Saturday, October 05, 2013

Put to rest the run support asterisk with Scherzer

I can picture in my mind that moment when Brian Kenney of the MLB Network saw his dreams of someone other than Max Scherzer winning the Cy Young Award went poof. Scherzer was going to be Kenney's poster boy for the meaninglessness of the win statistic so he could show that guys like King Felix and Darvish were the better pitchers. The problem for Kenney became that Scherzer, despite the run support and the wins was the best pitcher in the American League in 2013.

And then we get this headline from Jim Caple at ESPN after Scherzer's playoff win against the A's yesterday: "Run support no big deal for Scherzer." In Caple's defense, his point was that Scherzer showed why the pitcher was the Cy Young Award's best candidate. But Caple got to the point by bringing up the tired argument:
"Hmmm. Apparently, Max Scherzer can also win when he doesn't get great run support. Funny how good pitchers can do that.

Scherzer received the third-highest run support in the majors -- nearly six runs per game -- during the regular season, leading some critics to complain that his 21 wins were as much a testament to his teammates' bats as his pitching. That is, if they gave any credence to wins at all."

Caple is basically saying the same thing I have been saying here for the last couple of months, so I should be grateful. But for me, I will not be happy until Scherzer can be mentioned without the run support even coming up in the conversation. Put it to rest already.

Max Scherzer beat league averages no matter what he received for run support. Yes, he received an average of six runs plus run support per game. But it is not like he received that every game. The American League averages for starting pitchers for run support went like this:
  • 0-2 Runs = 30.2% of occurrences
  • 3-5 Runs = 39.8%
  • 6 or more = 30%
Scherzer's were indeed skewed as his same percentages were: 15.6%, 40.6% and 43.8% respectively. While his 3-5 run games of support were near the norm, he only had five starts with two or less and fourteen with more than six. But again, he beat the norms in every category. Here are the league winning percentages in those splits:
  • 0-2 runs = .121 winning percentage
  • 3-5 runs = .534 
  • 6 or more = .915
Scherzer's winning percentages in those same splits were: .250, 1.000, 1.000. Those wins were no accident. And let's for a moment, compare them to the great season Verlander put up in 2011 in his Cy Young Award winning season. Verlander's occurrences 17.6%, 50% and 32.3%. So Verlander also received a lot of run support in 2011. I do not remember that being so hotly debated during that season as far as his winning percentage. All of Verlander's losses that season were in the six (and only six) occurrences of when the Tigers scored zero to two runs in a game. That is basically the same as what happened to Scherzer this season.

Was Scherzer's season up to Verlander's 2011 standard? No, I don't think so. I don't think many seasons like Verlander's in 2011 come up very often in one lifetime. But Scherzer was clearly this year's best pitcher in the American League and run support had little to do with it.

But now perhaps with this playoff win, people can stop saying Scherzer's name without having to include the run support thing in the same sentence or paragraph. The win statistic is not the most important statistic to rate a pitcher. I get that. But for a starting pitcher, it is far from meaningless. Scherzer was the winningest pitcher in the American League. But he was also the best.

MLB Game Picks - Saturday: October 5, 2013

Yesterday was the equivalent of baseball porn as we had playoff baseball for more than thirteen hours. The first two games were blowouts as the Red Sox blew out the Rays (you cannot just blame Wil Myers) and the Pirates, in impressive fashion, derailed a bit the Cardinals hunt for redbird October (there is not surprisingly a website by that name).

The later two games were much more thrilling and both were one-run games. Max Scherzer showed why he is now the Tigers' ace and not that other guy and Zack Greinke was pulled an inning too soon as his replacement coughed up two runs the Dodgers could not overcome. Yes, Michael Young did get a pinch hit single that Greinke may or may not have produced (he is a good hitter for a pitcher). But a double-play killed that rally, the Dodgers did not score and the two runs the Braves scored off of Greinke's inexperienced reliever cost the game.

How did the picks fare in all this? They split, 2-2. The Pirates surprised me and good for them and their fans. It's great the series now goes back to Pittsburgh so that entire city can celebrate. The Braves win was much less unexpected. That was a game that could have gone either way and it did fall away from what I predicted.

