Archive for May, 2009

Randy Choate The Closer??….

May 31, 2009

Isn’t baseball a great game? Every game there is the possibility you can be amazed by something. Well, I was amazed at what happened in Tampa yesterday. No, I was not amazed by David Price’s performance (5.2 IP, 11 K’s). Nor was I amazed by how poorly the Twins’ Francisco Liriano continues to pitch. I am amazed that Randy Choate is getting saves for the Tampa Bay Rays.

Is this what it has come to for the Rays? Randy Choate being a viable closer option? Why don’t they bring back Estaban Yan and Jesus Colome while they are at it? And it’s not like Choate is coming into a 10-2 game and pitching three garbage innings to get the save. He came into the game today with runners on 1st and 3rd with one out in a four run game. It was a legit save opportunity. Choate got out of the jam with little damage to preserve the Rays’ 5-2 win. Choate is now tied for second with Joe Nelson for saves with two on the Rays and has a 3.00 ERA. What is this world coming to??

Choate spent four years with the Yankees from 2000-2003 and had 4.43 ERA and no saves. He also spent four years with the Diamondbacks from 2004-2007 and had a 4.89 ERA with no saves. Where was Choate in 2008? He was in the Brewers’ minor league system and had a 0-4 record with 5.08 ERA for Triple A Nashville. Now he has two saves for a team trying to compete for a division title. Baseball is an amazing game, isn’t it?

For fantasy purposes, no Tampa reliever has any value. Dan Wheeler, Grant Balfour, Joe Nelson, JP Howell and yes, Randy Choate don’t get consistent save opportunities to warrant a pick up. I would stay stay away from all of these guys until one of them establishes themselves as the full-time closer. With Joe Madden as the manager, I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

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Wieters Debuts….

May 30, 2009

In honor of Matt Wieters’ debut in the major leagues, I have decided to do a live blog of Wieters’ AB’s against the Detroit Tigers. I have never seen a prospect with this much hype in my life. Wieters has more hype surrounding him than Mark Prior, Joe Mauer and even Gregg Jefferies. Yes, Gregg Jefferies. Jefferies was labeled as the “next Mickey Mantle” so that should tell you what kind of hype Jefferies was getting before he reached the majors.

Game – Detroit Tigers vs Baltimore Orioles

Date – 5/29/09

Bottom 2nd

It’s Wieters’ first official AB in the big leagues. He comes to the plate with runners on 1st and 2nd with nobody out. He will face Dontrelle Willis, who looks less than stellar so far.

Wieters gets a standing ovation as he comes to the plate and has AC DC’s Hells Bells playing in the background. This guy better save this franchise, my lord.

Pitch #1 – 88 mph fastball which Wieters fouls off between first and home. Wieters had a good rip at that one.

Pitch #2 – Takes a 79 mph curve for a ball. That pitch was about two feet outside.

Pitch #3 – Wieters swings and misses at a 90 mph on the outside corner

Pitch #4 – Wieters hits a 90 mph fastball to short RF. Clete Thomas makes the catch and makes a great throw to nail Melvin Mora trying to tag up at 2nd base. Double Play. Not the way I am sure Wieters drew that one up.

Wieters – 0-1 

Bottom 3rd

Three innings and already two AB’s for Wieters. Luke Scott just hit a grand slam (is there anyone hotter in the majors than Scott right now?) and Wieters comes up with two outs and nobody on base. Dontrelle Willis is still in there.

Pitch #1 – Takes an 81 mph change up for ball 1

Pitch #2 – Swings and misses at an 89 mph fastball that was probably a ball. Count now 1-1

Pitch #3 – Wieters hits a 90 mph fastball up the middle, but Willis makes a nice play to knock the ball down and throws Wieters out at first base.

Wieters – 0-2

Bottom 5th

Luke Scott just went yard again. This is ridiculous already. Wieters comes to the plate for his third AB. Again, thanks to Luke Scott with nobody on and two outs.

Pitch #1 – Wieters takes a 79 mph curve low for ball 1

Pitch #2 – Takes a 81 mph change just low for ball 2. Pitch could have been called a strike.

Pitch #3 – Wieters hits a slow roller on a 89 mph fastball to Brandon Inge at third. Inge makes the play and throws out Wieters to end the inning.

