rockies. Then I stupidly picked the Mets and the Brewers to win. And then in the last game of the night, the Dodgers--the Game of the Day featuring Clayton Kershaw--lost. And there was no history. Just a decent day. Baseball is like that.

But how about my guy, Jordan Zimmermann! Is he the bomb or what? Love that guy. I did feel bad for old friend, A.J. Burnett, even though that pick was correct. He pitched a heck of a game. Felix Hernandez was not really better. He just gave up one less run. And the Giants are amazing. They simply win those late and close games better than anyone in baseball. Amazing.

Angel Hernandez made sure the Cleveland pick came in a winner, but the A's got jobbed. How can you get a replay call wrong? Unbelievable. And how is one umpire always in the center of such things? Why does baseball have no choice but to keep really bad umpires? Unbelievable.

Thursday's picks:

  • The Indians over the Athletics: I feel a Mark Reynolds bomb against Bartolo Colon. Colon will give up three or so runs. The pick, as always, will revolve around the other pitcher. Scott Kazmir won his last start. Maybe that, in itself, was too improbable to pick it to happen again.
  • The Yankees over the Rockies: The Yankees have scored three runs in eighteen innings at Coors Field. That is embarrassing. But that should be addressed today against the soft noodles of Jeff Francis. CC Sabathia goes for the Yankees. Sabathia loves to hit too.
  • The Tigers over the Nationals: Dan Haren will look mighty appetizing to the Tigers after facing Zimmermann yesterday. And Doug Fister will keep finding ways to get batters out.
  • The Royals over the Orioles: I am very hesitant on this pick. Jeremy Guthrie is due for a bad game and after pitching five tough seasons for the Orioles, this might be the one. On the other hand, if he can keep pitching well, the Royals should be able to get to Freddy Garcia. This is a tough one.
  • The Twins over the Red Sox: Kevin Correia has been surprisingly effective for the Twins. He hardly ever walks anyone. Meanwhile, the Red Sox have forgotten how to pitch this last week and John Lackey is not loved at Fenway Park. If the Twins get to Lackey, it has to be early. Again, not an easy pick.
  • The Pirates over the Mets: I still feel like Jeff Locke's success to this point is a mirage. He does not strike guys out and walks a lot of guys. So the BABIP gods will get to him eventually. But he does pose problems for the Mets with Duda and Davis being left-handed hitters. And Dillon Gee has not been very good for the Mets thus far.
  • The Angels over the Astros: Gosh, I am torn over this one. Even a team struggling as much as the Angels has to win a game some time. Lucas Harrell is decent for the Astros and Jason Vargas has not fooled anyone this season. But the Angels are the pick. Heaven help me.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Phillies: Maybe there is something to this grit thing. The D-backs are playing well. I love Patrick Corbin a lot as a pitcher and he will be especially tough on the Phillies' lefties. Cole Hamels could shut the D-backs down. He was, after all, my Cy Young Award pick for this season.
  • The Giants over the Braves: This is as much a pick against Julio Teheran as it is a pick for the Giants. Ryan Vogelsong has struggled but he has a better chance of winning at home than Teheran does of getting past Posey and the Panda.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Bay Rays over the Blue Jays: If this was last year's R.A. Dickey, this would be a tougher pick. But David Price has to be a better bet than Dickey at this point. Price has not gotten off to a great start, but he won his first game of the season his last time out.

Yesterday: 10-5
Week: 32-21
Month: 58-47
Season: 287-211
Games of the Day: 26-11

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Wednesday: May 8, 2013

The day started so well, but like the Atlanta Braves, could not finish well. Too soon? Probably. But anyway, the pick started the evening yesterday at 6-1 with only the Twins messing up the party as Scott Diamond shut down the Red Sox. The big inning for the Twins started on two straight errors by third base replacement, Pedro Ciriaco. Ouch. But the rest of the day limped in at 3-4 and I will never pick the Cardinals as the Game of the Day again. Stupid Cardinals.

Of course, the 9-5 day saw yet another postponed game but benefited by a couple of major blown saves. The Braves and Rays have blown an incredible number of runs in the late innings in the last few days. Elsewhere, Matt Harvey was spectacular but got a no decision as the Mets could not score a run until the tenth inning. And all prayers and thoughts go to J.A. Happ who was struck in the head with a line drive and sent to the hospital.

