Oh those dog days of August. It’s hot, it’s steamy, and people in the mid-west don’t flinch when it’s 120 degrees outside. It’s a month where teams make their late season push or fade away like a fart in the wind.
August 2009 was no different. We saw records broken, milestones reached, a milestone contract, and of course, teams battling it out for a playoff berth.
Here are the top 10 things we learned from baseball in the month of August…
10. Derek Jeter breaks the all-time hits record for shortstops. When Jeter set the all-time hits record for shortstops with his 2,675th career hit, two things crossed my mind. 1. I can’t believe in the history of baseball, there hasn’t been a SS who has gotten more than 2,700 hits and 2. Is Jeter the second best SS of all-time (No. 1 being Honus Wagner)?
I can’t believe the lack of great shortstops in the game. Wasn’t it always as a kid, the best player on the team played shortstop? What happened? Shortstops are like quarterbacks in the NFL. There should be more great ones, but there aren’t.
The team Jeter plays on…
9. New York Yankees put a stronghold on the AL East. Going into the four-game series against the Boston Red Sox, all you heard about was how the Red Sox were 8-0 against the Yankees in 2009. Four games and outscoring the Red Sox 27-8 later, the Yankees swept the Red Sox and put a stranglehold on the AL East.
On the subject of the Yankees – Red Sox rivalry…
8. Pedro Martinez made his return to the mound. Martinez waited, waited, waited, and waited all season to get the call he was looking for. The Philadelphia Phillies made the call, offered Martinez a chance to start, and Martinez made his first start since last September on August 12th against the Chicago Cubs.
For me personally, it was great to see Martinez back on the mound. While he is not the Martinez I remember with the Red Sox, he still can get hitters out.
In four starts in August, Martinez was 2-0 with a 4.50 ERA.
Speaking of former Red Sox pitchers…
7. John Smoltz and Brad Penny weren’t good enough for the American League. Plan A for the Red Sox in the offseason was to sign Mark Teixeria. When that plan fell through, they went to Plan B. Plan B was to sign fill out the roster with high-risk, high-reward players like John Smoltz, Brad Penny and Rocco Baldelli.
Plan B has turned into Plan D — as in Disastrous. Smoltz was 2-5 with a 8.33 ERA in eight starts and Penny was 7-8 with a 5.61 ERA in 24 starts. Both pitchers were released by the Red Sox in August.
When Smoltz was released he joined the St. Louis Cardinals…
6. Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright are a solid one-two punch. In the month of August, Carpenter and Wainwright went a combined 9-1 with a 1.75 ERA, 66 K’s, and only allowed 71 hits in 86.2 innings pitched.
No wonder why the Cardinals opened up a nine game lead in the NL Central in August.
I said it before the season started and I will say it again. Carpenter is the key for the Cardinals. As he goes, so goes the Red Birds.
Staying in the NL Central…
5. The Milwaukee Brewers shake things up. On August 12th, Brewers’ GM Doug Melvin saw enough and the Brewers really shook things up.
They sent former All Star SS JJ Hardy to the minors, DFA’d 3B Bill Hall, fired pitching coach Bill Castro, and called up top prospect Alcides Escobar.
Have those moves helped? Well, on August 12th, the Brewers were two games under .500 at 53 and 55. On September 1st, the Brewers were three games under .500 at 64 and 67.
Many feel JJ Hardy will be traded in the offseason, but…
4. There were plenty of players who changed teams in August. The waiver claim period was just as hectic as the period leading up to the July 31st trading deadline.
Jim Thome, Jon Garland, Billy Wagner, Alex Rios, Aubrey Huff, and Scott Kazmir were all traded in the month of August. Perhaps the biggest shocker of all was Scott Kazmir.
The Tampa Bay Rays unloaded Kazmir and the remaining $23 million on his contract to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, while still in the middle of the AL Wild Card race. Many felt, including myself, that the Rays were smart to make this move.
I don’t think the Rays players and fans felt the same way.
Now that Kazmir is on the Angels, he won’t have to face this guy…
3. Vladimir Guerrero hits No. 400. How many people know that Guerrero is one of only six hitters in the history of the game to have 400 homeruns and a .320 lifetime batting average? I was shocked when I first heard this.
Guerrero joins Babe Ruth, Stan Musial, Ted Williams, Jimmie Foxx, and Lou Gehrig as the only players to accomplish this feat. When you put Guerrero’s name in that list, it’s almost like a who doesn’t belong question. But Vlad does.
I never thought of Guerrero as a Hall of Fame type player. I am definitely rethinking that now.
Guerrero started out with the Montreal Expos, which are now…
2. The Washington Nationals sign Stephen Strasburg. If the Nationals didn’t sign the No. 1 overall pick from this year’s draft, they might of as well folded up the franchise. This deal had to get done and it did — at the 11th hour.
Right before the deadline to sign draft picks expired, the Nationals and Strasburg agreed to a record contract that will pay the former San Diego State righty around $15.1 million.
This deal broke the previous record of $10.5 million signed by Mark Prior back in 2001.
And the No.1 thing we learned about baseball in August was…
1. The NL Wild Card race is the best thing going in baseball. Four teams separated by a grand total of four games. The Colorado Rockies, San Francisco Giants, Florida Marlins, and Atlanta Braves are all battling for one postseason spot.
The Rockies and Giants are tied for the Wild Card lead and have played some memorable games in the last week. On August 24th, the Rockies and Giants played in my opinion, the game of the year. The Rockies won that game 6-4 in 14 innings on a walk-off grandslam by Ryan Spilborghs.
Less than a week later, the Giants staged a comeback of their own. On August 30th, Edgar Renteria hit a go-ahead grandslam of his own against Rafael Betancourt in the seventh inning to help the Giants sweep the Rockies.
I am guessing this race goes down to the wire.
That’s a wrap for the month of August. Hasn’t this year gone by fast? It seems like yesterday, I was writing my April recap.
I can’t wait for my September recap. We should have a good feel by then, who is going to the playoffs and who is playing golf in October.