Posts Tagged ‘Matt Kemp’

Starting Nine: National League West

January 16, 2010

Last but least in our Starting Nine series, is the National League West. Usually known as being the worst offensive division in baseball, the NL West has improved offensively this offseason.

The San Francisco Giants and Arizona Diamondbacks have added offensive pieces this offseason and as long as the young Colorado Rockie hitters continue to improve, they will always be dangerous.

Here are the lineups for each team in the National League West as presently constructed today.

Colorado Rockies

1. Dexter Fowler, CF

2. Carlos Gonzalez, LF

3. Todd Helton, 1B

4. Troy Tulowitzki, SS

5. Brad Hawpe, RF

6. Ian Stewart, 3B

7. Chris Iannetta, C

8. Clint Barmes, 2B

9. Ubaldo Jimenez, P

Quick Take – This lineup is the class of the NL West. This lineup has everything you want–speed, power, and patience. Look for Carlos Gonzalez to have a breakout year and become everyone’s mancrush when it comes to fantasy baseball.

San Francisco Giants

1. Freddy Sanchez, 2B

2. Edgar Renteria, SS

3. Pablo Sandoval, 3B

4. Aubrey Huff, 1B

5. Mark DeRosa, LF

6. Aaron Rowand, CF

7. Buster Posey, C

8. Nate Schierholtz, RF

9. Tim Lincecum, P

Quick Take – It’s hard to make up a lineup when every guy in that lineup is the same. This lineup has very little power, very little speed, and not a single person that scares an opposing pitching.

Los Angeles Dodgers

1. Rafael Furcal, SS

2. James Loney, 1B

3. Manny Ramirez, LF

4. Matt Kemp, CF

5. Andre Ethier, RF

6. Casey Blake, 3B

7. Russell Martin, C

8. Blake DeWitt, 2B

9. Chad Billingsley, P

Quick Take – I originally had Ethier in the two-hole and Loney in the six-hole like the Dodgers had in the NLCS last year. I didn’t like that lineup then, and I don’t like it now. Ethier is better served in a RBI position in the lineup.

Arizona Diamondbacks

1. Gerardo Parra, CF

2. Stephen Drew, SS

3. Justin Upton, RF

4. Mark Reynolds, 3B

5. Adam LaRoche, 1B

6. Conor Jackson, LF

7. Miguel Montero, C

8. Kelly Johnson, 2B

8. Dan Haren, P

Quick Take – With the addition of LaRoche and a healthy Jackson, this lineup all of a sudden looks very deep. Upton is only getting better and he will be a MVP candidate in 2010.

San Diego Padres

1. Everth Cabrera, SS

2. David Eckstein, 2B

3. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B

4. Kyle Blanks, lF

5. Chase Headley, 3B

6. Nick Hundley, C

7. Will Venable, RF

8. Tony Gwynn, CF

9. Chris Young, P

Quick Take – Kevin Kouzmanoff was traded to the Oakland A’s less than 24 hours ago, so now there is zero reason to pitch to A. Gonzalez in 2010. With Kouzmanoff gone, this is a big year for Headley. Look for newly acquired Scott Hairston to platoon with Gwynn in center.

Well that’s it for our Starting Nine series. I hoped you enjoyed it. I will update this series as the regular season approaches.

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

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What Each MLB Team Should Be Thankful For

November 26, 2009

For me, Thanksgiving is the best holiday of the year. It’s one of the few times of the year when all bets are off when it comes to food. Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie.

It doesn’t get any better than that.

Thanksgiving is also the time of year where we give thanks to what we have in life. It’s no different for all 30 teams of Major League Baseball. Each team has something they can be thankful for.

NL East

Philadelphia Phillies: The Phillies should be thankful that they have one of the best GM’s in the game in Ruben Amaro Jr. A GM who doesn’t get nearly the credit he deserves.

Atlanta Braves: The Braves should be thankful the Minor League Player of the Year, Jason Heyward is on his way. The kid looks like a star.

Florida Marlins: The Marlins should be thankful they are getting a new stadium in 2012. Maybe then they can keep their young stars like Josh Johnson

New York Mets: The Mets should be thankful that 2009 is finally coming to an end. 2010 can’t be much worse.