Wednesday's picks:

  • The Braves over the Reds: The Braves will score enough runs off of Mike Leake to not have to worry about closing the game. The only worry here is whether Mike Minor will be good enough to hold back the Reds' offense.
  • The Mariners over the Pirates: I hate to pick against A.J. Burnett (I like him, so what?), but the pick has to go to Felix Hernandez even though he will have to bat in this game. The King would probably like that anyway.
  • The Cardinals over the Cubs: Freakin' Cardinals. It is the Cubs here, guys. Jake Westbrook goes against Carlos Villanueva, who is actually pretty good. Oh brother.
  • The Padres over the Marlins: Ricky Nolasco should pitch well in Petco. But the Marlins will beat the ball into the ground all day against Jason Marquis who has a 1.93 ground ball to fly ball ratio. That is almost as high as Ichiro.
  • The Giants over the Phillies: Who knows what Barry Zito will do. And I hate picking against Jonathan Pettibone. But that is the pick.
  • The Nationals over the Tigers: These two teams will try to get the game in today. The pitching match-up is the same. Jordan Zimmermann over Anibal Sanchez.
  • The Orioles over the Royals: I think the Orioles' offense will overwhelm Luis Mendoza and then the only question is what kind of outing will Chris Tillman have? We will have to find out together.
  • The Indians over the Athletics: A.J. Griffin sure looked studly against the Yankees last week with his pitching and his long, blond locks flying. But yeah, at this point, the Indians have a better offense than the Yankees and Justin Masterson is capable of shutting down the A's who are scuffling at the moment.
  • The Mets over the White Sox: Normally, I would pick Jake Peavy all the time in this game, but his health has become a question. Jeremy Hefner is not endearing to pick either. Neither team has much of an offense. Oh boy.
  • The Red Sox over the Twins: This is Allen Webster's second start? How did I miss the first one? When did that happen? Judging from the outcome, he pitched well. Pedro Hernandez has struck out 3.92 batters per nine innings. That is a tough way to pitch against the Red Sox.
  • The Bay Rays over the Blue Jays: The battle of the Ays has gone all the Blue Jays' way thus far. But Matt Moore is a different kettle of fish for the Blue Jays. He should strike out a bunch of Jays and hope he can keep Bautista and Encarnacion in the park. The Jays give the start to Ricky Romero with a hope and a prayer.
  • The Astros over the Angels: Okay, why the heck not. Geez, these Angels. What is up there? Bud Norris rarely seems to harness his talent. But the Astros should be able to score a few off of Joe Blanton who is 0-5 so far. Ugh.
  • The Brewers over the Rangers: The Rangers are in a funk lately. And Kyle Lohse is a lot better than people think. The guy knows how to pitch. Derek Holland was much better his last time out though, so this pick might blow up if it gets to the Brewers' bullpen.
  • The Rockies over the Yankees: Juan Nicasio knows how to pitch at Coors. David Phelps relies on movement that will not happen there. This could get ugly for the Yankees as some of their early Cinderellas are turning into pumpkins.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Dodgers over the Diamondbacks: The D-backs have had an exciting series and I really like Wade Miley. But Clayton Kershaw is a difference maker and you have to pick him at home.

Yesterday: 9-5
Week: 22-16
Month: 47-42
Season: 277-206
Games of the Day: 26-10   Freakin' Cardianals...

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Tuesday: May 7, 2013

May continues to be a struggle for the picks. I had a pretty good day going and then both games on the West Coast involving the Dodgers and Giants both went awry. I did not expect Madison Bumgarner to give up five runs to the Phillies. And I should have known better than to pick Chris Capuano. Earlier in the day, Scott Feldman exacted revenge on his old Rangers team and beat them handily. And next time, it would be a good idea for the Royals to let James Shields finish his own shutouts instead of letting the bullpen blow the game for him.

About the only thing going really well is the Game of the Day feature which is now 26-9 for the season.

