Saturday, July 13, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Saturday: July 13, 2013

The biggest golf tournament of the season in these parts takes place today, so here I am at five o'clock in the morning to make sure I bring you the game picks. Dedication! Oy, I am tired.

Yesterday was not that bad of a day as the picks went 8-6 with a postponement in Philadelphia. One of the incorrect picks was the Game of the Day as David Price was out-pitched by young Jarred Cosart, who won his Major League debut. Nice going, kid! It was the first hit for the Game of the Day in quite some time, so I cannot quibble.

There are sixteen games on the schedule with a double-header in Philly. Here are Saturday's picks:

  • The Yankees over the Twins: The Yankees better hope Phil Hughes has a good day with the scouts watching so they can trade him in a few days. Sam Deduno pitched well for the Twins against the Yankees last time out. But the Yankees are at home.
  • The Phillies over the White Sox: I still think Jonathan Pettibone beats John Danks even though the Phillies struggle slightly against lefties.
  • The Braves over the Reds: I was right about Homer Bailey struggling after a no-hitter. It always happens for some reason. Mike Minor better be very good for the Braves though.
  • The Orioles over the Blue Jays: Jason Hammel is a scary proposition against Bautista and Encarnacion. But I would rather pick him than Todd Redmond. Yes, Redmond was okay in his first start. But there is a reason he is the Blue Jays' eighth option as a starting pitcher.
  • The Bay Rays over the Astros: Okay, so the Rays could not beat the Astros with David Price on the mound. So how are they going to beat the Astros with Roberto Hernandez on the mound? That would be because Dallas Keuchel starts for the Astros.
  • The Indians over the Royals: Scott Kazmir is hanging in there, is he not? Good for him. I think he wins today against the Royals despite the fact that the Yankees fixed Jeremy Guthrie. Again, if you have a struggling pitcher, send him up against the Yankees.
  • The Pirates over the Mets: The Mets are starting Carlos Torres, who has not started a game in the Majors since 2010. That said, if the season is any guide, he will be great. But I cannot pick a guy with his kind of record who has not started in the bigs in that long. I will go with A.J. Burnett at home.
  • The Cardinals over the Cubs: Lance Lynn avoided that one bad inning in his last start, so perhaps he is over that little problem. He has a tough task today as Matt Garza is throwing well and will get traded here soon.
  • The Tigers over the Rangers: I can hear a groundswell of analytic writers rooting hard against Max Scherzer because they hate the wins stat and all Max Scherzer has done is win. That makes him tough to pick against for awards when fWAR and other stats say differently. While I love the new numbers and the new stats, I still think a win is a win. And Scherzer wins again. Derek Holland with a tough luck loss.
  • The Marlins over the Nationals: Jose Fernandez has been just about perfect at home this season. And that is where he pitches today. Dan Haren seems like his arm and his career are about toasted at this point, which is too bad. At one time, he was a tough hombre.
  • The Phillies over the White Sox: Yes, I am predicting a sweep with the Phillies getting over the .500 hump for the first time in a long time. Not that it will be easy. John Lannon has to pitch a good game. That is asking a lot. But if he does, Hector Santiago is one of those fringe pitchers that seem to hang around for not logical reason.
  • The Red Sox over the Athletics: The Red Sox never lose...except when Jon Lester pitches. Which is weird to say as you would think that he would be the anchor. He has been, but in the bad connotation of that word. But he wins today and A.J. Griffin, who is usually good at home, gives up just enough for the Red Sox to win again.
  • The Mariners over the Angels: Felix Hernandez is no longer the same Felix Hernandez. He isn't and I think there is something wrong with him. But he will keep taking the ball and he is savvy enough to still win. Jered Weaver is darn good though. I predict that Weaver plunks Raul Ibanez.
  • The Brewers over the Diamondbacks: Kyle Lohse finds a way. I have been fascinated by him for quite some time. He is simply a guy who pitches better than his talent. That's all there is to it. Randall Delgado could learn from him.
  • The Giants over the Padres: Tim Lincecum struck out eleven batters his last outing. That was impressive. Is he back? Are the Giants back after winning a couple in a row? That is what I am thinking. Edinson Volquez goes for the Padres.

And the Game of the Day!
  • The Dodgers over the Rockies: Tyler Chatwood is pretty good, especially on the road away from Coors. And he has a nice pitchers' park today. The only problem is that he is facing Zack Greinke, who is going to pitch better. The Dodgers continue to roll.

Yesterday: 8-6
Week: 52-32
Month: 102-64
Season: 779-610
Games of the Day: 61-40

Friday, July 12, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Friday: July 12, 2013

Yesterday was a tough day and it was only a bit of success at the end of the day that led to a 6-6 record. The mediocre day put a bit of a damper on what has been a good week. First of all, I should have picked Danny Salazar, who was terrific. I picked against Danny Salazar and for Ross Wolf, two young pitchers. I got them both wrong even though Ross pitched a good game. His team could not score against Miguel Gonzalez. My beloved Jordan Zimmerman pitched another great game and deserved to win. But his team could not score against Kyle Kendrick. And Edwin Jackson, of all people, shut out the Cardinals. I felt that coming and did not pick it.