Washington Nationals: The Nationals should be thankful that new GM Mike Rizzo has more of a clue than former GM Jim Bowden

NL Central

St. Louis Cardinals: The Cardinals should be thankful for the fact that they get to watch the best player in the game on a day in and day out basis.

Chicago Cubs: The Cubs should be thankful that after so many years of being labeled “lovable losers,” they are finally dedicated to winning. Whether or not they are making the right moves to win is another story.

Milwaukee Brewers: The Brewers should be thankful that they have an owner in Mark Attanasio, who runs a small market team, but has a big market mentality.

Cincinnati Reds: The Reds should be thankful that Jay Bruce, Drew Stubbs, and Joey Votto are young stars, who should provide a solid foundation for the future.

Houston Astros: The Astros should be thankful that Wandy Rodriguez established himself as a solid No. 2 starter in 2009.

Pittsburgh Pirates: The Pirates should be thankful for the fact that GM Neal Huntington has the team moving in the right direction. The Pirates are making the right moves to compete in the future.

NL West

Los Angeles Dodgers: The Dodgers should be thankful for Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp, who appear to be the foundation of the Dodgers’ offense for years to come.

Colorado Rockies: The Rockies should be thankful that they have one of the best and exciting young teams in baseball. The Rockies have finally figured out how to win in Colorado.

The Giants should be thankful for Lincecum

San Francisco Giants: The Giants should be thankful for being able to watch Tim Lincecum every five days. His unique delivery continues to amaze fans and baffle hitters.

San Diego Padres: The Padres should be thankful that it appears that they will not be trading star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.

Arizona Diamondbacks: The Diamondbacks should be thankful that Brandon Webb is making progress and looks to be healthy in 2010.

AL East

New York Yankees: The Yankees should be thankful that they are the Yankees. No other team in professional sports has the advantage they have.

Boston Red Sox: The Red Sox should be thankful for their minor-league system, which allows them to trade for players like Victor Martinez and potentially Roy Halladay or Miguel Cabrera.

Tampa Bay Rays: The Rays should be thankful that they have the most athletic team in baseball and after so many years of losing, they have a winner in Tampa.

Toronto Blue Jays: The Blue Jays should be thankful for the fact they got to watch Roy Halladay pitch in a Blue Jays’ uniform for the last 12 years. He will go down as the best player in franchise history.

Baltimore Orioles: The Orioles should be thankful for that after so many years of not having a clue, they are moving in the right direction. Matt Wieters, Adam Jones, Brian Matusz, and Nick Markakis provide a solid foundation for the future.

AL Central

Minnesota Twins: The Twins should be thankful for Joe Mauer. When it is all said and done, I believe he will go down as the greatest catcher of all time.

Detroit Tigers: The Tigers should be thankful for Mike Ilitch. Despite a ravaged economy in Detroit, Ilitch does his best to put a winner on the field in the Motor City.

Chicago White Sox: The White Sox should be thankful for employing Ozzie Guillen. His press conferences have provided baseball fans with hours of comedy. Oh yeah, the guy is a pretty good manager.

Kansas City Royals: The Royals should be thankful that there is only more year left in the Jose Guillen era in Kansas City.

Cleveland Indians: The Indians should be thankful that Grady Sizemore, Carlos Santana, Azdrubal Cabrera, Matt LaPorta, and Shin-Soo Choo provide hope for the future.

AL West

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: The Angles should be thankful for that they have one of the best run organizations in baseball. The job Arte Moreno and Mike Scioscia have done in Anaheim has been impressive.

Seattle Mariners: The Mariners should be thankful for the fact that if they make a couple of solid moves this offseason, they could win the AL West in 2010.

Texas Rangers: The Rangers should be thankful for GM Jon Daniels. His trades and drafting over the last four years have the Rangers poised to make a run at the AL West crown in 2010.

Oakland A’s: The A’s should be thankful for Andrew Bailey. The 2009 AL Rookie of the Year and a great year and should anchor the backend of the A’s bullpen for years to come–or at least until Billy Beane trades him.

I would like to give thanks to all my readers for taking the time out of their days to read my blog. For that, I am truly grateful.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO EVERYONE AND THEIR FAMILIES!!!