How boring, there are only two playoff games today and they are both American League games. Heh. The picks:

  • The Rays over the Red Sox: This is a tough one because you cannot predict how each pitcher will fare against the other's lineup. If you go by just the pitching match-up, you would naturally think that David Price is a better pick than John Lackey. But the Red Sox mash the baseball and Price is going to have to pitch the game of his life. If Lackey survives the first inning, he could frustrate this pick also. I think I would have gone with Clay Buchholz in this game to try to go up two heading to Tropicana. But we'll see how it all works out.

  • The Tigers over the Athletics: Sonny Gray is the big wildcard in this game. I have loved this kid all season, but to ask him to come up big in this setting? The Indians tried the same thing with Salazar and it did not work. Another unknown is what kind of effort the Tigers will get from Justin Verlander. He certainly fell off the most feared list this season. But I would not put it against him in a big ballpark to do well in this game. Verlander will need to get ahead in the counts and go from there. Neither of these offenses consistently crank. It all seems hit or miss sometimes. The Tigers scored three runs in the first yesterday and then died the rest of the game. I have to go with Verlander. Uh oh, I just picked both home teams to lose. Yikes!

Yesterday: 2-2
Post season: 6-3
Season: 1380-1071

Friday, October 04, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Friday: October 4, 2013

Yesterday's playoff games went pretty much how I expected them to go. Clayton Kershaw and Adam Wainwright were the aces they were billed to be and the other teams could not stay with them with their own pitchers. There was not a whole lot of drama involved.

Today could be different. There are four games being played, which is about as good as playoff baseball gets. None of the games are as clear-cut as yesterday. It will be fascinating to see what happens.

Friday's playoff picks:

  • The Cardinals over the Pirates: This game will make or break the Pirates. If they go down by two games, it will be impossible (in my opinion) to come back. If they can win the game, anything can happen. Lance Lynn would not be starting this game if it wasn't for his last four starts of the season when he regained his mojo. He had a real bad stretch including two poor games against the Pirates before that. So the Pirates have beat him up pretty good. Gerrit Cole was great down the stretch too, but the problem for me in that run was that he did not face one single tough offense in his last ten starts. That will not be the case today. I have to go with the home team here and the better offense. The Cardinals just know how to do this.
  • The Red Sox over the Rays: This game is really intriguing. Matt Moore goes for the Rays and he pitched against the Red Sox twice this season and dominated them like few other pitchers have been able to do. He went 2-0 against them with an ERA of 1.84. He was particularly brilliant in Fenway where he is today. So why pick against him? Jon Lester is 7-1 in day games. It is his best split. He is not as good against the Rays as Moore has been against the Red Sox. The Rays are on a roll and have been playing steadily. The Red Sox have sat around for a while. This will be interesting. I am going with what I perceive to be the better team at home.
  • The Dodgers over the Braves: I pretty much know what Mike Minor is going to do. He will do what he always does. He has not given up more than four runs in his last ten starts. So Minor will hold the Dodgers to four runs or less for six or seven innings. The big question is what will Zack Greinke do? I have this lack of trust in Greinke. But looking back over his last ten games, he has been brilliant. Minor is a fly ball pitcher which plays well in Dodgers Stadium. Greinke has to be the pick because of his season and pitching in a spacious park.
  • The Tigers over the Athletics: I have trouble buying into either of these teams. They can look as awful as they look good. But it is hard to forget how the Tigers flipped on a switch of sorts in the playoffs last year and just blanked everybody. Max Scherzer can do that to the A's. As far as the A's are concerned, they send Bartolo Colon to the mound. How can you doubt old Bartolo? I have all season and look what he has done? He is not a fluke. But in the back of my mind is that start he has every once in a while where he gives up like four homers. So this game comes down to which pitcher can have a bad day and Colon seems more capable of that than Scherzer.

