Saturday, August 09, 2014

MLB Game Picks - Saturday: August 9, 2014

The last two baseball picking days have included twenty correct picks out of twenty-eight. That is some nice work after a week or more of barely staying above water. As good as it is, it could have been one better if the Blue Jays hadn't blown that save in the ninth inning against the Tigers.
In other incorrect picks, Stephen Strasburg remains one of the most frustrating pitchers this season. What the heck, man? I did not expect the Red Sox to beat Jered Weaver and get a good pitching performance besides. I should have expected the Royals to win and did not. But if that is all of your mistakes, I'll take that every day.
Saturday's picks:
  • The Yankees over the Indians: I really hate to pick against Corey Kluber, but the Indians and Yankees are two teams heading in opposite directions. Plus the Indians are 4-15 at the new Yankee Stadium since it was built. In order for the Yankees to win, Brandon McCarthy has to continue is hot pitching.
  • The Tigers over the Blue Jays: The Tigers really aren't hitting that well, unless it is against a closer that is. Marcus Stroman should keep the Tigers somewhat quiet. But Max Scherzer is tough to beat and I give the win to him.
  • The Cardinals over the Orioles: I hate picking against the Orioles these days. It looks like the AL East is pretty much firmly in their hands. But they are kind of throwing a game away to start Ubaldo Jimenez. Of course I'll say that and he'll throw a gem. John Lackey knows the Orioles well.
  • The Rays over the Cubs: I don't know which pitcher, Jake Odorizzi or Edwin Jackson, will pitch better. Both are inconsistent. The Rays are the better team...I think...
  • The Phillies over the Mets: Three out of the first five of these picks have featured very good pitching match-ups. This one pits Dillon Gee against Cole Hamels. Both are very good when on their games. I have to go with Hamels, the much hotter starter right now.
  • The Brewers over the Dodgers: This might seem like a stupid pick if you are reading this. After all, it is Zack Greinke against Mike Fiers. That pits a near ace against a 4-A pitcher? I don't know. Fiers has been lights out in the PCL this year, a league known for its ease of hitting. And it seems Fiers comes up once a year to pitch a great game. That's the pick.
  • The Reds over the MarlinsBrad Penny!? Are you kidding me? The expression, "A bad Penny always turns up," was coined (pun!) for him. So yeah, I'm picking Alfredo Simon to win.
  • The Royals over the Giants: The Royals have put a nice streak together and are fighting hard in leading the wild card race. I rag on them a lot. But thems the facts. James Shields over Tim Hudson.
  • The Rangers over the Astros: Do you think Yu Darvish is bored? What else would explain his random losing? Anyway, Scott Feldman has put together two really good starts. But he is a BABIP pitcher who does not strike anyone out. So his luck could turn either way.
  • The Braves over the NationalsTanner Roark's last start is kind of upsetting me. He was such a lock for my picks for so long and then he gets beat up. I don't know what to do now. Aaron Harang is not one of my favorite picks, but I have learned not to pick against him.
  • The Rockies over the Diamondbacks: Even when Trevor Cahill pitches well (which isn't often), he doesn't get a win. Jorge De La Rosa has gone on kind of a sucky streak himself. But he's the pick over Cahill.
  • The Angels over the Red SoxClay Buchholz has been awful. Maybe he will put it together today or maybe not. Either way, Garrett Richards is a tough task for any opposing pitcher to beat.
  • The Athletics over the TwinsTrevor May makes his MLB debut tonight against the A's. He was a former top prospect but stalled in the Phillies system but has put back together a nice season for the Twins' system. I still think he will lose to Jeff Samardzija, but it will be fun to see what happens.
  • The Mariners over the White SoxHector Noesi has really surprised me this season and good for him for resurrecting his career. His wins have come against mostly bad teams though and I am excited to see James Paxton back on the hill for the Mariners.
And the Game of the Day:
  • The Pirates over the Padres: The Padres are not as good against left-handed pitching and Francisco Liriano, when on, is very tough. Eric Stults just keeps on piling up the losses.
Yesterday: 10-5, August: 63-47, Games of the Day: 69-52 (+4), Season: 957-794

