Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Flagrant Fan's Gold Glove Award winners

The Gold Glove Award has been the most ridiculed award of them all. While I love Derek Jeter, the fact that he won any Gold Gloves is farcical. Perhaps this year will be better as a new rule in place gives 25% of the scoring based on statistics and the other 75% on coaches and managers who have better things in life to do than to study these things closely. There is a problem here, though, since many feel skittish on the fielding stats we currently have. At least it is a step in the right direction.

I have picked my own Gold Glove Award winners based on careful analysis. I am sure that I will get a few people mad at me. But hey, nobody ever said this was easy. Here we go:


NL: This is tougher than anyone thinks. Russell Martin has had an unbelievable year. He has thrown out 40% of runners attempting to steal. His framing skills are off the charts. He caught 120 games. The only nagging point is that there were 50 wild pitches thrown with him back there. That's a lot! The other choice is Yadier Molina who caught 131 games. He threw out 43% of base runners attempting to steal, had three passed balls compared to Martin's four. But he threw out 20 base steal attempts and Martin 36. Martin had 41 more total assists. Fangraphs gives Martin the edge. gives it to Molina. With fear and trepidation, I am going with Russell Martin. But Molina will get the award.
AL: The two choices are Matt Wieters and Salvador Perez. Perez had a better percentage throwing out base steal attempts and had one less passed ball and a few more assists. Perez had less passed balls and Wieters less errors. I am going with Salvador Perez. Wieters will get the award.

First base

NL: This one is really close between Anthony Rizzo and Brandon Belt. I think Belt had a slow start in all phases of his season and that gives Rizzo the edge. I think Belt will win a bunch of them from here on out though. Adrian Gonzalez will win the award.
AL: I was totally shocked when I went through all the numbers and this came out to a win for Mike Napoli. Mike Napoli!? Yup. James Loney will probably win the award.

Second base

NL: Brandon Phillips will win the award and I would not have any problem with him winning it. Nobody in the National League had more assists at second than Phillips and his range is still there. But Darwin Barney might have out-played him in the field this season with the Cubs. Barney's UZR is higher and he made five less errors. I am going with Barney.
AL: This one is easy: Dustin Pedroia. If the Rays would let Ben Zobrist play there every day, he might have competition. Brian Dozier also had a great season in the field and had more assists than any second baseman in baseball. But Pedroia is the easy call.


NL: This one is easy. Andrelton Simmons has the fifth best fielding season ever according to There is nobody in baseball that is close.
AL: This is a two-horse race with the unlikely names of Alcides Escobar and Yunel Escobar. I give the edge to Alcides Escobar. Don't be surprised if J.J. Hardy gets the award again though.

Third base

NL: Nolan Arenado is the clear winner for me over Todd Frazier. Arenado should get the nod from the coaches too. But I don't know if that is a guarantee.
AL: Manny Machado had a season for the ages at third base. gives Brooks Robinson the best season ever at 33 total zone runs. Machado had 31.5 this season. Amazing. Nobody else is in the picture.

Left Field

NL: There is only one choice here: Starling Marte. There is no one else. If he fails to win it, then farce would come to mind.
AL: If David Murphy had stayed in one place more, he would have given Alex Gordon a run for his money. But Gordon is the choice and he will win the award.

Center field

NL: If A.J. Pollock had played more, he would have been the choice. But since he did not play enough in my book, my pick is Carlos Gomez. Gomez should get the trophy, even if he doesn't get any votes from the Atlanta Braves. Heh.
AL: This is a three-horse race with Jacoby Ellsbury, Colby Rasmus, Denard Span and Leonys Martin. Martin is out because of less innings than the others. But look out for him in the future. My pick goes to Ellsbury and he will get the trophy too.

Right field

NL: The choices here are pretty clear in both leagues. Gerardo Parra was the class of the National League with no real challenger.
AL: The clear choice is Shane Victorino. He had the best year of any right-fielder in either league.


Oh forget it. Who cares.

That's it. Those are the Flagrant Fan's Gold Glove Award winners for 2013.

MLB Game Picks - Saturday: September 28, 2013

The American League Wild Card race got much more interesting with the Rays loss to the Toronto Blue Jays last night. R.A. Dickey got the job done much to the delight of the Indians who are now tied at the top with the Rays and it gave the Rangers that much more hope as they are not just one game back. In the NL Wild Card, the Pirates took care of the Reds and are two games clear of the latter team with two games to play. If they win today or tomorrow, they will host the play-in game. Meanwhile, the Cardinals clinched the NL Central with a win over the Cubs.

I got both the Rays and Reds wrong yesterday as well as four other picks. So the night was not as great at the rest of the week has been, but it was still in positive territory.

