Posts Tagged ‘Felix Hernandez’

Mariners Bring Back Erik Bedard

February 7, 2010

Erik Bedard is one of the great teases in baseball. He is a left-handed pitcher with a ton of talent. There are very lefties in the game that have the stuff that Bedard has.

The problem is, he is always hurt. Not only is he seemingly always hurt, but some–including myself–have questioned his mental makeup. I believe he is one of the pitchers that would rather win in a small market than win in a big market.

Bedard has been a tease in Seattle

Bedard was involved in one of the most lopsided trades in recent years when he was sent from the Baltimore Orioles to the Seattle Mariners for Adam Jones, George Sherrill, Kameron Mickolio, and Chris Tillman. This trade has set the Orioles up for years to come, while Bedard has been a disaster in Seattle.

In two seasons, Bedard only made 30 starts and has gotten hurt every year. This is why Bedard is a tease. When he has been on the mound in a Mariners’ uniform he has pretty good for them.

In those 30 starts, Bedard had a 3.25 ERA, a 1.26 WHIP, and averaged 9.8 K’s/9. Not bad at all.

Bedard’s 2009 season ended at the end of July because of a shoulder injury. Bedard eventually needed shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum.

The injury couldn’t have come at a worse time for Bedard. He was entering his free agent year and at 30-years-old, Bedard could have been inline for one more big pay-day.

Bedard didn’t get the big payday because his injury will sideline him until at least May. However, he will be returning to the place that I didn’t think he would return to.

According to Marc Brassard of Le Droit, Bedard has re-signed with the Mariners. The deal is for one-year and 1.5 million plus incentives with an $8 million mutual option for 2011.

If Bedard reaches all his incentives in 2010, he could earn around $8.5 million.

I am really surprised Bedard is returning to the Mariners in 2010. After his two injury plagued seasons, I didn’t think the Mariners would bring him back.

Then I got to thinking, the Mariners need all of the pitching help they can get. The Mariners actually needed Bedard.

Yes, I know Seattle has a lethal one-two punch at the top of their rotation in Cliff Lee and Felix Hernandez, but what do they have after that? Ian Snell? Ryan Rowland-Smith? Doug Fister?

None of those guys strike fear in anyone. If the Mariners go into a three game series with those three pitching, they would be underdogs in all three games against most teams in the American League.

Now you can tell me that the Arizona Diamondbacks won the 2001 World Series with really only two starters and you would be correct. Outside of Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling, the Diamondbacks had nothing that year.

However, there is one big difference between what the Mariners have and what the Diamondbacks had in 2001–offense. Whether it was legit or not, Luis Gonzalez did hit 57 home runs that year and finished third in the MVP voting.

They also had Reggie Sanders who hit 33 home runs that year and Matt Williams, when healthy, was still capable of hitting the long ball. Mark Grace also hit .298 with .386 OBP.

Those players were able to bail their bad pitchers out because they could score more runs than their opponents. I don’t see that with this Mariners’ lineup.

If and that is a big if, Bedard can come back around mid-season, he would give the Mariners the third pitcher they need and a big lift as the season goes on.

Bedard will be entering his eighth season in the major league and has a career record of 51-41 with a 3.71 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP with the Orioles and Mariners.

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

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Verlander Signs Extension With Detroit Tigers

February 4, 2010

Its been a pretty good winter for two out of the three finalists for the American League Cy Young award in 2009. Felix Hernandez, who finished second in the voting signed a five-year, $78 million extension with the Seattle Mariners earlier this offseason and now the third place finisher got rewarded as well.

According to FOXSports.com, the Detroit Tigers have signed staff ace Justin Verlander to a five-year, $80 million contract. The deal cancels out Verlander’s remaining two years of arbitration plus three free agent years.

Verlander became a rich man on Wed.

Verlander will be 27 in two weeks, so the Tigers should have Verlander throughout his prime years. The Tigers have handed out some pretty awful long-term contracts recently (Magglio Ordonez, Nate Robertson, etc…), but this deal should be very much worth it for Detroit.