And so it was a tough day. Now we enter the final weekend before the All Star Break and I am looking forward to Monday. I need a couple of days as a break myself. Heck, I just write about these games. Imagine the grind of those who play it every day!

Friday's picks:

  • The Cardinals over the Cubs: I debated on this one a long time. Both teams are starting long relievers. The Cards are going with Joe Kelly and the Cubs with Carlos Villanueva. Both are very useful pitchers who can never quite make a team's starting rotation. I think they cancel each other out and then I go with the better team.
  • The Phillies over the White Sox: The White Sox are playing a little better. I should have picked Chris Sale yesterday and did not. But in this one, I see Jonathan Pettibone doing better than John Danks. And the White Sox lose a batter.
  • The Indians over the Royals: Early in the season, I picked against Corey Kluber a lot. And then he got hot and it took me a while to come over to picking him. And then he got cold and I was on the wrong side again. He was great his last time out. So I am picking him. Bruce Chen is going for the Royals. Royals' fans have seen this before.
  • The Yankees over the Twins: The Twins have traditionally struggled against the Yankees. These are not the same Yankees and it looks like Derek Jeter's return was for a day and won't play today probably. But Hiroki Kuroda is not a pitcher to pick against and Scott Diamond is.
  • The Mets over the Pirates: I just wrote about Jeremy Hefner yesterday, so I have to pick him, right? Besides, I am not a big fan of Charlie Morton. Perhaps the Pirates went cold for going back to this blast to the terrible past for a pitcher.
  • The Orioles over the Blue Jays: Mark Buehrle has been pitching well, but the Orioles have too good an offense and Chris Tillman is having a good season. It is tough to pick against the Orioles at home.
  • The Tigers over the Rangers: Justin Grimm is not pitching well and has not made it past the fifth inning in his last four starts. Doug Fister is a strange case. He either pitches just fine or he is absolutely awful. What will today bring? He lives so much on the margins, that sometimes he just falls too close ot the cliff.
  • The Nationals over the Marlins: The Nationals' offense has been so spotty and it wastes great outings from their big three starting pitchers. Stephen Strasburg has been no different. But he is so good that you have to pick him in any given game. Nathan Eovaldi will hope the Nats' bats are cold again.
  • The Braves over the Reds: My gut is telling me that the Braves are going to club three homers against Bronson Arroyo today. And with Arroyo's homer-happy past, that is not a stretch. Kris Medlen will have to pitch a good game for this pick to come in though.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Brewers: Tom Gorzelanny is one of those pitchers like Kyle Kendrick, who seem to live on the fringes awaiting their chance and do well once they get it. But I have to go with Patrick Corbin here.
  • The Red Sox over the Athletics: The Red Sox never seem to lose. Ever. John Lackey has pitched very well this season. Jarrod Parker has had his ups and downs.
  • The Angels over the Mariners: Yeah, yeah, Joe Saunders was terrific his last time out. Big deal. The Angels should still beat him up. Jerome Williams was having a great season until his last start. Can he rebound?
  • The Dodgers over the Rockies: Suddenly, the Dodgers are relentless. Hairston, Ellis, Puig, Gonzalez and especially Hanley Ramirez, are all hitting the ball really well and the team is getting good pitching. All that could come together here against Juan Nicasio of the Rockies. The Rockies are sinking but have Troy Tulowitzki back. Clayton Kershaw goes for the Dodgers.
  • The Giants over the Padres: The Padres are starting Sean O'Sullivan who has not started in the big leagues since 2011. His MLB K/9 is invisible but he was having a good strikeout season for him in the minors. I am not buying it though. But picking Chad Gaudin just goes against everything I stand for. Ugh!

And the Game of the Day!
  • The Bay Rays over the Astros: The Astros are featuring the MLB debut of Jarred Cosart. Cosart was a 38th round draft pick the Astros obtained from the Phillies a couple of years ago (Oswalt deal?). He looks like he has a good arm, but his minor league record is filled with too many walks. I cannot pick that. Besides, David Price has come back with a vengeance from the DL.

Yesterday: 6-6
Week: 44-26
Month: 94-58
Season: 771-604
Games of the Day: 61-39

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The complete turnaround of Jeremy Hefner

For most of last year and for the first two months of this season, the only thing Jeremy Hefner had in common with that famous dude with the same last name was that both took a lot of early showers. This season, not only did Hefner lose his first five decisions, but the Mets lost the game in all ten of his first ten appearances. That was not good. In fact, the Mets lost twelve of Hefner's first thirteen appearances. But Hefner actually started pitching better on May 24 against the Braves and then beat the Yankees for his first win of the season. Now, the Mets have won five of his last five starts with Hefner getting the win in three of them. Jeremy Hefner has turned it around.

When you are pitching in a situation like Jeremy Hefner is with the Mets, the one thing it affords is a chance to get straightened out. If Hefner was pitching for a winning club, he might have been pulled from the rotation and even from a Major League roster. After nine starts, the man did have an ERA of 5.00. But Hefner has benefited from the Mets' situation and was able to keep getting the ball every five days and that has paid off handsomely for him.

