Archive for June, 2009

Boston Red Sox Mike Lowell Headed to DL…

June 30, 2009

According to the Boston Globe, the Boston Red Sox have put third baseman Mike Lowell on the 15-Day DL with a right hip strain. The trip to the DL is retroactive to June 28.

Lowell was hitting .282 with 10 HR’s, 41 RBI, and was playing his usual stellar defense for the Red Sox, so this will hurt the first-place Red Sox.

I don’t expect Theo Epstein to panic and make a trade to replace Lowell. That is just not his style. For the time being, the Red Sox will use Kevin Youkilis at third and use a combination of the recalled Jeff Bailey and the veteran Mark Kotsay at first.

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New York Yankees Acquire Eric Hinske…

June 30, 2009

The New York Yankees today acquired Eric Hinske from the Pittsburgh Pirates for Eric Freyer and Casey Erickson.

Hinske, who won the American League Rookie of the Year with the Toronto Blue Jays back in 2002 when he hit .279 with 24 HR’s and 84 RBI, is now more a utility player than anything else. Hinske has played first, third and rightfield for the Pirates this year. Hinske was hitting .255 with one HR and 11 RBI in 54 games.

Hinske is headed to NY

Hinske is headed to NY

This is a good move for the Yankees, as Hinske will provide some lefthanded pop off the bench (Hinske did hit 20 HR’s for the Tampa Bay Rays last year) and he can fill in for Nick Swisher in right and for Alex Rodriguez at third.

The two players the Yankees gave up were in Low-A ball. Eric Freyer was hitting .250 for Low-A Charleston and Casey Erickson had a 2.25 ERA for the same team.

The Pirates will also send cash to the Yankees as well.

On a side note to this trade. When I heard that a New York team acquired Eric Hinske, I was certain it would have been the Mets. Where were they on this? Hinske would have been a guy who would have been perfect for what the Mets need now – A professional hitter, who can play a couple of positions.

Instead the Mets are rolling out minor league players, who have no business being on a major league roster. Unreal.

Fantasy Week In Review, June 22-28…

June 29, 2009

The last full week of June means an end to interleague play and a return to normalcy in baseball. Last week was a really interesting week for fantasy baseball. How interesting? Two words – Chad Gaudin.

That’s right, Chad Gaudin was a fantasy stud last week. Here are the other players who were studs last week, along with players who are cause for concern, and a couple of players who might be worth picking up.

Fantasy Studs

Hanley Ramirez – .385/3/15. Even if Josh Beckett helps the Red Sox win 10 more World Series, Theo Epstein would still rather have Hanley Ramirez.

Alex Rodriguez – .368/2/9/.571. Getting lap dances from Kate Hudson in Miami has really rejuvenated the “fatigued” Arod.

Ramirez had a monster fantasy week

Ramirez had a monster fantasy week

Lance Berkman – .389/2/7 with two SB’s. The “Big Puma” has finally decided to join us this year.

Aaron Hill – .346/4/8. If the season ended today, Hill would be in the top five in MVP voting.

David Ortiz – .333/2/5. All of a sudden I don’t hear anyone saying the Red Sox need a DH anymore.

Aaron Cook – 2-0 with a 1.20 ERA and eight K’s in 15 IP. Sooner or later, this guy should get the credit he deserves. He is a very good pitcher.

Chad Gaudin – 2-0 with a 1.20 and 20 K’s in 15 IP. Gaudin threw a one-hitter over eight innings in Texas. I don’t care who you are, that is impressive.

Francisco Liriano – 2-0 with a 3.75 ERA and 12 K’s in 12 IP. It’s good to finally see Liriano get back on track. His seven walks last week were not welcomed, but fantasy owners will take the wins from Liriano.

Reasons for Concern

Adrian Beltre – As I wrote earlier today, Beltre will have surgery to remove bone spurs in his shoulder. Beltre will be out six to eight weeks, thus pretty much ending his fantasy contributions this year.

Beltre is expected back in late August/early September.

Josh Outman – Outman was placed on the 60-Day DLand will visit Dr. James Andrews today. See you in 2011 Mr. Outman.