Since being taken with the second overall pick in the 2004 draft, Verlander has been everything the Tigers hoped he would be. In his four full years in the majors, Verlander has been a flat-out stud for three of those years.

Take out his 2008 season when he went 11-17 with a 4.84 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP and Verlander has gone 54-24 with a 3.58 ERA and 1.25 WHIP. That is pretty awesome.

Like Hernandez, Verlander’s extension comes on the heals of a career year in 2009. Verlander led the American League in starts, innings, batters faced, strikeouts, and wins last season. He also led all pitchers in pitches thrown with 3,937, which might be a little concerning for 2010, but I don’t think it will have any long-term effects going forward.

What I find interesting about this deal is that Verlander got $2 million dollars more than what Hernandez got. You know that was a power play move by his agents over at SFX. They had to get more for Verlander than what Hernandez’s agent for him.

Oh and by the way, the guy who beat out Hernandez and Verlander for the CY Young award in 2009, Zack Greinke? Don’t feel bad for him. He didn’t miss the boat on signing a contract.

Greinke signed a four-year, $38 million contract extension last January.

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

Starting Rotation: American League West

January 20, 2010

Next up in the starting rotation series is the American League West. The West is a real interesting division in terms of starting rotations because there are so many young starting pitchers in this division.

This division is filled with pitchers in their mid-to-late 20’s. Pitchers like Felix Hernandez, Cliff Lee, Jered Weaver, Brett Anderson make this division a nightmare for opposing batters.

Here are the starting rotations for each American League West team as presently constructed.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

1. Jered Weaver, RHP

2. Joe Saunders, LHP

3. Ervin Santana, RHP

4. Scott Kazmir, LHP

5. Matt Palmer, RHP

Quick Take – This staff lost its No.1 starter in John Lackey, but has four pretty good starters to replace him. This is a big year for Weaver. He needs to step up and pitch to his potential for a full season. Kazmir was brought in to replace Lackey, so he needs to have a big year as well.

Texas Rangers

1. Scott Feldman, RHP

2. Rich Harden, RHP

3. Derek Holland, LHP

4. Tommy Hunter, RHP

5. Brandon McCarthy, RHP

Quick Take – This rotation is young, but has a ton of potential. Feldman is not your classic No.1 starter, but did go an impressive 17-8 last year with a 4.05 ERA and only gave up 178 hits in 189.2 IP. The Rangers need to find a way to keep Harden healthy, which is easier said than done.

Seattle Mariners

1. Felix Hernandez, RHP

2. Cliff Lee, LHP

3. Ian Snell, RHP

4. Ryan Rowland-Smith, LHP

5. Doug Fister, RHP

Quick Take – When Lee is your No.2 starter, then you have the makings of a very, very good starting rotation. With Lee and Hernandez at the top of the rotation, they could win 35-40 games just by themselves. However, I have my doubts about the rest of the rotation. I still think they need to sign another pitcher.

Oakland A’s

1. Brett Anderson, LHP

2. Trevor Cahill, RHP

3. Justin Duchscherer, RHP

4. Vin Mazzaro, RHP

5. Dallas Braden, LHP

Quick Take – This rotation is very, very young. It’s so young that I feel they need a veteran in that rotation to lead them. Anderson and Cahill have the most potential on this staff and one of them needs to show some strides in 2010. The staff will be helped out by the A’s defensive additions this offseason.

Tomorrow, I will switch gears and look at the National League starting rotations. I’ll start with the National League East and work my way around.

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

Seattle Mariners Lockup Felix Hernandez

January 19, 2010

The Seattle Mariners invested not only for 2010, but in their future last night.

According to ESPN.com’s Keith Law, the Mariners have signed ace Felix Hernandez to a five-year, $78 million contract extension. The deal buys out Hernandez’s two remaining years of arbitration.

