Posts Tagged ‘Howie Kendrick’

Starting Nine: American League West

January 13, 2010

The next division up in our Starting Nine series is the American League West. This division has undergone the most change from top to bottom this offseason, so it will be interesting to see which lineup looks the best headed into the season.

Here are the starting lineups as presently constructed for the American League West:

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

1. Erick Aybar, SS

2. Bobby Abreu, RF

3. Torii Hunter, CF

4. Kendry Morales, 1B

5. Hideki Matsui, DH

6. Howie Kendrick, 2B

7. Juan Rivera, LF

8. Brandon Wood, 3B

9. Mike Napoli, C

Quick Take – This lineup will miss Chone Figgins at the top of the lineup to an expect, but despite the Angels’ losses, this lineup is still pretty deep. Any lineup that has Napoli batting ninth should be able to score some runs.

Seattle Mariners

1. Ichiro, RF

2. Chone Figgins, 3B

3. Milton Bradley, LF

4. Jose Lopez, 2B

5. Ken Griffey Jr. DH

6. Franklin Gutierrez, CF

7. Casey Kotchman, 1B

8. Jack Wilson, SS

9. Rob Johnson, C

Quick Take – This lineup after the first four hitters is pretty bad. I don’t care how many runs you prevent in the field, you need to score runs to win. The Mariners need a better DH than Griffey Jr.

Texas Rangers

1. Ian Kinsler, 2B

2. Michael Young, 3B

3. Josh Hamilton, LF

4. Vladimir Guerrero, DH

5. Nelson Cruz, RF

6. Chris Davis, 1B

7. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C

8. Elvis Andrus, SS

9. Julio Borbon, CF

Quick Take – I love this lineup. I like Borbon in the nine-hole acting like a second leadoff hitter at the bottom of the lineup. The key to this lineup will be health.

Oakland A’s

1. Coco Crisp, CF

2. Rajai Davis, LF

3. Ryan Sweeney, RF

4. Jack Cust, DH

5. Daric Barton, 1B

6. Kurt Suzuki, C

7. Eric Chavez, 3B

8. Mark Ellis, 2B

9. Cliff Pennington, SS

Quick Take – This is the worst in the American League (yes, worse than the Kansas City Royals) and perhaps the worst in baseball. There isn’t a guy in this lineup that would start on the Baltimore Orioles. Michael Taylor better make it to the A’s soon.

Tomorrow, I will dive into the National League and look at the National League East.

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

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Joe Girardi Overmanages, Angels Take Game Three

October 20, 2009

If you are going to be uptight, nervous, and overmanage in the postseason, you better win. Time and time again, New York Yankees manager has overmanaged in this postseason and the Yankees’ talent has bailed him out.

Today, there was nobody to bail Girardi out.

Girardi overmanaged yet again

Girardi overmanaged yet again

In the bottom of the 11th this afternoon in Anaheim, with the score tied at four, Girardi took RHP David Robertson out of the game with two outs and nobody on base. Why Girardi took Robertson out is anyone’s guess.

Robertson, who led all American League pitchers in K/9 with12.98 was cruising along. He had thrown only 11 pitches and six of them were for strikes. There was absolutely no reason to take him out–especially since a right-handed batter was coming up in Howie Kendrick.

Girardi took Robertson out to bring in Alfredo Aceves. Aceves proceeds to give up a single to Kendrick and then a double to Jeff Mathis–game over.

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim win 5-4 and now they are back in the ALCS.

I guess we can stop called Aceves “Ace.” That might be the worst nickname in sports. Aceves as “Ace?” Come on. Does CC Sabathia say “Hey Ace what’s up? and start laughing?

Here is what has to kill you if you are a Yankee fan. Robertson is just better than Aceves. He is better and it is not even close. There is no way Girardi could possibly think that Aceves gaves the Yankees a better chance to win the game than Robertson does.

I can’t wait to hear Girardi get ripped in the newspaper and on the radio tomorrow in New York. If I was Girardi, I would block out all forms of media tomorrow. It’s going to get ugly.

Here are some other observations from today’s game:

Why did Girardi pinch-hit for Mariano Rivera in the 10th with Francisco Cervelli? There were two outs and nobody on. Let Rivera hit and use him for another inning. Just stupid managing on Girardi’s part.