National League Hands Out Some Gold Gloves

November 11, 2009

Yesterday, the American League handed out their Gold Glove awards. Today, the National League handed out their Gold Gloves.

Let’s take a look at who won in the National League:

C. Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals – .995 fielding percentage, 40 percent caught stealing percentage

1B. Adrian Gonzalez, San Diego Padres – .995 fielding percentage, 3.8 UZR

2B. Orlando Hudson, Los Angeles Dodgers – .988 fielding percentage, -3.3 UZR

SS. Jimmy Rollins, Philadelphia Phillies – .990 fielding percentage, 2.7 UZR

3B. Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals – .963 fielding percentage, 18.1 UZR

OF. Michael Bourn, Houston Astros – .992 fielding percentage, 8.6 UZR

OF. Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers – .995 fielding percentage, 2.5 UZR

OF. Shane Victorino, Philadelphia Phillies – .997 fielding percentage, -4.1 UZR

P. Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals – 1.000 fielding percentage

Apparently, there are no good defensive left fielders in the game of baseball these days. The American League didn’t have a Gold Glove left fielder and now the National League doesn’t have a Gold Glove left fielder.

It’s really just silly.

How can you reward three center fielders and not reward a right fielder for defensive excellence? Jayson Werth is the best defensive right fielder in the National League and he should have been rewarded for it.

I disagree with three of the choices the voters made.

How does Victorino win the Gold Glove? It seemed like every other game he was misjudging a flyball. Like I said earlier, Werth would have been a better choice as a right fielder, or, if you must have three center fielders win the award, Mike Cameron would have been a better choice.

I am not fond of the Hudson selection. I would have gone with Chase Utley. And that has nothing to do with Utley being a superior offensive player.

Utley is a very good fielder, but he is so good offensively, that it overshadows his defense.

The last change I would have made would be with Rollins. Troy Tulowitzki would have gotten my vote. He is the best defensive shortstop in the National League and should have been rewarded for it.

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

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

Bullpen Saves The Day For The Dodgers In Game One

October 8, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That just can’t happen in that spot.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Los Angeles Dodgers Clinch Playoff Spot

September 27, 2009

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

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

Dodger Stadium will be rocking in October

Dodger Stadium will be rocking in October

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s the level Torre is on.

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

Fantasy Week in Review August 24 – 30

August 31, 2009

Between my birthday, Kendry Morales doing his best Mark Teixeira impersonation for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and the New York Yankees making a mockery of the term “starting pitcher” there was a lot going on last week.

Like every week, here are the fantasy studs, the many players who are of fantasy concern, and the potential pickups from the fantasy week of August 24th – 30th.

Fantasy Studs

Ryan Howard – .393/5/12. The big man is making his annual late season push for MVP.

I need to see Prince go yard next Monday

I need to see Prince go yard next Monday

Kendry Morales – .462/3/11. Speaking of MVP candidates, Morales is right up with Joe Mauer, Mark Teixeira, and Derek Jeter for AL MVP.

Prince Fielder – .259/3/11/.375. I will be in Milwaukee next week to see the Brewers and I am banking on Fielder hitting one of his signature bombs.

Matt Kemp – .360/3/8 with two SB’s. While Manny Ramirez continues to putz around for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Kemp and Andre Ethier continue to carry them.

Zack Greinke – 2-0 with a 1.06 ERA and 20 K’s in 17 IP. The Zack Attack is back! He completely dominated the Seattle Mariners yesterday at Safeco. He is back as the leader for the AL Cy Young.

Adam Wainwright – 2-0 with a 0.64 ERA and 12 K’s in 14 IP. Though I am not sure he will win the award, but Wainwright is making a nice run at the NL Cy Young.

He currently leads the NL in wins with 16.

Sean West – 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA and nine K’s in 12 IP. I would like to see West go deeper into games, but he came up big yesterday in a must win game against the San Diego Padres.

Jonathan Papelbon – Three saves with a 0.00 ERA and seven K’s in 3.2 IP. Papelbon is still shaky at times, but when he needs a strikeout he has no problem getting it.

2009 has not been Peavy's year

2009 has not been Peavy's year

Reasons for Concern

Jake Peavy – For those fantasy owners who were hoping Peavy would help their team down the stretch, it’s not looking to good. You kind of get the feeling this is not Peavy’s year.

