Tagged: Pittsburgh Pirates

Is the NL in MLB, or AAA?

Tonight I’m just gonna poke some fun at the NL. Everywhere I look, something new and exciting jumps out at me about them. So here we go. The first thing was almost too easy. I checked ESPN’s stat page last night, and guess what – of the top five leaders in each of the following categories – HR, RBI, W, ERA, and SV, a total of 50 candidates – exactly four of those come out of the two West divisions. Two of those are from Arizona, one is from San Diego, and the other is San Francisco. The AL/NL West is kind of like NL Lite, and so that gives you an idea of what to expect. Take a look for yourself

As good as interleague play is for the AL, it’s that bad for the NL. The Cardinals just ended an 8-gamer. The Pirates just ended a 13-gamer, (more on that later). Meanwhile, the Red Sox are on the right side (for them,) of a 12-gamer, and the Tigers are on a 6-gamer, and have won 17 of their last 20. Even Minnesota is on a 7 game winning streak, having won 15 of their last 16. And how frustrating must it be for them to go on a tear like that, and go from 11.5 to 11 games back of Detroit. An entire half game; meaningless.

G4wybekcAnd while the entire NL has a problem, the Pirates have a more serious problem than most teams. They may have overtaken the Royals for the worst team in the league. The Pirates just snapped a 13-game losing streak. A 13-gamer. And the best part is, when it ended, it was on a stroke of luck. The Pirates played the White Sox tonight, but even in victory they were stinky. In the top of the eighth, up by two runs, Roberto Hernandez blew the save. The Sox tied the score at 6 by scoring two runs. Then, in the bottom of the ninth inning, pigs finally took flight. Some guy hit a walk off home run, winning the game for the Pirates… and they celebrated like they had just won the World Series. It’s a big deal for them, because it was really starting to become a problem. In fact, it was so bad that Pirate fans began to boo the mascot, because he wasn’t a parrot. It’s kind of complicated I think. You can see the video at the bottom of the post.

While the Pirates are looking up – for the first time in more than two weeks – the Cubs are still bad. As one blogger recently put it, ‘Dusty Baker has gone on a one-man crusade to make walk-up tickets at Wrigley a reality again, a crusade which does not involve anything remotely resembling On Base Percentage.’ As bad as the Pirates are, the Cubs are only three games up of them, and have scored the fewest runs – 308 – of any other team in all of MLB, by a lot. That’s 50 less runs than the Pirates have scored. Imagine if the Pirates, being as horrible as they are, weren’t even the worst team in their division. And here’s the thing – it’s not looking any better for the Cubs. Anyone who honestly, in their heart of hearts, thought the team would bounce back when Prior and Lee returned is living in the wrong reality. Prior could pitch a perfect game every fifth day – something he’s light years  away from doing right now – and Lee could hit a home run every game, and it wouldn’t make a difference. This team is playing like pre-schoolers, and Dusty Baker is the last guy on the planet that will push them to do any better. And the NL is on the same plane as the AL, right. Even the Cardinals are struggling of late, although they finally snapped that 8-gamer they had going.

Well that’s all for now. I’m still struggling to get everything unpacked and stuff, but hopefully I’ll get back into the ‘normal’ routine in the next week or so.

 

Tigers, Braves, and Sox

We’re going to do things in reverse order today, starting with comments first. Kevin actually came in and surprised me by leaving some legitimate baseball opinions. Regular readers know that Kevin is Part II of this whole baseball thing I have. He’s the guy I go to the ballpark with, and occasionally he’ll pipe in with his own comments. They’re usually something like, "Roy Halladay is not that good," or, "You know you didn’t think the Tigers would do as good as they are." And at least once a week he’ll send me an IM that goes something like this:

Kevin: Dude
Reid: What’s up man?
Kevin: I was on this message board, and some dude just said that (insert stupid comment here, "the Yankees are the worst team in the league," or, "Barry Bonds is the best player ever," or, "Kenny Rogers will win us the World Series,") and I tore him up. He kept saying these stupid things like, "dude no you’re wrong."
Reid
: Stupid idiots.
Kevin: Haha yeah.

I think that was an accurate representation. In any case, he also has his own blog when he wants to, and he does other stuff like that. According to him, the Tigers will deal for Bobby Abreu, just because Leyland says it won’t happen. Like I said, he is strong in his beliefs. Tell him that the Tigers won’t be getting Abreu, and you’re wrong. Why do we want Abreu now? The Tigers have been building up one of the best farm systems in the league for the past few years. Eventually, it will be time to trade away some of those prospects for a championship run. I don’t think that now is that time. Maybe, come July, the Tigers are 5 games up of the White Sox – then, maybe, you make a deal. But if the Tigers are 5 games back of the Sox, that move doesn’t happen. But to deviate for a second to what Yuhsing said, the Tigers do have some hidden problems this year. What he says is that we strike out a lot, don’t walk a bunch, and have an experienced rotation. However, the team is winning. But the Tiger’s weak schedule has also helped them to their record. However – and this is important – like I’ve always said, bad teams don’t beat average teams. What I mean by this is that, oftentimes, someone will say, "Hey, Roy Halladay (or take your pick,) had a 2-hitter against the Angels. But they have a terrible offense, so it doesn’t count." My point is that, while it may be easier to 2-hit the Angels than the Yankees, that doesn’t make it and easy thing to do. You still need to be a good pitcher to do it. Same thing goes with the Tigers – they have to be good to do as well as they’re doing. So maybe the Tigers are a little worse than their record shows us, but they’re not bad. Maybe they should have 45 wins instead of 52, for example. Next, Brandon Inge. He’s not  the All-Star that some people think he is, (I keep hearing that people think this. Why?) But he just broke up Clemen’s potential perfect game in the bottom of the 3rd. Not a big deal for most, except that Kevin invited me to tonight’s game (2 hours before gametime,) and I declined. If Clemens had thrown a perfect game or even no-hitter, I wouldn’t know what to do with myself. In any case, I was happily watching this game, but then someone at MLB found out and the feed stopped. Of course, when I tried to start it up again, I received the black out message. Alright, I accept that I can’t watch any Tigers games… but please, don’t tease me about it, alright?