Friday, August 08, 2014

MLB Game Picks - Friday: August 8, 2014

Yesterday went well. Ten out of the thirteen picks were correct. It could have been even better. I correctly called that J.A. Happ would pitch well and he did with eight innings and twelve strikeouts. But he gave up a two-run homer and that one pitch cost him the game, 2-1. In another of the three incorrect picks, Collin McHugh of the Marlins pitched seven innings and struck out eight Phillies and left with a 5-1 lead. His bullpen would cough up five runs in the eighth inning to blow the game.
The most improbable incorrect pick was the Yankees winning the Tigers series with a brilliant pitching job by Shane Greene. Yeah, I know, right? He beat Rick Porcello who only gave up one run himself. The 1-0 win was just not something I ever thought would happen.
Friday's picks:
  • The Rays over the Cubs: The Rays lose the DH, but since they never have a good DH anyway, nothing is really lost. Chris Archer should pitch well and the Rays should be able to handle Tsuyoshi Wada without too much difficulty.
  • The Yankees over the Indians: I am not feeling good about an Esmil Rogers start for the Yankees. I liked him in the bullpen for them. He hasn't started in a long time and will only be able to go five innings or so. But just as I am not feeling him, I am not feeling Trevor Bauer or the Indians in Yankee Stadium. This could be high scoring.
  • The Mets over the PhilliesBartolo Colon and A.J. Burnett are a combined 78.7 years old. Both are highly unpredictable. I am going with Colon only because he won't walk people to put them on base. That is his one advantage here.
  • The Pirates over the PadresVance Worley has strung together three very good starts and despite the loss of McCutchen, the Pirates should be able to score off of Ian Kennedy. Vance Worley wears really weird glasses.
  • The Orioles over the Cardinals: The Cards get an extra bat, but do not really have one. The Cards will start Justin Masterson who still doesn't look good. The Orioles just don't seem to lose and send Chris Tillman out there today.
  • The Blue Jays over the TigersR.A. Dickey is so hard to predict. The one encouraging sign to me is that his walks are down significantly in his last three starts. That is a good sign for him. Anibal Sanchez seems to be a first half pitcher. But he just as easily shut down the Jays.
  • The Nationals over the BravesStephen Strasburg is much better at home than on the road. The difference seems to be his control is better at home. As much as the road is a problem for Strasburg, Atlanta has been really bad to him. He is catching the Braves at the right time, though, as they are struggling and if he can throw strikes, he could reverse some of that mojo. Erwin Santana goes for the Braves.
  • The Brewers over the Dodgers: The Dodgers picked up Roberto Hernandez for some reason and he starts for them tonight. I don't get it, frankly. Kyle Lohse is at home and that is usually a good thing for his team.
  • The Reds over the Marlins: Nathan Eovaldi is a safer pick at home. Since the game is at Cincinnati, I'm going with Mike Leake and the Reds.
  • The Giants over the RoyalsMadison Bumgarner doesn't get to bat in Kansas City. That's not really a good thing for the Giants. But his pitching should be. Jason Vargas is the Royals' pitcher and I'm not a big fan.
  • The Astros over the Rangers: The battle for last place. Who would ever think that? I am not thrilled to pick this one. Brett Oberholtzer seems to be the better option over Miles Mikolas.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Rockies: The Rockies cannot keep their stars on the field. And Tulowitzki keeps mouthing off. It's not a good situation. Chase Anderson over Tyler Matzek.
  • The Angels over the Red Sox: The Angels will be glad not to be playing the Dodgers after a long week. Jered Weaver could get taken deep so that's a problem. But I'm not sure Allen Webster is ready for the prime time.
  • The Athletics over the Twins: I'm still worried about the A's offense and Scott Kazmir hasn't been quite as brilliant lately. Kyle Gibson always confounds me. But I'm still going with the A's.
And the Game of the Day:
  • The Mariners over the White Sox: Poor Jose Quintana. He's still having a great season nobody is aware about because he can't win a game. Tonight will be no different. Hisashi Iwakuma will shut down the White Sox and win a low scoring game.
Yesterday: 10-3, August: 53-42, Games of the Day: 68-52 (+3), Season: 947-789

