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Posted on: June 18, 2008 2:01 pm
Edited on: June 18, 2008 2:02 pm
 

Josh Hamilton and the Triple Crown Possibility

Everyone knows how the trade went; Edinson Volquez packed his bags for Cincinnati and is dominating the National League Majors. Josh Hamilton went to Texas, where he currently leads the American League in Homeruns (19), RBI (74), and is 6th in batting average (.315). Both were always highly touted prospects, Hamilton overcoming his own problems and quickly bursting onto the scene in 2008 as a top major league talent with a bat in his hands.

Everyone knows the hitting triple-crown is something we don't see too often. Ted Williams did it twice along with Rogers Hornsby, Ty Cobb did it with 9 homeruns while leading the league in steals too, and other great names like Mantle, Foxx, Yastrzemski, Robinson, Lajoie, Gehrig, Duffy, Klein, and Medwick did it, and of course Tip O'Neill. Is it at all possible that we see Hamilton's name on that list by the end of this season?

I absolutely think it's possible, especially with him hitting in Arlington in half his games. With his talent, his age, and the lineup around him, there is a good possibility that he ends up on top of the league in homers, runs batted in, and batting average. There is, however, one interesting obstacle that he may have to overcome that could make a very interesting case.  


Josh Hamilton watches his AL leading 19th homerun.

  Not many people know the story of the 1910 Chalmers Award (MVP of the time) given to the batting leader in the league, along with a car. The race came down to Ty Cobb and Nap Lajoie. The controversy goes that Cobb had a high enough average to win the award and took the final few games off, where as the St. Louis Browns, who hated Cobb (along with the rest of the league), conspired to get Lajoie the batting title, and allowed him to go 8-for-8 in a season-ending doubleheader, 6 of which were bunt singles not for sacrifices. In the end, to be fair, both players were awarded a car, even though as it later turned out, both batting averages were tainted that year (Cobb had a base hit counted twice).

As I look at the standings, there is an obstacle that Hamilton would have to overcome, and his name is Milton Bradley. Yes, Bradley is leading the AL in batting average at .330, and is having a fantastic season. Let's just get to a hypothetical situation that I can forsee.

Come September 28th, the Rangers are at Angel Stadium in the final game of the season. They are out of playoff contention, no deals have been made to move Bradley, and both are in the lineup, and hypothetically Bradley has an average of .327, Hamilton has an average of .326, and is leading the league in homers and RBI.

Could, or would it be at all possible that to witness history and help a teammate attain an achievement that hasn't been reached since 1967, that Milton Bradley lets himself lose the batting title to Josh Hamilton, and we see a conspiracy on the level of the 1910 Chalmers Award?

Posted on: June 8, 2008 12:06 am
 

My take on the Sox-Rays Brawl

A little late, but I don't care. I'll keep it nice and simple, in numbered points:

  1. Bartlett putting his knee down in front of the bag when Crisp was sliding in head first is a shady play. You do that with the intent of hurting the other player somewhere on his body, and putting the knee down could result in something as small as a jammed finger or as big as a broken collarbone. I've seen both, neither are pretty. Legal, yes, shady, absolutely.
  2. Crisp slid hard into second base into Akinori Iwamura. No matter who it was, Crisp was sliding in hard. Retaliation for what he thought was a shady play, that's fine, I have absolutely no problem with it, and have no problem with a hard slide on either end if it's in retaliation for something.
  3. First at-bat of the game for Crisp, Shields throws at him. Yea, it hit him in the legs, yes, Crisp should've been expecting it, however, this incident could've been put behind us, but Shields instigated it further.
  4. Crisp charged the mound, thus pushing the issue even further. He should not have charged the mound, but he was unable to swallow pride and take his lumps because he felt he was right for what he did, which I believe he was with regards to the hard slide. He was not right for charging the mound.
  5. Shields can't punch. It will never cease to amaze me how many people still throw haymakers. I could just roll off a list of things to do when a haymaker is coming at you, it's just such a stupid move! In all honesty, if I was Crisp, in dodging the roundhouse, left hand would've gone up to block the punch, and the right hand would have went right into Shield's right bicep without hesitation. People that throw haymakers and don't get hurt are stupid and lucky.
  6. Navarro did what he was supposed to do, he got Crisp out of the way and took him down. That was enough for the brawl, what Navarro did was fine.
  7. Johnny Gomes is a punk and a wuss for hitting Crisp while he was being held down.
  8. Carl Crawford is a punk and a wuss for hitting Crisp while he was being held down.
  9. Even Akinori Iwamura took a few cheap shots at Crisp, and therefore, is a punk and a wuss in my book.
  10. Tampa Bay is building a reputation for itself, and not a good one. There is a reason they have been in 2 big brawls already this year (counting the Spring Training ones with the Yankees). You can call the people good teammates all you want, the fact remains that for hitting a man while he's being held down by a bunch of other people makes them sissies and nothing better than a typical street thug. I have lost ALL respect for them. Their performance was PATHETIC.
  11. Everyone that got suspended deserved to get suspended.
  12. This is not the last incident we will see between the Rays and Red Sox, and I would not be in the least bit surprised to see the Rays and another team get into a similar brawl because of the reputation they're building for themselves, especially Gomes and Crawford.

Now, onto the other incident:

People are saying that Youkilis called Manny out for not being in the brawl, and this is just not true for a few reasons.

