Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Best moves before the trade deadline, in ranked order

1) Garnett to Boston
2) Branyan waived by Padres
3) Lofton to Cleveland
4) Castillo to Mets
5) Texeira to Atlanta
6) Iguchi to Philly
17) Lohse to Philly
26) DeFelice's contract purchased by Mets
91) Spiezio activated by Cardinals

For the Braves' sake, I hope they're thinking long term with their pending trade. There's always the chance that Texeira could come right in and make a huge impact, but it's no sure bet. It generally takes home run hitters a couple months to adjust to a new ballpark, a new league, and a new lineup. That last one will be to Texeira's advantage, as the one he was previously in was increasingly a joke during his tenure, but the first two adjustments pose, if not unsurmountable, still serious challenges. Texeira is hitting in the .260's away from Arlington this year, and his power numbers are less than inspiring - 8 home runs in 144 ABs. In any case, he makes a better cleanup hitter than Andruw Jones.

Meanwhile, Iguchi and Lofton appear to be fitting in well with their new teams; each has 4 hits in his first 3 games. I imagine Castillo will put up similar numbers. These moves could likely make as much of an impact down the stretch this year as the blockbuster Texeira deal.

Monday, July 30, 2007


So, the Red Sox. Looking pretty good. Positives:

* Eight game division lead with 57 left to play; only six games left against the Yankees
* Only 26 of the 57 remaining games are against teams currently at or above .500, and 10 of those 26 are vs. Toronto and Minnesota
* Lowest team ERA in the AL
* Very healthy RS:RA (542:417)
* Josh Beckett's lack of blisters and resulting ability to throw his breaking stuff
* Manny is starting to pick it up, and Schilling is on the way back
* Okajima in the eighth
* Papelbon in the ninth
* Lowell so far avoiding his usual second half slide (.344/.390/.490 in July)
* Crisp finally hitting


* JD Drew
* Julio Lugo
* Sloppy fielding on the left side of the infield (Lowell and Lugo own 24 of the team's 55 errors)
* Ortiz hasn't looked right since returning

Jury still out:

* Matsuzaka's line of 144.0 IP, 12-7 W-L, 3.75 ERA, 142 K somehow looks much better to me than how I've seen him pitch. Based on anecdotal viewage, his MO seems to be to allow a frightening number of baserunners who somehow never score as often than they should. But even so, his results have been good as he's adjusted to a new, more difficult league, and with more experience it seems he could be a legitimate ace. Or he could just turn out to be Hideo Nomo mk. II, which wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. At least Matsuzaka can actually pitch, unlike Kei Igawa.

This doesn't feel like a great team the way the 2003/2004 squads did (due to their historically good hitting), but on the whole I like its chances. It seems to me like all four teams that make the AL playoffs will have a good shot at the Series, but the Sox are clearly the front-runners. Feels weird/good to type that.


I want to point out that Ben's prediction that the Cubs will win the NL Central (which I think I mocked more than once) is looking better every day.

Speaking of the Cubs, is there a more baffling player than Alfonso Soriano? For example: his frequent lapses in concentration, his poor fielding, being traded from the Yankees for A-Rod, his extreme home/road splits while with Texas, the standoff in Washington over playing the OF followed by a 40/40 season, his outlandish contract, and finally his horrible start to '07 followed by recently hot hitting as the Cubs make a push for the division? He's just generally streaky, I guess, but somehow I still never know what to think of this guy.


With the country's conflicted feelings about Bonds hitting 756 (as you're probably aware, surveys show large numbers of people do want him to break the record, especially among minorities), as well as the continuing and related steroid shitstorm, this is probably the last warm-and-fuzzy moment for MLB for a while. I'm trying to enjoy it while I can...

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Who's Now? Not the Tribe

I just don't know how to feel about the Indians right now. My Tribe-related emotions have been on a rollercoaster ride all week. I guess the only way to accurately sum up my recent impressions of this club is to start with this past week's four game series against Boston. I was really pumped for this series. Cleveland owed Boston some payback for roughing them up in the first half and they had the favorable pitching match-ups to get their revenge.

Sadly, the tone of the series was set in the first inning of the first game. Jake Westbrook loaded the bases with no outs and Boston capitalized by hitting with runners in scoring position. All series the Indians put runners on-base, only to leave them stranded. The Red Sox never let Indians pitchers off the hook, making them pay for walking batters with timely hitting. It's the main reason why they won three of four games.