We are back to a full schedule today, so let's get to Tuesday's picks:

  • The Nationals over the Tigers: This is a fun match-up but hard to pick. I have to go with my man, Jordan Zimmermann to out-duel Anibal Sanchez. Both pitchers have been terrific this season but Zimmermann has been lights out. Plus, the Tigers are in an NL park and lose a bat in Victor Martinez (not that Martinez is doing much).
  • The Orioles over the Royals: While I am not much feeling Wei-Yin Chen as much as last year, I think the Orioles will hit a couple of homers off of Ervin Santana and are tough to beat at home.
  • The Indians over the Athletics: The Indians are the most improved team in the last couple of weeks. The A's are tough too so this will be interesting. It comes down to whether Tommy Milone or Zach McAllister pitches better.
  • The Pirates over the Mariners: Yet another American League team losing its DH for a series. And the Mariners cannot afford to lose bats. The Pirates still are not hitting well, but if James McDonald has a good night, he should be better than Aaron Harang a-dang-dang.
  • The Reds over the Braves: The Braves struck first in this series and tonight features a couple of pitchers that have been disappointing thus far this season. Which one will step up tonight? I will go with Homer Bailey for his pure strikeout stuff. Kris Medlen goes for the Braves.
  • The Mets over the White Sox: This will be a low scoring game. Matt Harvey will strike out his share of Sox batters and Hector Santiago's lefty slinging could defeat most of the Mets' lineup. Look for David Wright to be the difference.
  • The Red Sox over the Twins: Ryan Dempster has been up and down for the Red Sox. When he gets hit, he gets hit hard. But he should be okay against the Twins' lineup and the Red Sox should hit Scott Diamond.
  • The Blue Jays over the Rays: I was correct in picking the Blue Jays yesterday even though it took a Herculean comeback to do it. For the Rays, Ramon Hernandez is simply a stop-gap starter until they decide to pull a young kid from the minors. Now that he is no longer invincible, can Fernando Rodney straighten out his hat please. J.A. Happ goes for the Jays.
  • The Angels over the Astros: Doesn't Jordan Lyles sound like a soap opera name? There will not be much drama in this one as C.J. Wilson should have no problem putting up a W.
  • The Rangers over the Brewers: There are four interleague series this week and all four cost the AL a DH. The Rangers should still have enough offense to do some damage against Wily Peralta. The rest will depend on how good young Justin Grimm will be.
  • The Rockies over the Yankees: Hiroki Kuroda has pitched four times in Coors Field and has an ERA over eight there. The Yankees' offense cannot afford to lose a bat. Jorge De La Rosa should win this game.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Dodgers: Between Brandon McCarthy and Josh Beckett, the two pitchers are a combined 0-7. One of them has to get off the schnide thought. That is unless it becomes a bullpen game and the D-backs have the advantage there too.
  • The Padres over the Marlins: I am still zero for Eric Stults this season. Maybe tonight will fix that. He gets a weak team and the Padres should be able to score a few off of Alex Sanabia.
  • The Giants over the Phillies: Tim Lincecum is about as unpredictable as a pitcher gets. The Phillies present a poor-hitting lineup and could give Lincecum the advantage here at home. Kyle Kendrick is surprisingly good though for a guy that has little stuff.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Cardinals over the Cubs: This is a series the Cards should win. But will they? Well, tonight should be a good start as Lance Lynn is off to a flying start. If he pounds the strike zone, he should do well again tonight. Travis Wood should yield four runs or so.

Yesterday: 5-4
Week: 13-11
Month: 38-37
Season: 268-201
Games of the Day: 26-9

Monday, May 06, 2013

Is the return of Brian McCann good news for the Braves?

The Atlanta Braves sit on top of the National League East with an impressive 18-12 record. They have a +30 run differential and are hitting the ball pretty well. Part of that hitting excellence has been the catching corp of Gerald Laird and Evan Gattis who have hit for a combined .864 OPS. But the Braves now have to make a tough decision because Brian McCann, their nearly forgotten former All Star catcher returns from the disabled list.

I would hate to lose either Laird or Gattis at this point. When Gattis plays, the Braves get good defense, good power with the bat and a 30% rate of throwing out potential base steal attempts. Gattis' one weakness is his lack of patience at the plate and has only walked six times.