Wieters – 0-3

Bottom 8th

With the Orioles up 7-2 in the 8th, Wieters comes up for his fourth and perhaps final AB. Luke Scott, who drew a walk to lead off the inning is on first. Nate Robertson is pitching for the Tigers, so Wieters will continue to bat right handed.

Pitch #1 – Takes an 83 mph slider outside and low for ball 1. Though it’s only four AB’s, you can tell Wieters has a good eye at the plate and a good sense of ths strike zone.

Pitch #2 – Wieters just swong out of his shoes on a low and in 82 mph slider. He was trying to hit that into the upper deck at Camden Yards. The count now 1-1.

Pitch #3 – Wieters gets a good swing at an 88 mph fastball and fouls it back to the screen for strike 2. 1-2 the count.

Pitch #4 – Wieters looks at a 88 mph fastball for strike 3. Wieters must have been looking offspeed because that pitch was meaty.

Wieters – 0-4

Well, it was a disappointed debut for Matt Wieters. 0-4 with a strikeout. He did however, show a good eye at the plate (saw 14 pitches in 4 AB’s) and showed the ability to call a good game behind the plate. We will be hearing a lot more about Wieters in the future.

Myers Done For The Season….

May 30, 2009

In the latest injury out of “Hipgate,” Philadelphia Phillies RHP Brett Myers has decided to undergo hip surgery that will keep him out approximately three months. When asked if an autumn return was possible? Myers said it was a “longshot.” Myers joins Carlos Delgado, Mike Lowell, Alex Gordon, Alex Rodriguez, Fausto Carmona and fellow teammate Chase Utley as players who have suffered a significant hip injury in the last 12 months. Something fishy is going on here. 

Myers will be wincing more after hip surgery

Myers will be wincing more after hip surgery

Losing Myers is a big blow to the defending champs already weak starting rotation. Even though Myers has a 4.66 ERA and has given up a major league leading 17 HR’s this year, he still was 4-3  and did provide the Phillies with stability in the rotation during the first month and a half of the season. Phillies rank dead last in the NL in starter’s ERA (5.89), so Myers was pitching better than most of their starters.

In the short term, it looks like the Phillies will call up a starter from their minor league system. GM Ruben Amaro Jr named Kyle Kendrick, Carlos Carrasco, Drew Carpenter, Rodrigo Lopez or Antonio Bastardo as potential options to replace Myers.

In the long term, it’s pretty clear the Phillies will need to make a trade.Buster Olneyin his blog mentioned Jake Peavy, Roy Oswalt, Erik Bedard, Brad Penny, Zach Duke, Jason Marquis or John Garland could be option for the Phillies. Peavy, Oswalt and Bedard would cost the Phillies a king’s ransom, while Duke, Marquis, Garland and Penny would be much more cost effective options.

It will be interesting to see if the Phillies can weather this storm. JA Happ has pitched well since being moved into the starting rotation, but right now their only reliable starter is Cole Hamels. If you are a Phillies fan, look at it like this. Despite Hamels missing the first month, the starting rotation being the worst in the NL, Lidge being terrible and Jimmy Rollins hitting .227 you are only a half a game out of first place. Pretty encouraging.

Hurdle In Trouble In Denver Update…

May 30, 2009

UPDATE – About three hours after I wrote this post, Clint Hurdle and his George Hamilton tan was fired as manager of the Colorado Rockies. The Rockies will replace Hurdle with bench coach Jim Tracy. Rockies’ GM Dan O’Dowd said this will be an audition for Tracy.

Now I was torn about firing Hurdle and if the Rockies feel they will be better off without him, that’s there perogative. However, I 100% do not agree with the hiring of Jim Tracy. The Rockies had better options in Don Baylor, Triple A manager Tom Runnells (now the bench coach), or my recommendation Vinny Castilla. My guess is that Tracy finishes out the season and is not asked back after Rockies’ management figures out HE CAN’T MANAGE!!!.

 

It appears that for the second time this season, a NL West manager will get the axe (Diamondbacks manager, Bob Melvin being the first). According to the Denver Post, Rockies’ manager Clint Hurdle is managing on borrowed time. I am kind of torn on whether or not this is a good move by the Rockies.