Peavy has been hurt all year and now he was removed in the forth inning of his rehab start because of soreness in his pitching elbow on Saturday.

Peavy will have his elbow examined later today.

Roy Halladay –  Since the July 31 trading deadline, Halladay is 2-4 with an ERA of 4.71. Very un-Halladay like.

I have watched his last two starts against Tampa and Boston and while his body was on the mound in those starts, his mind was in Colorado, Baltimore, Paris, the Uganda, or anywhere else in the world.

I have never seen Halladay miss his spot as many times as he did against Tampa and Boston. He wasn’t even close a lot of the times. I think Halladay just wants to finish the season and then prays he gets out of Toronto in the offseason.

Joba Chamberlain – The newest “Joba Rules” have rendered Chamberlain useless for fantasy owners for the remainder of the season. Chamberlain pitched three innings yesterday and that was by design.

I have never seen in all my years of watching baseball a starting pitcher only throw three innings by design. Somewhere Jack Morris is sticking bamboo shoots underneath his fingernails.

Chad Qualls – Qualls was hurt on the final play of the game yesterday trying to get out of the way of a linedrive hit right at him. It’s never a good sign when someone says “You can see the dislocation” as AJ Hinch said yesterday.

Qualls is scheduled to undergo an MRI on his knee today, but it doesn’t look good.

Potential Pickups

Juan Gutierrez – Not only does Gutierrez sound like a kicker on any NFL team during the 80’s, he might also be the Arizona Diamondbacks closer if Qualls is out for an extended period of time.

Gutierrez is 3-3 with a 4.21 ERA in 53 games for the Diamondbacks this year.

Should The Dodgers Be Concerned With Chad Billingsley?

July 29, 2009

There are a lot of great pitchers in the game today who are 25-years old and younger. Tim Lincecum, Zack Greinke, Felix Hernandez, and Chad Billingsley come to mind. What is amazing is that at such a young age, all these pitchers are considered the ace of their respective staffs.

With so much responsibility put on their shoulders (literally), it’s not uncommon for young pitchers to go through a slump during the course of the long baseball season. That is exactly what I think is happening to Los Angeles Dodgers’ ace Chad Billingsley.

Billingsley will be fine

Billingsley will be fine

Billingsley was roughed up again last night. This time it was by the St Louis Cardinals. Billingsley gave up six runs, an uncharacteristic six walks, and four hits in 5.2 innings of work last night.

What made this game frustrating for Dodgers’ fans is that Billingsley was cruising for five innings. For what ever reason, Billingsley imploded in the sixth inning – four walks (two were intentional), two wild pitches, three hits, and six runs. Ouch.

I have seen this before with another young pitcher – Jon Lester. In many games this year (May 15 at Seattle comes to mind), Lester would be cruising and then all of a sudden just lose it in the fifth or six inning. His stuff was still there, but his location was off and by the time he figured it out, it was too late. 

Despite Billingsley’s 7.52 ERA in July and his 2,225 pitches thrown this year (third behind Justin Verlander and Adam Wainwright), if I was a Dodger fan, I would not be too concerned about your ace. He doesn’t appear hurt and he is just in a pitching slump. It happens to every young pitcher in the game.

Slumps happen at different points of the season. For Tim Lincecum it was April and for Jon Lester it was May. Billingsley will be fine – he is too good not to be.

One last note about the Dodgers. How about Matt Kemp? I thought it was a bad move by Joe Torre to bat Kemp eighth. However, it has worked. Kemp is batting .443 and has an OPS of 1.177 hitting in the No. Eight hole. Not too shabby.

Baseball’s Best Outfield: Midseason…

July 12, 2009

In the third of the four part “Baseball’s Best: Midseason” series, I am going to take a look at which team has baseball’s best outfield.

In order to figure out which team has had baseball’s best outfield in the first half, I used four categories – OPS, Runs Created, UZR, and Fielding Percentage. It’s just not all about offense. In order to be tops on this list, you also need to be a quality defender.

The stats were calculated for all three individual outfielders, then added together, and then I divided the stats by three to figure out the team’s total in that particular category.

