Posts Tagged ‘Chad Billingsley’

Starting Rotation: National League West

January 23, 2010

The last last starting rotations I will look at are the starting rotations of the National League West. It’s no surprise that nine out of the last 11 NL Cy Young award winners have come from the West.

With the divisions big ballparks and offensively challenged lineups, the NL West is a pitcher’s dream. Any pitcher worth their salt, would love to pitch in this division.

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

Colorado Rockies

1. Ubaldo Jimenez, RHP

2. Aaron Cook, RHP

3. Jorge De La Rosa, LHP

4. Jeff Francis, LHP

5. Jason Hammel, RHP

Quick Take – I like this rotation, but I don’t love it. I would love for the Rockies to add one more reliable pitcher like Jon Garland. Francis returns to the Rockies after missing the entire 2009 season with a shoulder injury. Cook is really underrated.

San Francisco Giants

1. Tim Lincecum, RHP

2. Matt Cain, RHP

3. Barry Zito, LHP

4. Jonathan Sanchez, LHP

5. TBD

Quick Take – Linceum and Cain form one of the best one-two punches not only in the NL, but in all of baseball. Lincecum is aiming for his third straight Cy Young award. There is a big dropoff after Lincecum and Cain. I am not sold on Sanchez.

Los Angeles Dodgers

1. Chad Billingsley, RHP

2. Clayton Kershaw, LHP

3. Vicente Padilla, RHP

4. Hiroki Kuroda, RHP

5. James McDonald, RHP

Quick Take – Which Billingsley will show up in 2010? The one that was an All Star in the first half of 2009 or the one that faded in the second half? Dodgers need him to come back strong next season. This rotation will miss Randy Wolf , who pitched well for them down the stretch in 2009.

Arizona Diamondbacks

1. Dan Haren, RHP

2. Brandon Webb, RHP

3. Edwin Jackson, RHP

4. Billy Buckner, RHP

5. Ian Kennedy, RHP

Quick Take – Can Webb come back in 2010? That is the big question surrounding this rotation. If he can, the Diamondbacks will be in business in 2010. Jackson needs to pitch like he did in the first half with the Detroit Tigers, not the second half. Kennedy thinks he is a great pitcher, now he gets a chance to prove it.

San Diego Padres

1. Chris Young, RHP

2. Clayton Richard, LHP

3. Kevin Correia, RHP

4. Mat Latos, RHP

5. Tim Stauffer, RHP

Quick Take – Gone is staff ace Jake Peavy, but in is Latos and Richard. Richard pitched well last year (5-2 with a 4.08 ERA) for the Padres after coming over in the Peavy trade. Latos is a top prospect, who showed glimpses of brilliance in his first stint at the majors.

That concludes my starting rotation series for this week. I will revisit each starting rotation as the regular season approaches.

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

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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

Phillies Destroy Dodgers 10-4, Head Back To World Series

October 22, 2009

Like I said last week, if Chase Utley doesn’t beat you, then Ryan Howard will. If Howard doesn’t beat you, then Raul Ibanez will. And if none of those guys beat you, Jayson Werth will.

Werth hit two HR's last night

Werth hit two HR's last night

Last night, Jayson Werth smacked two HR’s and drove in four runs as the Philadelphia Phillies destroyed the Los Angeles Dodgers 10-4 to advance to their second straight World Series.

At some point I am going to realize that I shouldn’t keep betting against the Phillies. I picked the Colorado Rockies to beat them in the NLDS and I picked the Dodgers to beat them in the NLCS. Maybe if I pick the New York Yankees or the Los Angeles Angles of Anaheim to win the World Series, the Phillies would win?

What I have realized is that what happens in the regular season doesn’t matter for the Phillies. Not only are they a unique bunch because their superstars are their grinders, but they are unique because no matter what happens in the regular season, their players rise up in October.

That my friends, is a winning combination.

Did Jimmy Rollins have the best regular season? No, he didn’t. But he will always get the big hit in October. You can bank on it.