How great has Jeff Mathis been for the Angels? He is a lifetime .200 hitter and he has been hitting the ball all over the ballpark in the ALCS.

Did Bobby Abreu go to the Nick Punto school of baserunning? It was such an awful baserunning play, that I thought that would have taken all the wind out of the Angels sails.

Girardi just made another pitching change. He just summoned Eric Plunk out of the pen.

On that play, it wasn’t a great play by Derek Jeter. It was a great play by Mark Teixeira backing up second base. Being the cutoff man and turning around and throwing to Teixeira isn’t a great play. Let’s give other people credit when it’s due.

Why do pitchers continue to challenge Alex Rodriguez when they are behind in the count? Just walk him at that point. Hideki Matsui hasn’t done a thing this postseason.

I loved how Jered Weaver begged Mike Scioscia to stay in the game. I thought that was awesome. I wish more pitchers were like Weaver.

Did Jeter’s HR remind anyone else of Game 4 of the 2000 World Series?

Didn’t you just know that the Angels weren’t going to score with first and third with nobody out in the 10th. It was almost inevitable.

If Torii Hunter is up in a big spot–don’t throw him a strike. Hunter is so anxious to be the hero, he will just swing at anything.

If Joba Chamberlain was playing in Pittsburgh, he would be a nobody. Mr. Mediocre nearly gave the game away for the Yankees as he gave up a triple, sac fly, and a double in one third of an inning. Remember, this is the same organization that hyped up Russ Davis as the next Mike Schmidt.

Vladimir Guerrero’s sixth inning, two-run HR saved the series for the Angels. The Angels were 10 outs away from their season essentially being over and Guerrero tied the game and gave the Angels a new life.

Girardi just made another pitching change.

Besides Girardi, the other concern you have if you are a Yankee fan is that they are having a hard time scoring if they don’t hit a HR. Something to watch for in the remainder of the series.

Somebody should tell Kendry Morales and Juan Rivera the ALCS started. These two were a combined 0-for-10 today and have a combined .077 average for the ALCS.

Hero for Game 3 – Jeff Mathis

Goat for Game 3 – Alfredo Aceves

Series MVP – Alex Rodriguez

Game 4 is Tuesday at 7:57 ET.

Fantasy Week In Review, 6/8-6/14…

June 15, 2009

It was a really interesting second week of June. It seemed there was no in between. Either the performance was really great or really terrible.

As always here were the studs, the players who have me concerned and the potential pickups from the week of 6/8 – 6/14.

Fantasy Studs

Torii Hunter – .368/4/8. Any player who hits three HR’s in one game is definitely a stud.

Jason Kubel – .381/4/6/.480. While Mauer and Morneau get all the attention, Kubel has been a force for the Twins this season.

David Wright – .520/1/2. The power isn’t there for Wright, but the average certainly is. Wright also stole three bases last week.

Pablo Sandoval – .480/2/5. Yes, the Giants actually have hitters on their team.

Jim Thome – .400/3/7/.609. Year after year, Thome produces. Thome will be one of the most fascinating Hall of Fame debates in the next 10 years

Brad Bergesen – 2-0 with a 1.06 ERA and just 10 hits allowed in 17 IP. The Orioles have a bright future and Bergesen is a big part of that future.

Jose Contreras – 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA and just three hits allowed in 16 IP. Where is this coming from? It’s like 2005 all over again for Contreras.

Jered Weaver – 2-0 with a 1.20 and 11 K’s in 15 IP. Weaver has really stepped up for the Angels this year and is throwing his name in the hat for the Cy Young award.

Reasons for Concern

Roy Halladay – Halladay left Friday night’s game with a groin injury. It doesn’t appear to be to serious and Halladay might start against the Nationals on Saturday.

The concern I have is that groin injuries are like hamstring injuries. They just linger and never really seem to fully go away. This is an injury that I will be following closely.

Jake Peavy – Peavy was placed on the 15 Day DL with a strained tendon in his right ankle. Padres trainer, Todd Hutcheson thinks Peavy could miss as many as 12 weeks with this injury.

Peavy is 6-6 with a 3.97 ERA on the season, so it’s not a typical Peavy season. Perhaps Peavy will stop pitching in the WBC. I am just sayin’.

Howie Kendrick – Kendrick was demoted to Triple A Salt Lake over the weekend. Ouch!!! Kendrick had a hitting line of .231/4/22 with a pathetic .281 OBP in 186 AB’s for the Angels.

