Posts Tagged ‘Ben Zobrist’

Starting Nine: American League East

January 11, 2010

I was rummaging through some articles last week and I came across a piece by Morgan Campbell of the Toronto Star. He gave an early look at what the Toronto Blue Jays’ starting lineup might look like in 2010.

That piece got me thinking. With all the moves that happen during the free agency period it’s hard for a casual fan to keep up with their favorite team. Why not take an early look at each lineup in baseball as presently constructed?

So what I will do give each team’s starting lineup by division for the next six days. Obviously this will change as the offseason progresses, so I will do an update to these posts as the season approaches.

We will start in the American League and with the best division in baseball, the American League East.

New York Yankees

1. Derek Jeter, SS

2. Nick Johnson, DH

3. Mark Teixeira, 1B

4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B

5. Jorge Posada, C

6. Robinson Cano, 2B

7. Curtis Granderson, CF

8. Nick Swisher, RF

9. Brett Gardner, LF

Quick Take – Best and deepest lineup in baseball. Could made even better if Johnny Damon accepts a one-year deal to play left. Cano and Posada could flip-flop between fifth and sixth in the order.

Boston Red Sox

1. Jacoby Ellsbury, LF

2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B

3. Victor Martinez, C

4. Kevin Youkilis, 1B

5. David Ortiz, DH

6. Adrian Beltre, 3B

7. Mike Cameron, CF

8. J.D. Drew, RF

9. Marco Scutaro, SS

Quick Take – Not a classic Red Sox lineup. Not a lot of high OBP guys and nobody jumps out and scares you. Terry Francona is loyal to Ortiz, so he bats fifth ahead of Beltre in the lineup.

Tampa Bay Rays

1. B.J. Upton, CF

2. Carl Crawford, LF

3. Evan Longoria, 3B

4. Ben Zobrist, 2B

5. Carlos Pena, 1B

6. Pat Burrell, DH

7. Kelly Shoppach, C

8. Gabe Kapler, RF

9. Jason Bartlett, SS

Quick Take – This lineup will go from very good to great if Upton and Burrell come back strong in 2010. Kapler will find himself in a platoon situation with Matt Joyce to start the season.

Baltimore Orioles

1. Brian Roberts, 2B

2. Nick Markakis, RF

3. Adam Jones, CF

4. Luke Scott, DH

5. Nolan Reimold, LF

6. Matt Wieters, C

7. Ty Wigginton, 1B

8. Garrett Atkins, 3B

9. Cesar Izturis, SS

Quick Take – First four in this lineup is very good, but after that, this lineup gets very weak. Orioles are still looking for a first baseman, so don’t expect Wigginton to be a starter for too much longer.

Toronto Blue Jays

1. Jose Bautista, RF

2. Lyle Overbay, 1B

3. Aaron Hill, 2B

4. Adam Lind, DH

5. Vernon Wells, CF

6. Edwin Encarnacion, 3B

7. Travis Snider, LF

8. Alex Gonzalez, SS

9. John Buck, C

Quick Take – My lineup is a little different than Campbell’s as I have Overbay hitting in the two-hole. This lineup has the potential to be good, but Gonzalez and Buck represent too many automatic outs to be really dynamic.

Tomorrow, I will cover the American League Central.

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

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Rays Trade Akinori Iwamura To Pirates

November 4, 2009

The Tampa Bay Rays and the Pittsburgh Pirates got together and made a trade yesterday.

The Tampa Bay Rays sent 2B Akinori Iwamura to the Pittsburgh Pirates for RHP Jesse Chavez. The Pirates will assume all of the $4.85 million on Iwamura’s contract for 2010.

Akinori Iwamura

Iwamura is headed to Pittsburgh

For the Rays, they save the $650,000 buyout on Iwamura’s contract–which they would have had to have paid if they had just declined Iwamura’s contract option. Chavez will be under the Ray’s control until after the 2014 season.

I asked fellow Baseball Bloggers Alliance member and writer for AOL Fanhouse and the No.1 Pirates blog on the web, Where Have You Gone Andy Van Slyke, Pat Lackey what his initial thoughts were on the trade…

“It’s a short-term move for the Pirates, which I’m not exactly keen about given that the team’s focus should be down the road, but as short-term moves go, this isn’t a bad one.

“Iwamura fills an immediate need for the team at second base and can move around the infield as necessary when Pedro Alvarez is ready, depending on how he, Andy LaRoche, and Garrett Jones are playing. Jesse Chavez was one of the Bucs’ most reliable reliever last year, but his strikeout rate dropped a bit while he reined in his walks and he’s got a bit of a homerun problem.

“All told, the move might not help the Pirates past 2010, but it probably doesn’t hurt them much either.”

I agree with Pat.