  1. Camera's show that Manny was right where Crisp crawled out from under 4 Rays, trying to pull the pile apart
  2. If that's what Youk said to Manny, then he's a hypocrite, since in a big brawl you really shouldn't be focused on what someone else is doing and only focused on dealing with the person/people you're dealing with.
  3. There is NO way is a veteran ballplayer and Dominican that grew up in Washington Heights not going to be out there for a brawl.

The more likely thing was that after his at-bat, Youk brought his problems and aggrivation into the dugout, Manny probably told him to calm down, and Youk probably told him to buzz off, and then Manny overreacted. Both would be wrong in that case, but I hope it's in the past.

Category: MLB
Posted on: May 27, 2008 9:10 pm
 

Major League Baseball Should be Ashamed of Itself

Yes, I notice my blog has turned from a place for Power Rankings and whatnot to a haven for rants! Well, here's another one!

Major League Baseball is playing bully in a situation with Little League teams. The situation is, roughly, that the MLB wants Little League teams to have to purchase jerseys with their team names on it (i.e.-Red Sox, Yankees, Astros, etc...) through Majestic Athletic, the official sponsor of all Major League apparal. However, Majestic is much more expensive than the current means used for Little League teams to fund their uniforms.

Now, this is absolutely ridiculous to me. Major League Baseball has naming rights, but this is just stupid. When I was a little kid and played sandlot baseball, one team would always yell out first, "Haha, we're the Yankees!", and the other one would go, "Oh yea, well, we're the Mets!", and then you'd play a game that was all of a sudden turned into a friendly rivalry of sorts! Kids want to play baseball playing for the 'Yankees' and Giants', and whatever closest or favorite Major League team they're near that their Little League has. That's just how it is, they want to play for a Major League team while in little league, it makes it more fun for them. Major League Baseball now is playing the bully, like I said earlier, and demanding that this fun cost more money.

As a kid, I loved playing for the Pirates! My best friend (of 19 years, and I'm only 20) played for the Yankees, and we had a nice friendly rivalry! It was always fun playing the Mets, Red Sox, Astros, and whoever as a kid! But, Major League Baseball sees a money making opportunity here (yes, because they need so much money), so they must play bullies.

It's like Lewis Black says, the greediest F-ers in the world can even look at these guys and say, "Wow....that's really F-in greedy...I wish I thought of it."

Honestly, it's pathetic. However, without Major League Baseball withdrawing this outrageous demand, I have a few ideas!

  1. Change the names slightly: Kids don't want to play for the Hometown Bulldogs or Muckhens, they want to play for a Little League Big League club. So, just change the names slightly! I got this idea from The Daily Show and Colbert Report from the writer's strike when they came back during the strike. The Daily Show changed to A Daily Show, and The Colbert Report (silent Ts) to The Colbert Report (pronouncing the Ts). Make the teams the Red and White Socks, not Sox. The Yanks, the Blue Birds, the Cards, the Bears, etc...not the best idea, but for smaller leagues, it could work. It's not MLB teams, it's original team-names based off of MLB teams.
  2. Use Throwback Teams: I like this idea the best. Not only are they introducing the kids to some baseball history, which is always fun, but Major League Baseball isn't going to demand Senators, Beaneaters, Highlanders, Browns, Pilgrims, and Robins jerseys be made through their chosen official apparal company. If they would, they're even more pathetic than I originally thought.
  3. Tell Major League Baseball to Shove it: I take back what I said earlier, I like this idea the best. Tell Major League baseball to go find something better to do, like, oh, I don't know, keep making the game better in various ways and work on getting HGH testing rather than trying to rip Little League teams out of funding money so they can make more.

Thank you for reading my rant!

Category: MLB
Posted on: May 21, 2008 11:35 pm
 

The 2008 New York Mess

Yes, they're not Mets, they're a mess.

It's no secret that my favorite National League team is the New York Mets. My family is full of Mets fans, born and raised, and of course, living in the New York broadcast market, I got to follow the Mets more as a kid than I could the Red Sox (before Extra Innings and MLB.tv packages and what not). Last season, the Red Sox won the world series, and that was fantastic, but it was still difficult to watch the Mets lose in the way they did. I came into this season with similar expectations I had from last season; the possibility of a repeat of the 1986 World Series. The Mets blew it last year, and this year, they aquired one of the best pitchers in baseball to boost their staff. But what has it got them?

Right now, they're a .500 team. They have been since late last season. Old tendencies are coming back and this team is hurt internally and externally. Basically, from what I'm watching right now, they're awful. How can a .500 team who is under 5 games out of first place that awful, in May none the less. Well, there's plenty of reasons, and I'll touch on quite a few.

To me, this doesn't look anything like the team that came out in 2006 and dominated from the start, despite a lot of players being the same. This team looks more like the team that would have a 4 game win streak, and then a 3 game losing streak. The team that let the New York Media get to some of them. The team that struggled mightily with inconsistencies, disappointments, and did not win in the end.

This team looks like the 2005 Mets.

Now, the 2005 Mets should not be disappointed with what they accomplished. They were a building team that was moving the Mets out of a few very bad seasons, and under Willie Randolph's first year as manager, they finished 83-79, good enough for 3rd place in the NL East.

Think about it. The 2005 Mets had a big time superstar patroling centerfield, and despite his reputation for good power numbers, he hit .260 with 16 homers in the entire season. It was Carlos Beltran, and he definitely had a hard time adjusting to the NY media spotlight. In 2008, he declared the Mets the team to beat in Spring, trying to rile up his team and reclaim the NL East crown. Right now, he's batting .253 with 3 homers, on pace for an eerily similar season.

The 05 Mets had a lefty outfielder who had decent numbers through his career pretty much have a career year, at least in terms of power numbers, his name was Cliff Floyd. This year, Ryan Church is looking pretty similar to that.