So now we’re going to shift gears to the Yankees – Braves game. As I mentioned in last night’s post, the Braves have gone, in the month that I’ve been in Chicago and Cincinnati, from 5 games back of the Mets to 16 games back. Uh, alright. Why? Perhaps it’s because the Mets can’t be counted on to choke two seasons in a row. They’re not drastically different from last year, yet they have 10 more wins now than they did exactly one year ago – and the Braves have 10 fewer wins. Last year, at this time, Atlanta had 42 wins and New York had 37. This year, New York has 47 and Atlanta has 32. In other words, Atlanta is worse, and New York is better. So maybe the previous theory is incorrect – the Mets are better, but that’s not why the Braves are in last, (however, if the Mets had the same record this year as they had last year, the Braves would only be 6 games back, not 16.) Maybe it was the not-so-good start they got off to this year, which they never really recovered from. Throw in a losing streak like this, and look where you end up. But, remember this. The Braves are baseball’s version of a vampire. Remember that. Just when you start to throw some dirt on them, they come back and take the division again. All the evidence points to this not happening this year, but you never know with these guys. And they just showed a ‘highlight’ clip of Jaret Wright getting hit by comebackers. Are you kidding me? I think they showed four, and once he was even hit with a bat. And, I also believe he was wearing a Yankee uniform each time. Considering he’s only pitched about three games as a Yankee, I can’t imagine how many times the guy has been drilled in his career.

Well, it looked like Buehrle was kicking around the Pirates, surprise. So I jumped to that game, because I like Mark Buehrle. From the moment I turned the game on, here is what happened: Craig Wilson got an infield single, Jose Castillo hit a double, advancing Wilson to third, and then Ronny Paulino walked on four pitches. Then Joe Randa comes to the plate and came about two feet away from the Grand Slam. Mark Buehrle is on my pay league Fantasy Team, and suffice it to say that there must have been some sort of black magic at work there. You know it’s time for one of our favorite BHGM references… Black Magic in Baseball? And they just showed a very distraught-looking Jim Tracy explain why Oliver Perez has been moved out to the bullpen. He said that you never know which Perez is going to show up every fifth day. You just never know, he continued, and that’s just really hard to deal with. You know what else is hard to deal with? A guy that, in the last four years, has only had an ERA below 5.38 one time. Once. That one time was his unforgettable – at least for the Pirates – 2004, when he had his breakout year. He went 12-10, with a 2.98 ERA, and 239 K’s in 198 innings. Remarkable. That was the good Oliver Perez. Now, let me make things simple for you, Jim. In 2004, the Good Oliver Perez showed up. In 2003, 2005, and 2006, the Bad Oliver Perez showed up. This isn’t a matter of specific games, it’s a matter of being good, and that’s something Perez hasn’t been since 2004. Here’s something else that’s hard to deal with. You’re team has lost 11 games in a row. They have three games with the Defending World Champs, and then they have three games with the team that has the best record in baseball. That’s what’s really hard to deal with. Which brings us to something that BPS has asked repeatedly… "Do these games with the NL still count?"

It’s like a turkey-shoot here. I wrote, much earlier, about some possible reasons why the AL is so much better than the NL. The crux of my theory was that a player needs to field in the NL, but not in the AL. Therefore, when a good bat rises through an AL organization, he can continue even if he can only hit, and not field. In the NL, this player would be dealt for another guy. You could say that this makes for a more potent 8-man lineup than the AL, but that’s obviously not the case for two reasons. If it was true, the NL would be evenly matched when they played at home. The second reason, which is more likely the ultimate cause, is that the game is so balanced right now that’s its impossible to have 8 men that are more potent than 9 men.

That may be all for tonight. I’ve got more work to do, (I still have to unpack from school, which I ended on May 10th,) but I’ll be back later if something comes up in one of these games.

Jumping back into the routine – Division Overviews

Finally back from Chicago – this time for good. It was arough three weeks, really. I haven’t been able to follow much of baseball at
all, so it’s gonna be tough getting back into the swing of things. Luckily, I
have four days off* – in a row! – so that should make it a little easier. I
haven’t had that much vacation time from work and school for more than a year. Anyway, hopefully we’ll look at getting the website and podcast started up in the next week, both of which are obviously long overdue. As for today’s post – and we will be back to the normal daily post routines (except for weekends, which are always a little touch and go,) I’m going to talk about a few things that are less-than-current, since, well… as I said before, I haven’t been following the game as intently as I should be the last three weeks. But I’m going to try to hit on each division. Well, let’s go.

*- Not true. Got called in to work on Sunday for 5 hours.

AL Central
How about the Tigers? Are they actually
for real? The White Sox have won nine in a row, and are still in second place
in the AL Central. And the Tigers have 51 wins in late June. That’s a September
number, not a June number. It’s looking like, barring a major collapse, the
Tigers may be going to the playoffs this year. Shh, it’s still early. See, the BPS will tell you that the Tigers aren’t going to the playoffs this year because they’ve had an easy schedule. Here’s the thing.  In any
case, the AL Central is already a race for third. Minnesota has won nine of
their last 10 games – and are still 11 games back. Cleveland is 17 back with a
record of 33-41 – hardly what I expected from a club I
said
could make a legitimate run at a playoff spot this season. And the
Royals… oh the Royals. They’re 23-50, good for 26 games back. However, the
standings reveal that they’ve won seven of their last 10. Are you kidding? When
I left for Chicago three weeks ago, I don’t think the Royals even had seven
wins total. What
a bad team…
Finally, it looks as though – for now – we might actually see an AL Central team take the wild card. This is special only because, for the last several years, the Wild Card has been the Red Sox’s ticket to the post season. The fact that that this may not happen is, to me, remarkable. Then again, there’s a lot of that going around this year, (see NL East.)