I think now we can officially put an end to the “Howie Kendrick will win a batting title” nonsense that we have been hearing for the last five years.

BJ Upton – Upton hit .200 with no HR’s, no RBI and 12 K’s last week. He is now has a hitting line for the season of .218/3/15. If he didn’t have 24 SB’s, he would be completely useless at the plate.

I think it’s pretty clear at this point that Upton is still affected by the offseason shoulder surgery that he had.

Potential Pickup

Rick Ankiel – Ankiel has been a huge disappointment so far this year. I even drafted him over Johnny Damon in my draft based on Ankiel having a breakout year. Good one Adam.

However, Ankiel had a nice week last week. He hit .360 with one HR and four RBI. I still think he can have a big second half, so it might be a good time to pick him up now before he goes on a tear.

2009, The Year Of The Second Basemen…

May 14, 2009

Normally, when I am drafting my fantasy team I like to take a top 2nd baseman early because there are so few good ones out there. That strategy has been blown out of the water this year because it is looking like 2009 will be the year of the 2nd baseman. Has anyone else noticed the depth of the 2nd base position this year? There are 15 to 16 2nd baseman right now who are having legit fantasy seasons and that doesn’t even include 4 other 2nd baseman who have the potential to be in the top 10 at the position.

Look at these fantasy numbers put up by 2nd baseman so far in 2009….

Aaron Hill – .357/9/30

Orlando Hudson – .343/3/20/.424 and 4 sb’s

Felipe Lopez – .328/4/9/.390 and 4 sb’s

Alberto Callaspo – .327/2/12

Ian Kinsler – .326/9/28 with 8 sb’s

Dustin Pedroia – .320/1/12 with 4 sb’s

Luis Castillo – .318/0/11/.392

Asdrubal Cabrera – .318/1/17 with 6 sb’s

Freddy Sanchez – .317/3/11

Robinson Cano – .313/6/18

Chase Utley – .294/10/23/.419

Brian Roberts – .281/4/13 with 4 sb’s

Akinori Iwamura – .277/0/12 with 7 sb’s

Rickie Weeks – .274/8/22

Brandon Phillips – .265/6/22 with 4 sb’s

Those are some pretty impressive stats through the 1st month and a half of the season. How about the performance of Aaron Hill so far? He has carried the Blue Jays and it looks like the side effects of the concussion he suffered last year have seized. Do I think he can keep up this pace? Probably not. I mean, he is on pace for Ruthian 50 Hr’s and about 163 RBI. I can see the average being there at the end but, it’s more likely Hill will end up with 25 HR’s and 80-85 RBI.

That list doesn’t even include 4 guys who are off to slow starts and have the ability to be a top 2nd baseman…

Howie Kendrick – .241/4/19

Kelly Johnson – .235/3/11

Dan Uggla – .193/4/20/.310

Jose Lopez – .248/3/19

Poor Dan Uggla, he really hasn’t been the same since that disastrous All-Star Game performance last year at Yankee Stadium. He hit .226 in the 2nd half last year and is off to a .193 start this year. I wonder if that game did permanent damage to Uggla mentally? It would be a shame if it did.

As you can see, you should have no excuse finding a quality 2nd baseman this year for your fantasy team.

Also, you may have have noticed a new Link Category to the right called MLB Memorabilia. The folks over at Bigflysports.com, who are fans of The Ghost of Moonlight Graham are happy to offer a 10% discount to all my readers.

Simply click on the link to Big Fly Sports and enter the Promo Code:  ICGHOSTS

Red Sox vs Angels…

April 12, 2009

With the rain coming down in the Big Apple and me stuck inside the apartment, I thought it would be a good time to do another live game blog. Today’s game blog will cover the Red Sox vs Angels.

Game – Red Sox vs Angels

Date – 4/11/09

Starting Lineups

Red Sox

1. Ellsbury, CF

2. Pedroia, 2B

3. Ortiz, DH

4. Youkilis, 1B

5. Baldelli, RF

6. Bay, LF

7. Lowell, 3B

8. Lowrie, SS

9. Varitek, C

Starting Pitcher – Penny

Angels

1. Figgins, 3B

2. Kendrick, 2B

3. Abreu, RF

4. Vlad, DH

5. Hunter, CF

6. Morales, 1B

7. Rivera, LF

8. Napoli, C

9. Aybar, SS

Starting Pitcher – Saunders

Top 1st

First pitch of the game on a gorgeous day in Anaheim, ball 1. The Sox are going with their new road jerseys. They look like the road jerseys from 86 except there is a Red Sox sock logo patch on the sleeve and the player’s names are on the back.