"King Felix" got paid last night

First, kudos to the Mariners’ front office for locking up Hernandez. It always pleases me to see when teams lock up home-grown talent to long-term deals.

The Cleveland Indians started this trend in the early to mid-90’s and it’s great to see the trend continuing into the 2000’s. We have seen over the years teams like the Kansas City Royals (Zack Greinke), and most recently the Florida Marlins (Josh Johnson) lockup young talent.

Second, kudos for Hernandez for taking a home town discount. I know it’s hard to say to a guy he just accepted a home town discount at $78 million, but the reality of the situation is, he did.

$78 million for a guy of Hernandez’s age (23) and caliber, is a pretty good deal for the Mariners. Just look at all the pitchers who signed contracts similar to Hernandez’s over the last couple of years.

Derek Lowe – Four years, $60 million

Roy Oswalt – Five years, $73 million

AJ Burnett – Five years, $82.5 million

John Lackey – Five years, $82.5 million

Carlos Zambrano – Five years, $91.5

Now, all of these pitchers are pretty good. There is no arguing that. But, none of them at the age of 23, have accomplished what Hernandez has accomplished so far at the major league level and has the skill level of Hernandez.

Last year, Hernandez was 19-5 with a 2.49 ERA and struck out 217 in 238.2 innings of work. He also finished second in the AL Cy Young award voting to Greinke.

One could make the argument that Hernandez could have asked for a CC Sabathia (seven years, $161 million) or Johan Santana (six years, $137.5 million) like contract. But he didn’t and now the Mariners have Hernandez locked up to a reasonable contract for the next five years.

Now that they have Hernandez locked up, I wonder how this affects the re-signing of Cliff Lee? Lee is a free agent after this season and will be looking for a significant raise from his $5.75 million salary in 2010.

If the Mariners can lockup both Hernandez and Lee, then they will really have something going in Seattle.

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

Red Sox Officially Trade Casey Kotchman To The Mariners

January 7, 2010

When the Boston Red Sox signed third baseman Adrian Beltre a couple of days ago, it meant that someone was expendable on Boston’s roster. That person was Casey Kotchman.

Kotchman has been rumored to be traded to the Seattle Mariners since Beltre was signed. Today, those rumors turned into reality as Shannon Drayer of ESPN 710 radio in Seattle is reporting Kotchman was officially traded to the Mariners.

Kotchman was traded yet again

The Red Sox will be receiving Bill Hall, a minor leaguer to be named later, and cash from the Mariners.

Kotchman has had a hard time finding a permanent home these days. He was traded from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to the Atlanta Braves in the Mark Teixeira trade, then he was traded from the Braves to the Red Sox less than a year later, and now he is traded from the Red Sox to the Mariners less than six months after his previous trade.

It’s not hard to understand why teams are always trading Kotchman. A GM probably looks at Kotchman as says, yeah he is good, but can’t we do better than him?

Kotchman is a very little hit, very good glove first baseman. He averages about .270 a season with 12 home runs and a .760 OPS.

He is a poor man’s Mark Grace. He’s even a poor man’s Lyle Overbay, which isn’t a ringing endorsement.

That being said (cue Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld), Kotchman is the type of player Mariners’ GM Jack Zduriencik is acquiring these days. The Mariners’ roster is now littered with players who bring very little power and can flash some leather.

Now that’s not the worst thing in the world. The Mariners are building their team around pitching and defense. With Kotchman, Franklin Gutierrez, Ichiro, Jack Wilson, and Chone Figgins, the Mariners have some of the best defensive players at their positions in the game.

And with the newly acquired Cliff Lee and Cy Young candidate Felix Hernandez at the top of the rotation, the Mariners should be serious contenders in the AL West.

However, and I am going to sound like a broken record here, the Mariners at some point are going to need someone to drive in some runs in order for them to take the next step in 2010. There starting rotation and bullpen isn’t that great where they can consistently win 3-2 every night.

