Posts Tagged ‘Jim Thome’

Twins Continue To Improve, Sign Orlando Hudson

February 5, 2010

Going into the offseason, everyone knew the Minnesota Twins needed an upgrade at three of the four infield positions. The Twins were set with Justin Morneau at first, but needed to improve at second, short, and third in order to get to the next level.

Back in November, the Twins stole JJ Hardy from the Milwaukee Brewers for Carlos Gomez to upgrade their shortstop position and yesterday they upgraded at second base.

Hudson is an upgrade at second for the Twins

According to Joe Christensen of the Minnesota Star Tribune, the Twins have signed second baseman Orlando Hudson to a one-year, $5 million contract. The deal has no incentives and no option for 2011.

Hudson is a clear upgrade over last year’s starting second baseman Nick Punto. Here are their stats from last year:

Hudson: .283/.357/.417 with nine home runs in 146 games.

Punto: .228/.337/.284 with one home runs in 125 games.

Punto is a nice little player, who does a lot of things right. He is a guy that every team should have on their ball club. But he shouldn’t be starting for a team that has World Series aspirations.

Hudson will certainly lengthen the Twins’ lineup. Here is a possible Minnesota lineup against right-handed pitching:

1. Denard Span, CF

2. Orlando Hudson, 2B

3. Joe Mauer, C

4. Justin Morneau, 1B

5. Jason Kubel, LF

6. Michael Cuddyer, RF

7. Jim Thome, DH

8. JJ Hardy, SS

9. Brendan Harris, 3B

That is one stacked lineup. These are no longer your father’s punch-and-Judy Twins’ lineup. This lineup can flat-out rake.

Of course against lefties, the Twins can go with Delmon Young in left and put Kubel back at DH. That’s still a pretty good lineup.

With the additions of Hudson, Hardy, Thome, and with their above average rotation and solid bullpen, I believe the Twins are the clear favorites in the American League Central.

Their closest competition in the Central will come from the Chicago White Sox. But with a suspect lineup and very mediocre defense, I am not sure the White Sox have what it takes to overtake the Twins in the division.

Now that the Twins have added Hardy and Hudson, don’t look for them to sign a third baseman as well. I think the Twins are done spending this offseason.

They will most likely go with Harris at third in 2010. Punto and Matt Tolbert could see some time at third as well.

Hudson will be entering his eighth year in the major leagues and has a career .282 average with 77 home runs, 50 stolen bases, 50 triples, and a .778 OPS with the Toronto Blue Jays, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Los Angeles Dodgers.

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

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Random Thoughts From Around Baseball

January 29, 2010

Since there is nothing going on so far today in baseball, I thought I would just give some random thoughts from around the majors.

Orlando Cabrera is deciding between the Colorado Rockies, Cincinnati Reds, and Washington Nationals today. The guy is a winner and will get a chance to win next year if he signs with the Rockies.

I can’t believe there was a “sweepstakes” for Derrick Turnbow. The guy hasn’t been good in four years. The Florida Marlins were the luck winner of the Turnbow “sweepstakes.”

On this day two years ago, the New York Mets traded for Johan Santana. Despite not making the playoffs in his two years with the team, Santana has been everything the Mets hoped he would be.

Santana was acquired by the Mets 2 years ago today

I waiting in line for Shake Shack today at Madison Square Park in NYC in 16 degree weather. Yeah, it’s that good.

Sticking with the New York theme, the Mets are getting crushed in the Big Apple right now. They have had a rough offseason and a lot of fans are losing faith in his ownership group.

Ken Griffey Jr. apparently got “ripped” this offseason. I still think the Seattle Mariners need a better DH option in 2010.

Thanks to injuries, Erik Bedard has probably cost himself close to $75 million the last two years. Ouch.

I would say it would be a major upset if the Cleveland Indians land Orlando Hudson. I still think the “O-Dog” ends up on the Nationals.

Watching Nolan Ryan’s seventh and final no-hitter from 1991 on the MLB Network now. From the first pitch, the Toronto Blue Jays didn’t stand a chance that night. Glenallen Hill looked as befuddled as any hitter I have seen at the plate against Ryan that night.

Francisco Liriano was dominant in the Dominican Winter League. In the final game of the DWL World Series, Liriano struck out 10 in five innings and was consistently in the low to mid-90’s with his fastball.

The Caribbean World Series starts next Tuesday. Those games will be on the MLB Network starting at 2:30 pm ET. Always good talent in those games.

My trivia team is still in first place after two weeks. Questions are much harder than the ones we were faced with in Milwaukee.