AL East
Things look pretty much the same as they did when I left. We’re 2.5 games back,
with a bunch of guys still on the DL. The Sox are on an 8-game win streak, and
as soon as they drop that and get cold, they can sit back and watch the crowd
go by. Meaning, we’ll fly right into first place. Toronto is just four games
back, which is impressive – considering they have been without one of their
biggest free-agent signees, A.J. Burnett. Is he still afraid of throwing the
ball, or what’s going on with him? Halladay – your 2006 Cy Young Winner, I
maintain – has been on his usual tear throughout the League. He’s 9-2 and has
won eight of his last nine decisions. Because I’ve been away from my computer for so long, I can’t offer much insight on  the Yankees and Red Sox – like I said earlier, it looks much the same as it did to me three weeks ago. The Sox have won 8 straight and they’re only 2.5 games up. That’s a 3-day lead. Nothing too special, and it is only June – lest we forget. I hear that Gary and Matsui both received promising news, (whatever that may be,) and as soon as they get back we should start running away with the division  – again.

AL/NL West
Apparently the clubs in the NL West had a talk with those in the AL West. ‘Look, if you play bad, we’ll play bad, and no one will look bad.’ All 9 teams in the two West divisions have records below .550, (about 41 wins.) The A’s (SI’s 2nd best team going into the year,) are 41-34, for first place in the AL/NL West. The Angels are last, with a 34-41 (.453) record. In other words, there are no great teams, but there are no immensely terrible teams either. Now, there are a few ways to look at this. One is to say that all the teams are slightly above-average, and so they’re just beating up on each other. This is not true. Rather, all 9 teams are extremely mediocre and while there is no runaway, (such as the Tigers or White Sox,) there are no terrible teams either, such as the Royals or Pirates. See, this is pure luck. All the teams happen to be average teams. Great, what’s that get you? Average attendance, and below-average performance against the other teams in the league. Spectacular.

But to get into some detail; the Angels have totally collapsed this year. Their offense, which used to be great, (think about two or three years ago,) is now in a complete state of disarray. They’ve scored 339 runs, 2nd to last in the league – behind, who else, but the KC Royals, with 313. And you can’t point to Vlad and say that his numbers have declined, he’s aged, he can’t carry the team anymore. No one has said it yet, but I’m sure they will before the end of the year. Well, here are the facts – Vlad, who recently turned 30, is seeing some decline in his numbers. So we’re halfway through the year, and he has 10 doubles. In 2004, he hit 40. In 2005, when he only played 141 games due to a shoulder injury he suffered while making a stupid slide at home, he hit 30. And now he’s on pace to hit 20. But that’s all pointless. The truly interesting stats, for him, are his OBP and AVG. Vlad’s career OBP is .387, yet it is just .326 so far this year. His average is at .290, down from his typical .322. His slugging is at .490, a significant drop from his career.581. But, back to the original question – is Vlad aging, or is something else happening? I think it’s a little bit of both. His numbers – which aren’t really that much lower – are probably the result of playing on a poor team as much as they are of being older. And now you say, ‘but the Angels aren’t that bad.’ Maybe not, but they’re terrible if you look at their expectations. People are asking questions and attendance is (probably) down. Either way, that makes for a bad vibe in the clubhouse, if you will. And that, I believe, only makes matters worse – it makes it harder to perform when everyone is asking you why you aren’t. A bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy, if you will.

Meanwhile, in the NL West, we have… today it is… the Dodgers, on top with a 40-35 record. As has been previously stated on numerous occasions at BHGM, they can pretty much start printing playoff tickets now. 5 Games above .500? That’s a mountain the rest of the division really can’t climb.

NL East
Well, I’m not sure what’s going on here. I know that when I left three weeks ago, the Braves were about 5 games back of the Mets. Maybe, I really don’t know. The Marlins were the second-worst team in MLB, behind the Royals. Now, and follow me closely here, they’re 8 games back of .500 and in 3rd place. Now, forget for a moment that the Mets are so far out in front that third place (13.5 games back,) second place (11.5 games back,) and fifth place, (15.5 games back,) are all the same. Try to forget about that. Now, the Marlins are in third, and they’re 32-40. Seriously, they must have won every game they played since I left for Cincinnati (and then for Chicago,) four weeks ago. In fact, on June 1st – the date I left – the Marlins were 17-34. So, in 25 days, they’ve won 15 games and lost 6. What a clip! Meanwhile, the Braves went from 28-26 and 5 games back to 32-44. That means they’ve gone 4-18. How far away is Atlanta from Kansas City, exactly?

NL Central
Well here’s another interesting story that I would’ve liked to include closer to the NL West, but it just didn’t work out that way. Regular readers already know what I’m about to bring up, but here goes. Name one of two players the Pirates received when they traded away a fellow named "Jason Schmidt" in 2001. Answer: Ryan Vogelsong. The other player was Armando Rios, who started 55 games for the Pirates. Anyway, back to Ryan Vogelsong. He was never a good pitcher, but he has remained on the Pirates roster. And now, CBS Sportsline has the following to say about him in their nifty fantasy notes:

News: Pittsburgh
RHP Ryan Vogelsong, who has allowed at least one baserunner in each of
his 20 relief appearances, did not pitch in the weekend series at Los
Angeles.
Analysis: Vogelsong should only be active in
leagues that reward negative play. Even there, the fact that he is not
being used makes him obsolete.

Could you be any tougher on the guy? He’s a stud on the negative play team. Great. Then again, his career ERA is 5.86, and you gave up Jason Schmidt to get him. Surprisingly enough, Dave Littlefield, who made the deal to acquire Ryan, is still the GM in Pittsburg. Now, is there any stronger way for the Pirates to tell their fans they have no desire to win than by keeping Littlefield around? During his 5-year reign, the Pirates have consistently been one of the worst teams in the league. In 2001, they rang in the brand new PNC Park by losing 100 games. In 2002, it was 89 games. 2003 was 87, and 2004 was 89. in 2005, in was 95 games. They’ve gone nowhere, and are currently riding an 11-game losing streak as they head in to play the White Sox and Tigers. At least the Pittsburg fans have the All Star game to look forward to… that game counts for more than possibly any other game ever played at PNC Park. That is, the AL will be taking home field advantage again.

