Archive for the ‘The Crystal Baseball’ Category

Free Agent Primer: What To Look For This Offseason

November 19, 2009

At 12:01 tomorrow morning, the free agent signing period begins in baseball. Will you see players signing with teams at 12:05 like in the NFL and NBA? No, you won’t.

This will be a very long offseason in baseball. Just like last year, you will see some quality players still available going into the month of February. And just like last year, you are going to see GM’s try to wait out players hoping to get their version of a Bobby Abreu deal.

With the free agent signing period just a mere 12 hours away, here is a free agent primer on this year’s batch of free agents.

Best Free Agent Starting Pitcher: John Lackey. The same people who are concerned with Lackey being “injury prone” are the same people who thought Adrian Peterson was “injury prone” coming out of Oklahoma.

Kind of silly.

Best Free Agent Hitter: Matt Holliday. Holliday is the best hitter in a weak free agent hitting class. I am not sold on Holliday being paid like a franchise player, but he will be.

Best Free Agent Relief Pitcher: Rafael Soriano. Soriano is only 30-years-old and is entering the prime of his career. 12.1 K/9 in 2009 is very impressive.

Biggest Free Agent Hitter Bust: Marco Scutaro. I am sorry, but I just don’t see it from this guy. He has been a scrub all his life and now at 34-years-old he is worth a mutli-year deal? No thanks.

Biggest Free Agent Hitter Bust II: Chone Figgins. This is Juan Pierre Part II. Some team is going to give this guy a four-year, $42 million deal and regret it from the first day. In the third year of this deal he will be a pinch runner off the bench.

Biggest Free Agent Starting Pitcher Bust: Joel Pineiro. Back in August I wrote about how teams should stay away from Pineiro. My feelings towards him haven’t changed. He has Jeff Suppan and Kyle Lohse written all over him.

Biggest Free Agent Relief Pitcher Bust: Brandon Lyon. If a team signs Lyon as an eighth inning, set-up guy, I have no problem with that. But if a teams signs him to be their closer, all bets are off.

If you go into 2010 with Lyon as your closer, you are pretty much telling your fan base we have no shot to win in 2010.

Perfect Match Most Likely To Happen: Mark DeRosa to the Philadelphia Phillies. When you look at the Phillies team and then you look at the type of player DeRosa is, this is a perfect match. DeRosa is a “baseball player” and on a team filled with “baseball players,” DeRosa fits in perfectly.

Perfect Match Most Likely NOT To Happen: Orlando Hudson to the New York Mets. Hudson wanted to play for the Mets last year and it didn’t happen. He wants to play for them again this year and it won’t happen again.

Hudson is just what the Mets need, but since Luis Castillo and his horrific contract are holding down the fort at second base, Hudson will need to look for work somewhere else.

Biggest Free Agent Surprise: Jason Bay will not be back with the Boston Red Sox. As I told my buddy Odie, Bay is like the girl in high school who appears all sweet and innocent, but has slept with the entire football team.

Bay won't be a Red Sock in 2010

Everyone thinks because Bay is a soft-spoken nice guy and has thrived in Boston, he will just accept whatever Theo Epstein offers him and money doesn’t matter–not the case. I think Bay gets a five-year deal from another team and takes the years and the money and runs.

And I wouldn’t fault him for that.

Player Who Will Make The Most Money Who You Never Heard Of: Aroldis Chapman. Chapman is the 22-year-old Cuban defector, who is a starting pitcher and just happens to throw 100 mph. It looks like it will be a two-team race for Chapman’s services–the Red Sox and the New York Yankees.

This is Jose Contreras Part II.

Best Low-Risk, High-Reward Hitter: Xavier Nady. Last year, I correctly predicted that Russell Branyan would be the 2007 version of Carlos Pena–a journeyman guy, who finally gets a chance to start and has a big year.

Nady is that free agent this year. Let a small market team sign him to a one-year deal, let him play 1B/DH and watch him hit 30 home runs.

Best Low-Risk, High-Reward Hitter Part II: Troy Glaus. Glaus is relatively young at 33 and just two years ago hit 27 home runs and had an .856 OPS. Can he play third at this point in his career? Probably not.

But he can probably play first or DH and still be a power threat at a very low-cost.

Best Low-Rick, High Reward Pitcher: Ben Sheets. Sheets missed all of the 2009 season because of flexor tendon surgery. But Sheets should be 100 percent healthy by the start of spring training and I think could have an impact in 2010.

Remember, Andy Pettitte had the same surgery in 2004 and he has fully recovered from the injury. A team like the Texas Rangers would be wise to sign him to an incentive laden deal.

Pitchers Who Have To Stay In The NL In Order To Be Successful: Randy Wolf and Brad Penny. American League teams should really stay away from these guys. Hopefully both of these guys know where their bread is buttered and won’t pull a Jeff Weaver after the 2006 season.

Bedard won't work in New York or Boston

Big Market Teams Should Stay Away: Erik Bedard. Bedard just strikes me as a guy who would rather pitch in Kansas City and not be bothered than pitching in a pennant race in New York of Boston.

Worst Pitcher To Be This Offseason: Kevin Gregg. Gregg is a Type A free agent and he stinks. Very bad spot to be in.

Worst Hitter To Be This Offseason: Jermaine Dye. Dye is a Type A free agent, is 37-years-old, and can’t play a lick of defense. He is a DH in a strong DH market. I think it will be a while before a team looks at Dye.

Hitter Who Should Get More Love, But Won’t: Mike Cameron. Despite being 37-years-old, all Cameron is going to do is play a Gold Glove caliber center field, hit around .265, and hit 20-25 home runs.

