Tagged: New York Mets

Braves v. Mets, Yankees v. Sox

Wow. Watching the new Yankee battery of Karstens and Nieves is just not doing it for me. But more on that in a few minutes.

Anyone see last night’s (Friday) Braves v. Mets? I was excited about this for a long time, for many reasons. First, the fantasy implications. I’ve got Jose Reyes, Brian McCann, and Tim Hudson. Reyes and Hudson are, of course, on fire. They’re both playing out of their skulls. So that was the second reason. The third reason was that, since TBS, ESPN, and FOX are the only channels I get that actually televise baseball, I would be able to watch this game. Now, back to my boys. Reyes is leading MLB with 4 triples, (remember when Steve Phillips predicted Reyes would hit 30 triples, and Corey Patterson would hit 40HR with 140RBI?) Reyes has 2 HR, is 9 for 11 in SB attempts, and has an OBP of .456. Yikes. And Hudson is an even better story. After he left Oakland prior to the 2005 season, he cooled down some. Especially in 2006. Which was disappointing, because he is one of my favorite guys. But this year he is insane – you just have to see the whole line for yourself. The point is, he is 3-0, with an ERA of .62, and 19 K’s in 29 IP. And of course, he was looking even better in person last night. All his off speed stuff was working perfectly. Guy had a perfect game going for 3.2 innings, (almost meaningless, of course,) and a no hitter going till the bottom of the 5th. He left before the 9th inning, (?) with a shutout, having thrown 107 pitches. Personally, I think they could’ve sent him out for one more, seeing as he had a 7 run lead and all. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that Beltran, Delgado, and Wright were due up. Yeah, that was probably it. Now, I know that was only his fourth start of the season. And just like A-Rod won’t hit 120 HR this season, Huddy won’t finish with an ERA of 0.62. But a good start doesn’t hurt, and while I’m not going to say that the old Huddy is back, I’m certainly hoping. Anyway, for the 9th inning, the Braves sent out the arsonist Rafael Soriano and his 7.36 ERA. Needless to say, he poured the gasoline, lit the match, and fanned the flames. Braves still come out ahead, 7-3.

Interesting event here. Home Plate ump Bob Davidson, (we’re back to the Yankees v. Red Sox,) who I’m sure we are all familiar with, was miked for today’s game. Davidson went to give this little Bostonian Child a ball, but not before making him raise his hand and take an oath to never yell at an umpire. One fan at a time, eh Bob?

Now, I’ve asked before, but I have yet to receive an answer. When did Mark Teixeira become so bad? He started out last season pretty crappy, but he (almost) made up for it in the 2nd half. Dude is just 27 years old. That’s prime time. Finished last year with 33HR and 110 RBI, which isn’t half bad. Down 10 HR, 30 RBI, and .20 Avg points from 2005, but not a terrible year. Before the All-Star Break he had just 9 HR in 353 AB. After the game, which he did not participate in, he had 24 HR in 275 AB. So far this year, he has 2 RBI and just 1 extra base hit – a double – in 16 games. Dude is batting .214… but his OBP is .343, with 10 walks. Maybe he’ll step it up after the All-Star game again? Who knows… he’s on my fantasy team as well, so any thoughts on this would be welcome.

Back again to the Yankee game. The FOX TV crew is promoting Ortiz’s new book, written with Tony Massarotti, and they claim that the most interesting part of the book are the stats. He hit something like 58 HR in 6 years with the Twins, and was released because of his lack of power production. And then, he comes to Boston and hits 31, 41, 47, 54 HR the following years. Really? You guys think that’s interesting? So do I. Just a little PS – Tony wrote another book with John Harper, called "A Tale of Two Cities – The 2004 Yankees-Red Sox Rivalry and the War for The Pennant." Excellent book, and strongly, strongly recommended. Well, after the FOX crew stopped talking about this, Ortiz went and jerked another out of the yard. This puts the Sox up 7-4. Well, after this Rocky and I took a nice trip to the range to decompress. So that was the last part of the game that I saw. But after looking at the box score it looks like that was pretty much the entire game. Ugh. This is what I meant when I said that we’d have trouble with this rotation.

Leave your thoughts. And another thing. BHGM logged it’s 50,000th hit a few days ago. That’s in about 13 months. And BHGM itself turns 2 on April 28th. So that’s that.

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Well, look at this

Been gone for awhile, no doubt. But, I’m back now because I’m waiting for the library to open – 11am – and don’t have much else to do until that time. Just because I know everyone wants to know, it’s been a busy semester. Right now I’m completing a research study on the differences between male and female study group formation, its relationship to the choice of studying alone, and hopefully the consequences of this behavior as it can be applied to different learning strategies. Meanwhile, my Organic Chemistry exam was moved up by a week because, "I wanted the exam to be before the drop date." Both research report and exam are now due on the same day; Tuesday. I just got back from a Writing Competence Exam that I’m required to take in order to graduate college. You pick one of 10 questions presented to you. I chose the question asking if, since the two teams with the best record in the AL were eliminated in the first round, should we increase the series to a seven-game format from the current five-game format? Let’s get something straight – these ten questions were all current event questions to be answered in typical, five-page, persuasive format. There were questions asking about the college’s upcoming ‘Coming Out’ week. There was a question asking about Congressman Foley’s "deplorable" behavior. Questions of great and worldly importance. And a question about baseball. Well, I think I passed.

Now, look where we are? The Tigers are up 3-0 on an Oakland team that I berated SI for rating as the "2nd best" in all of baseball. Looks like they weren’t that far off the mark. Actually, Oakland beat the Twins because, in the all-important Game 3, the Twins sent out tough guy Brad Radke. When your very existence in the post season is on the line, you don’t send out a guy with so many physical problems that, less than halfway through the season, he says "screw it, I’m retiring after this." If he’s you’re Game 3 stopper, you have no business in the post season anyway. Taking one step back, the A’s made it into the playoffs because, heck, they’re in the AL West. If you can take out the pitching-deprived Rangers, the talent-deprived Mariners, and the offensively-deprived Angels, you win. And I know the A’s finished with 93 wins, and the Angels with 89. Toronto had 87 wins in a heck of a lot tougher division. If Toronto had played say, eight games, against the Mariners instead of the Yankees, they might have 95 wins. But good job Oakland, I’m sure it means a lot to you guys, even after you get your brains beat in by a very good Tigers team.

This Detroit team is, quite simply, a team that is not going to be beaten right now. This is the kind of team that I play in MVP Baseball 2004, and they make every play. The pitcher will spot every pitch on the corner. The outfielders catch up to every ball. It’s like the team is playing on god mode. Now, I’m not saying that the Tigers aren’t a good team. They’re great. But they’re also hot right now, and the postseason is the right time to get hot.