The big question is this: Are his last five starts for real? Are we finally seeing the real Jeremy Hefner, or is he just having a lucky stretch after a really bad stretch? Let's take a look.

The Good News:

Hefner pitched 29 innings in April, 28 in May and 29 in June. In April, Hefner walked eleven batters. In May, that went down to nine. In June, that went down again to five. Thus, his strikeout to walk ratio in the three months has a nice progression: 1.82, 2.44, 4.60 and that figure is 4.67 in July. Due to more contact, his hit rate went up all three months, but has come down nicely in July.

Unlike BABIP and other indicators, you cannot fake strikeout to walk ratios.

But does Hefner's stuff look good enough to continue his success? Consider that his slider is rated by Fangraphs as the fourth best in all of baseball. Only Darvish, Masterson and Bumgarner's rate higher. That is pretty nice company. Hefner's curve ranks seventh in all of baseball with guys like Strasburg, Burnett, Leake, Kershaw and Wainwright ahead of him. Again, that is excellent company.

With that kind of success on his breaking stuff, fastball command no doubt makes a big difference in his success. It would be safe to say that early in the season, it was not there. But in the last month and a half, he has been able to get ahead in the count more and then use his terrific breaking pitches to his benefit.

The only doubt that enters the mind is that his last five appearances have been against teams like the Cubs, the Brewers, the Phillies, the Rockies and the Diamondbacks. It was quite impressive what he did at Coors Field, so you cannot take that away from him. But all five of those teams have struggled in the last month. Will Hefner's success continue when the Mets play the best teams again?

I think it will. His stuff is there. He is learning how to get ahead in the count and use his off-speed pitches effectively. Hefner is throwing more strikes, getting less walks and though his homer rate is high, in the last two starts, the one he allowed in each of those starts was a solo homer. 

Hefner also has an improved strand rate this season over last season. Part of that is luck, of course, but another part of it is learning how to stay in the moment and get the outs you need to get out of situations. Jeremy Hefner has been afforded the chance to learn how to perform his craft at the Major League level and he appears to be doing just that.

The late emergence of Jeremy Hefner has to be exciting for Mets fans and for his team's brain-trust. His complete turnaround in the last month and a half seems to show that the Mets have built three-fifths of a great rotation with Harvey, Wheeler and Hefner and Gee is only 27 and is coming around nicely too. If four of your five starters give your team a chance to win every time out, the Mets can be on their way back to respectability.

MLB Game Picks - Thursday: July 11, 2013

Wednesday was another good day in what has been a good week. Ten out of the fifteen picks were correct. The Cubs pick was a little laughable. Jeff Samardzija had nothing, unfortunately. The San Diego pick was wrong, though it was a close game. The same can be said of the Toronto - Cleveland game. I split the two extra-inning games. The Dodgers gained further ground on the D-backs, which got me a wrong pick. But I cannot complain. It was a good day.

There are twelve games on the Thursday schedule as the schedule maker decided that six teams needed a day off before the four days of the All Star Break. Okay, like whatever. Heh. Here are Thursday's picks:

  • The Blue Jays over the Indians: The Indians will feature the Major League debut of Danny Salazar. Salazar has a great strikeout rate in seventeen starts split between Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus with a low walk rate. That is a good combination, but there is no telling how he will perform in the big show. R.A. Dickey seems the safer pick.
  • The Yankees over the Royals: The Yankees should fight back to a split in this one as long as Andy Pettitte has a decent outing. The Yankees have at least a chance to score against Ervin Santana.
  • The Tigers over the White Sox: The only thing that gives me pause in this pick is Chris Sale pitching for the White Sox. The tall one has a chance to shut down anyone in any given start. Anibal Sanchez will match Sale though and the Tigers will win late.
  • The Red Sox over the Mariners: MLB has a TBO next to the pitcher's name in today's game. But Yahoo Sports lists the start going to Erasmo Ramirez. Ramirez had a brief look in the bigs last year and was quite decent. His numbers are good in the minors. He could hold the Red Sox in check. But Ryan Dempster will hold the Mariners to even less runs.
  • The Rangers over the Orioles: Ross Wolf gets his second start of the season. He has pitched long relief the rest of the season and has done darned well for himself. His one start was successful too. My only reservation here is that he does not strike people out. He only has six strikeouts in 27+ innings. Hmm.. But I think the Rangers will hit Miguel Gonzalez.
  • The Nationals over the Phillies: Ah! My guy! Jordan Zimmermann. He is going for his 13th win tonight. He should get it. His batters are finally starting to kick it in gear and should score off of Kyle Kendrick.
  • The Braves over the Reds: This is a very interesting series and an interesting match-up of Mat Latos against a lineup that whiffs a lot and the great Tim Hudson. I think the game completely depends on how good Hudson is tonight. If he is on and can get through the first two innings, the Braves win. If not, this pick is bye-bye.
  • The Cardinals over the Cubs: This pick is fraught with danger. First, the Cubs have been playing fairly well. Second, as bad as Edwin Jackson can be, he can also be brilliant for a game. Jackson has been better in the last few weeks. Jake Westbrook better have a good outing.
  • The Brewers over the Diamondbacks: I think Ryan Braun is supposed to be back today? I am not sure. If so, he gives the Brewers more leverage against Wade Miley, the weakest of the D-backs' big three lefties. Plus, Yovani Gallardo can take advantage of the fact that Arizona is really struggling right now.
  • The Dodgers over the Rockies: I hate picking the Dodgers when Chris Capuano is pitching. But I cannot in good faith pick Drew Pomeranz. At one time, Pomeranz was the prospect of prospects. But he is now 4-12 as a Major League starter with an ERA over five and a WHIP over 1.5. It is kind of sad, really.
  • The Giants over the Padres: Jason Marquis has not won in a month and always has a good chance to do well at Petco. But the Giants are destined to break their losing streak and there is no better pitcher to do it for them than Madison Bumgarner, who should also enjoy Petco.