I'm at my wits end with Cliff Lee and Jake Westbrook. There is no reason why two established starters - both of whom swear to be healthy- routinely give up four or more runs in the opening innings of games. The Indians have rewarded both guys with huge contracts and have been repaid with outings that lack focus from the outset, forcing the offense to play catch-up. I don't care to see Lee with the big league club again this season. He can stay in Buffalo and get a taste of the minor leagues again. Westbrook is different. Cleveland will not send him down. He must get his shit together and perform like an eleven million dollar player.

This team's hopes of making the postseason are in great jeopardy. I know some people will disagree with this sentiment, but it's true. The bullpen is in shambles. They don't need to add a guy, they need add some guys. They need proven relievers with big game experience and I just don't see where they'll acquire such individuals. This is on top of a rotation that strikes no fear in the opponent three out of every five days. I love Sabathia and Carmona, but they can only do so much. Cleveland's postseason asperations rest on Paul Byrd, Jake Westbrook, and whoever steps into the fifth spot. Finally, the club must play better on the road. No World Series contender should be .500 or worse away from home.

For those that care, I do like the Lofton trade for all the reasons Ben already mentioned. I just hope GM Mark Shapiro is not down adding pieces to a needy ballclub.


Truly a great move. Everyone keeps talking about how they think he has "a little bit left," but really his production hasn't declined at all in recent years. He remains a solid .300, 30 SB guy who is also a defensive asset. Ever since he stopped swinging for the fences eight years ago his production has been consistent and his average close to or over .300. I'll be so much happier with him in the lineup than, say, Trot Nixon, and I think he plugs in great at #2. With his and Grady's respectable OBP and good speed, it will be much easier to play small ball and manufacture runs at the top of the lineup.

The Tigers appear paralyzed trade-wise, since they (rightly) are hesitant to give up Cameron Maybin for a rental and the one thing they might want (a reliever) is the scarcest commodity. The Indians made out as well as anyone could hope to with the market as it is, adding what could be a crucial piece in the pennant race.

Also Kenny just looks good in that uniform. I'm not gay.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


ESPN reports what turns out to be an extremely misleading stat - records since June 3rd. The Cubs top the list at 31-15, which happens to be meaningful since they've moved very much within striking distance of the Brewers; the numbers for the Yankees are equally telling, as a 31-16 run has returned them to contention. But the Tigers, Mariners, and Rangers, who own the next three best records, have not similarly advanced. Indeed, the Mariners have simply collapsed in the last week, losing seven straight and experiencing their worst nightmare - a blown save by Putz. His inning was totally uncharacteristic considering his performance to date, but expect more of it. First, he's a rookie and second, he's not god. Or Rollie Fingers. Or even Jose Mesa, probably. The Ms record over the last two months is of two halves, a good one and a bad one, in that order, and with the prophesied rise of the Yanks it looks like they're cooked. The success of the Rangers is perfectly meaningless, for obvious reasons, while the Tigers have been running in place (albeit on a pretty high plateau) for much of the year. Apparently there's such a thing as a sample size that's too large.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The messy list of contenders

There is not a single a division leader presently distancing themselves from the pack. In the NL, the season-long frontrunners have lost ground at such a glacial pace, and the contenders have made such meek efforts to move up, that the difference of 3 games is starting to feel semi-permanent in the Central and East. The Dodgers are currently in first in the West, but with the top three teams all going 5-5 in their last ten there clearly hasn't been much action. Perhaps when the BIG PENIS returns for the PENISBACKS, we'll see a surge from them.

There are about five teams squarely out of contention in the AL after 100 games, and other than that I'm willing to imagine that anyone might end up anywhere in the standings. I'm frustrated nightly with the Indians, whose stable bullpen and generally solid starting efforts have been repeatedly foiled by the inconsistency of the lineup, last night being a great example. DICE JAPANESE PITCHER had good stuff, but not as good as CC, and the tribe had their chances, including a bases loaded situation in the first. They're making a frightening number of bad baserunning choices (see Grady last night) and really looking terrible in the clutch. The result is a .500ish record since the break, certainly not good enough at this point in the season and against the competition they've seen (Texas, Chicago, and KC before Boston).

AND YET the Tigers have made it a moot point by playing also quite terribly. This has been the result of two crucial factors. One, their bullpen sucks. It had a good week or two, and is now back to showing its true colors. Two, they've had the bad luck to face teams at hot moments, including KC and Chicago, who magically started playing well for a couple weird weeks. The mediocre play of the Tigers and Indians has excused the fact the Twins, too, have been atrocious, getting swept by the Tigers at home and losing their last two to Toronto. Things look a lot like they did after the break - the Indians out by about 1, and the Twins out by about 8.

The X factor has been the red hot East, where the Yankees appear to have figured something out offensively. This is truly the way to win for them - score 20 runs. Even their pitching staff can win with that! Boston has been good because Boston is very good, I'm convinced several rungs better than Detroit and headed for another World Series. Okajima and Papelbon are a frightening combination in 8-9.