Carlos Ruiz is a nice regular season catcher. In the postseason, he takes his game to another level. Was there a Phillies’ rally in this series he wasn’t a part of?

How about Shane Victorino? In the regular season he had a .358 OBP. In the postseason he is getting on base almost 44 percent of the time. He is having great AB’s.

And of course, how about Brad Lidge? This guy couldn’t save his way out of a paper bag from April to September. Now in five postseason games, he has three saves and a Blutarsky-esque ERA of 0.00.

All these guys just know how to win in October. Did you know the Phillies are 18-5 in their last 23 postseason games? 18-5!!! That is incredible.

As for the Dodgers, this series was over when Jonathan Broxton blew the save in Game 4. And the series was officially over when Vicente Padilla gave up the three-run HR to Werth in the bottom of the first inning.

That HR was game, set, and match.

I think the Dodgers found out what their fatal flaw is in this series. They really need an ace.

They have a nice regular season pitching staff. It’s a staff that could win 85-95 games in the NL West. However, they don’t have that guy who can go out there and give you seven dominant innings on a consistent basis in the postseason.

Chad Billingsley was supposed to be that guy, but he is clearly not at this point. They need to get themselves a Roy Halladay or a John Lackey.

Teams like the Phillies crush mediocre pitching and the Dodgers have mediocre pitchers.

Here are some of my other observations from last night’s game:

I don’t want to hear about Cole Hamels peripherals anymore. The guy is not the same pitcher as he was last year. I was shocked that he couldn’t get out of the fifth inning last night.

James Loney was the only Dodgers’ player to show up for all five games in this series.

Someone should tell George Sherrill that pitching in October in Philadelphia is a lot different from pitching in Baltimore in July.

What was the point of bringing Clayton Kershaw into the game last night?

Chan Ho Park should have never started the eighth inning. He should only be a one inning pitcher. Ryan Madson should have started that inning.

How good was Chad Durbin in this series? He didn’t allow a hit in three innings pitched. Again, another guy who steps up his game in October.

Hero of Game 5 – Jayson Werth

Goat of Game 5 – Vicente Padilla

Series MVP – Ryan Howard

Congratulations to the Philadelphia Phillies and their fans on making the 2009 World Series

Phillies’ Offense, Cliff Lee Dismantle Dodgers

October 19, 2009

Los Angeles Dodgers’ pitcher, Hiroki Kuroda was suffering from a herniated disk in his neck.

After last night’s performance in Philadelphia, he might be suffering from whiplash as well.

Kuroda was torched last night for six runs in one-and-a-third innings as the Phillies beat the Dodgers going away 11-0 to take a 2-1 advantage in their best-of-seven series.

If you are a mediocre pitcher and make mediocre pitches–the Phillies will crush you. It’s as simple as that. The Phillies’ offense is too good to be shut down by a guy who was throwing Double A stuff.

Kuroda had nothing last night as the Phillies smacked him around all over the field. Ryan Howard got the  scoring started early with a two-run triple in the first. Believe it or not, Howard actually had four triples during the regular season, so this wasn’t that big of a shock.

If Howard’s triple didn’t shock Kuroda, then the next batter did. Jayson Werth, who is having his national coming out party, blasted a two-run HR over the centerfield fence to give the Phillies a 4-0 lead.

Things didn’t get better for Kuroda in the second as Carlos Ruiz started off the inning with a double and he came around to score on a Jimmy Rollins double of his own. Kuroda was lifted and the game was essentially over.

Why was this game over at that point? The game was over because Cliff Lee just dominated the Dodgers’ lineup.

Lee allowed just three hits, struckout 10, and didn’t allow a run in eight incredible innings of work. In three postseason season starts, Lee has allowed two earned runs and has struckout 20 in 24.1 innings of work.

Lee dominated the Dodgers last night

Lee dominated the Dodgers last night

So much for not having “postseason experience.”

Having “postseason experience” is one of the most overrated things in sports. Having post season experience or no postseason experience has no bearing on the outcome of the game that is played that day.

