Monday, August 29, 2011

MLB Weekly Wrap-up

Well, I think it's safe to sat that the playoff teams are pretty much set. Except maybe for the A.L. West. The Rangers and Angels completed a 3-game series in Arlington this past weekend, with Texas taking two of three to obtain a 3-game lead over the Halos. That division can easily come down to a 3-game series in Anaheim, the last 3 games of the regular season for both teams (Sept 26-28). I still think Texas is the better team. I realize they've been in kind of a funk lately, but you have to understand, literally every home game this summer has been played in temperatures at or above 100 degrees. At some point, that kind of heat has to take a toll on a ball player. Fortunately, there are cooler temps in the immediate forecast (mid 90s). Other than that, we can pretty much count on both the Yankees and the Red Sox from the East and Detroit from the Central.

In the Senior Circuit, it looks as if the Diamondbacks may have all but won the West. Their schedule from here on out includes only six games against teams with a winning record. Let me rephrase that; only six games remaining against a team with a winning record. That being the D-Backs closest divisional opponent, San Francisco. The Giants are a mess right now. They can't score runs, and their pitching has been quite suspect as of late. I just get that feeling that this is Arizona's year. They'll most likely join Milwaukee, Atlanta and Philadelphia as the N.L. playoff teams.

What a weekend in the Northeast, as well as the East Coast. Luckily for fans of the Metropolitans, hurricane Irene prompted two meaningless games against the Braves (Saturday & Sunday) to be postponed. I doubt those games will even be played. There's no point in putting Mets fans through any further misery and the Braves are going to play in the post season regardless.

Phillies 3rd 4th starter, Cole Hamels, returns to action tonight versus the moderately-sized red machine of Cincinnati. Hamels was just activated from the 15-day DL.

The Brewers look unbeatable. Simply put. With two games remaining in August, the Brewers are 20-5 for the month. They basically used August to flush the Cardinals away for the season. How have they done it? Milwaukee is 20 games above .500 against their Central division rivals and have a MLB best 50 home wins. Folks, they are playing for home-field advantage throughout the post season. They do however, trail the Phillies by 8 games in the loss column for league's best record.

The A.L. Cy Young winner, Justin Verlander, won his 20th by beating Minnesota on Saturday. It may have been his worst outing of the year too. He went 6 innings while allowing 4 ER on a whopping 8 hits. He's still a stud though.

Studs:


1. Adrian Gonzalez (Bos) - 28 AB, 11 H, 5 HR, 9 RBI, 8 R, .393 AVG
2. Ian Kennedy (Ari) - 2 GS, 14 IP, 12 H, 1 ER, 15 K, 1.00 WHIP, 0.64 ERA, 2 W
3. Bruce Chen (KC) - 2 GS, 15 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 13 K, .173 BAA, 0.80 WHIP, 2 W

Duds:

1. Mike Carp (Sea) - 27 AB, 3 H, 1 R, 2 RBI, 14 K, .111 AVG
2. Jim Thome (Cle) - 19 AB, 1 H, 1 RBI, 11 K, .053 AVG, .143 OBP
3. Matt Belisle (Col) - 4 G, 2 SVO, 3.2 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, .353 BAA, 0 SV

Monday, August 22, 2011

NFC East Preview


It's so good to be talking football again. We're two weeks away from the college ranks stating and three away from the National Football League. It's been an abysmal year for the New York Metropolitans, so I have a severe thirst for football, mainly the New York Football Giants.

I'm already sick of hearing how the Eagles are the "creme de la creme" of football now. Really, let's get a hold of ourselves here. Sure, they went out and got the #1 free agent in Nnamdi Asomugha. Yes, they also received Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie as part of the Kevin Kolb deal with Arizona.    They will both be a great addition to a defensive backfield that already had Asante Samuel.

All three of those guys should make throwing the ball a nightmare. But this is the
NFC East. This is a division built on hard-nosed, grind it out, tough football. Running the ball should be the primary offense for the Giants, Cowboys and even the 'Skins. I know the Cowboys think they need to throw first, but if you pay attention to them, they actually play a lot better and are a better offensive team if they run first, then throw. The Redskins went and acquired Tim Hightower, previously of Arizona. I know, you probably think, really? But a good running
back is one aspect from their game that has been missing for some time now. And Hightower does average almost four yards per carry (3.95). We know that the most physical team running the ball in the East is N.Y. (how's that for bias). Jacobs and Bradshaw are back together again. Albeit with a revamped O-line.

Philadelphia is going to get hurt by this. I don't believe they have the size in the front seven, that throughout an entire game, can withstand the punishment of a consistent running game. The Eagles defense is built on speed and protecting the outside. Not bottling the middle of the line.

There isn't a doubt in my mind that with receivers like Dallas' Dez Bryant and New York's Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham, the Eagles secondary can help ease the pain caused by Romo and Manning. I'm still waiting to see what Washington can do in the aerial attack. I'm not expecting much from them. Anyway...

I don't, and won't,  put much stock into Michael Vick. He is way too inconsistent for my liking. He takes a beating every game and doesn't posses the accuracy to lead the Eagles to the promised land.

I also am not as bitter as most Giants' fans, for the lack of effort and the eventual non-signing of Plaxico Burress. Nor am I upset any longer at the way the Giants handled Steve Smith. I think in Plaxico's case, I mean, he was a head-case that spent two seasons away from the game in prison, because the idiot shot himself. Hah, if that's not a double whammy, then I don't know what is. I think New York will be just fine in the receiver position. Along with the aforementioned Nicks and Manningham, the G-Men have another talented receiver in Victor Cruz (who will make a name for himself this year). Now as Steve Smith goes, I was quite upset that the Giants let him walk; to a division rival nonetheless. But the more I have read about the situation, the reality is that he couldn't be counted upon to duplicate the season he had in 2009 (which was phenomenal). He's coming off of the dreaded micro-fracture surgery of his knee. If a receiver can't push off, he's pretty much useless.

I have faith and confidence in Giants GM Jerry Reese. He's been at the helm successfully long enough for me, as well as many Giants fans, to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Look for my post in a couple of weeks when I give my (always wrong) predictions. If nothing else, at least you'll laugh.






MLB Weekly Wrap-up

If Justin Verlander isn't the AL Cy Young winner this year, than we are going to see probably the biggest individual meltdown in sports history (not withholding anything Tonya Harding did in her career). What this dude is doing this year is flat out awesome. The man leads all of baseball in W, IP, K, BAA, WHIP and H/9. Not to mention, he has tossed a no-hitter.

The Tigers may be on their way to a Central Division title before long. They just completed a three-game sweep of the Indians, Detroit's closest competitor.

The Padres honored Trevor Hoffman this past weekend, by retiring the all-time saves leader's #51. Hoffman joins the likes of Bruce Sutter, Dennis Eckersley and Rollie Fingers, as notable relief pitchers that have had their numbers retired.

The Arizona Diamondbacks NL West lead has been cut to a game and a half, after losing their fifth straight game. It has been a tough road trip for the desert snakes, as they lost the final two against Philadelphia and were swept out of Atlanta. They head to Washington for a four-game series against the Nationals, in which they should find their groove and try to pad their lead over San Francisco.

The Brewers have taken full control of the NL Central. The Brewers own the month of August, as they have gotten off to an 16-3 start to the month. It helps when you take two series against your closest competition, the Cardinals. They close out the month with four against the Pirates in Pittsburgh then head home for two, three-game series against Chicago and St. Louis.

Studs:


1. Mitch Moreland (Tex) - 23 AB, 11 H, 3 HR, 9 RBI, .478 AVG
2. Craig Kimbrel (Atl) - 4 IP, 2 SVO, 2 SV, 9 K, 0.00 ERA
3. Jose Bautista (Tor) - 18 AB, 9 H, 7 R, 10 BB, .500 AVG

Duds:


1. Yunel Escobar (Tor) - 29 AB, 2 H, 0 RBI, 10 K, .069 AVG
2. Rick Ankiel (was) - 20 AB, 3 H, 0 RBI, 9 K, .150 AVG
3. Matt Albers (Bos) - 1.2 IP, 6 H, 8 ER, 2 BB, .545 BAA, 43.20 ERA, 1 L


Monday, August 15, 2011

MLB Weekly Wrap-up

Only 7 weeks remain in the 2011 MLB regular season, and we have some good races going on, whether divisional or Wild Card. Tonight starts a series between the Atlanta Braves and the San Francisco Giants. This series could determine who the winner of the National League Wild Card could be. Atlanta currently holds a four-game lead over the Giants, who have quickly faded. They trail the Diamondbacks by two games in the West. Fortunately for San Francisco, Arizona plays three at Philadelphia starting tomorrow.

The American League Central has become a relevant division to pay attention to. Three teams, Detroit, Cleveland (-2.5) and Chicago (-4), are all within four games of each other, with the Tigers holding serve. I still like Cleveland to pull that division out. We'll see tomorrow how that'll go. Cleveland opens a three-game series against the Sox at U.S. Cellular Field tomorrow evening.

The Yankees and Red Sox are both going to make the playoffs. It's just a matter of which one will be the Wild Card and travel to Arlington, TX to play the Rangers in the 1st round, assuming that TX can hold on to a 4-game lead over LAA. If I'm the Yankees (or a fan of), I'm pulling for the division crown. Other than C.C. Sabathia, that starting rotation doesn't stand a chance against that potent Texas lineup.

It looks as if both Milwaukee and Philadelphia should win their divisions, though the Brewers still have six games remaining with the Cardinals, who currently sit 5 back of the Brewers.

The draft signing deadline is midnight EDT tonight. Here is the current list of unsigned draftees.

Braves Dan Uggla's hit streak ended yesterday at 33 consecutive games with a hit. He now boasts a .231 BA.

I'm still waiting for the Triple-A app for a Droid phone. It has been available for the iPhone and iPod touch since Friday. I hear it's pretty cool. Get with the program Droids!

Studs:


1. Jay Bruce (Cin) - 25 AB, 5 HR, 15 RBI, 9 R, .440 AVG, 1.120 SLG
2. Charlie Morton (Pit) - 2 GS, 15.1 IP, 10 H, 1 ER, 0.57 ERA, 1 W
3. Carlos Marmol (Chi-N) - 4 SVO, 4 SV, 4.2 IP, 7 K, 1.07 WHIP

Duds:


1. Carlos Zambrano (Chi-N) - 1 GS, 4.1 IP, 8 H, 8 ER, 5 HR, 16.62 ERA, .400 BAA, 1 L, 1 Suspension
2. Mark Reynolds (Bal) - 26 AB, 1 H, 0 R, 12 K, 0 BB, .077 OPS
3. Tim Stauffer (SD) - 2 GS, 10 IP, 13 H, 13 ER, 8 HR, .302 BAA, 11.70 ERA, 1 L

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Another Braves' Prospect Gets a Big Call

According to the Braves website, they have purchased the contract of 20-year old pitcher, Arodys Vizcaino. He's mainly coming to help out in the bullpen. I firmly believe this kid's got a bright future. Many, including myself, have given a majority of the attention to the "other" guy, Julio Teheran. But, I tuned into the baseball Futures Games during the All-Star break just to watch Vizcaino (amongst a few others). He has been on my radar for a couple of months now. Though I am surprised to see him up so soon. I wasn't expecting him this season.

Though, for whatever the length of time he is in Atlanta this season, I believe you'll see a gem in the making.

Monday, August 8, 2011

MLB Weekly Wrap-up

It's been a few of weeks since my last Weekly Wrap-up, but in the last edition, I gave my opinion on the Pittsburgh Pirates decline. I'm sure I wasn't the only one thinking that they couldn't keep pace in the NL Central, but all I know is, I was right. Since July 18th (my last Weekly Wrap-up), the Pirates have gone 4-14 and have fallen 9 games behind division leader Milwaukee and 6 games behind the Cardinals. Since the All-Star break, Paul Maholm has gone 0-3 with an ERA sitting at a hefty 5.87. That is almost 3 more runs per nine than prior to the A.S. break (2.96). National League batters are hitting a whopping .361 off Maholm in that time span.

Jeff Karstens is the other pitcher I mentioned. He too has fallen back to "normalcy" since the A.S. break. As I mentioned in the last post, his career K:BB ratio was less than 2:1. Prior to the All-Star game, Karstens was throwing at a 3:1 ratio. Well, in his last five games, he is 1-2 with a bloated ERA of 4.60 (more than 2 runs larger than his pre A.S. stat of 2.55) and a 13:7 K:BB ratio.

I'm not suggesting that these two guys alone are responsible for the Pirates struggles lately, but it's because of them, that the Pirates had early success. Numbers say a lot about a baseball player.

What is happening to the S.F. Giants? They hold a slim 0.5 game lead over the Diamondbacks in the NL West. Since acquiring Carlos Beltran, whom everyone thought would help the beleaguered Giants offense, they have gone 2-8 and have scored 2 runs or less in 7 of their last 10 games. Beltran, in those ten games, has 10 hits and only 2 RBI. Unlike I felt with the Pirates, I think the Diamondbacks can hang with and even take over the Giants for the West crown. Arizona is a young, fun bunch to watch and can scored at the drop of a dime (unlike S.F.). As long as Ian Kennedy and Dan Hudson keep pitching the way they have been all season long, then I give the Diamondbacks every chance to make the playoffs. The only setback I see from them, is the lack of depth in their starting rotation, which the Giants have plenty of.

If you haven't seen it by now, here is the video of Juan Nicasio getting beaned on the right side of the head by a screaming liner off the bat of Washington's Ian Desmond. Ugly to say the least. I heard that he had (successful) surgery for a broken vertebrae in his neck. At first, I thought, how do you break your neck from getting hit in the head? Then after seeing the video, it's clear that Nicasio's neck was injured during his fall to the mound, which was head first.

C.C. Sabathia is 16-6 for the season with a 2.81 ERA. In four games versus the Red Sox this year, he is 0-4 with an ERA of 7.20. Yea, good luck Yankees, should you face the Sox in the playoffs. Your only reliable pitcher can't beat Boston.

New York's "other" team, the Metropolitans, are going to be without All-Star SS Jose Reyes, again. Reyes hit the 15-day DL after pulling a hammy muscle. Bet he wished he signed an extension already.

This week's pitching matchups that I'm looking forward to: 8/8 Hou @ Ari Rodriguez v Hudson 8/9 Sea @ TX Pineda v Ogando, 8/11 Det @ Cle Verlander v Carmona, 8/13 S.F. @ Fla Lincecum v Vazquez


Studs:


1. Matt Holliday (StL) - 25 AB, 4 HR, 10 RBI, 8 R, 7 BB, .400 AVG
2. Starlin Castro (Chi-N) - 33 AB, 17 H, 10 R, 7 RBI, .515 AVG
3. Feliz Hernandez (Sea) - 2 GS, 14.1 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 21 K, .173 BAA, 1 W

Duds:

1. Gavin Floyd (Chi-A) - 1 GS, 2.1 IP, 9 H, 10 ER, 2 HR, .600 BAA, 38.57 ERA, 1 L
2. Kevin Correia (Pit) - 2 GS, 7.2 IP, 15 H, 12 ER, 4 HR, .405 BAA, 14.09 ERA, 2 L
3. Bobby Abreu (LAA) - 19 AB, 1 H, 8 K, .053 AVG

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Keepin' Up With Kipnis

I patiently awaited Cleveland prospect Jason Kipnis' arrival to the Majors during the spring, into early summer. I tweeted a couple of times about the anxiousness of his arrival. Well, 12 days ago, he made his big league debut. I immediately scoop him off the waiver wire in my fantasy league, and he has been simmering on my bench since then. But that's besides the point.

What I'm getting at here, is Jason Kipnis did not get any fanfare from so called "experts" in baseball. Whether they were scouts, coaches or analysts, Jason Kipnis was overshadowed by Toronto's Brett Lawrie and Seattle's Dustin Ackley. Two big 2B prospects that were getting all of the attention, and deservedly so. Both expected to produce once in the bigs. But I think Kipnis' power is better than both of the other two guys. Not to mention very smart and quick once on the bases. He was 12 for 12 in stolen bases prior to his call-up. He will never hit for average like Ackley will, but I think given the team around him, he'll be a more productive run producer.

It has been a nice four-day stretch for Kipnis, heading into tonight's game against the Red Sox. He has belted a home run in four straights contests. He only has eight hits in his ten games and his average is sitting at a mere .242, but give this kid enough time and the experts will be saying, "where'd he come from?"

The Indians have something really special brewing. I like the fact that they are a relatively young team loaded with awesome talent. If Matt LaPorta can become a consistently productive power bat (most likely as a DH), Carlos Santana can stay away from the DL and Lonnie Chisenhall learns to handle Major League pitching, then wow! That can be a lethal offense.