Posts Tagged ‘George Sherrill’

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

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Ruiz, Ibanez Power Phillies To Game One Win

October 16, 2009

If Jimmy Rollins doesn’t beat you, then Shane Victorino will beat you. If Victorino doesn’t beat you, then Jayson Werth will beat you. If Werth doesn’t beat you then Chase Utley will beat you. And if none of those guy beat you, Ryan Haward, Raul Ibanez, and Carlos Ruiz will beat you.

That is how deep and powerful the Philadelphia Phillies lineup is. The Los Angeles Dodgers found out first hand how deep the Phillies lineup is in their 8-6 loss in Game One of the NLCS last night.

The Phillies took advantage of seven walks handed out by Dodger pitching as well as some just horrendous managing by Joe Torre to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

This was a weird game because it started off as a pitcher’s duel between Clayton Kershaw and Cole Hamels. Both pitchers looked very sharp early. I was particularly impressed with Kershaw. He had electic stuff through the first four innings.

Kershaw fell apart in the fifth

Kershaw fell apart in the fifth last night

Then the fifth inning happened and this game went from looking like a two hour and 30 minute game, to a game between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees.

Ibanez led off the inning with a single and advanced to second on Kershaw’s first wild pitch of the inning. Pedro Feliz walked and now you have first and second with nobody out for Carlos Ruiz.

Ruiz proceeds to tomahawk a ball about 360 feet over the leftfield wall. Kershaw was cruising through the first four innings and with just one pitch he is down now 3-1.

What a good little player Ruiz is. He is really underrated. He is just another player in a long list of gritty, gutty, gamers the Phillies have.

To put it in perspective how underrated Ruiz is, according to Marc Hulet over at Fangraphs, Ruiz was worth about $10 million to the Phillies this season. His salary for 2009 is around $475,000. Not a bad deal for the Phillies.

Once Ruiz hit that homerun, Kershaw unraveled like Armando Benitez in any pressure situation. Kershaw walked Hamels on four pitches, then got Rollins to hit into a fielder’s choice, and then struck out Victorino on a ball that bounced five feet in front of home plate.

In that sequence, Kerhshaw, channeling his inner Rick Ankiel (Ankiel threw a record five wild pitches in an inning in 2000) threw two more wild pitches. He was done. Toast. Finished.

This is when Torre went into sleep mode. I would have taken Kershaw out before facing Utley. It was clear this kid was rattled and had nothing in the mound.

Torre left Kershaw in to face Utley and he promptly walked the Phillies’ second baseman. After that there is no way on earth I am leaving Kershaw in to face Howard.

It was still a 3-1 game and the way Hamels was pitching up to that point, three runs might have been enough. There is no way Torre can let that game get out of hand.

He had a lefty warming up in the pen in Scott Elbert and a righty warming up in Ramon Troncosco. Torre either has to bring in Elbert to face Howard or he can walk Howard and let Troncosco face Werth.

Either way, Kershaw can’t be pitching to Howard.

Of course, Torre leaves Kershaw in the game and Howard proceeds to rip one down the rightfield line. The game is now 5-1 and Torre was a day late and a dollar short with his decision making.

Not only was that a terrible managerial move by Torre, but there was another part of this game that would have me really concerned about where Torre is mentally this series.

In the bottom of the sixth with two on and two out, Torre called upon Jim Thome to pinch hit. First, I have no problem with Torre going to Thome that early in the game.

Thome is their big gun off the bench and who knows if the Dodgers are going to get another chance like this for the rest of the game. An extra-base hit gives the Dodgers a lead and Thome is their best chance at an extra-base hit off the bench.

Now here comes my issue with Torre and where I would have lost my mind if I was a Dodger fan.

Thome walked and right now he can’t run. He has plantar fasciitis. Everyone seemed to know this except for Torre. Thome gets to first and there is no pinch-runner coming off the bench.

Torre was so asleep at the wheel on this, it was disturbing to watch. Any manager worth his salt plans ahead and goes to someone on the bench “Hey, if he walks or gets on base, you are going to pinch-run.”