I can give you a countless number of players who have had years upon years of experience in the postseason, who have failed and I can give you a countless number of players who have had zero postseason experience, who have dominated.

It’s all about the performance of today–not five years ago.

And today, Lee is performing at a very high level. How dominant was Lee yesterday against the Dodgers? Lee faced 26 batters and only three times did batters have a 2-0 or 3-1 count.

As a batter, you can’t be aggressive if you are constantly behind in the count.

Now, if you are the Dodgers you really have to ask yourself if you want to bring back Kuroda if there is a Game Six? Joe Torre’s other option would be Chad Billingsley.

Billingsley allowed two runs on two hits in three-and-a-third innings of work last night. He only threw 57 pitches, so if Torre wants to bring him back for Game Six, he should be plenty rested.

The Dodgers will have Randy Wolf going tonight. I actually think Wolf will pitch well tonight.Very rarely does a team get blown out two games in a row in the postseason.

If he doesn’t, the Dodgers might not make it back to play in L.A.

Hero for Game Three – Cliff Lee

Goat for Game Three – Hiroki Kuroda

Series MVP – Ryan Howard

Game Four is tonight at 8:07 ET.

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.

Should The Dodgers Be Concerned With Chad Billingsley?

July 29, 2009

There are a lot of great pitchers in the game today who are 25-years old and younger. Tim Lincecum, Zack Greinke, Felix Hernandez, and Chad Billingsley come to mind. What is amazing is that at such a young age, all these pitchers are considered the ace of their respective staffs.

With so much responsibility put on their shoulders (literally), it’s not uncommon for young pitchers to go through a slump during the course of the long baseball season. That is exactly what I think is happening to Los Angeles Dodgers’ ace Chad Billingsley.

Billingsley will be fine

Billingsley will be fine

Billingsley was roughed up again last night. This time it was by the St Louis Cardinals. Billingsley gave up six runs, an uncharacteristic six walks, and four hits in 5.2 innings of work last night.

What made this game frustrating for Dodgers’ fans is that Billingsley was cruising for five innings. For what ever reason, Billingsley imploded in the sixth inning – four walks (two were intentional), two wild pitches, three hits, and six runs. Ouch.

I have seen this before with another young pitcher – Jon Lester. In many games this year (May 15 at Seattle comes to mind), Lester would be cruising and then all of a sudden just lose it in the fifth or six inning. His stuff was still there, but his location was off and by the time he figured it out, it was too late. 

Despite Billingsley’s 7.52 ERA in July and his 2,225 pitches thrown this year (third behind Justin Verlander and Adam Wainwright), if I was a Dodger fan, I would not be too concerned about your ace. He doesn’t appear hurt and he is just in a pitching slump. It happens to every young pitcher in the game.

Slumps happen at different points of the season. For Tim Lincecum it was April and for Jon Lester it was May. Billingsley will be fine – he is too good not to be.

One last note about the Dodgers. How about Matt Kemp? I thought it was a bad move by Joe Torre to bat Kemp eighth. However, it has worked. Kemp is batting .443 and has an OPS of 1.177 hitting in the No. Eight hole. Not too shabby.

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!!!

Baseball’s Best Starting Rotation: Midseason…

July 8, 2009

In the next installment of the Baseball’s Best: Midseason” series, we are going to take a look at baseball’s best starting rotation. The starting rotation is the backbone of any team and now we are going to see which team has had the best starting rotation for the first half of the season.

Baseball’s best starting rotation will be judged on four categories – ERA, Innings Pitched, WHIP, and OPS. As you noticed, I did not include wins as a category. My reasoning is that wins doesn’t necessarily reflect how good a pitcher – or a rotation for that matter really is. Just look at Javier Vazquez’s  and Dan Haren’s years for proof of that.

Each category is worth 10 points. If a team isn’t in the top 10 for that particular category, that team received zero points.

In my preseason edition of baseball’s best starting rotation, the San Francisco Giants had the No.1 rotation in baseball.