Mike Lowell – Lowell is getting an injection in his ailing hip today. That just sounds painful. If Lowell doesn’t respond to the injection, there is a chance Lowell could land on the DL.

Lowell is having a good year so far with a .282 average, 10 HR’s, and 41 RBI. Keep an eye on this situation, because losing Lowell for any period of time would be hurtful to your fantasy team.

Matt Lindstrom – Lindstrom is out for six weeks because of an elbow sprain. Lindstrom was shaky at best as the Marlins closer (6.52 ERA and walked 20 in 29 IP), so it’s not like he was pitching like the second coming of Bruce Sutter.

John Maine – Maine was supposed to start Saturday night in Brooklyn, but had to be scratched because of shoulder discomfort. Maine expects to be back after the All-Star break.

“After the All-Star break” in Mets language means Maine won’t be back until September.

Possible Pickups

Leo Nunez/Dan Meyer – Meyer has a 2.03 ERA and is a much better option at this point than Leo Nunez and his 4.01 ERA. However, with Lindstrom on the DL, both of them figure to get an opportunity to save games for the Florida Marlins.

I would wait to see how Fredi Gonzalez plays this. Once he makes his decision as to who is going to get the majority of the saves, pick up that option. Nunez or Meyer should get you some cheap saves, if you need them.

Carlos Carrasco – Carrasco is expected to be called up from Triple-A to face the Braves on Thursday night. Despite not having the greatest year in Triple-A (4.92 ERA), Carrasco has long been one of the Phillies’ top prospects.

It might good a idea to pick Carrasco up now before someone else does. With the Phillies starting staff struggling, if Carrasco pitches well, he might find himself with the Phillies longer than expected.

For Adrian Beltre, What A Difference Five Years Makes…

June 29, 2009

Heading into the 2004 season, Los Angeles Dodgers’ Adrian Beltre was known as a solid, everyday third baseman. He would hit around 20 HR’s, bat somewhere in the neighborhood of .260 to .275, and he would drive in around 70-85 runs during the course of the year. Good stats, but nothing spectacular.

However, in 2004, Adrian Beltre went from good to spectacular. Beltre actually made a run at the National League triple crown. Beltre finished fourth in the NL in batting (.334), fourth in RBI (148), and first in HR (48) in 2004.

His career year couldn’t have come at a better time for Beltre. After the 2004 season, Beltre was a free agent. With this type of year, a big contract was in order. On December 17, 2004 Beltre got exactly what he was looking for. The Seattle Mariners signed Adrian Beltre to a five-year, $64MM contract.

Beltre had a monster 2004 season

Beltre had a monster 2004 season

Fast forward five years later and Adrian Beltre was facing the same situation he was facing in 2004 – he would be a free agent after the season. Beltre has averaged a .266 average, 23 HR’s and 88 RBI with the Mariners from 2005-2008. Just like when was with the Dodgers – good, but nothing spectacular.

It was all set up for Beltre. Have another great year going into free agency, and he would get paid. Unfortunately for Beltre, the baseball gods are a fickle bunch. If you get overpaid once, they will allow it. But twice? Not going to happen.

Bothered by a bad shoulder, Beltre is having a down 2009. In 72 games, Beltre has a hitting line of .259/5/30 and a feeble .291 OBP. This poor hitting line coupled with the news that Beltre will now be out six to eight weeks because he will have surgery to remove bone spurs in his elbow, means there will be no five-year, mega-deal for Beltre. 

Beltre had everything going for him when he was a free agent in 2004. He was young (26 years old), he was coming off a season where he finished second in the MVP voting, and the economy had recovered nicely from September 11.

Going into free agency in 2009, Beltre has nothing working for him. He will be 31 years old on Opening Day 2010, he will be coming off a down year in which had shoulder surgery in the middle of the season, and by all projections the economy will still be in a rut.

Add everything together and Beltre is perhaps looking at a one-year deal in the offseason. What a difference five years makes for Adrian Beltre.

Tommy Hanson Chopping Down The Competition…

June 29, 2009

Back in the 1990’s and early 2000’s the Atlanta Braves were rolling out quality starting pitchers like the Colorado Rockies were rolling out guys who could hit 30 HR’s. Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Kevin Millwood, Jason Schmidt, Denny Neagle, Jason Marquis, Damian Moss and even Odalis Perez were winning  games for the Braves in their glory years.