On one hand, Hurdle is 460-537 in seven seasons as the Rockies’ skipper. Not very impressive. This year, the Rockies are in last place 14.5 games out of first place with a 18-28 record in the weak NL West. What is not helping Hurdle is the fact that the San Diego Padres, a team many predicted to win maybe 60 games this year are in second place and greatly overachieving with a 24-23 record. Management is thinking, if the Padres can overachieve why can’t our club do the same?

Also not helping Hurdle is that Troy Tulowitzki and Garrett Atkins have forgotten how to hit. As unfair as it may seem, when your star players aren’t performing it comes back on the manager. Tulowitzki is putting up a .227/5/15  line (just killing my fantasy team) and Atkins is putting up a worse .195/3/15 line. We are all talking about Ortiz’s falloff, how about we start talking about Atkins’ falloff? This guy averaged 25 HR’s and 110 RBI the last three seasons and now on May 29th, he is hitting .195. What the heck happened to this guy?

On the other hand, just two years ago Hurdle led the Rockies to their first World Series in franchise history and finished third in the Manager of the Year voting in the NL. Two years ago, Hurdle was the toast of the town and now all of a sudden he can’t manage? I find that hard to believe.

I also find it hard to believe Rockies’ management had higher expecations for this club. Many people (including myself) picked the Rockies to finish in 4th place this season. As I have said several times before, you can’t lose your best player in Matt Holliday and your best pitcher in Jeff Francis in the offseason and expect to compete. The Rockies for the most part are where most people thought they would be right now. How is that Hurdle’s fault?

So as you can see I am pretty torn about the potential firing of Clint Hurdle. I just think at the end of the day, a manager should have more equity if he led a team a World Series appearance. If the Rockies do let Hurdle go, I am going to suggest Vinny Castilla as their next manager. Castilla was a great player for the Rockies from 1993-1999 and also had two other stints with the Rockies in 2004 and 2006. Castilla was also the manager of Team Mexico in the 2009 WBC and also managed in the Mexican Pacific League. So he does have managing experience.

Injuries A Plenty Around Baseball Update…

May 29, 2009

UPDATE – It’s been a rough month of May for the Chicago White Sox. They are 10-15 so far this month, they were spurned by Jake Peavy and now they have put Carlos Quentin on the DL. Quentin was placed on the DL today because of plantar fasciitis.

 

In the past 12 hours we have seen a rash of injuries to a bunch of great players. Let’s take a look at what is going on…

Jason Bartlett – Placed on the 15 Day DL with a sprained ankle. This awful news for the Rays who lose their glue in the middle of the infield. Not only do the Rays lose their glue guy on defense, but they lose a guy who just happened to be hitting .373 with 14 SB’s.

Potential Pickup– Ben Zobrist. Zobrist has played four games at 2nd and five games at SS. Zobrist is hitting .290/8/24/.392, so the Rays should look to get him in the lineup everyday at either 2nd or SS. Also keep an eye on Reid Brignac. Brignac was a top prospect for the Rays and should get plenty of playing time at SS.

Jose Reyes – Placed on the 15 Day DL with calf tendinitis. I am really not sure what took so long for this to happen. Reyes was hurt before the Giants series which was almost two weeks ago. Needless to say, the Mets handle injuries differently than any other organization. That wasn’t a compliment.

Potential Pickup – The Mets did acquire Wilson Valdez from the Indians, but he is not worth a pickup. Though he is not a SS, the Mets did call up Fernando Martinez, who is the Mets’ top prospect. He is only 20 years old, but keep an eye on him. He should get plenty of AB’s while playing RF now that Ryan Church is on the DL as well.

Carlos Quentin – Out at least till Monday with plantar fasciitis. There is a good chance that the White Sox will put Quentin on the DL

Potential Pickup – Right now the White Sox are using Scott Podsednik in LF in Quentin’s absence. If this was 2005, I would say pick up Podsednik. But it is not and he has little fantasy value. Podsednik’s value was he speed, but he is only has three SB’s in 21 games while being caught stealing three times. That is not a good percentage for those of you scoring at home.

Pablo Sandoval – Out till Friday with a bad elbow. A DL stint is possible if Sandoval doesn’t show improvement on Friday.