And how about the Cardinals – they’ve quietly, (since no one ever wants to gang up on the Cardinals, and for good reason – how would you feel if you lived in Missouri?) gone on a 6-game losing streak. That puts them at 42-32, and only two games up of the Reds. It’s interesting that when Derrek Lee went down, everyone talked about how silly the Cubs were for centering their offense around one guy. No one seemed to notice that the Cardinals were centered on the same philosophy. Oh, that’s right. The Cardinals have a strong supporting staff for Albert on the bench, and they also have pitching. Unless the Cubs define Kerry Wood and Mark Prior as ‘pitching,’ there is a difference. Both Pujols and Lee are now back, by the way. However, that doesn’t mean that the Cubs’ season isn’t over, because it still is. The latest news on Kerry Wood – and this is an accurate quote, I didn’t make this up – an MRI on Wood’s shoulder revealed "no significant concerns or any kind of significant issue or injury or anything like that… the MRI, in Dr. Kremchek’s terms, stated it was pristine, that the labia repair looked as if it was completely intact, looked like it had healed nicely and perfectly," said Cubs trainer Mark O’Neal. Yet, ‘there is still no timetable for his return.’ So let me get this straight; Wood went to the doctor, and the doctor told him he was perfectly healthy, and that everything was in order. In fact, it was perfect and pristine. Yet, no one has any idea how much longer it will be before he pitches again. Is this some sort of joke?

Anyway, that’s the wrap up for the divisions. It took me Friday night, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday to write this, so some of it may be out of date – but I did my best. In any case, I’m going to try to get back into the groove. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do, and I’m mostly running around all day. But we should be completely back to normal in about a week I think. Anyway, that’s it for now. It’d be nice to see some comments but I can understand if we don’t have the readers back yet. See you tomorrow, I hope!

B. Kim and Pirates

I’ve been terribly busy lately. The time I spent pounding out the last post was literally the only time I have been home since… about 8am on Friday.  Worked Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and then tomorrow, Tuesday, and Wednesday. And, of course, BHGM heads out on vacation on Thursday morning. We’re going to Cincinnati to fix up an old building that the family owns down there. That’s one of the bad things about working at a hardware store – when the family needs something fixed, they need you to fix it. I’ll be returning on Sunday night.

Before that, we’ve got some rather exciting things to do. Tuesday night I’ll be at the Yankees v. Tigers game with Evan. Wednesday night is game three of the Yankees – Tigers series with Kevin. Both games will be autograph-seeking games. Last year we got A-Rod. This year, maybe we’ll get Jeter. We can only hope, no?

Bonds finally hit 715. History is, well, upset. Even more upset, I bet, is Byung-Hyun Kim. He has now given up three of the most well-known Home Runs of the last five years. Three. Name me one other pitcher who has given up three of the most important home runs in history. There was Derek Jeter’s World Series Game 4-winning HR off Kim in 2001 – which was tied earlier, incidentally, when Tino Martinez hit a 2-run shot off Kim. The next day, the Yankees tie game 5 with a Scott Brosius HR off Kim. And now this. Great. Without re-hashing the whole Kim story, let’s just say that Boston didn’t call him an, "expendable, $10 million mistake" for nothing.

The Tigers lost to the Indians, 9-0. And they lost to Jason Johnson, who had an ERA circa 8 I think. I guess that, um, you have to lose sometime.

Did anyone know that it took the Pirates 18 innings to beat the Astros on Saturday night? I did not know that, for one. However, this is the kind of game where, when it goes into the 10th, you have to ask yourself why. Who the heck cares if the Pirates win or not? Congratulations, Jason Bay and the Pittsburg Pirates. You’re now 16-34, and 16 games out of 1st place. In the future, a responsible employee from the Pirates organization should talk to the umpire around the 12th inning, and explain that this game means nothing to the Pirates. For example, how badly would you need win #162 if you had won the previous 161 games of the season? Obviously, you’re not fighting for a playoff spot, and neither are the Pirates. Not for a really long time.

Glad everyone enjoyed the trampoline video from Friday night. A record-setting 6 comment day – I’m proud of you guys. Anyway, I’m tired. My feet are falling off, and I’m going to bed. I’ll see you guys later – tomorrow, hopefully.

Kazmir, Cubs, C. Duffy, and College Baseball  Lying

Didn’t have the time to punch out a post last night and so tonight, with a light day in baseball, we’re going to cover two nights at once. Lucky treat. On the slate from last night: Scott Kazmir learns to throw – kinda, the Tigers have the best record in MLB, the Cubs are getting balls thrown at them, and Barry Bonds is forced to dodge bullets at the plate. As for tonight: Chris "The Liar" Duffy is bent that the Pirates sent him down to Triple-A. Meanwhile, the Reds are back to their old M.O. – losing games, a minor leaguer attempted to convince an umpire that he was hit by a pitch, while the Angels hand the Blue Jays a game.

Scott Kazmir learns to aim – well, at least he’s better at getting away with not doing so.
Now, Scott Kazmir of the Devil Rays has always – since his 2004 MLB Debut – had ‘good stuff.’ One problem, he can’t exactly tell that good stuff where to go. So he walks guys, a lot. In his first full season last year, he walked 100 batters while striking out 174 batters in 186 innings. He also had a 3.77 ERA and went 10-9 on a Devil Rays team. Anyway, Kazmir had a hot start last year, but he started off slow this year – and now he’s back. He’s 6-2 with a 2.73 ERA, 56 K’s and 20 BB’s. Despite the fact that he has given up 20 walks – still 3/5 off the pace he was running last year – his WHIP is a respectable 1.375. Not amazing, but pretty good. Especially when Randall is trotting out his shiny 2.00 WHIP in the last seven games or something.

When you have 4 wins in your last 19 games, people are gonna chuck stuff at you
Cubs_1
Turns out, Life Without Lee is just as impossible as Cub fans thought it would be. That is, they can’t score runs, and their pitching is still unruly. But on Tuesday, things reached a new low. The Cubs won, 4-0, but that didn’t stop a "drunk woman" at Wrigley from slinging a ball at the struggling – I mean, bad – Jacque Jones. The ball missed and Jones escaped without harm. Here’s the thing, though. Jones is acting like it’s an isolated incident, and he "won’t let one incident ruin what I came here to do." But understand this – maybe most of Chicago won’t throw a baseball at your head. But most of Chicago is pissed that, while the team’s offense, pitching, defense, and baserunning are all in the tank, you’re being paid $16 million over three years for harming the team in three of those areas. You have a .264 avg, a .967 fielding percentage, and you just got doubled off that night and couldn’t even think of a post-game excuse for why. Here’s the deal; the Cubs are just bad this year. Again. We’ve talked about why, most recently on Tuesday.

