Posts Tagged ‘Russell Martin’

Starting Nine: National League West

January 16, 2010

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

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

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

Colorado Rockies

1. Dexter Fowler, CF

2. Carlos Gonzalez, LF

3. Todd Helton, 1B

4. Troy Tulowitzki, SS

5. Brad Hawpe, RF

6. Ian Stewart, 3B

7. Chris Iannetta, C

8. Clint Barmes, 2B

9. Ubaldo Jimenez, P

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

San Francisco Giants

1. Freddy Sanchez, 2B

2. Edgar Renteria, SS

3. Pablo Sandoval, 3B

4. Aubrey Huff, 1B

5. Mark DeRosa, LF

6. Aaron Rowand, CF

7. Buster Posey, C

8. Nate Schierholtz, RF

9. Tim Lincecum, P

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

Los Angeles Dodgers

1. Rafael Furcal, SS

2. James Loney, 1B

3. Manny Ramirez, LF

4. Matt Kemp, CF

5. Andre Ethier, RF

6. Casey Blake, 3B

7. Russell Martin, C

8. Blake DeWitt, 2B

9. Chad Billingsley, P

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

Arizona Diamondbacks

1. Gerardo Parra, CF

2. Stephen Drew, SS

3. Justin Upton, RF

4. Mark Reynolds, 3B

5. Adam LaRoche, 1B

6. Conor Jackson, LF

7. Miguel Montero, C

8. Kelly Johnson, 2B

8. Dan Haren, P

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

San Diego Padres

1. Everth Cabrera, SS

2. David Eckstein, 2B

3. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B

4. Kyle Blanks, lF

5. Chase Headley, 3B

6. Nick Hundley, C

7. Will Venable, RF

8. Tony Gwynn, CF

9. Chris Young, P

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

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

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

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Dodgers Rally In The Eighth, Even Series At One

October 17, 2009

31 pitches

Five pitchers

Three hits

Two walks

Two runs

One blown save

That was the bottom of the eighth inning for the Philadelphia Phillies. Down 1-0 in the bottom of the eighth, the Los Angeles Dodgers rallied for two runs and eventually held on for a 2-1 victory to even their best-of-seven series with the Phillies at one game apiece.

As my friend Mike always says “How do you beat Ric Flair? A small package in the center of the ring.” I say “How do you beat the Phillies? Get to their bullpen.”

The Phillies’ bullpen stinks. I know it’s harsh, but there is no other way around it. Yesterday, they ruined what was a brilliant pitching performance by Pedro Martinez.

Pedro was classic Pedro yesterday

Pedro was classic Pedro yesterday

Martinez was vintage Pedro. He had the Dodger batters off-balance all game. His performance yesterday was very similar to his performance in Game Five of the 1999 ALDS against the Cleveland Indians.

He didn’t have a 95 mph fastball that night either. But what he had that night and what he had yesterday, was his brain. And Martinez is one of the smartest pitchers in the game–if not the smartest.

Nobody is better when they don’t have their best stuff than Martinez is. He had everything working yesterday. The Dodgers had no chance against him in the hot California sun.

Of course, the classic second guess is why did Charlie Manuel take Martinez out after seven innings? Martinez allowed just two hits, struckout three, and didn’t walk a batter in those seven innings of work.

Most importantly, Martinez had only thrown 87 pitches. If Manuel would allow Martinez to throw 130 pitches against the New York Mets in a meaningless game in September, why wouldn’t he allow him to go further into the game?

“To me, Pedro was done,” Manuel said. “He did a tremendous job and took it actually farther than I anticipated. . . . He was gone. I think he was spent.”

If the manager of the Phillies says that Martinez was done, then I have to believe him. One would think he would know his players better than anyone.

Manuel took Martinez out after the seventh and that’s when the fun started.

Manuel brought Chan Ho Park into the game to face Casey Blake, Ronnie Belliard, and Russell Martin. Park, who was so good Thursday night, was the complete opposite yesterday.

Park allowed a leadoff single to Blake and then misplayed a bunt by Belliard. Park really should have fielded that bunt. It wasn’t a good bunt at all by Belliard.

Now with runners on first and second with nobody out, Martin was attempting to sacrifice bunt. However, Park wouldn’t let him because he couldn’t throw the ball over the plate.

If a guy is giving himself up and giving you an automatic out–let him. Just throw the ball over the plate. It shouldn’t be that hard to throw the ball over the middle if you are a major league pitcher.

On a 3-0 count, Park got a gift call from the home plate umpire. The pitch was about three inches inside, but was called a strike. Completely changed the AB and the inning.

With the count now 3-2 and the bunt off, Martin hit a routine groundball to third. Pedro Feliz threw the ball to Chase Utley covering second for one out and then Utley decided to throw the ball off the fence on the Dodgers’ dugout.

I know some people will say Utley’s bad throw was caused by the hard slide by Belliard who was on first. That wasn’t the case. Utley just made an awful throw.

Juan Pierre, who was running for Blake scored on the play to tie the game at one. Instead of having two outs and a runner on third, the Dodgers had one out with a runner on first.

Then came the parade of Phillies’ relievers out of the bullpen. I am surprised I didn’t see Don Carmen or Mitch Williams come into the game.

Scott Eyre gave up a single to Jim Thome. Ryan Madson walked Rafael Furcal. And with the bases loaded, JA Happ walked Andre Ethier to force in a run.

Just like that it was 2-1 Dodgers and when Jonathan Broxton set the Phillies down 1-2-3 in the ninth, the series was tied at one.

And not to be overshadowed in this win for the Dodgers was the effort by Vicente Padilla. He was matching Martinez pitch for pitch and only made one mistake (a HR to Ryan Howard in the fourth) in seven-and-a-third innings of work.

He has pitched brilliantly for the Dodgers in two starts in the postseason.

Game Three is Sunday at 8:07 ET

Hero for Game Two – Vicente Padilla

Goat for Game Two – Chase Utley

Series MVP – Ryan Howard

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

Dodgers Dominate, Sweep Cardinals

October 11, 2009

Sweeping teams in the NLDS is starting to become old hat for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Last year, the Dodgers swept the Chicago Cubs right out of the NLDS and this year they took their brooms out against the St. Louis Cardinals. The Dodgers beat the Cardinals yesterday 5-1 to win their best-of-five Division Series three games to none.

My poor buddy and resident Cardinals fan, Tom.

The Cardinals are his life. Now, instead of watching of watching the Cardinals today, he will be reduced to watching reruns of Phineas and Ferb with his daughter and shopping for wicker chairs at Fortunoff’s with his wife.

I already Fedex’d him a rope.

The Dodgers in this series really whipped the Cardinals in every way imaginable. They out hit, out defensed, out managed, out hustled, out pitched, and just flat-out out played the Cardinals.

It was all smiles for Padilla yesterday

It was all smiles for Padilla yesterday

Yesterday’s game was a microcosm of the entire series.

Here is what I said about the Vicente Padilla when the Dodgers signed him: “To be honest, I actually like this move for the Dodgers. Going from the launching pad known as Arlington Stadium to the friendly confines of Dodger Stadium, should benefit Padilla tremendously. “

I always feel like the Dodgers can plug in any pitcher and they will be serviceable in Dodger Stadium. IE: Jose Lima in 2004.”

I thought Padilla would be good, but not this good. Yesterday, Padilla was very good. Padilla allowed just four hits, walked one, struckout out four, and most importantly gave up zero runs in seven rock-solid innings of work.

And give Padilla and catcher Russell Martin a lot of credit in this game. They realized early on that the Cardinals were impatient and very aggressive with their hitting approach.

So what do you do when a team is impatient? You throw pitches off the plate. Not too much where even Vladimir Guerrero wouldn’t swing at the pitch. But just enough where the pitch is close enough to be called a strike.

Case in point–the Yadier Molina AB in the first inning.

I thought this was the most important AB of the game. The Dodgers had already scored a run in the first inning and the Cardinals came back to load the bases with two outs in the first inning.

Up came Molina and Molina played right into Padilla’s hands. You could tell that when Molina went up to the plate, Padilla could have thrown a ball five feet over his head and Molina still would have swung at it.

Martin sets up very inside, Padilla throws the ball about five inches off the plate inside, and Molina grounds weakly to short. If Molina gets a big hit there, it could have been the jump start the Cardinals needed.

One last note about the Padilla-Lima comparison I referenced to earlier. Lima shutout the Cardinals in Game Three of the NLDS back in 2004.

Oh the humanity.

Andre Ethier hit a two-run bomb off of Joel Pineiro to make the score 3-0 and the game was essentially over. And speaking of Pineiro, I am going to get on Tony LaRussa here for a second.

I felt LaRussa really, really had a bad game yesterday. It was like he was asleep at the wheel.

For a guy who makes five pitching changes to get one out in the seventh inning of a meaningless game in San Diego, how can he leave Pineiro in the game for as long as he did?

It was clear early on that Pineiro didn’t have his sinker working and was leaving the ball up. When I was on the phone with Tom (resident Cardinal fan from early), he noticed this right away.

As soon as Pineiro gave up that bomb to Ethier, LaRussa should have been warming someone up. The way the Cardinals’ offense was going, three runs was like 10.

LaRussa left Pineiro in the fourth, he gave up another run, AND HE WAS STILL IN THE GAME!!! It wasn’t until the fifth that LaRussa took Pineiro out. The damage was done however, as the Cardinals were down 4-0.

Not only did LaRussa fall asleep in handling Pineiro, he fell asleep in the seventh inning as well. The Dodgers were still up 4-0, they had a runner on third with two outs and Manny Ramirez was coming to the plate.

Ramirez had already doubled twice and was swinging a hot bat this game. So of course you walk him right? Not if you are LaRussa. LaRussa decided to pitch to Manny and of course, Manny singled to make the game an unreachable 5-0.

For a guy who over manages every situation of every game, he decided to under manage in his team’s most important game of the season. Now he can under manage his golf game because LaRussa’s and the rest of the Cardinals’ season is over.

The Dodgers will play the winner of the Colorado Rockies-Philadelphia Phillies series, which is currently tied at one game apiece. Which ever team they play, the Dodgers will be the favorite in the series.

But for now, the Dodgers can sit back, relax, and enjoy the moment.

They are headed to the NLCS.

Fantasy Week In Revew, Sept. 7 – 13

September 14, 2009

As hard as it may be to believe, there’s still fantasy baseball to be played. With fantasy football now in full swing, many people are forgetting that the fantasy baseball playoffs are in full swing.

Not me.

As always, here are the fantasy studs and the players who could kill your fantasy baseball hopes for the week of September 7th-13th.

Fantasy Studs

Billy Butler – .419/2/12 with one SB. It seems like Butler has been around forever, but he is only 23 years old. He could be in-line for a massive breakout season in 2010.

Russell Martin – .286/2/9/.385. It’s good to see Martin make a celebrity guest appearance in the fantasy stud column.

Juan Uribe – .409/3/7. Uribe has been red hot for the San Francisco Giants. Unfortunately, the rest of the Giants’ offense hasn’t followed suit.

Raul Ibanez – .333/4/7. Ibanez hasn’t been the same since coming back from a groin injury a couple of months ago. Hopefully for the Philadelphia Phillies Ibanez is getting hot at the right time.

Javier Vazquez – 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA and 17 K’s in 16 IP. Has anyone noticed the year Vazquez is having? If the Atlanta Braves gave him any run support, he would be right up there in the Cy Young race.

Pedro Martinez – 2-0 with a 1.84 ERA and 11 K’s in 14.2 IP. The good news — Pedro pitched eight shutout innings against the New York Mets. The bad news — it took him 130 pitches to do it.

Not sure how smart that was by Charlie Manuel leaving him in there for that long.

Jason Frasor – Four saves with a 0.00 ERA and three K’s in 3.1 IP. Frasor is making the case to be the Toronto Blue Jays closer in 2010.

Joakim Soria – Four saves with a 0.00 ERA and eight K’s in 3.2 IP. Soria has had a down year by his standards. A trip to the DL this year really hurt Soria.

Reasons for Concern

Alfonso Soriano – Soriano will miss the remainder of the season because of knee surgery. It’s been a pretty awful season for Soriano and for owners who depended on him.

I for one, have never been a fan of Soriano. Soriano will be 34 next year and I expect his production to be on a steady decline from here on out.

Brad Lidge – The Phillies officially removed Lidge from his closers duties. The plan is to have Lidge pitch in “low-stress” situations until he gets himself right.

Lidge has had six months to get himself right and if it hasn’t happened by now, I don’t think it will happen this year.

Tim Lincecum – Lincecum missed his last start because of back pain. His missed start caused a lot of fantasy owners first-round heartbreak.

The good news is that if you made it past the first round and have Lincecum on your team, he is expected to start tonight against the Colorado Rockies.

Looking At Fantasy Catchers in 2009….

February 16, 2009

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

Johnny Bench Division

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

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

2. Brian McCann, Braves

3. Geovany Soto, Cubs

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

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

Ted Simmons Division

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

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

7. Victor Martinez, Indians

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

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

Terry Steinbach Division

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

10. Chris Snyder, Diamondbacks

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

12. Ramon Hernandez, Reds

13. AJ Pierzynski, White Sox

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

Terry Kennedy Division

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

15. Dioner Navarro, Rays

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

Tony Pena Division

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

17. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Rangers

18. Gerald Laird, Tigers

19. Jason Varitek, Red Sox

20. Yadier Molina, Cardinals

21. Kenji Johjima, Mariners

22. Kurt Suzuki, A’s

23. Miguel Olivo, Royals

24. Rod Barajas, Blue Jays

25. Jason Kendall, Brewers

26. Nick Hundley, Padres

27. Brian Schneider, Mets

28. John Baker, Marlins

29. Humberto Quintero, Astros

30. Jesus Flores, Nationals

31. Gregg Zaun, Orioles

Matt Wieters Division

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

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