Posts Tagged ‘Robinson Cano’

Starting Nine: American League East

January 11, 2010

I was rummaging through some articles last week and I came across a piece by Morgan Campbell of the Toronto Star. He gave an early look at what the Toronto Blue Jays’ starting lineup might look like in 2010.

That piece got me thinking. With all the moves that happen during the free agency period it’s hard for a casual fan to keep up with their favorite team. Why not take an early look at each lineup in baseball as presently constructed?

So what I will do give each team’s starting lineup by division for the next six days. Obviously this will change as the offseason progresses, so I will do an update to these posts as the season approaches.

We will start in the American League and with the best division in baseball, the American League East.

New York Yankees

1. Derek Jeter, SS

2. Nick Johnson, DH

3. Mark Teixeira, 1B

4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B

5. Jorge Posada, C

6. Robinson Cano, 2B

7. Curtis Granderson, CF

8. Nick Swisher, RF

9. Brett Gardner, LF

Quick Take – Best and deepest lineup in baseball. Could made even better if Johnny Damon accepts a one-year deal to play left. Cano and Posada could flip-flop between fifth and sixth in the order.

Boston Red Sox

1. Jacoby Ellsbury, LF

2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B

3. Victor Martinez, C

4. Kevin Youkilis, 1B

5. David Ortiz, DH

6. Adrian Beltre, 3B

7. Mike Cameron, CF

8. J.D. Drew, RF

9. Marco Scutaro, SS

Quick Take – Not a classic Red Sox lineup. Not a lot of high OBP guys and nobody jumps out and scares you. Terry Francona is loyal to Ortiz, so he bats fifth ahead of Beltre in the lineup.

Tampa Bay Rays

1. B.J. Upton, CF

2. Carl Crawford, LF

3. Evan Longoria, 3B

4. Ben Zobrist, 2B

5. Carlos Pena, 1B

6. Pat Burrell, DH

7. Kelly Shoppach, C

8. Gabe Kapler, RF

9. Jason Bartlett, SS

Quick Take – This lineup will go from very good to great if Upton and Burrell come back strong in 2010. Kapler will find himself in a platoon situation with Matt Joyce to start the season.

Baltimore Orioles

1. Brian Roberts, 2B

2. Nick Markakis, RF

3. Adam Jones, CF

4. Luke Scott, DH

5. Nolan Reimold, LF

6. Matt Wieters, C

7. Ty Wigginton, 1B

8. Garrett Atkins, 3B

9. Cesar Izturis, SS

Quick Take – First four in this lineup is very good, but after that, this lineup gets very weak. Orioles are still looking for a first baseman, so don’t expect Wigginton to be a starter for too much longer.

Toronto Blue Jays

1. Jose Bautista, RF

2. Lyle Overbay, 1B

3. Aaron Hill, 2B

4. Adam Lind, DH

5. Vernon Wells, CF

6. Edwin Encarnacion, 3B

7. Travis Snider, LF

8. Alex Gonzalez, SS

9. John Buck, C

Quick Take – My lineup is a little different than Campbell’s as I have Overbay hitting in the two-hole. This lineup has the potential to be good, but Gonzalez and Buck represent too many automatic outs to be really dynamic.

Tomorrow, I will cover the American League Central.

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

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Cliff Lee, Chase Utley Help Phillies Take Game One

October 29, 2009

There’s an old saying in baseball that has held true from 1909 to 2009–good pitching, always beats good hitting.

That saying held true again last night in Game One of the 2009 World Series.

On a rainy, misty night in the Bronx, Cliff Lee dominated a powerful New York Yankee lineup and Chase Utley hit two homeruns as the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Yankees 6-1 to take a 1-0 lead in their best-of-seven World Series.

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Lee was performance last night was historic

Lee’s pitching performance last night was very similar to Josh Beckett’s performance in Game Six of the 2003 World Series. Beckett steamrolled the Yankees that night and Lee steamrolled the Yankees last night.

Lee made pitching look ridiculously easy last night. Like Beckett, Lee was in control the entire game. He set the pace, he pounded the strike zone, and he did what he wanted to do.