Each category was worth 10 points. If a team didn’t finish in the top 10, that team received zero points.

For teams that use a platoon in an outfield position, such as the New York Yankees with Brett Gardner and Melky Cabrera in centerfield, I used the stats for the player who has played the most games at that position. In the Yankees case – Brett Gardner.

In the preseason edition of this, the Milwaukee Brewers had the best outfield in baseball. Let’s see who is No. 1 at the midway point in the season…

10 – 6. Minnesota Twins, Tampa Bay Rays, New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays, Houston Astros

5. Los Angeles Dodgers – 23 points

Outfield – Juan Pierre, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier

OPS – Six

RC – Four

UZR – Seven

FP – Six

Analysis – Of course the Dodgers were hurt in this by the 50-game suspension of Manny Ramirez. I am guessing if Manny had played in 47 of those games, the Dodgers would be a little higher on the list.

Kemp should've been an All-Star

Kemp should've been an All-Star

However, Juan Pierre stepped in nicely in left. Pierre’s OPS is very similar to Ethier’s (.805 to .807) and has played a tremendous leftfield as his 1.000 fielding percentage and 6.2 UZR suggests.

Matt Kemp has been solid, both offensively and defensively. Kemp has created 52.7 runs and has a very impressive 10.1 UZR playing centerfield for the Dodgers.

I still think Kemp should have been an All-Star this year.

4. Milwaukee Brewers – 27 points

Outfield – Ryan Braun, Mike Cameron, Corey Hart

OPS – Eight

RC – Seven

UZR – Eight

FP – Four

Analysis – The Brewers’ outfield can hit with anyone. They finished third in OPS (.844) and fourth in Runs Created (52.3). When you have a player like Ryan Braun (.954 OPS)  in your outfield, you will usually finish towards the top in most offensive categories.

The outfield is rounded out by one of the best defensive centerfielders in the game, Mike Cameron and one of the top up-and-coming players in the game, Corey Hart.

This is one of my favorite outfields in baseball. They have the offense in Braun, the defense in Cameron, and a guy who can do a little of both in Corey Hart.

3. Boston Red Sox – 30 points

Outfield – Jason Bay, Jacoby Ellsbury, JD Drew

OPS – Seven

RC – Eight

UZR – Five

FP – Ten

Analysis – While the Milwaukee Brewers have an outfield that offers a little bit of everything, so do the Boston Red Sox. Bay, Ellsbury and Drew each bring something different to the table.

Bay is the bopper (63.2 Runs Created), Ellsbury is the speed and defense guy (.994 Fielding Percentage), and Drew is the steady rightfielder who seems to do everything well (.858 OPS, 5.0 UZR, .993 Fielding Percentage.)

While the Red Sox’s UZR is in the middle of the pack, when they have the opportunity to catch the ball, they do. Their Fielding Percentage of .996 was tops on this list.

2. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – 31 points

Outfield – Juan Rivera, Torii Hunter, Bobby Abreu

OPS – Nine

RC – Nine

UZR – Nine

FP – Four

Analysis – The Angels’ outfield has really carried the team throughout the first half of the season. Not only have they gotten great a contribution from the newly acquired Bobby Abreu, but they are getting a career year from Juan Rivera, and an MVP type season from Torii Hunter.

The Angels ranked second in OPS (.888), Runs Created (54.6), and UZR (6.0).

How smart do the Angels look for signing Bobby Abreu to that discounted contract in the offseason? Almost as dumb as they look for giving Gary Matthews Jr. that ridiculous contract a couple of years ago.

1. Philadelphia Phillies – 33 points

Outfield – Raul Ibanez, Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth

OPS – Ten

RC – Ten

UZR – Four

FP – Nine

Ibanez leads the best OF in baseball

Ibanez leads the best OF in baseball

Analysis – I guess when you send three outfielders to the All-Star game you have to be No. 1 on this list. Ibanez, Victorino, and Werth will all be participating in the mid-summer’s classic in St. Louis.

The star of this group have been Ibanez. Ibanez’s 1.027 OPS ranks fourth in baseball and is higher than anyone mentioned in this post. If he hadn’t gotten hurt, his stats might be even better.