Potential Pickup – Juan Uribe. Scratch that, if you pick up Juan Uribe for your fantasy team, just hand in your money and call it a day

Matt Capps – Day to day with an elbow injury. Capps was hit on the right elbow by a frozen rope hit by Geovany Soto on Monday night. X-rays were negative but a DL stint may be likely.

Potential Pickup – John Grabow. Grabow would become the closer by default if Capps is out for an extended period of time. Grabow has a 4.71 ERA in 21 IP this year, so there should be no rush to pick him up.

Also, Hanley Ramirez and Ryan Braun left their games last night was injuries. Ramirez left with a groin injury and Braun left with a wrist injury after getting hit with a pitch. If these injuries become more serious, I will update this post.

I think it’s time for a little Vipers’ softball update. After struggling to score runs in our first five games, the Vipers exploded for 18 runs last night in an 18-4 victory. The key to coed softball is your girls have to hit and last night our girls were raking at the plate. The Vipers’ record is now 4-1.

Adam-O-Meter – 2/4 last night with 2 runs scored and a RBI. I also reached on an error. On the season, I am hitting .500/0/2 with 2 runs scored in 10 AB’s. I also had two errors at SS last night pushing my season total to three. Omar Vizquel I am not.

Hurdle In Trouble In Denver…

May 29, 2009

It appears that for the second time this season, a NL West manager will get the axe (Diamondbacks manager, Bob Melvin being the first). According to the Denver Post, Rockies’ manager Clint Hurdle is managing on borrowed time. I am kind of torn on whether or not this is a good move by the Rockies.

On one hand, Hurdle is 460-537 in seven seasons as the Rockies’ skipper. Not very impressive. This year, the Rockies are in last place 14.5 games out of first place with a 18-28 record in the weak NL West. What is not helping Hurdle is the fact that the San Diego Padres, a team many predicted to win maybe 60 games this year are in second place and greatly overachieving with a 24-23 record. Management is thinking, if the Padres can overachieve why can’t our club do the same?

Hurdle might be on the outs

Hurdle might be on the outs

Also not helping Hurdle is that Troy Tulowitzki and Garrett Atkins have forgotten how to hit. As unfair as it may seem, when your star players aren’t performing it comes back on the manager. Tulowitzki is putting up a .227/5/15  line (just killing my fantasy team) and Atkins is putting up a worse .195/3/15 line. We are all talking about Ortiz’s falloff, how about we start talking about Atkins’ falloff? This guy averaged 25 HR’s and 110 RBI the last three seasons and now on May 29th, he is hitting .195. What the heck happened to this guy?

On the other hand, just two years ago Hurdle led the Rockies to their first World Series in franchise history and finished third in the Manager of the Year voting in the NL. Two years ago, Hurdle was the toast of the town and now all of a sudden he can’t manage? I find that hard to believe.

I also find it hard to believe Rockies’ management had higher expecations for this club. Many people (including myself) picked the Rockies to finish in 4th place this season. As I have said several times before, you can’t lose your best player in Matt Holliday and your best pitcher in Jeff Frances in the offseason and expect to compete. The Rockies for the most part are where most people thought they would be right now. How is that Hurdle’s fault?

So as you can see I am pretty torn about the potential firing of Clint Hurdle. I just think at the end of the day, a manager should have more equity if he led a team a World Series appearance. If the Rockies do let Hurdle go, I am going to suggest Vinny Castilla as their next manager. Castilla was a great player for the Rockies from 1993-1999 and also had two other stints with the Rockies in 2004 and 2006. Castilla was also the manager of Team Mexico in the 2009 WBC and also managed in the Mexican Pacific League. So he does have managing experience.

Big Game Bob Is Back….

May 29, 2009

I am not talking about Robert Horry nor am I talking about Bob Gibson. I am talking about Bob Costas. With a light schedule last night in baseball, I decided to tune into the Dodgers vs. Cubs game on the MLB Network. And like music to my ears, Bob Costas was announcing the game.

I call him “Big Game” Bob, because no matter if it is a meaningless game in May between the Dodgers and Cubs, just by him announcing the game, you get the feeling that it is a big game. There are only a handful of announcers that give you that feeling. Keith Jackson being one and Al Michaels being another. One of my earliest baseball memories was Al Michael’s call of Dave Henderson’s HR off of Donnie Moore in Game 5 of the 1986 ALCS between the Red Sox and Angels. It was just classic.

