Posts Tagged ‘Prince Fielder’

Starting Nine: National League Central

January 15, 2010

Next up in our Starting Nine series is the National League Central. Outside of the St. Louis Cardinals re-signing Matt Holliday, there haven’t been any big-time offensive additions to this division. As a whole, this might be the weakest offensive division in baseball (yes, even passing the NL West).

Let’s take a look at the starting lineups for all six teams in this division as presently constructed.

St. Louis Cardinals

1. Skip Schumaker, 2B

2. Brendan Ryan, SS

3. Albert Pujols, 1B

4. Matt Holliday, LF

5. Ryan Ludwick, RF

6. Yadier Molina, C

7. Colby Rasmus, CF

8. David Freese, 3B

9. Chris Carpenter, P

Quick Take – Re-signing Holliday was crucial to this lineup. Despite having Holliday and Pujols in the three-four spot, this lineup will only be as dynamic as Rasmus and Freese takes them.

Milwaukee Brewers

1. Rickie Weeks, 2B

2. Alcides Escobar, SS

3. Ryan Braun, LF

4. Prince Fielder, 1B

5. Casey McGehee, 3B

6. Corey Hart, RF

7. Gregg Zaun, C

8. Carlos Gomez, CF

8. Yovani Gallardo, P

Quick Take – The Brewers sacrificed some offense for defense in 2010. This isn’t the powerful Brewers’ lineup of the last couple of years. There are a lot of automatic outs from seven through nine.

Chicago Cubs

1. Alfonso Soriano, LF

2. Kosuke Fukudome, RF

3. Derek Lee, 1B

4. Aramis Ramirez, 3B

5. Marlon Byrd, CF

6. Geovany Soto, C

7. Ryan Theriot, SS

8. Mike Fontenot, 2B

9. Carlos Zambrano, P

Quick Take – This lineup is getting old in a hurry. If Soriano, Ramirez, and Soto can come back from disappointing 2009 seasons, the Cubs could be in business in 2010. However, I still think they are going to be hard pressed to score runs in 2010.

Cincinnati Reds

1. Drew Stubbs, CF

2. Brandon Phillips, 2B

3. Joey Votto, 1B

4. Jay Bruce, RF

5. Scott Rolen, 3B

6. Ramon Hernandez, C

7. Paul Janish, SS

8. Chris Dickerson, LF

9. Bronson Arroyo, P

Quick Take – This lineup looks good for now and even better for the future. If Bruce can stay healthy, he could have a breakout year in 2010. I would like someone better than Janish at SS, but top prospect Todd Frazier isn’t ready to take over just yet.

Houston Astros

1. Michael Bourn, CF

2. Kaz Matsui, 2B

3. Lance Berkman, 1B

4. Carlos Lee, LF

5. Hunter Pence, RF

6. Pedro Feliz, 3B

7. J.R. Towles, C

8. Tommy Manzella, SS

9. Roy Oswalt, P

Quick Take – This six through nine is brutal. It’s hard to have a top offense when the bottom part of your lineup is this bad. Top catching prospect Jason Castro is not too far away, so this is Towles’ last stand with the Astros.

Pittsburgh Pirates

1. Andrew McCutchen, CF

2. Akinori Iwamura, 2B

3. Garrett Jones, 1B

4. Ryan Doumit, C

5. Andy LaRoche, 3B

6. Lastings Milledge, LF

7. Ryan Church, RF

8. Ronny Cedeno, SS

9. Zach Duke, P

Quick Take – I think in order to maximize their offense’s potential, the Pirates will play Jones at first and Church in right instead of playing Jones in right and Jeff Clement at first. The Pirates’ offense will be better in 2010, but will still have a hard time scoring runs on a consistent basis.

Last, but not least, tomorrow we will take a look at the National League West.

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

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Albert Pujols Unanimously Wins NL MVP

November 24, 2009

My preseason NL MVP pick: Albert Pujols

NL MVP winner: Albert Pujols

I am shocked that St. Louis Cardinals 1B won the National League MVP award unanimously. The way the voting has been going, I am surprised James Loney didn’t get a first-place vote.

Pujols won his third MVP award today

Pujols received all 32 first-place votes to win his second consecutive NL MVP award. Pujols becomes the first player to win back-to-back MVP awards since Barry Bonds won four in a row from 2001-2004.

Hanley Ramirez finished second followed by Ryan Howard and Prince Fielder. I am a little surprised Troy Tulowitzki didn’t finish higher, but what can you do?

2009 was another banner year for Pujols. Pujols led the majors in home runs (47), runs (124), slugging percentage (.658) and intentional walks (44), and led the NL in OBP (.443).

You know, I really thought Pujols winning the MVP award unanimously would finally make Cardinal fans stop whining and crying this offseason.

But alas, I was wrong.

Here is a classic “Tweet” from a Cardinal fan that will go nameless. “What in the definition of MVP makes Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright better than Tim Lincecum, who was good enough for BBWAA to win Cy?”

Even when one of their players win an award, they still whine about something else that happened over a week ago. It’s unbelievable.

Cardinal fans should be more concerned with whether or not Pujols is going to re-sign after the 2010 season instead of being concerned with Chris Carpenter or Adam Wainwright winning the CY Young.