However, things have changed over the last couple of years. The Braves have struggled to produce the type of pitcher that made them successful in the 90’s – until now. Top prospect Tommy Hanson’s hot start is giving Braves’ fans flashbacks of aces past.

Hanson has been lights out so far

Hanson has been lights out so far

Tommy Hanson has won his first four decisions in the major leagues and has a 2.48 ERA in five starts. And it’s not like Hanson has been pitching against cream puff offenses either. In his first five starts, Hanson has pitched against the  Milwaukee Brewers, Cincinnati Reds, Baltimore Orioles, New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. The Brewers, Orioles, Yankees and Red Sox all rank in the top 15 in offense in baseball.

What I have seen from Hanson in his last two starts against the Yankees and the Red Sox, is a pitcher who is very sure of himself. It’s very rare that you see a pitcher at such a young age to have a gameplan on the mound and stick to it no matter what is going on around him. Very impressive.

Here are some other facts about Tommy Hanson… 

Age: 22

College: Riverside Community College

Drafted: 22nd round of the 2005 Draft

Minor League Stats

2006 Rookie Ball: 4-1 with a 2.09 ERA and 56 K’s in 51.2 IP

2007 Single A: 2-6 with a 2.59 ERA and 90 K’s in 73 IP

2007 Single A+: 3-3 with a 4.20 ERA and 64 K’s in 60 IP

2008 Single A+: 3-1 with a 0.90 ERA and 49 K’s in 40 IP

2008 Double A: 8-4 with a 3.03 ERA and 114 K’s in 98 IP

2009 Triple A: 3-3 with a 1.49 ERA and 90 K’s in 66.1 IP

Keith Law Ranking and Analysis

Ranking: No. 9 out of 100 best prospects in baseball

Analysis: “Hanson made the top 100 last year as a bit of a sleeper whose upside made him worthy of the relatively high ranking, but in 2008 he cemented his status as one of the top pitching prospects in the game. Hanson projects as a potential No. 1 starter, with a four-pitch arsenal headlined by a 92-95 mph fastball and a plus curveball with great depth.

He’s 6-6 and gets good angle on his pitches, thanks in part to the work of the late Myrtle Beach pitching coach, Bruce Dal Canton, in keeping him over the rubber. He still has room to fill out physically and perhaps add a little velocity, and adding a slider last year gave him yet another weapon to miss bats.

Hanson has a few areas for improvement — his changeup is below average, so he doesn’t have a real out pitch against lefties; his command and control are both below average, although he can just overpower minor league hitters, which keeps him below the top 10.

He’s probably less than a year from contributing in the majors.”

St. Louis Cardinals Acquire Mark DeRosa…

June 28, 2009

The St. Louis Cardinals have landed one of the most coveted players on the trade market in Mark DeRosa. The Cleveland Indians have traded IF/OF Mark DeRosa to the St. Louis Cardinals for RHP Chris Perez and the infamous player to be named later.

DeRosa is batting .270 with 13 HR and 50 RBI for the Indians, and will most likely play third base for the Cardinals. Since Troy Glaus was lost at the beginning of the season with a shoulder injury, the Cardinals have struggled to find a replacement for him. They were currently playing Khalil Greene, who is a natural shortstop at third, and he clearly looked like a guy who was playing out of position. DeRosa will fill an immediate need for the red birds.

The Cardinals are in a tie for first place with the Milwaukee Brewers, so getting DeRosa shows the Cardinal fans that they are clearly going for it this year.

The Cleveland Indians received former University of Miami standout, reliever Chris Perez. The Indians need all the bullpen help they can get, so the 24 year old Perez should move right into the eighth inning set-up role for the tribe. My guess is that Perez will be groomed as the closer of the future of the Indians. Perez did have seven saves in 11 opportunities in 2008 with the Cardinals and was a closer at the University of Miami.

The trade of DeRosa comes as no surprise as the Indians are currently having a dreadful season with a 31-45 record and are currently in last place in the American League Central. DeRosa is a free agent at the end of the year, so getting a young reliever who can help the Indians in the future, makes sense.