Now, who saw last night’s Game 2 of the NLCS? First, let it be known that, in every conceivable way, the NL is a wreck of a league. I simply cannot find the entertainment in any NL Game. There’s something about it that just is not exciting. I know it’s crazy, but I feel like the parks are darker, the players are more formal, and the excitement level just isn’t there. I feel like I’m watching a golf match. I don’t expect anything exciting to happen. But when I watch an AL game, I never know what to expect. It’s like getting together the 2004-2005 Pacers team; some idiot is going to throw a punch, or fire a gun, or scream at Rick, or freak out at the media. You don’t know what will happen, but you know it will be big. In the AL, we have all the drama of Kenny Rogers and the Tiger’s bullpen limiting the A’s to two hits to go up 3-0 on them and on the brink of a World Series. Meanwhile, in the NL, we have Chris Carpenter pitching as well as John Maine; actually, worse, but only because he was in for one more inning. And then we have a tie game, broken up when the great So Taguchi – who didn’t even start – hits a home run. The Cardinals score twice more, and the Mets respond – as their own stadium empties – by striking out, and then grounding out twice more to end the game. Fabulous. Did you actually listen to So’s Home Run? It was morbid. Shea was silent. The announcers were mildly excited. Now the series is tied 1-1, while the Tigers are about to enter the World Series. It’s just boring. However, I won’t deny the fact that, since the only NL team I even come close to caring about is the Cardinals, maybe I just don’t like it because I don’t follow it. Oh yeah, and because every team is awful.

So where do we go from here? Is a well-rested Tiger team better off than a down-trodden, pitching deprived Cardinals or Mets team? The writing is on the wall, people. I just have one question – when is the parade?

Let’s talk NL… exciting?

Quick note: you can now access the site at http://www.bihgm.com, (starting later on Saturday.) When you type in this address, you will automatically be directed here. Still waiting for all you regular readers, (and any others,) to leave your comment. So far, the reader inventory has racked up one new reader, Devovsky. Appreciate the kind words, man. Keep reading and keep leaving comments. Jason, you didn’t miss a whole lot the other night. And Kellia, thanks for being our alert reader of the day. You’re right. Ben Sheets does, indeed, pitch for the Brewers, not the Pirates. For some reason, I can’t get that into my head. Geoff – I was going to do a comparative analysis of Ferocious Lion replacements, but I’m going to save that for a few days. But, I will say I’m hearing that the Phillies GM is "expecting a call" from Brian Cashman. Anyway, we continue the call to all readers – leave a comment on this post if you’ve never done so, or, if you’re that against an MLB account, (and I can’t see why,) use the new chat box on the left sidebar. Tonight we’re going to talk about the National League. I don’t like the National League at all. It is, overall, boring. I mean, it certainly has it’s advantages. What would baseball be without Albert Pujols? You’ve also got more of a thinking game when you enter in the hitting pitcher. But in the end, the teams are worse, and the league is obviously worse for it.

Phillies v. Reds
Ever hear of Cole Hamels? Supposed to be the savior of the Phillies, and he made his MLB Debut tonight. He’s invincible, they say. Basically, the first five innings are empty, with the exception of a 2-run home run by the Phillies’ Ryan Howard. And Hamels has a no hitter right until 2 outs in the 5th, when the Reds’ Felipe Lopez breaks it up with a hit into right center. Interestingly, that new centerfielder (in for Rowand) tried to pass it off as a trap at first, but then realized that as he was doing so, Lopez was still running. Another fun time was had when the Phillies’ David Bell was up to the plate and the broadcasters noted that Royals Manager Buddy Bell was his father. They talked about how David is probably pretty proud of the Royals recent success, (three straight wins, prior to tonight’s loss to the Orioles,) but that he probably tells his Dad, "Look, I love you Dad, but please don’t trade for me." After sharing a good laugh, one of them says, "Aww, we’re just kidding, all you Royals fans out there." Seriously? First, you’re assuming that there are Royals fans out there, and that they really do exist. Next, you’re thinking that of all those Royals fans – figure there are a couple thousand in the whole country – are tuning in to the Reds v. Phillies game on Friday night. And, as if that wasn’t enough, you’re assuming that they don’t already know how terrible their team is. Judging by the Chad Carroll loyalty sale, I’m thinking they already know. So remember, assumptions are dangerous. In the bottom of the 6th, after the Phillies yanked Cole Hamels for a pinch hitter (who struck out) in the top of the 6th, Ryan Madsen is pitching to Austin Kearns. First, know that Hamels left his MLB Debut with a 2-0 lead, after allowing only one hit in five innings. Knowing that, Kearns absolutely rips Madsen out of the yard. Remember the Aaron Boone 2003 ALCS Game 7 Home Run off Tim Wakefield? Of course you do. It was exactly like that home run, right down the left field line, except that it went about 150 feet further. So now it’s 2-1, Phillies. Adam Dunn comes up, strikes out, and sits down. Next up, Edwin Encarnacion, who takes Madsen deep for another homer. Just like that, poof. Hamels, who left on top of his game, ends up losing his first win. By the way, the Hamels guy has nasty stuff. Check him out. Phillies beat Reds, 8-4.

Brewers v. Mets
When I saw that Lima Time was holding the Brewers to zero runs, (while my man Dave Bush had given up three,) I was surprised. The Phillies v. Reds game was getting boring, so I switched. Anyway, it’s 3-1 Mets in the bottom of the 5th, with the Brewers up. Here’s how it goes down. First, Damian Miller grounds out. Then Brady Clark gets hit by a pitch. Dave Bush sacrifices Clark to 2nd, then Rickie Weeks walks. So now it’s men on 1st and 2nd with two outs, not a huge jam for Lima. But you know the story of Lima, so you know it’s going to get bad, you just have no idea how bad. Bill Hall singles to left field. Now the bases are juiced, two outs, and it’s all on Lima’s shoulders. The game could go three ways now; either Lima reaches back and gets Geoff Jenkins out, he gets lucky and Jenkins gets himself out, or Lima buckles and the Brewers bust the game wide open. We’re going to go with option number three, and so did Lima. First he pitched Geoff three straight balls. And then Geoff hits a double all the way back to the center field wall – a base clearing double. Now it’s 4-3 Brewers, and Chad Bradford is in for Lima. The broadcasters provide a helpful, "And this call to the bullpen provided by Goodyear, who reminds you that it’s no longer Lima Time." Then Carlos Lee – All-Time Great – singles to center, scoring Jenkins. 5-3, Bradford replaced by Darren Oliver, Prince Fielder up. Fielder homers, knocking in Lee. Brewers up, 7-3. Then Corey "I’m… not so good" Koskie pops out. By the way, in 2004 Koskie was with the Twins. In 2005 it was the Blue Jays. Go Brewers, 6 runs in one inning.   

