Posts Tagged ‘JJ Hardy’

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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Starting Nine: American League Central

January 12, 2010

Yesterday, I took at the starting nine position players for each American League East team. Today, I will cover the starting nine position players for each American League Central team.

Remember, these lineups are as of today. Obviously these will change as the offseason continues. I will update these lineups as the season approaches.

Here are the starting lineups for each American League Central team:

Minnesota Twins

1. Denard Span, CF

2. Joe Mauer, C

3. Justin Morneau, 1B

4. Michael Cuddyer, RF

5. Jason Kubel, DH

6. Delmon Young, LF

7. J.J. Hardy, SS

8. Brendan Harris, 3B

9. Nick Punto, 2B

Quick Take – The Twins have as good a one through five as anyone in baseball. They desperately need a third and second baseman. Orlando Hudson would be a nice addition.

Chicago White Sox

1. Juan Pierre, LF

2. Gordon Beckham, 2B

3. Carlos Quentin, RF

4. Paul Konerko, 1B

5. Alex Rios, CF

6. Alexei Ramirez, SS

7. A.J. Pierzynski, C

8. Mark Teahen, 3B

9. Mark Kotsay, DH

Quick Take – Perhaps there is no lineup that is harder to put together than the White Sox’s. This lineup could go in nine different directions. They need a DH and bringing back Jim Thome would make sense.

Detroit Tigers

1. Austin Jackson, CF

2. Carlos Guillen, DH

3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B

4. Magglio Ordonez, RF

5. Brandon Inge, 3B

6. Ryan Raburn, LF

7. Gerald Laird, C

8. Adam Everett, SS

9. Scott Sizemore, 2B

Quick Take – Another hard lineup to put together. Jackson and Sizemore could flip-flop in the order. I don’t see a reason to ever pitch to Cabrera.

Kansas City Royals

1. Scott Podsednik, CF

2. David DeJesus, LF

3. Billy Butler, 1B

4. Jose Guillen, RF

5. Alex Gordon, 3B

6. Alberto Callaspo, 2B

7. Josh Fields, DH

8. Yuniesky Betancourt, SS

9. Jason Kendall, C

Quick Take – This lineup is going to have a hard time scoring runs. This year might be make or break for Gordon.

Cleveland Indians

1. Azdrubal Cabrera, SS

2. Michael Brantley, LF

3. Grady Sizemore, CF

4. Shin-Soo Choo, RF

5. Travis Hafner, DH

6. Jhonny Peralta, 3B

7. Matt LaPorta, 1B

8. Lou Marson, C

9. Luis Valbuena, 2B

Quick Take – I like putting Brantley in the two-hole because of the speed and high OBP ability he showed in the minors. Sizemore moves down to the three-hole and takes on the role of a run producer.

Tomorrow, I will take a look at the American League West.

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

A Steal For The Twins: Acquire J.J. Hardy From Brewers

November 6, 2009

Anyone who knows me, knows I am a big JJ Hardy fan. I have always liked the way he has played. So when I found out that he was traded to the Minnesota Twins today from the Milwaukee Brewers for OF Carlos Gomez, I thought “Wow, what a steal for the Twins.”

For the Twins to get a shortstop of the caliber of Hardy for a fourth outfielder who manager Ron Gardenhire wanted to strangle half the time is a steal in my opinion.

Hardy

Hardy is a steal for the Twins

I know Hardy stunk last season and yes, he was so bad at one point he was sent to the minors (that wasn’t all about performance). But I am convinced last year was just an aberration for Hardy. In the two years before last season, Hardy had OPS’s of .786 and .821.

Hardy is a perfect fit for the Twins. He is a low-key guy, who can play defense. Since Hardy will be under the Twins control for the next two years, he will give the Twins some stability at short.

Now the Twins can feature a lineup that might look something like this:

1. Span, CF

2. Hardy, SS

3. Mauer, C

4. Morneau, 1B

5. Cuddyer, RF

6. Kubel, DH

7. D. Young, LF

8. N/A, 3B – Twins still need a third baseman

9. Punto, 2B

Regardless of who they get to play third, that is a tremendous lineup for the Twins. That is a lineup that could win them another Central Division crown in 2010.

As for the Brewers, the acquisition of Gomez officially ends the Mike Cameron (one of the more underrated players in baseball) era in Milwaukee. I know the Brewers had a need in centerfield, but I feel they could have gotten more for Hardy.

Gomez is a fast runner and a great defensive player. Other than that, he can’t do anything else. He certainly can’t hit–yet. In three years in the majors, Gomez has a .246 average and a .292 OBP.

I say yet because he is still only 23-years-old. However, he just strikes me as a guy that a team would bring in for the eighth inning as a defensive replacement.