Ellsbury ropes a 3-2 fastball for a single to CF. With the Sox offense struggling they need Ellsbury to get going. On the first pitch to Pedroia, Ellsbury steals second.

Saunders has fallen behind 2-0 to both Ellsbury and Pedroia. Never good when you throw 85 mph. Pedroia, on a 3-1 pitch flies weakly to Abreu in RF. Not a very good AB to be honest. Need to get that runner over to 3rd.

Ellsbury gets picked off second base. I have no idea what Ellsbury was thinking? You have a lefty batter at the plate and you try to steal 3rd?

So after the Sox have a runner on 2nd with nobody out, they fail to push a run across as Ortiz grounds out to 1st. Inning over.

0-0 with the Angels coming to the plate.

Bottom 1st

Penny making his Red Sox debut takes the mound. I think the Sox will be happy if they can get 5 out of Penny today. Good start to his Red Sox career as he walks Figgins on 5 pitches.

Right off the bat Figgins steals 2nd. Runner on 2nd with nobody out. Kendrick playing great team baseball, hits a grounder to 2nd which pushes Figgins to 3rd. That is why year in and year out the Angels are so tough. They always do the little things.

Abreu grounds to 2nd and Figgins scores. 1-0 Angels. So the leadoff walk comes back to haunt Penny.

Vlad smokes one to 3rd but Lowell, showing he still can field with the best of them, smothers the ball and throws a bullet to 1st to get Vlad. 3 outs.

So after 1 full inning it is the Angels 1 and the Red Sox 0.

Top 2nd

Youkilis draws a leadoff walk to start the 2nd. For the 2nd inning in a row the Sox have their leadoff hitter on base. Baldelli batting 5th in the Sox lineup, not sure why he is hitting before Bay.

Baldelli bloops one to right and it is 1st and 2nd with nobody out.

Bay hits a lazy fly ball to CF and Hunter catches it. 1 out. Terrible AB by Bay. Looked like he had no game plan at the plate.

Lowell grounds into a 6-4-3 double play. For the 2nd inning in a row the Sox have the runner on 2nd with nobody out and they don’t score. Someone needs to check Francona’s blood pressure.

Bottom 2nd

Penny hitting 94 on the gun K’s Hunter. Penny hit 91+ on all his fastballs to Hunter.

Penny throws what seemed like a wicked splitter to Morales and Morales grounds to 1B. Youkilis flips to Penny for the 2nd out.

Penny hit 95 on the gun on an 0-1 count to Rivera. Penny is getting in the groove. Rivera grounds out to Lowell and the inning is over.

After 2 in the books it’s 1-0 Angels.

Top 3rd

Lowrie who was up 3-1 in the count gets beat with a 90 mph and fouls it off. On a fastball count, you shouldn’t be beat with a mediocre fastball. Lowrie works a walk and for the 3rd inning in a row, the Sox have the leadoff runner on.

It’s Varitek’s 37th birthday today. That sound you hear is Scott Boras creating a war and peace sized binder of all the catchers who have had career years over the age of 37. And on that note, Varitek flies to 2nd. I just once wish Francona would bunt with Varitek.

Announcer Kenny Albert just pointed out the Red Sox have lost 9 straight regular season games to the Angels. Unfortunately for Angels fans, Mike Scioscia turns into a pumpkin come playoff time against them.

Ellsbury grounds into a double play to end the inning. Make it 3 innings in a row, the Red Sox get their leadoff hitter on and don’t score. You have to wonder how long Saunders can keep dodging bullets.

Bottom 3rd

On the 1st pitch of the inning, Mike Napoli crushes one to left-center for a HR. 2-0 Angels.

Aybar flies weakly to CF. 1 out. Figgins, attempting to bunt pops up to Varitek. 2 outs.

Kendrick bounces one up the middle for a 2 out hit. Penny should have caught that. I am going to guess and say Penny is not the best of fielders on the mound.

Penny on this AB to Abreu keeps looking at his finger. I wonder if he is starting to develop a blister. Abreu walks, 2 on with 2 out for Vlad.

