Posts Tagged ‘Mike Napoli’

Starting Nine: American League West

January 13, 2010

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

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

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

1. Erick Aybar, SS

2. Bobby Abreu, RF

3. Torii Hunter, CF

4. Kendry Morales, 1B

5. Hideki Matsui, DH

6. Howie Kendrick, 2B

7. Juan Rivera, LF

8. Brandon Wood, 3B

9. Mike Napoli, C

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

Seattle Mariners

1. Ichiro, RF

2. Chone Figgins, 3B

3. Milton Bradley, LF

4. Jose Lopez, 2B

5. Ken Griffey Jr. DH

6. Franklin Gutierrez, CF

7. Casey Kotchman, 1B

8. Jack Wilson, SS

9. Rob Johnson, C

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

Texas Rangers

1. Ian Kinsler, 2B

2. Michael Young, 3B

3. Josh Hamilton, LF

4. Vladimir Guerrero, DH

5. Nelson Cruz, RF

6. Chris Davis, 1B

7. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C

8. Elvis Andrus, SS

9. Julio Borbon, CF

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

Oakland A’s

1. Coco Crisp, CF

2. Rajai Davis, LF

3. Ryan Sweeney, RF

4. Jack Cust, DH

5. Daric Barton, 1B

6. Kurt Suzuki, C

7. Eric Chavez, 3B

8. Mark Ellis, 2B

9. Cliff Pennington, SS

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

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

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

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Yankees Beat Bumbling Angels 5-2, Advance To World Series

October 26, 2009

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim found out with the Minnesota Twins already know. If you continue to make boneheaded baserunning plays and continue to play horrific defense you are going to lose in the playoffs.

The New York Yankees beat the stumbling, bumbling Angels last night 5-2 to take their best-of-seven series 4-2 and advance to the World Series for the 40th time in their history.

Pettitte was vintage Pettitte last night

Pettitte was vintage Pettitte last night

The tone of this series was set in the first inning of Game One when Erick Aybar and Chone Figgins stared at each other and let Hideki Matsui’s Little League popup fall in. Shockingly, that is the way the Angels would play for the entire series.

If you said to someone that the Angels would make eight errors in six games, that person would have said you are nuts. After all, the Angels are one of the most fundamentally sound teams in baseball.

But for what ever reason, the Angels played like the Twins did in their ALDS series against the Yankees.

Here are some of my observations from last night:

Joe Saunders played with fire for the first three inning and eventually got burned in the fourth. You can’t constantly pitch from behind in the count and be successful in the playoffs.

Saunders faced 22 batters and threw first-pitch strikes to only seven of those batters.

I can’t believe Saunders was left in the game to face Alex Rodriguez with the bases loaded in the fourth. What was the point of warming up Kevin Jepsen, if he wasn’t going to come into the game to face Rodriguez?

The 3-1 pitch to Rodriguez was a strike at any level of baseball except in Game Six of the ALCS.

As bad as Darren Oliver was in Game Five, he was great in Game Six. He kept the Angels in that game for as long as he could. Great performance.

If you are going to hand out nine walks to the Yankees in a game, I would say there is a very good chance you are going to lose the game.

Melky Cabrera (my least favorite player in baseball) really gave the Yankees a boost at the bottom of their lineup. Cabrera hit .391 for series and had a .462 OBP.

When Andy Pettitte retires, the Yankees are going to miss him just as much as Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera. The guy is just money in a big spot.

Pettitte faced 25 batters and threw first-pitch strikes to 20 of those batters.

Jeter’s potential error turns out to be a positive for the Yankees. Amazing how that works out.

There is no greater weapon in sports than Rivera.

How does Vladimir Guerrero get doubled up on that flyball to right? The play was happening right in front of him. It’s inexcusable.

Did anyone else have flashbacks to the 2006 World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and Detroit Tigers when the Angels couldn’t field those bunts in the eighth?

Why didn’t Scott Kazmir start the eighth inning? He was ready and the Yankees had Robinson Cano, Nick Swisher and Cabrera coming up.

Cano had a nice defensive game last night. Considering he didn’t show up in Game Two, he kind of owed it to the Yankees.

Some team is still going to give Figgins a four-year, $42 million deal and still regret it from the first day.

Do you know that phrase in baseball “Stay within yourself?” Apparently Torii Hunter has never heard of that phrase. He goes for the downs on every swing in the playoffs.