And the Game of the Day!
  • The Bay Rays over the Twins: The Twins are not having a good time in the AL East. The Rays took fourteen innings to beat them yesterday. With Matt Moore facing Mike Pelfrey, the game should only go nine this time.

Yesterday: 10-5
Week: 38-20
Month: 88-52
Season: 765-598
Games of the Day: 60-39

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Wednesday: July 10, 2013

I believe that I have picked Justin Verlander to win the Game of the Day three times this season. All three seemed like obvious mismatches. He has lost all three. Last night was the third. I do not think I will ever pick him for the Game of the Day again. Nor do I think I will pick the Yankees to win the rest of the season. It is starting to feel like a Daffy Duck cartoon where he keeps getting hit while trying to say something and he sounds more punch drunk each time. Yeah, that's me picking the Yankees.

And the same woes that are plaguing the Yankees, namely a total lack of offense, seems to be plaguing the Pirates too. Gerrit Cole pitched a heck of a game. And lost to Dan Straily, a guy the Pirates should have scored three or four runs against. I am starting to worry about those Pirates.

In fact, I think the picks started 0-4, so I feel rather fortunate to finish the day just in the black. Let's see if I can back to my winning ways today. Wednesday's picks:

  • The Marlins over the Braves: The Marlins are starting to sink again after a very good June. But Jacob Turner really has not had a bad outing since coming to the big leagues. I think he shuts down the Braves. Giancarlo Stanton has been quiet and erupts against Paul Maholm.
  • The Reds over the Brewers: I cannot believe that the Brewers are going to throw out there poor Johnny Hellweg again. The poor guy has gotten his head handed to him in his first two starts. Mike Leake should fare better and even if he does not, the Reds win a high scoring game.
  • The Giants over the Mets: To state that the Giants are in trouble is stating the obvious. They are now nine games below .500 and in last place in the NL West. Who would have thunk it. But I think they win tonight as Matt Cain pitches well and Zack Wheeler gives up too many base runners.
  • The Yankees over the Royals: I know, I know. Daffy Duck. Ivan Nova got some confidence in his last outing and Wade Davis is Phil Hughes from a different mother. What the heck, eh?
  • The Pirates over the Athletics: I am being stubborn here too. I know I am. But, here is the thing, Francisco Liriano has been really good and Tommy Milone has allowed at least three runs in each of his last four starts. If the Pirates continue that and score three or more runs, they win.
  • The Orioles over the Rangers: This pick has been wrong two days in a row. But the third time is the charm. Wei-Yin Chen is back for the Orioles and he should keep the O's in the game. Josh Lindblom inspires no confidence for me and the Orioles' offense wakes up.
  • The Indians over the Blue Jays: In the immortal words of The Who, "We won't be fooled again." The Blue Jays are a giant tease. They suck you in and then break your heart. Justin Masterson comes up big and Nick Swisher and Carlos Santana sink Esmil Rogers.
  • The Nationals over the Phillies: Cliff Lee has been great. No doubt. But Gio Gonzalez is just as good and can match Lee for zeroes. The Nationals could take this one and get off their losing ways. Their offense needs to push a couple of runs across though and they are not hitting lefties well. hmm...
  • The Tigers over the White Sox: I am so over the Tigers. They are the worst good team in baseball. They should win 100 games in that division, but they will probably win like 85 to take it. And then power their way through the playoffs. They make me ill. Rick Porcello over Dylan Axelrod.
  • The Rays over the Twins: The Rays, on the other hand, win the games they are supposed to win. I can pretty much count on them. Jeremy Hellickson is never as good as his record. All he does is win. Narrative: He is a winner. Kevin Correia is your typical Twins' pitcher. Win some, lose some, batted balls.
  • The Cubs over the Angels: Bet you did not know that the Cubs have won seven of their last ten. Surprised? However, they never seem to win when Jeff Samardzija pitches. Perhaps they will today. C.J. Wilson is doing his typical middle of the season slide.
  • The Cardinals over the Astros: The Cards need to win all these games and take advantage of the Pirates having a losing streak. They should win tonight with Shelby Miller pitching. Jordan Lyles still sounds like a cross between a country singer and a soap opera character.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Dodgers: The D-backs have to be worried. The Dodgers have gone from last place and like ten games out to second place and two and a half back. And they have talked about trading Tyler Skaggs. That would be a very big mistake as he is a terrific young pitcher and will out-pitch Hyun-jin Ryu tonight.
  • The Padres over the Rockies: Hey, did you notice my Eric Stults, pick the opposite thing, has worked twice in a row? Yeah. Anyway, I have no idea who is going to win this game. Jorge De La Rosa starts for the Rockies and has too many parts to his name. Andrew Cashner seems like a bright young arm, but he is not blowing anyone away yet. So who knows.