Lee became the first pitcher in World Series history to pitch a game where he struck out 10, walked none, and didn’t allow an earned run.

Here are some of my other observations from last night:

CC Sabathia didn’t have his best stuff last night and he still held the Phillies to two runs and just four hits in seven innings. Pretty impressive.

Sabathia missed his spot twice last night to Utley and Utley made him pay big time.

How great were Utley AB’s last night? He saw 30 pitches in four AB’s. His walk in the first inning might have been more impressive than his two HR’s.

Alex Rodriguez was very good defensively last night. Offensively? Not so much.

I really can’t believe Yankee fans are calling the radio stations this morning and complaining. What are you complaining about? You lost to a great pitcher, who pitched great last night. It happens.

Lee is on a roll right now like Bret Saberhagen in 1985, Orel Hershiser in 1988, and Josh Beckett in 2007.

The Yankees have a serious Phil Hughes problem. What ever he did in the regular season, he is doing the complete opposite in the postseason.

Hughes has faced 27 batters this postseason and has only retired 14 of them. Ouch!

You can have Mariano Rivera in the pen, but if you have nobody to get him the ball, then it won’t matter.

Here is what I wrote about Damaso Marte in my preview yesterday:

“Marte is going to be asked at some point during this series to get Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, or Raul Ibanez out.

Does any Yankee fan feel confident with first and second and one out in the seventh and Girardi calls on Marte to pitch to Utley and Howard?”

I was off by an inning. Marte came in the eighth with runners on first and second to face Utley and Howard and he did a really good job. He got Utley to strike out looking and got Howard to fly out to right.

Have you noticed that since Joe Girardi was hammered for overmanaging in Game Three of the ALCS, he has undermanaged since?

I was a little surprised he left David Robertson in the game to face Raul Ibanez in the eighth. I thought he might have gone to Phil Coke in that spot.

Was it a shock to anybody that Carlos Ruiz was in the middle of a rally in the ninth? This guy is so good in the postseason. I have become a huge fan.

Unlike the Minnesota Twins and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the Phillies expected to win last night and not hoped to win. The Phillies believe they are the better team and played like it.

Good job the umpires getting together to make sure they got the call right on that popup by Robinson Cano in the bottom of the fifth.

If a Yankee fan is going to complain about the check swing being called a strike in Cano’s AB that inning, then the Philly fan can complain about Lee striking out Hideki Matsui on an inside fastball and the pitch being called a ball. Matsui singled on the next pitch.

Lee coming out in the ninth inning pretty much ensured that Charlie Manuel will go with a fourth starter in Game Four instead of Lee on three days rest.

Tonight we are going to find out if AJ Burnett is worth his contract.

Now we are going to find out how tough the Yankees are. It’s one thing to take a punch in the face from the Angels in Game Five up three-games-t0-one.

It’s another thing to take a punch in the face in Game One of the World Series.

Game Two is tonight. First pitch is 7:57 ET.

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

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

Sabathia, Rodriguez Give Yankees 3-1 Series Lead

October 21, 2009

So much for CC Sabathia not being able to pitch in the postseason huh?

On just three days rest, New York Yankees’ ace CC Sabathia dominated the feeble Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim lineup and Alex Rodriguez hit yet another homerun, as the Yankees crushed the Angels last night 10-1 to take a 3-1 lead in their best-of-seven ALCS.

The Yankees celebrate after a Game 4 win

The Yankees celebrate after a Game 4 win

However, before I get to my observations of last night’s action, I have to talk about something else first. I hate to talk about something outside the game itself, but in this case–it’s necessary.

Major League Baseball has a serious umpiring issue.

Throughout this postseason we have seen some atrocious umpiring and last night it came to a head. There were three brutal calls that is turning the baseball postseason into a circus.

In the fourth, Scott Kazmir appeared to pickoff Nick Swisher at second base, but Swisher was called safe. Swisher was tagged about a foot before the base with umpire Dale Scott looking right at the play.