Is Iwawura going to help the Pirates win a World Series? Probably not. But the Pirates are trying to build a team around speed and defense and Iwamura fits that bill.

Iwamura is one of the best fielding second baseman in baseball and should fill the gap left at second base when Freddy Sanchez was traded. Best case scenario for the Pirates–Iwamura plays his usual solid second base, hits .285, and the Pirates trade him in July to a contender for prospects.

As for the Rays, thanks to Ben Zobrist’s breakout year (.297/27/91/.405), they didn’t need Iwamura. But what they do need is bullpen help and Chavez gives the Rays a serviceable option out of the pen.

Chavez appeared in 73 games for the Pirates in 2008 posting a 4.01 ERA, 1.351 WHIP, and a 6.3 K/9 rate. Pat mentioned above that Chavez had a homerun problem. He gave up 11 big-flies in those 73 innings, which isn’t great for a reliever.

I expect the Rays to be very active this Winter. Trading Iwamura is just the start.

2009 All-Fantasy Breakout Team

September 17, 2009

Yesterday, I did my 2009 All-Fantasy Bust Team. So of course, it’s only appropriate for me to do the 2009 All-Fantasy Breakout Team.

Let’s not beat around the bush. Here is the 2009 All-Fantasy Breakout Team sponsored by the Jose Lima Foundation… “There’s a one-year wonder in all of us.”

Honorable Mention: Billy Butler, Jason Bartlett, Adam Kennedy, Justin Upton, Ryan Franklin, Ubaldo Jimenez, Josh Johnson, Heath Bell, Ben Zobrist

Catcher: Joe Mauer, .373/27/85

I know it’s hard to label Mauer as a breakout player because he has already established himself as one of the game’s best offensive catchers. However, Mauer has taken his game to another level in 2009.

Mauer has flirted with .400 at times this season and has already hit more homeruns this season (27) than he has in the last two seasons combined (16).

Morales has had a breakout 2009

Morales has had a breakout 2009

First Base: Kendry Morales, .306/30/98

Coming into this season, Morales had 12 HR’s with 45 RBI and a .249 avg. in 127 career games. This year Morales has 30 HR’s and 98 RBI in 136 games.

Morales is only 26 and should be a fixture on fantasy teams for years to come.

Second Base: Aaron Hill, .286/32/86

Hill missed the majority of the 2008 season with a concussion. Hill has come back with a solid 2009 season and has given fantasy owners a legitimate power source at second base.

Hill is only 27, so he should be coming into his own at the plate.

Shortstop: Marco Scutaro, .284/12/60/.381 with 13 SB’s

Until this year, Scutaro was a fantasy afterthought. Come to think of it, he was an afterthought to most major-league GM’s. I will just come out and say it — Scutaro was a scrub until this year.

Now, Scutaro is second in the majors in walks, and has provided owners with a solid average and OBP all year.

Third Base: Pablo Sandoval, .322/21/77

Sandoval has rewarded fantasy owners who followed him at the end of the 2008 season. In 2008, Sandoval hit .345 in 41 games for the San Francisco Giants.

Sandoval has been a fantasy beast in 2009 and at only 23-years-old, he should be a force in fantasy baseball for years to come.

Outfield: Nyjer Morgan, .307/3/39 with 42 SB’s

Coming into this year, Morgan was a 29-year-old career minor leaguer, who only had 293 career AB’s. This year, Morgan has blossomed into a legit fantasy contributor.

Morgan’s greatest asset is his speed and with 42 steals this season, he won fantasy owners the stolen base category many weeks.

Outfield: Michael Bourn, .294/3/35 with 57 SB’s.

Bourn always had the speed, but the issue has always been whether or not Bourn could hit at the major-league level. Coming into 2009, Bourn was a career .237 hitter with a .299 OBP.

Bourn in 2009 has answered his critiques. Bourn has more walks in 2009 than he had in his first three seasons combined. If he is walking more, it means he is getting on base more.

Bourn is tied for second amongst all outfielders in stolen bases with 57 and tied for fifth in runs with 90.

Outfield: Nelson Cruz, .266/32/71

Cruz was labeled as a classic “AAAA” player. A great minor league player, but never could do it at the major-league level. All Cruz has done in 2009 is give fantasy owners who have him 32 homeruns.

In his first four seasons with the Texas Rangers and Milwaukee Brewers, Cruz hit a combined 22 homeruns.

Greinke has been fantasy's best pitcher

Greinke has been fantasy's best pitcher

Starting Pitcher: Zack Greinke, 13-8 with a 2.19 ERA

Greinke lost 17 games in 2005 and pitched in just three games in 2006. Those days are a distant memory for Greinke. In 2009, he is baseball’s best fantasy pitcher.

Greinke leads the majors in ERA, WHIP, and shutouts. He is also second in strikeouts with 216. Greinke should be a fantasy ace for here on out.