Turns out, cheating doesn’t win you any friends.
Barry Bonds got nailed on Tuesday night, as we all know by now. I’ll forget, for a second, that it took Russ Springer five tries until he finally was able to hit Bonds. As I said last night, you might not like the guy, but that doesn’t mean you can cheer when a
pitcher intentionally hits him. The pitch that ended up hitting Bonds
was not that far from his head – see above for video. I’m the
last guy to stick up for Bonds, and fans can boo him if they don’t like
him. But it is not ok for a player to throw at Barry Bonds because he doesn’t like him, for whatever reason. Especially when you know – as Russ no doubt did – how it would be interpreted by the fans. That
is, with cheers. Retaliation is ok, to a point. But to throw a baseball at a guy because you don’t
like him – that’s assault, not sport.

The Tigers have the best record in MLB
Alright, if I’ve said it once I’ve said it 500 times – I knew the Tigers would be good, but I didn’t think they’d be this good. 27-13? The best record in MLB, 40 games into the season? 4, maybe. But 40? How? Well, tomorrow is my day off, so we’ll be taking an in-depth look at what’s going right for the Tigers. And then I’ll be attending the Tigers-Reds game tonight with Soifer and Kevin. But, for a look at a team where everything is going wrong…

Chris Duffy thinks his .194 average is too good for AAA
Well, besides the fact that .200 is the Mendoza Line which, by definition, is when it becomes not ok to be in the Major Leagues, Duffy might just be in the right here. But the Pirates disagree, and placed him in the Restricted List after Duffy decided not to report to AAA ball upon his demotion. Recall that Duffy single-handedly lost a game for the Pirates earlier this year, and not accidentally. That is to say, he told a fib, and he got in trouble for it. Of course, the kicker will come if Duffy announces that he is commencing Operation Shutdown because, hey, he’s never had to compete for an MLB job before, and if there’s competition, someone better let him know. If there’s competition, they should just eliminate him right now because he ain’t never hit in April or May and he never will. Next to the Royals and Cubs, no team has ever made losing this much fun. Ever.

Good, someone found the real Reds.
I was getting worried there for a moment. I thought the Reds might have been a legit good team. I still maintain that they’re not the "3rd worst team in baseball" as SI claims; far from it. The Reds might still be 4-6 in their last 10, just 2 games back of first, and have a 24-17 record – but the writing is on the wall. Well, let me have Bronson Arroyo, who lost to the aforementioned Pirates 7-2 last night, explain it to you:

I felt like I was embarrassed to get behind 4-1 early
in a game like that. It’s not a secret. They don’t
have a bunch of All-Stars in that lineup… I was embarrassed to be beaten by
those guys. That’s not to say you can’t be beat on any given day, but I
thought it was a horse (****) outing, especially against a team like
that. I mean, they are one of the weakest teams in baseball…
This can’t
happen, period. If I can’t stand on the mound and feel comfortable
against that lineup, then something’s wrong with me.

Bronson… you do know that pitchers have to bat in the NL, correct? Strap on the elbow protector next time you step up to the plate against the Pirates next time. But the fun doesn’t stop here. Last night, the Reds finally went over on the Pirates to snap their 5-game losing streak. But, it didn’t start well. The Pirates jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the bottom of the first, (sound familiar, Texas? Minnesota?) only to watch the Reds slowly chip away at that lead as the game wore on. Final score, 9-8, Reds. The AP’s Alan Robinson had this to say about the win: "The Cincinnati Reds seemed out of this one early… Then maybe they realized who they were playing." Basically, if you lose to the Pirates, someone is going to get after you for it.

You have to see this – "Unbelievable!"
Your team is down one run, in the third inning. You don’t know how else to get on base, so you think that maybe getting hit by a pitch is your best bet. Problem is, the ball has to actually hit you before you get that free base. And if the ump tells you that it didn’t hit you – while the fans confirm as much – you don’t have the right to threaten him. You’ve got to love College Baseball. It doesn’t look like Mr. Walker has much of anything under control here. Maybe the Cubs will draft him in the first round.

The Angels just handed a game to the Jays
The Angels had this game won. Bottom of the 9th, no outs, 4-4, Chone Figgins on 3rd base. You can’t lose, can you? Actually, you can, and they did. The Angels managed to get themselves out of that inning without scoring a run, and then the Jays came back to score 3 in the top of the 10th to pretty much seal the victory. I’m not going to watch the rest of the game, but I’m assuming the Jays will win. Of course, that’s what happens when you miss two chances with speedy guys on 3rd and less than 2 outs in the late innings. That also happens when you give the opposing team 5 outs in one inning, which happened when, A) the Angels 1B forgot to pick up the ball when he went to toss it to the pitcher covering the bag, who then collided with him and nearly knocked him down, and B) Vlad catches a routine pop up, but not really, as it rolls out of his glove. The entire night, the Angels gave the Jays every chance they could to win the game. You can’t do that if you want to win baseball games. Then again, the Angels haven’t been doing much of that lately, so it looks like we’re straight. UPDATE: Another ball just flew by Vlad in right field, allowing another run to score for the Jays, 8-4.

Thanks for reading. Sorry about the posting mix up last night. Devin – it’s good to see that you’ve finally got a blog. You’re one of the more frequent readers here on BHGM so that’s always a nice thing to see. I’ll check it out tomorrow. Your comment is reasonable – that Posada isn’t exactly over performing as he isn’t putting up mind-blowing numbers. I’m just saying that he won’t be able to keep that pace up for a whole year, because he hasn’t done so in the past, and he’s only gotten older. He won’t go into a major slump for the rest of the year, he just won’t produce at the level he’s doing so now. See you guys tomorrow.