Remember, despite winning with pitching and defense in 2008, the Tampa Bay Rays still had Evan Longoria and Carlos Pena as guys who could drive in the speedsters and average offensive players.

I don’t see those type of players on the Mariners right now. If the Mariners are going to play Milton Bradley in left, then a DH type like Jim Thome or Carlos Delgado would be perfect for Seattle.

For the Red Sox, they shed Kotchman’s salary (around $3 million), they got some money back, and were able to acquire a super-utility player in Hall. Hall can play left, right, second, and third for the Red Sox in 2010.

The acquisition of Hall, is music to my buddy Odie’s ears. He has been on the Hall bandwagon since 2005.

In 2006, Hall hit 35 home runs and had an .899 OPS and since then he has done nothing in the major leagues. It’s kind of puzzling since Hall is only 31-years-old.

Hall hit .201 last year with the Milwaukee Brewers and Mariners, so this might be his last chance to prove he can be a value major league player.

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

Royals’ Zack Greinke Wins American League Cy Young

November 17, 2009

My preseason pick for AL Cy Young: Zack Greinke

AL Cy Young award winner: Zack Greinke

I would like to personally thank the Baseball Writers’ Association of America and more importantly, Zack Greinke for making me look like a genius.

Today, Greinke won the American League Cy Young award in a landslide. Greinke received 25 out of 28 first-place votes to win the award. Seattle Mariners’ Felix Hernandez received two first-place votes and the Detroit Tigers’ Justin Verlander received the other first-place vote.

Greinke was my preason pick for the Cy Young

When I picked Greinke to win the AL Cy Young award, I thought he would have a breakout year, but not to this extent. Greinke flat-out dominated the American League in 2009.

Greinke led the AL with a 2.16 ERA, 242 strike outs, a 1.073 WHIP, and a 0.4 HR/9 in 33 games in 2009. He also finished second in complete games with six and shutouts with three.

The only reason he had just 16 wins is because the team he was playing on was inept. By the way, those 16 wins represented 25 percent of the Kansas City Royals’ wins in 2009.

Greinke is an amazing story. Remember, four years ago Greinke lost 17 games and just three years ago this was a guy who left spring training because of a social anxiety disorder and wasn’t sure if he wanted to play baseball again.

Now he is one of the best, young pitchers in the game and should be an ace for years to come.

Greinke becomes the third Kansas City Royal to win the Cy Young. David Cone won the award in 1994 and Bret Saberhagen won the award in 1985 and 1989.

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

Bronson Arroyo: What’s His Trade Market?

November 16, 2009

One of the bigger stories of last week was the Cincinnati Reds desire to cut payroll. It’s been reported that the Reds want to have a payroll less than the $73 million it was in 2009.

The easiest way to reduce payroll, of course, is to trade away some of your highest priced players. If the Reds were to trade some of their players, Aaron Harang, Brandon Phillips, Francisco Cordero, and Bronson Arroyo are the most likely trade candidates.

Bronson Arroyo

Arroyo plays the guitar just as well as he pitches

For the purposes of today’s post, let’s take a look at Arroyo. Here are the pros, the cons, and the teams who might be interested in trading for the Reds’ Guitar Hero.

PROS

Ever since Arroyo was traded to the Reds from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for Wily Mo Pena (not one of Theo Epstein’s finer moments, though I didn’t mind the deal for the Red Sox at the time) in March of 2006, Arroyo has been one of the most durable pitchers in the game.

Arroyo over the last four years have averaged 34 starts a year and 218 innings pitched. Twice in that span he has led the National League in starts (2006 & 2008) and once led the league in innings pitched (2006).

In a game where starting pitchers average five innings and are constantly on the DL, Arroyo makes all his starts and goes deep into games.

Teams also have to like the fact that as Arroyo gets older, he is throwing more groundballs than ever. Arroyo’s groundball rate of 44.8 percent in 2009 was the highest of his career.