Starting Pitcher: Wandy Rodriguez, 13-10 with a 2.77 ERA

Rodriguez wasn’t even drafted in my fantasy draft. Now, he is a legit No. 2 pitcher in all fantasy formats.

Starting Pitcher: Scott Feldman, 16-5 with a 3.65 ERA

Coming into 2009, Feldman had a grand total of seven wins in four major-league seasons. Now, he leads the American League in winning percentage and is tied for third in the majors with 16 wins.

What were the odds of that at the beginning of the season? Five million to one?

Closer: David Aardsma, 35 saves with a 2.09 ERA

If Feldman was a surprise, then Aardsma is five surprises wrapped into one. Nostradamus couldn’t have predicted Aardsma’s season.

Aardsma didn’t have a single save or an ERA under four coming into 2009. Now Aardsma is having just as good a year as Joe Nathan, Jonathan Papelbon, and Jonathan Broxton.

Incredible.

Live Blog: MLB All-Star Game…

July 15, 2009

It’s been awhile since I have done a live blog, so what better time to do one than the 80th All-Star game in St. Louis. I have always been a big fan of the All-Star game, so this should be fun. I am just praying this game does not go deep into extra innings like last year’s game.

Game – American League vs. National League

Date – 7/14/09

Starting Lineups

American League

1. Ichiro Suzuki, RF

2. Derek Jeter, SS

3. Joe Mauer, C

4. Mark Teixeira, 1B

5. Jason Bay, LF

6. Josh Hamilton, CF

7. Michael Young, 3B

8. Aaron Hill, 2B

9. Roy Halladay, P

National League

1. Hanley Ramirez, SS

2. Chase Utley, 2B

3. Albert Pujols, 1B

4. Ryan Braun, RF

5. Raul Ibanez, LF

6. David Wright, 3B

7. Shane Victorino, CF

8. Yadier Molina, C

9. Tim Lincecum, P

Top 1st

Tim Lincecum deals the first pitch of the 80th All-Star game at 8:50 est time and it is ripped by Ichiro down the rightfield line, but foul.

Starting this game at 8:50 est. pretty much eliminates anyone under the age of 15 who lives on the east coast from seeing the end of this game – good job Bud Selig

Ichiro rips a single to right. He is such a good hitter. Being down 0-2 in the count didn’t phase Ichiro one bit.

OUCH!!! With two strikes, Derek Jeter gets hit in the hand with a changeup. Every Yankee fan just took a deep breath. Jeter appears okay.

Lincecumis really all over the place in this inning. He quickly falls behind Mauer 3-1.

Wow, what a quick play by Molina. Mauer hits a ball a foot infront of home plate, Molina pounced on it, and got Ichiro at third. Wright made a terrible throw to first, which pulled Pujols off the bag. Mauer would have been out with a good throw.

Teixeira hits a slow groundball that hits off of Pujols’ glove and goes into short rightfield. Jeter scores to make 1-0 American League.

That was a potential double play ball that Pujols mishandled. Some bad defense by the NL in the first inning. They should be out of this inning.

First and second with one out for Jason Bay.

Bay singles to center. Bases loaded.

Boy, the NL is really asleep on defense. Hamilton gets a hard groundball to first, Pujols gets Bay at second, but Lincecum is late covering first, and the run scores.

2-0 American League. We can eliminate Tim Lincecum from winning the MVP award tonight.

Michael Young grounds to Wright for the third out.

Not a very good start for the NL.

Bottom 1st

Hanley Ramirez leading off for the NL, hits a rope, but right to Aaron Hill. One out.

How many recruiting talks do you think Roy Halladay has gotten in the past two days? 40? 50?

Halladay gets Chase Utley to ground out to Teixeira. Two quick outs here in the bottom of the first.

Now here comes Pujols. Maybe he will make up for that terrible error he made in the top of the first.

Pujols hitting, Mauer catching, and Halladay pitching – it doesn’t get any better than that.

Michael Young is the man. Pujols hits a frozen rope to third. I mean a real screamer. Young snags it and casually throws to first to get Pujols. Now that is how you play defense.

After one it’s 2-0 American League

Top 2nd

Hill grounds to Ramirez for the first out.

Roy Halladay is hitting. I don’t think he planned on this happening. With the luck the Blue Jays have been having with injuries, Halladay will get clocked in the hand here.

He doesn’t and Halladay K’s for the second out.

A much better start to the second inning for Lincecum.

Ichiro hits a linedrive, but right at Braun in rightfield for the third out.

Bottom 2nd

Braun flies out to center for the first out.

President Obama is in the booth with McCarver and Buck. Obama is neck and neck with Bill Clinton as the president you would most want to hang out with.

Ibanez grounds to Hill for the second out. Halladay is making this look easy.