Yankee OF and Catchup – Part II

First off, I’ve noticed a lot of visitors from military IP’s visiting recently. Obviously, the men and women in uniform are out there protecting our way of life so we don’t have to. If you disagree with what they’re doing, that’s great – because they’re fighting to preserve your power to do just that, and you should exercise it every chance you get. But appreciate your soldiers as well. I was at the mall once and I ran into a soldier who was, he said, about to be shipped out. I didn’t know the man, and I’d never seen him before in my life. But I shook his hand and thanked him for everything he’s done and will do for our country. I think this is the least we can do for those who are willing to give their lives to keep us and our values safe.

That said, on with the baseball. This is Part II of our previous post. Today we’ll be covering Dusty Baker, Yankee Baseball, the Dodger Fan Code of Conduct, The Pirates, Lew Ford, and
the Knicks. It’s mostly going to be the Cubs, because I have to get off to work soon. Late shifts, sweet.

Dusty Baker and the Cubs
Turns out, Dusty isn’t the manager everyone thought he was. Now, I’m a happy man. I was ragging on Dusty Baker two years ago. When BHGM went up over a year ago, he was one of the first things I talked about. It’s no secret that I don’t think highly of his managerial skills. But does that mean I want him fired, as the rest of the world is finally talking about? Heck no. Do you think I want the Royals to win 100 games? No. If Dusty Baker gets fired, the Cubs go from a circus of a franchise helmed by one of the most antiquated baseball minds in the world to a circus of a franchise. In other words, they go from being bad but having a darned good excuse to just being bad. I don’t know what I would do without Dusty Baker telling me walks are "worthless" and that they just "clog the bases." But that’s not the point. The point is, should Dusty be fired? In all seriousness, the answer to that question is no. On the Chicago Cubs, just like every other baseball team, the coach is not responsible for the players on his roster. He is responsible for making those players perform. The Cubs’ GM, Jim Hendry, is at fault for the current slide. After last season, the Cubs needs were clear – they needed to strengthen their starting pitching and add a bat to the lineup to protect Derrek Lee. They did neither. And now Lee is out, and you have no bats. I can’t stress this enough. Right now, there are three Cub regulars with OBP’s above .350. Matt Murton (.366), Tyler Walker (.356), and Michael Barret (.352). Next up is Jerry Hairston’s .313 On Base Percentage. The rest of the team falls below that number. Listen, .313 is a decent batting average. The leadoff man, Juan Pierre, has an OBP of .269. If your leadoff man has a batting average – a batting average! – of .269, he better be drawing a lot of walks or he’s in trouble. Obviously, Baker’s "hit to get on base, do not walk" philosophy is partially at fault. But, if the Cubs had a decent lineup, it wouldn’t be nearly as pronounced. For example, Dusty Baker could never convince Brian Giles to not walk. Guess who was a free agent last year, but was resigned by the Padres? The Brother Brian.

Jim, it’s not like you can’t mix up the roster a little bit. You – and, apparently, the Tribune – simply don’t want to. If the Cubs want to make a decent attempt at salvaging the franchise, they need to call it quits on the season right now. Bring in a new GM – one without the first name Jim (Bowden, Hendry) – and decide if you want to fire up the team with a new manager or keep Baker. Personally, I would get rid of Dusty because he’s not what the team needs now – not because I don’t like him or blame him. They need someone to ride them and get after them when they play sloppy, as they do almost every day. Dusty Baker is perfect if you’ve got a strong veteran team with positive leadership, and a fantastic bench coach for those times you need an in-game manager. Without that, he’s not your guy. It’s time to rebuild. There’s simply no other solution for the Cubs, who are apparently "sick of talking" about losing. Of course, if they were sick about the actual losing, they would step up their game and play through it. But the Dusty Baker-led Cubs are nothing if not notoriously soft-skinned.

How about the Yankees?
I wasn’t sure if I was reading a suicide note or a blog at BPS
this morning. Are you alright Geoff? If I don’t see a post up by 2am
this morning, I’m going to start worrying. Anyway, Geoff thinks that the
Yankees are about to tank. And he’s so far gone that he doesn’t even
know what he’s doing to himself. None of the usual, "but the Yankees
are a better team, so they’ll come out ahead." Just dry claims of how Bubba/Melky are going to set us back "five games." My man, don’t worry.
Sheffield is coming off that DL soon. Then the only man out is Matsui.
Sure, he’s more than "a man," but he’s still only one spot in the
lineup. Don’t worry. And if you’re going to worry, worry about the
Unit. He’s not coming back this time. He’s 42. This is the exact reason
I didn’t want to sign him before the 2005 season, because I knew he
wasn’t invincible. Sure, he was great in 2004. He was alright in 2005.
But now he’s not ok. And the front office knows something’s wrong,
because on May 10th they had an MRI done on the Unit’s arm. That’s
called searching for a reason, and if you’re going to do that you need
to look at a calendar – not an MRI. In his last seven games – all but
two of his starts this season – Randy has allowed nearly two runners to
reach base per inning, while batters hit .300 off him. Those career
numbers are more like 1.16 and .216, respectively. So, he’s acting very
un-Unit like, and that’s because he’s 42 years old. He’s wearing down.
And most of all, he knows he’s 42 – and that’s not helping him get
through it.

The Dodger Fan Code of Conduct
Turns out that a group of "four reasonable, sober, professional adults" is not the fan base that the Dodgers are seeking to acquire. When the above group entered the Stadium last week, they were accused of giving the check-in table a "hard time" and then thrown out. The situation was so ridiculous that one of the fans wrote a lengthy dissertation to Dodger owner Frank McCourt in which he used the phrase "young, poorly trained, overzealous, and rude security staff" about 17 times. This is about the fourth time in a row that the poor Dodger management skills have been brought up on BHGM. Last time it was because they let Hideo Nomo (V2004, he of a solid 8.25 ERA,) start 18 games before DL-ing him, a la Tanyon Sturtze. Before that, it was their ignorant treatment of Brad Penny when his arm flew off. Of course, the Dodgers reside in the NL West, which explains all of those terrible decisions fairly quickly.