Something tells me because of his relationship with CC Sabathia, Cameron signs with the Yankees on a one-year deal.

Pitcher Who Should Get More Love, But Won’t: Jon Garland. Why Garland was sitting the bench, while Hiroki Kuroda was starting playoff games for the Los Angeles Dodgers last year is beyond me.

I know wins for pitchers are overrated, but all Garland does is win. That does count for something. He is going to win games and pitch 200 innings. Teams could do a lot worse.

The Milwaukee Brewers would be smart to sign him.

Best Utility Player: Jamey Carroll. Great club house guy, who can play second, third, left, and right. Every team could use a player like Carroll on their roster.

Non-Tender Candidate Sleeper: Kelly Johnson. On December 12th, hundreds of players will not be tendered contracts. The sleeper out of this bunch–Kelly Johnson.

Johnson was put in Bobby Cox’s doghouse in Atlanta in 2009, but in 2007 he had an OPS of .831 and in 2007 he had an OPS of .795. He is a classic change of scenery guy.

You can find a full list of this year’s free agents here.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

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2009 World Series Preview And Prediction

October 28, 2009

Philadelphia Phillies vs. New York Yankees

Schedule

Yankee Stadium

Game One: Wednesday, Oct. 28 7:57 ET. Cliff Lee vs. CC Sabathia

Game Two: Thursday, Oct. 29 7:57 ET. Pedro Martinez vs. AJ Burnett

Citizens Bank Park

Game Three: Saturday, Oct. 31 7:57 ET. Andy Pettitte vs. Cole Hamels

Game Four: Sunday, Nov. 1 8:20 ET. TBD vs. TBD

Game Five*: Monday, Nov. 2 7:57 ET. TBD vs. TBD

Yankee Stadium

Game Six*: Wednesday, Nov. 4 7:57 ET. TBD vs. TBD

Game Seven*: Thursday, Nov 5 7:57 ET. TBD vs. TBD

* If necessary

Umpires

Gerry Davis (crew chief), Joe West, Dana DeMuth, Brian Gorman, Mike Everitt, Jeff Nelson

Roster Changes

Phillies – In: Brett Myers. Out: Miguel Cairo

Yankees – In: Eric Hinske, Brian Bruney. Out: Freddy Guzman, Francisco Cervelli

Cliff Lee2

Lee will take the ball in Game One

Matchups

Yankee hitters vs. Lee, Martinez, and Hamels – .269/.327/.444

Philly hitters vs. Sabathia, Burnett, and Pettitte – .249/.281/.417

Preview

At 7:57 ET tonight, the Phillies and the Yankees will officially begin the 2009 World Series or “The worst case scenario for New York Mets fans.”

Not only do the Mets suffer one of their worst seasons in franchise history, but now they have to watch their hated division rival and hated cross-town rival in the World Series. Talk about a punch to the gut.

Don’t worry Mets fans, you will get through it. As a New York Jets fan, I went through something similar a couple of years ago when the New England Patriots played the New York Giants in the Super Bowl.

I rooted for the Giants in that game. I decided there was no way I could ever root for the Patriots under any circumstances. I am getting a sense that most Mets fans are feeling the same way towards the Phillies.

Now let’s talk about the two teams that matter–the Phillies and the Yankees. This will be the first time perhaps since 1999 that the two best teams in baseball are playing each other for the championship.

I have thought long and hard about this series and which direction I want to go. For me, this series comes down to a couple of things.

1. Will the Phillies look like a deer in headlights like the Minnesota Twins and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim did? Let’s be realistic here–the Yankees beat both teams because both teams turned into the Kansas City Royals.

It’s not like the Yankees bludgeoned both teams.

The Yankees will always capitalize on errors and bad baserunning. Their lineup is too good not to.

If the Phillies make the same errors and baserunning mistakes the Twins and Angels did–they will lose this series.

2. Chad Durbin, Chan Ho Park Scott Eyre, and Ryan Madson vs. Phil Hughes, Domaso Marte, Joba Chamberlain, and David Robertson. This series will be determined mainly by the under-belly of the bullpen–not by the closers.

I laugh when people say the Yankees have the advantage in the pen because of Mariano Rivera. Isn’t that the case with every game of every series the Yankees play in?

Saying the Yankees have an advantage because of Rivera, is like saying the Bulls had an advantage at shooting guard with Michael Jordan. It’s a given.

It’s going to be how the pitchers before Rivera fair that will determine the outcome of the game. In particular, Marte.

Girardi was going to Marte over Phil Coke in the ALCS in late inning situations vs. a left-handed batter. With the way Girardi overmanages, Marte is going to be asked at some point during this series to get Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, or Raul Ibanez out.

Does any Yankee fan feel confident with first and second and one out in the seventh and Girardi calls on Marte to pitch to Utley and Howard?

Pedro Phillies

Pedro will go in Game Two

3. Can Pedro Martinez and Cole Hamels step up? If the Phillies are going to win this series, then one of these guys is going to have to step up. Martinez pitched better than anyone expected in Game Two of the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Now Martinez is expected to win against the Yankees in Game Two of the World Series. I have my doubts about this move.

Why open up a hornet’s nest by starting Martinez in the Bronx with all his prior history with the Yankees? Martinez is a National League pitcher at this point in his career. Let him start in Game Three or Four against a National League lineup with the pitcher hitting.

If Martinez doesn’t pitch well in Game Two, then the Phillies are going to need Hamels to wake up in Game Three. There is no evidence to suggest that he can.