The 05 Mets had 2 singles hitting second basemen who didn't walk enough playing for them, Kazuo Matsui and Miguel Cairo, and now, they have Luis Castillo.

Both teams have an outfielder who missed a lot of time to injury, but was solid when he actually managed to be on the field. Mike Cameron and Moises Alou.

That's just the offense. The pitching has it's similarities too.

Both teams had 2 very good front starters; Pedro Martinez (2.82 ERA) and Tom Glavine (3.53 ERA) against Johan Santana and John Maine currently. Both teams had 2 okay starters who were inconsistent but could put in decent outings; Kris Benson and Victor Zambrano, both had ERA's slightly above 4, and now, Oliver Perez and Mike Pelfry (I am placing Pelfry here because his past few outings were good, and if it weren't for a lazy Castillo tonight, he would've been out of a big inning).

Both teams had an erratic reliever who blew a lot of close games, right from the get-go. Braden Looper in 05, and Aaron Heilman in 08.

Diving a little deeper, the 05 Mets were 6-13 against the division rival Braves, this year so far, they're 2-6.

On May 22nd in 2005, the Mets were 23-21. This year, they'll be 21-21 (not counting tomorrow's game yet).

The 05 Mets would go on a 4-5 game winning streak, and then go 1-6 over the next stretch. The 08 Mets are looking similar to that, getting hot in a certain series, and then blowing a series or two to another team. 

It may be late May, but this team still has a legitimate chance. They have a good team, but a few things need to be done in order to get them rolling again. Here are some ideas of what I think would help these Mets get back on track:

  1. Willie needs to stop being a player's manager and just be a manager, not their friends. In the past 2 years, he'd take a player out for not hustling, yet after Castillo's lazy play tonight, he remained in the game. He should've been yanked faster than a wisdom tooth in the dentist's office. If he wants to keep his job, get tough, show some freakin' emotion, and kick some @$$ on and off the field. Threaten to bench a player if they're slumping, threaten to move a starter to the pen if they're struggling, threaten to remove a player if they don't hustle, and for the love of god, don't ever give Aaron Heilman the ball. If he can't do this, then he needs to be fired. This, in all honesty, is his very last chance.
  2. Move Aaron Heilman. He is awful, he doesn't have it. I've been saying it for over a year now, he can't consistently spot his fastball, which makes him overly rely on his changeup, which he will throw back to back, over the heart of the plate, which hitters sit on and drive. He is not a good pitcher, and he needs to go. Trade him, send him to AAA, something, but he should not be on their major league roster right now.
  3. Ban the sports section of newspapers, sports magazines, and sports shows on tv and radio. The LAST thing this team needs is to be listening to more drama. Willie's last concern should be what he said to the media. The players don't need any more controversies, playing into any more drama, and definitely not any more distractions.
  4. Pick a 2-hole hitter, STICK WITH IT. Is it Church? Is it Castillo? Is it Anderson? Is it Chavez? I say Church, since he gives good power, and doesn't load the middle of the lineup with 3 straight lefties when Delgado is batting 6th. Castillo, he's patient, and has decent speed, but isn't hitting too well this year, Church is. Stop flipping people around in the lineup, it's not good unless it's something like bumping someone down in the lineup because they're struggling. Speaking of which....
  5. If it comes to it, move Beltran to the 5-spot and have Church bat cleanup with Castillo batting 2nd.
  6. Don't rely on Pedro Martinez or Orlando Hernandez to come back and contribute too much. They might surprise, but if they struggle for a short period of time, a move needs to be made, quick. Even Mike Pelfry, he's been showing improvement, but if he starts struggling over a good stretch, move him, AAA, bullpen, whatever.
  7. Willie, stop holding off on going to the bullpen so that you can try and get your starter a win. The team win matters more, not the individual win. He's doing it with Pelfry, he did it with Glavine last year a lot (although that was partially for win #300, but still).
  8. This team makes unknown starters look like Brandon Webb, but actually hits well against Brandon Webb! They're too agressive at the plate for the most part, which is part of why the offense is so inconsistent; it works against some pitchers and not against others. Work counts more, see more pitches....
  9. Move runners over, especially you, Carlos Beltran. Play small ball, manufacture runs...you can't hit a grand slam without runners on base, so stop trying to. Big innings aren't sparked by solo homeruns, they're sparked by baserunners and smart hitting.
  10. Something needs to ignite this team. Someone needs to stand up and say something, without causing controversy like Wagner did (although it kind of worked). Wright, step up and say to the press "we suck right now", be the team leader, call a meeting and do something. Pitchers, don't be afraid to throw inside. You hit a guy, a benches clearing ball might happen, that could be the best thing for this team. Something to ignite them!
  11. Lastly, as much as I hate to say it, one more stupid distraction, one more stupid comment, one more stupid move or anything from Willie Randolph, and he should be fired. I like the guy, I really do, but something needs to wake this team up. His leash is as short as ever right now.

Right now, the Phillies have Jimmy Rollins back and Ryan Howard is starting to hit. The Braves have a great offense, and Jair Jurrjens is looking great, plus with Smoltz going to close out games upon his return, that makes the game almost virtually over in the 8th. Marlins, playing great ball, I don't think it'll last, but they're hitting and pitching right now. The Mets need to step it up, or else they will be too far out in this race, and I don't see the other teams blowing a lead like the Mets had last season.