It is the penultimate day of the regular season. Saturday's picks:
  • The Rangers over the Angels: How could you pick it any other way? The Rangers have to win. Losing is not an option. Garrett Richards got popped his last time out by the A's. Derek Holland is the wildcard here. You just never know if he will be great or awful. There is a better chance of the latter at home.
  • The Indians over the Twins: Can you ever remember a team just running the table for the last two weeks of a season? It is amazing. They just don't lose against these bad teams. They have two more to go and need them both. Scott Kazmir (woh-oh, woh-oh) over Cole DeVries (rhymes with "he tries").
  • The Reds over the Pirates: And now we get to the meatball portion of these rotations. Charlie Morton and Bronson Arroyo will not blow you away. But they will meatball you to death if they are on. I have more confidence in Arroyo.
  • The Bay Rays over the Blue Jays: Chris Archer is a bit up and down for my tastes and it is tough to put the season on the line with him. Fortunately for him and the Rays, J.A. Happ is only good against the Yankees. In fact, the Yankees single-handedly keep his career afloat.
  • The Giants over the Padres: The Giants are finishing the season on a roll. Yusmeiro Petit has provided a nice little lift too. He should handle the Padres' lineup and the Giants will score a few off of Eric Stults.
  • The Brewers over the Mets: Jimmy Nelson, a 2010 second round pick by the Brewers, makes his first Major League start. He has relieved in three games. He has good strikeout numbers in the minors, but his control seems up and down. I still like him better than Aaron Harang. Heh.
  • The Athletics over the Mariners: I make this pick with some reservations. First, the A's have already clinched the second seed with little hope of catching the Red Sox for the first seed. There is a chance they stumble in this one if Brandon Maurer pitches like he did his last time out. Jarrod Parker will not go more than six innings I don't think. By the way, Maurer looks a bit like Jack Lord of the old Hawaii Five-0 series.
  • The Cardinals over the Cubs: I usually pick against a team after they have clinched and that has worked for me. I call it the hangover effect. And will Adam Wainwright really start this game? There is a chance he doesn't. On the other side, Edwin Jackson tries to avoid his 18th loss.
  • The Red Sox over the Orioles: There has been no letup for the Red Sox. Rest? Nah. They have four days to rest next week. Jon Lester has been hot. Wei-Yin Chen cannot contain these Sox. I hope Chris Davis hits another homer though.
  • The Tigers over the Marlins: How come nobody hates on Jhonny Peralta? It is weird how we choose who we are going to hate and who we don't. Anyway, the Tigers are not exactly playing sterling ball. And Jim Leyland is still pissed about ending the season in an NL park. But Anibal Sanchez should beat his old mates and Nathan Eovaldi.
  • The Royals over the White Sox: There will be two guys named Ventura on the field today. Only one of them should have a job next season. That would be Yordano Ventura. He should handle the White Sox like he did the Mariners. Erik Johnson was pretty good his last start.
  • The Braves over the Phillies: If Cliff Lee can strike out 13 and give up less than four hits and still lose, what is Ethan Martin going to do? Martin has not been effective since his call up. Mike Minor makes his last start of the regular season.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Nationals: Brandon McCarthy has allowed only one walk in his last six starts and has not walked anyone in his last three starts. That's the good news. The bad news is that he has a 14.5 hits per nine innings pitched rate in those last three starts and a 1.33 homers per nine rate for the season. I still like him over Dan Haren. Plus, McCarthy gets bonus points for supporting the Dodgers jumping into their pool.
  • The Dodgers over the Rockies: It would be easier for me to root for the Dodgers if they hadn't signed Brian Wilson. But anyway, Zack Greinke makes his final start of the regular season and if he wins, will finish 17-3. That's pretty impressive. Juan Nicasio goes for the Rockies.
And the Game of the Day:
  • The Yankees over the Astros: How remarkably ironic is it that Andy Pettitte will be making his last start in the majors against a guy named Clemens? Paul Clemens that is. I understand that the other Clemens might be making the presentation of the Astros' gift to Mariano Rivera. Awkward. Anyway, if there was a baseball god, Pettitte should win his last start and Rivera should save it.

Yesterday: 9-6
Week: 52-30
Month: 217-158
Season: 1359-1053
Games of the Day: 104-70

Friday, September 27, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Friday: September 27, 2013

Last night was about as emotional a night as I have ever had watching baseball. I know some of you haters are going to hate. But that send off of Mariano Rivera from Yankee Stadium has to be one of the most wonderful things I have ever watched. It did not matter that these current Yankees could play twenty more games against the Rays and lose them all. What mattered is that the dynasty in New York ended when Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte went out to the mound to take Mariano Rivera out of the game. What an incredible moment in baseball.

As for the picks, they went 7-2, which continues the terrific final full week of games I am having. The two incorrect picks were the Mets as Dillon Gee did not have it last night and the Blue Jays as Mark Buehrle did not have it either.