The Pittsburg Pirates are struggling
Pittsburg is 11-27. And on top of that, liar Chris Duffy got sent down to the Minors. Anyway, the point is not why the Pirates are this bad, but rather, exactly how bad they are. Sadly enough, the Pirates are still three-thousandths of a percentage point better than the Royals, (.289 to .286,) so they’re only the worst team in the NL, not the whole league. But it’s not like the Pirates are good enough to call the Royals bad, because, well, it’s apples and oranges there. The pot is calling the kettle black. There’s no need to fight for who’s the worst, because they’re both bad enough that it doesn’t matter. Anyway, the point is that even Pittsburg reporter Ron Cook is telling the city that the team’s "tragic number" is 112. They should be mathematically eliminated before the Steelers report to camp, he says. Well, since the Steelers still haven’t reported to camp, he’s right.

Lew Ford spells his name funny?
I was talking to Brad – one of my coworkers at ACE Hardware – yesterday. He had attended a Tigers-Twins game at Comerica Park earlier this year and reported that the guys in his section (left or right field, I forget,) were so hard on Lew that he moved to a different outfield position for the last inning. I told him I didn’t believe him, that there was no way that happened. He claimed that the fans were chanting things like, "Lew $ucks!" while calling him hurtful names, like an ‘F-bomb’ (use your imagination,) and even making fun of how he spelled his name. He claimed that Lew was so upset that he, on multiple occasions, flicked off the crowd. According to Brad, he would remove his cap as if to adjust it, and subtly give the crowd the finger while he did so. I don’t think any party won that fight. Listen, just because he spells it Lew instead of Lou, that doesn’t make him a bad guy. However, the fact that he is batting .229 with 5 RBI’s in 83 at bats – that’s something you can make fun of him for.

On a similar note, I was at a Tigers game last year when Craig Monroe shifted to left field to relieve Rondell White. For those of you who don’t know, Craig was caught shoplifting a $20 belt before the 2005 season began. First off, I’ve paid – actually paid – more than $20 for a belt, and I don’t make $2.5 million a year. Anyway, the stadium was pretty quiet that night; it was early in the year. Then, all of the sudden, a nearby fan shouts, in a calm voice devoid of emotion, "Nice belt, Craig."

We know you want to work for us, but if we give you $40 Million, will you leave?
Say you get hired to coach a Basketball team. They’re willing to pay you a record-breaking $10 million a year for five years. The team isn’t very good, and they struggle through the first year. In fact, they win only 23 games. You’re thinking, "wow, I need to get my act together fast." Unless, of course, Isiah Thomas is your boss. Then you’re thinking, "wow, I could be in line to receive $40 million to not coach this team anymore." Basically, Larry Brown has found himself in this exact situation and is looking at making about $50 million dollars for winning 23 games. That’s upwards of $2 million a win. And you thought Rocket’s rumored contract was nuts? I don’t even follow basketball anymore because I stopped after the Pistons won the Championship – and the Bandwagon loaded up with millions of clueless high school girls and other pseudo-fans. It wasn’t a conscious decision I made or anything. Basketball season came, and I just didn’t care anymore because everyone else did. Anyway, I still know that Isiah Thomas is the worst GM in the world. Thomas, Hendry, and Bowden should buy a sports team. It would be the worst team since the Cleveland Spiders. I want to see this happen.

Thanks for reading. It’s time for me to go to work. Additionally, I need to see some comments, people. Step it up!

Sheets, Nomar/Kent, Yankees v. Red Sox

Well, this post marks the beginning of our regular time back here at BHGM. Now we’ll be slipping back into the routine of nightly posts. And of course, first things first. In the previous post, (around 4pm,) I told all you regular readers out there to make a comment, especially those that have never done so before. I got one, from Tiffany. Therefore, I expect the comments to come on this post, because I have noticed that none of the regulars have visited since 4pm – creatures of habit, no doubt. That said, let’s get to the business at hand.

Ben Sheets
Sheets_1
Former world-beater Ben Sheets landed on the DL today with strained shoulder. Recall that Sheets started the year with the same shoulder injury, and when he returned, proceeded to go 1-3 with a 6.64 ERA. Now, here’s where it gets tricky. Sheets confuses the heck out of me, because I always think he pitches for the Pirates, but it’s actually the Brewers. Hence, I made the mistake of detailing how his three losses might be the Pirates fault, not his own. Thanks to Kellia for being an alert reader! I’m going to go ahead and blame it on the 2am authoring time of this post. Anyway, Sheets will always be remembered for striking out three straight batters on nine pitches, and for "nailing the world to a cross" in the 2000 Olympics. For some reason, I came up with that phrase when I described Sheet’s one run allowed in 22 innings. Anyway, Sheets was a Fantasy stud for me last year, but I stayed away this year. Then again, did anyone even know this guy still played baseball? But then, dude did record 28 K’s in those 20.1 IP so far this year, and only walked one guy. How often do you see a guy trot out a 1:28 BB/K ratio with his 6.64 ERA? Just doesn’t add up. Maybe it’s the 27 hits. So, you’re not walking guys, but you’re letting them get a ton of hits. That 1.377 WHIP (Walks and Hits per IP, for the not-so-statistically inclined, and for ESPN, who refuses to acknowledge it,) will kill you every time.

Play ball?
And it’s raining everywhere, literally. Did baseball misbehave or something? Is there a reason the entire country is being drenched? We had what, three postponed games and one cut short today. And that’s out of 11 games. In other words, Baseball 7, Rain 4.

And for your favorite players that you forgot about a long time ago
Remember Jeff Kent? Remember Nomar Garciaparra? Apparently, they’re back. Well, Kent never really left. He’s been a lock for 100 RBI’s for about 10 years now. But again, completely forgotten about. Maybe because he spent all but two of the past ten years in the NL West? Maybe because he has a reputation as one of the more selfish players in the game? Who knows. Anyway, Kent had been doing rather… poorly as of late. And of course, everyone was pointing out that his numbers were down last year – which they weren’t – and that he was 38. But then he comes back, and so far this week is 5-12, with 3 HR and 8 RBI. Turns out, he’s still pretty good. Just as long as he doesn’t break his wrist popping wheelies on his motorcycle – I mean, "falling off his truck while washing it." That was a real scandal. Nomar_1As far as Nomar, recall that the Nation traded him away in 2004. New uniform, same injury pattern. In 2005, while playing for the Cubs, Nomar nearly castrated himself coming out of the box. And so he didn’t play for most of 2005, which is understandable, really. Freak injury. Then he ended up in a… Dodgers uniform, with Jeff Kent. And he now plays 1st base, as Furcal is at Short. Check out the Dodgers Depth Chart, they’ve only got 8 players out with injuries, and Nomar isn’t one of them! Anyway, Nomar is 6-12 with 2 HR, 3 2B, and 4 RBI this week. Go Nomar.