Millerpark_1
Rickie Weeks made another simple defensive error later in the game. Trying to get a Web Gem, with a runner on 1st and a ground ball straight to him, he grabs the ball, jumps up and tucks his legs, (???) and makes a terrible throw to 2nd. There was really no play at 2nd, but who cares? Rickie – next time I’m going to have to direct you to 1st base on that kind of play. And don’t try to earn a Web Gem when you’ve made 11 errors already – more than anyone else in the league. Later in the inning, Carlos Lee (in left field) tried to make one of those sliding catches in foul territory, but collided with the tarp and missed the catch. He was ok, thankfully. But think. The game is at Miller Park, and Lee hit the tarp. You know that tarp is there to stop the rain, right? Apparently the fact that Miller Park has a roof doesn’t really matter. As a matter of fact, MLB rules dictate that all parks must have a tarp, just in case. Brewers beat Mets, 9-6.

Dodgers v. Giants
Boring. I mean, what can I say, I tried to watch some NL ball, but around the bottom of the sixth I was so bored that I decided I’d rather… do something else while I attempt to unpack from school. Anyway, here are my thoughts on this game – Brad Penny is a wimp. As the announcers said, this guy is a 100-pitch guy, and when he’s done his 100 pitches, he’s gone. He was even accused of "needing to have that wounded warrior attitude," by one of the broadcasters. In other words, "everything’s against me, I guess I’m just going to have to show them." Anyway, after every pitch, Penny picked one of the following motions: 1) Flailing off the mound, 2) Stretching shoulders and back out, 3) Limping around the mound, 4) Putting his hands on his knees and resting, 5) Rolling eyes, poor body language-type move. And, as the broadcasters also pointed out, no one on his team seemed to care. And the charade didn’t end when Penny reached the dugout. When he arrived, he grimaced as he sat down and reached for a hot cushion, then with a real monster of a grimace. Back to the broadcasters, who said, "that’s not a happy boy face there." Yet people continued to ignore him, while the broadcasters continued to accuse him of "trying to find ways out of the ballgame before the seventh." Listen, I’ll tell you when I know Brad Penny is hurt. In the 2004 season, just a few games after Penny was acquired from the Marlins, he threw a pitch and just went down. He was screaming, grabbing his elbow, running around the mound, the whole deal.  The Dodger trainer runs out, but the Dodgers have never been known for their superior managing skills, certainly not at BHGM. So the trainer tells Penny, "hey, try throwing another pitch." And of course, Penny gets about halfway through his delivery before he’s felled. Did this guy work with NASA before the Dodgers hired him? "That rocket looks a little off… let’s shoot it up again, see if it’s still works…" No, bad idea. So after seeing the Giants roll around the field, I turned that off.

The New Chat Box
The observant among you will have noticed that yet another feature has been added to the BHGM sidebar. This has got to be among my favorites, along with the BHGM Search. I encourage you to try out both. The search is a valuable tool if you’re reading along, and you don’t know what I’m talking about. Just type in, "Dusty Baker clogging bases," and you’ll find out what I mean when I talk about that. Of course, I hope to have the "What you missed in BHGM" post up sometime soon, and that’s going to be detailing all of those obscure references we have here. It should be great. Anyway, the chat – the idea is that, for those of you who still don’t want to leave a comment, you can talk amongst yourselves in that little chat box. All you have to do is enter your name, (no email or URL is necessary, although it’s always welcome,) and a message. For example, "You’re wrong about the Royals, they’re not that bad." That’s the kind of thing that will earn you a full-post ripping here, for being wrong. Anyway, try it out. If no one uses it, I’ll just take it down.

Did someone whisper into the Padres’ ear?
Alright, it’s time to put an end to this. The Padres have won 12 of their last 13. This is just weird. I mean, they’re on fire. Remember last year when the Pirates won 10 straight? Maybe it was in 2004. Either way, no one panicked because hey, they’re still the Pirates. But I’m freaking out right now. In the NL West, winning 12 of 13 can put you up for a long time. Like, the rest of the year. Arizona and Colorado both lost tonight, and now the Padres are suddenly tied for first with the Rockies. They could then continue at a .500 clip for the next 125 games or so, and easily win the division. Again, I refer you to my NL West Solutions, which, according to Geoff, don’t take 15 minutes.

Pirates v. Marlins
In another Battle of the Titans, the Pirates beat the Marlins. By a score of 12-9. Those 12 runs are big for that team, which is second to last in runs scored with 144 – which, for all you math whizzes our there, means that exactly 1/12 of their season run total came tonight. ‘First place’ in that category goes to, you guessed it, the Royals, with 126.  Right now, the Royals are on pace to lose 112 games and score 619 runs. Can’t think about it.

Thanks, as always, for reading. And leave comments, and check out the chat box.

David Wright stays, C. Young, Rocket, and Chi Sox

One very quick note. For those of you using RSS Feed Aggregators, you can now subscribe to BHGM with any of your aggregators, (web-based or software-based,) by clicking the following link and choosing your desired feed in the right corner. There is also a link under the Site Tools, and for those of you using FireFox, you can always add BHGM as a ‘live bookmark‘ by clicking on that same orange icon in your address box at the top of your browser. More info on the benefits of FireFox here.

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David Wright won’t be traded
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Good news. Turns out, David Wright won’t be traded after all. I know, you thought the "next Jeter" (which he isn’t,) was as good as gone, right? Again, maybe I’m the one living under the rock, but I had no idea that such a rumor was circulating. Apparently the Marlins were going to trade Dontrelle Willis to the Mets for our man David Wright. Why? Well, forget for a second that Marlin’s owner Jeffrey Loria says the rumor was "the invention of some irresponsible reporter," and "never happened." Frankly, I’m inclined to believe him, but lets pretend that someone in either organization wanted this trade to go down. If so, they’re the greatest Saboteur this side of Scott Eyre. Think about it. The money-starved Marlins trade away one of the best pitching values in exchange for a power-hitting 3rd baseman. The Mets get to replace Victor Zambrano in the rotation with Willis, thereby nullifying every aspect of the infamous Scott Kazmir trade, and further enraging their fans. Miguel "Runs like a Bus" Cabrera gets to head back out to the outfield to make room for Wright… no, I’m sorry. Nothing about this trade discussion that "never happened" makes any sense at all. The Marlins trade away the future and bedrock of their franchise for the future and "next Jeter" of the Met’s franchise. No way. Never. I’d give up Jason Schmidt for Ryan Vogelsong before I do Willis-Wright from either side of the table, and that really happened.

Chris Young
More good news – I’m even more scared now than I was yesterday. Now I’m terrified. See, Young has some pain in his pitching thumb. When I first heard this a few days ago, my first reaction was a ‘not good but probably temporary.’ But I’ll admit, I was scared he would turn around and pull a small-scale Kip Wells on me. From what I gathered, there was not only pain but a slight loss of control in the thumb, which made me suspect a circulation problem. Apparently I was right, as Young is now going on medication to correct the "decreased blood flow" to his thumb. All this after jamming a finger? That’s no good. I’m currently searching for a replacement for Young for my pay league Fantasy Team. If the medication doesn’t work, Young will take a trip to the DL. I’m gonna go way out on a medical limb and suggest that he’s taking something like Coumadin, a sort of blood thinner. I’m no doctor, but I thought it’d be fun to take a stab. In any case, the medication is obviously not a long term solution to the problem. If it’s serious enough that it doesn’t fix itself, Young will probably get an extended DL stint. Something more minor, (C’mon, who hasn’t jammed their finger like 10 times playing ball?) and he’ll do a couple weeks.