Tim Wakefield expects to be a full-time member of the Boston Red Sox rotation in 2010. Umm yeah, I am not sure about that one Tim. Unless Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, John Lackey, or Clay Buchholz get hurt (knock on wood), he will be used an old-fashion swing man.

I still haven’t figured out why the Chicago White Sox didn’t bring Jim Thome back. They need a DH and he could have helped.

That’s all for now. Have a good weekend everyone!!!

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

“Thome’s Hommies” Are Headed To Minnesota

January 27, 2010

One of the more interesting debates that will occur six or seven years from now is the question of whether or not Jim Thome is a Hall of Famer?

Thome has all the stats you look for in a HOF’er. He has well over 500 home runs (564 to be exact), he is fifth all-time in HR/AB (13.7), 10th in walks (1,619), and 20th in OPS (.961). Those are some pretty impressive credentials.

Will Thome be a Hall of Famer?

But with only one, top-five finish in MVP voting during his career, plus playing in the steroid era, I am not sure how much love Thome will get on his first shot at the HOF.

I have the same take on Thome that I had with Barry Larkin. Yeah, the numbers might be there over a long period of time, but I never viewed either as a HOF player. I have never watched Thome play and say “There is an all-time great.”

Thome is like Fred McGriff, but with more home runs. McGriff only received 21.5 percent of the vote in this past HOF vote.

The reason I am bringing this up, is because yesterday Thome will be given another chance to add to his resumé. The Minnesota Twins inked Thome to a one-year, $1.5 million contract. Thome can earn another $700,000 in incentives.

This is a pretty sweet deal for the Twins. Despite already having a DH in Jason Kubel, the signing of Thome does give the Twins some options.

Thome’s main role will be a power source off the bench, but he could also DH against right-handed pitching. Thome hit 18 of his 23 home runs last year off of righties. The Twins could then move Kubel to left field and put Delmon Young on the bench.

I am kind of surprised there wasn’t more of a market for Thome this offseason. I know he is 40 and only is a DH at this point, which limits his options, but he was having a pretty legit year with the Chicago White Sox in 2009 before he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers and just rotted on the bench.

With the White Sox, Thome hit .249 with 23 home runs and a .377 OBP in 107 games. A team like the Seattle Mariners could have certainly used Thome as a full-time DH in 2010. I would rather him getting regular AB’s at this point than Ken Griffey Jr.

This will be Thome’s third stop in the American League Central. He played with the Cleveland Indians from 1991-2002 and for the White Sox from 2006-2009. Perhaps next year he can choose between the Detroit Tigers or the Kansas City Royals so he can play for every team in the division.

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

Jimmy Rollins Gives Phillies 3-1 Series Lead

October 20, 2009

Closer Jonathan Broxton was called upon to get four outs last night for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Unfortunately for the Dodgers, Broxton was only able to record three outs.

Rollins' walk-off double off Broxton

Rollins' walk-off double off Broxton

Jimmy Rollins’ double off of Broxton with two-on and two-out in the bottom of the ninth inning gave the Philadelphia Phillies a dramatic 5-4 victory over the Dodgers last night and sent the 46, 157 fans who packed Citizens Bank Park into a frenzy.

The Phillies now lead their best-of-seven series with the Dodgers 3-1.

The Phillies are a unique bunch because their superstars are their gamers. Their superstars are their girtty, dirtdogs, who not only do the little things to win, but get the big hits when the moment is presented.

That is very rare in baseball. The New York Yankees had that in the mid-90’s, the Boston Red Sox have it now with Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedrioia, and the Phillies certainly have it now with Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, and Chase Utley.

As soon as Rollins stepped into the batter’s box in the ninth inning, you just had that feeling that he was going to come through. But the reality is–Rollins should have never had that chance to begin with.

With one out and nobody on, Charlie Manuel called on Matt Stairs to pinch-hit for Pedro Feliz. It’s amazing how one moment can scar a franchise for life.

Stairs is clearly in the Dodgers’ heads. He is the reason the Dodgers went out and got Jim Thome and his HR off of Broxton in Game 5 of last year’s NLCS has turned him into Ted Williams in the Dodgers’ eyes.

Why Broxton, one of the best closers in the game is pitching around Stairs with nobody on base is beyond me. I understand Stairs can tie the game with one swing of the bat and he beat you last year with a HR. But last year is last year and if you are supposed to be a top-five closer, you shouldn’t fear anyone–period.

Stairs was a .194 hitter during the season for a reason.

Worst case scenario for the Dodgers is that Stairs hits a HR and the game is tied. Now you have a runner on base and with one swing of the bat, you can lose the game.