On a side note, how bad does this trade make Cubs’ GM Jim Hendry look? He trades DeRosa in the offseason for reasons only known to himself, and now when his team can use someone like DeRosa, he goes to their arch division rival. Ouch!!!

Benching All-Stars All The Rage In Baseball This Year…

June 26, 2009

Has there ever been a year that you can remember where so many All-Star caliber players have been benched? First it was David Ortiz, then it was Garrett Atkins, then Magglio Ordonez, and now it is Jimmy Rollins, and Milton Bradley. It has gotten to a point where I wouldn’t be surprised to see Albert Pujols benched. Well, I don’t think it will ever get that far, but I think you get my point.

According to MLB.com, Phillies shortstop and former MVP Jimmy Rollins has been benched for two games by manager Charlie Manuel. Rollins sat out last night’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays and will sit on Friday night against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Rollins has been terrible this year

Rollins has been terrible this year

This has to be alarming for Philly fans. Rollins is batting just .211 with with a Rafael Santana-like .254 OBP this year. Manuel even moved Rollins to the six hole, and that hasn’t worked either. Rollins is just 7-for-56 since moving to that spot in the order.

It is really starting to look like Rollin’s 2007 MVP season, where he hit .296 with 30 HR’s and had 96 RBI was a career year and will never be reached again. A .275/.285 avg. with 10-15 HR’s is probably more where Rollins should be every year.

I can’t imagine Rollins being this bad for this long. He is in no way a .211 hitter. I am going to venture to say that Rollins has a huge second half and turns this around.

The other All-Star caliber player that was benched recently was Chicago Cubs’ OF Milton Bradley. According to Chris DeLuca of the Chicago Sun Times, Bradley will be riding the pine until Saturday.

Can the Cubs have their $30MM back?

Can the Cubs have their $30MM back?

Bradley, who signed a three year, $30MM contract with the Cubs in the offseason has been a disaster so far. I didn’t like this move when it happened, and it is even looking worse now. Bradley is batting just .241 with five HR’s and 16 RBI in 55 games for the Cubs this year.

How is Bobby Abreu looking now Jim Hendry?

With a player like Jimmy Rollins, I expect a turn around. With Milton Bradley, I have no idea what to expect. He could flip out, he could start ripping the ball like he did last year when he had a .321 avg., or he could just continue to be terrible. Who knows with this guy. That is why giving a three contract to a guy who is an enigma was such a risky move.

That is all the benching talk for now. With the way this season is going, I am sure we will be adding to this list of All-Star caliber players who have lost it at the plate this year.

Recapping John Smoltz’s Boston Red Sox Debut…

June 26, 2009

Future Hall of Famer John Smoltz made his long awaited debut tonight against the Washington Nationals, and I would say it went…okay. I say okay because after Smoltz gave up four runs in the first inning, he settled down and pitched four solid innings after.

The final line for Smoltz – five innings, seven hits, five runs, one walk, and five strike outs. He threw 92 pitches, 62 of them were strikes. Not great, but not bad either. It was really the first inning that did Smoltz in.

Even at 42, and with all of Smoltz’s experience, there are still nerves, anxiety and even rust. That was clearly the case in the first inning. He was missing his target with his fastball and his breaking stuff wasn’t that sharp. He hung two curveballs to Josh Willingham and Josh Bard that I could have hit.

I was really surprised Smoltz and Varitek stuck with the breaking ball for a good part of that inning. Smoltz threw over 30 pitches in the first, and I would say that close to 70 percent of those pitches were something offspead. It wasn’t very Smoltz-like.

Smoltz was okay in his debut

Smoltz was okay in his debut

Why his pitch selection was so surprising to me, was because his fastball was consistently clocked in the low-90’s. He even hit 94 on the gun to one batter. I would have thought he would have thrown his fastball more. Establish the fastball and then work in the offspead/breaking stuff.

At one point, I didn’t think Smoltz was going to get out of the inning. But thankfully in the National League, the pitchers hit, and Smoltz was able to strike out Jordan Zimmermann to end the inning.