Thursday, August 07, 2014

MLB Game Picks - Thursday: August 7, 2014

I thought August had turned a corner with that good day on Tuesday. But Wednesday fell down again to the depression level. Chris Sale lost for crying out loud. Dan Haren pitched great. Dan Haren!? Toronto beat Baltimore and the Yankees beat the Tigers with the exact same score of 5-1. I got them both wrong. I went one game too many with the Marlins.
But the worst blow was that my Sonny Gray lost badly. It was Sonny Gray Day and it went pffftt.
Thursday's picks:
  • The Nationals over the MetsJacob deGrom is one of my favorite picks. I liked him so much I picked him up on my fantasy team. I've always liked Jordan Zimmermann too. So who to pick? Zimmermann has only given up four total runs in his last four home outings. I have to go that way.
  • The Tigers over the Yankees: The Yankees have faced three former Cy Young Award winners in a row and won two of those games. And now they face Rick Porcello who has won thirteen games already. Somehow, the Yankees keep pitching these no-names and the job has gotten done. I just don't see Shane Greene being better than Porcello. It also makes a big difference when Mark Teixeira cannot play.
  • The Brewers over the Giants: Is Jake Peavy snake bit or what? He doesn't deserve a 1-11 record and he won't deserve to lose today. But he will. Wily Peralta at home is a good pick.
  • The Cubs over the Rockies: This pick didn't go well yesterday, so why pick the Cubs? Kyle Hendricks has been terrific in his last three starts for the Cubs, but two of them have been in big ballparks. Today he is at Coors. Yohan Flande goes for the Rockies and he has been decent at times but is 0-3. He is a lefty and the Cubs have a nice split against lefties.
  • The Astros over the Phillies: Now I am going all nuts here. Collin McHugh is a strikeout pitcher going against a team that strikes out. Roberto Hernandez is due for a smack down game. The Astros haven't been hitting though. I'm probably an idiot.
  • The Pirates over the Marlins: I don't like this pick either way. Brian Flynn was part of the deal that sent Anibal Sanchez to the Tigers. He has made five big league starts that haven't gone well. His control has been the problem. Edinson Volquez has a proven track record of bad pitching, but has been decent in 2014. I don't know...
  • The Blue Jays over the OriolesJ.A. Happ has beaten the Orioles already this season and seems to match up well against them. Miguel Gonzalez is still the Orioles' weakest member of the rotation.
  • The Reds over the IndiansHomer Bailey can be such a Jekyll and Hyde guy. You never know what to expect out of him. T.J. House had a good outing his last time out so for this pick, Bailey better be on his good side today.
  • The Cardinals over the Red SoxAdam Wainwright has been on the every other game plan lately with a great start followed by a bad start. He is due for a great one, so that's the pick. Brandon Workman goes for the Red Sox.
  • The Royals over the DiamondbacksVidal Nuno has pitched well for the Diamondbacks with nothing to show for it. So it's hard to pick him here. My only problem with that is expecting Jeremy Guthrie to win. That isn't appealing either.
  • The Dodgers over the Angels: This game really is too close to call. On the one hand, Hyun-jin Ryu can be terrific but he is a lefty and the Angels hit those well. On the other hand, C.J. Wilson has not been pitching well. I have no idea who will win this one.
  • The Mariners over the White Sox: The White Sox' pitching has fallen apart lately and Scott Carroll can probably keep the White Sox in the game. But what happens after he is out of the game? If Adam Eaton is going to miss the game, which is most likely, then Roenis Elias won't have many problems facing the White Sox.
And the Game of the Day:
  • The Athletics over the Twins: Jon Lester gets his second start for the A's and though the first one did not go that well, he still won the game. He will be better today against the Twins and Yohan Pino won't get in the way of a win for the A's.
Yesterday: 7-8, August: 43-39, Games of the Day: 67-52 (+2), Season: 937-786