It was like Torre was only expecting a HR or a strikeout from Thome. He was completely unprepared for anything else.

The TV camera goes into the Dodgers’ dugout and it appeared Torre was asking Don Mattingly if he could run? Joe, it’s your job to know that.

I will assume Mattingly said no and now they are scrambling for a pinch-runner. Are you kidding me? I could not believe what I was watching.

Torre eventually pointed to Randy Wolf, who had that “Who me?” look on his face. Wolf had to down to the dugout and put on cleats, which proved Torre had not prepared for the situation.

It was a complete clown show.

Wake up Torre!!! You are not in the American League and you are not in Yankeeland anymore. You actually have to work in the National League and make decisions.

You were embarrassed in Game Four in last year’s NLCS (the Matt Stairs game) and you were embarrassed in Game One of this year’s NLCS.

Dodger fans can’t be too pleased with what they have seen from Torre.

Even with Torre in never-never land the Dodgers still had their chances in this game. Down 5-4 in the bottom of the seventh, the Dodgers had Andre Ethier on second with nobody out.

Then Chan Ho Park entered the game. Park came into the game looking like a guy who just on vacation for a month. He had that “I don’t give a darn about anything” beard going and looked extremely relaxed.

He looked like Vincent Chase when he disappeared on that island during last season’s Entourage. Park came into the game throwing bullets.

Park got Manny Ramirez, Matt Kemp, and Casey Blake 1-2-3 and the Phillies had the lead. That inning was huge. Enough can’t be said about Park’s effort in Game One.

Ibanez put the icing on the cake

Ibanez put the icing on the cake

The Phillies got three insurance runs in the top of the eighth on a Raul Ibanez three-run HR off of George Sherrill. Some interesting notes about that inning.

Sherrill walked the first two batters of the inning. Up until that inning, Sherrill had never walked the first two batters of an inning in his career. The last HR Sherrill gave up to a left-handed hitter was on June 14, 2008 to Adam LaRoche.

Ryan Madson did his best to cough up the lead in the bottom of the frame, but limited the damage to just two runs. With the Phillies up 8-6, Brad Lidge came into the game to close the Dodgers out.

This was a long, but entertaining game. The Phillies will try to take a 2-0 series lead today and will have Pedro Martinez going to mound.

The Dodgers will counter with Vicente Padilla. This is a must win game for the Dodgers.

Hero for Game One – Chan Ho Park

Goat for Game One – Joe Torre

Series MVP – Raul Ibanez

Game Three is today at 4:07 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.

Dodgers Win Game Two: Matt Holliday Not The Only One To Blame For Cardinals Loss

October 9, 2009

The St. Louis Cardinals, a team many picked to win the World Series is on the brink of elimination after yesterday’s stunning 3-2 loss at Dodger Stadium.

The Los Angeles Dodgers scored two runs with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to take a commanding 2-0 series lead in their best-of-five series with the Cardinals. The easy target for this loss for the Cardinals is LF Matt Holliday.

Holliday made a crucial error in Game 2

Holliday made a crucial error in Game 2

In case you missed it, the Cardinals were leading 2-1 with two outs and nobody on base in the bottom of the ninth. James Loney hit a routine linedrive to leftfield, but Holliday didn’t see the ball, the ball hit him right in the bread basket and the ball dropped in.

“I didn’t see the ball,” Holliday said. “Obviously, I can catch a ball that’s hit right at me. It’s very difficult to swallow. We had a chance to win the game. It was unfortunate that it happened when it did.”

Holliday’s drop opened the floodgates for the Dodgers and they never looked back. Now it’s going to be easy to blame Holliday for this loss. Afterall, he did make the crucial error in the bottom of the ninth inning.

However, Holliday’s error was just as small piece in yesterday’s puzzle. Remember, even after Holliday’s error, there were still two outs and a runner on second. There was still plenty of opportunities for the Cardinals to get out of that inning with a win.

The reality is the Cardinals are playing bad baseball.