Costas should be announcing every World Series game and at least one of the League Championship Series. He needs to be doing this. Costas was great with Dan Plesac last night. Costas gives the game history and more importantly he gives the game meaning. I don’t get the same big game feeling with Joe Buck doing the play by play. Buck tries to portray this young, cool, hip guy and it just doesn’t work. I also think that because he is for some odd reason Fox’s #1 broadcast guy for both baseball and football, no game feels like a big game because he is on TV so much.

And don’t even get me started with TBS. They could have Bob Costas, Al Michaels and Keith Jackson announcing the game and it still wouldn’t work. There coverage of major league baseball in the postseason has been a flat out joke. They care more about plugging their own shows like Frank TV, than they do about the actual game itself. Bud Selig needed to end this partnership yesterday.

Costas will be doing the play by play for a handful of Thursday night games on the MLB Network. For me personally, I feel this great for baseball. Every game he does feels like a big game.

Kudos To Jon Heyman…

May 28, 2009

In my “Nolasco Must Be Hurt Update” post, I posed the following question:

“Someone get Tim Kurkjian on phone. Has there ever been a pitcher who won 15 games the year before and was then demoted to the minors the next year? Not sent sent to the minors to recover from an injury, but sent to the minors because of performance. Can anyone think of a pitcher this has happened to?”

Well, I couldn’t get Tim Kurkjian on the phone, nor could I get his email address. So I did the next best thing. I reached out to SI.com’s Jon Heyman and asked him if he could think of a pitcher who won 15 games the year before and was demoted the following year due to performance, not injury.

Here is Heyman’s response to my question:

“I would think so. i have seen brett myers get demoted (did he won 15 the yr. before?). also trachsel and bobby jones, i believe, with mets. But i’d have to look up to see if they had 15 wins. Sometimes they claim an injury. Willis was in minors last year. so in other words, id guess ye, but i dont have the reasearch. best, jon”

So Heyman thinks that this scenario might have happened to Steve Trachsel, Bobby Jones, Brett Myers or Dontrelle Willis. Let’s take a look….

Steve Trachsel – Won 16 games in 2003 and 15 games in 2006 with the Mets. In 2007, Trachsel won a total of seven games with the Orioles and Cubs. Trachsel did sign a minor league deal with the Orioles in 2008, but I don’t recall Trachsel being demoted to the minors as a Met because of performance.

Bobby Jones – Won 15 games in 2007  and in 1999, Jones won three games with the Mets. Jones was demoted to the minors in 2000, but that was two years after winning 15 games. Mets fans still can’t believe Jones threw a 1-hitter in the NLDS against the Giants in 2000.

Brett Myers – Myers was demoted to the minors because of performance in 2008. In 2007, Myers won five games but did have 21 saves for the Phillies.

Dontrelle Willis – Willis was demoted to the minors in 2008 with the Tigers. In 2007 with the Marlins, Willis won 10 games.

So as you can see, we still have not answered my question. Maybe one day we will get the answer or perhaps we already have our answer in Nolasco. Now you are probably wondering why I titled this post Kudos to Jon Heyman? I did so because he took the time out of his day to respond to my question. My buddy Tom wrote Heyman a question too and he responded to him as well. I give Heyman a lot of credit for responding to the questions that fans have. More importantly, you can tell he truly takes the time to try to the answer the question to the best of his knowledge. You don’t find that to often.

This is just another example of the wonders of technology. Inventions like email, allow us to interact with our favorite writers, celebrities or personalities. 20 years ago, I would have had to write Heyman a hand-written note and send it by mail. Talk about time consuming.

If anyone thinks they have an answer to my question, feel free to send me an email at abernacchio77@hotmail.com

You can also follow Jon Heyman on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/SI_JonHeyman

My Apologies To Gary Sheffield….

May 27, 2009

Here is what I wrote about the Gary Sheffield signing on April 4th.

“In Omar Minaya’s press conference he mentioned that he hopes Sheffield can be for the Mets this year, what Fernando Tatis was for them last year. Which is basically catching lightning in a bottle. However, if Sheffield is playing the OF on a regular basis the Mets will be playing Golf in October. Having an OF of Murphy/Beltran/Sheffield or Sheffield/Beltran/Church would give the Mets one of the worst defensive corner OF’s in the game. Church is an average fielder at best and Murphy is a defensive nightmare. As scary as both of them are, Sheffield is worse than both of them.”