-Mat

Category: MLB
Posted on: April 7, 2008 3:53 pm
 

MLB Week 1 Power Rankings

Well, after the first week of the season, the Orioles, Royals, White Sox, Marlins, and Cardinals either are in first place or hold a share of first place in their respective divisions, but that isn't even the biggest story of the season so far. It's the lowly Detroit Tigers, the only team without a win in baseball.

Since 1903, only 2 teams have made the playoffs after starting 0-5, and none of them went onto the World Series. The Detroit Tigers will look to change that history, but they're not off to a good start.

Their high powered offense is near the bottom of the league in average, slugging, total bases, runs batted in, and runs. Their pitching is near the bottom in ERA, and has allowed the 5th most walks, and only one starter has gone beyond 6 innings, giving their bullpen a lot of work. The offense has looked overly aggressive at the plate, trying to hard and not getting results, while the pitching has looked lost. Their early season woes could be just that, or the Tigers could have been grossly overrated as a team.

As the weather heats up, so will the bats though, as Curtis Granderson will be joining the lineup again soon, and the likes of Magglio Ordonez, Gary Sheffield, and Miguel Cabrera (who will be 25 in a short while...25....he's only 25!!!) will not be held down for long, but the pitching will remain a constant concern until proven elsewise. Justin Verlander will turn it around, but Kenny Rogers is another year older, Nate Robertson has proven ineffective, Dontrelle Willis has been figured out and can't hit the broadside of a barn, and Jeremy Bonderman is a half a season pitcher. Can this rotation and bullpen really keep the Tigers competitive in the AL Central? If they pitch like they have been right now, they'll be fighting for last place, but I don't expect that, but their value has dropped significantly. The Indians are once again the clear-cut favorites to take the Central after week 1, despite a 3-3 record. Why? Well, just read on.


1. Boston Red Sox-Previous Rank 1: I will get a lot of heat for keeping them here, but considering the circumstances, 3-4 isn't bad at all. They got swept by Toronto, but the Blue Jays have always played them strong, and they are just now getting their ace pitcher back. With the travel from Japan to Oakland to Toronto, a nice homestand should be all the Red Sox need to get their season going. Remember, they opened the season at .500 last year after playing the Royals and Rangers, getting their bling on Tuesday will raise their spirits.

2. Toronto Blue Jays-Previous Rank 11: Yes, I have the Blue Jays ranked 2nd because they look that good right now. Roy Halladay, A.J. Burnett, Shaun Marcum, and Dustin McGowan are the best front 4 in baseball. Yea, I said it, they're the best front 4 in baseball. The offense is good, the starting pitching is great, and B.J. Ryan is coming back soon and feels good. AL East, look out, the Blue Jays are for real.

3. Cleveland Indians-Previous Rank 5: Fausto Carmona still looks good, and C.C. looks to be taking a step back?! No, that's not going to happen. It will be tough to replicate either pitchers fantastic 2007s, but they are arguably the best front 1-2 in baseball, and definitely in the AL Central. It's not a matter of if C.C. will turn it around and be the ace he is, it's when. This team is still a top of the line threat all-around, and managing to be 3-3 without Victor Martinez is good enough for now.

4. New York Yankees-Previous Rank 4: Yes, they are 3-3, but they now have an unhittable combination in the 8th and 9th innings. Pettite and Mussina are both another year older, but Wang and Hughes can be solid, and if Kennedy can be decent, they'll have a good rotation. They now feel safe if they have a 1 run lead after the 7th, and with their power offense (Hideki Matsui batting 8th at one point, that's dangerous) they will still win a ton of games. 

5. New York Mets-Previous Rank 3: Yes, the Braves beat the Mets in 2 games, but the Mets still got a great outing from Johan Santana without his best stuff. The pitching has looked pretty good minus a few owies here and there, and yes, Pedro is gone, but they didn't have him for most of last season either.  Reyes, Castillo, and Wright are yet to break out, so, like the Yankees, give this team a bit more time to really break out.

6. Los Angeles Angels-Previous Rank 6: This team is holding up fairly well without Kelvim Escobar and John Lackey, and they should be with Jered Weaver, Jon Garland, Joe Saunders, and Ervin Santana. And of course, the 7-8-9 inning pitchers will dominate ballgames like always. The plethora of outfielders is a nice commodity, allowing the Angels some room for a deal if they need help somewhere. With the Mariners not looking as good as projected, they may run away with this division.

7. Atlanta Braves-Previous Rank 14: Yes, they are now a top 10 team and a legitimate threat in the National League. They lost Mike Hampton (and the baseball world took a collective gasp of shock), but Jair Jurrjins can step into his role fairly well. The middle relief is going to get tested a lot with older pitchers not going deep into games, but with the offense starting off well, especially Mark Texiera against his slow-start reputation, this will be a tough team to beat.  

8. Los Angeles Dodgers-Previous Rank 8: Andruw Jones is showing that he may infact be on the career decline despite being young, although he has been in the league for what seems like forever. The pitching though has been strong, and we haven't seen Chad Billingsley start a game yet. Pitching is a strength for the big 3 in the NL West (Padres and Diamondbacks the other 2), and I think among those teams, the Dodgers have the best offense and bullpen, and are still my favorites to win that division.

9. Philadephia Phillies-Previous Rank 7: There is no pitching on this team past Cole Hamels. Brett Myers is still struggling as a starter, picking up where he started last year. Tom Gordon has proved he's not reliable in the bullpen, and Lidge is coming back, but how effective can he be? The offense is starting to come around, so they will still win their fair share of games, but they need the pitching to be effective, and not just Adam Eaton against the Mets effective...consistency, and right now, they don't have it.