Outside of Adam Wainwright, who has been the only Cardinal to show up in this series, everyone was to blame for this loss.

Let’s talk about the fact that the Cardinals were 0-9 with Runners In Scoring Position yesterday and are just 3-22 for the series.

Someone should tell Brendan Ryan and his stupid mustache that the series started two days ago. He couldn’t get a hit in a big spot if his life depended on it right now.

Let’s talk about Colby Rasmus’ horrific baserunning mistake in the top of the seventh. After Rasmus doubled home Mark DeRosa to give the Cardinals a 2-1 lead, Rasmus, for reasons only known to him tried to advance to third on the throw home.

Rasmus was gunned out at third for the first out of the inning. You can never, ever, ever, ever make the first out at third base–especially in that situation. I thought that was one of the biggest plays of the game.

LaRussa was so upset, it was like someone screamed “last call!!!” at the bar.

Let’s talk about Ryan Franklin, who had the same look on his face as Calvin Schiraldi did in Game Six of the 1986 World Series. You know, that “I would rather be anywhere but here” look on his face.

Let’s talk about Yadier Molina and his pathetic attempt to block a curveball in the dirt in the ninth inning. For a guy who is supposed to be the “best defensive catcher” in the game, that was an inexcusable play.

Bottom line is the Cardinals have done everything that can to give these games to the Dodgers. Now, I don’t want to act like the Dodgers have done nothing in this series. Let’s give credit where credit is due.

Let’s especially give credit to the Dodgers’ bullpen. For the second game in a row they completely shutdown the Cardinals in the late innings. The George Sherrill acquisition is getting better and better with each passing game.

The Dodgers have taken advantage of the opportunities given to them and have taken full advantage of it. That’s why they are up 2-0.

Game Three is Saturday at 6:07. Here is something to chew on Cardinal and Dodger fans. No NL team has come back from a 2-0 deficit in the division series era. It has been done four times in the AL.

Bullpen Saves The Day For The Dodgers In Game One

October 8, 2009

In one of the most brutal postseason games to watch in quite some time, the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the St Louis Cardinals 5-3 in Game One of their National League Division Series.

This was three-hours and fifty three minutes of unwatchable baseball. Both starting pitchers–Chris Carpenter and Randy Wolf couldn’t have been worse and both teams left a combined 30 runners on base. The 30 runners left on base was a record for a nine-inning postseason game.

I thought the National League was known for fast-paced, crisp baseball?

Let’s start with the Cardinals. What on earth happened to Carpenter in this game? He looked like Carpenter on the Toronto Blue Jays, circa 2001.

I couldn’t get over how badly Carpenter was missing his spots. If Yadier Molina was setting up inside, Carpenter threw the ball six inches outside. If Molina wanted the ball low, Carpenter threw the ball at a batter’s letters.

I don’t know if it was playoff nerves or what? But I have never seen Carpenter off like that in a Cardinals uniform.

The other Cardinal I am going to get on is Matt Holliday. I know it was only one AB, but his first inning AB with the bases loaded was terrible.

We got a clear indication early on that Joe Torre is not going to let Albert Pujols beat him in this series. That means that Holliday is going to have to step up.

Bases loaded, nobody out, Wolf already on the ropes, and Holliday stands there with the bat on his shoulders looking at the same pitch–not once, but twice.

That just can’t happen in that spot.

Now let’s talk about the lesser of two evils last night–the Dodgers. Just as I suspected Wolf was, well, Wolf. Six hits, two runs, and five walks in three-and-two-thirds of less than stellar pitching.

The Dodgers’ offense helped him out with a solid 12-hit attack led by Rafael Furcal (3-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored) and Matt Kemp (two-run HR in the first that set the tempo for the game). But the real stars of this game for the Dodgers was their bullpen.

Jeff Weaver (yes, Jeff Weaver), Ronald Belisario, Hong-Chih Kuo, George Sherrill (very underrated pickup at the trade deadline), and closer Jonathan Broxton combined to shut down the Cardinals for five-and-one-third innings.