You can have all the speed in the world, but if you don’t use it wisely, it doesn’t matter. Look at Derek Jeter. He is not the fastest guy in baseball, but he is the best baserunner in baseball. Sometimes that is better than speed.

This move also tells me the Brewers are going to back off asking Rickie Weeks to play centerfield in 2010. If Gomez is the Brewers’ starting centerfielder in 2010 and Weeks is going to play second, then the Felipe Lopez era is also over in Milwaukee.

Top prospect Alcides Escobar is expected to be the Brewers’ starting shortstop in 2010, which made Hardy expendable.

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

2009 All-Fantasy Bust Team

September 16, 2009

With most teams having roughly 18-20 games left on their schedule, I think its’ safe to say we know by now which players were surprises and which players were busts in 2009.

Tomorrow, we will take a look at the All-Fantasy Breakout Team. As for today, I think we will take a look at who were the fantasy busts in 2009.

These are the players who owners drafted very high in hopes that these players would lead their team to fantasy supremacy in 2009. Instead, these players fell flat on their faces because of various reasons and cost owners hundreds of dollars.

Without any further adieu, here is the 2009 All-Fantasy Bust Team sponsored by the Julio Lugo, Co. “Nobody Knows Sucking Like A Lugo.”

Honorable Mentions – Chris Iannetta, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, JJ Hardy, Rick Ankiel, Kevin Gregg, Garrett Atkins, Lance Berkman, Alfonso Soriano, Manny Ramirez, Jake Peavy

CatcherGeovany Soto, .222/10/40

After winning the 2008 National League Rookie of the Year award with a .285/23/86 hitting line, many owners expected a repeat performance from Soto in 2009. Not so much.

Davis has not lived up to the hype

Davis has not lived up to the hype

First Base – Chris Davis, .216/19/49

This was a close call between Lance Berkman and Chris Davis, but because Davis was so ridiculously over-hyped, Davis wins it. Everyone’s preseason man-crush has fallen flat on his face in 2009.

Things got so bad for Davis that he was sent to the minors in the middle of the season. That my friends, is a bust.

Second Base – Mike Fontenot, .232/9/40

Second base was the hardest position to pick a fantasy bust because so many two-baggers are either having breakout years or their typical years. Fontenot on the other hand, is having neither.

At this point in the season, Fontenot has roughly 100 more AB’s than last year and has the same amount of HR’s (nine), RBI (40), six less runs scored, and his average is 72 points lower than last years.

Not what the Cubs or fantasy owners were expecting this year.

Shortstop – Jose Reyes, .279/2/15

I had a dilemma with this pick. Do I pick the guy who has just sucked all year in JJ Hardy? Or do I pick the guy who has missed the majority of the year with an injury in Jose Reyes?

I will go with Reyes because Reyes, who was taken in the first two rounds in most leagues and crippled a lot of fantasy teams this year. Reyes went on the DL on May 26th and was never heard from again.

Third Base – Alex Gordon, .202/4/12

This was supposed to be the breakout year for Alex Gordon. That’s what I was telling myself when I drafted Gordon in my league. Instead, 2009 has been a disaster for the Royals young third baseman.

Gordon got off to an awful start in April, then had hip surgery, came back, got sent to the minors, and now is back up again. I am not even sure if Gordon is worth keeping in my Keeper League at this point.

Outfield – Milton Bradley, .260/12/39

It seemed like everyone knew this was going to happen except Chicago Cubs’ GM Jim Hendry. Bradley is like the movie GI Joe. Sure, we all knew it was going to suck, but we kind of wanted to see it any way just to see how bad it was going to be.

I mean 39 RBI in 121 games? Pathetic

Outfield – Josh Hamilton, .270/10/49

Hamilton was the feel good story of the 2008 season. His performance in the HR Derby was stuff of legend and he put up a .304/32/130 hitting line.

2009 has been a lost season for Hamilton. He has been hurt the majority of the year and really never found his groove at the plate.

Outfield – Magglio Ordonez, .296/7/40

From 2006-2008, Ordonez averaged 24 HR’s and 115 RBI. In 2009, Ordonez’s power has vanished faster than the storyline’s on Entourage.

Very puzzling how Ordonez has kept his average up, but has lost all his power.

Liriano has been a bust in 2009

Liriano has been a bust in 2009

Starting Pitcher – Francisco Liriano, 5-12 with a 5.71 ERA

Like Alex Gordon previously, this was supposed to be the year for Liriano. He was two years removed from Tommy John surgery, the Minnesota Twins were expected to compete in the AL Central, and at 25, Liriano was going to mature into an ace.