Why does Mike Scioscia continue to pinch-hit Gary Matthews Jr. for Mike Napoli? Napoli is a much better hitter than Matthews–even against a righty in Rivera.

Why did Scioscia pinch-hit Macier Izturis for Jeff Mathis in the seventh? I don’t care what the matchup is, Mathis is the hottest hitter on the planet outside of Rodriguez right now. Let the guy hit.

Hero for Game Six – Andy Pettitte

Goat for Game Six – Joe Saunders

Series MVP – CC Sabathia

I will be doing a World Series preview tomorrow.

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

Yankees Steal Game Two, Take 2-0 Series Lead

October 18, 2009

If you give an average team multiple chances to beat you, they will.

If you give the New York Yankees multiple chances to beat you, they definitely will.

The New York Yankees took advantage of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim leaving a small village (16 to be exact) on base and some more bad defense to beat the Angels 4-3 in 13 innings to take a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven series.

Before I get into the finer points of the game, this game was just a perfect example of why the NFL has passed MLB in popularity. This was a really good game that ended at 1:15 AM ET.

Casual fans and more importantly, young kids on the east coast aren’t staying up to watch the end of these games. It’s absolutely absurd that on a Saturday night, you would start a game at 8:00 at night.

This game should have been started at 4:00 ET. Do you ever see an NFL Conference Championship game end at 0ne in the morning? No, you don’t.

The NFL makes sure that in their most important games, everyone can see the end. There is probably a nine-year-old kid living in NYC, who has never seen the end of a Yankees playoff game.

Way to alienate your fan base Bud. Keep up the good work!!!

Now let’s get to the actual game itself. This was a great game. Was it the best game I have ever seen? No, but it was really good.

A lot can happen in 13 innings of play, so here were the most important things I noticed last night:

  • Does Joe Girardi get paid by the pitching change? I have never seen a manager overmanage like Girardi does. He is so high-strung and uptight that the Yankees win despite him.
  • Can we finally stop talking about Bobby Abreu’s patience at the plate? You can be patient all you want, but at some point you have to hit the ball. Abreu went 0-5 last night and is now 0-9 for the series.
  • Robinson Cano didn’t show up last night. If this guy had a heart, he could be Derek Jeter. Instead he will be more like Nomar Garciaparra. And that wasn’t a compliment.
  • The Angels found out that Brian Fuentes isn’t an October closer. You could see that HR to Alex Rodriguez coming a mile away. You can’t throw the ball right over the plate on an 0-2 count. Terrible pitch
  • Thankfully Jerry Layne’s atrocious call didn’t hurt the Angels. Apparently the neighborhood play applies to every neighborhood except the Bronx. I thought that was going to be the Angels Joe Mauer moment.
  • Vladimir Guerrero is toast. Vlad killed the Angels last night. Every big spot he came up in–he failed. We are definitely seeing Vlad’s last AB’s as an Angel.
  • How great is Mariano Rivera? He has moved into the Albert Pujols category of guys that are so good we don’t appreciate them enough. Greg Maddux was in that category as well.
  • I was really impressed with Joe Saunders last night. Two runs, one walk, and five K’s in seven innings. I didn’t think he had that type of game in him.
  • Why was Gary Mattews Jr. hitting for Mike Napoli? Is Matthews really a better hitter at this point than Napoli? I don’t think so.
  • The Angels’ defense has been horrible in two games. Five errors in two games and it should be six. The ball that dropped between Chone Figgins and Erick Aybar wasn’t technically an error, but it was.
  • Mark Teixeira should be thanking god for Rodriguez. If it wasn’t for Rodriguez’s heroics time after time, the New York media would be killing Teixeira. He is 3-for-22 in the postseason.
  • Can Figgins just pick up the ball? If he just picks up the ball, he nails Freddy Guzman at the plate on that final play of the game.

Hero for Game Two – Alex Rodriguez

Goat for Game Two – Vladimir Guerrero

Series MVP – Mariano Rivera

Game Three is Monday at 4:07 ET. At least kids on the east coast will see the end of this game.

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Accomplish Something That Hasn’t Been Done in 75 Years

August 20, 2009

This was the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim’s lineup on August 18th against the Cleveland Indians.