Yesterday: 2-0
Post season: 4-1
Week: 14-6
Season: 1378-1069

Thursday, October 03, 2013

National League Manager of the Year

In yesterday's post, I gave you my choice for the American League Manager of the Year. And while there were six viable choices for that award in that league, there are only really four choices in the National League. And as such, I will break things down between those four candidates and make my NL selection. Please keep in mind, like yesterday, there is no clear process for evaluating a manager. There are no stats kept on in-game moves to draw upon. There is no way to measure or understand the value of a manager in the clubhouse or in the dugout. Any selection for this award is strictly subjective. I would not quibble if the final pick went to any of the four on this list.

The four candidates are Don Mattingly, Clint Hurdle, Mike Matheny and Fredi Gonzalez.

It is funny how Don Mattingly went from a terrible manager in the early part of the season to a brilliant one once Puig showed up and Hanley Ramirez got healthy. That only goes to prove that it is the players who win and lose games and not the manager. The fact is that Mattingly was the same guy all season. He stayed the course when things were bad and rode the wave when things were good. You have to give him credit for perseverance. He had some injury trouble all season too.

But I have some reservations. With the run differential, they should have won three less games than they did. But, Mattingly did not come across as strong when there was a backlash against Puig for some of Puig's more misguided adventures. Mattingly seemed more reactionary to that situation than strong. In my mind, Mattingly should have come out strong for Puig saying that Puig was his guy and then worked with him behind the scenes. Instead, Mattingly seemed to get buffeted by the public opinion and pulled Puig in the middle of games and sat him at other times. I just don't think it was handled well. Of course, I could be all wet as I am sitting thousands of miles away.

Mike Matheny is a strong candidate. Not only did he allow the young pitchers to flourish instead of that loyalty crap and sticking with veterans, but he handled each of them really well. He protected them when he should have and let them go when he should have. Plus, his team of coaches really handled the offense well and their approach was magnificent. I don't think that is an accident. The players have to buy in to an approach and that happened here.

I do have one problem with Matheny as a candidate. According to the Pythagorean win-loss statistic, based on the run differential, the Cardinals should have won four more games than they did.

Fredi Gonzalez will never get much love when it comes to this award. Heck, even his own fan base rails against him all the time. Apparently, nobody likes his in-game decisions and the feeling is that his teams win in spite of him and not because of him. I do not know if that is fair or not.

Two things seem to balance out over the course of the season. First, he stuck with Kris Medlen in the rotation despite a rough start to the season. You can perhaps say that he had nobody else. But even so, that was a great decision as Medlen became great in the second half. On the other hand, he stuck with Dan Uggla for far too long and how could Dan Uggla and B.J. Upton have been so bad.

Gonzalez did make a nice move when he shifted Jason Heyward to the lead-off spot. The win streak that happened after that could all be just coincident. The Braves were two games behind their Pythagorean win-loss record. I know I rely on that stat too much, but I do think it matters at least a little.

That brings us to Clint Hurdle. According to (I know, here we go again) the Pythagorean thing, the Pirates should have won 88 games. They won 94. We have not seen that sort of thing since Mike Scioscia's glory years with the Angels. But Hurdle's unbridled enthusiasm kept the Pirates buoyant through the tough times and in the end, crushed the Reds when it mattered.

The Pirates really are not a Cinderella team. Their steps of improvement last year make this year seem like a natural progression. But like my Francona choice in the AL, Clint Hurdles made less work more for the Pirates all season. He handled his bullpen brilliantly and despite a challenged offense, made it work to the tune of 94 wins and came within a disastrous series against the Cardinals of winning the division.

Clint Hurdle is my choice for the NL Manager of the Year. I would not be unhappy if Matheny wins as I think he was excellent as well.

My overall ranking of NL Managers:

  1. Clint Hurdle
  2. Mike Matheny
  3. Don Mattingly
  4. Fredi Gonzalez
  5. Davey Johnson
  6. Terry Collins
  7. Bud Black
  8. Kirk Gibson
  9. Dusty Baker
  10. Mike Redmond
  11. Ron Roenicke
  12. Bruce Bochy
  13. Walt Weiss
  14. Dale Sveum

I did not count any for Philadelphia because they switched mid-season.