None of the above happened. Liriano is one of the main reasons the Twins are not in first place and is now pitching out of the bullpen

Starting Pitcher – Daisuke Matsuzaka, 1-5 with a 8.23 ERA

Matsuzaka won 18 games in 2008. Going into last night’s action, Matsuzaka has won a grand total of 1 game in 2009.

Fantasy owners can thank Bud Selig’s marketing ploy, otherwise known as the World Baseball Classic for this.

Starting Pitcher – Brandon Webb, 0-0 with a 13.50 ERA

Last year, Webb was 22-7 with a 3.30 ERA and finished second in the Cy Young voting for the second year in a row. All fantasy owners got out of Webb this year, was one lousy start.

Webb was the third overall pick in my league and in most leagues went in the first two rounds. If your first or second pitcher taken doesn’t win a game during the season, it usually spells doom for your team.

Closer – Brad Lidge, 0-7 with a 7.18 ERA and 10 blown saves

Despite having 29 saves this year, Lidge has been a fantasy disaster all season. He doesn’t have a win, he leads the majors in blown saves, and has killed fantasy owners all year long in the ERA category. His WHIP is 1.823 which is not helping the situation either.

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.

Milwaukee Brewers Shake Things Up…

August 12, 2009

The Milwaukee Brewers hit rock bottom last night in a 13-6 loss at home to the lowly San Diego Padres. The loss dropped the Brewers to 55-57 on the season and 6.5 games behind the front running St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central. Overall, the Brew Crew have lost 23 of their 35 games.

Brewers’ GM Doug Melvin apparently has seen enough. Melvin and Brewers shook things up today by sending former all-star shortstop JJ Hardy to Triple-A Nashville, designating 3B Bill Hall for assignment, firing pitching coach Bill Castro, and calling up prized prospect Alcides Escobar.

Let’s start with Hardy first. Hardy is one of my favorite players in baseball, but I have no idea what happened to this guy in 2009. In 2007 and 2008, Hardy averaged .280 with 25 HR’s and 76 RBI and was starting to look like a top-tier shortstop. This year however, he is hitting a very Al Pedrique-like .229 with just 11 HR’s and 45 RBI.

Hardy was demoted today

Hardy was demoted today

Hardy has clearly struggled at the plate all year and with this demotion and the call up of Escobar, unless Hardy comes back as a third baseman – Hardy’s time in Milwaukee might be over.

If Escobar plays well at shortstop, what use do the Brewers have for Hardy? Here is my bold prediction – JJ Hardy is the starting shortstop for the Boston Red Sox in 2010.

If Hardy fell off the cliff this year, then Bill Hall jumped off and did a cannonball. After clubbing 35 HR’s and driving 85 runs in 2006, the Brewers signed Hall to a four-year $24 million contract. Big mistake.

It is now looking like Hall’s 06 season was an aberration and his .254 with 14 HR’s and 63 RBI season in 2007 and .225/15/55 season in 2008 were the real deal. This year Hall bottomed out and was hitting just .201 with six HR’s in 78 games.

I think Hall could have some value to a team this year as a late-inning defensive replacement at third. Despite being terrible at the plate, he is still playing some good defense. For that role, I think the Florida Marlins would make sense.

The Brewers figure to be on the hook for the remaining $11 million on Hall’s contract.

The last move the Brewers made today was they fired pitching coach Bill Castro and replaced him with former Seattle Mariners’ pitcher Chris Bosio. The Brewers’ pitching staff ranked 27th in baseball with a 4.84 ERA and their starting staff ranked dead last in the NL in era with a 5.16 mark.

This has been a crazy day for the Milwaukee Brewers, but not surprising. Remember, this was the same team that fired their manager (Ned Yost) last year with 12 games to go in the season.

The shake up worked last year. Whether or not it works this year remains to be seen.

Cubs vs Brewers…

May 10, 2009

Today’s live game blog is between NL Central rivals, the Chicago Cubs vs the Milwaukee Brewers. We should get a good pitching matchup tonight as Ryan Dempster (2-1, 4.86 era) squares off against Brewers’ ace Yovani Gallardo (3-1, 3.02era). This will be the Cubs first game without Aramis Ramirez who suffered a dislocated left shoulder in Friday night’s game against the Brewers.

Game – Chicago Cubs vs Milwaukee Brewers

Date – 5/9/09

Starting Lineups

Cubs

1. Soriano, LF

2. Theriot, SS

3. Fukudome, CF

4. Bradley, RF

5. Hoffpauir, 1B

6. Soto, C

7. Fontenot, 2B

8. Scales, 3B

9. Dempster, P

Brewers

1. Weeks, 2B

2. Counsell, 3B

3. Braun, LF

4. Fielder, 1B

5. Hardy, SS

6. Hart, RF

7. Duffy, CF

8. Kendell, C

9. Gallardo, P

Top 1st

First pitch of the game to Soriano is a curveball high for ball 1. Looks to be a pretty good atmosphere in Milwaukee as the stadium is sold out for this one. This Cubs’ lineup looks really weak without Ramirez and Lee.