Even when Halladay gives up hits, he splinters bats. Wright bloops one to rightcenter for a hit. His bat shattered in a 100 pieces.

Victorino singles to right. First and second with two outs for Molina.

How about this. Molina singles to center, Wright scores, and Hamilton trying to throw out Victorino at third – hits him in the back and the ball rolls into foul territory.

Victorino scores andwe are tied at two. Molina goes to second on the throw.

Last night’s HR Derby champion Prince Fielder will hit for Lincecum.

Amazing how quickly things change in an inning. Halladay was crusing and a broken bat got a rally started.

Fielder smokes one down the leftfield line for a ground rule double. Molina scores and it is now 3-2 NL.

Ramirez grounds to Hill for the third out.

What an inning for the NL. Three runs with two outs.

After two complete in St. Louis, it’s 3-2 National League

Top 3rd

This is odd, Cardinals’ closer Ryan Franklin is in the game for the NL. I don’t think I have ever seen a closer come into an All-Star game this early before.

Jeter grounds to Utley for the first out.

Mauer lines to Pujolsfor the second out.

Teixeira grounds weakly to Pujols for the third out.

Well that was easy for Franklin. A very impressive inning.

Bottom 4th

Chicago White Sox lefty, Mark Buehrle into the game for the AL. With Buehrle pitching, this inning might last five minutes.

Utley hits a can of corn to center. One down.

Man, does Buerhle work quickly.

Pujols grounds to Teixeira for the second out. Teixeira showed his range on that groundball, as he played that way off the bag at first.

Braun grounds to Jeter at short and in less than five minutes the inning is over.

I wish more pitchers worked like Buerhle.

It’s still 3-2 NL after three.

Top 4th

We start the fourth and McCarver and Buck have been very tolerable tonight. It must be a full moon.

Dan Haren from the Arizona Diamondbacks is now in the game for the NL.

One pitch, one out. Bay flies out to Braun in right.

Hamilton flies out to semi-deep center.

Young singles to left. Michael Young loves playing in All-Star games.

Aaron Hill up. Every kid outside of Toronto just asked their dad “who is that?”

Hill grounds hard to Hanley Ramirez, but Ramirez gobbles it up, and gets Hill to end the inning.

Bottom 4th

Just saw a commercial for the new GI Joe movie. It looks terrible. I was a HUGE GI Joe fan growing up, so I hope the movie is better than it looks. I am not optimistic.

The Kansas City Royals’ Zack Greinke is in for the AL.

One pitch, one out. Ibanez pops up to Young at third.

I hope Greinke goes two innings tonight. It will let the world see who he is.

And this is why – Greinke throws a wicked slider to Wright to strike him out. That was nasty.

Greinke just toyed with Victorino. Got him to swing at a pitch in the dirt and two feet out of the strike zone.

One-two-three for Greinke

This game is moving rather quickly. Still 3-2

Top 5th

The next pitcher for the NL is the Dodgers’ Chad Billingsley.

Carl Crawford hitting for Greinke.

Crawford hits a single to center. With Crawford at first and Molina behind the plate, this should be interesting.

What a great play by Chase Utley. Ichiro hits a ball between first and second, Utley gets the ball, pivots, andgets the lead runner in Crawford at second.

What a great play. Ichiro now at first with one out and Jeter up.

My roommate from college Odie just sent me a text “Ichiro is a dope, let crawford steal.” I agree. The fastest man in baseball is on first and Ichiro is up there hacking.

The NL is flashing some leather. Jeter hits on his classic inside-out balls to the right side, but Pujols dives andgets the lead runner at second.

The first inning must have been a wake up call for the NL.

This brings up Mauer with Jeter on first and now two outs.

Is Joe Mauer the best hitter in the game right now or what? Billingsley throws a curve on the outer half and instead of trying to pull the ball, Mauer goes with the pitch and laces it down the leftfield line.

Jeter running all the way, scores from first. We are now tied at three.

Pujols really wants to make up for that first inning error. He makes another diving stop off of a Teixeira groundball and flips to Billingsley for the third out.

Pujols saves a run, but the AL ties the game heading into the bottom of the 5th.

Bottom 5th

Edwin Jackson the new pitcher for the AL

What is the story with hitters swinging at the first pitch when there is a new pitcher in the game?

Molina on the first pitch grounds to short for out No. one.

Ryan Zimmerman up at the plate. Zimmerman replaced Wright in the top half of the inning and is batting in the pitchers spot.

Zimmerman just missed one. He flies out to deep centerfield.

Ramirez on the first pitch grounds out to Young at third.

Wow what an inning for Jackson. Four pitches and three outs. Not a bad day’s work.