10. Arizona Diamondbacks-Previous Rank 10: Brandon Webb looks as dominant as ever, and has anyone mentioned that Chris Young has 1/6th of his last year's walk totals already. Patience is a virtue with this young club, and with young players like Young, Justin Upton, and Stephen Drew that can just flat out play, they're going to be tough to beat. Brandon Lyon has a really short leash though, and we could see Tony Pena closing out games soon. If they can sure up closer, they'll put a lot more pressure on the NL as the defending West champs.

11. Cincinnati Reds-Previous Rank 18: Yes, I am jumping on the Johnny Cueto and Edinson Volquez train. The "Dominican Diaper Dandy" looks amazing, baffling hitters and controlling the game. And, despite a hiccup or two, the Reds bullpen may hold onto those games this year! Aaron Harang, Cueto, and Volquez make up a great front 3 (Bronson Arroyo, you've been bumped down), and along with a strong offense around Bradon Phillips, Adam Dunn, and Ken Griffey Jr., the Reds are ready to turn on the heat and make a run at a central crown.

12. San Diego Padres-Previous Rank 13: Anyone ever hear of this Jake Peavy guy? Apparantly he's pretty good, you should watch him sometime. If you don't know who Jake Peavy is, get out from under your rock, because he's the best pitcher in baseball right now. Despite the Padres offensive woes, he is giving this team the Sandy Koufax feel of the Dodgers batters, making them think "alright, all we need is one run today". The team looks tough right now, although Trevor Time might not be as intimidating as in recent years.  

13. Chicago Cubs-Previous Rank 12: I'm keeping the Cubs around here because Derrek Lee is swinging a hot stick and Alfonso Soriano is yet to start hitting. Kosuke Fukudome is a new Chicago favorite, and has anyone realized Kerry Wood has 3 saves? They're the defending central champs, but they'll have a tough time with the other 3 teams that will contest them in 2007.

14. Milwaukee Brewers-Previous Rank 15: Ryan Braun turns on the power after a slow first few games, but if he's not hitting homers, he's stealing bases. Is it too early to give up on Eric Gagne? Well, don't ask any Red Sox fan, but we'll see where he is in another month. Ben Sheets is motivated by a big contract year to stay healthy, and the Brewers will be getting Yovanni Gallardo back fairly soon. Good news Brewers fans, this team is tough.

15. Detroit Tigers-Previous Rank 2: This is a steep drop, but they're 0-6. Justin Verlander, the staff ace, has struggled, and we don't need to talk about any pitcher beyond him. Worst of all, the offense hasn't produced yet. The least of their worries will be scoring runs, but I think we're really realizing how much of a concern their pitching could be. Dontrelle Willis hasn't shown any signs of a turn around, and if he, Rogers, Bonderman, and Robertson don't do something for this team, they'll be in trouble.

16. Seattle Mariners-Previous Rank 9: The addition of Bedard is great, but everything else is older; the offense, the bullpen, the rest of the starting rotation. They lost J.J. Putz for a bit, and after Felix Hernandez, the pitching isn't anything to write home about. Ichiro isn't hitting yet, Sexson is off to another slow start, as is Johjima, but at least Beltre, Betancourt, and Ibanez look good so far. This team might not live up to the hype if they don't start hitting again, especially Richie Sexson, who can't afford another season flirting with the Interstate.

17. St. Louis Cardinals-Previous Rank 21: Here's an underrated team. No one expected them to open the season 5-1. The starting pitching has been great, but can it last? If I recall correctly, Kip Wells and Braden Looper looked half decent at the start of 2007, so I'm not jumping on any Cardinals bandwagon yet, but if they can hold on until their other pitchers get healthy (Clement, Piniero, Mulder, Carpenter), they may be a tough team down the stretch.

18. Chicago White Sox-Previous Rank 19: If Jermaine Dye can have a rebound year, this team might actually stand a shot at lingering around in a race for a little bit. The starting pitching still needs to be strong, but John Danks has looked pretty good in his sole start. The addition of Swisher and Cabrera add to an already powerful lineup, so this team will score runs and hit homers, but they need to get back to near the pitching of 2005 if they have any hopes of winning a race.

19. Minnesota Twins-Previous Rank 16: They've looked good and I drop them, sounds odd, but nobody expects Livan Hernandez to continue, right? Caros Gomez is a pleasant surprise (remember him, Mets fans?), and he can easily steal 50+ bases if he keeps getting on base. I like the way the offense looks, and Joe Nathan is still getting save opportunities. But the starting pitching will be the teams downfall, but they could be worse.

20. Tampa Bay Rays-Previous Rank 20: Matt Garza struggled against the Orioles, so he isn't ready to be fully trusted yet as a starter, but Scott Kazmir is coming back and James Shields is still a great pitcher. The offense looks good already, solid mix of speed, power, and youth, and remember, Evan Longoria is waiting for his callup in just a few weeks. Anyone read the Sports Illustrated article on him? He seems like the 2nd coming of Jesus, or at least a Led Zeppelin reunion tour.

21. Colorado Rockies-Previous Rank 17: I got heat for putting them at 17th, but I stand by it and will stand by this. The offense is great, but can they be consistent home and away? The pitching is suspect, can they get consistency from their young starters? Their back-end bullpen should be good, but Fuentes showed how quickly things can turn last year, can Corpas sustain that role? Right now, they have 2 hitters over .300 (Garrett Atkins and Todd Helton), and one starting pitcher with an ERA under 5 (Franklin Morales). Their Cinderella year is starting to look like it was just that, a Cinderella year, and the NL, especially the West, has improved too much around them for them to keep up.  