On a 3-2 count, Gallardo paints the black with a fastball to strike out Soriano. Perfect pitch.

Gallardo gets back to back K’s as Theriot strikes out on a curveball in the dirt. Gallardo has thrown 5 curves so far this game and none of them have been for strikes. Theriot should have been sitting on a fastball and should have been laying off the curve.

Fukudome works a walk. Again, 2 curveballs thrown and still none for a strike.

Bradley grounds weakly to Weeks to end the inning.

Bottom 1st

One of the great things about the baseball package is that you get to see commercials from other cities. Apparently the Piggly Wiggly is a big sponsor of the Brewers. That is just funny to me.

Weeks K’s on a slider about 2 feet outside the strike zone.

Counsell, who it seems like has been in the majors since 1980 ropes an opposite field single to left.

Braun is a beast!!! Braun rips a mediocre fastball into the gap in left center and Counsell scores all the way from 1st. 1-0 Brewers. If the relay throw from SS had been on the money, Counsell would have been out at home.

On the very next pitch, Braun attempts to steal 3rd and Soto throws the ball into LF. Braun scores to make it 2-0. If the Cubs make 2 good throws, they are out of the inning with no damage.

Fielder K’s on just a terrible AB.

Hardy K’s as well to end the inning.

So despite striking out the side, Dempster gives up 2 runs on 2 hits.

After 1, 2-0 Brewers.

Top 2nd

Hoffpauir starts off the inning with a double to right. That ball was smoked. Hoffpauir really needs to learn how to play the OF. When Lee comes back, Hoffpauir will sit on the bench and he has too good a bat to be sitting on the bench.

Soto singles to left and now it is 1st and3rd with nobody out for Fontenot.

Gallardo paints the black again as he strikes out Fontenot on a 94 mph fastball. Another perfect pitch from Gallardo.

Up comes Bobby Scales who spent 11 years in the minors. Wow, that is a lot of bus rides. Scales didn’t see fastballs like the one he just saw from Gallardo. 94 at his eyes. Scales K’s to make it 2 outs. Big out right there because now the pitcher is up.

Dempster flies out to center and despite having 1st and 3rd with nobody out, the Cubs don’t score.

Still 2-0 nothing Brewers heading into the bottom of the 2nd.

Bottom 2nd

The Brewers’ sideline reporter is named Telly Hughes. If that isn’t a perfect name for a reporter, I don’t know what is. It sounds like he should have been a character in Anchorman.

Hart goes down looking on strikes. This game has been a strikeout fest so far.

Duffy hits one back to the mound and now there are 2 outs.

Kendell strikes out but because the pitch he swung at was 3 feet outside and in the dirt, the ball got by Soto. Kendell is on at 1st. Big play there because it clears the pitcher for next inning. However, Gallardo is not a joke at the plate. He is the anti-Al Leiter.

Gallardo strikes out to end the inning. That is 6 K’s now for Dempster.

After 2, it is still 2-0 Brewers

Top 3rd

Gallardo finally has got his curve working as he throws a wicked one to Soriano to strike him out. 5 K’s for Gallardo.

Gallardo walks Theriot. Those are the types of walks that anger managers. Throw strikes to guys like Theriot. What is the worst he can do? Single to left? Can’t walk a guy like that. Have to let him beat you with the bat.

Fukudome flies to left and now there are 2 outs.

Ok, do you know want to know why pitchers no longer throw complete games? It’s because the strike zone is the size of a shoe box. Gallardo just threw 2 pitches to Bradley that were right down the middle and called balls. All these things like K-Zone and Questech have hurt the game. Umpires are scared to call strikes because they are graded by these stupid machines.

Instead of being out of the inning, Gallardo is now forced to throw more pitches adding to his pitch count. RIDICULOUS.

However, no damage was done as Hoffpauir flies out to center.

Bottom 3rd

Weeks leads off the inning with a single in the hole between SS and 3B. Weeks is looking like he is finally coming into his own this year.

Dempster just threw a 2-1 splitter to Counsell. Are you kidding me? CHALLENGE HIM!!! I really wonder what is going threw the head of pitchers and catchers sometimes. Counsell walks and now it is 1st and 2nd with nobody out for Braun. Dempster is digging himself a nice hole here.

Braun walks on a pitch that was probably a strike. Got to love Questech.

Fielder hits a HIGH fly ball to center that is deep enough to score Weeks from 3rd. 3-0 Brewers.