MLB Game Picks - Thursday: October 3, 2013

I love Nick Swisher, I do. But his performance in the Wild Card Game last night against the Rays was so reminiscent of past post seasons for him. His first few times up, he had a strikeout and then grounded the ball right into the teeth of the shift when there were no fielders from second base to third. Then, when he had a man on first and third, instead of embracing or understanding the situation, he took three "swing-for-the-fences" swings to strike out when, again, all he had to do is put the ball in play on the left side of the infield.

It was that lack of a plan that sunk the Indians all night. Asdrubal Cabrera basically had the same sort of night as Swisher. Now contrast that with how the Cardinals score runs. That team has a plan and work it to perfection. When there are men on base, they hit the pitch to the opposite field or where it is pitched and just move the line along.

It was sad to see the Indians go home. We always root for the Cinderella team...the underdogs. And in the American League, there are none left.

Speaking of the Cardinals, tonight starts their NLDS against the Pirates, who still qualify as a Cinderella team. Unfortunately, I think the clock is going to strike midnight soon.

The picks:
  • The Cardinals over the Pirates: First off, Adam Wainwright was built for these sort of games. He is really hard to beat at home. In three NLDS starts in his career, he has a K/9 rate over twelve. Yes, that's right, over twelve. He pitched well against the Pirates this season. He will be faced by A.J. Burnett. Burnett has been flat out nasty down the stretch. But again, the Cardinals approach to hitting will have a better chance of hitting Burnett's curve than most teams would. With Wainwright having the edge on the mound and the Cardinals having home field and a better offensive club, I cannot see the Cardinals losing this game.
  • The Dodgers over the Braves: It took a lot of courage for the Braves to leave Dan Uggla off the NLDS roster. But it was the right call. Now the Braves don't have to worry about what to do with him. Now they have to figure out what to do with Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw is the best pitcher in baseball. If he is on and the Dodgers can score a few runs, they cannot be beat. The question is if Kris Medlen can match zeroes with him. Medlen was great down the stretch and has gotten through his early season struggles. If Medlen can match zeroes, I will take the Braves' bullpen over the Dodgers' version. But I have to think the Dodgers can score two or three and Kershaw holds the Braves to one or none.

Yesterday: 1-0
Week: 12-6
Post Season: 2-1
Season: 1376-1069

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

American League Manager of the Year - Terry Francona

Selecting one Major League manager over another is truly a subjective enterprise. How do you measure managers? I have tried over the course of this site's history to try to figure out such a system. It does not work. I have looked at Pythagorean Win-Loss figures. I have looked at other models and methods of measuring a manager. Nothing solid comes from the exercises. How can John Farrell be a terrible manager in Toronto and then great in Boston? Were the Yankees lucky to win as many games with their talent or did Joe Girardi do a masterful job? There really is no way to quantify it. And yet, there is this award given to managers every year. So our job as baseball writers is to figure it out...somehow.

There are no shortage of candidates in the American League. You have the aforementioned Girardi and Farrell. You have Terry Francona, who, in his first year, got the Indians into the post season and won 92 games. You have Bob Melvin of the Oakland A's. You have Joe Maddon and Ron Washington and Jim Leyland. All of these managers had teams that performed admirably and most at least gave their teams a shot at the post season.

I have pluses and minuses for each one. Jim Leyland, for example, refuses to join the 21st Century game and only finished a game above the Indians, a team they thrashed in head-to-head competition. Joe Girardi did seem to get the most out of his awful, injury-riddled and aging team. He is the master of bullpen manipulation. But at the same time, he stuck with guys too long like Vernon Wells and Lyle Overbay. Some will argue that he had nobody else. There is always somebody else.

Francona's team was terrible against the Tigers. Joe Maddon is the master of the metrics and for motivating his team (or so we are told). But he gets too cute at times and moves too many players around too often. Ron Washington gets criticized often for his love of the bunt and other on-field decisions. The Red Sox should have won even more than 97 games with their run differential. There are hardly clear-cut answers here. But somebody has to win.