And the Game of the Day!
  • The Red Sox over the Mariners: The Red Sox have already hit hard the two superstars of the Mariners' rotation. So will they lose to someone like Aaron Harang? That does not sound likely. I think the Red Sox are going to stay on top of the AL East all season. I think they are that good. Oh, Felix Doubront pitches for the Red Sox.

Yesterday: 8-7
Week: 28-15
Month: 78-47
Season: 755-593
Games of the Day: 59-39

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Portland Sea Dogs and new friends

This past Friday (July 5), I drove six hours south to Portland, Maine, on what would be the hottest weekend of the summer (to this point). The car air conditioner helped a great deal, but it took me an hour to figure out how to make the hotel's air conditioner work properly. I could hear in the back of my mind a relative saying decades ago, "Now I know he's Italian," when I had difficulty figuring out how to turn a shower on and off. It was the start of a very interesting weekend.

Friday night and Saturday morning were up to my own devises. Friday night, I checked out the pool (indoors regrettably). The usual family with five kids dominated the place including the parents in the hot tub. Does every hotel have a family like that?

I thought I would go to the deep end and be relatively out of the splash zone. But there was this guy there with his trainer. What the heck they were doing at a hotel pool is beyond me. So this trainer's sole function was to bark orders like a drill sergeant while holding a leash attached to the trainee. That's right, a leash. The trainee would try to swim as hard as he could while the trainer held the leash in resistance barking away like some mad dog. Between the splashing and the barking, I soon gave up in disgust.

The hotel had two ice machines. Since the place had three floors, why would it only have two machines? Neither worked the entire time I was there. The hottest weekend of the summer and I had no way of cooling off my Coca-Cola. Der.

Anyway, I chatted on Twitter and followed the ballgames and went to sleep. In the morning, I called down to order breakfast.

"How will you be paying for that, sir?"

"Cash," I answered.

"If you are paying cash, you will have to come down and get it."


"That's the rule."

So I gave her a credit card number, which the gal repeated in full blast to hear over the noise in the background. Forty people could have written down the number.

Things were not going so well to this point. The restaurant's coffee was horrible too.

The plan for the weekend was to meet up with Twitter buds, and fellow bloggers, Dan McCloskey (@_LeftField) and Bryan O'Conner (@replevel) over at Bryan's house for a barbecue and then we would all go to a Portland Sea Dogs' game. The Sea Dogs are the Double-A team for the Boston Red Sox and it is most certainly not funny or weird that they play in Maine. We may not be New Yawk, but we do have a few things.

Things started shaping up when I followed Google's map directions perfectly. That never happens. I can get lost in a mall parking lot. I arrived at Bryan's house around two and before Dan had arrived.

Bryan's family is wonderful. His wife is one of those people who could make anyone feel at home. She calls herself an "overcooker," There certainly was plenty of food! The O'Conners have two small children. Their son is two and a half and already loves baseball and "Big Poppy." I decided to like him anyway. He loved to play catch, but at his young age, could not catch anything. When he invariably missed the catch again, he would throw the glove like it was the glove's fault. Priceless.

Their daughter is four and a half (I think) and she is into Disney princesses. And she liked to hand one of them to you as a token of friendship. Poor Princess Jasmine ended up in my pants pocket and went to the ballgame and back to northern Maine with me. Oops.

Bryan is tall and is very comfortable in his own skin. He is handsome and very down to earth. It is funny how your perception of people can be so wrong. I pictured Bryan as cerebral (he does love his metrics, after all) and Dan as down to earth. They ended up being just the opposite. But I liked them both very much.

Dan arrived with his wife and their young toddler. The two wives met and commiserated, they all talked craft beer and I did not mind feeling like the older uncle who had not been in those circumstances in a long, long time. It turns out that Dan's son liked handing things to you as well and I was collecting quite a collection of toys, left over treats and the like.

Both families are terrific. I liked both wives and their children. I had forgotten how much young children are the center of life when at that age. I cannot imagine having to live like that again. I tried to stay out of the way and made friends with the children as best I could.

Dan looked like he was made for the baseball cap and wears it perfectly.

After a great barbecue, three cars were packed with kids, diaper bags, harnesses, toys and ready to head for the game. Well...mine wasn't. I just had the stowed away Princess Jasmine. Bryan took the lead and led us to the park. Remarkably, we all stayed together and got to the parking lot at the same time. Another miracle.