I find it hard to believe he could miss something so easy.

In the same inning, Johnny Damon hit a ball to centerfield. With Swisher now on third, he attempted to tag-up on the ball. Hunter threw the ball home, but Swisher beat the play.

Swisher was called out because third base umpire Tim McClelland deemed he had left before Hunter caught the ball. Replays showed Swisher did no such thing.

This was a clear and blatantly obvious make up call.

McClelland said “In his heart he felt Swisher left early.” Really? In your heart?

I want to know what your eyes tell you, not your heart. In my heart, I am married to Jennifer Aniston. The reality is that is not the case.

I didn’t know umpires are making calls with their hearts these days.

The very next inning, McClelland was at the center of attention again. Swisher hit a ground ball back to Darren Oliver. With Posada at third, he broke for home.

Oliver threw the ball home and had Posada in a rundown. Mike Napoli ran Posada back to third and Robinson Cano, who was on second ran to third base.

Both runners were standing by third base and not on the bag. Napoli tags both runners, but somehow Cano was called safe. What???

I can handle bang-bang calls at first base. Those get missed all the time and in my opinion is completely understandable. Those calls come down to a half a second either way.

I can tolerate that.

But what I, and I think most baseball fans can’t tolerate, is obvious missed calls. It’s ridiculous.

Bud Selig really needs to address this issue. He can’t let this fester like he did with the steroid issue. Selig has a tendency to let things linger until it gets to a point where it becomes a mockery.

This is why David Stern is such a great commissioner for the NBA. Say what you want about him, but if there is an issue, he addresses it and sweeps it under the rug.

Stern had a referee (Tim Donaghy) possibly throw games in his league, which is the most egregious thing in sports. Stern addressed the issue and it really became a non issue.

To this day, I still can’t believe what a non issue it was. Do you know why it was a non issue? Because Stern cut it off at the head before it festered.

This is what Selig needs to do. He needs to address this issue and recognize that there is a problem before it gets out of hand.

And here is another thing that vexes me about baseball umpires and umpires or referees in general. Why are they all older than my dad (59)?

Why aren’t these umpires younger? Why can’t a 30-year-old be an umpire in the major leagues?

I would think younger umpires would be sharper, quicker and more attentive than a guy who is 65-years-old.

If someone could give me a logical explanation for that, I would love to hear it.

Baseball is held in higher standards in America than football or basketball (I don’t mention hockey because Gary Bettman has made that league irrelevant).

Get new umpires. Use instant more instant replay. Do what whatever you need to do.

Just fix it!

Now let’s get to the game. Here are my observations from last night:

How awful was Scott Kazmir last night? Did he talk to Steve Trachsel before the game? I never want to hear him talked about as an “elite starter” ever again.

CC Sabathia was great last night. After getting in a little bit of trouble in the fifth and sixth, he settled down and get out of the jams.

He finished strong by getting the final six batters in the seventh and eighth.

Sadly as great as Alex Rodriguez has been, if the Yankees don’t win the World Series, he will still be blamed for it. It’s sad, but is true.

I have been watching baseball for 25 years and I can’t remember a time where there have been so many pitcher-catcher meetings on the mound. It’s a trend that I would like to have come to an end.

The Angels won the game in Tim McClelland’s heart.

The Angels don’t have enough “hot” players in their lineup right now to beat the Yankees.

How bad has Juan Rivera been in this series? He is the human rally killer. His double play in the sixth ended the game for the Angels.

It’s amazing how talent can make Joe Girardi look like a good manager.

Where was Jorge Posada’s head last night? Running off the field with two outs and not scoring from second on a double. Very odd game for Posada.

Some team is going to give Chone Figgins a four-year, $42 million deal and regret it from the first day. I am not a fan at all.

Hero for Game 4 – CC Sabathia

Goat for Game 4 – Scott Kazmir

Series MVP – CC Sabathia

Game Five is Thursday at 7:57 ET.

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.