Lastly, Arroyo gained valuable postseason experience pitching for the Red Sox in 2003, 2004, and 2005. While he didn’t pitch well (7.41 ERA in 10 games) in those October’s, he usually does he best work late in the season.

Arroyo is 22-9 with a 3.22 ERA in his career during September and October.

Cons

While Arroyo is one of the most durable pitchers in the game, there is a lot of tread on his tires. Over the last three years, Arroyo has thrown 10,275 pitches. That ranks him sixth amongst all starters in baseball.

That’s a lot of pitches for a guy who is going to be 33-years-old in 2010.

And while Arroyo’s contract seems reasonable at one-year and $11 million with a club option for $11 million for 2011, we are in a down economy in baseball.

Normally, $11 million for a pitcher like Arroyo is not outlandish, but not only does a team have to assume his contract in a down economy, but they would also have to surrender a couple of prospects.

That’s a lot to ask a team for essentially a number three pitcher on a contending team.

Now that we have seen the pros and cons of Arroyo, let’s take a look at what teams could be possible trade partners.

New York Mets: Right now, the Mets rotation is Johan Santana and a bunch of question marks. The Mets can afford Arroyo’s contract and he would give the Mets a solid number two or three starter going into 2010.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Vicente Padilla, Randy Wolf, and Jon Garland are all potential free agents leaving only Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw in the Dodgers’ rotation.

For a team who’s starters ranked 11th in the National League in innings pitched, Arroyo would be a welcomed site for Joe Torre.

New York Yankees: If the Yankees don’t feel Phil Hughes is ready to start and Andy Pettitte decides to retire, then Arroyo is a realistic option for the Yankees.

Minnesota Twins: I know this is a stretch because of Arroyo’s salary, but the Twins are looking to add a veteran starter or two this offseason. I would much rather have Arroyo than Carl Pavano, who they are looking to re-sign.

Seattle Mariners: The like the Mets, the Mariners have an ace in Felix Hernandez and then a bunch of question marks. With the Mariners great defense, Arroyo could thrive in the great northwest.

It would be a shame if the Reds had to trade Arroyo. With a great, young nucleus, the Reds are closer to contention than most people think.

I would say if the Reds were to shed salary, Arroyo is the most likely to go. His one-year contract and his performance to date would make him attractive to teams who need a starter.

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

Zack Greinke Wraps Up Cy Young Award With Victory Against Boston Red Sox

September 23, 2009

With all due respect to CC Sabathia, Justin Verlander, Felix Hernandez, Roy Halladay, and Mariano Rivera — they are not winning the American League Cy Young award in 2009. That honor will go to Kansas City Royals ace Zack Greinke.

My preseason pick to win the AL Cy Young award (I am going to take that to the grave with me.) all but wrapped up the award with a solid six inning, zero-run performance against the Boston Red Sox last night.

Greinke was the man again ast night

Greinke was the man again ast night

Did Greinke have his best stuff last night? Probably not. He did walk three in six innings of work. But Greinke proved last night why he is the best pitcher in baseball in 2009 — even when he doesn’t have his best stuff, he can still dominate one of the best lineups in baseball.

Greinke only allowed two hits and kept the Red Sox hitters off-balance all night. He made Kevin Youkilis look awful in three AB’s. He struck Youkilis out twice and in the third AB, all Youkilis could do is flick his wrists and hit a lazy fly ball to center.

Youkilis looked more confused that I did watching an episode of the X Files.

What I love about Greinke is that be makes everything look so effortless on the mound. Greinke is in such a groove that he can throw any pitch, any time in the count and it appears like it is no big deal to the viewer.

Greinke improved to 15-8 with his win last night. Greinke is now first in the AL in ERA (2.08), first in shutouts (three), first in WHIP (1.059), first in hits/9 innings (7.57), second in complete games (six), and second in strikeouts (229).

Lady’s and gentleman, your 2009 AL Cy Young award winner.

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!!!