Laird, on the other hand has not yet hit for power but has been an on-base machine for the Braves when he plays. Laird is not a great defensive catcher and has only thrown out one base steal attempt in ten tries.

So who should go to accommodate McCann? And should McCann automatically assume his starting duties? Those are good questions and it will be interesting to see what Atlanta does.

I think the answers are pretty obvious. McCann has been an elite catcher for seven seasons now and only had a sup-par last year. You have to give him a bye on that perhaps for injuries. McCann has it all with good power and patience at the plate. He is not a bad defensive catcher and while he is no Molina, he holds his own. You have to give McCann his starting role back.

Plus, McCann, though he has seemed to be around forever, is only 29 years old. That is young for a catcher these days.

After the decision is made to put McCann back to his usual #1 catcher place, the obvious choice after that is to keep Gattis and let Laird go. Yes, Gerald Laird is off to a very good start, but he should regress to his mean, which is no great shakes. Laird is a journeyman catcher who is not very good defensively. He is not a catcher you preserve for the future.

Evan Gattis is a catcher you preserve for the future. He is only 26 years old and has shown he belongs in the majors. He is a good fielding catcher and can learn a lot from McCann moving forward. I cannot see any point in sending Gattis to the minors despite the large jump he made getting from just 49 games in Double-A to the big leagues. Gattis should be kept when McCann returns tonight.

Will that happen? Today will tell us. Brian McCann returning to the Braves IS a good thing. Keeping Laird over Gattis would not be a good thing.

**Update** The Braves have optioned Tyler Pastornicky, thus, for now, delaying having to make a two-catcher decision.

MLB Game Picks - Monday: May 6, 2013

Sunday was a fun-filled day of baseball but the picks continued May's struggles and finished just one game over .500 for the day. The Yankees' injury bug has reached into the bullpen and that depleted corp coughed up the game to the A's. Mike Pelfrey is pitching very well for the Twins and I have not adjusted yet and that pick was wrong. My man, Ian Kennedy, was roughed up. Jhoulys Chacin was not nearly as good as I expected him to be for another wrong pick and Roy Halladay...geez...Roy Halladay got whacked around again, this time by the lowly Marlins.

May is now exactly at .500 after 66 picks. Hardly inspiring stuff. And today is one of those dreaded short day with only nine games on the schedule.

Here are Monday's picks:

  • The Royals over the White Sox: Look at those Royals go! A good match-up in this day game between Chris Sale and James Shields. I am going with Shields at home in a low scoring game.
  • The Indians over the Athletics: The A's just two of three in New York but have their weakest rotation link going today in Jarrod Parker. Of course, this pick also means a pick for Ubaldo Jimenez. Lord help me. Jimenez has won his last two starts, both of which have been wrong for me. Scary pick though.
  • The Braves over the Reds: This is an interesting series. I would like the Braves better if Jason Heyward was not still on the DL. But Brian McCann is back today for the Braves. Paul Maholm needs to have a good day for the pick to hold and the Braves need to hit some dingers on Bronson Arroyo.
  • The Blue Jays over the Rays: This is my upset pick of the day. Mark Buehrle is due to have a good BABIP game and Jeremy Hellickson can run into trouble with Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. Picking against the Rays is always scary.
  • The Rangers over the Cubs: This is an interesting game. The Rangers will go without the DH and will face their old friend in Scott Feldman. Feldman has been pitching pretty well lately. Nick Tepesch will go for the Rangers in Wrigley. Which way will the wind be blowing?
  • The Dodgers over the Diamondbacks: This is a tough call. The Dodgers just got spanked by the Giants all weekend. And they have to start Chris Capuano. Yikes. But the Diamondbacks are starting Trevor Cahill and he has not been that good either. Going with the Dodgers at home, but not with any confidence.
  • The Padres over the Marlins: Another head-scratching game. Andrew Cashner was not very good his last time out but is at home and should strike out a bunch of Marlins. Wade LeBlanc should not strike out any Padres, hence the pick in the final analysis.
  • The Giants over the Phillies: Can you pick against the Giants at this point? It is like they will not allow themselves to lose. It has been amazing. Some Giants hater commented here a couple of weeks ago that the Giants had not faced quality opponents. You still have to win, baby, and the Giants have done nothing but win. Having Madison Bumgarner on the mound does not hurt either. Cliff Lee is the victim.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Red Sox over the Twins: The Red Sox had a tough series against the Rangers, but are back home today with the 6-0 Clay Buchholz on the mound. I hope Buchholz does not let this rosin nonsense affect him. Vance Worley goes for the Twins and has not recorded a win this season.