Vlad hits a HIGH fly ball to center but Ellsbury is under it and the inning is over.

2-0 Angels after 3.

Top 4th

Pedroia grounds weakly to 2nd and there is 1 out. There is ZERO spark in this Red Sox lineup right now.

The Monster Formally Known As David Ortiz K’s on a pitch about 6 inches outside. When things are going bad, they are going bad.

Youkils lines out to Hunter and on just 7 pitches the inning is over. The Red Sox are really grinding out those ab’s today.

Bottom 4th

Oh my lord. Jason Bay just made an unbelievable catch. He went back to the wall, the ball bounces off his glove, juggles the ball and makes the catch. How the ball didn’t hit the wall is beyond me. Torri Hunter hit that by the way. 1 out.

Penny still throwing 95 in the 4th which is a good sign for the Red Sox. Only 51 pitches too. Morales ropes one to center for a single.

Rivera grounds into a pitcher’s best friend…A 4-6-3 double play.

2-0 Angels after complete at the Big A.

Top 5th

On a side note, I just mentioned the Big A in Anaheim. For those of you who haven’t seen it yet, check out the New K in Kansas City. The Royals made $250MM in renovations to Kaufmann Stadium and it looks amazing.

Baldelli flies out to right on the 1st pitch. Seriously, way to grind out those ab’s.

Kenny Albert just mentioned that Bay has the 4th most HR’s of any Canadian born player. That is like having the 4th most goals as an American in soccer. Bay works a walk. That is one great thing about Bay, after usually looking clueless on his 1st ab, he does a great job of adjusting in his later ab’s.

Lowell just smokes one over the LF fence for a 2 run HR. Wow that was a frozen rope. Game tied at 2. Lowell definitely uses Just For Men. He was grayer than Jack’s dad on Lost last year and now there is no gray. Keith Hernandez would be proud.

Lowrie flies out to right for the 2nd out. Varitek singles off the glove of Aybar.

Ellsbury grounds to Kendrick to end the inning.

So Lowell’s HR ties it at 2 headed into the bottom of the 5th.

Bottom 5th

On the 9th pitch of the AB, Mike Napoli goes yard again!!! Man is Napoli strong. 3-2 Angels.

Napoli went yard twice

Napoli went yard twice

Aybar hit a one-hopper to Pedroia, Pedroia dives to his right, gets up and makes the play. That is why he is the MVP, great play. 1 out.

I think Penny might be on his last legs. Figgins doubles down the left field line. All 3 batter have hit the ball hard this inning.

Now Kendrick smokes one to right but Baldelli is there to make the catch. Figgins advances to 3rd with 2 outs.

Penny induces (dying to use that word) Abreu to ground to Lowrie to end the inning.

Figgins is stranded at 3rd but the Angels retake the lead on a Napoli HR. 3-2 Angels after 5.

Top 6th

Pedroia flies out to deep left center and there is 1 out. In Fenway that is a double but at Angels Stadium it is a long out.

Ortiz hits a rope to CF, but Hunter is there again to make the catch. 2 Torii Hunter catches, 2 outs.

Youkilis flies out to right and the Sox go down quietly in the 6th. That was a pretty pathetic inning. I don’t even think Saunders broke a sweat.

Bottom 6th

Wow, I can’t believe Penny is still in there. I would have 100% thought Penny was done after last inning.

Vlad pops out to Pedroia for the 1st out.

Amazing, the Angels have a guy coming off a shoulder injury who was laboring last inning and they go up there hacking. Hunter swings at the 1st pitch and grounds to Lowell for the 2nd out. 3 pitches as 2 outs. I know it is not the Angels philosophy to takes pitches, but this is ridiculous.

Penny whiffs Morales on a 95 mph fastball to end the inning. A very, very impressive inning for Penny.

6 innings, 5 hits and 3 runs given up by Penny. The Sox will take that any day of the week. Penny is still down however, 3-2.

Top 7th

Baldelli beats out an infield hit and has 2 singles on the day.

Bay hits a line drive 2 run HR, right over the fence in LF. Again, Bay always adjusts after the 1st ab. 4-3 Red Sox.

Lowell hits a hard 1-hopper to Figgins and despite the high throw, he throws out Lowell who was crawling to 1st.

Lowrie K’s and is now 1-17 on the season. Way to hold off Lugo Jed.