1. Chone Figgins , 3B  .308

2. Bobby Abreu, RF .310

3. Juan Rivera, LF .310

4. Vladimir Guerrero, DH .313

5. Kendry Morales, 1B .303

6. Torii Hunter, CF .307

7. Maicer Izturis, 2B .300

8. Mike Napoli, C .300

9. Erick Aybar, SS .313

Why is this lineup so significant?

Abreu has paced the Angels offense this year

Abreu has paced the Angels offense this year

Our friends at the Elias Sports Bureau tell us it’s the first time since 1934 that any major league team has finished a game-at least 100 games into a season-with each player in its starting batting order hitting .300 or better.

The last team do accomplish this feat was the 1934 Detroit Tigers on September 9th against the Boston Red Sox. That Tiger team was led by some guys named Mickey Cochrane, Hank Greenberg, Goose Goslin, and Charlie Gehringer.

What a bunch of scrubs on that team huh?

I am not going to compare the two teams and tell you who is better because I don’t think it is fair for me to compare someone to somebody I have never seen play. But what I will tell you is that this Angels offense is on one serious roll right now.

Usually it’s the offense that is the weak link for the Angels. It seems like the Angels have been searching for offense for the past six years – not this year. This year, the Angels offense is the strength of the team.

If Mike Scioscia man-crush Erick Aybar is hitting .300 and so is Macier Izturis – you know things are going well. To have all nine guys in your lineup to finish the game hitting .300 or better is almost video game good.

The Angels offense right now is like when you powered up your team in Baseball Stars for Nintendo back in the day. It got to the point where everyone on your team was batting .375 and you were just crushing the Lovely Ladies 20-0 in the second inning.

Man, I loved that game.

The Angels have the second best record in the American League at 73-45. If they don’t win the World Series this year, for the first time in a long time – it shouldn’t be the offense’s fault.

Red Sox vs Angels…

April 12, 2009

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

Game – Red Sox vs Angels

Date – 4/11/09

Starting Lineups

Red Sox

1. Ellsbury, CF

2. Pedroia, 2B

3. Ortiz, DH

4. Youkilis, 1B

5. Baldelli, RF

6. Bay, LF

7. Lowell, 3B

8. Lowrie, SS

9. Varitek, C

Starting Pitcher – Penny

Angels

1. Figgins, 3B

2. Kendrick, 2B

3. Abreu, RF

4. Vlad, DH

5. Hunter, CF

6. Morales, 1B

7. Rivera, LF

8. Napoli, C

9. Aybar, SS

Starting Pitcher – Saunders

Top 1st

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

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

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

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

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

0-0 with the Angels coming to the plate.

Bottom 1st

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

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

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

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

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

Top 2nd

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

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

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

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

Bottom 2nd

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

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

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

After 2 in the books it’s 1-0 Angels.

Top 3rd

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

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

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

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

Bottom 3rd

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

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

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

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

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

2-0 Angels after 3.

Top 4th

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

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

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

Bottom 4th

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

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

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

2-0 Angels after complete at the Big A.

Top 5th

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

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

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

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

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

Ellsbury grounds to Kendrick to end the inning.

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

Bottom 5th

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

Napoli went yard twice

Napoli went yard twice

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

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

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

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

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

Top 6th

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

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

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

Bottom 6th

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

Vlad pops out to Pedroia for the 1st out.

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

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

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

Top 7th

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bottom 7th

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

Penny had a solid debut

Penny had a solid debut

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

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

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

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

After 7 it is 4-3 Red Sox.

Top 8th

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

Pedroia grounds out to Kendrick for the 1st out.

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

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

Bottom 8th

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top 9th

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bottom 9th

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Looking At Fantasy Catchers in 2009….

February 16, 2009

There might be no other position in baseball where the difference between #1 and #30 is so great. That is the dilemma fantasy owners face when it comes time to draft a catcher. If you don’t get one of the 10 best, then you are really stuck picking from the bottom of the barrel. To make sure you don’t draft the bottom of the barrel guy, here are the 2009 fantasy rankings for catchers.

Johnny Bench Division

These are the best of the best at the catcher position. These are the guys you want to draft as your #1 catcher

1. Joe Mauer, Twins – Despite offseason kidney surgery, Mauer remains the #1 fantasy catcher in baseball. The 2-time batting champ won’t get you home runs, but will get you rbi’s, obp, avg and hits.

2. Brian McCann, Braves

3. Geovany Soto, Cubs

4. Russell Martin, Dodgers – Martin slipped a little in 2008 by posting lower avg, hr and rbi totals than he did in 2007. I expect Martin to have a bounce back year in 2009 and Martin does steal bases (49 career sb’s in 3 seasons) which makes him unique amongst catchers.