American League Championship Series Preview and Prediction

October 16, 2009

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim vs. New York Yankees

Best-of-seven series

Game One: Friday, Oct. 16 7:57 ET. John Lackey vs. CC Sabathia

Game Two: Saturday, Oct. 17 7:57 ET. Joe Saunders vs. AJ Burnett

Game Three: Monday, Oct. 19 4:13 ET. Andy Pettitte vs. Jered Weaver

Game Four: Tuesday, Oct. 20 7:57 ET. TBD vs. Scott Kazmir

Game Five*: Thursday, Oct. 22 7:57 ET. TBD vs TBD

Game Six*: Saturday, Oct. 24 4:13 ET. TBD vs. TBD

Game Seven* Sunday, Oct. 25 8:20 ET. TBD vs. TBD

*If necessary

Prediction: There are a couple of big story lines heading into this series. Can the Yankees finally beat the Angels in the playoffs? Who pitches Game Four for the Yankees? And can the Yankees neutralize the Angels running game?

While I don’t have the answers to those questions, here is what I do know–Game One is key to this series. Normally, I feel Game Three is key in a best-of-seven series, but in this case Game One is key.

If the Angels win Game One, they got the Yankees thinking here we go again. And more importantly they’ll get Joe Girardi more wound up than he already is.

Girardi got torched last week on the radio and in the papers in New York about how impatient and high strung he was during the ALDS. And that is when the Yankees swept. Could you imagine if the Yankees lose Game One, what Girardi will be like in Game Two?

The Angels have the right guy going in Game One in Lackey. He looked very impressive against the Red Sox in the NLDS and Lackey is pitching for a contract in 2010. If Lackey can pitch well from here on out, he will earn himself some serious coin this Winter.

Figgins is key for the Angels

Figgins is key for the Angels

The key for the Angels offensively and for the series that matter is Chone Figgins. Can this guy show up in the postseason just once? He is supposed to be their table setter and he has a lifetime .182 avg. in the postseason.

The Angels can’t do what they want to do (run all over the Yankees) if their speed guys don’t get on base. Figgins has to show up this series. It’s a must.

If the Yankees win Game One then it does two things. 1. It puts all the pressure on Joe Saunders in Game Two and 2. Quite simply, it gives the Yankees confidence they can beat the Angels in the postseason.

I like Joe Saunders and he is a nice little pitcher. But would you trust him in a big spot with your season on the line? I wouldn’t. I don’t see the Angels winning Game Two no matter what happens in Game One.

However, if they lose Game One AND Game Two, now they have to win four out of five from the Yankees. That is going to be awfully tough to do.

I think there are two keys for the Yankees in this series. First, they need to get someone else going in the lineup other than Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez.

Overshadowed in the Yankees sweep over the Minnesota Twins, was the fact that Johnny Damon, Nick Swisher, Melky Cabrera, and Robinson Cano didn’t hit at all during the series. The Yankees are going to need a couple of these guys to come through in order to beat the Angels in a seven game series.

Second, this series might just come down to how well CC Sabathia pitches. With the weather concerns in New York (I will get to that in a second) and with the Girardi contemplating going with a three-man rotation, there is a chance Sabathia will pitch three times in this series.

If Sabathia pitches on three days rest, history will be against him. It’s really amazing how the Yankees don’t have a No. 4 starter. They have nobody but themselves to blame for that.

The x-factor in this series is going to be the weather for the first two games of this series. It’s miserable right now in New York. Walking to work this morning it felt like Winter.

It’s supposed to rain tonight and tomorrow. If one of these games gets rained out, that clearly favors the Angels. The Angels have their rotation set regardless of the weather. The Yankees don’t.

Everything in me is leaning towards picking the Angels. I think they are in the Yankees’ heads, they are better equiped to play in a long series than the Yankees are, they are drawing inspiration from the Nick Adenhart tragedy, and they clearly have the better manager.

But things are starting to break for the Yankees like they did in the 90’s. You can’t beat the unexplained. There will be a Joe Mauer foul ball or Nick Punto baserunning moment for the Angels in this series.