This is Pujols’ third NL MVP award and will go into 2010 as the early favorite to win the award again.

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

Royals Sign Former No. 1 Overall Pick, Bryan Bullington

November 24, 2009

The Kansas City Royals made a minor move today, but the player they signed will have an impact on baseball’s amateur draft for years to come.

The Royals signed RHP and the former No. 1 overall pick in the 2002 draft Bryan Bullington to a minor-league contract today. Bullington was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates and has recently pitched in the Cleveland Indians and Toronto Blue Jays organizations.

Bullington was the No. 1 pick in 2002

Bullington is the poster boy for everything that is wrong with baseball’s draft and why they desperately need a slotting system like the NBA.

The Pirates drafted Bullington with the No. 1 pick in 2002 for one reason and one reason only: Signability.

Bullington, who was drafted out of Ball State University, was the most signable player at that time. The Pirates took Bullington ahead of more talented players like BJ Upton, Prince Fielder, Scott Kazmir, Nick Swisher, Cole Hamels, Khalil Greene, and Jeff Francouer.

When asked why he took Bullington with the No. 1 pick, Pirates GM Dave Littlefield said at the time “Bullington could be a good No. 3 pitcher.”

Really not something you want to hear about the No.1 overall pick in the draft.

Since Bullington was drafted, he has appeared in a grand total of 13 major league games. In those 13 games he has given up 47 hits and 22 earned runs in 39 innings.

In all fairness to Bullington, he did pitch well after being drafted by the Pirates going 34-17 with a 3.33 ERA in 69 games during his first three seasons.

Bullington hasn’t been the same since he tore his labrum in his pitching shoulder.

Picks like Bullington in 2002 and Matt Bush (San Diego Padres) in 2004 are the greatest examples of why baseball needs a slotting system for their draft. Bad teams need to be able to take the best player available, not the most signable.

Now to Bud Selig’s credit, he has recognized this as a problem in baseball and plans to implement this in the next collective bargaining agreement.

The Royals plan to use Bullington out of the bullpen in the minors. I guess he will never become the No.3 starter he was projected to be.

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

Baseball Nirvana: Five Friends Journey To Milwaukee And Iowa. Part 1

September 11, 2009

There are very few things in my life that I would wake up at 4:30 in the morning for. If my wife went into labor at 4:30 in the morning, I certainly would wake up for that. Of course, I would need a wife first in order for that to happen.

The other thing I would wake up at 4:30 in the morning for would be to have the opportunity to go to the Field of Dreams. Anyone who knows me, knows that Field of Dreams is my favorite movie of all time (Wall Street and Return of the Jedi are two and three respectfully). Since that movie came out in 1989, it’s been my dream to play on that field.

But before I got to play on the Field of Dreams, there was plenty of business to take care of in Milwaukee, WI. Milwaukee, home of the Brewers, cheese, Kopps frozen custard, the Comet Cafe, and of course, the Miller Brewing Factory.

Here is an unadulterated recap of the first day of my three day trip to baseball nirvana.

Day 1.

After a quick hour and forty five minute plane ride, my buddies Tom, Justin, John and myself arrive in Milwaukee around 7:30 AM. The fifth member of our group, Minnesota Twins fan, current Chicago native, and our driver for the weekend Charlie was going to pick us up at the airport.

In typical fashion we took bets on how late he would be in picking us up at the airport. John showed the least confidence by saying he wouldn’t show up, period. Much to our surprise, Charlie was right on time and greeted us all with giant man-hugs.

Our plan was to head to the Comet Cafe that was featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, check into our hotel, and then head to the Milwaukee Brewers vs St. Louis Cardinals game that started at 1:30. Immediately our plan was tossed aside like a sack of potatoes because the Comet Cafe was closed and didn’t open until 10:30.

So after our initial plan was foiled, we decided to check into our hotel. Matthew, the extremely helpful and knowledgable doorman at the InterContinental recommended that we head to a place called Trocadero for brunch. I got to be honest, John is a doorman and if I had a vote for Doorman of the Year, I think Matthew would get it over John based on his performance.

Trocadero was awesome and while we were there, we experienced our first taste of Milwaukee’s obsession with Bloody Mary’s. I would say outside of beer, Bloody Mary’s are Milwaukee’s No. 2 most consumed beverage. Everywhere you looked, there were Bloody Mary’s being served.

Once we got done with breakfast, we headed to Miller Park. Now just to fill you in, Tom has a borderline unhealthy obsession with the Cardinals, which is why we are in Milwaukee in the first place. I am not going to lie, it’s a little concerning.

There's tailgating at baseball games?

There's tailgating at baseball games?

From a distance, the ballpark looks like a giant spaceship. It’s the weirdest looking stadium I have seen from the outside. As we pulled into the parking lot, we were all shocked by what we saw.

People were tailgating at a baseball game!! I am not talking about standing like a putz by your car with a beer and you call it a tailgate. I am talking about an all out tailgate like it was the Green Packers vs. the Chicago Bears.

There were tents, generators, sausages as far as the eye could see, and kids throwing the baseball around. I was really impressed. We barely see any tailgating at baseball games here in New York.