10. – 6. Kansas City Royals, Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago White Sox, Colorado Rockies, Chicago Cubs

5. Seattle Mariners – 22 points

ERA – Five

IP – Zero

WHIP – Ten

OPS – Seven

"King Felix" has been an ace this year

"King Felix" has been an ace this year

Analysis – Before you saw this post, if you had to guess who was the only American League team to finish in the top five who would it be? The New York Yankees? Boston Red Sox? Detroit Tigers? Well, as you can see it is the Seattle Mariners.

The Mariners are led by their version of the “Big Three.” Felix Hernandez has become a legitimate ace and has gone 8-3 with a 2.62 ERA and 114 K’s in 116.2 IP. Free-agents to be Erik Bedard (2.50 ERA, 1.13 WHIP) and Jarrod Washburn (3.06 ERA, 90 hits in 105.1 IP) have really stepped up and pitched well for the Mariners in the first half.

4. Atlanta Braves – 25 points

ERA – Seven

IP – One

WHIP – Eight

OPS – Nine

Analysis – The Braves spent the entire offseason trying to revamp their starting rotation, and it has paid off. The Braves rotation goes five deep and features three starters who have sub-three ERA’s.

Javier Vazquez, who was acquired in the offseason from the White Sox has really been the ace of this staff. Despite a lack of run support which has cost him plenty of wins this year, Vazquez has a 2.95 ERA and has been one of most consistent pitchers in baseball. He has 12 Quality Starts in 18 games.

The Braves also have gotten a solid season from Jair Jurrjens (2.91 ERA) and have gotten a nice lift from top prospect Tommy Hanson (2.25 ERA, 1.25 WHIP).

Offseason free-agent signings Derek Lowe (4.56 ERA) and Kenshin Kawakami (4.46 ERA) round out the rotation.

3. Los Angeles Dodgers – 27 points

ERA – Nine

IP – Zero

WHIP – Nine

OPS – Ten

Analysis – The Dodgers’ starters rank second in ERA (3.67), second in WHIP (1.26), and first in OPS Against (.684). It might be really nice to pitch in Chavez Ravine. Dodger Stadium can even turn Jeff Weaver and Eric Milton into respectable pitchers.

The Dodgers have been really led by three pitchers in the first half – Chad Billingsley, Randy Wolf, and Clayton Kershaw.

Billingsley is the ace of this staff and has pitched like it so far this year. Billingsley is 9-4 with a 3.14 ERA and has held right-handed batters to a ridiculously low .588 OPS throughout the first half of the season.

The Dodgers have also gotten Hiroki Kuroda back from injury and he has chipped in with a respectable 3.94 ERA and a very good 1.01 WHIP.

2. St. Louis Cardinals – 28 points

ERA – Eight

IP – Ten

WHIP – Four

OPS – Six

Analysis – I was shocked to see the Cardinals so high on this list. I wouldn’t expect a staff that features the likes of Todd Wellemeyer and Brad Thompson to be one of the best in anything. It just goes to show you how valuable Pitching Coach Dave Duncan really is to the Cardinals’ organization.

As long as the Cardinals can keep Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright healthy, this staff will give the Cardinals a chance to win. Carpenter has been lights out this year with a 2.32 ERA, a 0.82 WHIP, and nine Quality Starts in just 12 starts.

Wainwright has also been impressive this year. The Cardinals’ righty is third in baseball with 122.1 IP and sports a 3.09 ERA in those 122.1 IP.

Lincecum leads the Giants' staff

Lincecum leads the Giants' staff

1. San Francisco Giants – 34 points

ERA – Ten

IP – Eight

WHIP – Six

OPS – Eight

Analysis – The Giants’ starting rotation was the preseason No. 1 and at the midway point in the season, they remain No. 1. I guess it helps to have the two leading Cy Young candidates on the same staff – Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain.

Lincecum and Cain have been the best one-two punch in baseball with a combined 19-4 record with 1.14 WHIP, 234 K’s, and a 2.33 ERA in 236.1 IP. If they keep this up we might have to change “Spahn and Sain and pray for rain” to “Lincecum and Cain and pray for rain.”