Fox just shows an Albert Pujols grand slam off of Roy Oswalt. I didn’t keep Oswalt in one of my Keeper League’s because of the WBC factor. Looks like a smart decision so far.

Varitek doubles down the LF line. Scott Boras is giddy. Ellsbury swings at ball 4 and pops to Figgins to end the inning.

But a Jason Bay 2 run HR gives the Sox a 4-3 lead.

Bottom 7th

Ramon Ramirez, who has been sharp as a razor so far this season comes in to replace Penny. What a debut by Penny. 6 innings, 5 hits, 3 runs, 2 walks, 3 K’s and a chance for a W.

Penny had a solid debut

Penny had a solid debut

Ramirez on a nasty change, gets Rivera to ground out to Lowell for 1 out.

Up comes Mike Napoli who has been a one-man-gang for the Angels today. Boy can Napoli rake. He rips one past Lowell, down the line for a double. Napoli is now 3-3 on the day and every fantasy owner is checking their league to see if he is available.

Aybar flies out to shallow CF for the 2nd out.

Figgins swings at a pitch in the dirt and K’s to end the inning. The-one-man-gang Napoli is stranded on 2nd.

After 7 it is 4-3 Red Sox.

Top 8th

Kevin Jepsen is in to relieve Joe Saunders. Jepsen has a healthy 16.50 era heading into today’s action.

Pedroia grounds out to Kendrick for the 1st out.

The Monster Formally Known As David Ortiz flies out to shallow LF. Not sure what to make of Ortiz at this point in the season. Is he in a slump or is he in a major decline? I guess only time will tell.

Youkilis hits one to DEEP CF, but Hunter is there like he always is to make the catch.

Bottom 8th

In the 2nd surprising move by Francona (leaving Penny in to start the 6th was the 1st), Ramon Ramirez is out for his 2nd inning of work.

Kendrick flies out to the warning track in CF for the 1st out. Kendrick just missed that one.

Ramirez is throwing gas. He just painted a 94 mph fastball on the outside corner to Abreu for strike 1. Wow, there is something you don’t see everyday. On a 3-1 count, Abreu goes outside the strike zone and swings and misses.

Abreu hits a hard grounder to first, Youkilis dives for it, off his glove and with Pedroia backing Youkilis up, flips to Ramirez to get the out. Just your routine 3-4-1 out.

Francona goes to the mound and it looks like it will be Papelbon to come in to get a 4 out save. A 4 out save, somewhere Goose Gossage is smiling.

Fox just showed that Pujols hit his 2nd HR of the game and now has 7 RBI today against the Astros. Patting myself on the back right now for taking him with my 1st pick in my draft.

Vlad flies out to Bay to end the inning. That Papelbon vs Vlad confrontation lasted all of 2 pitches.

Still 4-3 Red Sox heading into the 9th.

Top 9th

Justin Speier replaces Jepsen. Speier signed a 4 year $18MM contract with the Angels back in 2006. I will check that off as a bad signing by the Angels.

Baldelli flies to left for the 1st out of the inning.

Bay has done it again. Another HR for Jason Bay and another HR right over the left field fence. 5-3 Red Sox.

Bay is talking to Smoltz about that HR. Smoltz is like the zen master. No matter what he says, it just makes sense.

Lowell swings at one over his head and somehow grounds the ball to SS. Aybar can roll the ball to 1st and still get Lowell. 2 outs.

Lowrie flies to CF for the 3rd out. Lowrie is now 1-18 on the season. Julio Lugo is excited. I wonder if Lugo poisoned Lowrie’s 5 hour energy drink and made it into a 30 minute energy drink?

Bottom 9th

Bay’s HR looms large now because Hunter just crushes one to right CF for a HR. What was more impressive about that HR is that the ball wasn’t even close to being a strike. 5-4 Red Sox.

Morales rips a double to right on an 0-2 pitch. This was the 2nd batter Papelbon had an 0-2 count on and couldn’t put them away. Reggie Willits is now on to pinch run for Morales.

Terrible AB by Rivera. Rivera grounds out to SS which doesn’t advance Willits. 1 out.

Now the-one-man-gang Napoli comes up. On a 2-1 slider Napoli swings and misses out of his shoes and the count is now 2-2.  3-2 now to Napoli, with 1st base open I would throw him a slider, make him chase one. Papelbon is on the same wave length but the slider misses and Napoli walks.