Rick Monday
I want to talk about Rick Monday’s 30-year anniversary of the Flag Saving. However, my writing style precludes such discussion. It’s hard to offer an opinion on situations like these without offending or alienating someone. Obviously I’m the first guy to take a shot at someone’s actions if they do something stupid, but I’m not here to bash people’s personal views and beliefs, regardless of whether or not I agree. That said – Monday was a stand-up guy for what he did. Even more, he describes it as somewhat of a knee-jerk reaction. Good to know that Monday, a former member of the Marine Reserves at the time, had his head in the right place.

The Rocket
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And how about the Rocket Race? Is he coming back? I’m 100% positive that even he doesn’t know yet. Think about it – would there be anything more un-Rocket-like to keep the media hype going when he knows it’s unwarranted? If he knew he wasn’t coming back, he would’ve told us a long time ago. If he knew he was coming back, he wouldn’t be saying things like, "It’s very flattering [but] it would be a mental challenge [to come back]." We also have some other variables to consider. For example, why did Rocket take a short term contract last year in Houston? It wasn’t because that was all they would give him, it was because that was all he wanted. He knew then that he wasn’t sure whether he’d be back in 2006. Furthermore, recall that Rocket retired once already, but returned to active duty for Houston, saying that being close to his family was a primary reason. Meanwhile, the Rangers, Yankees, and Red Sox are currently the front-runners for bringing him back. That said, why would he sign with the Yankees or Red Sox? I’m also assuming Clemens doesn’t want his time to go to waste, so why would he go back to Texas? I’ll bet good money that if Rocket does come back, he’ll be back in Houston. I won’t hazard a guess as to whether or not he’ll be back, but I would say he’s more likely to stay in retirement, but not by much. 45/55 maybe?

Mark Buehrle and Ozzie Guillen
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Ozzie Guillen labeled Mark Buehrle as ‘underrated’ after going 3-0 with a 1.13 ERA in his last 3 starts. Guillen claims that, "every day he has done the same thing for three years and nobody talks about him. The only time they talk about him was last year when he threw like a one-hour game." Uh, that’s not true. Sure, Buehrle is the most underrated pitcher in the game. It’s been that way for the last two years, which is why he’s been a member of four of my last five fantasy teams over the last three years. Frankly, I was convinced that would change after all the attention he would get from the World Series, but it hasn’t. Buehrle has always been one of my favorite pitchers because he’s fun to watch (quick) and he’s downright consistent. I suppose the only other time people were talking about him last year was when he snapped his 48 (or something) consecutive 6 inning start streak by intentionally beaning a batter, (I plan on talking about the League’s phantom beaning rules in a subsequent post). In fact, on April 30th, 2005, I said, "Mark Buehrle is the most underrated pitcher in the
Big Leagues. He has amazing control and makes batters look foolish when
he’s on." And no, Ozzie, that wasn’t the only time they talked about him last year. I’m sick of Ozzie Guillen lying and exaggerating, but I’m even sicker of everyone subscribing to his worldview. It’s tired, it’s old, he’s an *ss, and I don’t like him. Does it work? Getting on your players for playing bad baseball works, a little. Swearing at kids for asking for an autograph, or swearing at the media for asking a question, or swearing at the general public for doing whatever they do – that doesn’t win baseball games.

Carl Everett
Turns out, Chicago wasn’t big enough for two A-Holes, (three if you count Frank, which I’m not willing to do.) So, one of them had to go. GM Ken Williams opted to send off Carl "Fan is short for fanatic – he’s crazy about something he doesn’t know
about. And it’s proven that 99 percent of baseball fans have no idea
what they’re watching" Everett instead of Guillen. And yes, Carl Everett did say this. Then again, he also believes that we should implode Wrigley, and that if "everybody in the world" got on steroids, we’d still lose more kids to a war than steroids. Anyway, getting run out of town didn’t sit too well with Everett, who claims that the White Sox lack leadership with him gone and will finish third in the AL Central because of it. He now plays for the Mariners, and claims that Ken Williams broke up the White Sox chemistry. When asked before Monday’s game against the White Sox if he would say hello to his "buds," Everett launched the following shot:

What buds? All my buds got traded. They’ve still got some cool people
– Jermaine (Dye) and I are still cool. But I’m not here to talk about
them.

Nice class, Carl. When asked about this, Guillen replied, "He didn’t mention me. He mentioned Kenny. Ask Kenny." Luckily, ‘Kenny’ Williams was able to douse the flames by saying he had not and likely would not talk to Carl. Good to hear that they’re taking steps to prevent another Frank Thomas-like disaster in Chi-Town.

Jason isn’t gonna let you forget that Brandon Phillips did win the NL Player of the Week. And as for Julien, hailing from France, I can’t agree with you more, and I encourage you guys to check out his comment. Not surprising that you ended up here googling for "baseball athletically." Keep the comments coming guys. I don’t think we’ll be seeing much game coverage until at least Thursday. Finals are coming. I also remade the sidebar over the last couple of days, check it out.

“This is our year!”

The Tigers are 3-0 atop the AL Central. Additionally, B.J. Ryan got booed in Rogers Center, which makes no sense, (and which I actually won’t be talking about.) The Rangers are collapsing, Chris Duffy is a liar, Jimmy Rollins is done, Eric Gagne is done, the Devil Rays are still bad, and Pedro got slapped around. We’ve got other things to discuss as well. Fun evening! This makes up for all the lame posts of the last few days, I hope.

First things first – I’ve decided this has to stop. There are a lot of you out there reading, but not a lot of you are out there making comments. For those of you MLBloggers out there, comments are a great way to get your blog read – just write your website address at the bottom of the post. Some people think this is a bad thing to do, because you might end up stealing other people’s readers… I don’t mind. No one would be reading my stuff if it hadn’t made it around the MLBlogs community, so feel free to post your own plugs. Anyway, make comments telling me I’m an idiot. Ask me what I think about something – this is how the entire Indian’s Overview got started. Most MLBloggers out here are a little shy about calling out their readers for not posting comments, with the notable exception of the Bleeding Pinstripes – and now I’m going to start taking after him. I’m obviously not afraid to take any shots at players, and I’m not afraid to bust you guys up either. I’m not trying to sound like Mark Newman here, but there are a lot of great blogs out there. Now that the season has started, it’s nearly impossible to keep your name up top the Recently Updated list. So, post your thoughts and your blog’s address in a comment. I’ll even let you pick the post. Besides, we will all learn more from each other than from me alone. So, lets get to the real business of baseball…

Detroit Tigers – It’s our year!
Tigerregal_800x600I’ve told you all before – all across Michigan, it’s the same thing every year at the beginning of the season. The Tigers win the opener, and for the next 32 hours or so, the whole state is chanting, "restore the roar!" Kids are walking around telling each other that the Tigers are undefeated this year, and that they’re in 1st place. We win another game, and it gets even worse. Even the Tiger’s homepage is joining in on the action tonight, with the headline, "Tigers look to extend undefeated streak." People don’t do this because they think it’s true – they do it because they know that after the first games of the season, they won’t even be able to brag about as much as a winning record. That said, is this year different? The Tigers beat the Royals in a short 2-game set earlier, which isn’t much of an accomplishment. However, considering that the Tigers lost to a college team a few years ago, it’s a start.