His fastball is flat, his curveball has no break to it, and his body language on the mound stinks. That’s a recipe for disaster against the Yankees.

4. Will the layoff hurt the Phillies? We saw a long layoff hurt the Detroit Tigers in 2006 and the Colorado Rockies in 2007. The Phillies haven’t played since the 21st.

I think for the Phillies, the layoff won’t matter. Remember, they had a long layoff last year going into the World Series and that didn’t affect them at all.

5. Will Girardi Girardi overmange the Yankees out of a World Series title? If Girardi was overmanaging in an American League game, what is going to happen in those three games in Philadelphia? It might get ugly.

Girardi has been bailed out by Alex Rodriguez and the Yankees’ overall talent. What happens when the Yankees don’t bail him out?

Prediction

I have picked against the Phillies all postseason. I have picked the Yankees all postseason. Everything in me is leaning towards picking the Yankees.

They have the better pitching and they will catch a break someone. The inevitable bad call that favors the Yankees will happen somewhere during the series

I’ll keep my trend going.

Yankees in Six

MVP – Mark Teixeira

Also, for those of you in the New York/Long Island area, I will be on AM 1240 WGBB this Sunday night on Sports Talk Live with Frankie The Sports Guy at 10:30 PM ET.

We’ll be talking about the World Series and some other things that are going on in baseball.

American League Championship Series Preview and Prediction

October 16, 2009

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim vs. New York Yankees

Best-of-seven series

Game One: Friday, Oct. 16 7:57 ET. John Lackey vs. CC Sabathia

Game Two: Saturday, Oct. 17 7:57 ET. Joe Saunders vs. AJ Burnett

Game Three: Monday, Oct. 19 4:13 ET. Andy Pettitte vs. Jered Weaver

Game Four: Tuesday, Oct. 20 7:57 ET. TBD vs. Scott Kazmir

Game Five*: Thursday, Oct. 22 7:57 ET. TBD vs TBD

Game Six*: Saturday, Oct. 24 4:13 ET. TBD vs. TBD

Game Seven* Sunday, Oct. 25 8:20 ET. TBD vs. TBD

*If necessary

Prediction: There are a couple of big story lines heading into this series. Can the Yankees finally beat the Angels in the playoffs? Who pitches Game Four for the Yankees? And can the Yankees neutralize the Angels running game?

While I don’t have the answers to those questions, here is what I do know–Game One is key to this series. Normally, I feel Game Three is key in a best-of-seven series, but in this case Game One is key.

If the Angels win Game One, they got the Yankees thinking here we go again. And more importantly they’ll get Joe Girardi more wound up than he already is.

Girardi got torched last week on the radio and in the papers in New York about how impatient and high strung he was during the ALDS. And that is when the Yankees swept. Could you imagine if the Yankees lose Game One, what Girardi will be like in Game Two?

The Angels have the right guy going in Game One in Lackey. He looked very impressive against the Red Sox in the NLDS and Lackey is pitching for a contract in 2010. If Lackey can pitch well from here on out, he will earn himself some serious coin this Winter.

Figgins is key for the Angels

Figgins is key for the Angels

The key for the Angels offensively and for the series that matter is Chone Figgins. Can this guy show up in the postseason just once? He is supposed to be their table setter and he has a lifetime .182 avg. in the postseason.

The Angels can’t do what they want to do (run all over the Yankees) if their speed guys don’t get on base. Figgins has to show up this series. It’s a must.

If the Yankees win Game One then it does two things. 1. It puts all the pressure on Joe Saunders in Game Two and 2. Quite simply, it gives the Yankees confidence they can beat the Angels in the postseason.

I like Joe Saunders and he is a nice little pitcher. But would you trust him in a big spot with your season on the line? I wouldn’t. I don’t see the Angels winning Game Two no matter what happens in Game One.

However, if they lose Game One AND Game Two, now they have to win four out of five from the Yankees. That is going to be awfully tough to do.

I think there are two keys for the Yankees in this series. First, they need to get someone else going in the lineup other than Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez.

Overshadowed in the Yankees sweep over the Minnesota Twins, was the fact that Johnny Damon, Nick Swisher, Melky Cabrera, and Robinson Cano didn’t hit at all during the series. The Yankees are going to need a couple of these guys to come through in order to beat the Angels in a seven game series.

Second, this series might just come down to how well CC Sabathia pitches. With the weather concerns in New York (I will get to that in a second) and with the Girardi contemplating going with a three-man rotation, there is a chance Sabathia will pitch three times in this series.

If Sabathia pitches on three days rest, history will be against him. It’s really amazing how the Yankees don’t have a No. 4 starter. They have nobody but themselves to blame for that.

The x-factor in this series is going to be the weather for the first two games of this series. It’s miserable right now in New York. Walking to work this morning it felt like Winter.

It’s supposed to rain tonight and tomorrow. If one of these games gets rained out, that clearly favors the Angels. The Angels have their rotation set regardless of the weather. The Yankees don’t.

Everything in me is leaning towards picking the Angels. I think they are in the Yankees’ heads, they are better equiped to play in a long series than the Yankees are, they are drawing inspiration from the Nick Adenhart tragedy, and they clearly have the better manager.

But things are starting to break for the Yankees like they did in the 90’s. You can’t beat the unexplained. There will be a Joe Mauer foul ball or Nick Punto baserunning moment for the Angels in this series.

Yankees in six

MVP – Mariano Rivera

National League Championship Series Preview And Pediction

October 15, 2009

Philadelphia Phillies vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

Best-of-seven series

Game One: Thursday, Oct. 15 8:07 ET. Cole Hamels vs. Clayton Kershaw

Game Two: Friday, Oct. 16 4:07 ET. TBD vs. Vicente Padilla

Game Three: Sunday, Oct. 18 8:07 ET. Hiroki Kuroda vs. Cliff Lee

Game Four: Monday, Oct. 19 8:07 ET. Randy Wolf vs. TBD

Game Five*: Wednesday, Oct. 21 8:07 ET. TBD vs. TBD

Game Six*: Friday, Oct. 23 8:07 ET. TBD vs. TBD

Game Seven*: Saturday, Oct 24 8:07 ET. TBD vs TBD

*If necessary

Prediction: Here we go again. Last year, these two team met in the NLCS with the Phillies winning in five games. In the National League, there have only been two times where teams met in back-to-back NLCS’s. Each time, the team that won the year before, won the next year.

So history says the Phillies will once again be playing in the World Series. While some might use the phrase “history repeats itself,” I will use the phrase “there is a first time for everything.”

I believe the Dodgers will win this series.

Here are five reasons why I like the Dodgers:

Hamels hasn't been right all year

Hamels hasn't been right all year

5. Cole Hamels is not Cole Hamels. At some point we are going to have to realize that Hamels is not the same pitcher he was last year. With every start we were hoping he would turn it around, but it just never happened this year.

There is no evidence to suggest that Hamels is going to turn it around in this series. John Kruk on ESPN said that Hamels didn’t pitch well against the Colorado Rockies in Game Two because his he and his wife were expecting a baby.

Well, what was the excuse for the last six months?

4. I think Manny Ramirez has a big series. Ramirez looked as clueless as I have ever seen him look in that final weekend series against the Rockies. He didn’t do much the first two games of the NLDS either, but then had a huge Game Three against the Cardinals.

I just have a feeling that Game Three was a sign of things to come.

3. The Dodgers have home-field advantage. This postseason is shaping up to be a home-field advantage postseason. All four teams that had home-field advantage in the first round won. I think that trend carries over in this series.

The difference between last year’s series and this years is that the Dodgers will have that extra game at home. Despite the lack of fan support (I’ll get to that in a minute), the Dodgers play very well at home.

2. The Dodgers’ bullpen. The Dodgers’ bullpen is the difference in this series. The one-two punch of George Sherrill and Jonathan Broxton can make any game in this series a seven inning game.

I also like the fact that if any of the Dodgers’ starters get in trouble early, they have two guys who can give quality innings in long relief–Jeff Weaver and Chad Billingsley. That is something the Phillies don’t have.

Kershaw will start Game 1

Kershaw will start Game 1 for the Dodgers

1. Kershaw is to the Dodgers what Bret Saberhagen was to the Kansas City Royals in 1985. In 1985, Saberhagen was a 21-year-old prodigy who led the Royals to a World Series championship.

I really believe Kershaw, who is also 21 by the way, has that type of ability. Not only does Kershaw possess nasty stuff, but I think he can carry the Dodgers’ rotation on his back if need be.

I love the fact that Kershaw is starting Game One. Kershaw had a 1.83 ERA at home this year and I expect him to pitch very well in this series.

Dodgers in six

MVP – Clayton Kershaw

Now let me talk about the Dodger fans. As of 9:21 pm ET last night, there were plenty of good seats available for Game’s One and Two at Dodger Stadium. I went to Ticketmaster, put in for best seats available, and plenty of seats were available for purchase.

That is pathetic.

You can’t sniff a playoff ticket for face value in New York, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, or St. Louis. Even the Tampa Bay Rays sold out in their ALCS in five minutes last year.

Just a terrible job by Dodger fans. No excuse for that.

American League Division Series Predictions

October 7, 2009

It took 163 games, but the American League Division Series matchups are finally set. Yesterday, I gave my NLDS predictions, so today I am going to give my ALDS predictions.

Something of note with the 2009 postseason. Three out of the four postseason matchups in 2009 are the same as they were in 2004. The only series that is different is the Colorado Rockies and Philadelphia Phillies series.

Will history repeat itself in the AL? Let’s take a look…

* means if necessary

Minnesota Twins vs. New York Yankees

Game 1: Wednesday, October 7 6:07 ET. Brian Duensing vs CC Sabathia

Game 2: Friday, October 9 6:07 ET. Nick Blackburn vs AJ Burnett

Game 3: Sunday, October 11 TBD. Andy Pettitte vs Carl Pavano

Game 4*: Monday, October 12 TBD. TBD vs Scott Baker

Game 5*: TBD

Prediction: Major League Baseball drew 73,418,528 fans this year. Let’s say overall, there are roughly 100 million baseball fans in this world.

Out of that 100 million, 94 million want the Twins to win and six million want the Yankees to win this series. People will always root for the David instead of the Goliath. Out of those six million Yankee fans, three million couldn’t name more than five players on the team, but are fans just to be “cool.”

Sabathia will lead the Yankees to the ALCS

Sabathia will lead the Yankees to the ALCS

Don’t tell me I am wrong about that. I have lived in New York my whole life and I have seen it first-hand. Unfortunately, those six million fans are going to have the last laugh in this series.

I love everything about the Twins. I love their passionate fans, the way they do business, and most importantly–the way they play the game. How could you not?

But I just don’t see it for them in this series. It has nothing to with the fact that the Twins played in a street fight last night against the Detroit Tigers.

And it has nothing to do with the fact that the Yankees were 7-0 versus the Twins in 2009. I put very little into a team’s success in the regular season versus another team.

I think in this series you will finally see them miss Justin Morneau. Morneau is a game changer and in the playoffs you need as many of them as possible.

If the Twins can somehow win this series, it will go down as one of the biggest upsets in postseason history. I would love to put the Twins in the next round, but it’s not going to happen.

Yankees in Four

Boston Red Sox vs. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Game 1: Thursday, October 8 9:37 ET. Jon Lester vs John Lackey

Game 2: Friday, October 9 9:37 ET. Josh Beckett vs Jered Weaver

Game 3: Sunday, October 11 TBD. Scott Kazmir vs Clay Buchholz

Game 4*: Monday, October 12 TBD. Joe Saunders vs TBD

Game 5*: TBD

Prediction: Every year me and my buddy Odie talk about the “feel” of the Red Sox season. 2003 and 2004 had good “feels” to them. As did 2007 and 2008.

2005 and 2006? Not so much. I knew the Red Sox faced impending doom in 2005 when they started Matt Clement in Game One of the ALDS against the best team in baseball–the Chicago White Sox.

So what about 2009? Around August 15th, the Red Sox had a feel of getting bounced in the first round. I didn’t like the way they were playing and something just seemed off about this year.

Bay will be meeting the Yankees in the ALCS

Bay will be meeting the Yankees in the ALCS

Now on October 7th, I feel very good about this team. Lester is pitching lights out and Victor Martinez has given the Red Sox a massive shot in the arm offensively. I’ll also bank on a healthy Beckett in the playoffs.

The Angels, are well, the Angels. They are a solid, fundamentally sound team that is going to try to use their speed game and to run all over the Red Sox. Seems like that is every year with the Angels though.

I have gone back and forth trying to predict a winner in this series. However, there is one scenario that keeps sticking in my mind.

Game Three, Fenway Park, Kazmir throws his usual 110 pitches in six innings, and the Angels are leading 3-2. A scenario that is very likely.

Does anyone on this planet think Jose Arredondo, Darren Oliver, Kevin Jepsen, and Brian Fuentes are going to get nine outs in Fenway without coughing up the lead? Not a chance.

For what ever reason, the Angels turn into pumpkins in October at Fenway.

Red Sox in Four

National League Division Series Predictions

October 6, 2009

Last year, I went four-for-four in predicting the American League and National League division series. I thought they were some of the easiest matchups to predict in quite some time.

This year? Not so much.

This year’s matchups are pretty tough. But after playing out some scenarios in my mind for the last week, I am pretty confident in my division series picks.

Here are my predictions for the NLDS. I will give my ALDS predictions once the Minnesota Twins and Detroit Tigers decide their fate tonight.

* means if necessary.

Colorado Rockies vs. Philadelphia Phillies

Game 1: Wednesday, October 7th 2:37 ET. Ubaldo Jimenez vs Cliff Lee

Game 2: Thursday, October 8th 2:37 ET. Aaron Cook vs Cole Hamels

Game 3: Saturday, October 10 9:37 ET. Joe Blanton vs Jason Hammel

Game 4*: Sunday, October 11 TBD. TBD vs TBD

Game 5*: Tuesday, October 13 TBD. TBD vs TBD

Prediction: This is a rematch of the 2007 NLDS where the Rockies wiped the floor with the Phillies. Do I think the Rockies are going to wipe the floor with the Phillies again? No I don’t.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t think they won’t win the series.

I think the Rockies are the most complete team in the NL. If you can find a weakness on this team, I would love to hear it because right now I can’t find one.

Tracey will have the Rockies ready

Tracey will have the Rockies ready

Their starting rotation goes five deep (depending on the health of Jorge De La Rosa), they have a solid bullpen, one of the best lineups in the NL, and they are one of the better defensive teams in baseball.

The best thing about Rockies however, might be their bench. They by far and away have the best bench of any team in the playoffs. Look at possible bench against the righty Joe Blanton in Game Three – Seth Smith, Jason Giambi, Ryan Spilborghs, Chris Iannetta, and Garrett Atkins.

That is one sick bench.

The Phillies are the defending champs, have one of the best lineups in baseball, and have a great one-two punch in Hamels and Lee. While this is all great, their bullpen is a clown show.

They won’t have JC Romero and Chan Ho Park in this series and JA Happ may or may not start Game Four. Charlie Manuel is in a tough spot with Happ.

If he starts Happ in Game Four then Manuel takes away from his bullpen. I think Happ should close for the Phillies in the playoffs. If Manuel puts Happ in the pen, then he will have to start a fried Pedro Martinez in Game Four.

Tough, tough call for Manuel.

Here is how I think the series goes. The Rockies and Phillies will split games one and two and then the Rockies will torch Blanton and Pedro in Games Three and Four

The Phillies need to win the first two games at home and I don’t think they will.

Rockies in Four

St. Louis Cardinals vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

Game 1: Wednesday, October 7 9:37 ET. Chris Carpenter vs Randy Wolf

Game 2: Thursday, October 8 TBD. Adam Wainwright vs Clayton Kershaw

Game 3: Saturday, October 10 6:07 ET. Vicente Padilla vs Joel Pineiro

Game 4*: Sunday, October 11 TBD. TBD vs TBD

Game 5* Tuesday, October 13 TBD. TBD vs TBD

Prediction: I have the same feeling towards this series as I did for the Chicago Cubs and Dodgers series last year. The Cubs had the best record in the NL last year and started Ryan Dempster in Game One.

I kept thinking to myself the best team in the league is starting Ryan Dempster in Game One? No thanks. I thought the Dodgers would win the series and they did.

The Miller Lite of pitchers

The Miller Lite of pitchers

Unfortunately for the Dodgers, the shoe is on the other foot this year. Is the team with the best record in the NL really starting Randy Wolf in Game One?

Pitchers like Dempster and Wolf are like those silly Miller Lite commercials. You know the ones where they talk what greatness tastes like and what amazing hops are in Miller Lite.

I always think to myself watching those commercials — at the end of the day, it’s just Miller Lite. College kids drink it because it’s cheap. Who ever drank Miller Lite at a frat party and said “Wow those hops are awesome!!!”

That’s Randy Wolf. You can give me all the stats in the world and tell me how great he is, but at the end of the day he is just Randy Wolf.

The biggest concern for the Cardinals in this series will be the bullpen. Ryan Franklin was awful in September and they don’t have a dominant eighth inning guy, which is key in the postseason.

However, I think LaRussa will push Carpenter and Wainwright as far as he can to cover up for the lack of power arms in the pen.

Cardinals in Four.

Looking Back On Some Baseball Bets

October 5, 2009

Before the regular season started, I gave some predictions on some prop bets for the baseball season. Now that the regular season is almost over, I thought it would be a good time today to look back at some of those predictions I made.

All lines were curtesy of Bodoglife.com

Player Bets

Aubrey Huff. Over/Under 23 1/2 Hr’s – I like the Over Huff had 15 Hr’s

Dustin Pedroia. Over/Under 40 1/2 Doubles – I like the Over Pedroia had 48 doubles

Josh Beckett. Over/Under 14 1/2 Wins – I like the Over* Beckett won 17 games

Joba Chamberlain. Over/Under 13 1/2 Wins – I like the Under Chamberlain won 9 games

Derek Jeter. Over/Under .303 average – I like the Over Jeter hit .334

Evan Longoria. Over/Under 107 1/2 RBI – I like the Over Longoria had 113 RBI

BJ Ryan. Over/Under 34 1/2 Saves – I like the Under* Ryan had two saves

Zack Greinke. Over/Under 13 1/2 Wins – I like the Over Greinke had 16 wins

Miguel Cabrera. Over/Under 34 1/2 Hr’s – I like the Over Cabrera has 33 Hr’s

Gary Sheffield. Over/Under 18 1/2 Hr’s – I like the Under Sheffield had 10 Hr’s

Bobby Abreu. Over/Under 99 1/2 RBI – I like the Under Abreu had 103 RBI

Brian Fuentes. Over/Under 32 1/2 Saves – I like the Under Fuentes had 48 saves

Ken Griffey Jr. Over/Under 18 1/2 Hr’s – I like the Under Griffey Jr. had 19 Hr’s

Brett Myers. Over/Under 11 1/2 Wins – I like the Over Myers had four wins

Albert Pujols. Over/Under 117 1/2 RBI – I like the Over Pujols had 135 RBI

Adrian Gonzalez. Over/Under 29 1/2 Hr’s – I like the Over Gonzalez had 40 Hr’s

Randy Johnson. Over/Under 10 1/2 Wins – I like the Under Johnson had eight wins

Team Bets

Tigers. Over/Under 81 1/2 Wins – I like the Under* Tigers will have 86 0r 87 wins

Twins. Over/Under 83 1/2 Wins. I like the Over Twins will have 86 or 87 wins

Braves. Over/Under 84 1/2 Wins. I like the Over Braves won 86

Dodgers. Over/Under 84 1/2 Wins. I like the Over Dodgers won 95

Mets. Over/Under 89 1/2 Wins. I like the Under Mets won 70

Cardinals. Over/Under 82 1/2 Wins. I like the Over* Cards won 91

Giants. Over/Under 80 1/2 Wins. I like the Under Giants won 88

Royals. Over/Under 75 1/2 Wins. I like the Over Royals won 65

* indicates Best Bet

Not bad. I went three out of four on my “best bets.” I was really surprised the Tigers had the year they did. I definitely didn’t see it coming.

Overall, I went 16 for 25. That’s 64 percent for those of you scoring at home. If Cabrera can hit two Hr’s on Tuesday night, I can get up to 68 percent.

I think if you went to Las Vegas and won 64 percent of the time you would take it.

I will revisit the rest of my predictions after the season ends.

Teams Should Stay Away From Joel Pineiro This Offseason

September 17, 2009

St. Louis Cardinals Pitching Coach Dave Duncan is one of the best pitching coaches in the game. As a matter of fact, he might go down as one of the best pitching coaches of all-time. Duncan has taken the term “One man’s garbage is another man’s treasure” to the extreme.

From Dave Stewart to Mike Moore to Chris Carpenter, Duncan has taken mediocre pitchers and transformed them into quality major-league starters. Duncan’s latest rags to riches story — Joel Pineiro.

Pineiro is not worth the investment

Pineiro is not worth the investment

Many forget that Pineiro was an up and coming stud with the Seattle Mariners back in the early 2000’s. In 2002 and 2003, Pineiro went a combined 30-18 with a 3.52 ERA. He looked like one of the rising pitchers in the game.

In 2004, Pineiro was shut down 21 starts into the season with a sore elbow and hasn’t been the same since. Quite frankly, since his 16-win 2003 season — he has stunk.

From 2003-2008, Pineiro’s record was 35-47. Very Jeff Weaver-like. However, Pineiro’s 2009 season has been a different story. Pineiro is 14-11 with a very respectable 3.31 and even has three complete games and two shutouts.

Pineiro’s story is all too familiar. Mediocre pitcher who finds success in his free agent year. Sounds a lot like Jeff Suppan, Jeff Weaver, and Kyle Lohse’s story to me.

Lohse’s story is most similar to Pineiro’s. Lohse had two good seasons with the Minnesota Twins in 2002 and 2003. In those two seasons he went 27-19. From 2003-2007, Lohse went 32-48 and was just an awful pitcher.

Sound Familiar?

In 2008, Lohse went an amazing 15-7 with an ERA of 3.78. Lohse parlayed that season into a four-year, $41 million contract from the Cardinals. Cha ching!

I can’t believe the Cardinals, a seemingly smart organization fell for it. How quickly do you think Lohse signed that contract? Two seconds tops.

Guess what Lohse is doing this year? That’s right, he’s back to same awful pitcher we have known to grow to love. He is a Lohsian 5-8 with a 4.78 ERA. That a boy Kyle. I always knew you had it in you again.

Ironically, Pineiro is looking for a contract similar to Lohse’s this offseason. We all know what is going to happen. Some idiotic team is going to give him a three-year, $28 million contract and guess what is going to happen?

In his first year Pineiro is going to go 9-12 with a 4.65 ERA and his contract is going to hamstring that team for the next three years. It’s inevitable.

That’s why if I was a GM, I would stay away from Pineiro in the offseason.

I don’t need to see advanced statistics or anyother stats for that matter. I will just use the “eye test” on this one. And the eye test tells me, once a mediocre pitcher, always a mediocre pitcher.

One year doesn’t change that.

Predicting The Divisions And World Series…

April 3, 2009

Now comes the hard part. Trying to predict all 6 division winners, the Wild Cards and the World Series champion. Who will be this year’s Tampa Bay Rays? Can the Phillies repeat as champions? Can the Indians hit there way to a division title? Can the Rangers or A’s overtake the Angels? These are some of the questions that I have been asking myself over the last couple of days leading up to this post. So without any further ado, here are my predictions for 2009…

* Indicates Wild Card winner

NL East

1. Phillies 2. Mets 3. Braves 4. Marlins 5. Nationals

Division Analysis – Before every Mets fan jumps down my throat letting me know how much better they are than the Phillies, let’s remember a couple of things:

Another division title for Rollins and the Phillies

Another division title for Rollins and the Phillies

A. The core of this Mets team (Reyes, Wright, Beltran & Delgado) are very fragile. Not too many teams can come back from 2 straight end of the season collapses.

B. Mets focused all of their energy in the offseason in fixing their biggest problem in 2008; The bullpen. You know what usually happens the following year? Another part of the team springs a leak.

C. The Phillies have winners on their roster. Gamers like Werth, Victorino, and Rollins who know how to win in the clutch. The Mets have yet to prove they have those type of players.

The Braves will be much improved and I actually think they could finish ahead of the Mets. Their bullpen will be their biggest problem in 2009.

The Marlins pitching staff is no joke with Nolasco and Johnson leading the way. In the end this team just doesn’t have the resources to compete this year.

Like the Braves, the Nationals will be improved. They will score runs that is for sure. They won 59 games last year and an 11 game improvement is not out of the question.

NL Central

1. Cubs 2. Cardinals 3. Reds 4. Brewers 5. Astros 6. Pirates

Division Analysis – I don’t like a thing the Cubs did in the offseason but at the end of the day, they have the most talent and talent usually wins. I also think the Cubs will land Peavy at the trading deadline which will push them to a division title.

The Cardinals could surprise and really push the Cubs. There season really hinges on the health of Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright. If they can get 50 starts from them in 09 the Cards will be in business.

I like the direction the Reds are taking with pitching and defense now a priority. Jay Bruce and Joey Votto are going to be stars but I think the Reds are about 1 year away.

The loss of Sabathia, Sheets and now Hoffman will be too much for the Brewers to overcome. If they had a legit ace things would be different for the Brew Crew.

The Astros and of course the Pirates will be pulling up the rear.

NL West

1. Dodgers 2. Diamondbacks* 3. Giants 4. Rockies 5. Padres

Division Analysis – The Dodgers lineup is the best in the NL and I think they will have enough pitching to win the division. Having Broxton to close games at the end is a difference maker for the Dodgers.

Upton will emerge this year

Upton will emerge this year

The “BabyBacks” will grow up this year. Chris Young, Drew, Upton, Conor Jackson and Mark Reynolds will all take the next steps in their career. I love Haren and Webb at the start of the rotation and Davis, Garland and Scherzer is not a bad back end. If there is a weakness, it’s the bullpen. Can Chad Qualls close? Remains to be seen.

The Giants should have made an all out push for Manny, but they didn’t and they will still have the same problem they did in 08. THEY CAN’T SCORE!!

The Rockies will be hard pressed after losing their ace, Jeff Francis and their best offensive player, Matt Holliday in the offseason. Watch out for Dexter Fowler this year, the kid can flat out play. On a side note…can you believe they owe Todd Helton $35.7MM over the next 2 years??? Ouch

The Padres will be the worst team in baseball in 2009

AL East

1. Red Sox 2. Rays* 3. Yankees 4. Orioles 5. Blue Jays

Division Analysis – The AL East is by far and away the best division in baseball. The top 3 teams all have question marks headed into 2009…

Red Sox – Can Lowell, Ortiz, Beckett and Penny bounce back from injuries? Do they have enough offense?

Rays – Was last year a fluke? Can their bullpen repeat last years performance?

Yankees – How much will they miss ARod in the lineup? Will their latest high priced mercenaries handle the pressure of NY?

Here is my take. The Red Sox have the best pitching staff top to bottom in baseball with Smoltz and Buchholtz (who is being mentored by Smoltz) on the way. Daniel Bard, who just happens to throw 100 mph will be a factor at the end of the season as well. And as for the Sox offense, since they are about $40MM under budget heading into 2009, if they need offense they will go out and get Magglio Ordonez or Matt Holliday.

Are the Rays the modern day Atlanta Braves? I think so. How come nobody talks about the fact they won 97 games last year with Crawford only playing 109 games, Longoria playing in only 122 games, Pena playing only 139 and their DH was a combination of Eric Hinske and Cliff Floyd? They had just as many injuries as anyone else and they still won the division. Their offense is going to be so much better this year with the addition of Burrell. As good as their offense will be, their defense is off the charts. If their bullpen can give them the same performance as last year, they will be tough to beat.

The Yankees latest mercenary

The Yankees latest mercenary

Now to the Yankees. Every offseason the Yankees go out and get the best player on the market. Mussina, ARod, Giambi, Randy Johnson, Sheffield, Pavano, & Damon were all brought in via trade or free agency as high priced mercenaries in order to help the Yankees get back to their glory days. This year’s crop of mercenaries include Sabathia, Burnett and Teixeira. This philosophy of bringing in the “superstar” every year hasn’t worked since 2001 and it won’t work this year. The Yankee teams of 95-2001 were gritty, gutty, gamers who knew how to win. The Yankee teams from 02-08 have been a bunch of stars who signed with them just for a payday. Until this philosophy actually works, I can’t put them any higher than 3rd.

One last note about these 3 teams. Another huge factor in this division and something that hasn’t been touched on is the managers. We all know Sox and Rays players love with a capital L playing for Francona and Madden. The jury is still out with Girardi if he can earn the respect of his players, which he had trouble with last year.

Oh yeah, there are 2 more teams in this division. I like the direction the Orioles are headed. They are locking up and developing young talent. In 2 years they will be a major player in this division.

The Blue Jays are in trouble but I do like the fact they are going to let Lind and Snider play everyday this year. $12MM on BJ Ryan is killing this team.

AL Central

1. Twins 2. Indians 3. White Sox 4. Royals 5. Tigers

Division Analysis – This is the most difficult division to predict as you can make a legitimate case for all 5 teams.

The Twins have the deepest rotation in the division and I think they will be able to hold on without Mauer for the 1st month of the season. This team is built on pitching and some serious defense and that will help them win the division title this year that they missed by 1 game last year.

I like the Indians and the moves they made in the offseason. With the returning Hafner and Martinez, they will score some runs. I think their starting rotation will let them down in the end. And no, Cliff Lee will not go 22-3 again.

The White Sox are really tricky. Every time I think they are done, they prove me wrong and have a great year. But the core of the White Sox are getting old and I just don’t see it from them this year.

The Royals are the “trendy” pick this year. I think the Royals will be very competitive, however just when you think the Royals are ready to compete for a division title they add Sidney Ponson to the rotation.

The Tigers rotation and bullpen is a mess. They are asking a lot from Rick Porcello and Ryan Perry.

AL West

1. Angels 2. Rangers 3. A’s 4. Mariners

Division Analysis – Is this the year that the Rangers or the A’s unseat the Angels? No, at least not this year. Even though the Angels have starting rotation problems, they have something nobody in this division has… A Solid, dependable bullpen. Their bullpen and a nice bounce back year from Vladimir Guerrero give the Angels another division title.

Vlad will bounce back in 09

Vlad will bounce back in 09

The Rangers lineup is going to be scary good this year. If they can get any surprises from there pitching like Brandon McCarthy or even Kris Benson they could steal the division.

I like what the A’s have done on offense but their starting rotation is just too young to make a serious run at the Angels.

The Mariners should be in full rebuilding mode at the July 31st deadline. Beltre (Cardinals, Red Sox, Twins), Bedard (Phillies, Mets, Dodgers) and Washburn (Yankees, Dodgers) should all be moved at the deadline.

Playoffs

NL – Phillies, Cubs, Dodgers, Diamondbacks

AL – Red Sox, Rays, Twins, Angels

World Series

Red Sox vs Diamondbacks

World Series Champion

Boston Red Sox

Predicting The MVP’s….

April 2, 2009

Now it is time to predict the big boys of baseball…the MVP’s. There are 2 ways to look at who will win this award. 1. The player that means the most to his team, puts up good stats and brings the intangibles (Pedroia in 08, Larkin in 95 & Gibson in 88) or 2. The player that puts numbers so much better than everyone else, you have to give him the award (Dawson in 87, Walker in 97, Bonds in 04 or 01).

Here are the candidates in the NL & NL along with the winners…

Another MVP for Pujols

Another MVP for Pujols

NL

Candidates – David Wright, Ryan Howard, Manny Ramirez, Albert Pujols, Ryan Braun & Hanley Ramirez

Winner – Albert Pujols

WHY – I was debating between Manny Ramirez and Pujols but sometimes you just have to go with the safe bet. Pujols will have the numbers and I think the Cardinals will be competitive in 09. Those 2 factors equal another MVP for Pujols

AL

Candidates – Kevin Youkilis, Justin Morneau, Evan Longoria, Miguel Cabrera, Grady Sizemore & Josh Hamilton

Winner – Grady Sizemore

WHY – This will be a battle of stats (Cabrera) vs team performance and intangibles (Sizemore). In the end, I think this is Sizemore’s year to breakout. The Indians will be very competitive in the AL Central and Sizemore’s offense AND defense will win him this award.