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Four MLB managers that should be fired

Baseball is a tough business. And it is not tougher on anyone more than managers. They do not play the game. The players do. But in most cases, if the team struggles, the manager is going to be the one to pay with his job. That's the way it has always been and it will always be the case. Sometimes the ax is deserved. Sometimes it is not. Girardi never should have been fired by the Marlins. The same with Francona from the Red Sox. But Valentine? Yeah. Looking out over the season and taking into account the previous seasons, which managers should not survive to lead their teams into 2015?
1. Kirk Gibson. Kirk Gibson is one of those real men of baseball. He earned his reputation as a player and will always have that home run off of Eckersley on his resume. His time with the Diamondbacks has not gone as well. His marine-like approach has chased away some of his best players, led to the trade of good young players and gets him in the news for all the wrong reasons.
Despite the way he thinks and acts, Kirk Gibson is not the beacon of baseball as how it should be played and conducted. But Gibson hasn't acted alone. The leadership issue has been a problem there and hence Tony La Russa was brought in to straighten it all out. You haven't seen too much of La Russa's stamp on things yet. But you will. The first will be getting a manager he believes in.
So long, Mr. Gibson.
2. Ned Yost. I have been on this bandwagon for far too long. Yes, the Royals are in the thick of the wild card race. Yes, they had a great second half of last season. The Royals correctly focused on defense.
But Yost has failed on many fronts. His game-decisions are detrimental more often than not. His young players have not developed once they became Major League players and as the leader of his staff, that is on him.
The Royals had a window with James Shields and others to finally overcome decades of obscurity. That window is closing and Yost needs to go. But he won't. Mark my words, he will be in the dugout in 2015.
3. Ron Washington. It is hard to blame Washington on the injuries that decimated his team this year. But it is not just this year that is to think about. Washington's in-game decisions are probably discussed more than any other manager in baseball. So there is that. But you also--fairly or not--look at two World Series he could not win, diminishing returns since the team's last World Series appearance and then this dreadful season.
Teams have really bad years. It happens. But what kind of fight do the teams put up while they are losing. The Astros fight tooth and nail every game. The Rangers have not. I put that on the manager and the culture he fosters.
There is a lot to look at with the Rangers' situation. There was the power struggle that saw Nolan Ryan head out the door. There are some questionable trades (Prince Fielder for Ian Kinsler is one).
You can look at all those situations and assign blame as well as put some of the onus on the injury thing. But it's time for a change in Texas and a new face needs to be in the dugout.
4. Ron Gardenhire. Gardenhire is beloved in Minnesota. I get that. He is a fixture and a link to a glorious past. But he is also an anchor that keeps the team from going forward. Gardenhire sets the tone for the organization on what it wants from its pitchers, for example. The team has long traded for and tried to develop pitchers to pitch to contact and throw strikes. The result is that the Twins are flowing against the tide of history. The strikeout has taken over baseball. The Twins have missed the boat.
It also seems that baseball has passed the Twins by. The Twins don't do defensive shifts. They don't seem interested in modern statistics. The Twins need sweeping changes to find a new path in today's game. And it all starts with Ron Gardenhire.
Honorable mention:
  • Ryne Sandberg. His handling of his personnel has been questionable. The team is out-performing its run differential, so I'd give him a couple more years to figure it out.
  • Walt Weiss. It is hard to blame Weiss for the dysfunction of his organization and a ballpark that will always defeat the Rockies. I don't know the Rockies can ever be successful.
  • John Farrell. His managing career consists of three underwhelming teams and a World Series title. How do you make sense of any of that?
  • Robin Ventura. The White Sox are out-performing their run differential. But they should be better. I don't like Ventura's laid back stance and his body language in the dugout. It does not project a winning and vibrant atmosphere.