I have boiled down my three choices to Terry Francona, John Farrell and Bob Melvin.

Melvin's team, the A's, proved that last year was not a fluke. They finished dead on with their run differential. They should have won 96 games and they won 96 games. They also had three awful teams in their division that they played nineteen times a piece in the Mariners, Angels and Astros.

Melvin got the nod last year because his team was considered a surprise. They were not a surprise this year. Does that rule him out? It shouldn't.  But again, I am rattled a bit by the competition in his division. Even the Rangers were not as strong as past years.

John Farrell certainly got rid of the bad mojo left behind by Bobby Valentine. With a few exceptions, his team performed brilliantly and stayed relatively healthy. He caught a break when his first two choices for closers came up lame and Uehara became the best relief pitcher in the American League. I cannot get beyond the fact that with the Red Sox scoring so much and pitching so well, their Pythagorean win-loss record was 100 wins and they won 97. And how could he go from being so terrible in Toronto to being so good in Boston?

There was that record against the Tigers. But Francona did finish one game behind the Tigers and won 92 games. According to their run differential, they should have won 90. So that is a plus. Then, Francona also had 38 games against the Twins and the White Sox which was a similar argument against Melvin.

But my choice comes down to Francona. Again, I would not argue if any of these guys won because it is so subjective. My final reason for picking Terry Francona is that he won 92 games despite an offense that finished eighth out of fifteen AL teams in OPS and seventh in pitching ERA. In other words, his team won with less talent than the Red Sox, the A's and the Tigers. And unlike Farrell, Francona's track record speaks for itself.

Here is my final (yes, subjective) list (I would fire the last six):
  1. Terry Francona
  2. Bob Melvin
  3. John Farrell
  4. Joe Girardi
  5. Joe Maddon
  6. Jim Leyland
  7. Buck Showalter
  8. Ron Washington
  9. Bo Porter
  10. Ned Yost
  11. Mike Scioscia
  12. Ron Gardenhire
  13. Eric Wedge
  14. John Gibbons
  15. Robin Ventura

MLB Game Picks - Wednesday: October 2, 2013

Congratulations to the Pittsburgh Pirates for taking care of the Reds in the play-in game to earn the right to play in the NLDS. I picked the game incorrectly as I thought Johnny Cueto would have more to offer than what he did. But I could not be happier for the city of Pittsburgh for ending their long drought. Of course, it was kind of wistful watching Russell Martin perform so well in that game. For as long as I breathe, I will never understand how the Yankees could have let him walk.

Tonight we get the second Wild Card Game with the Indians playing at home against the Tampa Bay Rays. And frankly, the pick is really throwing me. As we saw from the Pirates' game, the home crowd can really make a difference. That Cueto chant was the most amazing thing, wasn't it? And the Indians got to the post season by beating a bunch of bad teams. Can they do it against a good team?

The pick:
  • The Rays over the Indians: I would love to see the Indians win and move on. A Terry Francona versus the Red Sox series would be just about as awesome as it gets. But my sticking point is Alex Cobb. Cobb has been soooo good in these situations. How about these numbers down the stretch in his last three games: 23.1 innings, 14 hits, 3 runs, 5 walks, 26 strikeouts. Uh. Yeah. That will work. The Indians, meanwhile, have to hope that this young kid, Danny Salazar, can make magic happen in the biggest situation of his life. I will be honest, I hate the Rays. In fact, I cannot stand them. And I would love to see the Indians move forward. But picks are based on logic in an illogical game. I cannot see Cobb and the Rays losing. But then again, I was wrong yesterday...

Yesterday: 0-1
October: 0-1
Post Season: 1-1
Season: 1375-1069

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Twins settle on continuity with Gardenhire

How many teams in Major League Baseball would give a two year extension to a manager whose team has had two identical 66-96 seasons in a row? I cannot think of many. Thus, it was somewhat surprising that the Minnesota Twins gave Ron Gardenhire a two-year extension. After reading the link provided to you here, I can understand some of the thinking behind the Twins' decision. What I am still unsure about is whether or not I buy into the decision.