3-3 still as we head to the bottom of the sixth

Bottom 6th

The all-time saves leader, Trevor Hoffman into the game

The first batter he will face is the Orioles’ Adam Jones. Right now every Mariners’ fan is saying “I can’t believe we got rid of this guy.” Jones is hitting in Jason Bay’s spot in the lineup.

Jones hits a rocket to right, but Hawpe tracks it down at the warning track. One out.

Hoffman is not fooling anyone. Hamilton jumps all over the first pitch and singles to right.

Young hits a hard groundball, but right at Utley. After a brief bobble, Utley and Tejada are able to turn the four-six-three double play.

I was a little surprised Hoffman was used so early. I would have thought because he is the all-time saves leader, he would have been used to close out the game.

Bottom 6th

The Seattle Mariners’ ace Felix Hernandez has been called upon to pitch for the AL.

Orlando Hudson will hit for Utley andmost likely come into the game to play second.

Okay, once again we are first pitch swinging. This game counts right Bud?

Hudson hits one deep to right but Adam Jones is there for the first out.

Pujolsgrounds to short for the second out.

Not too many people on the east coast get to see “King Felix” pitch, but he is a dandy. He really can become a legit ace. He has no-hit stuff every time he goes to the mound.

Justin Upton is now hitting for Ryan Braun. A great matchup here of two of the best young players in the game.

Another groundball to short. The sure-handed Jason Bartlett gets Upton to end the inning.

We are getting down to the nitty gritty as Gorilla Monsoon used to say.

Top 7th

Classy move by Charlie Manuel as he lets Pujols go out to take warmups andthen replaces him with Gonzalez so he can get a standing ovation from the Cardinal fans.

Francisco Cordero is the new pitcher in the game for the NL. He is the Cincinnati Reds’ lone representative for tonight.

Aaron Hill up for the third time and he flies out to Upton in in left.

Crawford up for the second time. On the first pitch he grounds to Tejada at short. Two outs.

Justin Morneau up for the AL. He replaced Teixeira at first and is hitting Ichiro’s spot.

That was a quick inning for Cordero. He gets Morneau to line weakly to Zimmerman at third.

Bottom 8th

My buddy Tom just sent me a text “Close game and these idiot managers are using pitchers for one inning each.” Kind of agree. With a lot of the pitchers having pitched on Sunday and after last year’s marathon, I am surprised pitchers aren’t going more than one inning.

A new inning, a new pitcher for the AL. Jonathan Papelbon is in the game for the AL.

OH WOW!!! Carl Crawford makes the play of the game so far. Brad Hawpe on Papelbon’s first pitch (of course) hit a fly ball deep to left and Crawford leaped over the wall to make the catch and rob Hawpe of a HR. Great catch.

Two pitches and two bombs off of Papelbon. Miguel Tejada flies out to deep right but Adam Jones is there to make the catch.

Papelbon is pitching to Victor Martinez. A sign of the future?

Papelbon is throwing his fastball at 89 mph. Someone should tell him this game counts.

Papelbon strikes out Jayson Werth to end the inning. That fastball was 94 mph, so Papelbon got into the groove towards the end of the AB.

It’s still 3-3 heading into the eigth and this game has extra innings written all over it. Lovely

Top 8th

Heath Bell is into the game for the National League.

The first pitch he throws is over the head of Jason Bartlett. Nice pitch.

Bell does better on his second pitch as he gets Bartlett to ground to short.

Curtis Granderson up for the AL. He crushes one to left and the ball  hits off the base of the wall. Granderson digs for third and he makes it.

Grandersonat third with one out and the infield comes in.

Victor Martinez is up and he is getting intentionally walked. That stinks for Martinez. Manuel is walking Martinez to get to Adam Jones.

HeathBell looks like his heart is racing a million beats per second.

Well, Manuel’s strategy backfires as Jones hits one to the warning track in right. Granderson scores to make it 4-3.

Kevin Youkilis is up for the first time and he promptly singles to center.

First and second with two outs for the Rays’ Ben Zobrist.

Bell gets Zobrist swinging, but the damage was done. One run on two hits and two runners left on base.

At the end of seven and a half, it’s the American League four and the National League three

Bottom 8th

New York native Joe Nathan in the game for the American League. The AL is going to go with Nathan for the eighth andthen Mariano Rivera for the ninth. The NL is in trouble.

The Braves and Ron Kittle impersonator, Brian McCann up at the plate to face Nathan.

McCannon a 2-1 pitch pops up to Martinez behindthe plate. One down here in the bottom of the eighth.

Zimmerman swinging at the first pitch, flies to right for the second out.

Here is the best player that nobody knows about – Adrian Gonzalez

FOX just showed Bud Selig with George Will. And there is your reason for a baseball team in Washington.

Good AB by Gonzalez. Down in the count 1-2 and he works a walk.

Another two out rally by the NL. Hudson singles up the middle and now we have first andthird with two outs.