22. Oakland Athletics-Previous Rank 22: Rich Harden is looking great to start the season, if he can stay healthy it really sures up the rotation, especially considering how good Dana Eveland looked. The lineup is showing good patience in the youth so far, but Travis Buck starting off 0-21 has to worry some people. They may turn a few hears, and with Seattle's early struggles, they might just be competing for 2nd place.

23. Texas Rangers-Previous Rank 23: We all know the offense will score runs, but when Vicente Padilla, Kevin Millwood, and Kason Gabbard start off by pitching well, you have to think things in Texas may be on the right track. They will not compete for a division title or a playoff spot, but 2nd place is possible in that division, especially if the pitching stays strong.

24. Kansas City Royals-Previous Rank 25: After a dominant sweep of the Tigers, the Royals are doing it with pitching and hitting. Everyone has undervalued Gil Meche, Brian Bannister, Zack Grienke, and the offensive star that Alex Gordon is turning into, but in the end, they are still the Royals, however, they move up a bit in my rankings.

24. Houston Astros-Previous Rank 24: Only Carlos Lee is hitting for an average right now, and while on paper the team hasn't done that bad stat-wise, they're only 2-5 to open the year, one of those wins coming off a terrible outing from Trevor Hoffman. They'll be fighting for a cellar spot in the NL Central, and despite the offense being improved and strong, they just don't have the starting pitching to compete behind Roy Oswalt. And to those that will argue that the pitching has started the year strong, Wandy Rodriguez? Shawn Chacon? Brandon Backe? They won't get it done.

26. Washington Nationals-Previous Rank 27: Their pitching has had a nice start to the year, but who really expects it to continue like that? Chad Cordero is down for a bit, and Jon Rauch has to step into the closers role. Their bullpen is their potential strength along with the potential of their offense, but they'll be getting plenty of calls from GMs interested in Rauch and Cordero, and though it would hurt them in the short run, there will be some offers they can't ignore.

27. Pittsburgh Pirates-Previous Rank 26: Ian Snell had a great outing, but a lot of those great outings that young Pirates starters have are going to go to waste with the rest of the team. Jason Bay is picking up where he left off 2007, struggling, but Xavier Nady is slugging with the best of them.  Answer me this Pirates fans, despite defense, why doesn't Ryan Doumit have a starting spot yet?

28. Baltimore Orioles-Previous Rank 28: George Sherill, AL All-Star closer? Probably not, but he has looked good and so has the Orioles offense as of late. Don't expect them to lose 100 like people assume, the offense will keep them in games (unless another player is traded), but the starting rotation is still not enough to keep them competitive.

29. Florida Marlins-Previous Rank 30: They're tied for first place, why are they ranked 29th! Because no starter is yet to post an ERA under 9. The staff ERA is over 6, and is dead last in the MLB. Hanley Ramirez is hot to start the year, but he's just about the only bright spot on this team. Expect a hook in the mouth of the Florida Marlins soon, as the Mets and Phillies start reeling them in and passing them in the East.

30. San Francisco Giants-Previous Rank 29: They're dead last in slugging, and are the only team slugging under .300. I'll say that again, as a team, they're slugging under .300. Come on, hand me a bat and I can slug at least .250! Kidding, Giants fans, but the offense is bad, really bad. Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum are still 2 of the most exciting young pitchers to watch, and Mets fans, you should be thanking the high heavens you didn't sign Barry Zito!

-Mat

Category: MLB
Posted on: March 16, 2008 5:36 pm
Edited on: March 16, 2008 5:36 pm
 

14 Team Fantasy Draft

Hey everyone, I just took my first 14 team fantasy draft. It's a league full of people that know what they're doing, and I'll post my team. I had the 7th pick, which is where I prefer, right in the middle, and I think I drafted fairly well, but definitely need to make a trade or two, although since it's a daily league, my solutions may come internally.

First of all, it's Yahoo H2H, scoring categories on offense are R, HR, RBI, AVG, and SB:

And for Pitchers, the categories are W, S, K, ERA, and WHIP:

My thoughts are split. Overall, I'm very happy with my pitching, especially considering I didn't draft a pitcher until the 4th round. I am relying a lot on a few young pitchers without much experience, but I like the bench depth where I could pick up a potential sleeper. Jason Schmidt is also a free agent, so I may look to pick him up quick if he starts well when he gets back.

Now, my offense is a different story. I hate myself for draft Ichiro in the second round, but I wanted a hitter that was going to guarantee me a good average because I knew with 14 teams in the league, at least 2 players were going to hurt me in that category, which is why I feel Ichiro and Miguel Cabrera go so well together in that category. I picked up Hafner in the third since he was first base eligible, and I like him to have a big bounce-back year and hit like a first of second rounder.

I fully believe that I won't be starting Khalil Greene for long, and that I will have Yunel Escobar slotted in that spot because he hits the ball so well. That's why I drafted him early, for the multiple position eligibility, and potential combined. Plus, I knew no other team would be touching Greene for a while. Aaron Hill I have faith in, but just incase he doesn't do well, I have Yunel Escobar. If none of them do well, well then, I'm screwed I guess.

Jason Varitek, I like him as a player, just not a fantasy player. Most any catcher is going to destroy you in the avg department minus the first  big 4, but I was targeting Geovany Soto and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, but they went 2 and 5 picks ahead of me, so I waited a few more rounds and took Varitek.