Victorino and Werth are gritty, gamers, who oh by the way can really hit. Werth has been responsible for creating 60. 5 runs, which ranks him fourth (Braun, Bay, Crawford) out of any of the players on the teams in this post.

Like Werth, Victorino has gone from solid contributor to All-Star this year. With Jimmy Rollins struggling, Victorino has been the spark plug for the Phillies this year. Victorino has put up a very solid .858 OPS so far this year.

So that’s it for baseball’s best outfield. The next and final installment of this series will cover baseball’s best infield.

*All stats were calculated prior to Saturday’s action.

Picking My 2009 National League All Star Team…

June 16, 2009

One of my favorite events of the year is the major league baseball All Star Game. Do I think that home field advantage in the World Series should be decided by the winner of the All Star game? No, I don’t. But I still the event regardless.

The mid-summer classic offers fans the opportunity for fans to see the best players in the game all on the field at the same time. It’s quite a scene.

With the All Star game exactly one month away from yesterday, I am going to put together my All Star game roster. Today I will do the National League and tomorrow, I will pick the American League All Stars.

Of course I will follow the same rules that this year’s National League manager, Charlie Manuel has to go by. A roster of 33 players and each team in the National League has to be represented.

With out any further adieu, here is my National League All Star Team:

Starters

C. Brian McCann, Atlanta Braves

1B. Albert Pujols, St Louis Cardinals

2B. Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies

SS. Hanley Ramirez, Florida Marlins

3B. David Wright, New York Mets

OF. Raul Ibanez, Philadelphia Phillies

OF. Carlos Beltran, New York Mets

OF. Brad Hawpe, Colorado Rockies

SP. Matt Cain, San Francisco Giants

There were six selections that were pretty obvious. The three players that are worth debating are Hanley Ramirez at SS, Brad Hawpe in the OF and Matt Cain as the starting pitcher.

I gave the slight edge to Ramirez over Tejeda at SS based on Ramirez having a higher OPS and more SB’s. Does anyone realize what a graet year Brad Hawpe is having? .337/9/47 is mighty impressive. I gave him the slight edge over Ryan Braun.

Cain is 9-1 and in my opinion, has been the most consistent NL starter, so he gets the nod over Santana and Billingsley.

Reserves – Pitchers

Johan Santana, New York Mets

Chad Billingsley, Los Angeles Dodgers

Dan Haren, Arizona Diamondbacks

Josh Johnson, Florida Marlins

Ted Lilly, Chicago Cubs

Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants

Johnny Cueto, Cincinnati Reds

Francisco Rodriguez, New York Mets

Trevor Hoffman, Milwaukee Brewers

Heath Bell, San Diego Padres

Jonathon Broxton, Los Angeles Dodgers

Ryan Franklin, St Louis Cardinals

After last year’s marathon, I decided to go with 13 pitchers instead of 12. I also went with more starters because of what happened last year. The toughest ommissions were Jason Marquis (8 wins), Zach Duke (7-4 3.10 ERA), Yovanni Gallardo (2.88 ERA) and Brian Wilson (17 saves)

Reserves – Position Players

C. Yadier Molina, St Louis Cardinals

C. Carlos Ruiz, Philadelphia Phillies

1B. Adrian Gonzalez, San Diego Padres

1B. Prince Fielder, Milwaukee Brewers

2B. Freddy Sanchez, Pittsburgh Pirates

2B. Orlando Hudson, Los Angeles Dodgers

SS. Miguel Tejada, Houston Astros

3B. Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals

OF. Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers

OF. Justin Upton, Arizona Diamondbacks

OF. Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers

OF. Carlos Lee, Houston Astros

Some of the notable position players I had to leave off the roster were Chipper Jones, Adam Dunn (couldn’t have two Nationals on the roster), Hunter Pence (hard call between him and Lee) and Ryan Howard.

Here is the player by team breakdown:

4. New York Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers

3. Philadelphia Phillies, Milwaukee Brewers, St Louis Cardinals

2. Florida Marlins, Arizona Diamondbacks, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Houston Astros

1. Atlanta Braves, Washington Nationals, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Pittsburgh Pirates, Colorado Rockies

What do you think? Anyone I leave off who you feel was deserving?