After the first, Smoltz settled down, and pitched very well. He retired the last eight batters he faced and struck out the side in the fifth inning, which turned out to be his last inning of work. In that inning, Smoltz showed that wicked, fall-off-the-table splitter that he is famous for to strike out Bard.

I would give Smoltz a grade of C on his debut performance. Again, he wasn’t great, but he wasn’t terrible either. As George Costanza would say he was “right in the meaty part of the curve.”

If Smoltz can give the Red Sox five innings every start from here on out like he did the last four he pitched tonight, the Red Sox will take it. If you really think about it, that would no different than what Daisuke Matsuzaka gave the Red Sox the past two years.

You can now follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter at http://twitter.com/theghostofmlg

Citi Field Critique…

June 25, 2009

Citi Field seems to be a hot topic amongst people living in the Tri-State area these days. This now the third Citi Field critique in our Stadium 411 series.

This Citi Field critique is given by a lover off all animals, a man who has more Cardinal apparel than anyone I know, and a man who got attacked by an old lady at last night’s Met game (she was trying to get to her seat in the row above us, tripped and landed on him. He suffered a scratched neck, but there was no permanent damage. It was quite funny)…Tom Spirakis.

Citi Field Critique

Yesterday I had the opportunity to catch my first game at Citi Field. Having lived my whole life in Queens, Shea Stadium was where I saw professional baseball for the first time and countless times after that. However, last night was my first game at Citi Field and it was a dandy. Joel Pineiro pitched a 2 hit complete game shutout, as the Cardinals beat the Mets 3–0.

Pros

The design is beautiful and I didn’t mind the Dodger stuff inside the Jackie Robinson Rotunda. People lining up to take their picture in front on the giant number 42 seemed a little odd to me and provoked memories of Mo Vaughn, but to each their own.

Getting from the subway to the stadium was much easier then it used to be. The food options are plentiful and the prices are about the norm.  They had ample vegetarian options. I had an upper level Promenade seat, which provided decent sight lines.

Most importantly, this place is not Shea Stadium! Shea was a dump, anything would have been an improvement and Citi Field is a huge upgrade.

Cons

The more specialty / higher end concession stands are out behind center field for obvious spacing concerns, but the crowds back there, and the lines for some of these stands were unbelievable. I felt a little claustrophobic walking through the crowds prior to the game starting.

Unfortunately, once the game starts and you’re in your seat, the lines die down a little. But who wants to venture back there for a specialty snack when the old standards are all around the stadium? 

This next “con” may be unique to my game experience but it was the talk between total strangers on the subway ride home. In the 3rd inning the rain came and boy did it rain. With 2 out the bases loaded and a 2 – 2 count, the players were ordered off the field and the grounds crew sprang into action. Unfortunately, they had a little trouble with the tarp… It didn’t cover home plate.

You would thing if the stadium is the universe home plate is like the sun. You need it. However these guys could not get it covered. They had to completely remove the tarp, further soaking the rest of the infield so they can re-position the tarp to cover home.

After the 30 minute display of incompetence the field was covered and of course the rain stopped. Off with the tarp, an extra 30 minutes were needed to try and get the field playable. 

Overall Gameday Experience
 
Overall my game day experience was 7 out of 10. If you had a more reliable grounds crew you could probably get up to an 8. I’m sure this was a fluke and in the future the tarp will cover the whole field.

Overall I enjoyed myself.

If you would like to submit a critique of a stadium you have been to, please send it along to abernacchio77@hotmail.com.

You can also now follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter at http://twitter.com/theghostofmlg

Brad Lidge Officially Activated…

June 25, 2009

According to Andy Martino of Phillieszone on Twitter, the Phillies have officially activated closer Brad Lidge from the 15-Day DL.

Lidge this year was 0-3 with a 7.27 and 13 saves before landing on the DL. Lidge landed on the DL because of a sprained knee, but this DL stint was more to get Lidge straitened out than anything else.

Lidge is pivotal to the Phillies’ success and they need him to somewhat return to the Lidge of last year. Asking him to 100 percent return to last year’s form, is too much to ask at this point. If Lidge is good to go, then the Phillies will once again have one of the best bullpens in the National League.

This move means that Ryan Madson will move back to his role as eigth inning set-up man.