Hardy pops one up and Soto reaches into the stands to make the catch. Way to help your team out Brewers fans.

Wow, what a play!!! Hart rips one off of Dempster’s shoulder, the ball goes over 2B, Fontenot gets to the ball and makes an off balance throw to get Hart. Really great play. Saved a run

That inning could have been a lot worse for Dempster. 3-0 Brewers after 3.

Top 4th

Soto down looking on K’s. Home plate umpire Jerry Crawford’s strike zone is all over the place.

Fontenot hits one past Fielder and down the RF line. Fontenot at 2B with a double. Hart got to that ball quickly and made the play at 2B a lot closer than it should have been.

Both teams are giving Jerry Crawford a piece of their mind. I know Crawford is a very good umpire, but tonight he is having a bad night.

Scales pops out to Counsell in foul territory for the 2nd out.

On a 1-1 count, Gallardo threw Dempster a curveball. My head is going to explode. Wow, Gallardo just walked Dempster. That is a no-no.

Gallardo strikes out Soriano to end the threat. It wasn’t a very good AB by Soriano as he went up there swinging at everything.

Bottom 4th

Dempster strikes out Duffy to start the inning.

Dempster won’t be winning the Gold Glove anytime soon. Kendell hits a ground ball back to him, the ball pops off his glove, he panics and then throws the ball into RF. Kendell on 2nd.

Gallardo ropes the ball, but right to Theriot at SS for the 2nd out. No chance of a double play.

Weeks, showing great patience at the plate draws a walk. Again, Dempster finds himself in trouble.

Dempster is dodging bullets as Counsell flies out to Fukudome in CF

We head to the 5th with the Brewers leading the Cubs, 3-0

Top 5th

Gallardo has thrown 89 pitches so far so he needs a quick inning in order to stay in the game longer

Theriot grounds out to Counsell at 3B for the 1st out.

Fukudome lines one to Hardy for the 2nd out. The Cubs are doing Gallardo and the Brewers a favor right now.

Bradley bloops one between Duffy and Hart for a single.

Hoffpauir blasts one over the RF fence for a 2-run HR. If you wanted the definition of a “bloop and a blast” that was it. The Cubs need to find a way to get Hoffpauir’s bat in the lineup everyday. He can flat out hit.

Gallardo bounces back and strikes out Soto to end the inning.

The Cubs get back in the game and it is now 3-2 Brewers.

Bottom 5th

Braun gets hit in the helmet with a Dempster changeup. That might have been the least scary player hit in the head moment in baseball. Braun got hit in the head and acted like nothing happened.

For some odd reason Braun tries to steal 2nd with Fielder at the plate and he gets throw out by 5 feet. I think Braun is a great player, but that was a bad baseball play. To say Ken Macha looks displeased would be the understatement of the century.

Fielder strikes out for the 2nd out of the inning.

Hardy pops out to Fukudome in CF to end the inning.

Dempster keeps dodging bullets and after 5 it is 3-2 Brewers.

Top 6th

I am getting the sense that this is one of those games where the Brewers keep the Cubs in the game by stranding runner after runner and the Cubs find a way to steal it in the end. I am getting that feeling.

Seth McClung comes into the game to replace Gallardo. Gallardo walked 4 and struck out 7 in 5 innings. Not Gallardo’s best performance but he does leave with a lead.

McClung gets Fontenot swinging for the 1st out.

Scales flies out to Hart in right for the 2nd out of the inning.

McClung makes quick work of Dempster and strikes him out on 3 pitches.

A nice inning by McClung.

Bottom 6th

Hart pops up to Hoffpauir in foul territory for the 1st out.

Duffy lines out to Fukudome in center for the 2nd out.

Kendell grounds one off of a diving Hoffpauir’s glove for a single.

McClung strikes out to end the inning.

After 6 in the books, it is still 3-2 Brewers.

Top 7th

It was just announced that this game is the Brewers’ 7th shutout of the season. The Brewers are starting to become the success model for small market teams.

McClung still in there and gets Soriano to ground to Counsell for the 1st out.

Theriot works a walk and is on 1st with Fukudome coming to the plate. As my summer league coach used to say….”Oh those bases on balls.”

Fukudome gets a broken bat single to right. Theriot goes to 3rd. The Cubs are set up now with 1st and 3rd with 1 out and Bradley coming to the plate.

Bradley walks and Macha is gonna make the call to the pen.

Lefty specialist, Mitch Stetter comes in to face Hoffpauir. Talk about being thrown into the fire.

Good morning, good afternoon and good night to Hoffpauir. 3 pitches and Hoffpauir is done. Macha comes out again to make another pitching change. Not a bad day at the office for Stetter. 1 batter faced, 3 strikes and 1 out.