Weaver did to the Cardinals last night, what he did to other teams in a Cardinals’ uniform in 2006. Somehow, in his last 31 postseason innings Jeff Weaver has a 2.32 ERA. How is that possible?

The Cardinals did have a rally going in the ninth against Broxton. Mark DeRosa doubled home Ryan Ludwick to make the score 5-3. But Broxton got pinch-hitter Rick Ankiel looking at a pitch literally right down the middle to end the game.

Honestly, what on earth was Ankiel looking for in that situation? He really has no excuse on that one.

Dodgers lead the series 1-0. Game Two is Thursday at 6:07 ET.

Let’s hope Game Two is better to watch than Game One. It can’t get much worse.

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

Los Angeles Dodgers Clinch Playoff Spot

September 27, 2009

Two playoff teams down, four more to go. With the Los Angeles Dodgers 8-4 victory over the hapless Pittsburgh Pirates, they became the first National League and second team overall to clinch a spot in the 2009 postseason.

The Dodgers have the best record in the NL with a 93-62 mark. The Dodgers have done it with a very steady offense and a bullpen that is currently the best in the National League.

Dodger Stadium will be rocking in October

Dodger Stadium will be rocking in October

Despite missing Manny Ramirez for 50 games, the Dodgers rank first in the NL in batting average (.272), first in OBP (.347), third in runs (752), and forth in OPS (.763). The Dodgers can primarily thank Matt Kemp and team MVP Andre Ethier for those numbers.

But where the Dodgers shined this year was in the bullpen. The Dodgers lead the majors in bullpen ERA with a 3.11 mark. The mid-season acquisition of George Sherrill has paid dividends as Sherrill has a 0.73 ERA and 11 holds in 27 appearances.

Of course any bullpen would be helped out by having Jonathan Broxton as the closer. Despite looking as portly as ever, Broxton has 36 saves and leads all NL closers in K/9 with 13.50.

And of course you can’t mention the Dodgers without mentioning Joe Torre. I mean I can, but the national media can’t. With this postseason appearance, Torre has now reached the playoffs in 14 consecutive seasons.

I would love to know what deal Torre made with the devil. I am serious. Torre went from being a bafoon with the St. Louis Cardinals, to the most beloved figure in New York, and has continued the same success in Los Angeles.

Torre has reached a point in career where he can do no wrong. Only Bill Belicheck is on his level in the four major sports. Torre can send Chad Billingsley to the mound, tell him to throw left-handed to Albert Pujols, Pujols would fly out deep to left, and he would be called a genius.

That’s the level Torre is on.

As for the playoffs, despite having the best record in the NL, I am not sold on the Dodgers. Unless the Atlanta Braves catch the Colorado Rockies, I have a hard time seeing the Dodgers beating either the Cardinals or the Philadelphia Phillies in the NLDS.

Fantasy Week In Review, July 27-August 2nd…

August 3, 2009

Believe it or not, there was more to last week than just the July 31st trading deadline. Hard to believe right? Well, the fantasy baseball season is in it’s final stretch. For a lot of leagues, August is the final month of the regular season.

That being said, I added a couple of more players to the potential pickups section in order to help your team out. Here are the fantasy studs, the players players of concern and the potential pickups for the week of July 27 – August 2nd.

Fantasy Studs

Jhonny Peralta – .407/3/12. Yes, the Cleveland Indians still have some major-league players left.

Gordon Beckham – .393/2/10 with one SB. With this second half surge, Beckham might win the American League Rookie of the Year.

Josh Willingham – .375/3/9. If a man hits two grand slams in one game, he is a fantasy stud.

Bobby Abreu – .500/1/8/.517 with two SB’s.  There are a lot of people who don’t like Abreu as a player, but there is one thing for sure – the man puts up numbers.

Matt Holliday – .536/3/8/.600. I think Holliday likes playing in front of people and in a pennant race. The complete opposite of playing in Oakland.