Then things start to unravel for Broxton and the Dodgers.

Broxton then plunks Carlos Ruiz and then the crowd really got into it. The fans at Citizens Bank Park really make it hard for an opposing pitcher. They are right on top of him.

Broxton got Greg Dobbs to pop out to third and that is when Rollins came to the plate. Like I said earlier, as soon as Rollins came to the plate you just had a feeling he was going to do something.

On a 1-1 pitch, Rollins took a 99 mph fastball and ripped it into the right-center field gap. The ball rolled to the wall, Eric Bruntlet, who was running for Stairs and Ruiz scored, and just like that the Dodgers had their hearts ripped out from their chests.

This was just a crushing loss for the Dodgers. They had done everything to win this game.

Randy Wolf pitched very well for 5 1/3 innings, they got some good clutch hitting from James Loney and Casey Blake, and Hong-Chih Kuo pitched really well in relief.

But at the end of the day, Broxton couldn’t get the job done. Now the Dodgers’ season is on life support.

I think today’s day off actually helps the Dodgers. I think if they would have come back and played today, they would have been crushed in Game 5.

The day off will allow the Dodgers to catch their breath a little bit and give them a chance to regroup.

I expect the Dodgers to play well in Game 5, but I don’t see them coming out of Philadelphia with a win.

Hero for Game 4 – Jimmy Rollins

Goat for Game 4 – Jonathan Broxton

Series MVP – Ryan Howard

Game 5 is Wednesday at 8:07

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

10 Things We Learned About Baseball In August

September 2, 2009

Oh those dog days of August. It’s hot, it’s steamy, and people in the mid-west don’t flinch when it’s 120 degrees outside. It’s a month where teams make their late season push or fade away like a fart in the wind.

August 2009 was no different. We saw records broken, milestones reached, a milestone contract, and of course, teams battling it out for a playoff berth.

Here are the top 10 things we learned from baseball in the month of August…

10. Derek Jeter breaks the all-time hits record for shortstops. When Jeter set the all-time hits record for shortstops with his 2,675th career hit, two things crossed my mind. 1. I can’t believe in the history of baseball, there hasn’t been a SS who has gotten more than 2,700 hits and 2. Is Jeter the second best SS of all-time (No. 1 being Honus Wagner)?

I can’t believe the lack of great shortstops in the game. Wasn’t it always as a kid, the best player on the team played shortstop? What happened? Shortstops are like quarterbacks in the NFL. There should be more great ones, but there aren’t.

The team Jeter plays on…

9. New York Yankees put a stronghold on the AL East. Going into the four-game series against the Boston Red Sox, all you heard about was how the Red Sox were 8-0 against the Yankees in 2009. Four games and outscoring the Red Sox 27-8 later, the Yankees swept the Red Sox and put a stranglehold on the AL East.

On the subject of the Yankees – Red Sox rivalry…

8. Pedro Martinez made his return to the mound. Martinez waited, waited, waited, and waited all season to get the call he was looking for. The Philadelphia Phillies made the call, offered Martinez a chance to start, and Martinez made his first start since last September on August 12th against the Chicago Cubs.

For me personally, it was great to see Martinez back on the mound. While he is not the Martinez I remember with the Red Sox, he still can get hitters out.

In four starts in August, Martinez was 2-0 with a 4.50 ERA.

Speaking of former Red Sox pitchers…

7. John Smoltz and Brad Penny weren’t good enough for the American League. Plan A for the Red Sox in the offseason was to sign Mark Teixeria. When that plan fell through, they went to Plan B. Plan B was to sign fill out the roster with high-risk, high-reward players like John Smoltz, Brad Penny and Rocco Baldelli.

Plan B has turned into Plan D — as in Disastrous. Smoltz was 2-5 with a 8.33 ERA in eight starts and Penny was 7-8 with a 5.61 ERA in 24 starts. Both pitchers were released by the Red Sox in August.

When Smoltz was released he joined the St. Louis Cardinals…

6. Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright are a solid one-two punch. In the month of August, Carpenter and Wainwright went a combined 9-1 with a 1.75 ERA, 66 K’s, and only allowed 71 hits in 86.2 innings pitched.

No wonder why the Cardinals opened up a nine game lead in the NL Central in August.

I said it before the season started and I will say it again. Carpenter is the key for the Cardinals. As he goes, so goes the Red Birds.

Staying in the NL Central…

5. The Milwaukee Brewers shake things up. On August 12th, Brewers’ GM Doug Melvin saw enough and the Brewers really shook things up.