Here was the best part of tailgating at Brewers games. Not only do they have porta potties, but there is a full restroom that anyone can access outside the stadium. And not only is there a restroom, but this place was spotless. If that was at Giants Stadium, that place would be filled with stuff so vile that decorum prohibits me from talking about it.

I will admit, I like what I saw from Miller Park. It was fan friendly, tickets are inexpensive, and you can stand wherever you want for batting practice. Our seats were on the field level, down the firstbase line ($50 is not bad considering those same seats are $250 at Yankee Stadium), but for BP we stood in the rightfield bleachers.

I didn’t catch a ball, but the girl who was standing there before caught one in the arm because she wasn’t paying attention. Terrible job by her. One last note about BP, Matt Holliday put on a show and Albert Pujols hit the centerfield scoreboard.

Here is what I didn’t like — the Brewers’ lineup that day. Here is the lineup that Ken Macha through out there against Chris Carpenter, one of the best pitchers in baseball

1. Corey Patterson, CF

2. Frank Catalanotto, LF

3. Felipe Lopez, 2B

4. Prince Fielder, 1B

5. Casey McGehee, 3B

6. Jody Gerut, RF

7. Jason Kendall, C

8. Alcides Escobar, SS

9. Dave Bush, P

What is wrong with this lineup? NO RYAN BRAUN!!! Ken Macha, how can you do this to me? If I am going to travel to Milwaukee at 4:30 in the morning, I better see one of the best players in the game play. No wonder why it was 60/40 Brewer/Cardinal fan ratio at the game.

Carpenter just destroyed this lineup. In the second inning, Justin said that Carpenter was going to throw a no-hitter. Well, he came awfully close. Carpenter tossed a one-hitter in one of the best games I have seen pitched in person.

A one-hitter is the sports equivalent of turning 22 years old. Nobody remembers what they did or where they were for a 22nd birthday. But everyone remembers what they did or where they were for a no-hitter or their 21st birthday.

The most surprising aspect of Carpenter’s performance is that he threw 99 pitches. It was surprising because I thought Carpenter only threw like 70 pitches. That’s how much the Brewers’ lineup was dominated by Carpenter.

The other thing I didn’t like — and this really ticked me off. The only thing I wanted was an old-school, powder blue Paul Molitor or Robin Yount player tee-shirt. I went to one team store — no dice. I went to the second team store — sold out.

How is this possible? How can they not have had shirts for the only two stars this franchise has ever had? Just a terrible job by whoever is in charge of merchandising for the Brewers. This almost ruined my day.

The Cardinals won 3-0 in a 1950’s like two hours and eighteen minutes.

Overall it was a good day at Miller Park

Overall it was a good day at Miller Park

Once we got out of the parking lot, in which Charlie had road rage for no apparent reason, we headed back to the hotel to freshen up for dinner and hit up Water Street. Charlie thought it would take two hours to get out of the parking lot, when in reality it took only 30 minutes.

Now I am going to backtrack here a little. Back in the Spring of 1996, Justin, Tom, and I took a trip to Hartford, CT to see WrestleMania XI. It was the WrestleMania where Lawrence Taylor took on the “Beast of the East” the late, great Bam Bam Bigelow.

After that event, we deemed Hartford, CT the most boring city in America. Well, Hartford, CT, you have been replaced. This honor now goes to Milwaukee, WI.

I know it was a Monday night on Labor Day, but come on Milwaukee, show me something. There wasn’t a person in town and barely anything was open. How is Buffalo Wild Wings not open on a Monday night at 7:30 when Miami is playing Florida State that night?

It’s inexcusable.

I saw more people on my plane than there were people out on Water Street on Monday night. One of the places that was open was the Water Front Brewery. There I experienced my third sausage product of the day and my first ever beer sampler.

Normally, the sampler is reserved for mozzarella sticks, wings, fries, etc…But in Milwaukee, the sampler is reserved for eight different types of beer served on a “Thank you sir, may I have another” paddle.

Only in Milwaukee.

The town was so dead that we decided to head to the Pfister Hotel and have some drinks because that is where the Cardinals were staying. Again, Tom has issues. Speaking of issues. When we arrived, we saw a bunch a people and when say people, I mean adults waiting outside the hotel for autographs.

If you are in your 30’s waiting outside a hotel room at 10:30 at night with a sharpie and a binder full of photos, you have some serious issues. At that point you should re-evaluate things.

The bar at the Pfister Hotel was pretty quiet (shocker there). We did see Tony LaRussa, Matt Holliday, Mark DeRosa, Skip Schumaker, and Julio Lugo walk into the hotel, but they weren’t drinking. I wanted to roll an olive at Lugo and ask him to field it.

We called it a night around 11:00. Part Two of our trip will cover the drive to Iowa, playing on the Field of Dreams, pizza in Madison, WI, a Brew Town Hot Brown at the Comet Cafe, and the Miller Brewery Tour.

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.

Live Blog: MLB All-Star Game…

July 15, 2009

It’s been awhile since I have done a live blog, so what better time to do one than the 80th All-Star game in St. Louis. I have always been a big fan of the All-Star game, so this should be fun. I am just praying this game does not go deep into extra innings like last year’s game.