Yesterday: 8-7
Week: 8-7
Month: 33-33
Season: 263-197
Games of the Day: 25-9

Sunday, May 05, 2013

The terrible contract of Adam Dunn

Adam Dunn does not appear on many lists for the worst contracts in baseball. But he should be. I spell it all out in the new issue of Big Leagues Magazine, which is free this issue. Check it out and read a whole bunch of other great stuff while you are there.

Sitting Josh Hamilton was dumb

One more note on the Angels - Orioles game. As everyone knows, Josh Hamilton has been awful so far with the Angels after signing this huge contract. He is continuing his trend from last year at swinging at everything and is batting like .208 or something. And so his manager sat him yesterday against the Orioles. That was dumb.

Why was it dumb when Hamilton just went zero for four the previous game with three strikeouts? Because he was sat down when a right-handed pitcher was pitching and that pitcher happened to be Freddy Garcia.

Yes, Garcia pitched a wonderful game. But let us not get too giddy here. At this point in his career, Freddy Garcia is a meatball pitcher. If you are expecting him to go six innings without him giving up a hit in the rest of his outings, you are expecting miracles.

I would have taken the odds that Josh Hamilton could have jacked one of those meatballs from Garcia. I would have jumped on that chance to give Hamilton an opportunity to crunch some baseballs. Instead, he was not playing.

I can see Hamilton getting a rest against a tough lefty or even a hard thrower. But against Freddy Garcia? Foolishness. Hamilton could have made a difference in that game.

Hank Conger is my new hero

The Angels lost another game yesterday. That was not surprising the way things have been going over there. But something did happen in the game that made me have a new hero. Hank Conger beat the shift. And he provided one of the sillier moments of the season while doing so.

Here is the video in case you missed it. Click this link if the video does not work:

Every team is now doing the shift thing against hitters known to pull the ball. Rarely if ever do you see a player just put a ball down the third base line to beat the shift. It drives me crazy. Do that five times or so and make the defense pay for their positioning. They are basically giving you a free hit. Why not take it?

Hank Conger did. And it figured it would be Conger. He is not a big power guy. His slugging percentage is never going to wow anyone. So there is no pride that gets in the way. The argument against a power guy trying to beat a shift is that you could get four bases instead of one. But that argument makes no sense to me. The chance of hitting a homer is what, one out of fifteen even with a big slugger? So taking away his chance for a homer is negligible. But make the defense play honest now could increase your BABIP later. At least that is my argument.

Hank Conger beat the shift. Hooray! He squared up like he was hitting a sacrifice bunt and put it down the third base way when nobody was there. Even an elder Molina would have beat that out.

But Conger almost did not beat it out. He started running. His feet were so excited about getting a base hit that they were beside themselves. I loved the first announcing team saying that he had happy feet. That was perfect. Conger tripped over himself and went sprawling to the ground. He still beat the play and was rewarded not only for his comedy, but for beating that darned shift.

Gosh, I wish more players would do it. Not the falling down part. That was fun. But I do not want anyone getting hurt. Hank Conger is my new hero because he beat the mighty shift. Watch and learn all you pull hitters.

MLB Game Picks - Sunday: May 5, 2013

Another day, another postponement. This time it was the Mets and Braves down in Atlanta. I am not sure if the game had been played would have helped or hindered what ended up as a pretty good day. Jeremy Guthrie was terrific for the Royals. Phil Hughes was great for the Yankees. The Nationals finally won a game that Stephen Strasburg started, though he did not get the win. Alexi Ogando shut down the Red Sox as predicted. Hisashi Iwakuma shut down the Blue Jays as picked here.

But there were some surprises. David Price got smoked at Coors Field as Jon Garland continued his comeback season. Jose Fernandez was brilliant for the Marlins as the Phillies only got one hit--by Freddy Galvis of all people. Scott Kazmir got his first win since 2010 and although I am happy for him, his effort killed that pick.