The last full weekend folks. Friday's picks:

  • The Red Sox over the Orioles: Who knows how long Clay Buchholz will pitch in this game as it will be a tune up for the playoffs. Scott Feldman has not pitched well for the Orioles overall and the Red Sox bats do not need to take the day off. But the Orioles have a good lineup too.
  • The Bay Rays over the Blue Jays: The final battle of the Ays for the season. The Rays are not in the clear yet as they could lose three and not make the Wild Card. So they have to keep winning. Jeremy Hellickson will be on a short leash I think. R.A. Dickey will try to prevent the win.
  • The Tigers over the Marlins: What kind of effort will the Tigers bring? Hard to say. Rick Porcello is probably making his last appearance of the season. I will be surprised if he makes the post season roster and if he does, it will be as a reliever. Tom Koehler goes for the Marlins.
  • The Brewers over the Mets: Crap, this will be the fourth home team in a row I am picking against. That is not good. But I still think Yovani Gallardo beats Carlos Torres. David Wright got beaned last night, which also is not good.
  • The Reds over the Pirates: How weird is it that these two teams will finish the regular season out together and then go right to the play-in game to determine the Wild Card winner? Well, at least there will not be a lot of traveling. They are, I believe, playing for which team will be the home team. A.J. Burnett goes against Homer Bailey in this one.
  • The Braves over the Phillies: Again, just a meaningless game. Kris Medlen will look at it like a tuneup. Cliff Lee gets his last start of the season for the Phillies. Lefties do not phase the Braves much.
  • The Indians over the Twins: Can the Indians keep winning? Can they run the last two weeks? I have never seen it done before, but that is their only option with the Rangers only a game back. Corey Kluber tries to keep it going against Pedro Hernandez.
  • The White Sox over the Royals: Will James Shields have any motivation with nothing to shoot for anymore? He was big down the stretch. My prediction is that Chris Sale will out-pitch him tonight and then it is just a question of if the bullpen can nail it down.
  • The Yankees over the Astros: The Yankees get to end the season in Houston and perhaps can win a game or two. They certainly have died the last two weeks though and have not announced a pitcher for tonight. I think either Phelps or someone like that will get the call. Brett Oberholtzer goes for the Astros.
  • The Cardinals over the Cubs: You have to give it up for Travis Wood, who has pitched really well all season, stared down the ace of every opposing team and held his own. The Cardinals at home though are tough to beat. Lance Lynn tries to clinch it for the Cards.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Nationals: I am sort of not sure why Stephen Strasburg is pitching this game. He has missed his last three starts. Why not shut him down? Either way, he will not go long into the game and Patrick Corbin will and should win.
  • The Dodgers over the Rockies: Clayton Kershaw gets the start, but how deep into the game will he pitch? Long enough for the Dodgers to get a lead off of Collin McHugh to win the game.
  • The Athletics over the Mariners: This ought to be interesting with Bartolo Colon going against Felix Hernandez. I don't know how healthy the latter is and the Mariners' offense has fallen off again. Colon is the choice then.
  • The Padres over the Giants: Ryan Vogelsong will be glad when this season is over. He did not have a good year. Burch Smith, on the other hand, is having fun in his first extended shot at the big leagues.

And the Game of the Day:
  • The Rangers over the Angels: I think the Rangers will not give C.J. Wilson a very good feeling to end his season upon. Alexi Ogando will win at home. The Rangers are still hoping to sneak into the Wild Card picture and like a vulture are waiting for the Indians to lose.

Yesterday: 7-2
Week: 43-24
Month: 208-152
Season: 1350-1047
Games of the Day: 103-70

Thursday, September 26, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Thursday: September 26, 2013

The final full week of the regular season continues its successful ways here with a 10-5 night. Of the five incorrect picks, the Pirates and Reds losing were the most surprising. The Rockies were just a stupid pick. The Braves lost to the Brewers but they did defend the integrity of the game (oh brother). And finally, Cole Hamels couldn't get a win over the Marlins, which is sort of hysterical if you think about it. The poor blighter. What a season.

The Rockies did not win Todd Helton's last day at Coors Field, but that was really cool that he hit a homer. And it was really cool that Barry Zito got a win in his last game in San Francisco. Zito never did anything but handle himself with class in that situation. And big props to Max Scherzer. That is your Cy Young Award winner right there.