2 on, 1 out for Erik Aybar. Papelbon clearly doesn’t have his best stuff today. This inning has been a battle so far and there is still only 1 out.

Aybar K’s on a wicked, I mean wicked splitter in the dirt. 2 outs and up comes the pesky Chone Figgins.

Papelbon is now down 3-0 to Figgins. A walk puts the potential winning run on 2nd for the Angels. Figgins walks on 4 pitches and they weren’t even close. I am not sure if Papelbon has anything left to get out Kendrick.

Papelbon has thrown 2 beautiful sliders on the outside corner to quickly go up 0-2. Kendrick is battling as he has fouled off 2 tough fastballs from Papelbon. Another foul on a fastball. 0-2, I would throw a slider on the outer-half of the plate. Slider on the outer-half and Kendrick fouls it off. My lord, another foul.

Papelbon up to 34 pitches now. 35 pitches has he fouls another off. 36 pitches on ANOTHER foul.

And on the 37th pitch of the inning, Kendrick flies out to Baldelli to end the game. What a battle. I am guessing we won’t be seeing Papelbon for a couple of days.

Penny gets his first win of the season and his 1st win as a member of the Boston Red Sox. Papelbon gets his 2nd save of the season and Red Sox end a 3 game losing streak to run their record to 2-3 on the season.

On the other side, Saunders gets the loss and drops his record to 1-1 on the young season. The loss drops the Angels to a 2-3 record as well.

Hope everyone enjoyed the live analysis and I just wanted to wish all who celebrate a Happy Easter!!!

Looking At Fantasy 2nd Basemen In 2009…

February 23, 2009

It’s time to look at who are the best fantasy 2nd basemen headed into 2009. I always like to take the top 2B or SS early because finding a top hitting middle infielder is a hard to come by. They are few and far between.

In honor of latest Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, I have broken down this years 2B class by swimsuit model. Enjoy

Like this year's cover girl, Bar Refaeli these are the best of the best

Like this year's cover girl, Bar Refaeli these are the best of the best

1. Ian Kinsler, Rangers –Kinsler was tearing up major league pitching last year until a sports hernia injury ended his season in August. I like Kinsler a lot this year. He is the most complete 2B headed into 2009. He will give you hr, rbi, avg, obp and sb’s. If he can stay healthy for the whole season than a 25 hr/25 sb/90 rbi season is not out of the question.

2. Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox –The reigning AL MVP heads into 2009 as the 2nd best 2B on the board. The reason I have Pedroia 2nd is because I expect a little dip in his power numbers numbers (hr & rbi) from last year. Look for the heart and soul of the Red Sox to have a .320/14/75/.380 type season.

3. Chase Utley, Phillies –Any other year Utley is by far the #1 2B on the board. But because of offseason hip surgery, Utley’s ranking dips a little. The Phillies are optimistic about Utley being ready for Opening Day but you never know how someone is going to come back from hip surgery. April is key for Utley. If he looks healthy in April, then a typical Utley year of .295/28/95 is in order.

4. Brandon Phillips, Reds

not the cover girl, but like Brooklyn Decker these are the next best thing and nobody is complaining

not the cover girl, but like Brooklyn Decker these are the next best thing and nobody is complaining

 5. Brian Roberts, Orioles

6. Alexei Ramirez, White Sox – Alfonso Soriano part 2. A tall, lanky 2B who has all the potential in the world? Sounds like Alfonso Soriano part 2 to me. Ramirez had a solid rookie year putting up a .290/21/77 in just 480 ab’s. Now moving over to SS, Ramirez still will qualify at 2B for fantasy purposes which raises his stock even more. The only stat Ramirez hurts you in is obp (.317 last season) but a .300/25/90 with 10+ sb’s is not out of the question for Ramirez

7. Dan Uggla, Marlins – Most fans remember Uggla for his horrific performance in last years All-Star game which is unfortunate. Uggla is a terrific player and one of the most consistent producing 2B in the game. 3 straight years of 25+ hr’s and 85+ rbi proves that. Uggla had career highs in hr (32), rbi (92) and obp (.360) last year so similar numbers should be expected again in 2009.