However, could this be the real thing? Legitimate changes have been made to the team. Cancers like Carlos Pena, Jason Johnson, and Franklyn German – guys that settled for mediocrity – were removed. Spring Training was a sort of experimental drug therapy, as Jim Leyland picked out all the players that deserved to make the team – as opposed to those who fit into the depth chart, regardless of their desire to play or win. That said, it would be logical to see a changed team emerge from Spring Training. The Tigers outscored the Royals 17-4, so they didn’t just beat them – they creamed them. The Royals might not be the best team in the league, but a bad team with an anemic offense can’t score 17 runs in 18 innings regardless of how bad the pitching is. Therefore, we can conclude that the Tigers must be doing something different this year. On top of this, the Tigers are up 9-3 on the Rangers right now in the bottom of the 8th. The Tigers will win this game, and then they’re 3-0 – the only undefeated team in the AL, and one of only 3 in the entire league, (Milwaukee and St. Louis.) This has to mean something. If these were 2-1, 6-5, 5-3 victories, I wouldn’t be saying a word. And it’s not a big deal to score a lot of runs against the Royals, or against the Ranger’s R.A. Dickey in Ameriquest Field. But again – it doesn’t matter how bad the pitching is, if you’re a bad hitter you still can’t hit them.

In Game 2 against the Royals, Bonderman went 6.2 innings, giving up 3 hits, 1 run, and striking out 8 while walking none. In Game 1, Rogers went 6 innings, gave up 3 hits and 1 run, struck out 5 and walked none. Make no mistake – this isn’t because Cluck – last year’s pitching coach, but no more – was bad. It’s because the Royals stink. But, the Tigers have made 0 errors this season. Anyone who watched them last year knows this must’ve taken a miracle. Can someone tell me why I can view more team stats in the MVP 2004 video game standings then I can from MLB.com standings? I want to be able to see how many errors a team has committed by looking at the standings page, or any other page, for that matter. Thanks. In any case, everyone is underestimating the Tigers this year, except those of us extremely familiar with the team. Which don’t seem to be many. I told a fellow sportswriter (as I like to call myself; this guy actually writes for the school paper,) that if the Tigers got into the playoffs this year, I’d be mildly surprised, but I wouldn’t lose my faith in the Universe. However, if you asked me what our chances were any of the past 13 years, I’d tell you zero. The Tigers don’t surprise people. They don’t suddenly go from really bad to really good for no reason. But this time, the reason is Jim Leyland and while it’s not likely, I wouldn’t be 100% shocked if the Tigers at least made a run for a spot. If the White Sox come crashing down to Earth, as I believe they will, and the Indians underachieve again, the Tigers suddenly look very good. I’m pretty confident that the Twins won’t do anything this year, and I’ll bet my life on the Royals not coming within 15 games of the division leader for the next three years. See the Tiger’s team overview for a more organized look.

That said, time for some in-game coverage. I’ve been following the game on Gameday, you see.  I have one question – who the heck is Jordan Tata? He somehow managed to hold the Rangers to two hits over 3 innings in his major league debut. He was going great until inning 2.2 of his stint – aka, the bottom of the 9th. He struck out Kevin Mench, gave up a hit to Adrian Brown, then walked Rod Barajas and Ian Kinsler before he got bailed out by Fernando Rodney, who struck out Brad Wilkerson. Michael Young is up, 2 outs, 2-2 count. Then he hits a base-clearing double, new score, 10-6. Next time, Rodney can avoid giving Young a ball down the heart. Tex flies out, game over.

Texas is freaking out
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I met a relative of the Ranger’s starting pitcher for this game, R.A. Dickey, at a Tiger’s game last year. That whole family must be in tears right now. Dickey gave up 6 bombs and 7 runs in 3.1 innings. He struck out only one, and walked another. And this is your #4 starter? If you’re the Rangers, you’re kicking yourself right now. Adam Eaton is on the DL with that bum finger, as are chair-thrower Frank Francisco and C.J. Wilson – two guys that will probably do the team more good by continuing to sit out. That means that your rotation goes Kevin Millwood, Vicente Padilla, Kameron Loe, Dickey, and John Koronka. Loe was a reliever last year, and had an ERA of 3.42. He took a 3-hit shutout into the 7th against Boston last night. Other than Loe – who is completely unproven – and Millwood, the rotation is in total collapse mode, just four games into the season. There are no words to describe how amazing that is, which is surprising because nobody thought it could get worse than it was in years past. But this is just terrible. The Padilla Flotilla is barely afloat with a 4.71 ERA after last season, and this other guy – Koronka – has a 7.47 ERA in 15.2 MLB innings. This brings up possibly the best question to be asked all year:
WHY THE HECK DIDN’T THE RANGERS TRY TO GET SOME RESPECTABLE PITCHING FOR ALFONSO SORIANO???
You’re set offensively. But you could score 10 runs a game, and with the pitching you’ve got you’ll barely break .500. How do you not turn over Soriano to the team that will give you the best pitcher you can get? You don’t need anything else but pitching. Not another struggling outfielder, but a proven starting pitcher. Not some pitching prospects – but a proven, MLB-ready starting pitcher. Especially for a guy you gave up Alex Rodriguez for. And don’t say they had to dump his salary, even though they did – remember, they signed him in the first place. If they decided it was too much dough, they shouldn’t have pulled the trigger. Additionally, Michael Young is a natural 2B forced into short when Soriano arrived. Rookie Ian Kinsler is a natural SS, forced in 2B because Young is already there. Young is the worst defensive SS in the league… am I missing something? I’m pretty sure that GM Jon Daniels should be indicted for all this. That is, if owner Tom Hicks doesn’t have him assassinated first.