There are nine games on the schedule. Apparently, some teams needed the day off with only four days left on the schedule. Thursday's picks:

  • The Padres over the Diamondbacks: The Padres really played well down the stretch and the Diamondbacks, not so much. Robbie Erlin has pitched well. Trevor Cahill has pitched better in the second half. I am going with Erlin.
  • The Rays over the Yankees: The Yankees are deader than...well...dead. Ivan Nova gives them a chance. But the Rays are going to keep winning. I hate them. Alex Cobb gets another win in what has been a very good season for him. Mariano Rivera's last day in the Bronx. Sigh.
  • The Blue Jays over the Orioles: Say what you want about the Blue Jays season. But you cannot blame Mark Buehrle who has been just the kind of pitcher they hoped he would be. Miguel Gonzalez has not been there for the Orioles.
  • The Mets over the Brewers: This pick is for Dillon Gee who has been really great for the Mets in the second half. The guy just knows how to pitch. Johnny Helwig, on the other hand, has a WHIP so far in his young career of 2.25. Ouch.
  • The Braves over the Phillies: David Hale makes his second Major League start for the Braves. How did I miss his first one? Must have been in a blind spot. Anyway, his performance in that first start was so out of character with his minor league numbers (never struck out so many batters) that I had to blink a little bit. But he should still be better than Tyler Cloyd.
  • The Rangers over the Angels: Matt Garza is the same as always. It's just a different team. He seems to have all this talent and at least a third of the time, just goes off the rails. He better be on tonight as the Rangers are still trying to hang on. Jerome Williams has been better of late. No love lost between these two teams.
  • The Royals over the White Sox: The Royals are done as are the Yankees. But somehow, they looked better doing it. Jeremy Guthrie should beat Andre Rienzo, though the latter had a good game his last outing.
  • The Giants over the Dodgers: This pick has a 50/50 feel to it. Tim Lincecum has to pitch well. There is a 50/50 there. Edinson Volquez has to be decent. The odds are less there. The Giants have to hit. The odds are less there. 50/50.

And the Game of the Day:
  • The Indians over the Twins: You can talk about the Indians having a soft schedule down the stretch, but you still have to win all those games and the Indians have done that. Zach McAllister over Andrew Albers.

Yesterday: 10-5
Week: 36-22
Month: 201-150
Season: 1343-1045
Games of the Day: 102-70

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Wednesday: September 25, 2013

Tuesday was a struggle, but it turned out okay in the end. The trouble with picking teams that have already clinched surfaced with the A's and Red Sox losing to help illustrate the point. I was worried about Jonathon Niese and I was right to be as he knocked the Reds off. The Orioles were eliminated with ease. I did not see that coming but I should have. But all in all, I finished up at 9-6 and have a decent week going on this last full week of the regular season.

It has not been lost on me how many ex-Yankees delivered this week for their contending teams. Jason Giambi last night. Russell Martin and A.J. Burnett. Justin Maxwell. Many of these guys are going to the playoffs and the Yankees are going home.

Wednesday's picks:

  • The Reds over the Mets: Matt Latos has lost a bit since August when he was unstoppable. Diasuke Matsuzaka has been a surprise for the Mets. But let's be real here. The Reds should win this game. If they don't, they are really sliding into the play-in game.
  • The Cardinals over the Nationals: I would really love to pick Jordan Zimmermann. I really want him to win his 20th game...badly. But he has pitched against the Cardinals five times in his career and his ERA is 9.12. How can I pick that? Shelby Miller is the pick then.
  • The Pirates over the Cubs: If the Cardinals keep winning, there is now way for the Pirates to catch them. But it's not like the Pirates are not trying. Francisco Liriano should pitch a good five or six innings and the Pirates should score on Jake Arrieta.
  • The Angels over the Athletics: Jered Weaver is the pick in this game. Didn't Mike Trout finish poorly in the last three weeks of last season too? He sure has gone cold. But maybe he can wake up against Dan Straily.
  • The Indians over the White Sox: I wish I could have heard Ken Harrelson's call last night of Jason Giambi's homer. That would have been fun. I love Danny Salazar because he has not given up a homer in nine starts and has a ton of strikeouts. But he does not go deep enough into games and has five no decisions and only one win. But the Indians should take out Dylan Axelrod.
  • The Rays over the Yankees: What sad sacks the Yankees have been with only the Orioles losing more. David Price officially boots the Yanks from the race tonight over (hopefully) the last Phil Hughes outing ever at Yankee Stadium.
  • The Orioles over the Blue Jays: Now out of the race, the Orioles will win a game. Bud Norris will get a win and Chris Davis or someone will hit a homer off of Esmil Rogers.
  • The Braves over the Brewers: I cannot believe that Paul Maholm wins as many games as he does. But somehow, it happens. Kyle Lohse knows how to pitch with what he has, making him pretty even with Maholm. But I will go with the home team here.
  • The Phillies over the Marlins: Ugh. Two teams finishing out awful seasons. Cole Hamels was my Cy Young Award choice before the season. Pretty funny, eh? He should still be good enough to win and Brad Hand is much better as a reliever than as a starter.
  • The Rangers over the Astros: You have to give the Astros something. Their pitching rotation has gone out there game after game without missing turns. It has to be demoralizing to keep losing though. Tonight's version, Dallas Keuchel will do that tonight too as Martin Perez gets the win and keeps the Rangers alive.
  • The Rockies over the Red Sox: It is hard to believe that Tyler Chatwood shut down the Red Sox. But he did. And Jhoulys Chacin is a better pitcher than him and is having a good season and pitches well at home. Jake Peavy will not like Coors Field.
  • The Padres over the Diamondbacks: Ian Kennedy will enjoy pitching against his old team and at home in Petco. Randall Delgado hasn't had a bad season, but I expect Kennedy to be better tonight.
  • The Mariners over the Royals: It was a fun season for the Royals, but their troubles in the early part of the season put them too far behind to make it to the end. Still, it was a season that gives hope. Tonight, they run into Hisashi Iwakuma who has been outstanding at times this season. Ervin Santana could match him and make it a bullpen game. If that happens, this pick is toast.
  • The Giants over the Dodgers: Barry Zito gets a farewell start tonight and I hope he wins it. That's just me and this pick is swayed by it. The Dodgers start Ricky Nolasco so that could knock some of the wind out of the pick. But go, Barry Zito, finish it with a flair.