But overall, it was a pretty good day after some not so good days. Sunday is here and it is always the best day of the week in baseball. The picks:

  • The Indians over the Twins: Here comes that Muppets chef again. Say it with me now: Corey Kluber. Saying that name in chef voices is one of life's true pleasures. And, yes, I am an idiot. Mike Pelfrey goes for the Twins. Don't look now, but the Indians are at .500.
  • The Yankees over the Athletics: Dan Straily is the kind of pitcher who gives the Yankees fits. He has only walked one batter so far in eleven plus innings. But he is right-handed and at least that helps. Andy Pettitte needs to be better than he was in his last outing.
  • The Blue Jays over the Mariners: Are any teams as low as the Blue Jays are right now? Holy cow, it has been unbelievable how seldom this team even has a chance to win a game. Brandon Morrow is going to have to pitch a great game. Joe Saunders is going to have to have a bad BABIP game. But somehow this Toronto team needs to win a game.
  • The Braves over the Mets: The rain-out allows the Braves to skip Teheran and go with their ace, Tim Hudson today. That helps their cause. Jonathon Niese being left-handed plays into the Braves' hands as the Braves as a team have an 85 point OPS advantage against southpaw starters than right-handed starters. See? And you folks still think I wing this, right?
  • The Pirates over the Nationals: The Nats' lineup misses Bryce Harper and I think Mike Morse. I still do not get that move. But anyway, Wandy Rodriguez is going to shut them down and the Pirates will score a few off of Gio Gonzalez, who has not yet hit his strike this season.
  • The Brewers over the Cardinals: Yeah, this is probably a stupid pick as the Brewers are the Blue Jays of the National League where nothing is going right. But traditionally, Jaime Garcia has not pitched well on the road. And Marco Estrada is capable of pitching a good game. The bullpens on these two teams! Ugh!
  • The Reds over the Cubs: First of all, I have picked all home teams and that is scaring me. Second of all, the Cubs are pitching Edwin Jackson, who is showing why all those GMs over the winter said, "Um, no thanks." Mat Latos needs to avoid Alfonso Soriano's bat, which is heating up.
  • The Phillies over the Marlins: Okay, back to normal. Not that Roy Halladay will ever get back to his normal. But he should beat the Marlins. Kevin Slowey pitches Slow stuff and sloweyer and sloweyest stuff which could baffle the Phillies' weak lineup though.
  • The Rangers over the Red Sox: Oh! I would pay to see this one: Jon Lester versus Yu Darvish? Delicious match-up. I will take the Rangers at home.
  • The Orioles over the Angels: Sheesh, Angels. How can I ever pick you? In desperation, you start Jerome Williams who has been terrific in long relief. But as a starter? We'll see. And then he will only go five or six innings and then there is no Jerome Williams to relieve. Then what? Jason Hammel will continue to defy logic as all Orioles' pitchers do.
  • The Tigers over the Astros: Could Philip Humber lose twenty games this season? It has not been done in a very long time and he has a shot at 0-6. And guess who he gets to go against today: only Justin Verlander.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Padres: I have a good chance to go with my man-crush here in Ian Kennedy. His fly ball pitching should work well at Petco. Edinson Volquez has not been as laughable lately though.
  • The Rockies over the Bay Rays: The Rockies are raking. Tulo and CarGo and the rest are enjoying Coors Field to the fullest. Alex Cobb's stuff will not play as well in the thin air. And Jhoulys Chacin has been very good.
  • The Giants over the Dodgers: Okay, you Giants. You win. It makes no sense that you always seem to find a way to win. But you do. And it is uncanny. Two walk-off homers in two days!? You guys are outdoing even yourselves. Today, somehow, you will even beat Hyun-Jin Ryu with a Matt Cain who has not won a game yet this season.
And the Game of the Day!
  • The Royals over the White Sox: This is fun, eh Kansas City fans? This Royals team is fun to watch. They did not strike out at all in yesterday's game. How is that for fun? Wade Davis follows Guthrie's great start with one of his own as these things are contagious. Jose Quintana is the victim.
Yesterday: 9-5
Last week: 52-42
Month: 25-26
Season: 255-190
Games of the Day: 24-9