So New York is in the wild card chace, I'll admit with a sigh. Toronto's hot and just a few games behind NY, so you have to include them, too. Plus the Twins and Mariners (until that losing streak continues), and you have four teams nipping at the Tribe's heels. With Seattle's failures, none is immanently close, but there's reason to be concerned.

The frustrating/awesome thing about this season is that nothing is particularly certain. No division lead feels safe anywhere in baseball.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

July 24

Happy Barfday, Barry Bo-onds

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Story of Putz

What a weird game between Seattle and Detroit - Miller and Hernandez dueled for five innings, with each of them in constant trouble. Detroit scraped out 2 and Seattle 0, in spite of both teams having at least 6 men in scoring position, often with less than two outs.

The truly weird part was the one inning where the M's scored, maybe the sixth. The bases were loaded for Adrian Beltre, who hit a soft single into right, which Magglio threw to the plate to try to nail the man scoring from second. The throw was late, and the runner got in easily. Whoever was catching (not Pudge; he got tossed earlier after making contact with the ump during an argument) threw to second, where Guillen attempted to tag Beltre sliding into the base but missed. The umpire called Beltre safe, but he slid past the bag. Guillen chased him but couldn't apply the tag, although he was quite close. Rather than pursuing Beltre and catching him in a rundown, Guillen decided to appeal to the ump and pretend he'd made the tag. The ump wasn't buying it, so the inning resumed with Beltre at third. But then, in a call that thereafter went unexplained, Guillen tagged Beltre while standing on third base, and the ump called him out for not having touched second on the previous play - this in spite of the fact that the ump had originally called him safe! After that inning, no more runs scored, and J.J. Putz struck out none other than Magglio to end the game.

I was very pleased with the outcome because I'm starting to suspect that the Mariners will fade a bit in the second half, whereas the Tigers (frighteningly) could improve substantially with the return of some of their injured dudes. Offensively, the Mariners have been pretty lucky. It's really not cool to depend on Richie Sexson for anything; they've got some quality bats but down the stretch no one other than Ichiro will be *that* worrisome to opposing pitchers. Meanwhile, Putz and Hernandez are pretty green to be shouldering such an enormous burden. It's reasonable to expect that their numbers will fall to earth in the second half, even if they remain generally dependable. I also do not think that Jarrod Washburn is any longer capable of contributing 200 innings. His effectiveness and inning-eating ability will probably decline, as it basically has during the season anyway, and as it did last year. To make a long story short, if the M's can forestall their likely fall from contention for a few games, just long enough to sweep the Tigers while everyone is still feeling good, that would be sweet.

What's Haf of $57 million?

So I listened to that Baseball Today thing. The consensus seems to be that the Central belongs to Detroit, and that the Wild Thing is Cleveland's to preserve. I'm not nearly ready to concede this point, but I will say that the first ten games after the break will be extremely important for the top half of the AL, and should serve to sort a lot of things out. The Yankees' entire season quite clearly rests on those games. If they remain 10-12 games out of the wild card after 100 games, it's over. They're simply not going to play 10 games better than anyone over the course of the last 60 games. The same goes for the A's and Twins, though their records are a little better so they have a little more leeway. My instinct tells me that not much will change between Cleveland and Detroit in those ten games. Cleveland has a much easier schedule, so it's likely that they'll even take back the lead for the time being. The Tribe has Kansas City and Chicago at home, followed by Texas on the road, while the Tigers see Seattle and Minnesota on the road before facing KC at home for three. Both the Mariners and Twins will be aggressively out to demonstrate their contender status, and I don't see the Tigers faring any better than .500 in those two series. It'd be a great time for Cleveland to slaughter three clubs that already have little to play for, and get the inside track for the rest of the year. We'll see.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

welcome to the buffet

Channing Frye on what he’ll bring to the Blazers: “A little personality, a little leadership, a little shooting, a little defense – I’m a buffet of goodness.”