The Sea Dogs play at Hadlock Park and there is a Green Monster in left, just like at the big boy park. There is also a giant fisherman and a giant L.L. Bean boot on the roof in right field. It is a very attractive place and very fan friendly. Things go on for the kids in between every inning and are sponsored by local businesses. The fans are very enthusiastic and the place was nearly filled. It appears the Sea Dogs have a lot going on that is positive.

We arrived in the bottom of the first, so I gave up my idea of keeping score. And Sea Dogs' shirts were selling from $25 to $40, so I reneged on my promise to bring one home for my wife. Someone in the stands had a fried dough, but I was never able to find out where the vendor was.

I did not get to see Matt Barnes pitch. He faced one batter, who got a hit and later scored and Barnes was pulled right after that. I do not know if he hurt himself. He was followed by Noe Ramirez, who was more like Woe Ramirez and Mike McCarthy followed Woe...uhh...Noe and was even worse. Between the two of them, they gave up two homers and six doubles to the New Britain Rock Cats and it was 9-0 by the fifth inning. Eddie Rosario and Jasmil Pinto both hit a homer and a double in the game.

The Rock Cats' starter, DJ Baxendale was a typical Minnesota Twins pitcher. He pitched five innings and only struck out one batter. But he topped out at 93 on his fastball (stadium gun) and induced a lot of weak pop-ups.

Our gang occupied a large section of a row and we were all spread out. Bryan was the furthest one in and then his children and then his wife. Then Dan's wife, their son and Dan next to me. Later in the game, Bryan came down and the three of us got to talk a little baseball. I was able to talk a little bit to Dan about his times at Joe Brinkman's umpire school and that was fascinating. Bryan is furthest down and Dan closest to you.

Here are some observations about the prospects we were watching:
  • Miguel Sano, a top Twins prospect was one of the few Rock Cats without a hit. He did not look that impressive.
  • J.C. Linares, a Cuban the Red Sox signed looked old and out of shape. He did get two hits in the game but came in batting .208. He, like all the players, had walk-up music. To me, if you are batting .208, you should not have walk-up music. Bryan, Dan and I decided that a .330 wOBA should be required at least before walk-up music is allowed.
  • I was really impressed with the Sea Dogs' last pitcher, Miguel Celestino. He pitched three scoreless innings and hit 97 and 98 with every pitch that was not a breaking ball. His stuff looked electric.
  • Garin Cecchini can really, really hit. He had three hits to all fields and just looked like he could do anything he wanted with a bat. He was the DH, so I did not get to see him at third base.
Three bloggers sitting in a row (Dan, Bryan and me):

Dan and family had a rough night the night before with sleep, so they left after the sixth inning. Bryan and his family stayed until after the seventh inning stretch and then they too had to leave. I sat for a while taking it all in and then left myself after the eighth inning. I did not even get lost on the way back to the hotel.

I enjoyed the little adventure and meeting Dan and Bryan was really great. Again, I really liked their families. Perhaps next time, we can take two or three hours and have a beverage and talk baseball. It was great to put people behind a screen name. They are great guys and I would not mind at all getting to see them again.

MLB Game Picks - Tuesday: July 9, 2013

Last night, after the Yankees, the Nationals, the Pirates and the Rangers lost, the picks stood at 1-4. But, thankfully, they rallied and went 7-1 the rest of the way. There were even two extra inning games that went my way. Wow. Things are definitely looking up in July for this old game picker. I still cannot believe I picked Dan Haren though.

The season keeps on barreling on toward the All Star break. Tuesday's picks:

  • The Yankees over the Royals: Yes, the Yankees cannot hit. And yes, James Shields likes the challenge of pitching against the Yankees. But CC Sabathia is the difference maker in this game and pushes the pick to the Yankees.
  • The Pirates over the Athletics: I had a dream about A.J. Burnett last night. How weird is that? In my dream, the Pirates traded him back to the Yankees. Anyway, that has nothing to do with the pick because Gerrit Cole is pitching and nevermind his last outing. He will shut down the A's. Dan Straily gets the hard luck loss.
  • The Orioles over the Rangers: The Rangers are the worst good team this side of the Braves. You cannot count on them at all. Zach Britton versus Martin Perez is a match not made in heaven. Anything can happen.
  • The Blue Jays over the Indians: When considering this game, the thought was which pitcher between Josh Johnson and Ubaldo Jimenez could have a really good night. The conclusion to the thought was Josh Johnson.
  • The Phillies over the Nationals: Taylor Jordan has not pitched badly, but he has nothing to show for it. The Nats are pretty terrible on offense when facing a left-hander. Cole Hamels is a left-hander. The Nats are very disappointing this season.
  • The Braves over the Marlins: If you look at Julio Teheran's season, you can see that he has won every other start. He did not win his last one, so this turn should be the win part of that cycle. Now if I can only remember this next time he pitches so I do not pick him. Henderson Alvarez goes for the Fish.
  • The Bay Rays over the Twins: Anything could happen in this game. Two inexperienced pitchers in Chris Archer and Kyle Gibson. This is one of those toss ups where you pick the home team.
  • The Cubs over the Angels: The Cubs can showcase Alfonso Soriano as a DH in case anyone is watching. Travis Wood rhymes with Trav is good and Joe Blanton has still won way less games than he has lost.
  • The Reds over the Brewers: My bud, @diamondhoggers, is a big Reds fan and he is really thinking this team is in trouble. I still think they are a threat to come on in the second half. Tony Cingrani seems to have a lot of detractors even after pitching well. But I like him. I like him much better than Wily Peralta.
  • The Cardinals over the Astros: The Cardinals are over this obsession with Bud Norris, are they not? If not, then they should be. Adam Wainwright is way better and this game should be fairly easy for the redbirds.
  • The Dodgers over the Diamondbacks: Ian Kennedy has held his own against the Dodgers over the years. He has a winning record against them but he is not invulnerable at Dodgers Stadium. Meanwhile, Ricky Nolasco has a new lease on life in his first game in his new uniform. Let's see how he reacts to it.
  • The Mariners over the Red Sox: Hisashi Iwakuma was the talk of baseball in the first two months of the season. Since then? Not so much. But he is left-handed and pitching at home. That said, he has a chance to shut down the Red Sox. Allen Webster is still inexperienced and even the Mariners have a chance to score against him.
  • The Padres over the Rockies: I finally killed my Eric Stults curse in his last start. What I did was a reverse / opposite pick. I thought he was going to win, so I picked him to lose. It worked. Today, I think he will lose, so I will pick him to win. Hey, a picker has to do what a picker has to do. Jhoulys Chacin goes for the Rockies.
  • The Mets over the Giants: This pick is really a pick for Dillon Gee more than it is a pick against Barry Zito. I think Zito will be okay in this one. But Gee just seems to win these sorts of games. He is such a fundamentally sound player.

And the Game of the Day!
  • The Tigers over the White Sox: As scary as it is to state, this game is a mismatch if I ever saw one. Justin Verlander should dominate and the Tigers should do enough damage to Jose Quintana to make a few runs stand up.

Yesterday; 8-5
Week: 20-8
Month: 70-40
Season: 747-586
Games of the Day: 59-38

Monday, July 08, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Monday: July 8, 2013

Sunday was a very good day and the mediocre days of May and June are starting to become a distant memory. I feel like I have my picking mojo back. Out of fifteen games, only three went the wrong way. The Cubs beat the Pirates to ruin A.J. Burnett's return. And of course, that was an extra-inning game. Those are death to me. The Indians beat the Tigers as Doug Fister had nothing. And Joe Saunders had one of those games where everyone hit the ball but right at somebody. The Reds' loss a loss for the Game of the Day pick, which had been on a nice run for the last couple of weeks. But all in all, it was a very good day of picking.

There are thirteen games on the Monday schedule, which is a lot for this day of the week. Here are the picks:

  • The Tigers over the Indians: Max Scherzer's winning streak has reached critical mass. Every time picking him now is bucking the odds because every pitcher loses once in a while, even the best. But perhaps it will not be today. Scott Kazmir pitches for the Indians, which gives them a chance.
  • The Yankees over the Royals: Yesterday's loss was a kick in the gut, but you cannot blame it all on Mariano Rivera as the Yankees have to score more than one run. They should today against Jeremy Guthrie. The key is whether Phil Hughes can continue to pitch well like his last two outings. Tough call there.
  • The Pirates over the Athletics: The starting pitchers, Bartolo Colon and Jeff Locke are a combined 19-4. Wow! If both have a good game, then it goes to the bullpen and both teams are okay there. But if one of these starters were to have a bad day, it would seem better odds for Colon to do so.
  • The Orioles over the Rangers: I like the Orioles here because they are at home and should be boosted a bit by their win yesterday. Scott Feldman faces his old team and should do well. The left-handed tosses of Derek Holland should be covered by the Orioles right-handed bats.
  • The Nationals over the Phillies: John Lannon was pretty good for the Phillies his last time and he faces his old team. And Dan Haren goes for the Nats and that is a scary proposition. I think this is a high scoring game and the Nats have more horses.
  • The Twins over the Bay Rays: This is a bit of an upset pick. But more than that, it is a disbelief pick that the Rays keep sending Roberto Hernandez out there every five days. Sam Deduno has a better chance of pitching well.
  • The Cubs over the White Sox: I am going to go ahead and assume that Matt Garza will still be with the Cubs and will still pitch this game. If so, the Cubs win. If not, then this pick is moot. Either way, Hector Santiago pitching for a bad, bad team is not a picnic.
  • The Brewers over the Reds: Another upset pick only because I have seen too often over the years where a no-hit pitcher comes back and is pretty awful in his next outing. Plus, Kyle Lohse at home is not as easy a task for the Reds as you might think.
  • The Dodgers over the Diamondbacks: The D-backs at home are pretty tough and Randall Delgado pitched well his last time out. But the Dodgers are rolling and Zack Greinke should pitch his usual great six innings or so.
  • The Rockies over the Padres: The Rockies have lost seven of their last ten and three in a row. But they are playing the Padres who have lost nine of their last ten. One of these teams has to win! Tyler Chatwood should succeed away from Coors and it big Petco. Edinson Volquez is not as bad as last year.
  • The Mariners over the Red Sox: This is a really tough call. Felix Hernandez, as I have proven over and over, is not a guaranteed win. He never has been. But he gives the Mariners a fighting chance to win. He is at home. The Red Sox were shut out yesterday. This could be his time. Jon Lester is a tough opponent. 
  • The Mets over the Giants: Tim Lincecum at home is not as frightening as when he is away. But his starts are still full of concern. He might be outshone by Matt Harvey though as the Mets' big right-hander should come back off one of his worst outings of the year last time out.