Pirates centerfielder Chris Duffy is a liar
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Anyone watching the Pirates Red’s game? Bottom of the 8th, and Masher Adam Dunn hits one between Left and Center. Pirates centerfielder Chris Duffy knew he wasn’t gonna be able to get to the ball in time, so he dove for it – and clearly trapped the ball. I mean, clearly. I literally knew it would be a trap before he even started his dive. Anyway, it was clear as day on MLB.TV as well. Then, Duffy did what any self-respecting outfielder in his situation would do – jumped up and fired the ball back to the field. Wait, no he didn’t. Before he had even completed the dive, he held up the ball that had bounced into his mitt, then got up and trotted towards the dugout, with the rest of the team following. You could tell they all knew they were lying, because I’d never seen a team make it into the dugout any quicker – it was like they were taking fire from the crowd, which they nearly were. Of course, they’re doing this because it makes it that much harder for the umps to overturn the call when they have to re-deploy the teams to the field. In this case, with the whole crowd booing, it took them about a minute to decide that they screwed up. So, they gave Dunn a single. One problem, when Duffy trapped that ball, the Pirates stopped playing defense. The Red’s had a guy on 1st and 3rd, and the guy on 3rd scored. That means that the Reds are now up 6-5 in the bottom of the 8th. Of course, this pisses off Pirates Manager Jim Tracy. He argues, he gets tossed. Play continues, with the next Red grounding out, inning over – for real this time. Then, who comes up to bat first? None other than Chris Duffy. Duffy runs the count to 1-2 on Red’s closer Dave Weathers, who then throws one in the dirt. What does Duffy do? Starts to toss his bat and says the pitch hit him. Are you freaking kidding me? His pants were practically aflame right there in the batters box. You think the ump is gonna cut you a break after you just tried to pull the covers over his eyes? Not a chance. Home Plate didn’t even check the ball for dirt. Play continues, Duffy strikes out, as does the next Pirate, and the next grounds out. Red’s win. Cheaters never prosper, Chris.

Jimmy Rollins fails
It’s about time… I couldn’t say this while the streak was going on for fear of interfering, but now I’m free. This whole talk of a hit streak was ridiculous. In the cold weather and in the form he was in, expecting that thing to live any longer than five games was pure stupidity. Besides, no one cares about a 2-season hit streak, because they just don’t. It means nothing. Thanks for the favor St. Louis – I owe you one.

Eric Gagne goes down again
No way. Is this guy ever gonna pitch again? Gagne went from that insane 90-some save streak – broken up when Alex Cora dove and missed that ball, something I’ll always remember – to walking around with a semi-bionic right arm. I don’t even know how many surgeries the guy has had now. Yet another NL West curse? Not too many details either – sounds pretty sketchy. Meanwhile, Derrick Turnbow is walking around pulling old-school Gagne – 97mph fastballs, followed by an 80mph changeup. Yeah right.

Mark Hendrickson shuts out the O’s
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Hendrickson pitches for the Rays. He has a career ERA of 5.12… and somehow has pulled off one other shutout in his career. Guess lightening strikes twice after all. The Devil Ray’s team slogan this year is, "We come to Play." Not to win. But we really want you to come to watch. The Rays and Tropicana Field are the most pitiful thing in the AL, and I don’t care about ‘the youth movement.’ The O’s have Camden Yards going for them, and frankly they aren’t that bad. The Royals have a water fountain in Centerfield. The Mariners have Team Japan. Texas has offense. The Rays, however, have a crappy stadium, a ho-hum rivalry with the Red Sox, and no organizational plan. Whenever a guy goes on the DL, (as Julio Lugo just did today,) the media asks if they’re gonna call up B.J. Upton. Someone in the Rays organization flips a coin, and then Upton is either ‘still working in AAA’ or ‘still working on switching positions and improving defensively in AAA.’ Next thing you know, Upton is on the bench at Tropicana Field. Blink twice, and suddenly he’s back down in AAA, at least that’s how it went in 2004. In 2005, the Ray’s figured that until Upton can raise his fielding percentage above .905, he isn’t going anywhere near the Major Leagues. Good idea. Bad planning. A young player is a lot like a huge tanker – you can’t just stop, turn around, and head another way without considerable effort and waste.

Pedro got slapped around, cont.
As I said in my post earlier today, Pedro got slapped around today, because that’s what happens when you only throw 7 innings in Spring Training. Although the Met’s beat writer won’t admit it:

Martinez watched the decisive runs score from inside the clubhouse. He
had departed after allowing five runs, four earned, on four hits, five
walks, one intentional, and, for the first time in his career, three
hit batsmen. He also struck out six. And if his problematic toe was an
issue, it wasn’t obvious. Martinez threw 96 pitches.

Uh, how about the fact that he threw 42 balls and 54 strikes? How about the fact that he allowed 9 guys on base through some sort of walk? Maybe I’m just dumb, and this guy was being sarcastic. Maybe what he was trying to say was, ‘his problematic toe wasn’t an issue, but every other part of his body was.’ And what are you thinking leaving the dude out there for 96 pitches? That seems kinda stupid.

Thats all for tonight. Remember, leave some thoughts.

White Sox, Pujols, Barry, and geography

I’ve been hoping to post a lot more in the last few days than I have been. But, alas, I have real responsibilities. However, I did have a chance to watch the Cleveland v. Chicago game yesterday afternoon as I wrote a calculus paper. A calc paper? Those are never good. Here are some thoughts on that game and more.

Indians v. White Sox – April 5th, 2006: Indians Win, 4-3 in 11 innings
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One series doesn’t tell you jack about a team. But in this game, the Sox had plenty of chances to win and didn’t cash in on any of them. That said, I wasn’t able to watch the game that close so I’m going to limit my comments to things I really know about.
Cliff Lee had a solid outing… sorta. He was cruising until the 6th inning, when, as I recall, he basically let Ben Broussard and Victor Martinez collide while shooting for the same pop-up, hit two batters, and walked another. In other words, the Sox got on base because Lee let them. They ended up scoring two runs that inning, which is the only reason they were even in the game. Lee only had 1K but allowed only 4 hits and a walk, plus the 2 HBP. I think this was a cause of the beginning of the season jitters/not physically ready thing. The rest of the Cleveland bullpen held down the Sox without allowing one run in 5.2IP – in fact, they only allowed 4 hits. Apparently, things aren’t as advertised. Cleveland’s bullpen isn’t terrible, (duh,) and the Sox offense isn’t invincible. Chicago, you had your run, now it’s time to wait again. See the previous post for the Cubs No World Series Thing.

Pedro is gonna get slapped around tonight
Here’s another bold prediction. Pedro isn’t ready to pitch. If it wasn’t Pedro, and it wasn’t at Shea Stadium – which no one seems to notice is a pretty solid pitchers park – there’s no way you start your guy with 7 innings pitched during Spring Training. It helps that it’s also against the Nationals, which are as much of a mess the Devil Rays or Marlins. Pedro is heading down, people. And apparently, they’re finally replacing Shea. Why? From what I’ve heard, you have cement pillars obstructing the sight lines, incoming aircraft, and no reasonable dining options. On the other hand, you have green grass, white lines, and brown dirt. But so does a park.