Yankees in six

MVP – Mariano Rivera

Yankees Sweep Twins, Advance To ALCS

October 12, 2009

If you are a New York Yankees fan, you have to start feeling like there is a lot of late 90’s magic going on with this team. When I say magic, I am not talking the clutch hitting from Alex Rodriguez or the brilliant pitching by Andy Pettitte.

I am talking the egregious umpiring that always benefits the Yankees (Joe Mauer call in Game Two), teams and players making bonehead plays they would normally not make (Nick Punto last night), and even when the Yankees make a bad play, it somehow works out in their favor (Robinson Cano misplay leads to an out last night).

Those were staples of the Yankee teams in their glory years from 1996-2000.

Pettitte was great last night

Pettitte was great last night

The Yankees lost that magic starting with the 2001 World Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks. However, they got some of that magic back in a big way against the Minnesota Twins.

The Yankees beat the Twins last 4-1 to sweep the Twins 3-0 in their best-of-five American League Division Series and advance to their first ALCS since 2004. The Yankees used some great pitching, timely homeruns, and some just brutal baserunning by the Twins to get by the Twins in this series.

What was amazing about this series, was that every single time the Twins would take the lead, the Yankees would come back to either tie the game or take the lead the very next inning. It was unbelievable.

Last night was such a perfect example of what I am talking about.

The Twins took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the sixth on a Joe Mauer single off of Pettitte, who was brilliant in this game. The very next inning, Rodriguez and Jorge Posada hit solo homeruns and just like that, the Yankees have a 2-1 lead.

I even wrote on my Twitter page that the Yankees have the Twins right where they want them being down 1-0. The tragedy of that, is that Carl Pavano was pitching the game of his life before those two homeruns.

That was the best I have ever seen Pavano look. For six innings he completely controled the game. There is no doubt in my mind he earned a multi-year deal with his performance last night.

Even down 2-1, the Twins had their chances in this game. In the bottom of the seventh, Yankees manager Joe Girardi took out Pettitte for reasons only know to himself and replaced him with Mr. Mediocre himself–Joba Chamberlain.

Chamberlain proceeds to give up a double to Delmon Young and the Twins had a runner on second with just one out. Chamberlain got Brendan Harris out on a hard grounder to third and then struckout Jose Morales to end the inning.

Do the Twins not have anyone else that can DH besides Morales? This guy stinks. Every time I see him play, he doesn’t seem even close to getting a hit.

In the bottom of the eighth is when the you know what really hit the fan for the Twins. Punto led off the inning with a double off of the suddenly shaky Phil Hughes.

The next batter Denard Span hit a chopper up the middle. Derek Jeter got to the ball and didn’t throw to first because he knew he couldn’t get Span. Punto, not picking up his third base coach thought the ball went up the middle and decided to head home.

Punto realized the ball didn’t go into the outfield halfway between home and third, Jeter threw the ball home to Posada, and Posada threw out Punto trying to go back to third.

I really thought at that point Ron Gardenhire was going to punch Punto when he got back to the dugout. He had that look on his face.

After that play, the game was essentially over.

I can’t believe how many bad baserunning plays the Twins made in this series. And this was the supposedly the more fundamentally sound team coming into this series. It really was inexcusable.

Now the Yankees will move on to play their arch nemesis in the playoffs, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. 

Game One of the ALCS will be on Friday.

10 Things We Learned About Baseball In September

October 1, 2009

The best season of the year is here kids — Spring. Crisp air, leaves turning, temperatures in the 60’s (unless you live in Detroit, then they are in the 30’s) and of course pennant race baseball.

Are we going to get the classic pennant race that goes down to the last day of the season like we saw in 2007 and 2008? Probably not. But the NL Wild Card race between the Atlanta Braves and Colorado Rockies and the AL Central race between the Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins gave us plenty to be excited about.

September was a great month for baseball fans. Here are the top-10 things we learned about baseball in September…

10. Ichiro can flat-out hit. On September 13th, Ichiro became the first player in major league history to record 200 hits nine straight seasons.