summer league is awesome!! you can watch online, but having had league pass last year gives us the games on nba tv... i am getting REALLY serious about rodney stuckey. wow, the pistons really "stole" him at 15th. the guy looks better than almost anyone on the pistons. i'm serious. he could make chauncey billups into a 3-point shooting 2-guard, because stuckey can drive to the rim like dwayne wade. like, it doesn't matter how you guard him, he's getting to the rim and that's it. chauncey just doesn't even have that anymore. i know that summer league is about as informative as a horoscope, but stuckey looks like a real nba player. against mike conley, the #4 pick, he looked like the only real player on the floor. and afflalo looks horrible shooting the ball but apparently has a real passion for defense, so he will replace lindsay hunter as the lock-down guy off of the bench. also, let me just say, BELLI-NELLI!!!!!!!!!!! listen to this amazing german annoucer sing the praises of up-tempo basketball and....???? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MH_t8aq-UcU


a really edgy comment from carlos guillen after the tigers SWEPT the red sox (admittedly the back of their rotation plus daiSUCK-e): "We are the two best teams, maybe with Anaheim" . . . whoah -- that is some hard-dogging of the tribe. i wouldn't have gone there, but that's that, i guess.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Way to go Dan! Too bad it lacked the self promotion of a true sports blogger ("if you come to blasketball.blogspot.com you will see these and similar opinions").

Me - I am just excited for Ryno managing the cubbies in 2009. I feel like I am 10 years old again.


Why do baseball players need so bad for their managers to argue all of the time? Apparently, sometimes managers go out and use a lot of positive "f" works (that was a FANTASTIC call) in a really angry way just to get their players feeling like someone is arguing for them.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

"Baseball Today" Podcast

Does anybody listen to ESPN's daily baseball podcast, "Baseball Today"? If you don't, you should. It's a great source for daily news, gossip, and interesting guests.

You should also listen because today, July 5th, an e-mail of mine was read by host Peter Pascarelli. Check it out and hear him answer a couple of my questions. It can be found at ESPN.com. Click on Podcenter along the top banner. It will probably be up on iTunes today or Friday as well.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Are the Yankees uninspired or just overmatched? Today they wilted before arguably the best 1-2-3 punch in the AL - Santana, Neshek, and Nathan. It was tough to tell whether they were more immobilized by the pitching or their own apathy. I guess they've gotten by over the past five or so seasons with a good but not great staff and an outstanding lineup, and this year is no different, except they're losing. A couple years ago this game might have gone differently - Mussina and Santana would have battled to a 2-2 tie through 7, at which point Tom Gordon would have pitched a lights-out 8th and then in the bottom half they would have figured out a way to score.

More and more I feel like it's everyone else making the Yankees look bad. The pitching they faced today is pretty common in the AL right now. Look at A-Rod lighting up Joe Kennedy last week, and then going 0-for-19 in his last five games against Gaudin, Haren, Bonser, Silva, and Santana. Three out of five of those guys have ERAs under 3.00, and neither team is in contention right now. It only gets worse against the 45+ win teams.

It's pretty clear, actually, that A-Rod's sparkling numbers have come almost entirely from beating the shit out of bad NL staffs and the dredges of the AL, including Chicago and Texas. Of course everyone gets the same opportunities and everyone looks better against bad teams, but the vaunted Yankee offense is thus far consistently stagnant against the top AL teams. This is a new situation; I feel like the model on which their team is built has become obsolete.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

"I'm 57 years old"

That's a very odd and unconvincing reason to give for quitting your managerial gig with a winning team in the middle of the season. Will it come out that Hargrove was taking performance-enhancing manageroids?

Hot NL West action

Peavy (7IP, 5H, 1R, 6Ks) and Penny (7IP, 5H, 1R, 7Ks) had strangely identical games last night in LA, which was fitting since they're having strangely identical years. Some points of comparison:

Peavy 112.0
Penny 112.2

Peavy 2.09
Penny 2.00

Peavy 9-2
Penny 10-1

Walks allowed
Peavy 31
Penny 30

HRs allowed
Peavy 2
Penny 2

The game proper was no disappointment. In a savvy at-bat, Nomar hit a dinger off Peavy (who had something like an 80 inning streak going without surrendering one) for the Dodgers' only run, while Josh Bard's ground rule double scored Mike Cameron early on. In a way, this game was a PERFECT TEST CASE for the difference between the two rivals. On the mound were two pitchers who, while stylistically different, get pretty much the exact same results and provided them with uncanny precision on the night. Peavy and Penny were a CONTROL GROUP. The VARIABLE was the bullpen, maybe also the management. Poor Grady Little appeared to make the wrong pitching move by bringing in Saito in the tenth, and then banking on the meat of his lineup to deliver in the bottom half of the inning. The decision to bring in Brett Tomko in the 12th is also baffling, and not just in retrospect, since Tomko is both a starter and ineffective. It took no time for the Padres to get to him, and they were even able to tack on an insurance run. Then Black was able to capitalize on having held off on Hoffman. In a way Little had no choice, since Seanez has been overworked and Billingsley is starting today, but the game made the Padres' pen appear a bit deeper than the Dodgers'. Too bad Peavy and Penny couldn't duel to a decision, still a great game.