Sheffield has been raking for the Mets

Sheffield has been raking for the Mets

It’s time for me to man up and apologize to Gary Sheffield because I was dead wrong. Sheffield has been playing everyday and if it wasn’t for Sheffield, the Mets would be an under .500 team. Sheffield has put up a .291/5/17 line with a ridiculous .430 OBP in 86 AB’s with the Mets. His .430 OBP shows that Sheffield is still one of the most feared hitters in the game even at 40 years old.

Sheffield’s stats haven’t been “empty” stats either. He has been really clutch with the Mets, evident by his go-ahead three run HR against the Nationals on Monday night. And with Runners In Scoring Position, Sheffield is hitting .324/2/14/.468. The Mets have once again caught lightning in a bottle.

In terms of defense, Sheffield has been good enough. I don’t care what his UZR is or what his Range Factor is. I have been watching the games and I will use the eye test. He is making all the plays he is supposed to make. What is scary, is that he is better in LF than Daniel Murphy was. That is how bad of a fielder Murphy is.

We shall see how this plays out over the course of a 162 game schedule. But right now I was wrong about Sheffield in a Met uniform.

A Bowden For LaPorta Trade Makes Sense…

May 27, 2009

The Red Sox are loaded with pitching prospects, but are a little short on hitting prospects. The Indians are ripe with hitting prospects, but a short in pitching prospects. So in my opinion a Michael Bowden for Matt LaPorta trade makes sense for both the Red Sox and Indians.

The Red Sox are one of the few teams in baseball with an excess of young pitching. Currently on their major league roster are young guns Jon Lester, Manny Delcarmen, Jonathon Papelbon, Justin Masterson and Daniel Bard. In the minors, the Red Sox have top prospects like Clay Buchholz, Michael Bowden, Stolmy Pimentel, Junichi Tazawa and Nick Hagadone. The Red Sox can afford to trade pitching.

Michael Bowden

Michael Bowden

There only surefire hitting prospect right now is 1st baseman, Lars Anderson. Josh Reddick and Ryan Kalish aren’t at Anderson’s level quite yet. At the major league level, Ortiz appears done and Lowell has 1 more year left on his contract. So they are getting old in a couple of positions. By acquiring LaPorta, the Red Sox would have their LF of the future if Jason Bay doesn’t resign, or have their DH of the future if Bay does resign (I think he does).

In 2011, the Red Sox could have an infield of Lars Anderson at 1st, Dustin Pedroia at 2nd, Jed Lowrie at SS and Kevin Youkilis at 3rd. Put LaPorta, who I am convinced will be a great power hitter, in LF or at DH and the Red Sox are set both offensively and in their pitching staff for the future.

The Indians are rich with offensive prospects in their minor league system. They have catcher Carlos Santana who they stole from the Dodgers last year in the Casey Blake trade, 1B/OF Matt LaPorta, OF Nick Weglarz, 3B Lonnie Chisenhall, SS Carlos Rivero, 1B Beau Mills, 1B/OF Michael Brantley and 3B Abner Abreu. There are some very good young hitters in that group.

The Indians’ best pitching prospect for which seemed like forever was Adam Miller. Miller recently had reconstructive surgery on his middle finger on his pitching hand. His rehab is expected to take six to nine months, and Miller is not guaranteed to pitch again. That leaves the Indians with David Huff, Hector Rondon, and Kelvin de la Cruz as top pitching prospects.

Acquiring Bowden, would give the Indians a potential top of the rotation starter. Huff and Cruz project to be #3 and #4 starters. At the major league level, the Indians don’t even have a #2 starter. Fausto Carmona’s 2007 season appears to be a fluke and Carl Pavano, despite actually pitching quite well, won’t be around in 2011. There is also the possibility that Cliff Lee won’t be around in 2011 either. He has a club option for 2010 and their are rumors that Lee might be dealt at the trading deadline.

As you can see, the Indians need a young, top of the rotation starter and the Red Sox need a young, power hitting position player. That’s why a Bowden for LaPorta trade makes a lot of sense to me.