Game – American League vs. National League

Date – 7/14/09

Starting Lineups

American League

1. Ichiro Suzuki, RF

2. Derek Jeter, SS

3. Joe Mauer, C

4. Mark Teixeira, 1B

5. Jason Bay, LF

6. Josh Hamilton, CF

7. Michael Young, 3B

8. Aaron Hill, 2B

9. Roy Halladay, P

National League

1. Hanley Ramirez, SS

2. Chase Utley, 2B

3. Albert Pujols, 1B

4. Ryan Braun, RF

5. Raul Ibanez, LF

6. David Wright, 3B

7. Shane Victorino, CF

8. Yadier Molina, C

9. Tim Lincecum, P

Top 1st

Tim Lincecum deals the first pitch of the 80th All-Star game at 8:50 est time and it is ripped by Ichiro down the rightfield line, but foul.

Starting this game at 8:50 est. pretty much eliminates anyone under the age of 15 who lives on the east coast from seeing the end of this game – good job Bud Selig

Ichiro rips a single to right. He is such a good hitter. Being down 0-2 in the count didn’t phase Ichiro one bit.

OUCH!!! With two strikes, Derek Jeter gets hit in the hand with a changeup. Every Yankee fan just took a deep breath. Jeter appears okay.

Lincecumis really all over the place in this inning. He quickly falls behind Mauer 3-1.

Wow, what a quick play by Molina. Mauer hits a ball a foot infront of home plate, Molina pounced on it, and got Ichiro at third. Wright made a terrible throw to first, which pulled Pujols off the bag. Mauer would have been out with a good throw.

Teixeira hits a slow groundball that hits off of Pujols’ glove and goes into short rightfield. Jeter scores to make 1-0 American League.

That was a potential double play ball that Pujols mishandled. Some bad defense by the NL in the first inning. They should be out of this inning.

First and second with one out for Jason Bay.

Bay singles to center. Bases loaded.

Boy, the NL is really asleep on defense. Hamilton gets a hard groundball to first, Pujols gets Bay at second, but Lincecum is late covering first, and the run scores.

2-0 American League. We can eliminate Tim Lincecum from winning the MVP award tonight.

Michael Young grounds to Wright for the third out.

Not a very good start for the NL.

Bottom 1st

Hanley Ramirez leading off for the NL, hits a rope, but right to Aaron Hill. One out.

How many recruiting talks do you think Roy Halladay has gotten in the past two days? 40? 50?

Halladay gets Chase Utley to ground out to Teixeira. Two quick outs here in the bottom of the first.

Now here comes Pujols. Maybe he will make up for that terrible error he made in the top of the first.

Pujols hitting, Mauer catching, and Halladay pitching – it doesn’t get any better than that.

Michael Young is the man. Pujols hits a frozen rope to third. I mean a real screamer. Young snags it and casually throws to first to get Pujols. Now that is how you play defense.

After one it’s 2-0 American League

Top 2nd

Hill grounds to Ramirez for the first out.

Roy Halladay is hitting. I don’t think he planned on this happening. With the luck the Blue Jays have been having with injuries, Halladay will get clocked in the hand here.

He doesn’t and Halladay K’s for the second out.

A much better start to the second inning for Lincecum.

Ichiro hits a linedrive, but right at Braun in rightfield for the third out.

Bottom 2nd

Braun flies out to center for the first out.

President Obama is in the booth with McCarver and Buck. Obama is neck and neck with Bill Clinton as the president you would most want to hang out with.

Ibanez grounds to Hill for the second out. Halladay is making this look easy.

Even when Halladay gives up hits, he splinters bats. Wright bloops one to rightcenter for a hit. His bat shattered in a 100 pieces.

Victorino singles to right. First and second with two outs for Molina.

How about this. Molina singles to center, Wright scores, and Hamilton trying to throw out Victorino at third – hits him in the back and the ball rolls into foul territory.

Victorino scores andwe are tied at two. Molina goes to second on the throw.

Last night’s HR Derby champion Prince Fielder will hit for Lincecum.

Amazing how quickly things change in an inning. Halladay was crusing and a broken bat got a rally started.

Fielder smokes one down the leftfield line for a ground rule double. Molina scores and it is now 3-2 NL.

Ramirez grounds to Hill for the third out.

What an inning for the NL. Three runs with two outs.

After two complete in St. Louis, it’s 3-2 National League

Top 3rd

This is odd, Cardinals’ closer Ryan Franklin is in the game for the NL. I don’t think I have ever seen a closer come into an All-Star game this early before.

Jeter grounds to Utley for the first out.

Mauer lines to Pujolsfor the second out.

Teixeira grounds weakly to Pujols for the third out.

Well that was easy for Franklin. A very impressive inning.

Bottom 4th

Chicago White Sox lefty, Mark Buehrle into the game for the AL. With Buehrle pitching, this inning might last five minutes.

Utley hits a can of corn to center. One down.

Man, does Buerhle work quickly.

Pujols grounds to Teixeira for the second out. Teixeira showed his range on that groundball, as he played that way off the bag at first.

Braun grounds to Jeter at short and in less than five minutes the inning is over.

I wish more pitchers worked like Buerhle.

It’s still 3-2 NL after three.

Top 4th

We start the fourth and McCarver and Buck have been very tolerable tonight. It must be a full moon.

Dan Haren from the Arizona Diamondbacks is now in the game for the NL.

One pitch, one out. Bay flies out to Braun in right.

Hamilton flies out to semi-deep center.

Young singles to left. Michael Young loves playing in All-Star games.

Aaron Hill up. Every kid outside of Toronto just asked their dad “who is that?”

Hill grounds hard to Hanley Ramirez, but Ramirez gobbles it up, and gets Hill to end the inning.

Bottom 4th

Just saw a commercial for the new GI Joe movie. It looks terrible. I was a HUGE GI Joe fan growing up, so I hope the movie is better than it looks. I am not optimistic.

The Kansas City Royals’ Zack Greinke is in for the AL.

One pitch, one out. Ibanez pops up to Young at third.

I hope Greinke goes two innings tonight. It will let the world see who he is.

And this is why – Greinke throws a wicked slider to Wright to strike him out. That was nasty.

Greinke just toyed with Victorino. Got him to swing at a pitch in the dirt and two feet out of the strike zone.

One-two-three for Greinke

This game is moving rather quickly. Still 3-2

Top 5th

The next pitcher for the NL is the Dodgers’ Chad Billingsley.

Carl Crawford hitting for Greinke.

Crawford hits a single to center. With Crawford at first and Molina behind the plate, this should be interesting.

What a great play by Chase Utley. Ichiro hits a ball between first and second, Utley gets the ball, pivots, andgets the lead runner in Crawford at second.

What a great play. Ichiro now at first with one out and Jeter up.

My roommate from college Odie just sent me a text “Ichiro is a dope, let crawford steal.” I agree. The fastest man in baseball is on first and Ichiro is up there hacking.

The NL is flashing some leather. Jeter hits on his classic inside-out balls to the right side, but Pujols dives andgets the lead runner at second.

The first inning must have been a wake up call for the NL.

This brings up Mauer with Jeter on first and now two outs.

Is Joe Mauer the best hitter in the game right now or what? Billingsley throws a curve on the outer half and instead of trying to pull the ball, Mauer goes with the pitch and laces it down the leftfield line.

Jeter running all the way, scores from first. We are now tied at three.

Pujols really wants to make up for that first inning error. He makes another diving stop off of a Teixeira groundball and flips to Billingsley for the third out.

Pujols saves a run, but the AL ties the game heading into the bottom of the 5th.

Bottom 5th

Edwin Jackson the new pitcher for the AL

What is the story with hitters swinging at the first pitch when there is a new pitcher in the game?

Molina on the first pitch grounds to short for out No. one.

Ryan Zimmerman up at the plate. Zimmerman replaced Wright in the top half of the inning and is batting in the pitchers spot.

Zimmerman just missed one. He flies out to deep centerfield.

Ramirez on the first pitch grounds out to Young at third.

Wow what an inning for Jackson. Four pitches and three outs. Not a bad day’s work.

3-3 still as we head to the bottom of the sixth

Bottom 6th

The all-time saves leader, Trevor Hoffman into the game

The first batter he will face is the Orioles’ Adam Jones. Right now every Mariners’ fan is saying “I can’t believe we got rid of this guy.” Jones is hitting in Jason Bay’s spot in the lineup.

Jones hits a rocket to right, but Hawpe tracks it down at the warning track. One out.

Hoffman is not fooling anyone. Hamilton jumps all over the first pitch and singles to right.

Young hits a hard groundball, but right at Utley. After a brief bobble, Utley and Tejada are able to turn the four-six-three double play.

I was a little surprised Hoffman was used so early. I would have thought because he is the all-time saves leader, he would have been used to close out the game.

Bottom 6th

The Seattle Mariners’ ace Felix Hernandez has been called upon to pitch for the AL.

Orlando Hudson will hit for Utley andmost likely come into the game to play second.

Okay, once again we are first pitch swinging. This game counts right Bud?

Hudson hits one deep to right but Adam Jones is there for the first out.

Pujolsgrounds to short for the second out.

Not too many people on the east coast get to see “King Felix” pitch, but he is a dandy. He really can become a legit ace. He has no-hit stuff every time he goes to the mound.

Justin Upton is now hitting for Ryan Braun. A great matchup here of two of the best young players in the game.

Another groundball to short. The sure-handed Jason Bartlett gets Upton to end the inning.

We are getting down to the nitty gritty as Gorilla Monsoon used to say.

Top 7th

Classy move by Charlie Manuel as he lets Pujols go out to take warmups andthen replaces him with Gonzalez so he can get a standing ovation from the Cardinal fans.

Francisco Cordero is the new pitcher in the game for the NL. He is the Cincinnati Reds’ lone representative for tonight.

Aaron Hill up for the third time and he flies out to Upton in in left.

Crawford up for the second time. On the first pitch he grounds to Tejada at short. Two outs.

Justin Morneau up for the AL. He replaced Teixeira at first and is hitting Ichiro’s spot.

That was a quick inning for Cordero. He gets Morneau to line weakly to Zimmerman at third.

Bottom 8th

My buddy Tom just sent me a text “Close game and these idiot managers are using pitchers for one inning each.” Kind of agree. With a lot of the pitchers having pitched on Sunday and after last year’s marathon, I am surprised pitchers aren’t going more than one inning.

A new inning, a new pitcher for the AL. Jonathan Papelbon is in the game for the AL.

OH WOW!!! Carl Crawford makes the play of the game so far. Brad Hawpe on Papelbon’s first pitch (of course) hit a fly ball deep to left and Crawford leaped over the wall to make the catch and rob Hawpe of a HR. Great catch.

Two pitches and two bombs off of Papelbon. Miguel Tejada flies out to deep right but Adam Jones is there to make the catch.

Papelbon is pitching to Victor Martinez. A sign of the future?

Papelbon is throwing his fastball at 89 mph. Someone should tell him this game counts.

Papelbon strikes out Jayson Werth to end the inning. That fastball was 94 mph, so Papelbon got into the groove towards the end of the AB.

It’s still 3-3 heading into the eigth and this game has extra innings written all over it. Lovely

Top 8th

Heath Bell is into the game for the National League.

The first pitch he throws is over the head of Jason Bartlett. Nice pitch.

Bell does better on his second pitch as he gets Bartlett to ground to short.

Curtis Granderson up for the AL. He crushes one to left and the ball  hits off the base of the wall. Granderson digs for third and he makes it.

Grandersonat third with one out and the infield comes in.

Victor Martinez is up and he is getting intentionally walked. That stinks for Martinez. Manuel is walking Martinez to get to Adam Jones.

HeathBell looks like his heart is racing a million beats per second.

Well, Manuel’s strategy backfires as Jones hits one to the warning track in right. Granderson scores to make it 4-3.

Kevin Youkilis is up for the first time and he promptly singles to center.

First and second with two outs for the Rays’ Ben Zobrist.

Bell gets Zobrist swinging, but the damage was done. One run on two hits and two runners left on base.

At the end of seven and a half, it’s the American League four and the National League three

Bottom 8th

New York native Joe Nathan in the game for the American League. The AL is going to go with Nathan for the eighth andthen Mariano Rivera for the ninth. The NL is in trouble.

The Braves and Ron Kittle impersonator, Brian McCann up at the plate to face Nathan.

McCannon a 2-1 pitch pops up to Martinez behindthe plate. One down here in the bottom of the eighth.

Zimmerman swinging at the first pitch, flies to right for the second out.

Here is the best player that nobody knows about – Adrian Gonzalez

FOX just showed Bud Selig with George Will. And there is your reason for a baseball team in Washington.

Good AB by Gonzalez. Down in the count 1-2 and he works a walk.

Another two out rally by the NL. Hudson singles up the middle and now we have first andthird with two outs.

Ryan Howard is coming up to pinch hit. Manuel was picking his spot for Howard and this is it. Very similar to the 2003 All-Star game in Chicago where Mike Scioscia was picking his spot for Hank Blalock in the late innings.

Blalock hit a pinch hit two-run HR off of Eric Gagne to give the AL the win.

They just showed Brian Fuentes warming up. Well, if he is not in the game to face Howard why on earth is he warming up?

Howard is swinging for the downs. Two fastballs, two Ruthian cuts, and now it is 0-2.

Hudson steals second. That’s kind of a good and bad move. Good in that it eliminates the double play and now a single scores two runs. Bad in that this might take the bat out of Howard’s hands.

No 2003 moment here as Howard swings at a pitch in the dirt for strike three.

We head to the ninth with the AL still clinging to a 4-3 lead

Top 9th

The next pitcher up for the National League is the New York Mets’ Francisco Rodriguez.

His first batter will be the Tigers’ Brandon Inge. Of course Inge swings at the first pitch and grounds to short.

Carl Crawford up. He is 1-2. With his catch and with nobody else really standing out tonight, he might win the MVP.

Striking out won’t help his cause. That was a great changeup by Krod.

Morneau rips one into the left-centerfield gap, Werth tracks it down, and makes the catch. What a catch by a guy who is normally not a centerfielder.

This is it. We head to the bottom of the ninth with the AL leading 4-3

Bottom 9th

If the NL is going to come back, they are going to have to do it against the best in the business in Mariano Rivera

Justin Upton will try to get things started for the National League.

Barlettis silky smooth at short. He made a tough, back-handed play look very easy. He gets Upton for the first out

Brad Hawpe, who was robbed of a HR by Carl Crawford will try to hit one a little further against Rivera.

Joe Buck just said Brad Hawpe is a very good defensive rightfielder. I am guessing Buck hasn’t seen Hawpe’s UZR lately.

Hawpe goes down looking on a perfect pitch on the outside corner.

Now it’s up to Miguel Tejada to keep it alive. He doesn’t.

Tejada pops up to Zobrist at second to end the game.

That’s a wrap. The American League wins again 4-3. The American League will have homefield advantage in the World Series.

Like I suspected, Carl Crawford wins the MVP award. This might be the first time in All-Star game history that a guy won the award for a catch.

It was a good game, well played, and it only took 2:31 to play. A little disappointed that Tim Wakefield didn’t get to pitch, but what can you do.

Over 3,000 words later, I am calling it a night. Good night everyone!!!

Fantasy Week In Review, July 6-12

July 13, 2009

Last week marked the final week of the official first-half of the season. For the first time in a long time, it seemed like there were more players we should be concerned with than there were fantasy studs. Never a good sign.

As always, here are the fantasy studs, the players who have me concerned, and the potential pickups for the fantasy week of July 6 – July 12.

Fantasy Studs

Ryan Ludwick – .481/4/15. It was better late than never last week for Ludwick, who finally decided to show up in 2009.

Jayson Werth – .292/4/11/.438. Not a bad way to celebrate your first all-star selection.

Pablo Sandoval – .333/3/11. The “King-Fu Panda” took his all-star snubbing out on NL pitchers last week.

Paul Konerko – .391/3/10. All three of Konerko’s HR’s came in one game last week. Still good enough to be a fantasy stud last week.

Adam Wainwright – 2-0 with a 1.10 ERA and 14 K’s in 16.1 IP. Ended the first-half of the season on a positive note for the St. Louis Cardinals by shutting down the Chicago Cubs on Sunday night.

Washburn has been dealin' this year

Washburn has been dealin' this year

Jarrod Washburn – 2-0 with a 0.56 ERA and only gave up five hits in 16 IP. Washburn is making a serious push to land another big, free-agent contract in the offseason.

Josh Beckett – 2-0 with a 1.15 ERA and 11 K’s in 15 IP. Yesterday’s game against the Kansas City Royals was over when Beckett was doing his bullpen session before the game.

Rafael Soriano – Four Saves, eight K’s and a 0.00 ERA in four IP. Soriano has been lights out lately for the Atlanta Braves, and has taken the closer job from Mike Gonzalez.

Reasons for Concern

Torii Hunter – Placed on the 15-day DL with a strained groin. Hunter is eligible to return on July 22.

My concern here is that groin injuries are like hamstring injuries – they never seem to go away. Hunter did have 13 SB’s this year, so this might affect his stolen base numbers going forward.

Ryan Dempster – Placed on the 15-day DL because of a broken right toe. Dempster broke his toe when he tripped over the dugout rail after the Cubs beat the Brewers. That is classic.

Geovany Soto – Placed on the 15-day DL with a left oblique strain. This really hasn’t been Soto’s year so far.

He got off to a terrible start, he is only hitting .230, and now he goes on the DL.

The Cubs and fantasy owners for that matter, need him in the second half to make some sort of contribution in order to win.

Jay Bruce – Placed on the 15-day DL with a fractured wrist. I had Bruce on this list before the wrist injury.

It was a terrible week for Bruce. First he was benched, then he comes back only to face Johan Santana, and then he breaks his wrist.

Bruce has struggled this year with a .207 average, but does have 18 HR and 41 RBI. Bruce has tremendous value in Keeper Leagues, so don’t give up on him just yet.

According to the Cincinnati Reds’ official Twitter page, Bruce will be out six- to-eight weeks.

Magglio Ordonez – Ordonez will now platoon in rightfield with Clete Thomas for the Detroit Tigers.

I am guessing the Tigers are determined not to let Ordonez reach his incentives so his $18 million extension won’t kick in.

Ordonez’s fantasy value is limited at best for the remainder of this year.

Andy Pettitte – Pettitte was 0-2 last week with a 10.45 ERA and gave up 12 runs in just 10.1 IP.

This almost seems like repeat from last year with Pettitte. Pettitte got off to a 10-7 start in 2008, but faded in the second half going 4-7 with an ERA over five.

Pettitte has been terrible his last two starts so this might start becoming a trend for the older Pettitte.

Johnny Cueto – Either this guy is hurt or he is just worn out. He is too good to be this bad over his last two starts.

Cueto in his last two starts is 0-2 with a 20.65 ERA and has given up 13 runs in 5.2 IP.

Keep an eye on Cueto (if you have started already) in his next couple of starts. If he continues to struggle, then there might be some cause for some major concern.

Potential Pickups

There are no potential pickups for this week.

How about a little prediction for tonight’s Home Run Derby. For those of you not aware, here are the participants…

Gonzalez will win the HR Derby

Gonzalez will win the HR Derby

Albert Pujols

Adrian Gonzalez

Prince Fielder

Ryan Howard

Carlos Pena

Joe Mauer

Brandon Inge

Nelson Cruz

I don’t like anyone in the AL, so that eliminates Cruz, Inge, Pena, Mauer.

Pujols is too easy, so I won’t pick him.

Fielder’s weight and stamina are a concern, so he is won’t last.

That leaves Gonzalez and Howard. Howard was born in St Louis, so I think he might feel the pressure.

The winner will be Adrian Gonzalez. Having spent his entire season trying to hit HR’s in the cavernous Petco Park, Busch Stadium will feel like a little league field to Gonzalez.

Fantasy Week In Review, June 15-21…

June 22, 2009

Last week was a week for the first baseman in the National League to shine. Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder and Derek Lee all had monster fantasy weeks.

We also saw the final straw for Daisuke Matsuzaka, a classic New York Mets injury situation and the possible end of everyone’s man crush in Texas.

As always, here are the fantasy studs, the players who have me concerned and the potential pickups for the fantasy week of June 15-21.

Fantasy Studs

Albert Pujols – .389/4/11/.522. If teams continue to pitch Pujols, then there is a good chance Pujols can compete for the triple crown in the National League.

Lee is finally getting hot

Lee is finally getting hot

Prince Fielder – .391/2/11/.483. Big Prince should start making travel plans for St. Louis in July.