The Giants also can turn to two former Cy Young award winners to start games in Barry Zito and Randy Johnson. Zito has pitched better this year and has held batters to a .247 batting average this year.

Johnson, even at the age of 45 can still get it done. Johnson has a WHIP of 1.32 and has still been able to strike out 80 batters in 90.1 IP this year.

Tomorrow I will take a look at baseball’s best outfield.

*Please note all stats were calculated before today’s action.

Picking My 2009 National League All Star Team…

June 16, 2009

One of my favorite events of the year is the major league baseball All Star Game. Do I think that home field advantage in the World Series should be decided by the winner of the All Star game? No, I don’t. But I still the event regardless.

The mid-summer classic offers fans the opportunity for fans to see the best players in the game all on the field at the same time. It’s quite a scene.

With the All Star game exactly one month away from yesterday, I am going to put together my All Star game roster. Today I will do the National League and tomorrow, I will pick the American League All Stars.

Of course I will follow the same rules that this year’s National League manager, Charlie Manuel has to go by. A roster of 33 players and each team in the National League has to be represented.

With out any further adieu, here is my National League All Star Team:

Starters

C. Brian McCann, Atlanta Braves

1B. Albert Pujols, St Louis Cardinals

2B. Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies

SS. Hanley Ramirez, Florida Marlins

3B. David Wright, New York Mets

OF. Raul Ibanez, Philadelphia Phillies

OF. Carlos Beltran, New York Mets

OF. Brad Hawpe, Colorado Rockies

SP. Matt Cain, San Francisco Giants

There were six selections that were pretty obvious. The three players that are worth debating are Hanley Ramirez at SS, Brad Hawpe in the OF and Matt Cain as the starting pitcher.

I gave the slight edge to Ramirez over Tejeda at SS based on Ramirez having a higher OPS and more SB’s. Does anyone realize what a graet year Brad Hawpe is having? .337/9/47 is mighty impressive. I gave him the slight edge over Ryan Braun.

Cain is 9-1 and in my opinion, has been the most consistent NL starter, so he gets the nod over Santana and Billingsley.

Reserves – Pitchers

Johan Santana, New York Mets

Chad Billingsley, Los Angeles Dodgers

Dan Haren, Arizona Diamondbacks

Josh Johnson, Florida Marlins

Ted Lilly, Chicago Cubs

Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants

Johnny Cueto, Cincinnati Reds

Francisco Rodriguez, New York Mets

Trevor Hoffman, Milwaukee Brewers

Heath Bell, San Diego Padres

Jonathon Broxton, Los Angeles Dodgers

Ryan Franklin, St Louis Cardinals

After last year’s marathon, I decided to go with 13 pitchers instead of 12. I also went with more starters because of what happened last year. The toughest ommissions were Jason Marquis (8 wins), Zach Duke (7-4 3.10 ERA), Yovanni Gallardo (2.88 ERA) and Brian Wilson (17 saves)

Reserves – Position Players

C. Yadier Molina, St Louis Cardinals

C. Carlos Ruiz, Philadelphia Phillies

1B. Adrian Gonzalez, San Diego Padres

1B. Prince Fielder, Milwaukee Brewers

2B. Freddy Sanchez, Pittsburgh Pirates

2B. Orlando Hudson, Los Angeles Dodgers

SS. Miguel Tejada, Houston Astros

3B. Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals

OF. Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers

OF. Justin Upton, Arizona Diamondbacks

OF. Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers

OF. Carlos Lee, Houston Astros

Some of the notable position players I had to leave off the roster were Chipper Jones, Adam Dunn (couldn’t have two Nationals on the roster), Hunter Pence (hard call between him and Lee) and Ryan Howard.

Here is the player by team breakdown:

4. New York Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers

3. Philadelphia Phillies, Milwaukee Brewers, St Louis Cardinals

2. Florida Marlins, Arizona Diamondbacks, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Houston Astros

1. Atlanta Braves, Washington Nationals, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Pittsburgh Pirates, Colorado Rockies

What do you think? Anyone I leave off who you feel was deserving?

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.