They sent former All Star SS JJ Hardy to the minors, DFA’d 3B Bill Hall, fired pitching coach Bill Castro, and called up top prospect Alcides Escobar.

Have those moves helped? Well, on August 12th, the Brewers were two games under .500 at 53 and 55. On September 1st, the Brewers were three games under .500 at 64 and 67.

Many feel JJ Hardy will be traded in the offseason, but…

4. There were plenty of players who changed teams in August. The waiver claim period was just as hectic as the period leading up to the July 31st trading deadline.

Jim Thome, Jon Garland, Billy Wagner, Alex Rios, Aubrey Huff, and Scott Kazmir were all traded in the month of August. Perhaps the biggest shocker of all was Scott Kazmir.

The Tampa Bay Rays unloaded Kazmir and the remaining $23 million on his contract to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, while still in the middle of the AL Wild Card race. Many felt, including myself, that the Rays were smart to make this move.

I don’t think the Rays players and fans felt the same way.

Now that Kazmir is on the Angels, he won’t have to face this guy…

3. Vladimir Guerrero hits No. 400. How many people know that Guerrero is one of only six hitters in the history of the game to have 400 homeruns and a .320 lifetime batting average? I was shocked when I first heard this.

Guerrero joins Babe Ruth, Stan Musial, Ted Williams, Jimmie Foxx, and Lou Gehrig as the only players to accomplish this feat. When you put Guerrero’s name in that list, it’s almost like a who doesn’t belong question. But Vlad does.

I never thought of Guerrero as a Hall of Fame type player. I am definitely rethinking that now.

Guerrero started out with the Montreal Expos, which are now…

2. The Washington Nationals sign Stephen Strasburg. If the Nationals didn’t sign the No. 1 overall pick from this year’s draft, they might of as well folded up the franchise. This deal had to get done and it did — at the 11th hour.

Right before the deadline to sign draft picks expired, the Nationals and Strasburg agreed to a record contract that will pay the former San Diego State righty around $15.1 million.

This deal broke the previous record of $10.5 million signed by Mark Prior back in 2001.

And the No.1 thing we learned about baseball in August was…

1. The NL Wild Card race is the best thing going in baseball. Four teams separated by a grand total of four games. The Colorado Rockies, San Francisco Giants, Florida Marlins, and Atlanta Braves are all battling for one postseason spot.

The Rockies and Giants are tied for the Wild Card lead and have played some memorable games in the last week. On August 24th, the Rockies and Giants played in my opinion, the game of the year. The Rockies won that game 6-4 in 14 innings on a walk-off grandslam by Ryan Spilborghs.

Less than a week later, the Giants staged a comeback of their own. On August 30th, Edgar Renteria hit a go-ahead grandslam of his own against Rafael Betancourt in the seventh inning to help the Giants sweep the Rockies.

I am guessing this race goes down to the wire.

That’s a wrap for the month of August. Hasn’t this year gone by fast? It seems like yesterday, I was writing my April recap.

I can’t wait for my September recap. We should have a good feel by then, who is going to the playoffs and who is playing golf in October.

Los Angeles Dodgers Stock Up For Stretch Run: Acquire Jim Thome And Jon Garland

September 1, 2009

Late on Monday night and on the last day players can be traded and be eligible for the postseason, the Los Angeles Dodgers bolstered their starting rotation and bench by acquiring DH Jim Thome from the Chicago White Sox and RHP Jon Garland from the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Bye bye Chicago, hello LA

Bye bye Chicago, hello LA

One move I love and one move I really can’t figure out.

Let’s start with the move I love. I am probably more of a fan of Garland’s than most people, but this is a very solid move by the Dodgers. I begged the New York Mets to sign Garland instead of Oliver Perez and just last week, I thought the Boston Red Sox should trade for Garland.

Garland, along with Chad Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw, and Randy Wolf gives the Dodgers a very winnable four-man rotation in the playoffs.

How happy do you think Garland is this morning? Going from one of the worst teams in baseball in the Arizona Diamondbacks to one of the best. He’s as happy as an 18-year-old freshman at Nebraska around Erin Andrews on College Gameday. Just giddy.

The best part of this deal for the Dodgers, is that the Diamondbacks will pick up the rest of Garland’s salary for this year, as well as the buyout for his 2010 option. How fast do you think Ned Colletti agreed to this deal?

The Diamondbacks will get the ever-so-popular Player to be Named Later. Rumor has it, it might be 24-year-old Tony Abreu, but that is not confirmed.

Now to the move that is a little puzzling to me. The Dodgers also acquired Jim Thome from the White Sox for 26-year-old minor league infielder Justin Fuller.