And the Game of the Day:

  • The Braves over the Marlins: The Marlins are playing well and Mike Minor has not been as dominant lately. I still think the Braves win and score against Kevin Slowey (slower, slowest).

Yesterday: 12-3
Week: 12-3
Month: 62-35
Season: 739-581
Games of the Day: 58-38

Sunday, July 07, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Sunday: July 7, 2013

The day started 0-2 on the picks yesterday as the Yankees beat the Orioles and the Blue Jays got pounded by the Twins. But then the rest of the day went 10-3 to finish off the week with a good day. The only three incorrect after the first two were the Red Sox (extra innings, of course), Rangers and Pirates. The Rangers losing to the Astros was again a surprise.

I head back from Portland back north to home this morning, so let's get straight to Sunday's picks:

  • The Orioles over the Yankees: The Yankees have won six in a row after losing five in a row and they have had that kind of season. They never seem to do well against Jason Hammel and the Orioles hit Hiroki Kuroda the last time the two met.
  • The Tigers over the Indians: The first two games of this series were not even close and today does not bode well either as Corey Kluber has not pitched well lately. Doug Fister should get enough run support to win even if he gives up four or five runs.
  • The Blue Jays over the Twins: Now you may say, "William, what are you thinking? The Jays are pitching journeyman pitcher, Todd Redmond." And that would be true. But Redmond had an excellent season going in the minors with excellent control and good strikeout numbers. His first few relief appearances have been successful. Besides, the Blue Jays should hit Scott Diamond.
  • The Phillies over the Braves: I have picked against Jonathan Pettibone a lot this year and at least half the time I end up wrong. So let's go with him at home to pitch a little better than Kris Medlen and a Braves' lineup that is hit or miss.
  • The Nationals over the Marlins: I still like Robbie Erlin, who pitches for the Marlins today. He lost his last time out, but I just like the way he pitches. Which is bad news for Stephen Strasburg, who never gets run support. But I have to go with the big guy.
  • The Bay Rays over the White Sox: David Price sure was fine upon his return his last time out. But that was against the Astros. Oh wait. The White Sox are not any better than the Astros. John Danks has had two good outings in a row with not much to show for it.
  • The Mets over the Brewers: Has any pitcher shown more improvement since the start of the season than Jeremy Hefner? I do not think so. He has been terrific. Meanwhile, the Brewers are starting Tom Gorzelanny. Alrighty then.
  • The Athletics over the Royals: A.J. Griffin will always seem to be a better option to me than Luis Mendoza. But every once in a while, Mendoza will have a great BABIP game and drive you crazy. Oh well. That is the pick.
  • The Cardinals over the Marlins: Jose Fernandez was amazing his last time out and I have written about him in recent days. So it is hard to pick against him. But I believe he has already pitched well once before against the Cardinals and the Cardinals will figure it out, especially at home. Lance Lynn goes for the Cards and needs to avoid his one bad inning a game thing.
  • The Pirates over the Cubs: A.J. Burnett returns from the disabled list so we are back to having both A.J.s pitch on the same day again. Cool. Burnett should not have any trouble and the Cubs are pitching Carlos Villanueva.
  • The Rangers over the Astros: This pick is made very tentatively as the Astros have won their fair share of games against the Rangers and Angels this season. Erik Bedard goes for the Astros and Justin Grimm, whose season has been far from fairy-tale, goes for the Rangers.
  • The Dodgers over the Giants: This pick feels far from a lock as well. Just because Clayton Kershaw is pitching does not mean the Dodgers will win. The only thing making the pick feel better is that Chad Gaudin is pitching for the Giants. :::former Yankee willies:::
  • The Diamondbacks over the Rockies: Raise your hand if you thought this Roy Oswalt comeback would go well? Nobody? Yeah, me either. Patrick Corbin gets back on track and Oswalt takes his fourth straight loss.
  • The Angels over the Red Sox: This is an interesting game. Josh Hamilton is back slugging. Trout is still on fire. Jered Weaver is still one of the best. But those Red Sox are good and John Lackey has been one of the reasons. Going with the Angels at home.

And the Game of the Day!
  • The Reds over the Mariners: Joe Saunders in a small ballpark like in Cincinnati does not seem very savory. Then again, Bronson Arroyo can give up his share of dingers as well. The Reds are home and are the better team. Let's leave it there.

Yesterday: 10-5
Last week: 57-39
Month: 50-32
Season: 727-578
Games of the Day: 58-37