And the Game of the Day:
  • The Tigers over the Twins: It is only fitting for Max Scherzer to be on the mound when the Tigers clinch the division tonight. He has been their horse all season. Kevin Correia goes for the Twins who just need to get this season over.

Yesterday: 9-6
Week: 26-17
Month: 191-145
Season: 1333-1040
Games of the Day: 101-70

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Pirates the latest on the bandwagon phenomenon

The Pittsburgh Pirates clinched at least a shot to get deep into the post season and the Wild Card Play-in Game. They are two behind the Cardinals for the division lead and with six games on the schedule, still have a slight chance to skip the play-in altogether. This is a great story of course after the Pirates have gone since 1992 since last making it to the post season. Such a story is great for baseball. But it has also become the latest example of the bandwagon phenomenon.

The bandwagon phenomenon happens when a perennially bad team suddenly becomes good and reaches the playoffs after a long drought. The "loyal" Pirate fans who have supported the team through thick and thin scoff and feel superior to what they consider "bandwagon" fans who have hopped on that bandwagon simply because the Pirates are suddenly good.

Pittsburgh is not the first to do this sort of thing. So these "loyals" can be forgiven for exhibiting the kind of human behavior that has happened time and time again. But what is behind it all? Why do human beings do this? First, I need to show you a few Twitter examples of what I am talking about:

Again, why does this happen? My feeling is that human beings are always looking to set up pecking orders. The caste system, except for a few "unenlightened" countries, is always there. It is why prejudice happens. It is why a society becomes either male or female dominated. We have this ingrained ability to set ourselves higher up on the food chain at the slightest provocation.

If you first read J.R.R. Tolkien in the sixties (like I did), then you own Tolkien and are infinitely superior to those who have just discovered the writer. I saw the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show when it happened, so therefore, I am superior to any Beatle fans that have come since. The only "caste" that trumps me are those that were actually IN the Ed Sullivan Theater.

I have lived in northern Maine since 1990. That is twenty-three years. But I will never be a "native." In what is truly fascinating, this area of the country did not have minority populations so the Acadian French became the lower caste citizens.

And thus, the bandwagon phenomenon occurs. I have been a fan through the lean times so I am a better fan than someone who just jumped on board. What do you want, a badge of honor?

Frankly, we all need to get a grip. As a team like the Pirates explodes out of its proverbial decades-long funk, what is better at the games, twelve-thousand loyals going crazy with their loyalty badges on or forty-thousand raucous fans creating a roar that can be heard all over Pennsylvania? Yeah, the latter seems more exciting to me too.

And how long did you have to watch the Pirates and wear their caps before you qualify? Five years? Ten years? Twenty? "I became a fan of the Pirates in 1993, after Bonds left. I am the best Pirates fan."

Come on, now. The more the merrier. The boost in attendance and sales of team wear from these new fans will help the team. Payroll for players will be a bit easier. Keeping young players will be easier. Welcoming back A.J. Burnett will not have to break the bank. There are more options for the team next year.

When network television shows a Pirates game for the first time in twenty years, does it not represent your team better if that stadium is full rather than filled with just those core fans? Sure it is.

If you look at it this way and embrace these new fans, there are more people to share in your joy. The entire city and community can pull together in the joy of the moment. Embrace it people!

If you have suffered for years as a fan of the Pirates, God bless you. You have been through a lot. Just consider the full stadium and the riotous cheering and take it all in and smile. You waited a long time for this. Just smile and enjoy it along with your new brothers and sisters.