Tim Lincecum – 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA and 23 K’s in 17 IP. When Lincecum is on a roll like this, he is one of the most exciting pitchers to watch. Just spectacular.

Chris Carpenter – 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA and seven K’s in 16 IP. Carpenter isn’t striking out many batters, but he is working efficiently and deep into games.

Cliff Lee – 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA and 10 K’s in 16 IP. American League, National League, it doesn’t matter to Lee. He is pitching lights out right now.

Reasons for Concern

Ian Kinsler – Kinsler was placed on the 15-day DL with a strained left hamstring. Can this guy stay healthy just one year? Please? Fantasy owners are begging him.

This is a big loss not only to the Rangers, but to all fantasy owners who have Kinsler on their team. Kinsler was tied for second with Chase Utley for HR’s by a second baseman with 23 and was forth in RBI with 63.

George Sherrill – This might be one of the only issues people have with the trade deadline. In the blink of an eyelash, Sherrill went from valuable closer to useless fantasy set-up man.

Unless your league counts Holds as a stat or Jonathan Broxton gets hurt (I’ll knock on wood for all you Dodger fans), Sherrill has pretty much become useless for the purposes of fantasy baseball.

Potential Pickups

Jason Frasor – With current closer Scott Downs landing on the 15-day DL with a left big toe injury, Frasor becomes the defacto closer in Toronto. The Blue Jays are struggling, but Frasor should be able to get you a couple of saves down the stretch.

Clayton Richard – Richard went to the San Diego Padres in the Jake Peavy trade and now gets to pitch in the Yellowstone Park of baseball. I have always liked Richard, so if he can get any run support he could be valuable down the stretch.

Josh Reddick – The Boston Red Sox 22-year old rookie is off to a .364/1/2 in his first three major league games. With JD Drew and Jason Bay hurting, Reddick should be getting his AB’s in Boston.

Jim Johnson – Just as a pitcher can go from valuable closer to set-up guy, the complete opposite can happen to a set-up guy. With the trade of George Sherrill, the Baltimore Orioles’ Jim Johnson goes from set-up guy to potential closer in Baltimore.

Johnson has a 3.28 ERA and 14 Holds in 49.1 IP this year. Just like with Frasor, Johnson might get you some saves down the stretch.

Los Angeles Dodgers Acquire George Sherrill…

July 30, 2009

The Los Angeles Dodgers, while still pursuing a trade for Roy Halladay, switched their attention for a second to the back-end of their bullpen. This afternoon the Dodgers acquired Baltimore Orioles’ closer George Sherrill for minor-leaguers Josh Bell and Steve Johnson.

With Jonathan Broxton already firmly entrenched as the Dodgers’ closer, Sherrill becomes the Dodgers’ primary eighth inning guy. Sherrill thrived in a middle-relief role with the Mariners in 2007 (2.36 ERA in 73 games), so I don’t think going from a closer to an eighth inning guy will affect him like it did Eric Gagne and JJ Putz when they made the move.

Sherrill is headed to lala land

Sherrill is headed to lala land

Sherrill came to the Orioles in the extremely lopsided Erik Bedard trade last year and in a year and a half was sensational for the Orioles. If you really think about it, Sherrill was just an extra in that trade and all he has done is save 51 games in 94.2 innings for the Orioles. He also was an All Star in 2008.

Despite Sherrill’s 20 saves and 2.40 ERA in 2009, it made sense for the Orioles to trade him. Sherrill is 32-years old and the Orioles were out of the race this year and next year figures to be a rebuilding year as well. Sherrill is under team control until 2011, so his value was the highest now.

In return, the Orioles get the Dodgers eigth best prospect in 3B Josh Bell according to Baseball America. Bell is a slugging third baseman who was hitting .296 with 11 HR’s, 52 RBI, and had a .386 OBP for Double-A Chattanooga. With current third baseman Melvin Mora becoming a free agent after the season, it’s possible Bell will compete for the starting job in 2010.