Carlos Villanueva is summoned out of the pen to face Soto. Big spot here.

On a 2-2 pitch, Villanueva throws a perfect curve on the outside corner but thanks to Jerry Crawford’s ever shrinking strike zone it is called a ball. Just terrible.

Thankfully for the Brewers, Crawford’s terrible call didn’t cost them because Soto grounds to 3rd to end the inning.

Bottom 7th

Dempster still in there despite throwing 110 pitches. I like it. Old school baseball. I was watching Game 4 of the 1983 ALCS between the Orioles and White Sox on the MLB Network this morning and Brit Burns threw 150 pitches in that game. The legendary Brit Burns was throwing 150 pitches back in the day. Amazing how much the game has changed. 

Braun was a beast on Saturday

Braun was a beast on Saturday

Weeks flies out to Fukudome for the first out.

Craig Counsell turns on a fastball and hits it out for a HR. That ball barely made it over the right field fence. That was his first HR since June 17th of last year. Counsell now has more HR’s than David Ortiz. I am just sayin’.

It’s back to back at Miller Park as Braun crushes one to LF. I guess that was payback for getting hit in the head. 5-2 Brewers.  

Neal Cotts comes in to replace Dempster and promptly walks Fielder on 5 pitches. I already see the fumes coming out of Piniella’s ears.

Hardy smacks one up the middle for a base hit. Theriot got a glove on it but was only able to knock the ball down. 1st and 2nd and still only 1 out.

Cotts night is done. Piniella looks like he wants to punch Cotts as he approaches the mound to take the ball.

David Patton gets the call from the pen to face Hart and is greeting by a single up the middle scoring Fielder. 6-2 Brewers. I thought the Cubs’ bullpen was supposed to be a strength this year? Guess not.

Duffy grounds to Hoffpauir and Hoffpauir gets the force at 2nd. 1st and 3rd with 2 outs now.

Kendell bloops one to left for a single and Hardy scores to make it 7-2 Brewers.

Brad Nelson is called upon to pinch hit for the pitcher. He looks like a poor man’s Matt Stairs. Nelson came into the AB 0-20 on the season and on a 3-2 count, Patton throws him a curveball. What??? The guy is 0-20!!! Throw him a fastball. Makes zero sense.

Bases loaded now for Weeks. I have Weeks on one of my fantasy teams, so I am hoping for a big fly here. I will settle for a single. Duffy scores to make it 8-2 Brewers. This has turned into a route.

9-2 Brewers as Patton throws one that gets by Soto. I guess my feeling that the Cubs might win this game was a little off.

Scales makes a nice play on Counsell to end the inning.

But the damage was done. 6 runs on 6 hits and after 7 it is now 9-2 Brewers

Top 8th

If anyone is in the Milwaukee area this weekend, the Piggly Wiggly has a sale on Tombstone Pizza. 4 for $10. I think that is a pretty good deal.

Jorge Julio is on to pitch for the Brewers so this game isn’t over yet.

That’s what you want to see from your reliever if you are Ken Macha. Up 9-2 and Julio walks the first batter. Good times if you are Macha. Fontenot on 1st.

Julio redeems himself by stricking out Scales.

Aaron Miles comes up to bat for Patton. Miles hits a ball up the middle but Weeks slides to his right, backhands the ball and flips to Hardy for the force out. Great play by Weeks.

Soriano gets a broken bat single down the left field line. Miles goes to 3rd and it’s 1st and3rd with 2 outs.

Julio drills Theriot right in the ribs. That is going to leave a mark in the morning. Bases loaded now for the Cubs.

Julio throws a 55 ft slider in the dirt that gets by Kendell. Fontenot scores to make it 9-3 Brewers.

Like I said, this game isn’t over yet. Fukudome crushes one to center for a 2 run double. It is now 9-5 Brewers. I am sorry, but if you can’t protect a 9-2 lead, you shouldn’t be pitching in the major leagues.

Big Todd Coffey is on to pitch. Well this is strange. The lights just went out at Miller Park. Half the stadium lights went off. Great, only when I am blogging does stuff like this happen.

Right now the game is delayed. Faaaaaaaaaaantastic.

Well, that wasn’t so bad. We are back and so are the Cubs’ bats. Bradley hits one to deeeeeeeeep center for a double. Fukudome scores to make it 9-6.

Coffey strikes out Hoffpauir to end the inning.

The Cubs are trying to make a comeback as they score 4 runs to make it a 9-6 game

Bottom 8th

Chad Fox is the next pitcher out for the Cubs. Really? Chad Fox? These are desperate times for the Cubs.

Glallardo got the win on Saturday

Gallardo got the win on Saturday

Braun walks to lead off the inning. Your team just scores 4 runs to make it 9-6 and you walk the first batter of the inning. Unreal. A wild pitch advances Braun to 2nd.