MLB Game Picks - Tuesday: September 24, 2013

Monday was a good day with only three incorrect picks. The first one was a blanking of the Phillies by Nathan Eovaldi of the Marlins along with two relievers. Roy Halladay, who I picked to win, left the game early with nothing left in his arm. Which is a shame. The other two I had talked about yesterday. Two teams who had clinched, the Braves and the Tigers, lost. And I mentioned how difficult it was to pick those kinds of games. That will occur all week and the question is how sharp these clinched teams play the last lame duck part of the season.

But 9-3 is 9-3. The Rays completed their burying of the Orioles and if that was not bad enough, Manny Machado suffered a horrendous injury. There is nothing baseball fans want to see less than a young superstar in the making suffer what could be a career altering injury.

Before I get to the picks, I just wanted to give a special shout out to a very special person on this very special day.

Tuesday's picks:

  • The Rays over the Yankees: The Rays have everything going for them and the Yankees have nothing going for them. Hiroki Kuroda has hit a wall down the stretch and Matt Moore just wins and wins.
  • The Orioles over the Blue Jays: The Orioles have to be devastated by what occurred to Machado yesterday and by totally ralphing for the month of September. But Chris Tillman should be celebrated for the great season he has had. He will beat Todd Redmond.
  • The Brewers over the Braves: Even if Freddy Garcia has a good outing, which is stretching the imagination, young Tyler Thornburg has made quite the impression so far in his very early MLB career.
  • The Reds over the Mets: Jonathon Niese is not a pushover by any means and this pick is not made without some thought. But the Reds still have a chance for the division as they are only two out with six to play. Mike Leake has been solid all season.
  • The Phillies over the Marlins: This is not a ringing endorsement for Zach Minor. He is sort of a journeyman pitcher. And his success will depend on the lousy offense of the Phillies scoring off of Henderson Alvarez. But this feels like a Phillies win.
  • The Rangers over the Astros: The interesting question is not whether the Rangers will win, but if the Astros will win another game this season. Brad Peacock has held his own this season, but Yu Darvish needs to give the Rangers a chance for a miracle. They are the only team with a slight chance to catch the Indians for Wild Card #2.
  • The Pirates over the Cubs: The Pirates cannot let up as they are two games behind the Cardinals and the top spot is infinitely better than heading to a play-in game. Gerrit Cole had a bad start his last time out, but otherwise has been great. Chris Rusin has been nothing to write home about.
  • The Tigers over the Twins: Here we go again with a team that does not have to worry going against a team that is just playing out the string. Doug Fister goes against Scott Diamond, who was good his last time out.
  • The Nationals over the Cardinals: I will be sorry to see Davey Johnson go. He was a great manager during his career. And he is a good guy. This pick is for the Nats because Gio Gonzalez is a lefty and a good lefty and the Cards have had trouble with that all year. Michael Wacha goes for the Cards and their best chance is for Wacha to match Gio and let it become a bullpen game.
  • The Red Sox over the Rockies: The Red Sox have nothing to lose and will probably have John Lackey just go five or six innings. They should enjoy Coors Field and I expect a high score as they should be all over Tyler Chatwood.
  • The Athletics over the Angels: The A's pushed back A.J. Griffin to today and still won yesterday. Griffin will not go deep into the game, but should win as the A's do enough damage against Jason Vargas.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Padres: The Padres are finishing the season on kind of a high note. But so is Wade Miley and he should enjoy Petco. Tyson Ross pitched half his games in the best pitching park in baseball and still went 3-8.
  • The Mariners over the Royals: The Royals have had a very good season and they have been thrilling to watch in September. But they come up short for the post season and today will be the final nail. James Paxton has been terrific for the M's and looks like the real deal. Plus, he is a lefty. Bruce Chen is not nearly as reliable on the road as he is at home.
  • The Dodgers over the Giants: The Giants' offense has been ineffective (to put it mildly) and should not be much improved facing Hyun-jin Ryu. Matt Cain has not been a lockdown pitcher like in the past.

And the Game of the Day:
  • The Indians over the White Sox: Ubaldo Jimenez has been one of the best pitchers of the second half and the Indians are on a mission. Hector Santiago throws from the left side, which does not bother the Indians. Nick Swisher is a better hitter from the right side, for example.

Yesterday: 9-3
Week: 17-11
Month: 182-139
Season: 1324-1034
Games of the Day: 100-70

Monday, September 23, 2013

Wither the Baseball Bloggers Alliance

I joined the Baseball Bloggers Alliance a few years ago and it was a proud moment for me and my site. Founder, Daniel Shoptaw, had grown the BBA to a viable and meaningful entity with press releases that were picked up by major new sites. Writers like Larry Granillo, Bill Parker and Mike Bates were early success stories and members. But since Shoptaw stepped down as president, the BBA has become mute and a nonentity. To say I am disappointed would be an understatement.