Derek Lee – .364/4/9. Nice for Derek Lee to join us this year.

B.J. Upton – .429/2/9 with two SB’s. Bossman Junior turned into the Big Bossman last week. He also hit one of the longest homeruns in Citi Field so far on Sunday.

Josh Johnson – 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA with just 10 hits in 16 IP. Johnson is slowly but surely becoming one of the best pitchers not only in the NL, but in all of baseball.

AJ Burnett – 1-1 with a 0.68 ERA and 16 K’s in 13.1 IP. I guess last week was one of those “glimpses of greatness” that Burnett says he shows.

Jose Valverde – Three saves with a 0.00 ERA and four 4 K’s in four IP. Valverde is back and still remains one of the best closers in the NL.

David Aardsma – Three saves with a 0.00 ERA and seven K’s in three IP. David Aardsma is a serviceable fantasy closer in 2009. What is this world coming to?

Reasons for Concern

Jose Reyes – Here is all you need to know about the way the New York Mets handle injuries. On Friday Mets GM Omar Minaya said Reyes started “running on the treadmill.” On Saturday, Reyes said he has done nothing of the sort. Can you now see why there is concern about Reyes coming back?

For fantasy owners who have Reyes on their team, don’t expect a return anytime soon.

Reyes has been on the DL since May 26th.

Daisuke Matsuzaka – Two weeks ago, I wrote that me and my buddy Odie thought Dice-K was toast. After his last poor excuse for a start against the Braves, not only is Dice-K toast, but now is extremely burnt toast.

Dice-K was placed on the 15 Day DL with a mild right shoulder strain. I don’t expect to see Dice-K until August. Fantasy owners can thank Bud Selig’s marketing ploy, AKA: The World Baseball Classic for this.

Mr. Whiff

Mr. Whiff

Chris Davis – .050/1/1. Okay, sooner or later something has to give with everyone’s preseason fantasy man crush. Davis had one hit last week (a HR) and struck out 9 more times bringing his total to 101 in just 222 AB’s on the season.

Davis is batting .194 and with top prospect Justin Smoak tearing up Double A pitching to the tune of .325/6/25/.444 in 41 games, I am not sure how much longer the Texas Rangers can stay with Davis.

Gerardo Parra – .148/1/3 with 10 K’s. Parra got off to a red hot start hitting .319 in May. However, things have been different for this talented rookie in June. Parra is hitting just .212 and has only five extra base hits this month.

Have pitchers finally figured out Parra or is he in just a slump? July should tell us a lot about Parra. Keep an eye on him to see if he continues to struggle.

Potential Pickups

Jason Frasor – With BJ Ryan sucking and with Scott Downs going on the DL, Frasor becomes the defacto closer in Toronto. Frasor does have a 2.19 ERA on the season, so he should be in line for a couple of saves while Downs is out.

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?

Brewers Call Up Their Gammy….

May 15, 2009

Slowly but surely, the Brewers are starting to become the model franchise for all small to mid-market teams. They have a state-of-the-art new stadium, which enables them to draw fans, they have an owner willing to invest money into the team, they draft well, and most importantly they know how to handle their top prospects. The most recent example of the Brewers knowing how to handle their top prospects….Mat Gamel.

The Brewers latest masher

The Brewers latest masher

On Wednesday night the Brewers called up called up Mat Gamel, who is one of the best prospects in the Brewers’ farm system. Now before I get too far ahead of myself, I should let you know that Gamel plays 3B and is a butcher in the field. It’s not pretty. Clearly knowing Gamel’s faults, the Brewers called up Gamel and will put him position to succeed.

Gamel will start off a pinch-hitter and then when the Brewers start their Interleague schedule, Gamel will DH during road games. It’s a really smart plan and it will allow Gamel to do what he does best, which is mash the baseball. The Brewers did this with Prince Fielder 4 years ago and I think it worked out pretty well.

Here are some other facts about Mat Gamel…

Age

23

College

Chipola Junior College

Drafted

4th Round of the 2005 Draft

Minor League Stats

2006

Single A: .288 avg with 17 HR’s, 88 RBI, 9 sb’s and a .374 OBP in 129 games

2007

Single A+: .300 avg with 9 HR’s, 60 RBI, 14 sb’s and a .379 OBP in 128 games

2008

Double A: .329 avg with 19 HR’s, 96 RBI with 6 sb’s and a .409 OBP in 127 games

Triple A: .238 avg with 1 HR and 3 RBI in 5 games

2009

Triple A: .335 avg with 8 HR’s, 31 RBI and a .448 OBP in 33 games

Keith Law Ranking and Analysis

Ranking: #86 out of the top 100 best prospects in baseball

Analysis: “Gamel should hit, but like his Huntsville teammate Angel Salome, he has a serious position question. In fact, his question is more of a statement — he can’t play third, any more than Ryan Braun could and in reality a good bit less than Braun could. Gamel’s best attribute is power; he’s very strong, particularly in his upper body, although he strides early and bars his front arm and may have trouble making contact when he reaches the majors. This hasn’t been a problem to date, and he’s strong enough to power through balls even if his timing is a little off.

He’s a mediocre athlete with a below-average arm and no speed, so he’s not likely to be average defensively in left and could end up at first base, where he’s going to have to hit for average as well as power to play.”