Look, I get what the Dodgers are thinking here. They want a big bopper off the bench to hit late in the game and a possible DH if they make it to the World Series. They want a guy to do to other teams what Matt Stairs did to them in the NLCS last year.

That’s fine.

However, Thome is a DH and nothing else. Despite being the third best opposite field power hitter I have seen (Manny Ramirez and Mike Piazza being one and two), at this point in his career, he can’t field and he can’t run.

If Thome were playing softball, he would be one of those guys that would ask for a courtesy runner.

To give Thome maybe one AB a game and make him strictly a pinch hitter is such a waste of a player. If you are going to turn a guy into a one-dimensional player, he better be really good at what he does. In the last two years, Thome is just 1-for-19 as a pinch hitter.

How ever you feel about these two moves, there is one thing you can’t argue. GM Ned Colletti has done everything he can to try to improve the Dodgers over the last couple of months.

Now we will have to wait and see if all these moves payoff in the playoffs.

Fantasy Week In Review, July 13-20

July 20, 2009

Thanks to the official end of the first half of the 2009 baseball season, it was a short week last week. Some teams only played three games (I think the Detroit Tigers want a do over), while others played four.

Just because it was a short week, it doesn’t mean that there wasn’t some solid fantasy performances. That being said – here at the fantasy studs, players who might be of concern, and the potential pickups for the week of July 13 – 20.

Fantasy Studs

Yunel Escobar – .500/2/8 with three doubles. This kid has so much talent it’s ridiculous. Hopefully he will now put it together at the major league level.

Jim Thome– .500/2/7/.615. Five years after he retires, Thome will be the most interesting Hall of Fame debate in quite some time.

Edwin Encarnacion– .583/2/6/.688. After missing most of the first half with an injury, Encarnacion is looking to have a big second half.

Raul Ibanez– .500/2/5. Ibanez picks up right where he left off in the first half.

Lackey pitched like an ace on Sunday

Lackey pitched like an ace on Sunday

Alfonso Soriano – .400/2/5. The Chicago Cubs really need this guy to wake up in the second half. So far he is off to a good start.

John Lackey– 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA and six K’s in nine IP. Lackey was outstanding yesterday vs. the Oakland A’s. I have Lackey on my fantasy team and this was a great sign for myself and other Lackey owners in the world of fantasy baseball.

Roy Oswalt– 1-0 with a 1.00 ERA and five K’s in nine IP. Oswalt walked into Dodger Stadium and tossed the very rare complete game. Oswalt is a notorious second half pitcher (68-20, 2.86 ERA for his career), so fantasy owners should expect more of the same from Oswalt in the next couple of months.

JP Howell – Three saves, zero hits, zero walks, and four K’s in three IP. Howell has really stabilized the Tampa Bay Rays pen. He has nine saves and a 1.97 ERA on the season.

A quick note about Howell. Howell was drafted in the first round (31st overall) by the Kansas City Royals. The Royals traded him just two years later for Joey Gathright.

Just one of the many reasons why the Royals have had one winning season since 1994.

Reasons for Concern

Orlando Hudson – Hudson left Sunday’s game with soreness in his left wrist. It’s something that is not believed to be serious, but it is worth noting that this is the same wrist that Hudson had surgery on last year.

Keep an eye on this situation going forward.

Nelson Cruz Cruz fractured his right ring finger when he was diving back to first base in Saturday’s game against the Minnesota Twins.

Like Hudson’s injury, Cruz’s injury doesn’t appear to be serious.

Cruz was scratched from the lineup on Sunday and is considered day-to-day.

Mark DeRosa – Things have gone as badly as humanly possible for DeRosa since the St. Louis Cardinals acquired Mr. Versatility from the Cleveland Indians in June.

DeRosa started 0-9, then went on the 15-day DL with a wrist injury, and is now 0-6 since returning from the DL. That is 0-15 for those of you scoring at home.

Potential Pickups

Garrett Jones I wrote about Jones on Sunday. Jones is hitting .286 with seven HR’s in just 14 games. As long as he keeps hitting, he should get plenty of AB’s in Pittsburgh.

Jason Schmidt – Yes, Jason Schmidt is still alive. Do you want to throw up? Jason Schmidt made six starts in 2007, zero starts in 2008, and will make his 2009 debut tonight against the Cincinnati Reds and has made $46 million in that span.

I am not expecting much out of Schmidt these days. He is probably a four or five inning pitcher at this point in his career. He might get a cheap win over the Padres or the Nationals here and there, so he might be worth a pickup if you have a spot open on your roster.

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.