Ryan Howard is coming up to pinch hit. Manuel was picking his spot for Howard and this is it. Very similar to the 2003 All-Star game in Chicago where Mike Scioscia was picking his spot for Hank Blalock in the late innings.

Blalock hit a pinch hit two-run HR off of Eric Gagne to give the AL the win.

They just showed Brian Fuentes warming up. Well, if he is not in the game to face Howard why on earth is he warming up?

Howard is swinging for the downs. Two fastballs, two Ruthian cuts, and now it is 0-2.

Hudson steals second. That’s kind of a good and bad move. Good in that it eliminates the double play and now a single scores two runs. Bad in that this might take the bat out of Howard’s hands.

No 2003 moment here as Howard swings at a pitch in the dirt for strike three.

We head to the ninth with the AL still clinging to a 4-3 lead

Top 9th

The next pitcher up for the National League is the New York Mets’ Francisco Rodriguez.

His first batter will be the Tigers’ Brandon Inge. Of course Inge swings at the first pitch and grounds to short.

Carl Crawford up. He is 1-2. With his catch and with nobody else really standing out tonight, he might win the MVP.

Striking out won’t help his cause. That was a great changeup by Krod.

Morneau rips one into the left-centerfield gap, Werth tracks it down, and makes the catch. What a catch by a guy who is normally not a centerfielder.

This is it. We head to the bottom of the ninth with the AL leading 4-3

Bottom 9th

If the NL is going to come back, they are going to have to do it against the best in the business in Mariano Rivera

Justin Upton will try to get things started for the National League.

Barlettis silky smooth at short. He made a tough, back-handed play look very easy. He gets Upton for the first out

Brad Hawpe, who was robbed of a HR by Carl Crawford will try to hit one a little further against Rivera.

Joe Buck just said Brad Hawpe is a very good defensive rightfielder. I am guessing Buck hasn’t seen Hawpe’s UZR lately.

Hawpe goes down looking on a perfect pitch on the outside corner.

Now it’s up to Miguel Tejada to keep it alive. He doesn’t.

Tejada pops up to Zobrist at second to end the game.

That’s a wrap. The American League wins again 4-3. The American League will have homefield advantage in the World Series.

Like I suspected, Carl Crawford wins the MVP award. This might be the first time in All-Star game history that a guy won the award for a catch.

It was a good game, well played, and it only took 2:31 to play. A little disappointed that Tim Wakefield didn’t get to pitch, but what can you do.

Over 3,000 words later, I am calling it a night. Good night everyone!!!

Handing Out Some Midseason Awards…

July 14, 2009

With the 2009 baseball season officially hitting its halfway point, I think it is time to hand out some midseason awards.

From Randy Johnson’s 300th win, to Zack Greinke’s amazing April, to Albert Pujols’ first half for the ages it’s been a fascinating year so far with some great individual performances. Just like every year, there have been performances that have stood out amongst the pack.

Without any further adiue, here are my first half MVP’s, Cy Young award winners, and Rookie of the Years.

National League ROY

Candidates – JA Happ, Colby Rasmus, Casey McGehee, Randy Wells, Dexter Fowler

My Preseason Pick – Cameron Maybin

Midseason Pick – Colby Rasmus

Rasmus leads all rookies in hits (75), HR (11), and RBI (34). If JA Happ continues to pitch the way he has for the Philadelphia Phillies, he will make a run at winning the NL ROY in the second half.

American League ROY

Candidates – Andrew Bailey, Rick Porcello, Brad Bergesen, Ricky Romero, Nolan Reimold, Elvis Andrus

My Preseaon Pick – Travis Snider

Midseason Pick – Ricky Romero

Romero is 7-3 with a 3.00 ERA in 87 innings for the Toronto Blue Jays. He just beats out Andrew Bailey.

National League Cy Young

Candidates – Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Dan Haren, Josh Johnson, Ryan Franklin

My Preseason Pick– Cole Hamels

Midseason Pick – Dan Haren

I originally had Lincecum winning this award, but when you look at the numbers, Haren is having an all-world first half. Haren is third in wins (9), first in ERA (2.01), first in Quality Starts (17), and first in WHIP (0.81).

American League Cy Young

Candidates – Roy Halladay, Justin Verlander, Josh Beckett, Zack Greinke, Felix Hernandez

My Preseaon Pick – Zack Greinke

Midseason Pick – Zack Greinke

Greinke is making me look like a genius with his first half. Greinke is second in wins (10), first in ERA (2.12), first in Quality Starts (15), and second in WHIP (1.08).

National League MVP

Candidates – Albert Pujols, Chase Utley, Adrian Gonzalez, Raul Ibanez, Hanley Ramirez

My Preason Pick – Albert Pujols

Midseason Pick – Albert Pujols

Pujols has a legitimate chance to win the triple crown this year. He heads into the second half fourth in the NL in batting average (.332), first in HR’s (32), first in RBI (87).