5. Chris Iannetta, Rockies – Ladies and gentleman, your 2009 fantasy breakout catcher. In only 333 ab’s in 2008, Iannetta posted a .261/18/65/.390 line. At 25 and now the Rockies #1 catcher headed into the season, Iannetta should break out in 2009. If Iannetta can get to 140 games caught, expect a .275/24/85/.380 stat line.

Ted Simmons Division

These catchers are a notch below the top 5 but can serve as #1 catchers on your fantasy team. Like Ted Simmons, these catchers don’t grab the headlines but can put up some nice stats for your team.

6. Bengie Molina, Giants – Quick, how many people knew that Molina put up a .292/16/95 line last year? The best hitting Molina brother had close to 100 rbi last year…amazing. The reason Molina doesn’t crack the top 5 is because he is 34 and will be hard pressed to duplicate last season. .278/15/75 is more likely for Molina this year.

7. Victor Martinez, Indians

8. Mike Napoli, Angels – Napoli smacked an impressive 20 hr in just 227 ab’s last season for the Angels. Napoli is not the best defensive catcher in the world, which hurts his playing time. If Napoli can improve behind the plate, it will mean more ab’s. 25-30 hr’s is not out of the question for Napoli in 2009.

9. Ryan Doumit, Pirates – Occasionally the Pirates will have someone who makes a top 10 list. Because Doumit plays on the Pirates, he flew under the radar last season. He posted a nice .318/15/69 while playing in a career high 116 games. Doumit never hit more than .274 with 9 hr’s in a season before last season so there is a chance that last season was a fluke. I don’t think it was. Look for Doumit to post similar numbers again in 2009.

Terry Steinbach Division

Much like Steinbach for most of his career, these catchers are good for 10-15 hr’s and 50-60 rbi.

10. Chris Snyder, Diamondbacks

11. Jorge Posada, Yankees – After having a career year in 2007, Posada missed much of the 2008 season with a shoulder injury. Now at 37, Posada is at the tail end of his career and his .338/20/90 2007 might have been his last great fantasy season. Look for Posada to have a season similar to his 1999 season. Which was a .245/12/57 line.

12. Ramon Hernandez, Reds

13. AJ Pierzynski, White Sox

14. Brandon Inge, Tigers – Inge is slated to be the Tigers opening day 3B headed into 2009 but he does qualify at the catcher position based on his work from last season. Inge has much more value as a catcher than he does a 3b. 10-15 hr’s and 50-60 rbi is realistic for Inge.

Terry Kennedy Division

The very last guys you want to take before you head down Desperation Rd.

15. Dioner Navarro, Rays

16. Kelly Shoppach, Indians – Shoppach enjoyed a breakout season in 2008 due mainly to the absence of Victor Martinez and Travis Hafner. Now with both players back, it will be difficult for Shoppach to crack the lineup. However, it’s worth taking a flier on Shoppach because if Hafner can’t make it back from injury, then he might get some time at DH.

Tony Pena Division

If any of these guys are your #1 catcher headed into the season, then you might be in serious trouble.

17. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Rangers

18. Gerald Laird, Tigers

19. Jason Varitek, Red Sox

20. Yadier Molina, Cardinals

21. Kenji Johjima, Mariners

22. Kurt Suzuki, A’s

23. Miguel Olivo, Royals

24. Rod Barajas, Blue Jays

25. Jason Kendall, Brewers

26. Nick Hundley, Padres

27. Brian Schneider, Mets

28. John Baker, Marlins

29. Humberto Quintero, Astros

30. Jesus Flores, Nationals

31. Gregg Zaun, Orioles

Matt Wieters Division

32. Matt Wieters, Orioles – This is Ryan Braun and Evan Longoria part 3. Clearly ready for the majors, Wieters will most likely start the season off in AAA because the team wants to delay an arbitration year. When he is eventually is called up, Wieters has the ability to be a top 5 catcher. A switch-hitting catcher with his power comes along only so often. If you are in a keeper league and need a catcher, Wieters should be your #1 choice.

So there you have the catcher fantasy rankings for 2009. As you can see, almost half the league is undraftable. Make sure you get 1 of those top 10 guys, because if you get stuck with Brian Schneider, then it might be a long season ahead.