Ichiro is easily in the top-five of the best pure hitters that I have ever seen (last 25 years). He is right up there with Tony Gwynn, Wade Boggs, Edgar Martinez, and Paul Molitor.

Ichiro is unquestionably a first-ballot Hall of Famer. The only question that remains is when it is all said and done, is Ichiro the greatest hitter of all-time?

Speaking guys who get base hits…

9. Chris Coghlan is hitting his way to NL ROY.Guess who lead baseball in hits in September? Derek Jeter? Nope. Ichiro? Nope. Joe Mauer? Nope. It was Florida Marlins rookie Chris Coghlan.

Coghlan had 47 hits in September with a .382 avg. and a .925 OPS. Coghlan is making a strong push for NL Rookie of the Year.

While Ichiro and Coghlan can hit the baseball…

Reynolds is strikeout king once again

Reynolds is strikeout king once again

8. Mark Reynolds has a hard time making contact. Arizona Diamondbacks 3B Mark Reynolds broke his own record for strikeouts in a single season when he struck out three times against the San Francisco Giants giving him 205 K’s.

Reynolds’ previous mark for strikeouts was 204, which he set last season.

I, for one, thought this was no big deal. Reynolds is having a phenomenal season. Reynolds has 44 homeruns, 101 RBI, 24 SB’s, a .552 slugging percentage, and a .902 OPS.

Reynolds plays on the Diamondbacks, who are having a terrible season. But not as bad as this team…

7. The Washington Nationals will have the No. 1 pick in the 2010 draft. The Nationals will finish the 2009 season with the worst record in baseball. There reward? They will have the first pick in the 2010 draft.

All signs point to Bryce Harper being the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft.

The Nationals fired manager Manny Acta earlier in the season. These two teams fired their managers in September…

6. Cecil Cooper and Eric Wedge were handed their walking papers. The Houston Astros fired Cooper with 13 games left in the regular season. When Cooper was fired by the Astros, the Astros were in fourth place and 16.5 games behind the first place St. Louis Cardinals.

Yesterday, the Cleveland Indians fired Wedge with just six games to go. Wedge was 560-568 with one playoff appearance in seven seasons with the Indians. Wedge will finish out the season with the Indians, but him and his staff will not be retained after the season ends.

Staying with Central Division news…

5. The Chicago Cubs suspend Milton Bradley. Is it me or did everyone on the planet see this coming except for Cubs’ GM Jim Hendry? Bradley has been awful with the Cubs in 2009.

The Cubs suspended Bradley because of negative comments he made about the fans in Chicago.

Despite having a .378 OBP, Bradley only hit .257 and had a pathetic .397 slugging percentage.

So much for adding some left-handed pop to the lineup.

While the Cubs floundered in 2009…

4. The Atlanta Braves surged in September. Somebody forget to tell the Braves they were out of it in September. In a 19-game stretch they went 15-4 and pulled within two games of the Wild Card leading Rockies.

Many Braves fans envisioned the Braves doing to the Rockies what the Rockies did to the San Diego Padres in 2007. However, the Braves playoff chances are on life support after losing back-to-back games against the Marlins.

On the subject of playoff races…

The Twins missed Morneau in September

The Twins missed Morneau in September

3. The AL Central race heated up. Despite losing MVP candidate Justin Morneau, the Twins have been able to hang with the Tigers neck and neck throughout September.

The Twins entered this weeks HUGE four-game series just two games behind the Tigers. After winning the first game in 10 innings 3-2, the Twins have dropped two in a row to the Tigers — putting their season on life support.

The Tigers can clinch the AL Central crown with a win today over the Twins.

If the Tigers win the AL Central, they will have to face these two in the first-round of the playoffs…

2. Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano each record 200 hits. With over 200 hits apiece, Jeter and Cano became the first middle infield duo to each collect 200 hits in a season.

I am not surprised this has never been done before considering that I would say before 1995 — shortstops and second baseman weren’t considered offensive players. Sure you had your Eddie Collins’, Roberto Alomar’s, Charlie Gehringer’s, and Cal Ripken’s of the world, but they were rarely paired up with anyone who could hit.