One of the difficult things about writing a piece like this is not really knowing the situation as a "blogger" versus being a beat writer who knows the organization better. For example, I cannot write with certainty over where the Twins' organizational philosophy of starting pitching comes from. The perception is that it comes from Gardenhire. But is that true? The only nuggets or hints of that being the case are his famous statements back in the day about Francisco Liriano throwing too many strikeouts. But is that a smoking gun?

The facts are that the Twins' pitching staffs have finished dead last in pitching strikeouts in the American League for three straight seasons. And the two previous seasons before that, the Twins finished tenth out of fourteen AL teams. In an era that has seen the strikeout become more prevalent everywhere, the Twins have refused to join the party.

Preventing walks has also been part of that philosophy. And to a degree, they have been successful. Since 2009, they have finished first, first, sixth, sixth and third in the American League in preventing walks.

Whether Gardenhire is behind this organizational philosophy or it can be attributed to someone else, it obviously is not working. Think of the pitchers the team has brought in over the last several seasons. Guys like Carl Pavano, Mike Pelfrey, Kevin Correia and others are all of the low strikeout rate ilk.

Then you have pitchers they have developed and brought to the Majors like P.J. Walters, Andrew Albers, Liam Hendriks, Scott Diamond and Anthony Swarzak. There is not a strikeout pitcher among them. And their minor league system continues the same way.

At the Triple-A level, their top seven pitchers in games started feature strikeout rates from 4.3 to 7.9 with five other rates in between. At the Double-A level, Trevor May and Alex Meyer average over nine strikeouts per nine. The rest are in the 3.8 to 7.1 range. At the Advanced A level, their pitchers with the most amount of starts range from 4.4 to 6.5 strikeouts per nine.

So in their top three minor league levels, they have two starting pitchers with a K/9 rate over 7.9. This is a pitch-to-contact-limit-walk philosophy. As the last couple of seasons have shown, this is not the new market inefficiency.

It is clear that the Minnesota Twins need to do something different. Their acquisitions from the outside and their drafting on the inside has to include the possibility that a guy is going to strike people out. Retaining Ron Gardenhire and his entire staff seems to work opposite of fixing what has been an organizational problem.

But perhaps those philosophies are not Gardenhire's fault or that of his staff. Perhaps removing him would not solve the problem. Perhaps the fault lies elsewhere in their organization. I just don't know enough to validly answer. But from the linked piece, Gardenhire's bosses don't see him as the problem and say they need to get him better pitching. And pitching is just one aspect of the organization's failure.

Let's just conclude that Gardenhire would not have survived two such seasons just about anywhere else. Twins fans are restless and did not receive the news very well (for the most part). Time will tell if the Twins made the right call.

MLB Game Picks - Tuesday: October 1, 2013

If you are a fan of the Texas Rangers, how do you view the past few years? Is it a good thing that the team has been very good and has continued to make the post season? Or is it ultimately a bad thing with two losses in the World Series--one a brutal loss--two play-in losses and September fades? Judging from the reaction of my Twitter buds who are Rangers fans, it was another brutal loss that left them feeling empty and frustrated.

Unfortunately for them, I was correct yesterday on the pick of the Rays. I believed that you could not look at David Price's history against the Rangers because this is a different Rangers' offense than in the past. I was unsure of Martin Perez at such a young age being able to pitch such a big game. And I saw nothing good coming from starting Nelson Cruz as he was sure to be rusty. All those concerns came to pass and the pick was correct.

What about today? Tuesday's play-in game pick:

  • The Cincinnati Reds over the Pittsburgh Pirates: Yes, the Reds could not beat the Pirates down the stretch and allowed the Pirates to gain home field advantage for this game. You can be sure the Pittsburgh fans will be going absolutely nuts. But for me, the one game changer is Johnny Cueto. Unlike the Cruz situation mentioned above, Cueto has the unique ability to come off of a long period of inactivity and throw zeroes. He is an extreme ground ball pitcher these days and the Pirates will hit a lot of balls into the dirt of the infield. Francisco Liriano has had a great season. That season included two outstanding appearances against the Reds and one so-so one. So the bottom line comes down to which team has a better chance to score two or three runs off the really good starting pitcher they are going to face. I think that chance is stronger on the Reds' side.