Fox, who is coming back from 2 Tommy John surgeries, throws 3 pitches to Fielder and has to come out of the game. Looks like he hurt his arm again. Perhaps that was the last pitch in Fox’s career. 

Aaron Heilman will take over for Fox. Right now every Met’s fan reading this just cringed. Heilman coming in with a 3-0 count walks Fielder. That walk will be charged to Fox.

Hardy walks and now the bases are loaded. Piniella looks about as happy as Mets’ fans looked when they saw Heilman enter the game.

Oh boy. Heilman just walked Hart to force in a run. Braun scores to make the score 10-6. Still nobody out.

Duffy single to center and Fielder scores to make it 11-6 Brewers. I don’t think Heilman is winning any brownie points with Piniella at this point.

Kendell hits a sacrafice fly to right that scores Hardy. 12-6 Brewers.

Coffey down on strikes. 2 outs

Weeks strikes out to thankfully end this inning. That was brutal to watch.

The Brewers tack on 3 more to make it 12-6 after 8.

Top 9th

Soto starts the 9th with a single to left. This game is now 4 hours long. Good times.

Fontenot grounds into a 4-6-3 double play. Nicely turned by Weeks and Hardy. 2 outs.

Scales lines one to center that Duffy dives for and traps. A single for Scales. This game will never end.

Reed Johnson enters the game as a pinch hitter. Braun makes a diving catch in left to end the game.

The Brewers win this marathon 12-6. With this win the Brewers improve to 18-13, while the Cubs fall to 16-14. If the Cubs want to win the NL Central or even compete for a wild card they better get their bullpen in order because right now it’s terrible.

I would also like to wish all the mothers out there a Happy Mother’s Day!!! Or to take a page out of Ralph Kiner’s book….On mother’s day, I again wish you a happy birthday.

Looking At Fantasy Shortstops In 2009….

March 28, 2009

Let’s take a look at fantasy Shortstops headed into 2009. This group is very top heavy. My strategy is, if you don’t get one of the top three, then wait. There is a Cecil Fielder sized drop off after you get past the big three. So in honor of the of some of the best (and worst) Shortstops of all-time, let’s see who are the best fantasy Shortstops in 2009.

Honus Wagner Division

The best of the best, Wagner is the greatest SS of all-time (Arod doesn’t count because he is a cheater) and these three Shortstops are by far and away the best Shortstops in this fantasy draft.

Ramirez is the #1 SS

Ramirez is the #1 SS

1. Hanley Ramirez, Marlins. One of the top 5 players in the game, Ramirez will go top 3 in most fantasy drafts. He can do it all. Hit for avg (.301 in 08), hit hr’s (33 in 08), get on base (.400 obp in 08) and steal a base (35 in 08). The only thing you can say he doesn’t do well is drive in runs. That will change in 2009 because Ramirez will be moved down to the 3 spot in the order.

2. Jimmy Rollins, Phillies. After winning the MVP in 2007, Rollins had a very disappointing 2008. I think he bounces back in 2009 and will have a better fantasy season than Jose Reyes. Look for Rollins to put up a .285/20/80 with 40+ sb’s and over 110 runs scored

3. Jose Reyes, Mets. While I question Reyes as a player (I don’t think he is a winner), there is no questioning his fantasy value. Reyes is a look for 110+ runs scored, 15+ hr’s and 50+ rbi

Alan Trammell Division

It’s not that Alan Trammell was a bad player. A matter of fact, Trammell was one of the better Shortstops in the game from 1983-1990. The point is that there is a major drop off from Honus Wagner to Alan Trammell. These next 10 guys are the last 10 guys you want to draft before you have to scramble.

4. Stephen Drew, Diamondbacks. I have Drew ranked higher than Jeter and Furcal because 1. He can stay healthy and 2. In Keeper Leagues he is a much better option due to his age (26). Drew seems to be getting better with age and it’s not out of the question that he approaches a 30 hr season.

5. Derek Jeter, Yankees. Jeter’s runs, hits, hr’s, rbi’s, avg and obp have declined in each of the last 3 years. But in the weak category of SS, Jeter still provides value. Expect Jeter to put up a .305/10/65 with 10 sb’s.

6. Rafael Furcal, Dodgers. Furcal was off to a rip roaring start in 2008 before his back gave out. Furcal hit double digit hr’s from 2003-2006 but with a bad back I am not sure he can reach double figures again. The Dodgers should have a very good offense, so 100+ runs and a .300 avg should be expected from Furcal in 2009.

7. Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies.I had asked in a post, “Can Tulo Bounce Back?” My answer back then was yes and my answer no is yes. Will Tulowitzki be as good as his rookie year? Probably not but he can certainly put up a .285/20/80.