When I became president of the General Chapter of the BBA, I was so proud. I represented the largest group of the organization which was steadily growing in size. The general chapter included sites that did not support one baseball team or genre and wrote about baseball in a general sense. I used to receive regular new admissions in my e-mail. I have not received one in forever. There used to be a spreadsheet that was kept to keep track of membership. I don't even know where that is anymore.

All of us affiliated with the BBA had the bonus of having each one of our posts sent to Twitter as a tweet under the #BBBA hashtag and it boosted and broadened our readership. About a year or more ago, half of our sites, including this one, stopped having our posts tweeted. Something broke in whatever it was that used to do that. Despite several reports of concern from many writers, whatever broke was never fixed.

For a long time, I bit my tongue. I sent several e-mails to the current president with my concerns. I felt it was my duty to do so as the head of one of the chapters. Though I pulled no punches with my concerns, I did them privately. Despite assurances in return, nothing has changed and nothing is happening. So I will remain private no more.

Communication is a key to success. Instructions, news and announcements were sent once a month on the state of the BBA. Shoptaw may have been late a few times, but those communications were always there. Those communications gave detailed instructions about BBA awards and announced new members. We have not received more than two communications from current leadership in the last year and a half. Do we still have awards? Do they matter?

Press releases about our awards and particularly about our writing award were effective and elicited news stories in the mainstream media. When is the last time that happened? When was the last time anything happened that could make members feel good about being a part of the BBA?

Any momentum and gain the BBA made has been lost. It has become this dead thing that just lies there. All benefits of being a member site are now void and meaningless.

Assurances and promises no longer mean anything. Trust has been broken. Current leadership should step down and a new election should take place. This must be done immediately or we might as well pull the plug on the whole thing. If it is the latter, just let me know so I can take the logo off my site. But, oh yes, that would require communication.

MLB Game Picks - Monday: September 23, 2014

After a very good week last week, the new week started with a rather uninspired .500 record on Sunday. The Yankees' offense finally killed their chances and let down impressive efforts of the retiring Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera. The Orioles lost their third straight to the Rays so the Orioles and Yankees are all but officially done. The Cardinals lost due to sloppy fielding and once again, I came up wrong on the Pirates - Reds game. The season is down to six days.

There are twelve games on the Monday schedule. The picks:

  • The Rays over the Orioles: The Rays might as well stick a fork in the Orioles for the last time. They so dominated this series that it was rather sad to see. Chris Archer has been reliable and should be better than Wei-Yin Chen.
  • The Braves over the Brewers: This is the week that is tough picking teams that have already clinched their divisions. How inspiring will their play be? How long with their starting pitchers pitch? How many scrubs will they play? It is awful. I am still picking the Braves at home behind Mike Minor. Marco Estrada goes for the Brewers.
  • The Phillies over the Marlins: Nate Eovaldi has pitched much worse at home than on the road. That is weird considering how big his home park is. Roy Halladay might give up a bomb to Giancarlo Stanton as Halladay has become homer prone. But the Phillies should win.
  • The Rangers over the Astros: The Rangers get a breather with a series against the Astros. They will need some help though as they are now a game and a half out of the wild card race. Derek Holland over Jordan Lyles and the Wagoners.
  • The Pirates over the Cubs: Jeff Samardzija has not pitched well at home and has not pitched well in September. That said, he is capable of a shut down game at any time. The Pirates need to get going as they are now two back of the Cardinals. Charlie Morton does not provide comfort to this picker.
  • The Tigers over the Twins: Justin Verlander could use this game to figure out a few things. He probably will not pitch deep into the game though. Even as a team that is going to ease into the division win, the Tigers should still slide past Mike Pelfrey easy enough.
  • The White Sox over the Blue Jays: Two of the biggest busts of the 2013 season meet in the last week of the season. J.A. Happ only pitches good against the Yankees. Jose Quintana is the no-decision king who has pitched quite well.
  • The Cardinals over the Nationals: This pick concerns me. First of all, Tanner Roark has been fabulous and has not lost this season in seven decisions. Adam Wainwright is the leader of this Cardinals' staff, but he is not invulnerable. Yeah, this one could go either way. I have only picked the Cardinals for the Game of the Day four times. I did again yesterday. They have lost all four times.
  • The Athletics over the Angels: Mike Trout has been sort of slumping. The rest of his offensive mates are deadsville. Garrett Richards is decent, but not a lock. A.J. Griffin seems a better pick though he might not go deep into the game.
  • The Padres over the Diamondbacks: Eric Stults finally got a win after a long, long drought. He has had a decent season. Brandon McCarthy has given up 22 hits in his last 12 innings of work but has allowed only five of them to score. A pretty neat trick.
  • The Royals over the Mariners: Yordano Ventura had a decent MLB debut his last time out and should like pitching in that Seattle park. Brandon Maurer has not been good in any park. How soon until everyone starts calling the Royals' pitcher, Ace Ventura?