Pujols v. Lidle
I’m ‘watching’ the Phillies v. Cardinals game right now. I say ‘watching’ because Albion has a bit of an internet bandwidth problem. Seems the word ‘streaming’ is actually more like, ‘slow as molasses.’ If you’ve ever tried watching a baseball game at the speed of .25 frames a second, and really sketchy sound.. that’s kind of what it’s like. Just, try blindfolding yourself and turning on a vacuum cleaner. The only time you can see is when you can peek through the blindfold, and the only time you can hear is when the vacuum is going backwards. It’s no fun. Anyway, back to Pujols. Lidle threw him a breaking ball that pretty much skidded through the dirt before the plate and Pujols took a monster swing. He thought he was gonna take that pitch 500ft out. Pujols missed by about a yard. Anyway, he turns at nods at Lidle, basically telling him "I’m a boy, you’re a man." That said, Pujols can mash better than just about anyone else out there.

Barry in San Francisco
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I switched to the Braves v. Giants game, because it’s on TBS and I want to really watch a game. Well, Bonds steps up to the plate with 1 out and runners on 2nd on 3rd. A couple interesting things then happened. 1) The fans gave him a standing ovation and shouted his praises, even holding up signs telling him they loved him. 2) Bonds ignored them. 3) Bonds received another intentional walk. 4) My roommate said that was dumb, and I responded by saying that even though there was only one out, there were 2 runners on, if someone besides Moises Alou was batting behind Bonds this wouldn’t happen. 5) Moises Alou grounded into a double play.
This is, again, one of those NL West phenomenon-type things. It’s never ok to go from 1 out, 2 runners on with Barry Bonds up to ‘grab my mitt, rookie’ without scoring a run. Give Bonds some protection, please! I might hate the guy, but I’m a baseball fan before everything else.
Noah Lowry just exited the game due to injury. He was replaced by the 43-year-old Jeff Fassero. I hear that people are predicting the Giants to win the NL West. If this is the team that’s supposed to win a division, I’m going to e-mail Bud Selig and tell him why this can’t keep happening. Or, just check it out here. Sorry for getting so upset, but I can’t let this happen again.

Geography lesson
World0
We added Spain, Nigeria, and Benin to the visitor’s list today. Add that to Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Croatia, UK, Canada, Israel, Honduras, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, France, Germany, South Africa, Uruguay, Germany, Finland, El Salvador, New Zealand, Cote D’ivoire, Ghana, The Netherlands, Panama, Ireland, and Malaysia. That’s 29 countries (counting the US,) and there are 193 countries in the world. That’s 15%. Keep spreading the word! We’ll see some more solid baseball related posts in a couple days. Until then, what’s up with the "Greatest Play of All Time?" Apparently that post has become something of a thing on the internet. Apparently it’s being linked on message boards all over the net, and now there’s some e-mail circulating around with a link in it. Wow. Thanks. It also helps that we’ve added video to that post, so now you can actually see Manny cutting off Johnny. It’s nuts.

Will the Braves make it…15 straight? NL East overview

I’ll focus on the two major threats to the Braves this year – the Mets and Phillies. I’m really not an expert on the NL East, so this is really uncharted territory for me.  You’ll probably notice throughout the year that I root for the entire AL and the NL Central.

Atlanta_braves_nachoAtlanta Braves

I was pretty sure before the last two seasons that the Braves were through. Uh, no. They’re like baseball’s version of a vampire. You think they’re dead, you start throwing dirt on the grave, and then they come back, again, and again, and again. Don’t get me wrong – there’s no other team in the NL East I would rather see win, with the possible exception of the Phillies, because I’m starting to like them. But how do they do it? I’m not gonna waste my time trying to answer that, so I’ll move on. I think that this may be the year the Braves end this insane run. I’m not sure if it will be the Mets or the Phillies, but… I don’t like the rise of those two teams, combined with the loss of Mazzone and Furcal. Maybe Mazzone was nothing special, and he just had good pitchers to work with – that’s certainly part of it, anyway. And maybe Renteria comes back and puts up some good numbers. I just think the Mets and Phillies are too good for it to matter. I don’t think that the Phillies will steal the division, although it’s certainly a possibility. However, the Braves have 38 games to play against the Mets and Phillies, and that will certainly make things difficult. But before we listen to everyone proclaim the Braves’ demise, let’s examine carefully the supposed threats coming from those two teams.

New York Mets

The Mets have done good things in the last two years, but that ship is still full of holes. It’s afloat, and it’s not sinking… yet. Such a hole can be found at 2B, where the Mets are fielding Kaz Matsui. Matsui used to be a pitcher until he was converted to a 2B by his former Japanese team. However, if you looked at his batting stats, you’d never guess! In 265 AB’s last year, he was able to produce 3 HR, 9 doubles, and 68 total hits. His average was .255, his OBP was .300, and his slugging percentage was .352. Grand. He did a little better in 2004 but not much. I know he’s kinda new to the whole America thing and all, but whatever. It’s possible to win a division with that. Now it’s time for me to include an excerpt from the Rabid Mets Fan, from MLB Radio’s Stayin’ Hot with Seth and Bone last year… or maybe Under the Lights with Casey Stern. Can’t remember.

Well I found this year’s Kaz Matsui trade. Danys Baez to the Mets. For Yusmeiro Petit! Don’t do it Omar! Don’t do it Omar! Why would you do that! I think Baez is the worst closer in baseball! Is he better than Braden Looper!? I dunno, I should, cuz I see him every night, but what, is he gonna take us to the World Series!? No… why would you trade him away for someone who’s working his way up through the system?!

There’s a lot of wasted words there, because that’s how the guy talks. The point is that Mets fans want Kaz out of there, for some reason. I don’t like ever saying that a team’s season depends on a few guys, but for the Met’s I think it’s true. If Beltran comes back to his old form, David Wright has another good year, and Peddy somehow manages to pull it together again, they have a good chance of overtaking the Braves this year. The biggest hole is the Met’s rotation. I still don’t understand it. Let’s lay it up:
1) Pedro Martinez – 5′ 11" dude that frankly, I don’t like. Pedro played Villain too long in Bean Town.1100706901_5904
If the Universe turned on it’s skull and Pedro somehow landed in a Yankee uniform, I would go out back and hang myself. In any case, this run isn’t gonna last forever. I’m just waiting for the season to come when Pedro has a 4.20 ERA, strikes out 100, and wins 8 games. Mediocrity. Let’s see how he deals with that.
2) Tom Glavine – Turned 40 today. And he’s exactly 25 wins short of 300. His ERA was only 3.53 last year, but he just got 13 wins. That was a bullpen problem. If he can tough it out for another two years he’ll be good. I don’t see him breaking down too much more this year. One cause for concern is the fact that he’s a lefty, and left handers are batting .323 off him.
3-5) Steve Trachsel, Victor Zambrano, and Aaron Heilman? – As I said earlier, I’m really no expert on the NL East. I do know that Trachsel is not that good, Zambrano is worse and looks even goofier than Trachsel in his profile picture, and Heilman is a train wreck. The Mets have been trying to start Heilman for years and the experiment has never really worked out. Meanwhile they keep hiding him in the bullpen, but it looks like they won’t have that option this year.