Yesterday: 1-0
Week: 11-5
September: 233-172
Season: 1375-1068

Monday, September 30, 2013

Cannot give Terry Pendleton a pass on dust up with Johnson

I happened to be flipping through some links this morning and came upon this report of a dust up between Braves' coach, Terry Pendleton, and Chris Johnson. I found the replay to be quite disturbing.

The problem for me here is that I have no idea of the history that preceded the incident. I do not know if Chris Johnson is a jerk or not. I do not know if he did throw his helmet that supposedly hit Pendleton. All I know is what I see and what I see is a highly physical and aggressive move on the part of Pendleton that was not answered back by Johnson.

How is this different than what happened with Tino Martinez? Pendleton's actions were in full view of the entire team, a face-losing thing for Johnson. Not only did Pendleton grab Johnson's jersey, but he pushed him aggressively and I can tell you from experience such a push hurts.

Pendleton is Johnson's superior. As a superior, you have to restrain yourself. You should never show up an subordinate in front of his peers--or in front of America for that matter.

No matter what kind of guy Johnson is, no matter what happened, Pendleton has to be better than that and he was not. I do not see how Pendleton's actions go without discipline. As someone who has been in "management" for decades, I found what happened here totally inappropriate and even more than that, wrong.

MLB Game Picks - Monday: September 30, 2013

A little sadness. Such feelings always occur at the end of every regular season. Each season is different and each comes with its own surprises and inspirations. Having it end is like finishing the end of a long novel that left you satisfied, but sad that the story is over and you have to leave the characters behind.

My picking season was better than last season. A great month of September helped make that possible. The Game of the Day picks ended up with the exact same amount of 105 correct picks for the season. At least you could say I am consistent.

The picks will continue throughout the playoffs and World Series. But the grueling job of picking fifteen games each day is over. Onward with the playoffs! Well, today is not a playoff. Today is a Game 163 as the Rangers and Rays have to figure out which team is going to be the second Wild Card.

The Pick:
  • The Bay Rays over the Rangers: There are a lot of factors going on here. First, the Rangers get the home game. I am not sure why. But anyway, that gives them an advantage. But the Rays get to start David Price who is one of the best pitchers in baseball. Except he does not pitch well against the Rangers. But then again, that was in the past when they had more offense than they have now. The Rangers start Martin Perez. Perez is only 22 years old. That is a lot riding on a young guy. He had a decent season, but a lot of his success was compiled against sub-.500 teams. When pitching against teams over .500, he is just mediocre with a 4.34 ERA and a 4-4 record. The starters would seem to favor Price. Then there is Nelson Cruz. This is a tough time to be bringing him back to face Major League hitters. I think he hurts continuity a bit here. He should DH and leave the Rangers with a terrific outfield of defenders. But will Ron Washington do that? I love what Leonys Martin and Craig Gentry bring to the table, especially Gentry. If one of them has to sit because of Cruz, it's just the wrong call. I like the Rays for this game. But anything can happen.

Yesterday: 10-5
Week: 10-5
Month: 232-172
Season: 1374-1068
Final Games of the Day tally: 105-71

Sunday, September 29, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Sunday: September 29, 2013

The penultimate day of the 2013 MLB regular season ended the last full week of picking with a thud. After a great week of picking, the bottom fell out with only five correct picks. But, you know what? I will take that since my Game of the Day and Andy Pettitte won his final regular season start of his long and wonderful career. Watching that unfold in Houston was the most amazing experience. And those who say that it was Houston, after all, and the horrible Astros, has no respect for the game. They are still a big league team with big league hitters and you still have to get them out. It was the perfect last hurrah for a great pitcher.

The regular season ends today. Or will it? The American League Wild Card is nuts. If the Indians win, they are in. If they lose and both the Rays and Rangers win, then we have a three-way tie and there will be tie-breaker games before the play-in game. If the Rays and Rangers both win or both lose, and the Indians win, then there will be a tie-breaker game between the Rays and Rangers. Crazy!