That is what made Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker so special for their era. They were two middle infielders who could hit and field.

Speaking of Yankees, the No.1 thing we learned about baseball in September was…

Jeter is headed to the playoffs yet again

Jeter is headed to the playoffs yet again

1. Six teams punched their ticket to October. The New York Yankees, St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox, and Philadelphia Phillies will all be battling it out for a World Series title.

I thought last year’s playoff matchups were pretty easy to predict. This year? The way the matchups are shaping up, I have no clue who is going to win.

Here is what I do know. When I write my October recap, we will have a World Series champion and all the questions we have had since March will be answered.

I will be writing my first-round preview with predictions next Tuesday.

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

Baseball’s Best Infield: Midseason…

July 13, 2009

In the fourth and final installment of the “Baseball’s Best: Midseason” series, I am going to take a look at which team has had baseball’s best infield at the halfway point of the season.

Just when I did baseball’s best outfield, the best infield will be determined by four categories – OPS, Runs Created, UZR, and Fielding Percentage. Stats for the first baseman, second baseman, shortstop and third baseman were used. Catchers’ stats were not considered.

Stats were used for the player who played the most games at that position. For instance, Ian Stewart has played more games at third than Garrett Atkins for the Colorado Rockies, so Stewart’s stats were used.

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

Here are baseball’s best infields at the halfway point of the 2009 season…

10 – 6. Washington Nationals, Florida Marlins, Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers

5. Colorado Rockies – 23 points

Infield – Todd Helton, Clint Barmes, Troy Tulowitzki, Ian Stewart

OPS – Eight

RC – Six

UZR – Two

FP – Seven

Helton continues to rake

Helton continues to rake

Analysis – It all changed for the Rockies when they put Clint Barmes at second, Ian Stewart at third, and Troy Tulowitzki started hitting. And oh yeah, they still have some guy named Todd Helton at first base.

To nobodies surprise, the Rockies can hit with anyone as their combined .831 OPS suggests. Ian Stewart has given the Rockies a nice lift with a .794 OPS.

This is one of my favorite infields in baseball.

4 (Tie). New York Yankees – 28 points

Infield – Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez

OPS – Nine

RC – Ten

UZR – Zero

FP – Eight

Analysis – The most expensive infield in baseball is also one of the best. The Yankees finished in the top three in three out of the four categories.

Newly acquired Mark Teixeira has been doing it with the bat, as well as the glove. Teixeira has a .920 OPS and has created 66.3 runs so far this season.

Teixeira has been lights out with the glove. If he wasn’t so good at scooping the ball out of the dirt, the Yankees infield would have maybe 20 more errors. I don’t think there is anyone better at scooping the ball out of the dirt at first than Teixeira.

Jeter and Cano have been steady up the middle for the Yankees. Cano has enjoyed a nice bounce year this year, after pretty much taking last year off.

I won’t talk about Rodriguez’s accomplishments because he is a cheater.

4 (Tie). Philadelphia Phillies – 28 points

Infield – Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Pedro Feliz

OPS – Five

RC – Seven

UZR – Seven

FP – Nine

Analysis – The Phillies would be higher on this list if Jimmy Rollins didn’t take the first half of the season off. Can you believe that through over 80 games Rollins has only created 36.7 runs? That is mediocre at best.

While Howard and Rollins have won MVP’s, it’s Chase Utley who has been the real MVP of this group in the first half of this season.

Utley has a sweet 1.004 OPS and has created 77.4 runs this season. The 77.4 runs created is tops of the players on this list.

Pedro Feliz has been very solid defensively with a 6.2 UZR and a .975 Fielding Percentage.

1 (Tie). Tampa Bay Rays – 32 points

Infield – Carlos Pena, Ben Zobrist, Jason Bartlett, Evan Longoria

OPS – Ten

RC – Nine

UZR – Eight

FP – Five

Longoria leads the best infield in baseball

Longoria leads the best infield in baseball

Analysis – Like the Phillies’ outfield, I guess when you send your entire infield to the All-Star game you are going to be tops this list. Longoria, Bartlett, Zobrist, and now Pena (taking the place of Pedroia) will be packing a suitcase for St. Louis.