This is what I don’t get. The Mets offense is strong, but let’s go back to the analogy of the Mets team as a ship with a bunch of leaky holes. The offense/defense has a few of the holes, but the ship is still afloat. Add the pitching to the mix and it’s like you just struck an iceberg. I can’t see the Mets making a reasonable run in the playoffs unless they can shore up that rotation and bullpen. The one bright spot is Billy Wagner, (courtesy of the Phillies, ironically enough.) Wagner might be a tiny and goofy looking dude, but he’s lights-out. Much better than Braden Looper. I remember writing this after the Met’s opened 2005 by having their bullpen sabotage their first few games.

The Mets bullpen is not good. They’re 0-2 now in holds and saves. Their bullpen consists of Manny Aybar, who said that parts of his family are unaware that he’s an MLB pitcher even though he’s been in the Majors 8 years. Felix Heredia is a lefty specialist who can’t get any lefties out and had an ERA of 6.28 in 39 innings last year. Mike DeJean is about 90 years old. Dae-Sung Koo is 36 and made his MLB Debut just this year. Roberto Hernandez is 41 years old. Mike Matthews had an ERA of 6.30 in 30 innings pitched last year. And Braden Looper, the one supposed bright spot, has yet to get a single batter out this season, although he has given up 3 runs. Bunch of firestarters.

But that was last year. This year, Chad Bradford and Duaner Sanchez will do their best to hide a bunch of 5.00+ ERA stars. Bradford and Sanchez are actually 3.50-.75 ERA gems themselves. All this team really has to do is make it to the 9th inning with a lead, and they’re good. The problem is, with that weak rotation and that 2-man pen, how many times will that happen? Last year, Pedro was terrified to leave any game before he had to because he knew that bullpen would screw it up. Hopefully – for the Mets – this year will be different. I doubt it. But if they were able to finish 83-79 last year – enough to beat that entire West Coast League – and they’ve only gotten better, it seems they have a legitimate chance, somehow.

Philadelphia Phillies

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The Phillies’ main if is their pitching. The Phillies are trying to re-tool Tom Gordon back into a closer. This is unlikely to work out. I’m making this statement based on one fact – Tom Gordon’s own admission. About two years ago, I was listening to an interview of him and he said he didn’t believe he could ever close games again, because he only had two pitches. I’ll tell you what’s happening here. He was sick of winning, I mean, playing for the Yankees. First, he obviously thinks he can close; he left because he wasn’t ever gonna close in New York unless a lighting bolt struck down Mo. He would not have taken a closing job if he thought he was just gonna make a fool out of himself. That being said, the last time I checked, age 38 wasn’t the best time to turn a guy back into a closer. Let us not forget, he has 116 career saves. But only 18 in the last 4 years. He’s been putting up great numbers; from 2002, his ERA has dropped per the following: 3.38, 3.16, 2.21, 2.57. But he’s been away from the job for too long, I think. I’m not sure what it is I don’t like, because if you just look at his numbers he almost checks out. But the numbers are all over the place. Of course, the craziest part is where he saved 46 games for Boston in 1998. That was 8 years ago. In any case, it doesn’t matter that he just isn’t as good as Wagner. What I’m concerned about is his ability not to totally flop. You know the Phillies would’ve preferred to sign someone a little more solid, but they couldn’t. They’re just as nervous about Gordon as I am.

Other than that, the Phillies have a lot in common with the Mets. A mostly-experimental infield, an021706pitchers
anchored (Bobby Abreu) outfield, and a shaky rotation. The Phillies rotation looks much more solid than the Mets’, but I’m not even sure I can break it down because I don’t even know that much about it. It looks like Ryan Franklin, Cory Lidle, Jon Leiber, Ryan Madsen and Brett Myers will form it up. With the exception of Madsen, all have career ERA’s between 4.20 and 4.50. This typically translates into a reliable, albeit not lights-out, rotation. Brett Myers appears to be the leader (read: opening day starter,) of this little band after he pulled together a reasonable 2005 campaign, but it’s likely that Leiber – 10 years older than Myers – will likely be doing most of the actual leading. Madsen has only started one MLB game; he made 51 appearances in relief for the Phillies in 2004 with a 2.34 ERA, and 78 in 2005 for a 4.14 ERA. In any case, he’s filling in for Randy Wolf, who’s out recovering from a Tommy John-er and will be back by the middle of the season, hopefully. The problem is that if any of these guys go down, there’s no one to fill in. The bullpen is already weak with the departure of Madsen to the rotation. And Arthur Rhodes, Robinson Tejeda, Aaron Fultz, and Tom Gordon are your big men. Tejeda and Fultz? Arthur Rhodes is one of the sketchiest guys in the league, and we already talked about Gordon. There’s simply no one there if a starter goes down or if (when) Rhodes/Gordon do something weird.

That said, if the Phillies somehow make it through 2006 with their fragile pitching intact, they too have a legitimate chance of overthrowing the Braves. I didn’t delve into their hitting because I don’t think that will be their problem; it’s average and you’ve been reading long enough.

Washington Nationals

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Baseball in the District. Fantastic. Jim Bowden in the District – catastrophe. Frank Robinson will have a fun time battling through the trash that Bowden through in his lap – mainly, Alfonso Soriano. That said, the Nationals have too many holes in their ship to keep afloat for the entire season. As if that wasn’t enough, Tony Armas Jr., Pedro Astacio, and Ramon Ortiz comprise 3/5 of your rotation. At least they’ve got horse Livan Hernandez to anchor it; the Phillies have no such ace. Without stretching it out, the Nationals are still too much of a puzzle team for the big time. Too many ifs, and too many potential problems. I don’t see them playing through the entire season and ending on top. Furthermore, I think the NL Wild Card will likely go to a Central team, or the Phillies/Mets/Braves – not the Nats.

Florida Marlins

Someone needs to alert GM Larry Beinfest that he needs to field a Major League Baseball team in less than two weeks. 50% chance you’ll catch him unawares. After the Pokey Reese defection/escape, the Marlins line up like this, from the 1-9 spot on the defensive depth chart.

1) Dontrelle Willis will be leading this band of unknowns – SP
2) Josh Willingham? – C
3) Mike Jacobs? – 1B
4) Dan Uggla? – 2B
5) Miguel Cabrera – 3B? They finally shifted the bus to the infield.
6) Hanley Ramirez – SS. I know the name… but his MLB experience is 0-2, with 2 K’s.
7) Chris Uguila? – LF
8) Reggie Abercrombie? – CF
9) Jeremy Hermida – RF. Rookie of the Year candidate.
Manager – Joe Girardi. Rookie Manager.

The question marks are because, lets face it – six of those eight position players have less than 100 AB’s at the major league level. Chris Uguila has 123, and Miguel Cabrera has played 63 games at 3rd Base. The rotation is more of the same.

The Marlins aren’t a major league team. They’re a team of unknowns.

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading.