Posts Tagged ‘Andre Ethier’

Starting Nine: National League West

January 16, 2010

Last but least in our Starting Nine series, is the National League West. Usually known as being the worst offensive division in baseball, the NL West has improved offensively this offseason.

The San Francisco Giants and Arizona Diamondbacks have added offensive pieces this offseason and as long as the young Colorado Rockie hitters continue to improve, they will always be dangerous.

Here are the lineups for each team in the National League West as presently constructed today.

Colorado Rockies

1. Dexter Fowler, CF

2. Carlos Gonzalez, LF

3. Todd Helton, 1B

4. Troy Tulowitzki, SS

5. Brad Hawpe, RF

6. Ian Stewart, 3B

7. Chris Iannetta, C

8. Clint Barmes, 2B

9. Ubaldo Jimenez, P

Quick Take – This lineup is the class of the NL West. This lineup has everything you want–speed, power, and patience. Look for Carlos Gonzalez to have a breakout year and become everyone’s mancrush when it comes to fantasy baseball.

San Francisco Giants

1. Freddy Sanchez, 2B

2. Edgar Renteria, SS

3. Pablo Sandoval, 3B

4. Aubrey Huff, 1B

5. Mark DeRosa, LF

6. Aaron Rowand, CF

7. Buster Posey, C

8. Nate Schierholtz, RF

9. Tim Lincecum, P

Quick Take – It’s hard to make up a lineup when every guy in that lineup is the same. This lineup has very little power, very little speed, and not a single person that scares an opposing pitching.

Los Angeles Dodgers

1. Rafael Furcal, SS

2. James Loney, 1B

3. Manny Ramirez, LF

4. Matt Kemp, CF

5. Andre Ethier, RF

6. Casey Blake, 3B

7. Russell Martin, C

8. Blake DeWitt, 2B

9. Chad Billingsley, P

Quick Take – I originally had Ethier in the two-hole and Loney in the six-hole like the Dodgers had in the NLCS last year. I didn’t like that lineup then, and I don’t like it now. Ethier is better served in a RBI position in the lineup.

Arizona Diamondbacks

1. Gerardo Parra, CF

2. Stephen Drew, SS

3. Justin Upton, RF

4. Mark Reynolds, 3B

5. Adam LaRoche, 1B

6. Conor Jackson, LF

7. Miguel Montero, C

8. Kelly Johnson, 2B

8. Dan Haren, P

Quick Take – With the addition of LaRoche and a healthy Jackson, this lineup all of a sudden looks very deep. Upton is only getting better and he will be a MVP candidate in 2010.

San Diego Padres

1. Everth Cabrera, SS

2. David Eckstein, 2B

3. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B

4. Kyle Blanks, lF

5. Chase Headley, 3B

6. Nick Hundley, C

7. Will Venable, RF

8. Tony Gwynn, CF

9. Chris Young, P

Quick Take – Kevin Kouzmanoff was traded to the Oakland A’s less than 24 hours ago, so now there is zero reason to pitch to A. Gonzalez in 2010. With Kouzmanoff gone, this is a big year for Headley. Look for newly acquired Scott Hairston to platoon with Gwynn in center.

Well that’s it for our Starting Nine series. I hoped you enjoyed it. I will update this series as the regular season approaches.

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

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Dodgers Rally In The Eighth, Even Series At One

October 17, 2009

31 pitches

Five pitchers

Three hits

Two walks

Two runs

One blown save

That was the bottom of the eighth inning for the Philadelphia Phillies. Down 1-0 in the bottom of the eighth, the Los Angeles Dodgers rallied for two runs and eventually held on for a 2-1 victory to even their best-of-seven series with the Phillies at one game apiece.

As my friend Mike always says “How do you beat Ric Flair? A small package in the center of the ring.” I say “How do you beat the Phillies? Get to their bullpen.”

The Phillies’ bullpen stinks. I know it’s harsh, but there is no other way around it. Yesterday, they ruined what was a brilliant pitching performance by Pedro Martinez.

Pedro was classic Pedro yesterday

Pedro was classic Pedro yesterday

Martinez was vintage Pedro. He had the Dodger batters off-balance all game. His performance yesterday was very similar to his performance in Game Five of the 1999 ALDS against the Cleveland Indians.

He didn’t have a 95 mph fastball that night either. But what he had that night and what he had yesterday, was his brain. And Martinez is one of the smartest pitchers in the game–if not the smartest.

Nobody is better when they don’t have their best stuff than Martinez is. He had everything working yesterday. The Dodgers had no chance against him in the hot California sun.

Of course, the classic second guess is why did Charlie Manuel take Martinez out after seven innings? Martinez allowed just two hits, struckout three, and didn’t walk a batter in those seven innings of work.

Most importantly, Martinez had only thrown 87 pitches. If Manuel would allow Martinez to throw 130 pitches against the New York Mets in a meaningless game in September, why wouldn’t he allow him to go further into the game?

“To me, Pedro was done,” Manuel said. “He did a tremendous job and took it actually farther than I anticipated. . . . He was gone. I think he was spent.”

If the manager of the Phillies says that Martinez was done, then I have to believe him. One would think he would know his players better than anyone.

Manuel took Martinez out after the seventh and that’s when the fun started.

Manuel brought Chan Ho Park into the game to face Casey Blake, Ronnie Belliard, and Russell Martin. Park, who was so good Thursday night, was the complete opposite yesterday.

Park allowed a leadoff single to Blake and then misplayed a bunt by Belliard. Park really should have fielded that bunt. It wasn’t a good bunt at all by Belliard.

Now with runners on first and second with nobody out, Martin was attempting to sacrifice bunt. However, Park wouldn’t let him because he couldn’t throw the ball over the plate.

If a guy is giving himself up and giving you an automatic out–let him. Just throw the ball over the plate. It shouldn’t be that hard to throw the ball over the middle if you are a major league pitcher.

On a 3-0 count, Park got a gift call from the home plate umpire. The pitch was about three inches inside, but was called a strike. Completely changed the AB and the inning.

With the count now 3-2 and the bunt off, Martin hit a routine groundball to third. Pedro Feliz threw the ball to Chase Utley covering second for one out and then Utley decided to throw the ball off the fence on the Dodgers’ dugout.

I know some people will say Utley’s bad throw was caused by the hard slide by Belliard who was on first. That wasn’t the case. Utley just made an awful throw.

Juan Pierre, who was running for Blake scored on the play to tie the game at one. Instead of having two outs and a runner on third, the Dodgers had one out with a runner on first.

Then came the parade of Phillies’ relievers out of the bullpen. I am surprised I didn’t see Don Carmen or Mitch Williams come into the game.

Scott Eyre gave up a single to Jim Thome. Ryan Madson walked Rafael Furcal. And with the bases loaded, JA Happ walked Andre Ethier to force in a run.

Just like that it was 2-1 Dodgers and when Jonathan Broxton set the Phillies down 1-2-3 in the ninth, the series was tied at one.

And not to be overshadowed in this win for the Dodgers was the effort by Vicente Padilla. He was matching Martinez pitch for pitch and only made one mistake (a HR to Ryan Howard in the fourth) in seven-and-a-third innings of work.

He has pitched brilliantly for the Dodgers in two starts in the postseason.

Game Three is Sunday at 8:07 ET

Hero for Game Two – Vicente Padilla

Goat for Game Two – Chase Utley

Series MVP – Ryan Howard

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

Dodgers Dominate, Sweep Cardinals

October 11, 2009

Sweeping teams in the NLDS is starting to become old hat for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Last year, the Dodgers swept the Chicago Cubs right out of the NLDS and this year they took their brooms out against the St. Louis Cardinals. The Dodgers beat the Cardinals yesterday 5-1 to win their best-of-five Division Series three games to none.

My poor buddy and resident Cardinals fan, Tom.

The Cardinals are his life. Now, instead of watching of watching the Cardinals today, he will be reduced to watching reruns of Phineas and Ferb with his daughter and shopping for wicker chairs at Fortunoff’s with his wife.

I already Fedex’d him a rope.

The Dodgers in this series really whipped the Cardinals in every way imaginable. They out hit, out defensed, out managed, out hustled, out pitched, and just flat-out out played the Cardinals.

It was all smiles for Padilla yesterday

It was all smiles for Padilla yesterday

Yesterday’s game was a microcosm of the entire series.

Here is what I said about the Vicente Padilla when the Dodgers signed him: “To be honest, I actually like this move for the Dodgers. Going from the launching pad known as Arlington Stadium to the friendly confines of Dodger Stadium, should benefit Padilla tremendously. “

I always feel like the Dodgers can plug in any pitcher and they will be serviceable in Dodger Stadium. IE: Jose Lima in 2004.”

I thought Padilla would be good, but not this good. Yesterday, Padilla was very good. Padilla allowed just four hits, walked one, struckout out four, and most importantly gave up zero runs in seven rock-solid innings of work.

And give Padilla and catcher Russell Martin a lot of credit in this game. They realized early on that the Cardinals were impatient and very aggressive with their hitting approach.

So what do you do when a team is impatient? You throw pitches off the plate. Not too much where even Vladimir Guerrero wouldn’t swing at the pitch. But just enough where the pitch is close enough to be called a strike.

Case in point–the Yadier Molina AB in the first inning.

I thought this was the most important AB of the game. The Dodgers had already scored a run in the first inning and the Cardinals came back to load the bases with two outs in the first inning.

Up came Molina and Molina played right into Padilla’s hands. You could tell that when Molina went up to the plate, Padilla could have thrown a ball five feet over his head and Molina still would have swung at it.

Martin sets up very inside, Padilla throws the ball about five inches off the plate inside, and Molina grounds weakly to short. If Molina gets a big hit there, it could have been the jump start the Cardinals needed.

One last note about the Padilla-Lima comparison I referenced to earlier. Lima shutout the Cardinals in Game Three of the NLDS back in 2004.

Oh the humanity.

Andre Ethier hit a two-run bomb off of Joel Pineiro to make the score 3-0 and the game was essentially over. And speaking of Pineiro, I am going to get on Tony LaRussa here for a second.

I felt LaRussa really, really had a bad game yesterday. It was like he was asleep at the wheel.

For a guy who makes five pitching changes to get one out in the seventh inning of a meaningless game in San Diego, how can he leave Pineiro in the game for as long as he did?

It was clear early on that Pineiro didn’t have his sinker working and was leaving the ball up. When I was on the phone with Tom (resident Cardinal fan from early), he noticed this right away.

As soon as Pineiro gave up that bomb to Ethier, LaRussa should have been warming someone up. The way the Cardinals’ offense was going, three runs was like 10.

LaRussa left Pineiro in the fourth, he gave up another run, AND HE WAS STILL IN THE GAME!!! It wasn’t until the fifth that LaRussa took Pineiro out. The damage was done however, as the Cardinals were down 4-0.

Not only did LaRussa fall asleep in handling Pineiro, he fell asleep in the seventh inning as well. The Dodgers were still up 4-0, they had a runner on third with two outs and Manny Ramirez was coming to the plate.

Ramirez had already doubled twice and was swinging a hot bat this game. So of course you walk him right? Not if you are LaRussa. LaRussa decided to pitch to Manny and of course, Manny singled to make the game an unreachable 5-0.

For a guy who over manages every situation of every game, he decided to under manage in his team’s most important game of the season. Now he can under manage his golf game because LaRussa’s and the rest of the Cardinals’ season is over.

The Dodgers will play the winner of the Colorado Rockies-Philadelphia Phillies series, which is currently tied at one game apiece. Which ever team they play, the Dodgers will be the favorite in the series.

But for now, the Dodgers can sit back, relax, and enjoy the moment.

They are headed to the NLCS.

Baseball’s Best Outfield: Midseason…

July 12, 2009

In the third of the four part “Baseball’s Best: Midseason” series, I am going to take a look at which team has baseball’s best outfield.

In order to figure out which team has had baseball’s best outfield in the first half, I used four categories – OPS, Runs Created, UZR, and Fielding Percentage. It’s just not all about offense. In order to be tops on this list, you also need to be a quality defender.

The stats were calculated for all three individual outfielders, then added together, and then I divided the stats by three to figure out the team’s total in that particular category.

Each category was worth 10 points. If a team didn’t finish in the top 10, that team received zero points.

For teams that use a platoon in an outfield position, such as the New York Yankees with Brett Gardner and Melky Cabrera in centerfield, I used the stats for the player who has played the most games at that position. In the Yankees case – Brett Gardner.

In the preseason edition of this, the Milwaukee Brewers had the best outfield in baseball. Let’s see who is No. 1 at the midway point in the season…

10 – 6. Minnesota Twins, Tampa Bay Rays, New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays, Houston Astros

5. Los Angeles Dodgers – 23 points

Outfield – Juan Pierre, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier

OPS – Six

RC – Four

UZR – Seven

FP – Six

Analysis – Of course the Dodgers were hurt in this by the 50-game suspension of Manny Ramirez. I am guessing if Manny had played in 47 of those games, the Dodgers would be a little higher on the list.

Kemp should've been an All-Star

Kemp should've been an All-Star

However, Juan Pierre stepped in nicely in left. Pierre’s OPS is very similar to Ethier’s (.805 to .807) and has played a tremendous leftfield as his 1.000 fielding percentage and 6.2 UZR suggests.

Matt Kemp has been solid, both offensively and defensively. Kemp has created 52.7 runs and has a very impressive 10.1 UZR playing centerfield for the Dodgers.

I still think Kemp should have been an All-Star this year.

4. Milwaukee Brewers – 27 points

Outfield – Ryan Braun, Mike Cameron, Corey Hart

OPS – Eight

RC – Seven

UZR – Eight

FP – Four

Analysis – The Brewers’ outfield can hit with anyone. They finished third in OPS (.844) and fourth in Runs Created (52.3). When you have a player like Ryan Braun (.954 OPS)  in your outfield, you will usually finish towards the top in most offensive categories.

The outfield is rounded out by one of the best defensive centerfielders in the game, Mike Cameron and one of the top up-and-coming players in the game, Corey Hart.

This is one of my favorite outfields in baseball. They have the offense in Braun, the defense in Cameron, and a guy who can do a little of both in Corey Hart.

3. Boston Red Sox – 30 points

Outfield – Jason Bay, Jacoby Ellsbury, JD Drew

OPS – Seven

RC – Eight

UZR – Five

FP – Ten

Analysis – While the Milwaukee Brewers have an outfield that offers a little bit of everything, so do the Boston Red Sox. Bay, Ellsbury and Drew each bring something different to the table.

Bay is the bopper (63.2 Runs Created), Ellsbury is the speed and defense guy (.994 Fielding Percentage), and Drew is the steady rightfielder who seems to do everything well (.858 OPS, 5.0 UZR, .993 Fielding Percentage.)

While the Red Sox’s UZR is in the middle of the pack, when they have the opportunity to catch the ball, they do. Their Fielding Percentage of .996 was tops on this list.

2. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – 31 points

Outfield – Juan Rivera, Torii Hunter, Bobby Abreu

OPS – Nine

RC – Nine

UZR – Nine

FP – Four

Analysis – The Angels’ outfield has really carried the team throughout the first half of the season. Not only have they gotten great a contribution from the newly acquired Bobby Abreu, but they are getting a career year from Juan Rivera, and an MVP type season from Torii Hunter.

The Angels ranked second in OPS (.888), Runs Created (54.6), and UZR (6.0).

How smart do the Angels look for signing Bobby Abreu to that discounted contract in the offseason? Almost as dumb as they look for giving Gary Matthews Jr. that ridiculous contract a couple of years ago.

1. Philadelphia Phillies – 33 points

Outfield – Raul Ibanez, Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth

OPS – Ten

RC – Ten

UZR – Four

FP – Nine

Ibanez leads the best OF in baseball

Ibanez leads the best OF in baseball

Analysis – I guess when you send three outfielders to the All-Star game you have to be No. 1 on this list. Ibanez, Victorino, and Werth will all be participating in the mid-summer’s classic in St. Louis.

The star of this group have been Ibanez. Ibanez’s 1.027 OPS ranks fourth in baseball and is higher than anyone mentioned in this post. If he hadn’t gotten hurt, his stats might be even better.

Victorino and Werth are gritty, gamers, who oh by the way can really hit. Werth has been responsible for creating 60. 5 runs, which ranks him fourth (Braun, Bay, Crawford) out of any of the players on the teams in this post.

Like Werth, Victorino has gone from solid contributor to All-Star this year. With Jimmy Rollins struggling, Victorino has been the spark plug for the Phillies this year. Victorino has put up a very solid .858 OPS so far this year.

So that’s it for baseball’s best outfield. The next and final installment of this series will cover baseball’s best infield.

*All stats were calculated prior to Saturday’s action.

Fantasy Week In Review 4/13-4/19…

April 20, 2009

We are now 2 weeks into the season and we have seen a lot of great and not so great fantasy performances so far from players. For the week of 4/13-4/19, here are the fantasy studs, the possible pickups and the players who have me concerned.

Fantasy Studs

Andre Ethier – .391/4/12. Who says Manny’s presence in the lineup doesn’t matter?

Carlos Pena – .333/4/12. As long as he stays healthy, a 30+ HR season for Pena is a lock.

Kinsler raked this week

Kinsler raked this week

Carlos Quentin – .333/5/9/.429. Quentin could have won the MVP last year. Looks like he is headed for another MVP season this year.

Ian Kinsler – .556/2/6. Anytime you go 6-6 in one game, you are a fantasy stud. I had Kinsler as the #1 2B headed into 2009 and so far he has not disappointed.

Raul Ibanez – .550/3/5. Hit a huge walk-off HR on Sunday and is making Phillies fans forget about Pat Burrell.

Zack Greinke – 2-0 0.00 era with 19 K in 14 IP. My pick for the Cy Young has a 34 consecutive scoreless inning streak going. Right now Greinke is the #1 fantasy pitcher in baseball.

Chad Billingsley – 2-0 2.77 era with 17 K in 13 IP. The ace of the Dodgers staff is off to a great start. Baring injury and with the Dodgers offense, Billingsley should win 16-20 games in 2009.

Heath Bell – 4/4 in save opportunities and a 0.00 era with 4 K in 4 IP. Bell is making the most out of his first chance at being a closer. He has dominated the Mets and Phillies in back to back series this week.

Reason for Concern

Matt Holliday – .286/0/7/.286. The 7 RBI for the week is acceptable but 0 walks and no HR’s is not. Holliday has not yet homered this season and now the question is being asked…is Holliday just a product of Coors field?

Chien-Ming Wang – 61.71 era with 14 H, 16 R in just 2.1 IP. Wang has a 34.50 era on the season. I watched that game on Saturday and Wang has about as much confidence as the employees of GM had in Rick Wagoner. There is talk of putting Wang on the DL just to get him straight.

Joel Hanrahan – 0/2 in save opportunities with a 12.00 in 3 IP. Nothing is more demoralizing to a bad team when they are actually winning and their closer blows a save. Hanrahan accomplished this feat on back to back days. He does have 8 K’s in 5 IP on the season so it seems like it is a control issue rather than a stuff issue.

David Ortiz – .148/0/2. The Monster Formally Known As David Ortiz is off to a real rough start. His bat looks slow and he is fouling off very hittable pitches. Perhaps he will get hot as the season moves on. This year’s Carlos Delgado?

Vladimir Guerrero – Put on the 15 Day DL with a torn pectoral muscle. Anyone who watched Guerrero for the 1st month of the season will tell you he looked like one of those over the hill NBA Centers who look awkward and struggle to get up and down the court. He is now out until May and it clearly looks like his best years are behind him.

Potential Pickups

John Buck – .357/2/7. If need a catcher, Buck might be a good pick up. With the Royals having a tough time scoring runs they need all the offense they can get. Buck is a better offensive player than Olivo and might start stealing some ab’s from him.

Kosuke Fukudome – .333/1/6/.480. Out of Piniella’s doghouse and into the #2 hole in the Cubs batting order where Fukudome should score plenty of runs. Also, if you league value’s OBP, then Fukudome is your guy.

Manny Corpas – New Rockie’s closer. The Huston Street experiment failed and Corpas is now the closer. If he is still available in your league, he will get his save opportunities in Colorado.

Phil Hughes – With rumors swirling that Wang might be headed to the DL, it would be a good idea to pick up Hughes now before someone else does. Hughes would be the logical choice to replace Wang and you could get 3-4 starts out of him.