Sunday's picks:

  • The Rays over the Blue Jays: The last battle of the Ays for the season and it could not be a bigger game. The Rays have to win unless the Rangers also lose. But they will go all out to win. Matt Moore is their big stud alongside David Price. He will take his 16-4 record and try to get the W for the Rays. Todd Redmond will try to deny the Rays. Should be exciting!
  • The Tigers over the Marlins: Of all the division winners, the Tigers sure can look awful at times. And they have finished the season so nonchalantly that anything can happen in this game. Justin Verlander is starting. I have no idea why or how long he will go. Henderson Alvarez goes for the Fish.
  • The Mets over the Brewers: Jonathon Niese has had a really good finish to his season. A win today would set him up nicely with good feelings for next year. Terry Collins got a contract extension, which I guess is a good thing. Wily Peralta goes for the Brewers. Both teams go home empty-handed.
  • The Pirates over the Reds: I picked the Reds in the first two games and was wrong as the Pirates took care of business in Cincinnati. This game is meaningless and both teams know it. As such, they are pitching two pitchers who will probably not factor in the post-season. Brandon Cumpton is better than Greg Reynolds, so that is the direction I am heading.
  • The Orioles over the Red Sox: A meaningless game for both teams, but tell that to Buck Showalter. He likes to beat the good teams. Chris Tillman has not pitched well to end his season. John Lackey never gets run support. I am surprised he is starting.
  • The Braves over the Phillies: Once again, I am surprised in this meaningless game that Julio Teheran is starting. Perhaps he does not factor in the team's plans for the NLDS. Anyway, the Braves win by beating Zach Minor.
  • The Indians over the Twins: Can the Indians finish a historic run to end their season? I believe they will. A lot will depend on how sharp Ubaldo Jimenez is. Scott Diamond is probably the best of the Twins' crap pitchers. A win and the Indians are in. Incredible.
  • The White Sox over the Royals: Jose Quintana is the White Sox one good luck charm. They win a lot when he pitches. Bruce Chen is not nearly as good on the road as he is at home. The season ends on a high note for the lowly White Sox. But they should still clean house after it's over. Word is that they are not. Dumb.
  • The Yankees over the Astros: David Huff, or Hassle-Huff for those of you who have been following along, gets the start for the Yankees as Kuroda is done as well. Erik Bedard starts for the Astros and he has had a miserable season. Just miserable.
  • The Cardinals over the Cubs: Jake Westbrook is getting a "thank you for past services" start for the Cardinals. And it is pretty telling how good the Cards are that Westbrook is the odd man out in the post season but could be a fourth starter on many teams. Jeff Samardzija never really put it together this season like I thought he would.
  • The Rangers over the Angels: This game is no lock. For one thing, Yu Darvish is never a lock. He is a great pitcher, but wins are never guaranteed. I know because I have been picking him all year. Plus, Jason Vargas has been brilliant of late. Rangers have to win.
  • The Padres over the Giants: I have no idea who is going to win this game. Tyson Ross has been pretty good of late and the Giants have nothing to play for. Guillermo Moscoso is coming out of the bullpen to pitch for the Giants. Who knows.
  • The Dodgers over the Rockies: Hyun-jin Ryu tries to win his last tune-up before the playoffs. Jeff Francis, the definition of the "crafty lefty" tries to better him.
  • The Athletics over the Mariners: Eric Wedge is managing his last game and going out without leaving any words on the table. Good for him. The M's stand for Mess. Besides, I have to go with Sonny Gray. He's my guy. Erasmo Ramirez has been good for the Mariners though.

The Game of the Day:
  • The Nationals over the Diamondbacks: I want this. I want Davey Johnson to go out with a win. He has a good chance with Tanner Roark on the mound. The kid has been awesome. Wade Miley will try to spoil the party.

Yesterday: 5-10  Ugh
Last week: 57-40
Month: 222-168
Season: 1364-1063
Games of the Day: 105-70