I like Thome as my Utility man, and I'm happy with Griffey, but I expect to sit both of them so Michael Bourn can get me at-bats and steals. I like Travis Buck on my bench, I may drop him and pick up Reggie Willits though, higher avg and more steals that I need, despite the fact he may not bat everyday.

I'm hoping Ryan Doumit gets at bats at a position regularly so that I can play him at catcher. Higher average and better power than Varitek.

Overall on Pitching: My starters will not only get me strikeouts and a lot of them, but I will get big wins from my front 3 of them from the Tigers, Mets, and Dodgers, and Lincecum and Garza can win a good amount of games on the Giants and Rays too because of their talent. The WHIP could be better, but that should also improve with the younger starters maturing more and walking fewer hitters. My two relievers are top notch, and Soriano will help a lot in the WHIP category, and both will get Saves and Ks with a low ERA. I'm very happy with my pitching, although I wish I had another reliever, but I'm happy regardless.

Overall on hitting: I have power and a lot of it. From my starters, Ichiro has the lowest HR total with 6, and from there the lowest is 17 (Varitek and Hill), and after that, everyone is over 24, with 3 over 30. Batting average hurts with the power, but Ichiro and Miggy should help boost that up, as well as Hawpe and Hill helping, just not as much. I wish I had more speed, but if Bourn bats high and really turns on the speed, he'll have a starting spot on my team.

Overall, I think my team is good. I don't think it's the best, but in the top half. Maybe it looks rough to me because I'm not really accounting for the 14 teams in the league since I'm used to 10-12, but I still think it's a good team. Any thoughts on who I should deal, where else I should improve, see something I missed? Should I drop someone and pick up someone else? Oh, and especially in this league, I really want to save my waiver rank and hopefully climb up (I'm 8th right now) because there will be a lot of moves and I would love to swoop down and nail a player that could really help my team.

-Mat

Category: MLB
Posted on: March 14, 2008 2:03 am
Edited on: March 14, 2008 12:39 pm
 

Boston Red Sox 2008 Season Outlook

Yea, this is for the Team-by-team Season Preview that CBS is offering. I will do the Boston Red Sox, but I'll also be doing other teams, maybe my National League team, the Mets, or other various teams. Now, onto the defending Champs!

Key Aquisitions: Sean Casey (1 year, $800 thousand), Bartolo Colon (minor league deal), David Aardsma (traded from Chicago White Sox), and the resigning of Mike Lowell, Tim Wakefield, Mike Timlin, Julian Tavarez, and Curt Schilling.  

Key Departures: None, really, unless you count Matt Clement and Eric Gagne who did nothing for the Red Sox

Yes, the Red Sox had an extremely quiet offseason, but their biggest solutions have come internally. Firstly, there is the new centerfielder, Jacoby Ellsbury, replacing the leather-flashing no-hitting Coco Crisp as the starter. Ellsbury gave Red Sox fans loads of excitement when he showed his hitting ability as a call-up late last season, and helped Boston win their 2nd World Series title in the past 4 years. Ellsbury gives the Red Sox a true leadoff-hitter, and whether or not he will live up to his 40 stolen-base potential is another story in itself, but he gives the Sox a hitter with more potential without losing much on defense.

In the pitching department, we will see Jon Lester look to complete a major league season after returning from his illness in 2007. The young lefty will look to become a little less erratic with his pitches, but the potential remains high, and he will fill in as the Red Sox number 4 starter behind Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Tim Wakefield. Clay Buchholz also impressed in his first major league stint, throwing a no-hitter in his second major league start. He will fill in as the 5th starter, and, barring complete failure, will remain in the rotation on a monitored pitch-count with Julian Taverez waiting in the bullpen as a spot-starter.

A lot will ride on Josh Beckett's Health for the Red SoxCurt Schilling starts the season on the 60-day DL, hoping to avoid surgery that could potentially end his career. If he manages to return mid-season, he could be a boost the Red Sox may need to stay alive with the inexperience in their rotation. As of right now, he is a tremendous questionmark as to whether or not he'll even pitch again, let alone pitch effectively. Josh Beckett's back spasms are a concern, but for now, he only is slated to miss a few weeks, probably the season opener, but should return after enough rest and pitch like the Cy Young competitor he is.

Daisuke Matsuzaka had a decent first half last year. Not anywhere near deserving of the ridiculous contract he holds, but decent none the less. He got tired down the stretch, or he got figured out, or his walks caught up to him, or a combination of everything, but either way, he broke down late and didn't pitch well. He still has the ability to be a solid starter, it's just a matter of not overusing him just because of the stories that surround his arm, and using the effective Red Sox bullpen to close games.

The bullpen still has its core, with Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon closing out games, along with Timlin, Manny Delcarman, and Tavarez the main names in the supporting cast.

The offense already has the addition of Jacoby Ellsbury, and the rest remains stable. Manny Ramirez showed up to camp on time, and in the best shape of his life. He, along with David Ortiz, whose power struggled last year due to a knee injury, will anchor this offense. Mike Lowell will look to put up a similar season to 2007, where he was arguably the Red Sox best hitter. J.D. Drew usually has an off-year, and then an on-year, so he's scheduled to have an on-year, but even with similar production, he won't hurt the lineup, even though he has not earned his contract yet. The biggest battle in the Sox lineup is for the 2-hole.

Dustin Pedroia or Kevin Youkilis. Both had very solid seasons. Pedroia, after a dismal April, showed why he deserved Rookie of the Year consideration and finished batting .317 for the season. He also only struck out 42 times in 520 at bats. Kevin Youkilis showed his solid eyes by drawing 77 walks, although that was down from his 91 in 2006, he still had an OBP of .390. The dilemma is to put the OBP man in the 2-hole, or the contact man in the 2-hole. CBS has Pedroia batting 2nd and Youkilis batting 6th, which works fine for me at this point, as long as Pedroia can put up similar numbers. Pedroia will have to see pitches for Ellsbury to run on, and keep his strikeout totals down to be successful. If not, Youkilis should be batting in the 2-hole and get on base for Big Papi and Manny.

 

 

Overall, the lineup will look like this:

  1. Jacoby Ellsbury-CF
  2. Dustin Pedroia-2B
  3. David Ortiz-DH
  4. Manny Ramirez-LF
  5. Mike Lowell-3B
  6. Kevin Youkilis-1B
  7. J.D. Drew-RF
  8. Jason Varitek-C
  9. Julio Lugo-SS

And the rotation:

  1. Josh Beckett
  2. Daisuke Matsuzaka
  3. Tim Wakefield
  4. Jon Lester
  5. Clay Buchholz

Final Analysis: I feel that the lineup has improved from what it was last year with the addition of Jacoby Ellsbury into it, and, add into that a fitter and Money Motivated Manny (from this point known only as Triple M) and a healthy David Ortiz, and this lineup should hit with the best of them. The bullpen remains virtually the same, although first half Okajima and second half Okajima are vastly different.

The rotation, of course, is a concern. I do not expect a Cy Young season out of Clay Buchholz or Jon Lester, nor do I expect Wakefield to remain healthy all season, or Daisuke to be a 20 game winner. I expect this rotation to, simply, get the job done. It will have its good days and its bad days beyond Josh Beckett, but the potential can't be ignored. However, if Beckett is down for a long stint, this team will be in dire straits.

I also feel that the AL East has improved. No one should sleep on the Toronto Blue Jays, and, dare I say it, the Tampa Bay Rays. And of course, there's the Yankees, whose second half record put them back into contention and got them very close to a division title, closer than people realize. All-in-all, I expect another contending season from the Red Sox. They enter as the team to beat, not only in the AL East, but in the entire MLB.

Projection: 94-68 record, AL East Division Title-Finishing 1 game ahead of the New York Yankees in a memorable race to the last week of the season

-Mat

Posted on: March 10, 2008 6:05 pm
Edited on: April 22, 2008 3:40 pm
 

Hall of Famer? This one's a doozy!

Who is it? Before you look down at the rest of the article, let's take a look at this particular ballplayer's statline, remaining unbiased to start;

 

 

  • .280 career batting average
  • .386 on-base percentage
  • .549 slugging average
  • 431 homeruns
  • 1,374 runs batted in
  • 1,130 runs scored
  • 1,848 hits
  • 139 OPS+

And some other stats:

  • 3 Silver Sluggar Awards
  • 2 Top 5 MVP finishes
  • 3 Top 6 MVP finishes
  • 5 Top 12 MVP finishes
  • 10 consecutive seasons with at least 30 homeruns with 90+ RBI
  • One Hank Aaron Award
  • Currently has the 17th best at-bat per rbi ratio of all-time
  • Currently has the 19th best homerun percentage of all-time
  • Currently has the 33rd best OPS of all-time
  • Currently has the 28th best slugging average of all-time
  • Currently has the 15th best isolated power average (slg minus batting avg): This number is better than Ken Griffey Jr, Sammy Sosa, Mike Schmidt, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Harmon Killebrew, Joe DiMaggio, and Hank Aaron

Do you know who it is?

Give up?

It's............

 

 

Carlos Delgado!

That's right, this is the stat line of the soon to be 36 year old ailing first baseman for the New York Mets, formerly of the Toronto Blue Jays and and briefly the Florida Marlins.

The numbers don't lie, they are impressive, but are they Hall worthy? In any other era, these numbers would almost guarantee a plaque in Cooperstown, but now, a lot more is expected out of first baseman. No, these numbers don't compare with Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Hank Greenburg, or other truly legendary first baseman, but when they are more deeply looked at, they could turn a few heads.

Carlos has shown decline in the past few seasons, but he is 36 years old, and that is expected. The average is dropping lower, as is the power, but he is only 69 homers away from the magic 500 mark. He can easily get there with 2 more solid seasons or 3 average ones like he had last year. He can still play the field, and he can still hit and possibly accept a DH role in his future.

He is arguably one of if not the best offensive player in Toronto history, and although he has not gained notoriety through all-star appearances, world championships, or MVP awards, the numbers are there, and across the board, his power ranks among the best of all-time.

Was he ever the best player any year? You can argue that for 2000 when he hit .344, had 41 homers, and slugged .664 when he lost the MVP to Jason Giambi (.333, 43 homers, .647 slg, and, y'know, steroids). Is he the best run producer of his generation, no? Is he the best power hitter, no? Is he the best first baseman of his generation, no?

Have his career numbers that are still climbing in key categories, along with a consistent string of 10 tremendous seasons from 1997-2006 (1996 was his first full year in the majors, 25 homers and 92 RBI), to his worst season thus far in 2007 at the age of 35 (24 HR, 87 RBI, .258 avg), given him the worthiness to enter Cooperstown? Well, that's up for debate.

I may like the Mets in the National League, but personally, I have no real fan connection to Delgado as I do with Manny Ramirez, David Wright, or any other players that I truly love to watch and respect, but with those numbers, it would be difficult to ignore for the BBWAA come voting time.

When people look at Carlos Delgado right now, nobody really says "there's a future Hall of Famer," but maybe they should.  

-Mat

Category: MLB
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com