And the Game of the Day:
  • The Reds over the Mets: The Mets are not exactly a pushover of a team for the Reds, but they get to face Aaron Harang in their small ballpark. That might not be pretty. Welcome back, Johnny Cueto.

Yesterday: 8-8
Week: 8-8
Month: 173-136
Season: 1315-1031
Games of the Day: 99-70

Sunday, September 22, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Sunday: September 22, 2013

Yesterday was another really fine picking day, the second in a row. I am 22-7 in the last two days. This reminds me of playing with my golf partner. Years ago, I was much better than him and now things have reversed. But we have this one inside joke that I always seem to earn the box (the guy with the lowest score on a hole hits first at the next tee box) on the last hole of the day.

Speaking of that golf partner, it looks like we will be rained out today, which is a shame because he is moving to Massachusetts on Thursday. His job has moved and he must move with it. We have been playing together for a dozen years. With today being Mariano Rivera Day at Yankee Stadium and with Andy Pettitte saying goodbye too, it is going to be an emotional day. I hope they show Mo's ceremony on MLB Network or something. There are a lot of memories in this paragraph.

Life must go on and the picks just keep on coming:

  • The Indians over the Astros: The Tribe is doing what it is supposed to do and is taking advantage of their weak schedule down the stretch. What an unlikely turn of events. Corey Kluber over Erik Bedard.
  • The Yankees over the Giants: The Yankees HAVE to win during Andy Pettitte's last Yankee Stadium start and on Mariano Rivera Day. They just have to. The only problem is that Yusmeiro Petit has been lights out for the Giants. So even with a Pettitte / Petit coolness, it could spoil the party.
  • The Tigers over the White Sox: That had to be the White Sox most embarrassing lost of the season yesterday, right? Chris Sale must be livid. The Tigers need to clinch and then can relax. Anibal Sanchez over Erik Johnson.
  • The Pirates over the Reds: Yesterday's game was thrilling and I was thrilled for the Pittsburgh fans. Today is another tough one. Jeff Locke has not been a lock lately and Bronson Arroyo has to have all his trickery going. This is a toss up.
  • The Nationals over the Marlins (twice): The Nats and Marlins play two today with their rain out yesterday. The Nats will win both games. Dan Haren beats Tom Koehler in the first game and Stephen Strasburg beats Brian Flynn in the second.
  • The Phillies over the Mets: I really kind of think that the Mets will win this game, but I am afraid to be wrong because Cliff Lee is pitching. It's not like Lee is unbeatable. But he does give the Phillies their best chance to win. Carlos Torres goes for the Mets.
  • The Red Sox over the Blue Jays: The Red Sox had their little hangover yesterday, but get back down to winning today. Felix Doubront should be good against the Blue Jays who have lost a lot of players to injury and the Red Sox have a lot of hitters that can get to R.A. Dickey.
  • The Orioles over the Bay Rays: The Rays must feel pretty good about their position to give a start and a Major League debut to Enny Romero at this point in the season. He looks like he is stingy in hits and homers in the minors but has control issues. He is not a rated prospect. This pick goes with Scott Feldman.
  • The Royals over the Rangers: The Royals will keep fighting their losing battle for the wild card, just like the Yankees. But it is over in my opinion. James Shields will out-duel Alexi Ogando.
  • The Braves over the Cubs: The Braves should not have a problem with the Cubs here. Julio Teheran has had a good season and probably only goes five innings today. Edwin Jackson is Edwin Jackson.
  • The Angels over the Mariners: C.J. Wilson has quietly put together his best season. It is too bad hardly anyone noticed. He beats the M's today despite the appearance of Felix Hernandez coming back from an injury.
  • The Athletics over the Twins: It is Sonny Gray Day. Well, it's his turn to pitch anyway. I wonder if he pitches in the post season. The only real thing to say about Cole De Vries is that his last name rhymes with, "he tries."
  • The Diamondbacks over the Rockies: I picked against the D-backs yesterday because of their whining and it was one of my few wrong picks. I am somewhat concerned about Patrick Corbin pitching at Coors, but he is the pick over Juan Nicasio.
  • The Dodgers over the Padres: Did you see Puig's homer yesterday? Holy cow. I am loathe to pick against Andrew Cashner the way he is finishing his season. But the Dodgers have Zack Greinke. But will it just be a tuneup for Greinke? hmm...

And the Game of the Day:
  • The Cardinals over the Brewers: Wily Peralta has had a terrible second half. Joe Kelly has been great for the Cardinals. The Cardinals inch closer to the division title.

Yesterday: 10-4
Last week: 62-36
Month: 165-128
Season: 1307-1023
Games of the Day: 99-69