My Dotrelle Willis dreams come true
Willis_1
I’ve never been a fan of Dontrelle Willis. When I was in High School, I had to make a chemistry project about Hydrogen. I detailed that Hydrogen had an atomic number of one, which was one greater than the number of earned runs Dontrelle had given up so far that year. I think it had been about 3 or 4 games, not exactly sure. Then, of course, Dontrelle gave up an ER that night, turning me into a liar. Never liked him since then. And of course, the near-suicidal leg kick bugs the heck out of me. And now, Dontrelle has a 6.22 ERA, having allowed 57 hits in 46.1 IP, with a 1-4 record. In fact, today he managed to get tagged for 7 runs in 2.2 innings.  In his previous start, he was hit up for 6 ER in 4.2 IP. Before that, it was 8 ER in 7.1 IP. If you’re on the Marlins – the worst team in the league – then you can’t expect to pull many wins out of those performances. Then again, in his first four games of the season, Dontrelle allowed a total of 8 ER and came away with one win. So basically, if you’re on the Marlins, you’re not gonna win a ton of ballgames period.

Yankees v. Red Sox (Thursday Night)
I knew we were off to an ominous start when I heard that "Shawn Chacon isn’t afraid to put guys on base." See, that’s not always a good thing. In fact, 100% of the time, that’s not going to work out for you. Contrary to what Dusty Baker will tell you, walks are a good thing for the team that’s up to bat. Anyway, whenever the announcer (who’s being paid by the same guy who is paying the players, no less,) is telling you that this pitcher isn’t afraid to walk guys, you’re in for a long night. I caught the first couple innings on MLB.TV until one of the boys (Evan, who has not yet been introduced on this site – Evan’s the little kid in the crew, at the spry young age of 18, and he likes to come over when I’m home and eat all the food in my house,) stopped by to catch the game. And, because it was Evan, he was "hungry." Caught the next hour of the game on ESPN HD. Of course, this is a real ho-hum way to watch a baseball game. On the one hand, you’ve got the HD Video, which is unbeatable. On the other, you’re listening to Joe Morgan and Chris Berman, which is slightly better than mute. Scratch that, about the same as mute. I just keep them on so I don’t get weirded out by the silence. Anyway, then a miracle occurred. The YES Network feed appeared on my TV. Turns out it was just two channels further up, on the inHD channel. I had largely written this channel off as the Comcast Promo channel, but it turns out they broadcast a ballgame every five days or so. Tonight was my night. I got quality YES Network coverage and HD Video. But then the Yankees started losing. Let me run this down.

First, that woman who nearly grabbed Bubba Crosby’s triple could’ve been killed had Bubba’s hit been about 3 inches to the right. No joke, they would’ve jumped on her. But of course, the main story of the night is the Ferocious Lion, out with a broken wrist. No kidding. Word is three months or the season. Great. And Sheffield is still out. Taking two of your best hitters out of the lineup is not a good thing, ever. Hopefully, Sheffield comes back sooner than Michael Kay thinks. Anyway, next up is the Robinson Cano catch and throw. When that ball went up and Cano started running out, I’m thinking that we need Jeter at 2nd to make this catch. But Cano came through and was already setting up for the throw home as he caught it. Good move, Robinson. I’ll never call you Robbie. As for Jeter’s play, it was a great stop. He should’ve taken a little while longer to set up the throw there, however. Now, it was a tough play and it was close, and of course, in 20/20 hindsight it’s easier said then done. But nonetheless, he had bad footing, which resulted in a sailing throw with men on 3rd and 2nd, a no-error situation. Had Cairo been taller, he wouldn’t have snow-coned it, and it would’ve been a solid out. Oh well. Those things happen, every game. Right alone the lines of Bernie’s non-catch. Michael Kay was quicker than all heck to exonerate the guy, telling us how that happens in right field with the wind swirling around and such. And he’s right. I’ve never hung out in right on a windy day, but I’m sure that Bernie didn’t just forget how to catch a fly ball for that instant. Now, in the box score (despite what we heard on TV,) Jeter was given an error; Bernie was not. On the offense side, it was just a bad day for us, good day for Wakefield. Not much else to say, really. We didn’t get a lot of good pitches to hit and didn’t make the most of it when we did.

As for the pitching, Chacon was obviously suspect. Somehow, he managed to allow 10 base runners in 4.2 IP and only give up one run. That’s a Herculean feat, really. If you thought Sheet’s 1.377 WHIP was high, Chacon’s was above 2, so he really got out of some jams. And another reason to get rid of this new ‘Hold’ stat. Ron Villone, who came up in a big spot and got a couple huge outs, earned a Hold tonight. He also earned the Loss. Now I know this had something to do with Farnsworth giving up some inherited runs of Villone’s and stuff, but that’s still a messed up stat. The Hold? Get it out. And Farnsworth was pretty much great, right? Love that guy. Did you know that the Kyle Farnsworth post accounted for 37 of the last 100 pageloads here, most the result of Google hits? I think that whenever Kyle pitches, people remember that he laid out Paul Wilson a few years back. See above-linked post.

Anyway, that wasn’t a good game to watch. The excitement wasn’t there. Most importantly, the win wasn’t there, and neither was the effort or the energy. I’m going to spare us all a detailed rundown because, quite frankly, we lost. And we probably deserved it. If you give up 13 hits, along with 6 walks, and only get 8 of your own, and just 4 walks, you’ll need some fancy hitting to bring in a win.

Thanks for reading. Again, to all of you readers, (regular or otherwise, anyway,) leave a comment here. We’re doing a bit of a reader inventory. So look, I know there are about 30 of you regulars out there, and I expect comments from at least, say, 8 or 9 of you. So far, thanks to Tiffany for answering the call. I wish we could do better, but I know how you roll. We’re busy people, eh? See you again tomorrow night.