The Orioles also received RHP Steve Johnson. Johnson was drafted in the 13th round of the 2005 draft and in five years in the minors Johnson was 29-26 with a 4.25 ERA and had 397 K’s in 408.2 IP. Johnson projects to be reliever in the majors.

The Erik Bedard trade is looking better for the Orioles by the day. Adam Jones is already becoming a star in this league, top pitching prospect Chris Tillman made his major-league debut last night and after two very productive seasons from Sherrill, the Orioles flip him for two prospects.

Looking At Fantasy Closers In 2009…

January 29, 2009

I have always considered closers like kickers in the NFL. There are 5 or 6 great ones, some very good ones, some good ones and then there are ones I wouldn’t draft for my worst enemy. By using this theory, I have ranked all 30 current closers into different divisions. The guys who you should definitely take and the guys you shouldn’t.  Let’s take a look were the current crop of closers will fall in 2009.

Dennis Eckersley Division

These are your cream-of-the-crop, top closers headed into 2009. These guys are #1 closer material in any fantasy league

1. Francisco Rodriguez, Mets – Krod, who broke Bobby Thigpen’s record for saves with 62 in 2008 with the Angels will now attempt to close out games in Flushing. While many people point to Krod’s diminished strike out rate (declined every year since 04) and his rising BAA (increased every year in the majors), it’s not like Krod had 62 saves with a 4.50 era. Krod’s era was still a dominant 2.24. With the Mets offering their closers plenty of save opportunities (72 in 08), Krod figures to close 45-50 games in 09.

2. Mariano Rivera, Yankees – Many thought the 2007 was the beginning of the decline for the great Rivera because of a 3.15 era (highest since he became a reliever). 2008 proved that was anything but the case. The 39 year old had one of the best seasons of his career, netting 39 saves with a paultry 1.40 era. If all is well from off-season shoulder surgery, Rivera once again will be one of the top closers in 2009.

3. Joe Nathan, Twins – Nathan, one of the most consistent closers in baseball had another stellar year in 2008 with 39 saves anda 1.33 era. You can pretty much pencil in the Stony Brook product 35-40 saves with an era under 2.

4. Joakim Soria, Royals – “The Mexecutioner” burst onto the scene in 2009 for Royals posting 42 saves with a nice 1.60 era. The 24 year old has been practically unhittable since reaching the majors in 2007 as he has only given up 85 hits in 136.1 innings. Soria should be a top 5 fantasy closer again in 2009

5. Brad Lidge, Phillies – Lidge had a season for the ages in 2008, going a perfect 41/41 in save opportunities. While I don’t expect Lidge to be perfect again in 2009, he should once again be one of the top closers in baseball as the Phillies figure to contend in the NL East.

6. Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox –The Red Sox closer set a career high in saves in 2008 with 41. Fantasy owners only concern with Papelbon would be he threw a career high 79.1 innings last year including the post season. Look to see what Papelbon does in April. If he is strong through April, then a typical Papelbon season is in order

Tom Henke Division

The next 4 are right under the great closers but will still put up solid numbers for you in 2009

7. Jose Valverde, Astros – Finished 2nd in baseball in saves with 44, high era of 3.38 but lots of K’s with 83

8. Jonathan Broxton, Dodgers –With Saito off to Boston, Broxton takes over as the full-time closer in LA. 35-40 saves with 80+ K’s is more than doable in 2009

9. Francisco Cordero, Reds –With the Reds improved in 2009, Cordero might reach the 40 save mark. Something Cordero has done twice before. Unfortunately, Cordero’s usually high era will leave him out of the top 6

10. Kerry Wood, Indians – One of the better season signings in baseball, Wood gives something Cleveland hasn’t had in a very long time….A LEGIT CLOSER. There is always an injury risk when picking Wood but if healthy Wood is certainly a top 10 closer. I like 35+ saves for Wood in 2009

Jeff Montgomery Division

The perfect #2 fantasy closer. These next 5 guys are perfect #2 closers

11. Bobby Jenks, White Sox – How does a guy who throws 98 mph only strike out 5.55 guys every 9 innings? Just doesn’t make sense.