American League MVP

Candidates – Jason Bay, Mark Teixeira, Ben Zobrist, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Torii Hunter

My Preseason Pick – Grady Sizemore

Midseason Pick – Ben Zobrist

While Pujols has been the best player of the first half – Ben Zobrist has been the most “valuable.” Zobrist is second in the AL with a 1.012 OPS, has 17 HR’s, 11 SB’s, and 50 RBI.

All that while playing six positions. Where would the Rays be without him?

Other Awards

NL Manager of the Midseason – Joe Torre

AL Manager of the Midseason – Mike Scioscia

NL Comeback Player of the Midseason – Todd Helton

AL Comeback Player of the Midseason – Russell Branyan

NL Surprise Team of the Midseason – Colorado Rockies

AL Surprise Team of the Midseason – Seattle Mariners

NL Disappointing Team of the Midseason – Chicago Cubs

AL Disappointing Team of the Midseason – Cleveland Indians

Baseball’s Best Infield: Midseason…

July 13, 2009

In the fourth and final installment of the “Baseball’s Best: Midseason” series, I am going to take a look at which team has had baseball’s best infield at the halfway point of the season.

Just when I did baseball’s best outfield, the best infield will be determined by four categories – OPS, Runs Created, UZR, and Fielding Percentage. Stats for the first baseman, second baseman, shortstop and third baseman were used. Catchers’ stats were not considered.

Stats were used for the player who played the most games at that position. For instance, Ian Stewart has played more games at third than Garrett Atkins for the Colorado Rockies, so Stewart’s stats were used.

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

Here are baseball’s best infields at the halfway point of the 2009 season…

10 – 6. Washington Nationals, Florida Marlins, Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers

5. Colorado Rockies – 23 points

Infield – Todd Helton, Clint Barmes, Troy Tulowitzki, Ian Stewart

OPS – Eight

RC – Six

UZR – Two

FP – Seven

Helton continues to rake

Helton continues to rake

Analysis – It all changed for the Rockies when they put Clint Barmes at second, Ian Stewart at third, and Troy Tulowitzki started hitting. And oh yeah, they still have some guy named Todd Helton at first base.

To nobodies surprise, the Rockies can hit with anyone as their combined .831 OPS suggests. Ian Stewart has given the Rockies a nice lift with a .794 OPS.

This is one of my favorite infields in baseball.

4 (Tie). New York Yankees – 28 points

Infield – Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez

OPS – Nine

RC – Ten

UZR – Zero

FP – Eight

Analysis – The most expensive infield in baseball is also one of the best. The Yankees finished in the top three in three out of the four categories.

Newly acquired Mark Teixeira has been doing it with the bat, as well as the glove. Teixeira has a .920 OPS and has created 66.3 runs so far this season.

Teixeira has been lights out with the glove. If he wasn’t so good at scooping the ball out of the dirt, the Yankees infield would have maybe 20 more errors. I don’t think there is anyone better at scooping the ball out of the dirt at first than Teixeira.

Jeter and Cano have been steady up the middle for the Yankees. Cano has enjoyed a nice bounce year this year, after pretty much taking last year off.

I won’t talk about Rodriguez’s accomplishments because he is a cheater.

4 (Tie). Philadelphia Phillies – 28 points

Infield – Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Pedro Feliz

OPS – Five

RC – Seven

UZR – Seven

FP – Nine

Analysis – The Phillies would be higher on this list if Jimmy Rollins didn’t take the first half of the season off. Can you believe that through over 80 games Rollins has only created 36.7 runs? That is mediocre at best.

While Howard and Rollins have won MVP’s, it’s Chase Utley who has been the real MVP of this group in the first half of this season.

Utley has a sweet 1.004 OPS and has created 77.4 runs this season. The 77.4 runs created is tops of the players on this list.

Pedro Feliz has been very solid defensively with a 6.2 UZR and a .975 Fielding Percentage.

1 (Tie). Tampa Bay Rays – 32 points

Infield – Carlos Pena, Ben Zobrist, Jason Bartlett, Evan Longoria

OPS – Ten

RC – Nine

UZR – Eight

FP – Five

Longoria leads the best infield in baseball

Longoria leads the best infield in baseball

Analysis – Like the Phillies’ outfield, I guess when you send your entire infield to the All-Star game you are going to be tops this list. Longoria, Bartlett, Zobrist, and now Pena (taking the place of Pedroia) will be packing a suitcase for St. Louis.

The real story of this group is Zobrist. Zobrist is second in the AL with a 1.012 OPS and if the season ended today, he would finish in the top three in MVP voting.

Jason Bartlett is having a career year offensively and actually has a higher OPS than Evan Longoria (.937 to .903).