8. Robinson Cano, Yankees –I don’t think Cano will ever again hit .342 like he did in 2006 but his power numbers and rbi totals should keep Cano a top 10 2B for years to come. 15+ hr’s and 80 rbi is realistic for Cano this year

9. Jose Lopez, Mariners

I would never kick Jessica Hart out of bed and you shouldn't kick these 4 guys out of your fantasy drafts

I would never kick Jessica Hart out of bed and you shouldn't kick these 4 guys out of your fantasy drafts

10. Mark DeRosa, Indians –DeRosa will qualify at 2B, 3B and OF but has the most value at 2B. DeRosa had a career year last year hitting .285 with 21 hr and 87 rbi for the Cubs. Leaving Wrigley will hurt DeRosa’s numbers a bit but 17 hr’s and 75 rbi is realistic for DeRosa in 2009

11. Howie Kendrick, Angels – Can this guy ever stay healthy?? Every year the Angels have depended on him to stay healthy and every year he has let them down. Kendrick has never played in more than 92 games in a season but I think this year Kendrick stays relatively healthy and plays in 130 games. If Kendrick can get to 130 games then .315/10/65 with 15+ steals is doable

11. Kelly Johnson, Braves

 12. Mike Aviles, Royals –Aviles qualifies at SS and at 2B but has more value at the 2B position. The New York native burst on to the scene last year and hit .325 with 10 hr and 51 rbi in just 102 games for the Royals. I like Aviles to hit .300 again but not .325. Look for a .310 avg with 15 hr and 60 rbi from Aviles in 2009

Alison Preston isn't a swimsuit model but she made the issue, these next 4 guys can play on your team too

Alison Preston isn't a swimsuit model but she made the issue, these next 5 guys can play on your team too

13. Rickie Weeks, Brewers –One of these years Weeks is going to break out. He has too much talent to be this mediocre for so long. I think he breaks out this year. By breakout, I mean .260/21/55/.375 with 20+ sb’s. It’s not much but it will do for now

14. Placido Polanco, Tigers

15. Orlando Hudson, Dodgers – You know what you are going to get from Hudson, .285 – .290 with 10 – 13 hr and 55-65 rbi. Going from Chase Field to Dodger Stadium might hurt his power #’s but if the Dodgers re-sign Manny then Hudson will benefit in the runs scored category.

16. Freddy Sanchez, Pirates

17. Mark Ellis, A’s

Shanon Lersch helped round out the Swimsuit Issue and these 4 guys will still help you round out your fantasy team

Shanon Lerschhelped round out the Swimsuit Issue andthese 5 guys will still help you round out your fantasy team

18. Kaz Matsui, Astros –Matsui will give you some value in the sb department but that is about it. He has only played in more than 100 games twice in 5 seasons so don’t count on him too much.

19. Felipe Lopez, Diamondbacks –  Want a sleeper for 2009? Take a look at Lopez. He will go into the season as the starting 2B and is playing in a good hitters ballpark. In 2005 he put up a nice .291/23/85 and in 2006 he stole 44 bases while hitting .274. A bounce back season in 2009 might be in order. Keep an eye on Lopez in April, if he gets off to a good start, snag him before someone else does.

20. Aaron Hill, Blue Jays

21. Akinori Iwamura, Rays

22. Clint Barmes, Rockies

Seeing Star Jones in a bathing suit is not pretty and neither is havin these guys on your fantasy team

Seeing Star Jones in a bathing suit is not pretty and neither is having these guys on your fantasy team

23. Mike Fontenot, Cubs –Fontenot will get you avg and obp but that is about it. A good “baseball player” but not a good “fantasy player”

24. Alexi Casilla, Twins

25. Edgar Gonzalez, Padres

26. Luis Castillo, Mets – Castillo enters the 2nd year of a ridiculous 4 year $25MM contract and boy do Mets fans hate this guy. Castillo only played in 87 games last year and hit a measly .245. At this point if Castillo is still the starting 2B by May (big if) then he might have some value in the runs scored category.

27. Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians

28. Emmanuel Burriss, Giants

29. Edgar Gonzalez, Padres

30. Chris Getz, White Sox – With Alexei Ramirez moving to SS, Getz gets first crack at winning the 2B job

31. Anderson Hernandez, Nationals – Hernandez is officially your worst 2B option headed into 2009. No power, no speed and little potential for scoring runs.

So there you have the 2b rankings headed into 2009. As I mentioned I always like to draft a middle IF early because there are few good ones. Good luck and next up will be fantasy 3B.