The real story of this group is Zobrist. Zobrist is second in the AL with a 1.012 OPS and if the season ended today, he would finish in the top three in MVP voting.

Jason Bartlett is having a career year offensively and actually has a higher OPS than Evan Longoria (.937 to .903).

The Rays have the highest infield OPS in baseball with a .943 mark.

1 (Tie). Toronto Blue Jays – 32 points

Infield – Lyle Overbay, Aaron Hill, Marco Scutaro, Scott Rolen

OPS – Seven

RC – Eight

UZR – Seven

FP – Ten

Analysis – The Blue Jays’ infield can do it all. They can get to the ball, when they get to the ball – they catch it, and they can flat out hit.

The Blue Jays have gotten career years out of Aaron Hill and Marco Scutaro. Like Zobrist of the Rays, if the season ended today, Aaron Hill would be an MVP candidate.

Scott Rolen has enjoyed a nice comeback year. Rolen has a .858 OPS and has played his usually solid third base. Rolen is fourth amongst all third baseman with a .976 Fielding Percentage.

Lyle Overbay should be more like Mark Grace, but instead he hits like Mark Davis pitched for the Kansas City Royals.

So that is all for the baseball’s best series for now. I will do a final baseball’s best series at the end of the year. It will be interesting to see if the teams who were No. 1 at the halfway point, stay No. 1 by the end of the season.

*All stats were calculated for this post before Sunday’s action.

2009, The Year Of The Second Basemen…

May 14, 2009

Normally, when I am drafting my fantasy team I like to take a top 2nd baseman early because there are so few good ones out there. That strategy has been blown out of the water this year because it is looking like 2009 will be the year of the 2nd baseman. Has anyone else noticed the depth of the 2nd base position this year? There are 15 to 16 2nd baseman right now who are having legit fantasy seasons and that doesn’t even include 4 other 2nd baseman who have the potential to be in the top 10 at the position.

Look at these fantasy numbers put up by 2nd baseman so far in 2009….

Aaron Hill – .357/9/30

Orlando Hudson – .343/3/20/.424 and 4 sb’s

Felipe Lopez – .328/4/9/.390 and 4 sb’s

Alberto Callaspo – .327/2/12

Ian Kinsler – .326/9/28 with 8 sb’s

Dustin Pedroia – .320/1/12 with 4 sb’s

Luis Castillo – .318/0/11/.392

Asdrubal Cabrera – .318/1/17 with 6 sb’s

Freddy Sanchez – .317/3/11

Robinson Cano – .313/6/18

Chase Utley – .294/10/23/.419

Brian Roberts – .281/4/13 with 4 sb’s

Akinori Iwamura – .277/0/12 with 7 sb’s

Rickie Weeks – .274/8/22

Brandon Phillips – .265/6/22 with 4 sb’s

Those are some pretty impressive stats through the 1st month and a half of the season. How about the performance of Aaron Hill so far? He has carried the Blue Jays and it looks like the side effects of the concussion he suffered last year have seized. Do I think he can keep up this pace? Probably not. I mean, he is on pace for Ruthian 50 Hr’s and about 163 RBI. I can see the average being there at the end but, it’s more likely Hill will end up with 25 HR’s and 80-85 RBI.

That list doesn’t even include 4 guys who are off to slow starts and have the ability to be a top 2nd baseman…

Howie Kendrick – .241/4/19

Kelly Johnson – .235/3/11

Dan Uggla – .193/4/20/.310

Jose Lopez – .248/3/19

Poor Dan Uggla, he really hasn’t been the same since that disastrous All-Star Game performance last year at Yankee Stadium. He hit .226 in the 2nd half last year and is off to a .193 start this year. I wonder if that game did permanent damage to Uggla mentally? It would be a shame if it did.

As you can see, you should have no excuse finding a quality 2nd baseman this year for your fantasy team.

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