The Rays have the highest infield OPS in baseball with a .943 mark.

1 (Tie). Toronto Blue Jays – 32 points

Infield – Lyle Overbay, Aaron Hill, Marco Scutaro, Scott Rolen

OPS – Seven

RC – Eight

UZR – Seven

FP – Ten

Analysis – The Blue Jays’ infield can do it all. They can get to the ball, when they get to the ball – they catch it, and they can flat out hit.

The Blue Jays have gotten career years out of Aaron Hill and Marco Scutaro. Like Zobrist of the Rays, if the season ended today, Aaron Hill would be an MVP candidate.

Scott Rolen has enjoyed a nice comeback year. Rolen has a .858 OPS and has played his usually solid third base. Rolen is fourth amongst all third baseman with a .976 Fielding Percentage.

Lyle Overbay should be more like Mark Grace, but instead he hits like Mark Davis pitched for the Kansas City Royals.

So that is all for the baseball’s best series for now. I will do a final baseball’s best series at the end of the year. It will be interesting to see if the teams who were No. 1 at the halfway point, stay No. 1 by the end of the season.

*All stats were calculated for this post before Sunday’s action.

Picking My 2009 American League All Star Team…

June 17, 2009

Yesterday, I picked my 2009 National League All Star team. So today, I will pick my 2009 American League All Star team.

Like yesterday, I will follow the same rules that American League manager, Joe Maddon has to follow. I will pick 33 players and each team in the American League has to have a representative.

Starters

C. Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins

1B. Justin Morneau, Minnesota Twins

2B. Ian Kinsler, Texas Rangers

SS. Derek Jeter, New York Yankees

3B. Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays

OF. Jason Bay, Boston Red Sox

OF. Torii Hunter, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

OF. Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle Mariners

SP. Zack Greinke, Kansas City Royals

Much like the National League, there were six positions set and three up for debate. At first base you can debate that Kevin Youkilis or Mark Teixeira could start for the AL. But if you look at the stats, Morneau is having a better all around year than both Youkilis and Teixeira.

Greinke gets the start for the AL

Greinke gets the start for the AL

At second base, I choose Ian Kinsler of Aaron Hill based on Kinlser having more HR’s, RBI and SB’s than Hill. Hill wasn’t too far behind in the HR and RBI category and is batting almost 40 points higher than Kinsler.

You could make the case for Zack Greinke, Roy Halladay or Justin Verlander to be the starting pitcher for the American League. I choose Greinke because of his almost record breaking April and he still leads the AL in ERA.

Reserves – Pitchers

Roy Halladay, Toronto Blue Jays

Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers

Edwin Jackson, Detroit Tigers

Jered Weaver, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Kevin Millwood, Texas Rangers

Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners

Mark Buehrle, Chicago White Sox

Jonathon Papelbon, Boston Red Sox

Joe Nathan, Minnesota Twins

Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees

Scott Downs, Toronto Blue Jays

Andrew Bailey, Oakland A’s

Picking the reserve pitchers in the AL was not an easy task. The most glaring omissions were Cliff Lee (2.88 ERA), Erik Bedard (2.47 ERA), and Brian Fuentes (leads AL in saves with 17).

The A’s needed a representative, which knocked Lee out of the game.

I also would have loved to put Frank Francisco and his 0.47 ERA on the team, but he has not pitched in about a month and is currently on the DL.

Reserves – Position Players

C. Victor Martinez, Cleveland Indians

C. AJ Pierzynski, Chicago White Sox

1B. Kevin Youkilis, Boston Red Sox

1B. Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees

2B. Aaron Hill, Toronto Blue Jays

SS. Jason Bartlett, Tampa Bay Rays

3B. Brandon Inge, Detroit Tigers

3B. Michael Young, Texas Rangers

UTIL. Ben Zobrist, Tampa Bay Rays

OF. Nelson Cruz, Texas Rangers

OF. Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles

OF. Carl Crawford, Tampa Bay Rays

Zobrist will be stretching in St Louis

Zobrist will be stretching in St Louis

If picking the reserve pitchers was not an easy task, then picking the reserve position players was an impossible task. I really don’t envy Joe Maddon.

I had to leave off stars like Miguel Cabrera, Adam Lind, Dustin Pedroia, Nick Markakis, Johnny Damon, Russell Branyan and Chone Figgins. All of those players have a legitimate case to be on this team.

Here is the player breakdown by team:

4. Tampa Bay Rays, Texas Rangers

3. Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays, Minnesota Twins, Detroit Tigers

2. Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Seattle Mariners

1. Baltimore Orioles, Cleveland Indians, Kansas City Royals, Oakland A’s

What do you think of this team? Anyone I left off you feel should be on this team?

Injuries A Plenty Around Baseball….

May 27, 2009

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.