Don't sleep on Hardy

Don't sleep on Hardy

8. JJ Hardy, Brewers. Hardy has really come on with the power slugging 50 hr’s in the last 2 years. Hardy seems to be underrated in most drafts but he is good for a .280/28/80 in 2009.

9. Michael Young, Rangers. Young will qualify as a 3B and a SS but has move value as a SS. Last year was the first year since 2003 that Young didn’t have 200 hits. Will his switch from SS to 3B hurt his offense? I don’t think it will but his days of 200+ hits and 100 rbi are gone.

10. Jhonny Peralta, Indians. Peralta had a career year in 2008 putting up a .276/23/89 with 104 runs scored. Peralta is tearing up Spring Training hitting .435/3/11 in 46 ab’s. The Indians lineup looks to be improved in 2009 with the returns of Martinez and Hafner, so it’s possible Peralta could improve on his 2008 performance. If only he stole bases he would be much higher up on the food chain.

11. 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.

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.

13. Miguel Tejada, Astros. Tejada looks to be on the downside of his career as his avg, hr’s and rbi’s have declined each of the last 3 seasons. Tejada is going to bat 5th this year so a rebirth in rbi’s is possible. A .280/14/80 should be expected from Tejada this season.

Kevin Elster Division

Elster was mostly a good glove, no hit SS with the Mets, Yankees, Phillies, Rangers, Pirates and Dodgers. Elster did have one magical year by his standards in 1996, when he hit 24 hr’s and knocked in 99 runs for the Rangers. Most of these next 19 guys are either good glove, no hit or can marginally help your fantasy team in 2009.

14. Jed Lowrie, Red Sox. Now the starting SS will get you runs scored and a solid obp. Might lose ab’s when Lugo returns from the DL.

15. Orlando Cabrera, A’s. A very consistent player, you know what you are going to get. .280 batting average with 8 or 9 hr’s, 60-70 rbi and 20 sb’s.

16. Yunel Escobar, Braves. Don’t give up on him just yet. He is still only 26 and has has shown good patience at the plate in his short time in the majors.

17. Ryan Theriot, Cubs. Good average, solid obp and will get you 20+ sb’s.

18. Elvis Andrus, Rangers. The new starting SS in Texas, Andrus has good value in Keeper Leagues. He will probably go threw some typical rookie struggles but he can run (54 sb’s in Double A). Expect 25-30 sb’s in 2009.

19. Edgar Renteria, Giants. Clearly on the downside of his career but he is back in the NL where he belongs. Still capable of hitting 10 hr’s and driving in 55.

20. Jason Bartlett, Rays. Zero power what so ever but he will get you stolen bases (53 in the last 3 years).

21. Khalil Greene, Cardinals. An obp killer (.276 combined last 2 years) but leaving Petco should help him get back to the 20 hr mark in 2009.

22. Christian Guzman, Nationals. Will get you a .300 avg and maybe 50 rbi’s and that is about it.

23. Erick Aybar, Angels. 15+ sb potential but will have to hold off Izturis and perhaps Brandon Wood for playing time.

24. Yuniesky Betancourt, Mariners. See Khalil Greene but without the 20 hr potential.

25. Cesar Izturis, Orioles. Very much like Jason Bartlett and will get you 20 + sb’s.

26. Jeff Keppinger, Reds. Will replace Gonzalez at some point during the season. Is a better offensive option than Gonzalez

27. Alex Gonzalez, Reds. After missed all of 2008 with a fractured knee (ouch!!) he will be competing for playing time with Keppinger. Gonzalez could hit 10 hr’s but is an obp killer.

28. Nick Punto, Twins. One of the dubbed “Piranhas,” Punto is a typical good glove, not hit SS. He will get your team 15 – 20 sb’s

29. Jack Wilson, Pirates.At 31, Wilson is headed towards the end of his career. Not that he was any better when he was 26. Wilson might move into a platoon role to make room for Brian Bixler.

30. Adam Everett, Tigers. The only reason he is still in the league is because of his defense. The Tigers version of Jason Bartlett?

31. Marco Scutaro, Blue Jays. A better offensive option than John McDonald and that is not saying much.

32. Luis Rodriguez/David Eckstein, Padres. Uglier and ugliest. Neither of these players add any value to your team.

Keep An Eye On

Brandon Wood, Angels. I didn’t rank Wood because I have no idea what the Angels plan on doing with this guy. He is killing the ball this spring to the tune of .347/4/13 in 49 ab’s but the Angels have Figgins at 3B, Aybar at SS and Rivera at DH. Keep an eye on this situation. If he is able to get playing time over any of the above names, then Wood is a pick up you should make.