MLB Game Picks - Wednesday: August 6, 2014

I finally broke the August doldrums with a 10-5 day. It was a struggle early as I think I was 6-5 after the earlier games. But then I swept the West Coast to finish strong. Gosh, it feels good to have a decent day after all that crap.
Of course, I cannot exult too much after picking the White Sox to win. That pick was only off by sixteen runs. The usually reliable Jesse Hahn made one mistake that led to a three-run homer and was beaten by Phil Hughes. I blame Chris McBrien who picked Hahn up in his fantasy league. That guy ruins everything. Heh.
Wednesday's picks:
  • The Padres over the Twins: Yeah. This pick didn't work out yesterday. And the last two times I picked Odrisamer Despaigne to win, he made me look silly as he was awful. That said, he is facing Kevin Correia after all.
  • The White Sox over the Rangers: Yeah. This pick was embarrassing yesterday. But it's Chris Sale day. He has to be better than what's gone on so far. He better go nine innings though. Nick Tepesch goes for the Rangers.
  • The Athletics over the Rays; The Rays are a proud bunch, but I think they were a bit deflated when David Price was traded. Jeremy Hellickson will try to pick up some of the slack today, but he faces my man, Sonny Gray. Every day should be a Sonny Gray Day.
  • The Mariners over the BravesChris Young simply wins at home. Period. He struggles on the road, but hardly ever at home. It's uncanny. Julio Teheran goes for the Braves and he has been quite up and down this season.
  • The Tigers over the Yankees: The Yankees should have won that game yesterday. They had the Tigers, 3-1. Kuroda pitched one too many innings. Justin Verlander will be the weakest pitcher the Yankees face this series, but they counter with Chris Capuano. Ick.
  • The Phillies over the AstrosBrad Peacock has not been good. It has not been pretty. David Buchanan is back for the Phillies and you have to wonder why he ever left. He's a pretty good pitcher.
  • The Marlins over the Pirates: I like Jeff Locke. I always have. But you are playing a bit into the Marlins' hand when you throw a left-hander against them. I also think the Pirates are a bit lost without McCutchen in the lineup. And lastly, I like Tom Koehler. Granted, he isn't as good on the road, but still.
  • The Orioles over the Blue Jays: The last time Drew Hutchison faced the Orioles was two months ago and he shut them out for seven innings. But Hutchison has fallen on hard times and hasn't pitched a good game in a while. Wei-Yin Chen keeps winning.
  • The Reds over the Indians: I have debated the Mat Latos / Danny Salazar match-up over and over in my head and it comes down to the fact that I don't trust Salazar enough to pick him in this game. When on, both of these pitchers are lights out. But even if they both are, then the Reds' bullpen is better.
  • The Brewers over the Giants: The Giants are 25-31 since the end of May and yet are still only a game and a half back of the Dodgers. Ryan Vogelsong was very good against the Mets his last time out. But Yovani Gallardo at home usually works for me.
  • The Red Sox over the CardinalsShelby Miller and Joe Kelly have been really good friends and went through the farm system together. So it should be very interesting. Kelly has not been completely healthy but Miller hasn't been completely where he pitched last year either. This has a good chance of being wrong.
  • The Cubs over the RockiesJake Arrieta gentille Arrieta beat the Rockies at home the last time he faced them. But Coors is a different animal. I still pick the Cubs though because Jordan Lyles is pitching for the first time since June 4.
  • The Royals over the DiamondbacksJosh Collmenter has had a pretty good season. His team has not. The only question is which Yordano Ventura shows up tonight. If it not the good one, seeya pick.
  • The Angels over the Dodgers: This has turned into one heck of a series. Unfortunately, the Dodgers still have Dan Haren in their rotation. Why, I have no idea. That said, I favor Matt Shoemaker, my new mancrush. Shoemaker just wins, baby.
And the Game of the Day:
  • The Nationals over the Mets: Just like the pick before, I have always liked Jon Niese as a pitcher. When he is on, he is tough. Doug Fister, however, is on fire and is a big reason the Nats have now built a three game lead in the division.
Yesterday: 10-5, August: 36-31, Games of the Day: 66-52, Season: 930-778