12. BJ Ryan, Blue Jays – Ryan isn’t the strike out pitcher he used to be but he still knows how to save a game. Pencil in 30+ saves again for Ryan in 2009.

13. Huston Street, Rockies –I am on the Huston Street bandwagon this year. A fresh start with the Rockies and this being an odd year, Street should have a nice bounce back year. Street, like Bret Saberhagen pitches very well in odd years

14. Brad Ziegler, A’s – Ziegler burst onto the scene last year by starting off his career with a 39 inning scoreless streak. I expect Ziegler’s era to increase from 1.06 to around the high 2 mark in 09. With the A’s very much improved expect Ziegler to register 25-30 saves

15. Brian Fuentes, Angels –I am not sold on Fuentes as most people are. He lost his closers role in 07 only to gain in back in 08. With Shields and Arredando looking over Fuentes’ shoulder it will be interestingto see how Fuentes fairs. The Angels offer a lot of opportunities for saves so 30+ saves with an era in the high 2’s is not out of the question

Armando Benitez Division

These guys can get you saves but when you need them the most they will blow a big one in September

16. Brian Wilson, Giants – 41 saves, 4.65 era in 2008

17. Trevor Hoffman, Brewers – It will be weird to see Hoffman in a Brewers uniform. At this stage of his career Hoffman will get his saves, perhaps 25-30 with an era of around 4.50

18. Matt Capps, Pirates – Good for 15-25 saves on once again a very bad Pirates team

19. Mike Gonzalez, Braves – Had 14 saves in 36 games in 2008. High era of 4.28. Injury always a concern with Gonzalez

20. George Sherrill, Orioles –1st time closer in 2008, Sherrill had 31 saves before an injury ended his season. Lots of hits and a high era is something to be wary of in 2009

Al Reyes Division

These closers are usually 8th inning set-up types that are forced into the closers role because the team has no one else. These are the guys you only draft if you desperately need to fill a closers spot

21. Brandon Lyon, Tigers

22. Dan Wheeler, Rays

23. Chad Qualls, Diamondbacks

24. Heath Bell, Padres

25. Ryan Franklin, Cardinals

26. Joel Hanrahan, Nationals

27. CJ Wilson, Rangers

28. Tyler Walker, Mariners – With the Heilman trade yesterday, it looks like Walker might get the 1st shot at the closers role. Officially the worst closer in baseball headed into 2009.

Octavio Dotel Division

These are the 2 question marks going into the season. Great as 8th inning set up guys but are now asked to close games. Big difference between the 8th and 9th innings. These guys can either be in the Tom Henke division or the Armando Benitez division

?. Carlos Marmol, Cubs – Only 3 other relievers were in more games than Marmol was in 2008. Will the over use of last year come back to bite the Cubs this year? I am not sure if Marmol has the mental make up to be a closer, especially in Wrigleyville. I will go with 33 saves, an era in the low 3’s and a lot of tums for Sweet Lou

?. Matt Lindstrom, Marlins – As I wrote in my post about the Marlins, Lindstrom is the X factor for the team in 2009. I like Lindstrom more than Marmol because of less pressure in Florida and Lindstrom proved he can do the job by going 5-5 in September. I like 25 saves and an era in the mid 2’s for Lindstrom

Norm Charlton Division

Top set up guys who are waiting in the wings and could fill in adequately if something happened to the current closer

1. Kevin Gregg, Cubs

2. Scot Shields, Angels

3. JJ Putz, Mets

4. Ryan Madsen, Phillies

5. Grant Balfour, Rays

Mark Davis 1989 Division

This is for the one guy who I will think have that ridiculous year, seemingly out of nowhere. Good the year before and this year explodes on the scene

Jonathan Broxton, Dodgers –As I mentioned earlier, I really like Broxton this year. The Dodgers offered their closers 55 save opportunities last year, so racking up saves shouldn’t be a problem for this 24 year old. Playing in the NL West, the worst division in baseball should help Broxton dominate in 2009